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OLYMPIA — The Washington State Department of Commerce has announced that Craft3 and Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union will be awarded grants of $11.6 million and $2.9 million respectively to help individuals and companies finance residential and commercial building energy-efficiency work and renewable energy technology installations. The loan program is the first of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Clean Energy Funds to launch. The Legislature appropriated a total of $65 million across five funds in the 2013-15 state capital budget to support and grow Washington’s clean energy economy.

“This is an important milestone in our efforts to invest in clean energy technologies that save energy, cut energy costs, reduce harmful air emissions, increase energy independence and create jobs in our state,” Inslee said. read more »


Have you heard that 70 is the new 65?

If not, you will. Momentum is growing to get people to think that way before retiring. The notion is being trumpeted in the nation’s capital as a way to ease pressure on Social Security, and it is circulating among financial planners.

The idea is to get people to work longer so they end up with more money for monthly retirement living expenses.

With the notion strong in public-policy circles, the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College recently analyzed the implications. Its initial conclusion is that people need to start thinking of 70 as the new retirement age. read more »


WASHINGTON — Should you be concerned that the maximum loan amount you’ll be able to obtain through the biggest players in the mortgage industry — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — might be cut sometime next spring? You just might.

That’s because mortgage applicants who no longer qualify under the revised limits will be forced to shop in the jumbo arena, where minimum credit scores and financial-reserve requirements tend to be tougher and down payments heftier than in the conventional space dominated by Fannie and Freddie.

You might also have to settle for an adjustable-rate mortgage rather than a fixed-rate. Or you might end up where you need a higher-rate “piggyback” second mortgage to afford the down payment on the first mortgage deal you’re offered. read more »


WASHINGTON — The U.S Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced its third-highest year of lending to date, surpassed only by SBA’s two record years of supporting more than $30 billion in fiscal years 2011 and 2012. In FY 2013, SBA supported more than $29 billion in lending to small businesses, giving them critical access to the capital they need to start and grow their business.

“Small businesses are the engine of our economy, and reaching our third-highest year of SBA lending in FY 2013 demonstrates the strength and resiliency of America’s 28 million small businesses as they continue to recover from the Great Recession and drive our economy forward,” acting SBA administrator Jeanne Hulit said. read more »


As you’re well aware, a partial government shutdown began on Oct. 1. No matter what one’s views are on the political issues that led to this event, it’s probably fair to say that a shutdown is not particularly good news, on many fronts. Although essential services will continue, including Social Security and Medicare payments, other governmental functions will be disrupted, and hundreds of thousands of workers will be furloughed. So, as a citizen, you may well have concerns about the shutdown. But how will the shutdown affect you as an investor?

First of all, you may want to take to heart the slogan popularized by the British in World War II: “Keep calm and carry on.” You don’t need to panic, nor do you need to make massive changes to your investment portfolio or even take a “time out” from investing. It’s highly likely that, like all political/economic traumas in the past, this one, too, shall pass. read more »


At many places of work, it’s “open enrollment” season — the time when you get to make changes to the various benefits you receive from your employer. As you review your overall benefits package, what areas should you focus on?

Here are three possibilities:

Life insurance — If your employer offers life insurance as a benefit, and you haven’t already signed up for it, consider adding it during your open enrollment period — because life insurance can be important to your family’s financial security. If you already have life insurance with your employer, you may want to take the time, during open enrollment, to review your beneficiary designations. If you’ve experienced a change in your family situation, such as divorce or remarriage, you’ll want to update your beneficiaries, as needed. read more »


I remember in 2008, when I was introduced to some folks who had recently retired, they came into my office and were very concerned about their investment portfolio. They explained they had lost more than 30 percent of the value of their portfolio in less than 12 months. What was worse is they had made plans to draw income from this portfolio every year to supplement their retirement income needs.

In my industry a prevailing bit of wisdom you may occasionally hear from financial advisers when Mr. Market is experiencing a lot of turmoil is, “don’t worry, over a long period of time the market goes up.”

Or another favorite is, “Well at least you have not lost as much as…” Either way, many people we serve are generally not comforted by this advice. Once you have retired you may not have a long period of time to recover from a significant market sell-off. read more »


"Iggy" Daga, left, and Sean Matteson are ready to expand their business selling fermented vegetables by at least doubling production capacity.Ilgvar “Iggy” Daga has long been known for his fermented vegetables, popular at parties and gatherings. With 30 years of fermenting behind him, he contemplated the idea of turning his passion into a business. Last year, he finally did, with the help of friend and now business partner Sean Matteson. And now, the pair’s fermented foods, sold under the label “Iggy’s,” are so popular, they can hardly keep up with production.

This fall, the nascent business hit a milestone. With the help of crowdfunded interest-free loans, they are about to double their production capacity. And they know it won’t be long before they outgrow their 1,100-square-foot production facility, located at Bainbridge Business Park. read more »


WASHINGTON — Federal agencies haven’t been functioning much this month, but six of them are looking at a proposal that could squeeze huge numbers of buyers out of the mortgage market: a mandatory 30 percent down payment for borrowers who seek the best rates and terms.

The regulatory agencies have set an Oct. 30 deadline for public comments on a 505-page proposal that creates new rules for bond financings of loans for homes, autos and other assets.

Among the housing proposals is something known as “QRM-Plus.” It would require 30 percent down or more for purchasers, tough credit standards and a ban against second liens on properties at closing. read more »

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