Don is a Senior Vice President and Director of Valley Forge Asset Management Corp., a Susquehanna affiliate that provides investment advisory, asset management and brokerage services. He has more than 40 years of experience in the investment business and holds a Certified Financial Planning™ designation. Over the years, he has enjoyed building relationships with clients and helping them to achieve financial independence. Even outside of work, Don is still involved with money and investing, serving as treasurer of his church and local neighborhood association. With all the time spent on numbers, his one regret is that his golf handicap is going the wrong way.

The columns, articles, message board posts and any other features provided on Susquehanna Bancshares Inc.’s website are provided for personal finance and investment information and are not to be construed as investment advice. Under no circumstances does the information in this content represent a recommendation to buy, sell or hold any security. The views and opinions expressed are Don Born’s own and not necessarily those of Valley Forge Asset Management (VFAM), and there is no implied endorsement by VFAM of any advice or trading strategy.

Securities, insurance products, and investment advisory services are offered through Valley Forge Asset Management, an SEC-registered investment advisor and a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA/SIPC), and a licensed insurance agency. Susquehanna Wealth Management is a registered service mark of Susquehanna Bancshares Inc (SBI). Valley Forge Asset Management is a non-bank affiliate of SBI. Securities and insurance products are: Not FDIC insured • May lose value • Not bank guaranteed • Not a deposit • Not insured by any federal government entity.

More Posts by Don:

File and suspend: A technique for married couples to potentially get the most out of their retirement

Piggy Bank with retirement savings chartThis is the second of our two-part series on income retirement planning. In my last blog on Social Security I mentioned a technique for married couples that is somewhat “have your cake and eat it too”.  The technique is called file and suspend.  One spouse collects the highest possible amount by waiting until age 70 while the other spouse starts collecting at a younger age. This is one of the strategies for potentially increasing the amount you get from Social Security.  In a nutshell, the higher earning spouse files for Social Security but immediately suspends the benefit.  This establishes the benefit amount.  With that being done, the lower earning spouse can now file for benefits based on the benefit amount established by the higher earner.  Continue Reading »

Unsure when to claim Social Security benefits? Here is some information that may help in your decision

Close up of social security applicationDeciding when to claim Social Security benefits is an important factor in income retirement planning. You can qualify to begin taking Social Security as early as age 62 or wait as late as age 70. You may start at any time between those ages; increases are applied for each month you delay claiming. For those retiring now, the full retirement age as defined by the Social Security Administration is 66 (for those born between 1943 and 1954). The age goes up in two month intervals for the next five years and full retirement age is 67 for those born in 1960 and after. With all that has been written lately in newspapers and magazines about the potential value of delaying the start of payments, people continue to start taking Social Security before the full retirement age. According to data recently released by the Social Security Administration roughly 35 percent of applicants start at age 62. Continue Reading »

Inheriting an IRA? It Pays to “Stretch” It

What happens to an IRA when it is inherited by the account owner’s children? Myth: The account is gobbled up in a combination of estate taxes and income tax. Reality: Under present regulations that allow for a $5 million exemption from estate taxes for both husband and wife ($10 million total), very few IRAs will be affected by estate taxes. If the person who inherits the IRA chooses to take a total distribution immediately and pay all the income tax in one year, that would take a large bite (of course, a Roth IRA would not incur this tax). A solution is to have the beneficiary take advantage of what the regulations allow and stretch the life of the account as long as possible as an IRA. Depending on the individual’s financial need, this may be advantageous for both the Traditional IRA and Roth IRA. Continue Reading »

Looking for a Loan? Think Twice Before Tapping a 401(k)

With a stagnant economy and money tight for many families, it’s only natural that some people may consider borrowing from their 401(k) retirement plan if they need some extra cash. After all, it’s your money, right? True, but it’s important to consider the potential negatives of borrowing from yourself in this way. Continue Reading »

Can Three Figures Be Enough to Help Pay for College? Maybe, If Those Figures Are 5-2-9

With another academic year now underway, a lot of families may be looking toward the future and asking a few questions: I wonder if my kids will go to college? I wonder where? And, perhaps most of all: I wonder how I’ll pay for it? Even if you don’t know the answer to the first two questions, you can begin working on the answer to the third. A 529 plan offers a tax-advantaged way to put money away for a child or grandchild to help pay for their education. Continue Reading »

Paying Your Way While Traveling Abroad

One of the advantages of debit and credit cards when you travel overseas is their ease of use. No more having to go to the bank and get travelers checks, something I found inconvenient to use and carry around. The local currency is so much easier – and debit cards give you an easy way to get just the amount you need. Before you travel overseas there are some things you should do. Continue Reading »

"Next Generation" Investing: Introducing Children to the Basics

Are you looking for a way to get your children or grandchildren introduced to saving and investing? If so, I have a strategy for you to consider. It may also help them to build a nest egg that will give them financial independence in the future, which so many baby boomers and GenXers do not have. Continue Reading »

A Peek Inside the 2010 Tax Bill: What It Means for Investors

We agonized until almost the end of 2010 waiting to find out what Congress would do concerning taxes. They responded late in the month of December with the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010. Let’s look at some of the highlights affecting individuals. Continue Reading »

Are You Financially Prepared for Retirement?

A study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College concluded that Americans need to focus more on investment savings. It revealed that as of 2009, 41% of early Baby Boomers, 48% of late Boomers and 56% of Gen-Xers were at risk of not saving enough for retirement. What that means is that many will not be able to maintain their lifestyle in retirement. Do you fit into this at-risk category? Continue Reading »

Pitfalls of Illogical Investing: Buying Based on "Buzz"

After years of observing investor behavior, I find that many people do not make money in the stock market when trying to invest on their own. What are they missing? Often, a plan and the discipline that is necessary to be successful in choosing, buying and selling investments. Continue Reading »

Get Past the Tax-Cut Extension Debate: Decisions You Should Make Right Now About Your Investments

Lawmakers avoided making some key tax decisions before they left Washington to hit the campaign trail. There will be time in the lame duck session after the election, but if they take no action, the Bush tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 will expire at the end of this year. The news has been filled with all sorts of speculation as to what might happen; no action, a partial roll back, or a one- or two-year extension of the tax cuts. Bottom line: even if Congress takes no action, you may still want to take some action of your own to ensure your investment portfolio is prepped for tax season. Continue Reading »

Securing Your Retirement: It Starts with the Right Timing

It used to be that if you asked people when they were going to retire, the answer was easy: 65. Today, though, it’s best to develop a strategy on the timing of your retirement, taking into account your personal financial situation, lifestyle preferences, the economy, and the variations in Social Security benefits depending on how old you are when you retire. Continue Reading »

Don’t Scramble Your Nest Egg: Resist the Urge to Access Retirement Funds While Unemployed

The recession and its aftermath have led to periods of unemployment for many workers, in some cases for the first time in their careers. During these times, it is important to resist the temptation to withdraw money from any of your retirement plans to cover living expenses. Two things make this a bad idea. First, you have to pay taxes on money taken out, so it becomes a very expensive source of funds. Second, the power of tax-free compounding on that money is gone. If you need funds over and above unemployment benefits and severance pay, use after-tax savings to make up the difference. Continue Reading »

Is 2010 the Time For a Roth IRA Conversion?

A common question in retirement planning is, “What type of IRA is best: a Traditional IRA or Roth IRA?” The next logical question is, “Does it make sense to convert a Traditional IRA to a Roth?” The answers, of course, depend on your situation and goals. Continue Reading »