Fly Eagles Fly!

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Post by:Valley Financial Group

As of this writing, the National Football League has dwindled down to just two teams following the exciting conclusion of Championship Weekend, and (in case you're unaware) the Birds are going to the Super Bowl LII!!! No big deal, right? Let's send a few prayers out that this week's game in Minneapolis will more closely resemble last Sunday's blowout victory as opposed to the nail-biter that was the divisional match up with the Falcons. That being said, across the league its getting more and more difficult to attend playoff games, in particular the Super Bowl, because of the outlandish ticket prices. For example, standing room tickets, the cheapest available, to the Eagles last Sunday evening for the NFC Championship were a whopping $344. I'm expecting a surf and turf table for one at the 50 yard line for that kind of money, but that's just the way of the world now.

Ticket prices to games have gone up since the inaugural Super Bowl in 1967. I know, shocker, but the price of entry may have gotten even higher than you realize. Sure, the $12 face value of a Super Bowl I ticket seems absurdly low, but even when adjusted for inflation that only amounts to an estimated $85.05 in 2018, which falls far, far short of the average price of a ticket to the 51st big game last year at $1,325, with prices set to rise even higher this year and every Super Bowl to follow. With the cheapest available prices approaching $1500, there's plenty of necessities to be bought instead of splurging on a Super Bowl ticket, such as 15 Carson Wentz jerseys, or 180 cheese steaks from Steve's Prince of Steaks for you Super Bowl Party. 

On a more serious note, watching Super Bowl LII on your couch could save you enough for utility or cell phone bills for a year, or even be a nice addition to your child's education fund (accounting to The College Board of America the average college tuition cost per year is  34,740).  So does it make smart, financial sense to buy a ticket to Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis, Minnesota on February 4th at 6:30 PM? Of course not, but, then again, its the birds baby, and there's just something special about this year, this town, and this underdog team and this financial team will understand this expense!  There have been many years of Waiting and The Philadelphia Financial Blog believes the wait is over! Bring it Home. 

 Fly Eagles Fly!  

529 changes

Post by: Valley Financial Group

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From small businesses to large families, a large percentage of the population is receiving at least some tax related benefits from the reforms set in place by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was passed by House and Senate in its preliminary state several months ago. Yet another group who will benefit tremendously, but may not even know it, is families whose children attend non-public elementary or secondary schools. Whereas before only finances designated for use on college tuition in a 529 account could be withdrawn and used tax-free, now tuition money for private schooling for grades K-12 up to $10,000 can be withdrawn per year and used tax-free.

 While it may seem like a no-brainer now to use a 529 plan to pay for your child's private elementary or high school, there are still a few things to consider before making a decision. Firstly, because 529 plans have tax-free compounding, taking money out early to pay for pre-college tuition will obviously reduce the growth potential of your money. For example, in a simulation run by the American Enterprise Institute, if a family were to save $250 in their 529 plan per month, but started making withdrawals when their child reached ninth grade instead of entering college, they would reduce their potential federal tax benefit by as much as $2,000. Another thing to know when considering a 529 plan is your specific state's tax law concerning these plans. Over 30 states have additional tax cuts and benefits on 529 plans, which of course is a strong reason to invest your money in these plans tax-free for your children's educational future.

 Lastly, even if you already have an account saving up for college, it may not be a bad idea to open a separate account for K-12 tuition payments, as the bill is so young that 529 plans are still primarily designed for longer term college savings, with less risky investments being made as time goes on to ensure there are sufficient funds for college tuition. Of course, everyone's situation is different, and with proper advising and research, the right plan can be found for each family’s specific education savings needs.

New tax bill information

In this world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.   -Benjamin Franklin

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Ben sure wasn't lying!  Anyone who's flipped on their TV or opened up the internet in the last few weeks is surely aware of the new tax bill that was recently passed. Sure, its common knowledge that the bill exists, but what changes were made that will affect our nation, and, of course, what aspects of the bill will affect us as individuals or business owners. Below is a summary of the key changes of the new tax bill perspective. The summary is from Wouch, Maloney & Co. LLP and if you like to see more details the tax changes please click on their link below.

 

http://wm-cpa.com/client-news-alerts/house-senate-pass-tax-cuts-jobs-act/

 

 

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Caring for your Christmas Tree

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Post by: Valley Financial Group

Christmas movies have been playing for weeks. While I have many favorites, whenever I go buy my Christmas tree I always think about National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  There are so many funny scenes surrounding the tree: the Griswold’s looking for the perfect tree, the tree being too big for the living room, a squirrel being in the tree and the tree catching fire.

Below are tips for caring for your tree and also some fire safety that Clark Griswold could have benefited from.

1.        The fresher the tree, the less likely it will pose a fire hazard. Look for flexible needles that don’t break, and a trunk with sap.

2.       When deciding on the location for the tree in your home, make sure to keep the tree away from heat sources such as fireplaces, candles and even a TV.

3.   Place the tree in water as soon as possible.  Check the water daily to make sure that the water does not go below the base of the tree.

4.   When placing lights on the tree use low energy, safe lighting that has been certified by safety testing labs.

5.   Attach only 3 maximum strings of lights to any extension cord.  Place the cords along the walls to prevent a tripping hazard. Never put the cords under rugs or carpets.

6.   Always turn off the lights at night when going to bed.

7.   Once a tree becomes dry it is not safe it is time to get rid of it.

8.   Keep a fire extinguisher nearby and make sure everyone knows its location and how to use it.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-siciliano/10-christmas-tree-safety-tips_b_4466908.html

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Holiday Drinks

Post by: Valley Financial Group

IT'S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE COCKTAILS!   Jenngietzen

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The Holiday and Christmas Music is playing again. Sometimes it’s on so much it makes you want to have a drink.

What do you drink during the holidays?

Besides eggnog, it’s hard to think of any drinks that we could classify as a “holiday drink". So, to spread the word that there is in fact a list of drinks designed specifically to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year, here is a list of the top drinks for the holidays and a list of our favorites.   If you disagree please send us your favorites. Also, if you drink during holidays and need to travel use a cab, UBER, Lift or get a good Designated Driver. 

5) Eggnog Punch

      -This drink takes a classic holiday drink and takes it to a whole other level. It can be served with or without alcohol, and contains eggnog mixed with cinnamon flavorings and a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.

      Two Favorites:

             1. Trickling Springs 

             2. Pennsylvania Dutch Egg Nog

4) Hot Chocolate:

   -Although it isn't always considered a holiday drink, there is always a need for a delicious hot chocolate drink during the chilly months. Here are a few of our favorite places to order hot choholate.

     Favorite Hot Chocolate Places:

              1. Max Brenner

              2. Rim Cafe

              3. Tradestone Cafe

              4. Sweet Briar Cafe

3) Hot Toddy: 

     -  I do not drink them much, but the Hot Toddy ranks high on many holiday drink lists. Valley Financial Group does not have a favorite, but a good friend Jeremy Scarpello recommended a recipe:

          https://www.crownroyal.com/whisky-cocktails/vanilla-hot-toddy/

2) Red Wine:  

-Drinking a glass of red wine for some reason tastes great anytime of the year, but it tastes a little better during the Christmas and Holiday Season. Asking me to pick a good red is like asking me when the stock market is going to go down or up. I have no idea. However, I have two friends that have an almost supernatural ability to pick a good red wine for any meal or occasion.  So, I went to the best that I know, Sal Paone and Peter Reardon on what their favorite wines are during the Holiday Season. Also, they broke it down from the cost of the wine. I think you will enjoy!

Sal and Peter's Favorites:

             $0-$30

                  - Charles Krug Cabernet 

                  - Decoy by Duckhorn Red Blend

                  - Chimney Rock

                  - The Prisoner by Orin Swift

              $31-$75

                   - Silver Oak

                   - Duckhorn

                   - Justin Isosceles

               $ Looking to Splurge on Holiday Season

                    - Caymus Select

                    - Peter Michael - Les Espirit

                    - Lewis Cab

                    - Phelps Insignia

1) Christmas Beer

    - There are so many different beers these days. I will share the beers and IPAs that bring the most joy to the Valley Financial Group staff during the holidays.


               1. Mad Elf

               2. Santa's Little Helper

               3. Christmas Ale from Sly Fox Brewing

               4. Anchor Brewing Company Christmas Ale

               5. GUINNESS

 Happy Christmas and Holidays!