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Mutual Funds – A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery

As published in the Traverse City Record-Eagle’s Business section on July 6, 2014:

As the popularity of exchange traded funds (ETFs) has ballooned, many investors are understandably left scratching their heads about how they differ from mutual funds. More »

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I’m going to start a business! Now what?

By James PalmerPerhaps one of the biggest questions about starting a business is, “What does it actually take to start a business?” I had made my decision, but now it was time to figure out what I needed to do legally to make it a reality. You might think that doing this would require months of time, reams of paperwork, and an attorney to navigate governmental red tape. You’d be wrong. More »

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Are Management Fees Deductible?

Q: My financial adviser recently mentioned that the management fees I pay him are tax deductible. Is this true?

Unfortunately, your question is also best answered with a convoluted, yes and no.

To begin, if you don’t itemize your deductions, then it’s a no, not deductible. That’s easy enough. More »

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The Frog in the Pan

By Robert GilbertSeveral things have finally prodded me to address climate change. Until recently, I had been content to let the continuing revelations from the scientific community speak to the issue. I thought the debate was essentially over, given the overwhelming scientific consensus that human-caused climate change is real and dangerous. But an April 18 op-ed in the Record-Eagle reprinted from the (Andover, Mass.) Eagle-Tribune which sneered at climate change concerns as “climate change religion,” in addition to the recent passage by the House of Representatives of an amendment to the annual Defense Department funding bill, have made me realize how naive I have been. More »

Posted in Musings of a Moderate | 18 Comments

What’s in a Name?

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  Floor Care

By James PalmerSo, I had decided to become an entrepreneur. I had decided the business I would open would be in floor care (carpet, tile, upholstery cleaning). Now comes the fun part … naming your creation. I would have loved to have had more time to think over names but at the same time I was anxious to start the ball rolling and before doing anything else I would need a name. More »

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Investors Should Guard Against Getting Entranced

Five years into a bull market, the mood is changing. From my perch as an investment adviser, I sense a subtle shift. It isn’t necessarily one toward obvious risk-taking. The Great Recession seems to have squashed unbridled optimism. No, this shift is more subtle and it will have implications. More »

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Mortgage vs. Paying Cash For a Home

Q: Can you help me settle a family debate? I’m thinking about buying a house as a rental. My brother-in-law says I should take out as big a mortgage as possible. My gut tells me to use my cash just sitting in the bank. How do I decide? More »

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Decision Day

By James PalmerIn my first blog I discussed the epiphany that perhaps starting a business need not wait for an original idea, but rather to pursue something that you are both passionate and knowledgeable about. After months of brainstorming, critical thinking, and prayer, the idea of starting a carpet cleaning company had risen to the top. I decided that before making any final decisions I should seek out the council of several persons who had themselves operated a business in the floor-care field. More »

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So you want to start a business … What does Traverse City need?

By James PalmerFor about as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to start and run my own business — to be my own boss, to chart my own course, and to sink or swim based on my own efforts. When I was a child, the neighbors, my brothers, and I, would set up “businesses” in the basement. We would then shop and trade with one another using blocks as currency. I also ran my own cookie and lemonade stand (Full disclosure mom, I ate most of the cookies myself). More »

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Your Wife Is Right About Life Insurance

I highly encourage readers to submit a question to this column. Of course, your name will not be published. To submit one, visit FrontStreet.com/YourMoney.

Q: My wife keeps telling me that we need to get some life insurance, especially since we just had our first baby. Before talking with an agent, how should I really be thinking about life insurance? More »

Posted in Front Street Wealth Management | 1 Comment

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