There is an endless amount of terminology that surrounds the finance and investment industries. It can certainly be confusing to the average investor, and may be responsible for some uncertainty when it comes to how to invest and which advisor to trust.

The Devil’s Financial Dictionary is a book that has recently been released by Jason Zweig, a Wall Street Journal columnist. His glossary lists several of these commonly used and complex terms alongside their satirical definitions. Zweig’s straightforward and candid guide is his attempt to enlighten the everyday investor, while making them laugh at the same time.

At Rockbridge, we understand how difficult it can be to find an advisor you can trust and who consistently makes decisions with your best interest in mind. We hope that you enjoy this humorous summary of Zweig’s new book as you enjoy the relaxing weekend with your families. Hopefully it will cause a few laughs and shed some light on exactly why we do things the way we do here at Rockbridge.

Recently, Congress included surprising Social Security rule changes in the 2016 budget legislation.  The bill has now become law and the updated rules will become permanent over a phase-in time period.  We wanted to reach out to all of our clients to help better explain what you may be hearing in the news and describe how the change will affect you personally.  For a more detailed explanation of your personal situation, please feel free to contact us.

Rule Definitions

There are two general rules that were affected by the recent legislation:  File and Suspend and Restricted Application.   Below are brief definitions of the two rules:

  • File and Suspendis a claiming strategy where an individual files for Social Security benefits at full retirement age (generally 66) and then suspends receiving benefits until a later point in time.  This strategy was often used in conjunction with the Restricted Application strategy.
  • Restricted Applicationis a claiming strategy where a spouse or former spouse is able to file for spousal benefits at full retirement age (generally 66) while allowing their own benefits to grow at a rate of 8% per year.

Phase-In Timing

The new law allows for a phase-in of the Social Security rule changes.  If you are currently receiving benefits, you will be unaffected by this legislation.  If you have not started benefits, the following birthdate ranges will show which strategies are still applicable for your personal situation:

  • Born May 1st, 1949 and earlier – You have the ability to file and suspend your benefits between now and May 1st, 2016.   After that time period, the file and suspend benefit will no longer be in place.   You will also be eligible for spousal benefits using the Restricted Application claiming strategy.
  • Born Between May 2nd, 1949 and December 31st, 1953 – You no longer have the ability to file and suspend your benefits.  You will be eligible for spousal benefits using the Restricted Application claiming strategy.
  • Born January 1st, 1954 and later – You will no longer have the ability to use the file and suspend or restricted application strategies when claiming Social Security benefits.

Overall, the removal of the Restricted Application and File and Suspend claiming strategies will have a slight effect on some people’s retirement plans.   At Rockbridge, we are able to help you navigate these changes and how they impact your overall retirement lifestyle.

Please feel free to reach out to any one of our advisors and we can describe how these changes impact your personal situation in more detail.

The holidays are right around the corner, and it’s time to start thinking about gift shopping, parties, and all the other spending that goes along with them. It’s nothing new that the holidays are expensive. However, it is important to set a budget and avoid overspending during this time of year.

This Reuters article discusses how 62% of parents admit to overspending during the holidays. Many will even dip into their emergency savings or retirement accounts just to pay the holiday bills. They offer a few tips on how to curb your holiday spending and avoid financial stress so you can enjoy what the holidays are really all about.

Last week, Congress passed their “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.” Among the typical budgetary items, there are a few alterations that will impact the Social Security benefit filing system. Anyone who turns 62 in 2016 or later will no longer be able to take advantage of the “file-and-suspend” strategy for the purpose of receiving spousal benefits. This strategy would allow a person to file and then immediately defer their benefits to a later age, while their spouse was able to claim spousal benefits. In turn, the married couple could take advantage of the deferral credits that increase benefits by 8 percent per year after full retirement age until age 70, while still receiving the spousal benefit Social Security check each month. Under the new rule, a person filing for Social Security must file for both their own benefits and their spousal benefits, but will only receive the higher of the two.

This will impact many people who were planning on including this strategy in their retirement spending plan as a main stream of income. However, Congress believed they needed to eliminate this “loophole” to prevent people from receiving larger benefits than the government originally intended.

Check out the articles below for some more detail on the changes being implemented:

Congress is Killing the File-and-Suspend and Restricted Application Social Security Strategies

New Budget Deal Is Cutting Your Social Security Benefits and It’s a Good Thing


In a recent WSJ article, they talk about the how smart phone “investment apps” are causing investors to react to short-term market swings and abandoning their long-term established financial plans.

Behavioral economists call this tendency, “myopic loss aversion”- and it can be incredibly costly.

Click on the link above to read the full article!