Guilt-Free Spending

Guilt-Free Spending

 

Just the thought of setting a budget can be enough to send us running for the hills. The other day, I had lunch with a friend who is a fellow career mom. We often swap stories about our busy lives and commiserate about how hard it can sometimes be to balance work and motherhood. Her career has taken off over the last year, but she looked more relaxed than ever. She shared that she and her partner had decided to outsource many of the household responsibilities they had historically struggled to keep on top of and often bickered over. After telling me what an amazing gamechanger this had been for her mental health and her family, her expression quickly changed to one of guilt as she admitted that the services were costing them quite a bit. Despite her increase in income, she felt embarrassed and irresponsible about how they much they were spending on services some would consider unnecessary. To her it sometimes felt as if they had traded their weekly arguments over household tasks with monthly disagreements over money.

I could relate to her experience on both a personal level and a professional one. After assuring her this was a common struggle, I shared tips with her that have helped many of my clients over the years. The traditional guidance for people grappling with feelings of guilt, self-reproach, or insecurity over their finances is to create a strict budget and stick to it. Some people enjoy a disciplined approach to things, but for many of us, avoiding the need for strict budgets can be a primary driver for saving and working hard. Tracking every small expense, feeling guilty about how much you spent last month, questioning partners on their expenditures, and generally feeling restricted—what’s to like? It’s right up there with counting calories, so I understand why people avoid it altogether.

If you’re like many high-income earners and people who have saved well, you might feel that avoiding the need to budget is a right you have earned. After all, you’ve worked hard so you don’t have to count every penny, right? The trouble is that it puts you at risk for not meeting larger goals such as a comfortable retirement, paying down debt, college funding, or making a large purchase; and it can also leave you feeling out of control and dissatisfied. Whether you are a busy professional struggling to figure out why you don’t have more money at the end of every month or you are already retired and unsure how to balance your personal spending with other goals, there is a strategy that can help you feel more in control of your money without having to budget.

 

Pre-Retirement Reverse Budgeting Process:

By taking these steps, you ensure your savings goals are met first, and anything that remains can be spent on whatever you desire, without guilt!

  1. Identify your goals.
  2. Determine how much you need to save on a periodic basis to meet these goals—the easiest way to do this is to work with your financial advisor to create a financial plan.
  3. Set up an automatic savings plan with a combination of payroll deductions and automatic monthly transfers.
  4. Enjoy the freedom to spend what is left as you choose and the peace of mind that comes with knowing you are able to meet your goals!

To make this process work for you, it’s important to start with a cushion in your checking account and to review your checking account at least monthly and before making large purchases to ensure you are maintaining a sufficient balance. If you find yourself running short, you can pull back slightly on small discretionary purchases and build that cushion back up so you aren’t forced to dip into your savings for something other than the goals you have set. We all tend to spend more when we are feeling flush, so checking your bank balance periodically should allow you to reign in non-essential expenses for short periods and return to guilt-free spending in no time. If you find a significant gap, you may need to examine recurring expenses for areas to cut back or reassess your savings goals.

 

Retirement Goal Funding Process:

You worked hard, you saved, and now you are living the retirement dream, but that doesn’t mean you’ve accomplished all your financial goals. Many people in retirement want to leave a certain amount to charity, help their children buy a home or start a business, help their grandkids with college, save for a large purchase such as a second home, or plan ahead for long-term care expenses. When you have a set amount of assets that need to provide for a lifetime of expenses and several other large goals, it can be hard to determine whether you have enough and what you can afford.

It’s also common for retired people to struggle with the transition from saving to spending. If you have been a disciplined saver and enjoyed watching your nest egg grow, the idea of diminishing it can be incredibly stressful. This process has helped many of my clients discover a new sense of financial comfort and freedom.

  1. Identify your goals. What do you anticipate for recurring annual spending? Do you have any legacy goals, plans for long-term care, or larger purchases, gifts, and donations to consider?
  2. Work with your financial advisor to run financial projections that account for investment returns, market volatility, inflation, taxes, etc.
  3. If the projections show you are not able to attain every goal, work through prioritizing and adjusting your goals until your projections show results you are confident in.
  4. The end result should provide you with an annual amount you can confidently spend while giving you peace of mind that you are able to meet your other goals as well!

 

One final, crucial step in the financial planning process is to meet with your advisor periodically to make sure you stay on track to meet your goals and discuss how goals may change for you over time. A great advisor will review your entire financial picture to make your money work its hardest for you and not only maximize your potential for meeting those goals but also encourage you to reach for the stars and live fully along the way. If you’re not already working with an advisor or are looking for someone who can provide this type of comprehensive support, we’re happy to help—schedule a consultation now!

 

 

 

 

Disclosure: All opinions expressed in this article are for general informational purposes and constitute the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of the report. These opinions are subject to change without notice and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual or on any specific security. The material has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, however Merriman cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information, and certain information presented here may have been condensed or summarized from its original source.  Merriman does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice, and nothing contained in these materials should be taken as such.

Should You Have a Budget?

Should You Have a Budget?

Budgeting: Determine an approach that makes sense to you

 

Budgeting. You may have embraced the concept, or more likely, avoided it altogether, which is very common. Sometimes we feel obligated to complete a budget, but more often than not, we find it hard to implement and even tougher to maintain. So, should you budget? Is it worth your time to create one? What if you don’t complete one? How does having a budget help? This article will outline the benefits of creating a budget as well as provide a foundation to get started.

As wild as life can be at times, a financial budget can bring clarity to a household and help alleviate anxiety around spending. Quite frankly, that is exactly the point. Without a budget, spending can bring a level of stress that may overshadow the excitement of a given purchase. Having a budget in place allows you to know where your dollars are going and can provide the ultimate relief in terms of achieving guilt- free spending. This applies to those saving for retirement and those who have already shifted into retirement. Below are a couple types of common budgeting approaches. Keep in mind that no one size fits all, but there are options.

Types of Budgets:

 

Zero-based budget

Track specific income and expenses to understand exactly where all your hard-earned money is going. This is the most difficult budgeting style to start, but it will bring the most transparency to your finances. This method takes a lot of maintenance and is more suited for those who enjoy the process. Engineers and accounting professionals, I am talking to you. Microsoft Office offers several Budget Templates that can help jump-start the process.

General steps:

  • Gather data from bank accounts, credit card statements, investment accounts, etc.
  • Organize the data into categories, typically fixed versus variable inflows & outflows
  • Utilize software like Excel to accurately map out household cash flow
Reverse Budget

Start with savings amounts and/or debt payments and then proceed to allocate what is left over to general expenses. This is the easiest to start and focuses on prioritizing savings targets. The downside to this approach is that it can leave you shorthanded when it comes time for very real expenses like groceries or utilities.

Merriman’s own Geoff Curran wrote a great article a couple years ago that highlights this method in greater detail: Reverse Budgeting

50/30/20 budget

This method takes an alternative approach and categorizes spending into three main categories: Needs (50%) / Wants (30%) / Savings (20%). The percentage per category may change given the individual creating the budget, but the focus remains the same – categorizing what is essential versus what is deemed “extra”.

General steps:

  • “Needs” may consist of rent/mortgage payments, utilities, groceries, etc.
  • “Wants” generally include items like travel, entertainment, restaurant spending, etc.
  • “Savings” targets carving out money for near-term purchases and, most importantly, retirement savings.

  

There is no one correct method to use, and that is the part most people struggle with. A crucial element of budgeting is very similar to maintaining a sound financial plan: choose a method that works for your situation, one that can be maintained over the long run. If you have budgeting questions or want to explore the methods mentioned in this article, please reach out to Merriman. We would like to help you find an approach that works for you.

 

 

Disclosure: All opinions expressed in this article are for general informational purposes and constitute the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of the report. These opinions are subject to change without notice and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual or on any specific security. The material has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, however Merriman cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information, and certain information presented here may have been condensed or summarized from its original source.  Merriman does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice, and nothing contained in these materials should be taken as such.

Security Tips When Choosing a New Home

Security Tips When Choosing a New Home

 

Property crime is much more rampant in the US than violent crime. If you’re moving homes, you need to ensure that where you’re moving to is a safe area and take every precaution to avoid a break-in.

This post will discuss the top security investments you can make when moving to a new residence and the best security features to look for in a new house. Keep these considerations in mind, and you will find yourself safe and content in your new home.

 

Top Security Considerations When Choosing Your New Home

When we move house, we often look for open spaces with large windows and plenty of natural light. However, what we forget to look for is one of the essential features of a new home—security. You deserve to feel safe in your new home, so security must be a priority when making your decision about where to live.

 

Security Perimeters and Gates

Securing your personal property is crucial, but it can also be beneficial to secure your land from intruders. You might consider looking for a gated community with on-site security staff to ensure your safety. If that’s out of your budget, look for a home with a secure perimeter, such as trees and fencing bordering the garden. This will prevent intruders from gaining access. You should also invest in a gated driveway to ensure no unauthorized vehicles can enter your property.

 

Access Control

One of the essential features of home security is access control. Using keys for your doors leaves you vulnerable—a motivated intruder could easily pick a lock. If you wish to secure your home and have more convenience in your daily comings and goings, you should invest in access control door locks.

Touchless access control systems can operate without a key; simply use your mobile device to enter. You don’t have to take your mobile phone out of your pocket, either. Waving your hand in front of your access reader will trigger remote communication via WiFi, Bluetooth, and cellular communication with your mobile device.

Modern touchless access control solutions can also be cloud-based, enabling you to operate your security system remotely. If you’re out of the house, you can view your security information and lock your doors using a mobile application or cloud-based control center. No longer will you have to cope with the sinking feeling that you’ve forgotten to lock your door upon leaving the house. You can conveniently check the status of your doors and lock them from anywhere.

If you’re moving to an apartment complex, access control can have the following benefits:

  • Convenient entry – You can enter your building with your hands full and enter quickly. The triple-unlock feature uses three methods of communication to ensure first-time entry. Enter your dwelling rapidly without standing outside the apartment complex in a vulnerable situation.
  • Remote operation – If you get locked out of your apartment building, you can quickly contact your building manager, who will be able to unlock your door remotely without the need to visit the building in person.
  • One credential for all doors – You can enter your building and your apartment with a single credential, saving time and providing convenience.

 

Security Cameras

If a crime occurs on your property, you need a security camera system to provide evidence in an investigation. If your security cameras are displayed visibly, this could deter criminals from attempting to enter the property.

If you’re looking for a streamlined, multi-purpose security tool, you might consider investing in a doorbell camera or video intercom reader. The device comes with built-in touchless access control and high-definition video. So, if someone enters your property without permission, you will have clear visibility of their face and identity.

Doorbell cameras are also helpful in preventing parcel theft. If a stranger comes to your door to take your parcels, they will be deterred when they see that you have a doorbell camera, which will help to keep your packages safe.

 

Mobile Alerts and Alarm Systems

Any home security system is not complete without an alarm system. Cloud-based motion sensors will alert you to any activity on your property when you’re not home. If you receive a security alert on your phone while you’re out of the house, you can act swiftly and call the police to detain the intruder. Mobile alerts allow you to maintain consistent awareness of your home’s security, even when you’re out and about.

If your home does experience a break-in, you need to know how to respond. You must protect the valuable and priceless items in your home, and educating yourself on how to respond to a break-in is the best way to ensure your safety and protect your possessions.

 

Summary

You deserve a beautiful home in the area you desire. You also deserve to feel safe at home and not fall victim to a property crime. When choosing your new home, consider investing in a house with a secure perimeter. You should also look into security technologies that protect your dwelling from intruders and notify you of any security alerts when you’re out of the house.

 

 

Written Exclusively for Merriman.com by Madison Smith

Madison Smith is a personal and home finance expert at BestCompany.com. She works to help others make positive financial stride in their lives by providing expert insight on anything from credit card debt to home-buying tips.

 

 

 

 

Disclosure: All opinions expressed in this article are for general informational purposes and constitute the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of the report. These opinions are subject to change without notice and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual or on any specific security. The material has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable; however, Merriman cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information, and certain information presented here may have been condensed or summarized from its original source.  Merriman does not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice, and nothing contained in these materials should be taken as such.

 

Boeing Pension and Lump Sum Comparison – Should I Retire Early?

Boeing Pension and Lump Sum Comparison – Should I Retire Early?

 

Boeing Employee – Should I Retire Early?

Boeing employees nearing retirement age are facing a financial decision that will need to be made by November 30—one that could have a significant impact on their lifestyle in retirement.

 

Higher Interest Rates and the Lump Sum Pension Benefit

Boeing offers many employees the option at retirement to either receive a pension, providing monthly income for life, or to have a single lump sum deposited into a retirement account that can be invested and withdrawn as desired.

The amount of the pension benefit is based on several factors, including years of service with Boeing and average salary while employed.

When determining the lump sum benefit, the underlying interest rates are an additional factor to take into consideration. Higher interest rates will create a lower lump sum benefit, and lower interest rates will create a higher lump sum benefit. Boeing resets the interest rate used in the calculation once per year in November.

With the significantly higher interest rates we’ve seen in 2022, an engineer who may currently qualify to choose either a $5,000 monthly pension or a $1 million lump sum benefit may be looking at only $800,000 in lump sum benefit if they retire after November 30, 2022. The exact numbers will vary for each employee.

That $200,000 reduced benefit can be a significant incentive for employees who are planning to retire in the next few years to adjust their plans and retire early.

 

To Whom Does This Apply?

Not all Boeing employees have a pension as part of their benefits. Also, some employees are covered by unions that only offer the monthly pension and do not have a lump sum option.

Boeing engineers who are members of the SPEEA (Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace) union usually have a generous lump sum benefit compared with the monthly pension and may benefit significantly from comparing their options.

 

Financial Planning to Compare Options

The decision to take either the lump sum in retirement or the monthly pension is a significant one, and both contain risks.

With the lump sum, the employee is accepting the risk of the market and managing the money.

With the monthly pension, the guaranteed income provided to the employee will not increase with inflation. This year has been a good reminder that inflation can significantly reduce the purchasing power of that income.

Also, does it make sense for an employee who originally planned to retire in two years to give up on the years of additional earnings and savings? Can the employee afford to do so?

We help employees compare how a monthly pension or lump sum benefit will interact with other resources (Social Security, retirement accounts, real estate) to determine the ability to meet goals in retirement. We can also compare retiring in 2022 with delaying retirement and possibly receiving a reduced benefit in the future.

 

Deadline and Next Steps

Boeing employees wanting to claim the lump sum before rising interest rates potentially reduce benefits will have to retire and submit the request for a lump sum benefit by November 30, 2022.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by assessing the pros and cons of this decision, reach out to us for your complementary personalized analysis. We can help you determine whether retiring now would provide you with a sustainable retirement that meets your lifestyle needs.

 

 

 

Disclosure: All opinions expressed in this article are for general informational purposes and constitute the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of the report. These opinions are subject to change without notice and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual or on any specific security. The material has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, however Merriman cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information, and certain information presented here may have been condensed or summarized from its original source.  Merriman does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice, and nothing contained in these materials should be taken as such. To determine which investments may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. As always please remember investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital and past performance does not guarantee future returns; please seek advice from a licensed professional.

 

 

 

 

Sticker Shock over the Current Year’s Assessed Home Value?

Sticker Shock over the Current Year’s Assessed Home Value?

 

Every year, homeowners receive notice from the county about their home’s assessed value. When we get that little card in the mail, it’s usually filed away and we don’t pay much attention to it. Lately though, many people are experiencing sticker shock when they see how much their home has increased in value from 2021 to 2022.

On one hand, it’s great to see how much our home, typically one of our most valuable assets, has appreciated. But on the other hand, that new higher assessed value means higher property taxes, and it could also mean we’re underinsured when it comes to replacement cost coverage. From a financial planning standpoint, I encourage everyone to think of that assessed value notice as an annual reminder to do two things:

  • Reach out to your insurance professional
  • Consider contesting the value with the county

 

Reach out to your insurance professional

Why is it a good idea to meet with your insurance agent/broker? Well, for starters, I always encourage my clients to meet with their insurance professional at least once a year to review their current coverages and policies. This is especially important if your coverage needs have changed. I recently spoke with Satina Simeona with American Family Insurance, and she shared some additional insights about why an annual review is so important:

Homeowners policies typically have a built-in inflation protection that adjusts the replacement cost coverage on your home to align with the market index in your area. However, it is an index and not necessarily specific to each uniquely different home. It is important to have an annual review with your agent regarding the replacement cost coverage on your home policy, specifically the ‘dwelling coverage.’ At the start of your home policy every insurance company uses a similar calculator tool that calculates the cost to rebuild your home should there be a complete loss. This is the amount you want to insure your home for, not the loan value or market value as those include the land, taxes, fees, etc. This is not done again unless your agent or you request it. The calculator process takes about 20 minutes and consists of very detailed questions about your home. For example, how many beds and baths, flooring material, countertop material, any vaulted ceilings, type of roof, ceiling fans, and any upgrades. For the exterior you’ll need to discuss decks, driveways, fences, retaining walls, etc. Once calculated, your agent can see if it is over or under your current coverage and make adjustments if necessary. Ideally it will come in pretty close to your current coverage.

Another reason you should have annual checkups is for your agent to ask about certain things that may need to be updated on your policy. For example, have you done any upgrades or repairs, new roof, added any large amounts of personal property that may need coverage (guns, computers, jewelry), do you want earthquake coverage or maybe coverage for the backup of your sewer or septic tank? These are all optional endorsements that are not included in your policy unless you add them. There are over 50 endorsements you can add to a homeowners policy, and it is important to be educated on your options in case the unthinkable happens. For example, you may consider an endorsement for hidden water because most policies won’t cover a long-lasting leak that has been undetected and perhaps caused extended damage. This hidden water endorsement will cover rot, black mold, etc.

Each insurance company will approach the annual review process differently, and it’s a good idea to ask your agent/broker how your specific policies work.  For example, some higher-end insurance providers might offer replacement cost coverage with an “unlimited” ceiling so you don’t have to worry about dramatic increases in your home’s value.

 

Consider contesting the value with the county

This second recommendation is more of a longshot, but don’t forget this is an option! If you believe you can provide evidence that the county is overestimating the value of your home, you should definitely contest the assessed amount.

I recently had a conversation with a client (let’s call her Jane) who owns a lakefront property. Jane received her property value notice in the mail, and it was a lot more than she expected. Jane was surprised because her home was older, modest, and it didn’t have a lot of modern updates. Surrounding Jane’s property were more modern, larger houses that easily justified a much higher price tag but hers simply didn’t. When Jane contested her home’s value with the county, she came to realize that the assessment done on her property mistakenly used the value of the neighboring homes. Jane was able to successfully reduce her property tax bill by $500!

 

These reminders are a simple way to make sure you stay on top of protecting your home and ensure you’re not paying too much in taxes. Financial planning is always an on-going process, and I hope these tips provide helpful food for thought. If you’d like to discuss these ideas in more detail, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Wealth Advisor. If you’re not already working with an advisor, don’t hesitate to reach out.

 

 

Disclosure: All opinions expressed in this article are for general informational purposes and constitute the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of the report. These opinions are subject to change without notice and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual or on any specific security. The material has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, however Merriman cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information, and certain information presented here may have been condensed or summarized from its original source.  Merriman does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice, and nothing contained in these materials should be taken as such.

How to Improve Your Credit Score

How to Improve Your Credit Score

 

 

 

Bad credit can haunt you for years. It can make it difficult to get a loan, rent an apartment, or even get a job. If you’re struggling with bad credit, it’s not the end—there is hope. Here are some useful pointers on how to give your credit score a much needed boost. Follow these steps to see a noticeable improvement in no time.

 

What Is a Credit Score?

A credit score is a critical indicator of one’s financial health and stability. This numeric value is determined based on several factors, including payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history, types of credit used, and recent inquiries on the report.

 

Because this single number encapsulates so much information about one’s financial behavior and habits, it is essential to monitor a credit score closely. You must take all necessary steps to maintain or improve it. A good credit score can be your ticket to financing significant purchases, such as a home or car. In contrast, a poor score can leave you in the hands of bad credit auto finance companies or other high-interest lenders.

 

Credit scores go from a low of 300 to a high of 850. Generally, a score above 650 is considered good, while anything below that is fair or poor. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to understand what goes into a credit score so that you can work to improve yours over time. Fortunately, consumers can take steps to improve their credit scores, regardless of where they fall on the credit spectrum.

 

Pointers to Help Boost Your Credit Score

Looking at your credit score right now may leave you feeling down in the dumps, but don’t despair. You can do plenty of things to improve your credit score over time. The following pointers will help get you on the right track:

 

1) Pay Your Bills on Time, Every Time

A good credit score is crucial for many reasons. That’s why it’s important to make sure you pay your bills on time, every time.

 

Unfortunately, things have a way of turning up to scuttle any timely payment plan. If that happens to you, don’t panic. There are steps you can take to minimize the damage to your score.

 

First, try to arrange a payment plan with your creditor. This shows them that you’re willing to work with them to resolve the situation. Second, cover the minimum payment if you cannot make a full payment. This shows creditors that you’re still trying to meet your obligations even if you can’t pay everything you owe right away.

 

Finally, keep track of your payments and ensure you don’t miss another one. Even one late payment can significantly impact your credit score, so it’s critical to stay on top of things. By following these steps, you can help ensure that your score stays strong, regardless of life’s challenges.

 

2) Don’t Apply for Too Many Accounts at Once

It can be tempting to open up many credit cards when you’re first starting. After all, one of the first steps to building good credit is to have a robust credit file. But while it’s essential to have a few lines of credit, you want to be careful about applying for too many at once.

 

Whenever you submit a new credit application, your credit score takes a minor hit. And if you’re constantly applying for new lines of credit, that can add up to a significant drop in your score. Additionally, you increase your identity theft risk every time you open a new account. So while it’s important to build your credit file, you want to be thoughtful about which accounts you open and how often you submit applications.

 

3) Regularly Check Your Credit Report

You must always stay on top of your credit report. Whether you’re applying for a mortgage, a car loan, or a new credit card, your credit score will be one of the factors that lenders look at when considering your application. That’s why it’s so important to review your credit report regularly.

 

By doing so, you can catch any errors or discrepancies and address them before they have a chance to impact your credit score. You can also identify any negative information that may be dragging down your score and take steps to improve your credit standing. Reviewing your credit report is one of the best ways to keep track of your financial health, so do it regularly.

 

4) Pay Your Bills Every Two Weeks

There are many strategies for improving your credit score quickly and effectively. One helpful method is to pay your bills every two weeks instead of once a month. This pacing enables you to make smaller payments more frequently, which can help reduce the effect of interest over time.

 

In addition, making frequent and consistent payments helps demonstrate that you are a dependable borrower in the eyes of lenders. Because this can be a powerful tool for increasing your credit score, it is well worth considering if you have the financial means. If you can set aside just a small amount each paycheck or biweekly period, it could make all the difference for your future borrowing prospects.

 

5) Don’t Close Unused Credit Card Accounts

Some people say it’s good to close any unused credit card accounts. After all, why keep them open if you’re not using them? However, closing these accounts can do more harm than good. One of the factors that creditors look at when considering a loan is your credit history. The longer your history, the better.

 

So, by closing down those old credit card accounts, you’re shortening your history and making it look like you’re not as reliable. It’s better to keep those old accounts open and pay the annual fee if there is one. That way, you can maintain a strong credit history and improve your chances of getting approved for future loans.

 

 

The Bottom Line

Building good credit takes time and effort. But by following these simple tips, you can improve your credit score and make it easier to get the things you want out of life. So don’t wait—start working on your credit today.

 

 

 

Written Exclusively for Merriman.com by Amy Marshall.

Amy Marshall is an automotive expert who loves to write about anything car-related.

 

 

 

Disclosure: All opinions expressed in this article are for general informational purposes and constitute the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of the report. Statements attributed to an individual represent the opinions of that individual as of the date published and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Merriman. The material has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, however Merriman cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information, and certain information presented here may have been condensed or summarized from its original source.  Merriman does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice, and nothing contained in these materials should be taken as such.