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Happy Father’s Day!

[ 0 ] June 10, 2014

Spectrum Financial Services, NJ, FL, Happy Father's DayFather’s Day is right around the corner.  Are you ready?  No?  Well don’t worry, we have you covered.

If you are in the Red Bank, New Jersey area:

Head on over to the Colt’s Neck Inn for a Father’s Day brunch, he is sure to love.  From 11:00 am-1:00 pm enjoy favorites such as Eggs Benedict to Chicken Francaise and everything in between.  Adults are $20.95/per person and Children 10 and under are $12.95.  Children under 3 are free.

Is your dad feeling more nostalgic?  Take him to the car show.

Cruise to the Jersey shore this weekend.   From 9:00am-4:00pm, head on over to the beach front to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Cruise to the Shore.  Enjoy the day with food, live entertainment, and of course, classic cars.  Ronald MacDonald will be making an appearance from 1:30-3:30 pm.  All the proceeds will go to the Ronald MacDonald House.  Spectators are free, $10.00 registration fee.


Are you in the Florida area and looking to take dad to a Father’s Day brunch?  Look no further than Frigate’s Waterfront Bar & Grill.  On Sunday, June 15th from 9:00 am-3:00 pm, head on over to Frigate’s for shrimp an’ grits, corned beef hash benedict, and everything else in between.  Adults are $29.95 and kids 12 and under are $12.95.

Does dad want something more exciting?  Try kiteboarding.

Shawn of Cloud Nine Kiteboarding is the expert to go to for kiteboarding.  Shawn will take the time you need to get you where you are comfortable to be on your own.  Not sure what kiteboarding is, but it sounds like fun? Kitesurfing or kiteboarding is a surface water sport combining aspects of wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding, and gymnastics into one extreme sport. A kitesurfer or kiteboarder harnesses the power of the wind with a large controllable power kite to be propelled across the water on a kiteboard similar to a wakeboard or a small surfboard, with or without foot-straps or bindings.

Whatever you decide to do for dad, everyone at Spectrum Financial Services, wants to wish all the fathers out there a Happy Father’s Day! 

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Memorial Day Trivia

[ 0 ] May 21, 2014

Spectrum Financial Solutions, NJ, Memorial DayDecoration Day, which is now most commonly known as Memorial Day was first observed on May 5, 1866 by residents of Waterloo, New York. There are some other facts you may not be aware of that surround this national holiday including:

  • Significance of Red Poppy – the red poppy has become a recognized symbol of Memorial Day. However, the origins may surprise you: Poet John McCrae penned “In Flanders Field” on December 8, 1915. This later became the inspiration for the red poppy.
  • Red Poppy Factory – in 1923, the VFW recognized the poppy for the first time and coined the phrase “buddy poppy”. A factory was established in Pittsburgh PA to assemble artificial poppies and they hired veterans who were unable to find work in other areas. Today, the poppies are still assembled by veterans, oftentimes those who are hospitalized. It allows them to earn a small amount of money and also helps raise money for veterans outreach programs by the American Legion as well as the Auxiliary Poppy Program.
  • The three-day weekend – Until 1971, Memorial Day was not an official holiday name until it was changed by federal declaration. Until 1968, Memorial Day was always celebrated on May 30th, it was changed to allow for a three-day weekend when Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.
  • National Moment of Remembrance Act – signed by President William Jefferson Clinton on December 28, 2000 this act designated 3:00pm local time as a national moment of remembrance for all the veterans lost in our wars.

War losses are significant

Since the civil war, we have lost nearly 1.25 million troops in conflicts including more than

  • 600,000 in the civil war
  • 116,000 in World War I
  • 405,000 in World War II
  • 36,000 in Korea
  • 58,000 in Vietnam
  • 4,800 in Operation Iraqi Freedom
  • 3,300 in Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan)

This Memorial Day weekend as we celebrate the unofficial start of summer, take a moment out to thank a veteran for your freedom.

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Sen.: Miami Beach Ground Zero for Sea Level Rise

[ 0 ] May 7, 2014

Spectrum Financial Group, FL, Miami BeachThe insurance industry’s refusal to acknowledge climate change may hurt the insurance industry in Southern Florida, says U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. The Miami Herald reports Nelson convened a two-hour field hearing at Miami Beach City Hall on Tuesday to draw national attention to the dangers posed by rising seas in Miami. At the hearing, a half-dozen witnesses forecast a dire future with a three-foot rise in seas by the beginning of the next century, says theHerald.

Nelson, Florida’s former insurance commissioner, also tapped an insurance industry expert to address whether the 5.7 million South Florida residents living along the nation’s hurricane highway can expect coverage under increasingly waterlogged conditions, including regular flooding due to strong high tides. Megan Linkin, a natural hazards expert with Swiss re, says the insurance industry has not accepted that climate change has caused changing weather patterns, and no companies include the risk of climate change in determining insurance rates. She adds that rising sea levels will likely make some properties so vulnerable that they could not be insured at a reasonable rate.

Nelson acknowledged that the insurance industry has recognized the United Nations’ prediction from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that more serious storms will come, but complains that “myopic vision” had kept the industry from addressing the climate matters he started asking about 20 years ago when he was the state’s insurance commissioner, says the Herald. “The fact is there’s been five to eight inches [of sea rise] in the last century and they’re going to have to build it in” to models, Nelson says.

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2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Re-cap

[ 0 ] February 26, 2014

Spectrum Financial Solutions, GA, 2014 Winter OlympicsAnother Winter Olympics season has come and gone and it was a nail-biter, right up until the end.  The United States had received the most medals up until the closing weekend, when Russia dominated in the events.  Russia came through in the end, earning a total of 33 medals with 13 gold medals, 11 silver medals and 9 bronze medals.  The United States came in second, earning a total of 28 medals with 9 gold medals, 7 silver medals and 12 bronze medals.  Norway came in third with 26 medals, 11 of the medals are gold, 5 silver and 10 bronze medals.  Here is the breakdown between Russia and the United States.

Russia won the gold in the following categories:

Biathlon – Men’s Relay
Bobsleigh – Four Men and Two Men
Cross Country – Men’s 50 km
Figure Skating – Ladies, Pairs, Team
Short Track – Men’s 1000m, Men’s 500 Men’s 5000m
Skeleton – Men
Snowboard – Men’s Parallel Giant Slalom
Snowboard – Men’s Parallel Slalom

The United States won the gold in these categories:

Alpine Skiing – Men’s Giant Slalom, Women’s Slalom
Figure Skating – Ice Dance
Freestyle Skiing – Men’s Ski Halfpipe
Freestyle Skiing – Men’s Ski Slopestyle
Freestyle Skiing – Women’s Ski Halfpipe
Snowboard – Men’s Slopestyle
Snowboard – Women’s halfpipe
Snowboard – Women’s Slopestyle

The complete list of all 2014 Sochi Olympic winners is here.

Congratulations to all Olympians!

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Last minute gift ideas for Valentine’s Day

[ 0 ] February 12, 2014
Spectrum Financial Solutions, LLC, NJ, FL, Valentine's DayValentine’s Day is creeping closer and if your significant other deserves more than just a standard drug store chocolate heart, than you came to the right place. We have a complete list of last minute Valentine’s Day gift for both him and her, and the best thing about these 6 gifts is that they are fast and cheap, while still being incredibly thoughtful. So whether you are looking forward to spending the loving day with Mr. Right, or your special lady, these last minute presents will ensure your celebration goes off with out a hitch!

For Him

DIY projects are easy and affordable, but while women normally cry at the sight of anything handmade, men are not so enthralled with the process. However, this gift combines the simplistic nature of DIY projects with an actual gift your significant other will want. 12-months of preplanned dates is such a fun and exciting way to spend the year together. The dates planned can range from stay-at-home movie nights, to meals out, attending sporting events, and maybe even his favorite band’s concert. Use multi-colored envelopes, secured close with ribbon in order to prevent any wandering eyes, label each envelope with the corresponding month for your dates. Not only is it multiple gifts in one, but also your man will love to know that you planned well into the future with him!

Breakfast in bed, who ever said that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach was so right. A way to create a special breakfast for the two of you is to have sweet breakfast in bed, of course you want it to be delicious but you should also make it simple, because the best part about breakfast in bed is having you still tucked in beside him. Try a baked French Toast Casserole, which you can set the day before and then easily bake in the morning before your loved one wakes. Pair with frozen/ pre cooked sausages and of course his favorite juice and coffee. Simple and sweet, the best part is while baking the casserole your whole house will start to smell like cinnamon and sugar goodness, the perfect way to wake up!

While men attempt to pretend they are touch and not so sensitive, they can be big teddy bears. So what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day then telling them all the reason you love them. Combining the two best parts of tis annual sappy holiday, your man will love to know that he is loved each and every time he reaches for a sweet candy treat. Make your man the 50 Reasons Why I Love You Jar, using miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, circle labels, and a mason jar. Check out The Dating Diva’s for full instructions!

For Her

Luckily when it comes to Valentine’s Day most women will be over the moon of their significant other just puts in a bit of extra effort. So with these easy to do DIY gifts, you will be getting serious brownie points for a while after Valentine’s Day is over.

A carved initial candle is not only beautiful but romantic as well. This is the perfect gift for your girlfriend that not only loves candles, but also loves personalization. Throwing it back middle school when you and your boyfriend would crave your name into the local kissing tree, the craved candle is the perfect declaration of love without going over the top. Check out for full instructions on how to make this gift, and what supplies you’ll need!

Now this DIY project is most certainly a bit more ambitious then the candle but hey anything you worked on your girlfriend will love, right? Well that’s what they say so give it a shot! Give your favorite girl her new favorite accessory- a leather heart coin purse. A sweet reminder of our shared love each time she looks into her purse, luckily no sewing is involved and the directions seem simple enough. Check out for a full tutorial and our advice would be to grab a few extra yards of leather, just in case your first heather cut out isn’t perfect.

Our last gift idea for a fast and cheap Valentine’s Day extravaganza is to cook your sweetie something sweet. Now maybe a full dinner is too ambitious and can become costly quick, we understand that. But after you guys have enjoyed a nice Valentine’s Day meal, handled by professionals, head on home for something more romantic made fresh by you! Dessert is easy to make, and hard to mess up, especially if there is chocolate involved. A classic Valentine’s Day dessert are chocolate covered strawberries and luckily for you, you can make them ahead of time, and have your treats ready to serve when you both arrive home from dinner. Check out an easy step-by-step recipe to make these sexy and delicious desserts for Valentine’s Day.

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Privately Financed Graded Premium Universal Life

[ 0 ] February 5, 2014

Spectrum Financial Solutions, NJ, Life InsuranceCurrently, an arbitrage opportunity presents itself to sophisticated investors whereby interest bearing loans (interest paid currently and loans retired in less than ten years) made to a trust for the benefit of family members can create guaranteed Internal Rates of Return (IRR) that far exceed those available from most portfolio assets.  As the accompanying study illustrates, if trust assets grow at a modest 6% annual rate, the underlying trust will have grown terminal value to in excess of $16,145,000 in year 27 (the joint life expectancy of the hypothetical couple used in the study).

That equates to a 12.5% tax-free IRR for the trust assets (19.3% pre-tax).

This program is not a risk-less arbitrage.  Risk may be associated only with the trust’s ability to achieve annual growth of 6% during the loan period and longevity of the investors.  To the degree that growth rates fall below 6%, loans may be extended beyond 9 years and, correspondingly, IRR’s will not be as high as illustrated.  Additionally, because the trust matures upon the death of the investors, if the trust outlasts actuarial assumptions, IRR’s may be less than indicated above (see accompanying schedules).

This program is Internal Revenue Code (IRC) compliant.  Rates of interest charged to and paid by trusts using program are based on the Applicable Federal Rate (AFR) for mid-term loans and are published monthly.  Once established, loans will bear that AFR for the term of the loan.

Perhaps a successful individual is not interested in further estate planning. This approach understands that position and posits that the Privately Financed Guaranteed UL Program, aside from offering a superior investment experience, may enable investors’ unique opportunities to expand both charitable and non-charitable goals that previously weren’t possible or were deferred.

To Summarize:

Privately Financed Graded Premium Universal Life may be a solution to issues facing many successful investors and families today.  Through the use of a minimal risk arbitrage technique, estates can be secured, charitable gifts accelerated and a variety of other planning and/or investment goals satisfied very efficiently.

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These 8 Tax Breaks Are About to Expire

[ 0 ] January 29, 2014

Spectrum Financial, NJ, TaxesWhen Congress wants to encourage a certain behavior – fuel conservation, for example – it can approve a tax credit or deduction to make that behavior more attractive. And when times are financially tight, Congress often creates or extends tax breaks.

With the economy improving, Congress is feeling less generous. These eight tax breaks are set to expire, so grab them while you can. Unless Congress acts – it’s happened plenty of times before – these tax breaks will be history after Dec. 31.

1. Beefed-up home energy efficiency

You can get a federal tax credit of up to $500 for the purchase of certain energy-efficient home upgrades and appliances. The Nonbusiness Energy Property Credit allows you a tax credit of 10 percent of the cost of materials, up to $5,000.

Eligible products include certain roofs, energy-efficient exterior windows and doors, and insulation installed at your primary home. You can include installation costs when you buy eligible biomass fuel stoves, water heaters and high-efficiency heating and air conditioning systems.

The credit has limits for some products, like windows ($200), central air conditioners ($300), heat pumps ($300), furnaces ($150) and corn-fueled stoves ($300), says Forbes.

Which products are eligible? Energy Star-qualifying products are a good bet, but they’re not guaranteed to qualify. The IRS’ advice:

Not all energy-efficient improvements qualify, so be sure you have the manufacturer’s credit certification statement. It is usually available on the manufacturer’s website or with the product’s packaging.

You can use up to $500 in credit in your lifetime. tells more about the credits.

States have incentives, too. Find them at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.

2. Electric vehicles

Tax credits for electric vehicles also are due to sunset at year’s end. All-electric vehicles that qualify for a tax credit of up to $7,500 include: the 2013 Fiat 500e, a 2012–14 Ford Focus EV, the 2014 Chevrolet Spark, the 2011–13 Leaf, 2012–14 RAV4 EV and others.

Also on the way out: a 10 percent tax credit of up to $2,500 for buying a two- or three-wheeled electric vehicle (like electric motorcycles and enclosed three-wheelers) that has batteries with a stored energy capacity of at least 2.5 kilowatt-hours, says EV Larger, four-wheeled neighborhood electric cars with a battery capacity of at least 4 kwh also qualify.

In the new year, you can still get a tax incentive of up to $7,500, though, for “plug-in” hybrid vehicles like the 2012-2014 Ford Focus Electric, the 2013 Ford Fusion Energi, the 2013 Ford C-MAX Energi, and Toyota’s 2012–14 Prius plug-in hybrids. Here’s the whole list. These credits will gradually “phase out for a given manufacturer once that manufacturer has sold 200,000 qualifying vehicles in the United States,” says the Alliance to Save Energy.

3. Classroom supplies

If you’re a teacher, you might have been taking advantage of the $250 deduction for your unreimbursed purchases of classroom books, computer equipment and supplies. Stock up now because this deduction (here’s the IRS description) is set to expire.

4. Conservation easements

A tax deduction for a tool that has helped preserve greenbelts, farmland and wildlife habitat is on the way out. A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a property owner and a land trust or government. The owner gives up some rights to use the land in exchange for claiming a tax-deductible charitable donation. FindLaw has details.

“For example, you might give up the right to build additional structures, while retaining the right to grow crops,” says the Land Trust Alliance. The restrictions stay with the land if it’s sold. Easements also help families pass undeveloped land to future generations. By removing the property’s development potential, its value is reduced, lowering the potential estate tax, the alliance says.

5. State and local sales tax

You can deduct the state and local sales tax you paid during the year, but only if you itemize, says Forbes.

And you must choose: The IRS guidance says you can deduct either state and local sales tax or state income tax but not both.

A tax roundup by information services company Wolters Kluwer is optimistic that Congress may extend this tax break. But just to be sure, make any big purchases you have in mind before the end of the year if you want to deduct the sales tax.

6. Forgiven mortgage debt

In effect, you’ve earned money when the bank lets you off the hook for a part of your mortgage balance. After the tsunami of foreclosures brought pleas from homeowners, lenders sometimes forgive a portion of a borrower’s mortgage debt in a foreclosure, short sale or mortgage modification. The IRS considered this taxable income until Congress passed the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act in 2007. It lets taxpayers exclude from taxes up to $2 million in mortgage debt forgiveness on their principal residence. The IRS explains it.

That break is set to disappear. (Those using the Home Affordable Modification Program’s Principal Reduction Alternative should read this article.)

7. Tax parity for commuters

Workers who drive to work can defer $245 a month of pretax salary in 2013 to help pay for parking. Those costs are excluded from your gross income for tax purposes, says the IRS.

The transit parity tax leveled the playing field, giving the same benefits to commuters who use public transit or van pools. But the tax break for those using public transit will shrink to $130 a month in 2014, while increasing to $250 for drivers who pay for parking. Hang onto your receipts next year anyway, in case Congress extends the break retroactively.

8. Charitable contributions from IRAs

If you’re 70½ or older, you can transfer up to $100,000 out of your individual retirement account to charity. This alternative to using an itemized deduction is about to sunset, too.

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Here we are!

[ 0 ] January 22, 2014

Spectrum Financial has made it more convenient for you to to reach us!  You can find us on our blog  LinkedIn page,  Facebook page, and of course our website.

Check us out!


Applicable Federal Rates

[ 0 ] January 15, 2014

Cheap Money is Still Here but It’s Getting More Expensive

Spectrum Financial Solutions, LLC Applicable Federal Rates

I sure hope that everyone is looking at the recent rise in the mid and long-term Applicable Federal Rates (AFR).  After languishing at historically low levels since October, 2011, these benchmark rates have finally started a northern movement over the past few months.  Where they will stop, I wouldn’t hazard a guess but I know that the opportunities that these low rates represent, while still very favorable, more than likely won’t see recent levels any time soon.

I have been preaching the advocacy of Intra-family lending at the mid and long-term rates for years.  It may be better than gifting of assets to children and heirs.  Consider these points:

  • No gift tax returns to file or gift taxes to pay
  • An income stream albeit marginal (mid-term rate for August = 1.63% and long-term= 3.16%)
  • An element of control
  • An interim freeze on asset growth for loaned funds
  • Return of your money at some later date
  • Retention of any unused unified credit
  • Flexibility

While intra-family lending is a potent wealth transfer tool, rising AFR’s also affect many other planning tools.  One such program that I use extensively is the charitable lead unitrust, which employs the mid-term AFR to calculate the Section 7520 rates and charitable lead income tax deductions.

The planning opportunity afforded by these rates remains formidable.  If the client has the financial wherewithal, desire to transfer wealth efficiently and/or has charitable goals, there is no time better than now to explore the options created by low AFR rates.

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Quote of the day-Preparation

[ 0 ] January 8, 2014

Spectrum Financial Solutions, NJ, Abraham Lincoln“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my axe.” Abraham Lincoln