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Smart Yearend Tax Moves

Written by Bob Morrison.

Ben Franklin said that the only certain things in life are death and taxes.

But when it comes to taxes, there's nothing inevitable about how much you should pay. Savvy investors know that a proactive approach can translate into a significantly lighter tax bill.

The end of the year is a key time to take the initiative in trimming your tax liabilities. After Dec. 31, the moves you can make to alleviate your 2011 tax burden will be limited—so now's a good time to review your situation with me or with another tax professional.

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Staying the Course in Difficult Times

Written by Bob Morrison.

The stock market has done much, much better over the past two decades than many of those who invest in it.

And hearing the reason why may make you a better investor.

According to Boston-based research firm Dalbar, Inc., the average mutual fund investor achieved an average annual return of 3.8% over the 20-year period ending December 31, 2010. But the S&P 500, a broad gauge of the overall stock market, had an average annual return of 9.1%.

If an average mutual fund investor had started with $10,000 two decades ago, he would have had $21,084 by the end of last year. The equivalent S&P 500 result, even factoring out investment expenses, was an increase from $10,000 to more than $55,000.

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When to Take Social Security?

Written by Bob Morrison.

The age at which Americans can tap their full Social Security benefit is rising—and when it will stop rising is anybody's guess.

That's why it's more important than ever to make smart decisions about when and how to start tapping your benefits. Doing so can help you wind up with thousands of dollars more over your lifetime.

The "full retirement age" is 66 today, which is up from 65 about a decade ago. And the government continues to turn the screws" Full retirement age is scheduled to increase by two months a year starting in 2017 until it reaches 67 in 2022. And with the Social Security system straining to meet its obligations, there are already calls to raise the age to 70.

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