Dairyland Peach http://dairylandpeach.com Sauk Centre, Minnesota Thu, 26 Mar 2015 20:00:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Who to Call in Hard Times http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/who-to-call-in-hard-times/ http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/who-to-call-in-hard-times/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 20:00:05 +0000 http://dairylandpeach.com/?guid=93a1f6c134e7c83e24df2ba85380857e What a lot of people don’t understand about financial advisors is that they are not there solely to plan your future. They are at your side when a present-day catastrophe strikes.

Everyone faces a serious, non-voluntary life-changing event at least once. It could be the death of a spouse, a layoff, a divorce or a very serious illness, something that is often very emotional and not in a good way. Some people may call their parents for support, and others may contact close friends. After those phone calls are made – who next? A financial advisor.

People who are hard hit emotionally may not be able to consider all aspects and nuances of their situation. They need someone to help them understand how those changes affect their financial pictures before they are able to devise a plan to mitigate the harm. An advisor is that someone.

I’ve had clients contact me when hard times came upon them. Although I am not a therapist, I was able to really help my clients look at the event without all of the emotion that clouds their judgment and create an action plan to help them survive.

One of my clients, a young married woman with two small children, called me after she was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer that was spreading. She was afraid that the life insurance company would cancel her policy.

I assured her that the policy was still effective because she paid the premiums. The life insurance policy would still protect her kids. I also asked delicately about estate plans. If things did not go well, everything was in place. The reassurance that all financial pieces were set gave her peace of mind. Fortunately, she survived and is doing well.

During the Great Recession, a number of clients called me in distress. They lost their jobs, worrying about paying monthly expenses. Some wanted to tap into their retirement accounts to help them with the financial shortfalls.

I explained the tax ramifications of taking distributions early and how they might be able to make up for their savings losses once they were employed again. I discussed with them how to create a budget. I also asked them about the health and life insurance that might be gone along with their jobs and how to replace these benefits. 

An advisor not only helps you make sound financial decisions at times of emotions but prepares you for the catastrophes before they hit. Nobody can plan for every single permutation of events that can occur. But it is much easier to tailor a plan if you have savings or life insurance to cover your back.

Financial worries add to one’s distress during major life changes. Call your financial advisor who will listen to your problems, provides guidance on your decisions and makes plans to keep you covered.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq

Wendy Spencer, CFP, CDFA, is president of Spencer Capital Strategies Inc., an independent Money Concepts contractor in Arvada, Colo. She is also a family law mediator; her divorce website is www.divorcemoneypro.com.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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What a lot of people don’t understand about financial advisors is that they are not there solely to plan your future. They are at your side when a present-day catastrophe strikes.

Everyone faces a serious, non-voluntary life-changing event at least once. It could be the death of a spouse, a layoff, a divorce or a very serious illness, something that is often very emotional and not in a good way. Some people may call their parents for support, and others may contact close friends. After those phone calls are made – who next? A financial advisor.

People who are hard hit emotionally may not be able to consider all aspects and nuances of their situation. They need someone to help them understand how those changes affect their financial pictures before they are able to devise a plan to mitigate the harm. An advisor is that someone.

I’ve had clients contact me when hard times came upon them. Although I am not a therapist, I was able to really help my clients look at the event without all of the emotion that clouds their judgment and create an action plan to help them survive.

One of my clients, a young married woman with two small children, called me after she was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer that was spreading. She was afraid that the life insurance company would cancel her policy.

I assured her that the policy was still effective because she paid the premiums. The life insurance policy would still protect her kids. I also asked delicately about estate plans. If things did not go well, everything was in place. The reassurance that all financial pieces were set gave her peace of mind. Fortunately, she survived and is doing well.

During the Great Recession, a number of clients called me in distress. They lost their jobs, worrying about paying monthly expenses. Some wanted to tap into their retirement accounts to help them with the financial shortfalls.

I explained the tax ramifications of taking distributions early and how they might be able to make up for their savings losses once they were employed again. I discussed with them how to create a budget. I also asked them about the health and life insurance that might be gone along with their jobs and how to replace these benefits. 

An advisor not only helps you make sound financial decisions at times of emotions but prepares you for the catastrophes before they hit. Nobody can plan for every single permutation of events that can occur. But it is much easier to tailor a plan if you have savings or life insurance to cover your back.

Financial worries add to one’s distress during major life changes. Call your financial advisor who will listen to your problems, provides guidance on your decisions and makes plans to keep you covered.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq

Wendy Spencer, CFP, CDFA, is president of Spencer Capital Strategies Inc., an independent Money Concepts contractor in Arvada, Colo. She is also a family law mediator; her divorce website is www.divorcemoneypro.com.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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Answers to 4 Big $ Questions http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/answers-to-4-big-questions/ http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/answers-to-4-big-questions/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 18:30:02 +0000 http://dairylandpeach.com/?guid=1bb28ad231505ac09feb21c065b6c7b9 Costs of education and retirement are likely two of your biggest financial concerns. Just in time for tax season, here are answers to a couple of common questions on each important topic.

Education:

Are my student loans deductible? Student loans can be a heavy burden on many taxpayers. Luckily, the Internal Revenue Service allows you to deduct a portion of student loan interest, taken as an adjustment to your income.

This means you can claim the deduction even if you do not itemize deductions – that is, file a Schedule A on your IRS Form 1040 tax return. Unfortunately, the IRS also imposes many limitations on the deductibility of student loan interest: The maximum interest deduction is $2,500 for 2014.

To secure the deduction, you must have used the loan to pay for qualified education expenses and your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) for last year cannot exceed $160,000 if you file taxes under the status married filing jointly or $80,000 if you file using another status. If you’re like most taxpayers, your MAGI is your adjusted gross income as figured on your federal income tax return before you subtract any deduction for student loan interest. 

Can I transfer a Direct PLUS loan to my child after graduation? You usually take out a Direct PLUS loan to pay for your child’s college education; your child still completes the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The U.S. Department of Education sets the interest rate on Direct PLUS loans; the rate also depends on the date of disbursement. Some parents assume they can transfer the loan to the child once the latter graduates. Unfortunately, no: You the parent are responsible for repaying the loan.

Retirement:

How often can I make changes to my 401(k)? Generally, you can change your 401(k) employer-sponsored retirement plan as often as you want. I say “generally” because employers can impose their own restrictions to prevent employees from trading in 401(k) plans.

Our firm strongly advises against actively trading in your 401(k) or trying to time the markets to boost returns. Rather, rebalance your portfolio periodically to minimize risk.

For example, your original blend of assets – such as stocks, bonds and other holdings – probably changed in the wake of differing returns. Your allocated percentage of different asset classes probably also shifted. To rebalance, you might sell a portion of the asset class that increased above your optimum target.

Review your 401(k) at least quarterly to ensure that the allocations you initially selected don’t deviate from your intended percentages. If they do, rebalance your entire portfolio, including your 401(k), to bring it back in line with your goals.

Is there still time to contribute to my individual retirement account? Despite what the calendar shows, 2014 is not over yet. Whether you have a Roth, traditional or simplified employee pension (SEP) IRA, you can still count a contribution toward your total for last year.

For 2014 and 2015, according to the IRS, your total contributions to all of your traditional and Roth IRAs cannot be more than $5,500 ($6,500 if you’re 50 or older) or your taxable compensation for the year if your compensation was less than this limit. If you’re self-employed, your contributions to a SEP-IRA cannot exceed the lesser of 25% of your compensation or $52,000 for 2014.

You must contribute funds to an existing or new IRA before the April 15 tax-filing deadline this year.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.
 
Ara Oghoorian, CFP, CFA, is the founder and president of ACap Asset Management in Los Angeles. A fee-only investment management firm, it specializes in helping doctors and physicians make sound financial decisions. Contact Ara at aoghoorian@acapam.com or on the Web at www.acapam.com.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

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Costs of education and retirement are likely two of your biggest financial concerns. Just in time for tax season, here are answers to a couple of common questions on each important topic.

Education:

Are my student loans deductible? Student loans can be a heavy burden on many taxpayers. Luckily, the Internal Revenue Service allows you to deduct a portion of student loan interest, taken as an adjustment to your income.

This means you can claim the deduction even if you do not itemize deductions – that is, file a Schedule A on your IRS Form 1040 tax return. Unfortunately, the IRS also imposes many limitations on the deductibility of student loan interest: The maximum interest deduction is $2,500 for 2014.

To secure the deduction, you must have used the loan to pay for qualified education expenses and your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) for last year cannot exceed $160,000 if you file taxes under the status married filing jointly or $80,000 if you file using another status. If you’re like most taxpayers, your MAGI is your adjusted gross income as figured on your federal income tax return before you subtract any deduction for student loan interest. 

Can I transfer a Direct PLUS loan to my child after graduation? You usually take out a Direct PLUS loan to pay for your child’s college education; your child still completes the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The U.S. Department of Education sets the interest rate on Direct PLUS loans; the rate also depends on the date of disbursement. Some parents assume they can transfer the loan to the child once the latter graduates. Unfortunately, no: You the parent are responsible for repaying the loan.

Retirement:

How often can I make changes to my 401(k)? Generally, you can change your 401(k) employer-sponsored retirement plan as often as you want. I say “generally” because employers can impose their own restrictions to prevent employees from trading in 401(k) plans.

Our firm strongly advises against actively trading in your 401(k) or trying to time the markets to boost returns. Rather, rebalance your portfolio periodically to minimize risk.

For example, your original blend of assets – such as stocks, bonds and other holdings – probably changed in the wake of differing returns. Your allocated percentage of different asset classes probably also shifted. To rebalance, you might sell a portion of the asset class that increased above your optimum target.

Review your 401(k) at least quarterly to ensure that the allocations you initially selected don’t deviate from your intended percentages. If they do, rebalance your entire portfolio, including your 401(k), to bring it back in line with your goals.

Is there still time to contribute to my individual retirement account? Despite what the calendar shows, 2014 is not over yet. Whether you have a Roth, traditional or simplified employee pension (SEP) IRA, you can still count a contribution toward your total for last year.

For 2014 and 2015, according to the IRS, your total contributions to all of your traditional and Roth IRAs cannot be more than $5,500 ($6,500 if you’re 50 or older) or your taxable compensation for the year if your compensation was less than this limit. If you’re self-employed, your contributions to a SEP-IRA cannot exceed the lesser of 25% of your compensation or $52,000 for 2014.

You must contribute funds to an existing or new IRA before the April 15 tax-filing deadline this year.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.
 
Ara Oghoorian, CFP, CFA, is the founder and president of ACap Asset Management in Los Angeles. A fee-only investment management firm, it specializes in helping doctors and physicians make sound financial decisions. Contact Ara at aoghoorian@acapam.com or on the Web at www.acapam.com.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

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Oil Prices: Forget a Rebound http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/oil-prices-forget-a-rebound/ http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/oil-prices-forget-a-rebound/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:00:06 +0000 http://dairylandpeach.com/?guid=e44ae709a32f5d652106e9ef5204d5fa With the price of oil slashed in half since last summer, we keep hearing predictions that a reversal is waiting in the wings. Forget it. The showing of another energy product, natural gas, shows us why: Ever-improving technology keeps prices low, amid more efficient and cheaper production methods.

The price action of natural gas likely gives us clues about where oil prices are headed over the next several years. Natural gas prices used to be somewhat correlated with oil’s. After reaching peak levels in 2008, both natural gas and oil prices collapsed on weak demand in the recession. While oil prices rebounded over the next five years from about $40 to $110 per barrel, natural gas prices trended even lower.
 
Shown below are natural gas spot prices overlaid on the gas rig count – the number of drilling rigs. These rigs drill vertically (down), horizontally (to the side) or directionally (at a slanted angle). The chart shows natural gas prices declining from $12.69 in June 2008 to about $3 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) lately.

Macintosh HD:Users:aiqinc:Desktop:unnamed.jpg

Since the 2008 peak through the end of February, the U.S. gas rig count fell from 1,606 to 280, almost an 83% decrease. Yet U.S. dry natural gas production has increased from 1,681,469 million cubic feet (mcf) in mid 2008 to 2,303,935mcf at the end of 2014, a 37% production increase. (Dry natural gas is after producers processed it for distribution to consumers.) Basically, innovation made U.S. energy producers better, faster and cheaper at extracting gas from shale formations.
 
That’s why what happened with gas may be the best predictor of what is likely to happen in the oil market. Gas and oil in the U.S. are often extracted from shale formations. Fracking and other technology improved dramatically in the gas fields, causing increased productivity to drive prices lower. The implication: U.S. petroleum engineers will adapt to $50 and $60 oil prices by continuing to improve extraction technology and efficiency.
 
Since last October, when the oil-rig count hit a record of 1,609, the tally dipped to 922, according to a survey from oil services company Baker Hughes. The price of oil a year ago was roughly $100 per barrel and today around $50.
 
The prolonged depressed pricing in the natural gas market is an enormous red flag to those who believe oil prices will “correct” to higher levels in the next couple of years. It is also a reminder of the importance of technology innovation in the United States – and how productivity enhancements can create growth in unlikely areas. Not too long ago, meaningful extraction from shale formations seemed improbable. Then came the fracking revolution.

If you knew in 2008 that the natural gas rig count was going to fall so drastically, a forecast of gas production rising by 37% and prices falling by 76% made no sense. In investing, considering what seems improbable often pays off. As Warren Buffett stated in his most recent letter to shareholders: “The dynamism embedded in our market economy will continue to work its magic.”

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Nicholas Atkeson and Andrew Houghton are the founding partners of Delta Investment Management, a registered investment advisory firm in San Francisco, and authors of the new book, Win by Not Losing: A Disciplined Approach To Building And Protecting Your Wealth In The Stock Market By Managing Your RiskAdditional market commentary and investment advice is available via their websites at www.deltaim.com and www.deltawealthaccelerator.com

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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With the price of oil slashed in half since last summer, we keep hearing predictions that a reversal is waiting in the wings. Forget it. The showing of another energy product, natural gas, shows us why: Ever-improving technology keeps prices low, amid more efficient and cheaper production methods.

The price action of natural gas likely gives us clues about where oil prices are headed over the next several years. Natural gas prices used to be somewhat correlated with oil’s. After reaching peak levels in 2008, both natural gas and oil prices collapsed on weak demand in the recession. While oil prices rebounded over the next five years from about $40 to $110 per barrel, natural gas prices trended even lower.
 
Shown below are natural gas spot prices overlaid on the gas rig count – the number of drilling rigs. These rigs drill vertically (down), horizontally (to the side) or directionally (at a slanted angle). The chart shows natural gas prices declining from $12.69 in June 2008 to about $3 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) lately.

Macintosh HD:Users:aiqinc:Desktop:unnamed.jpg

Since the 2008 peak through the end of February, the U.S. gas rig count fell from 1,606 to 280, almost an 83% decrease. Yet U.S. dry natural gas production has increased from 1,681,469 million cubic feet (mcf) in mid 2008 to 2,303,935mcf at the end of 2014, a 37% production increase. (Dry natural gas is after producers processed it for distribution to consumers.) Basically, innovation made U.S. energy producers better, faster and cheaper at extracting gas from shale formations.
 
That’s why what happened with gas may be the best predictor of what is likely to happen in the oil market. Gas and oil in the U.S. are often extracted from shale formations. Fracking and other technology improved dramatically in the gas fields, causing increased productivity to drive prices lower. The implication: U.S. petroleum engineers will adapt to $50 and $60 oil prices by continuing to improve extraction technology and efficiency.
 
Since last October, when the oil-rig count hit a record of 1,609, the tally dipped to 922, according to a survey from oil services company Baker Hughes. The price of oil a year ago was roughly $100 per barrel and today around $50.
 
The prolonged depressed pricing in the natural gas market is an enormous red flag to those who believe oil prices will “correct” to higher levels in the next couple of years. It is also a reminder of the importance of technology innovation in the United States – and how productivity enhancements can create growth in unlikely areas. Not too long ago, meaningful extraction from shale formations seemed improbable. Then came the fracking revolution.

If you knew in 2008 that the natural gas rig count was going to fall so drastically, a forecast of gas production rising by 37% and prices falling by 76% made no sense. In investing, considering what seems improbable often pays off. As Warren Buffett stated in his most recent letter to shareholders: “The dynamism embedded in our market economy will continue to work its magic.”

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Nicholas Atkeson and Andrew Houghton are the founding partners of Delta Investment Management, a registered investment advisory firm in San Francisco, and authors of the new book, Win by Not Losing: A Disciplined Approach To Building And Protecting Your Wealth In The Stock Market By Managing Your RiskAdditional market commentary and investment advice is available via their websites at www.deltaim.com and www.deltawealthaccelerator.com

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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Recognizing Tax-Scam Callers http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/recognizing-tax-scam-callers/ http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/recognizing-tax-scam-callers/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:00:04 +0000 http://dairylandpeach.com/?guid=7557ffca232e1b60eb94901a3344f399 While the Internal Revenue Service may not be your favorite federal agency, criminals posing as IRS representatives are unquestionably the much bigger problem. Here’s what to know to protect yourself.

Scammers set increasingly treacherous traps for swindling taxpayers’ assets, identities or both. Favorite targets are those most likely to fall for the trickery and least able to afford it:  older adults, immigrants and widows or widowers.

Even if you’re not in any of these categories, don’t let down your guard. Tax scams can happen to anyone. In February, scammers even called the home of the commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services, the state’s head taxation official. As Forbes blogger Kelly Phillip Erb wrote while recommending that all taxpayers be on high alert: “It’s tax season. That, unfortunately, also means that it’s fraud season.”

The current popular scam goes something like this: Someone claiming to represent the IRS or the U.S. Treasury Department calls or emails claiming that you owe money, are in general tax-related trouble or must take some immediate action (usually send them money) – or else.

Callers may also know a lot about you: your name and those of family members, a portion of your Social Security number or additional contact information. Often, scammers stole such information via Internet phishing.

Differentiating a fake IRS representative from the real deal may at first seem hard. One of your key defenses: Know how the U.S. tax agency actually engages in legitimate queries and, just as important, how it does not.

If you defraud the U.S. government, you may indeed incur fines, penalties and, in extreme cases, even jail time. None of these happens in an out-of-the-blue instant, though. Here are five actions the IRS will never take at the initial stages of a tax problem:

  1. Call to demand immediate payment or call about taxes you owe without first mailing you a bill.
  2. Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
  3. Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  4. Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  5. Threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement to arrest you.

If you or a loved one receives a call involving any of the above tactics, you can bet it’s a scam. Your best responses:

  • Hang up. Just as you never politely converse with a burglar in your home or a thug on the street, there’s absolutely no need to stand on formalities here.
  • Report the call. Notify the IRS to help prevent others from succumbing to the scam. If possible, note the caller’s number.

Unfortunately, for every tax scam averted, others pop up. The IRS list of top tax schemes spans phone and Internet fraud to fake documents and crooked tax return preparers. To stay on top of the latest news, regularly visit the IRS tax scam/consumer alert page or talk to your financial advisor with questions and concerns.

We all benefit when we stand together against tax scams.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Sheri Iannetta Cupo, CFP, is a principal of SageBroadview Financial Planning with offices in Morristown, N.J., and Farmington, Conn. The SageBroadview blog covers a wide range of financial planning and life topics.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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While the Internal Revenue Service may not be your favorite federal agency, criminals posing as IRS representatives are unquestionably the much bigger problem. Here’s what to know to protect yourself.

Scammers set increasingly treacherous traps for swindling taxpayers’ assets, identities or both. Favorite targets are those most likely to fall for the trickery and least able to afford it:  older adults, immigrants and widows or widowers.

Even if you’re not in any of these categories, don’t let down your guard. Tax scams can happen to anyone. In February, scammers even called the home of the commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services, the state’s head taxation official. As Forbes blogger Kelly Phillip Erb wrote while recommending that all taxpayers be on high alert: “It’s tax season. That, unfortunately, also means that it’s fraud season.”

The current popular scam goes something like this: Someone claiming to represent the IRS or the U.S. Treasury Department calls or emails claiming that you owe money, are in general tax-related trouble or must take some immediate action (usually send them money) – or else.

Callers may also know a lot about you: your name and those of family members, a portion of your Social Security number or additional contact information. Often, scammers stole such information via Internet phishing.

Differentiating a fake IRS representative from the real deal may at first seem hard. One of your key defenses: Know how the U.S. tax agency actually engages in legitimate queries and, just as important, how it does not.

If you defraud the U.S. government, you may indeed incur fines, penalties and, in extreme cases, even jail time. None of these happens in an out-of-the-blue instant, though. Here are five actions the IRS will never take at the initial stages of a tax problem:

  1. Call to demand immediate payment or call about taxes you owe without first mailing you a bill.
  2. Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
  3. Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  4. Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  5. Threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement to arrest you.

If you or a loved one receives a call involving any of the above tactics, you can bet it’s a scam. Your best responses:

  • Hang up. Just as you never politely converse with a burglar in your home or a thug on the street, there’s absolutely no need to stand on formalities here.
  • Report the call. Notify the IRS to help prevent others from succumbing to the scam. If possible, note the caller’s number.

Unfortunately, for every tax scam averted, others pop up. The IRS list of top tax schemes spans phone and Internet fraud to fake documents and crooked tax return preparers. To stay on top of the latest news, regularly visit the IRS tax scam/consumer alert page or talk to your financial advisor with questions and concerns.

We all benefit when we stand together against tax scams.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Sheri Iannetta Cupo, CFP, is a principal of SageBroadview Financial Planning with offices in Morristown, N.J., and Farmington, Conn. The SageBroadview blog covers a wide range of financial planning and life topics.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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Basic Ways to Save http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/basic-ways-to-save/ http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/basic-ways-to-save/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:00:03 +0000 http://dairylandpeach.com/?guid=b1a166aa950bfcc75d7f2ae07073ccd1 For those who struggle to save, here’s a tip: keep the money out of your reach.

I recently watched “Living on One,” a documentary about four college students’ efforts to spend a summer in Guatemala living on a dollar a day, as half of the citizens of Guatemala in poverty. The film explores the personal finance habits of people who have a hard time earning enough money to live on, much less save.

My favorite segment of the film discusses the concept of savings clubs, a popular strategy in less-developed areas of the world. Typically, a group of 12 people each agree to save $12 every month. However, instead of putting it in their own piggy bank, they contribute their $12 of savings to the group.

Then, one of the members keeps the full sum of $144. The person taking the lump sum alternates each month, so that consequently, every member of the club receives $144 once per year. If someone fails to contribute $12 during any given month, the group kicks that member out. He or she can no longer collect the $144.

I find these savings clubs fascinating because they highlight the most important and basic strategies to successful saving: eliminate your access to the funds you set aside, and create a motivation to place savings ahead of spending.

In the arena of personal finance, an occasional large sum is more valuable than several small ones. We spend smaller amounts of money more spontaneously, such as on nice dinners, but we are more likely to use a large lump sum to fund meaningful goals. In Guatemala, it can be a stove to cook food. Here, a car or a down payment on a home.

The savings club also forces members to prioritize savings by imposing a punishment. Most people earn a salary, pay bills, have fun and save the rest. Unfortunately, they have little, if any, left after all their expenses. A simple solution: You save first as soon as you receive your income and find a way to live off what is left.

Your employer-sponsored retirement plans, like 401(k)s, 403(b)s and 457s, has the same features as a savings club. You contribute relatively small sums consistently, and you don’t have access to the funds. You face a 10% penalty if you withdraw the money early. Further, a 401(k) forces you to save by taking the contribution out of your paycheck before you even receive it, so that you are certain to reach your monthly savings goal.

Of course, employer-sponsored retirement plans are superior to the primitive savings clubs because they allow you to invest in stocks and bonds, so you can achieve not only savings but growth on those savings.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Lon Jefferies, CFP, MBA, is an investment advisor with the fee-only financial planning firm Net Worth Advisory Group in Sandy, Utah. You can find Lon on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Contact him at (801) 566-0740 or lon@networthadvice.com.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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For those who struggle to save, here’s a tip: keep the money out of your reach.

I recently watched “Living on One,” a documentary about four college students’ efforts to spend a summer in Guatemala living on a dollar a day, as half of the citizens of Guatemala in poverty. The film explores the personal finance habits of people who have a hard time earning enough money to live on, much less save.

My favorite segment of the film discusses the concept of savings clubs, a popular strategy in less-developed areas of the world. Typically, a group of 12 people each agree to save $12 every month. However, instead of putting it in their own piggy bank, they contribute their $12 of savings to the group.

Then, one of the members keeps the full sum of $144. The person taking the lump sum alternates each month, so that consequently, every member of the club receives $144 once per year. If someone fails to contribute $12 during any given month, the group kicks that member out. He or she can no longer collect the $144.

I find these savings clubs fascinating because they highlight the most important and basic strategies to successful saving: eliminate your access to the funds you set aside, and create a motivation to place savings ahead of spending.

In the arena of personal finance, an occasional large sum is more valuable than several small ones. We spend smaller amounts of money more spontaneously, such as on nice dinners, but we are more likely to use a large lump sum to fund meaningful goals. In Guatemala, it can be a stove to cook food. Here, a car or a down payment on a home.

The savings club also forces members to prioritize savings by imposing a punishment. Most people earn a salary, pay bills, have fun and save the rest. Unfortunately, they have little, if any, left after all their expenses. A simple solution: You save first as soon as you receive your income and find a way to live off what is left.

Your employer-sponsored retirement plans, like 401(k)s, 403(b)s and 457s, has the same features as a savings club. You contribute relatively small sums consistently, and you don’t have access to the funds. You face a 10% penalty if you withdraw the money early. Further, a 401(k) forces you to save by taking the contribution out of your paycheck before you even receive it, so that you are certain to reach your monthly savings goal.

Of course, employer-sponsored retirement plans are superior to the primitive savings clubs because they allow you to invest in stocks and bonds, so you can achieve not only savings but growth on those savings.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Lon Jefferies, CFP, MBA, is an investment advisor with the fee-only financial planning firm Net Worth Advisory Group in Sandy, Utah. You can find Lon on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Contact him at (801) 566-0740 or lon@networthadvice.com.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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Population Growth’s Elixir http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/population-growths-elixir/ http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/population-growths-elixir/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:00:02 +0000 http://dairylandpeach.com/?guid=9260dc14bd7e182618c467eee8a8559b Will the world’s economy keep growing? Despite the doomsters’ wails, the answer is: Yes, it will. Why? Largely because the world’s population is growing. Sure, some individual nations lag (particularly those with shrinking populations). But an examination of the demographic data shows that the overall global outlook is encouraging.

The other morning, I was listening to Bloomberg Radio as I took my second grader, to school. The radio news program discussed Islamic State terrorists’ killing a Japanese journalist. Then it moved on to Eric Garner, who died in New York from a police chokehold.

My son piped up from the backseat and asked me, “Dad, why do so many people die every day?”

I answered, “Lots of people die every day, but even more people are born.”

He then pointed out, “But dad, they never talk about that part on the news.”

This conversation got me thinking about one of my favorite Warren Buffett investment themes, the ever-growing economic pie.

I wrote about the economic pie in December, but I didn’t go into exactly why the pie continues to grow over time. One of the primary reasons, of course, is our expanding population.

My conversation with my son piqued my curiosity. Later that morning, I did some research. I learned that, according to the Ecology Global Network, there are about 131 million births per year on earth. That’s approximately 360,000 babies born every day.

The same study shows that there are 55 million deaths each year, or approximately 151,000 per day.

My son was worried that with so many people dying that the earth might run out of people. But clearly that’s not a problem.

Let’s put these numbers into context:

  • About three football stadiums (assuming a stadium holds 50,000) full of people die every day.
  • About seven football stadiums full of people are born every day.

This explains why we’ve seen our global population balloon from 1900, when there were about 1.6 billion people, to today’s approximately seven billion. By 2030, there should be over eight billion people on earth, according to the Ecology Global Network’s population estimates.

While all this information answers my second grader’s original question, it happens to be an integral component of why the world’s economic pie continues to grow. More people demanding more goods (i.e., houses, cars, food, technology, medicine, fuel, etc.) creates and ever-increasing demand to supply those goods. That means companies will continue to meet that expanding demand, hence their earning have the opportunity to grow over time. Thus, the pie gets bigger.

Indeed, there are clearly more variables to a growing economic pie than just population increases, such as innovation, the education system, improving worker productivity, more intelligent use of data, and the list goes on. However, as a tailwind to economic growth, nothing beats the growth of a population.   

Take a look at some stats, from 2010 to 2014, from WorldBank.org for the GDP growth and Trading Economics for the population growth:

  • United States of America
    • Average annual gross domestic product growth over five years: 2.25%
    • Average yearly population growth over five years: 0.75%
  • China
    • GDP: 8.5 %
    • Population: 0.4%
  • India
    • GDP: 6.5 %
    • Population: 1.25 %
  • Italy
    • GDP: minus 0.5%
    • Population: minus 0.1%

Notice, the only country with negative GDP growth was Italy, which is also the country with negative population growth. Coincidence?

With all the detailed minutia that hits us every day, remember that it’s very often the simplest concepts that are the most important. Ultimately, our children have nothing to worry about when it comes to the world running out of people, and the economic pie will continue to grow.  

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Wes Moss, CFP, is the chief investment strategist for Capital Investment Advisors and a partner at Wela, both in Atlanta. He hosts “Money Matters,” a live financial advice show on Atlanta’s News 95-5 and AM 750 WSB Radio. In 2014 Barron’s Magazine named him as one of America’s top 1,200 Financial Advisors. His newly released book, You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think published by McGraw Hill, is available on Amazon, iTunes and at your local bookstore.

Wes writes weekly about personal finance in the “Bargain Hunter Section” for AJC.com, the site of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Wes is also the editor and writer for About.com’s Personal Finance blog. Connect with Wes on Twitter at @WesMoss365 and on Facebook at Wes Moss Money Matters. You can also visit his website, WesMoss.com to learn more about Wes, and take his complimentary Money and Happiness Quiz.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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Will the world’s economy keep growing? Despite the doomsters’ wails, the answer is: Yes, it will. Why? Largely because the world’s population is growing. Sure, some individual nations lag (particularly those with shrinking populations). But an examination of the demographic data shows that the overall global outlook is encouraging.

The other morning, I was listening to Bloomberg Radio as I took my second grader, to school. The radio news program discussed Islamic State terrorists’ killing a Japanese journalist. Then it moved on to Eric Garner, who died in New York from a police chokehold.

My son piped up from the backseat and asked me, “Dad, why do so many people die every day?”

I answered, “Lots of people die every day, but even more people are born.”

He then pointed out, “But dad, they never talk about that part on the news.”

This conversation got me thinking about one of my favorite Warren Buffett investment themes, the ever-growing economic pie.

I wrote about the economic pie in December, but I didn’t go into exactly why the pie continues to grow over time. One of the primary reasons, of course, is our expanding population.

My conversation with my son piqued my curiosity. Later that morning, I did some research. I learned that, according to the Ecology Global Network, there are about 131 million births per year on earth. That’s approximately 360,000 babies born every day.

The same study shows that there are 55 million deaths each year, or approximately 151,000 per day.

My son was worried that with so many people dying that the earth might run out of people. But clearly that’s not a problem.

Let’s put these numbers into context:

  • About three football stadiums (assuming a stadium holds 50,000) full of people die every day.
  • About seven football stadiums full of people are born every day.

This explains why we’ve seen our global population balloon from 1900, when there were about 1.6 billion people, to today’s approximately seven billion. By 2030, there should be over eight billion people on earth, according to the Ecology Global Network’s population estimates.

While all this information answers my second grader’s original question, it happens to be an integral component of why the world’s economic pie continues to grow. More people demanding more goods (i.e., houses, cars, food, technology, medicine, fuel, etc.) creates and ever-increasing demand to supply those goods. That means companies will continue to meet that expanding demand, hence their earning have the opportunity to grow over time. Thus, the pie gets bigger.

Indeed, there are clearly more variables to a growing economic pie than just population increases, such as innovation, the education system, improving worker productivity, more intelligent use of data, and the list goes on. However, as a tailwind to economic growth, nothing beats the growth of a population.   

Take a look at some stats, from 2010 to 2014, from WorldBank.org for the GDP growth and Trading Economics for the population growth:

  • United States of America
    • Average annual gross domestic product growth over five years: 2.25%
    • Average yearly population growth over five years: 0.75%
  • China
    • GDP: 8.5 %
    • Population: 0.4%
  • India
    • GDP: 6.5 %
    • Population: 1.25 %
  • Italy
    • GDP: minus 0.5%
    • Population: minus 0.1%

Notice, the only country with negative GDP growth was Italy, which is also the country with negative population growth. Coincidence?

With all the detailed minutia that hits us every day, remember that it’s very often the simplest concepts that are the most important. Ultimately, our children have nothing to worry about when it comes to the world running out of people, and the economic pie will continue to grow.  

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Wes Moss, CFP, is the chief investment strategist for Capital Investment Advisors and a partner at Wela, both in Atlanta. He hosts “Money Matters,” a live financial advice show on Atlanta’s News 95-5 and AM 750 WSB Radio. In 2014 Barron’s Magazine named him as one of America’s top 1,200 Financial Advisors. His newly released book, You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think published by McGraw Hill, is available on Amazon, iTunes and at your local bookstore.

Wes writes weekly about personal finance in the “Bargain Hunter Section” for AJC.com, the site of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Wes is also the editor and writer for About.com’s Personal Finance blog. Connect with Wes on Twitter at @WesMoss365 and on Facebook at Wes Moss Money Matters. You can also visit his website, WesMoss.com to learn more about Wes, and take his complimentary Money and Happiness Quiz.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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Anthony Doege, 82 http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/anthony-doege-82/ http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/anthony-doege-82/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 18:28:31 +0000 http://dairylandpeach.com/?p=19996 Anthony   Doege, 82

Anthony “Tony” John Doege, 82, of Long Prairie, passed away on March 21, 2015 at his home. Funeral services for Tony will be held on Wednesday, March 25, 2015, 11:00 a.m., at St. Mary of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church in Long Prairie with Fr. Omar Guanchez officiating. Interment will be held at St. Mary of Mt. Carmel Catholic Cemetery, Long Prairie. Friends may call on Tuesday, March 24, 2015, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m., at the Iten Funeral Home in Browerville and on the day of the funeral beginning at 10:00 a.m. in the church. Christian Mother’s Rosary – 5:00 p.m.
Tony was born June 24, 1932 in Ward Springs to Albert & Rosa (Pauly) Doege. On February 6, 1953 he enlisted in the US Army and was honorably discharged on February 5, 1955. Tony married Carol Connor on September 2, 1961. To this union two children were born; Timothy and Susan. They also raised one foster child JoAnn Perish. Tony and Carol lived in Sauk Rapids all their married life. They moved back to Long Prairie in 2004. Tony worked at Frigidaire from 1968 until 1997 when he retired.
Tony enjoyed fishing, hunting, camping out, playing cards and especially spending time with his children and grandson Brandon.
Tony is preceded in death by his parents, Albert & Rosa, children: Susan Doege and Joann Perish; siblings: Delores, Sylvester, Clarence, Virgil, Joseph and Ben and in-laws Frank & Isabel (Hynnek) Connor.
Tony is survived by his wife Carol of Long Prairie, son Tim, grandson Brandon and many nieces and nephews.
Arrangements with Iten Funeral Home – itenfuneralhome.com

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Jeannette Green, 89 http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/jeannette-green-89/ http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/jeannette-green-89/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 18:28:25 +0000 http://dairylandpeach.com/?p=19993 Jeannette   Green, 89

Mass of Christian Burial will be at 11 am Saturday, March 21, 2015 at St. Mary of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church, Long Prairie for Jeannette M. Green, age 89, who passed away on Wednesday at Essentia Health in Brainerd. Fr. Omar Guanchez will officiate and burial will take place at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery, Camp Ripley, Minnesota. Family and friends may call after 9:30 am Saturday at Williams Dingmann Family Funeral Home – Stein Chapel. St. Mary’s Christian Women will pray the rosary at 9:30 am Saturday at the funeral home.
Jeannette Marie Green went to be with The Lord on March 18th, 2015. Born on December 6th, 1925 in Collegeville, MN to John and Bertha (Zimmerman) Reisinger.
She was raised on a farm in Upsala and graduated from Upsala High School in 1945. She was united in marriage to George Austin Green at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Swanville MN on June 25, 1949. They had homes in Fridley, Grey Eagle, Long Prairie and most recently Brainerd.

She raised six children while she worked at JC Penney and then Safetran two blocks from home assembling railroad lights and cross arms. She belonged to numerous clubs in Fridley and Columbia Heights and later in Grey Eagle and Long Prairie. She enjoyed fishing, baking, sewing, quilting, gardening and lots of card playing.

Survivors include husband George Green, children Donald (LaVonne), Debbie (Rick) Landin, Nancy (Jim) Grant, William (Maria), Theresa (Paul) Bergin, Cindy Green (Dwayne Sturges), 17 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren, sisters MaryJane (Jerry) Stich and Kathleen Janzen. Preceded in death by parents John and Bertha Reisinger, brothers Edwin, Del, and Leon and sister Mildred Ohnstad.

Pallbearers will be Jesse Grant, Tony Grant, Brandon Bergin, Mason Thornberg, Mark Thornberg, and Monty Thornberg.

Obituary and on-line guestbook available at www.williamsdingmann.com.

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David Engelmeier, 80 http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/david-engelmeier-80/ http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/david-engelmeier-80/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 11:33:36 +0000 http://dairylandpeach.com/?p=19990 David    Engelmeier, 80

Mass of Christian Burial will be 11:00 a.m., Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at St. Boniface Catholic Church in Cold Spring, MN for David Engelmeier, age 80, who died Saturday at St. Benedicts Senior Center. Burial will be in the St. Boniface Parish Cemetery.

Relatives and friends may call after 4:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at the Wenner Funeral Home in Richmond. Parish prayers will be at 4:00 p.m. Visitation will continue from 9:00 – 10:15 a.m., Wednesday morning at the funeral home.

Dave was born in St. Anthony, MN to Joseph and Veronica (Stich) Engelmeier. He married Lorraine Neidhart on April 21, 1956 in St. Anthony Church in St. Cloud. Dave served in US Navy from June 1952 to August 1955 as Botswain Mate. He worked at St. Cloud VA Medical Center as an outpatient clinic supervisor for 35 years. Dave was an avid outdoorsman. He loved to fish, deer hunt, play softball, golf, and throw horseshoes. Dave also enjoyed bowling, where he was Association Manager for 46 years. He was past commander for American Legion post 455, and was a bus driver for the last 10 years for Richmond Bus Service. Dave was a member of St. Boniface Church. He was a lifetime member of the Cold Spring American Legion Post 455, and Cold Spring V.F.W. 6915. He was also a member of (NERA) Navy Enlisted Reserve Association, and Koran Last Man Club.

Survivors include his loving wife of 58 years, Lorraine; son, Allen (Deborah) Pelvit; granddaughters, Nicole (Michael) Wienen, and Allison (Jamie) Folie; sisters, Rosetta Troxell, Ella Hardy, and Madyln Raugland; 6 great-grandchildren, Breanna, Cody, Braylee, Drew, Brennan, and Danika; 2 nieces, and 2 nephews.

He was preceded in death by his brother, Leo; sister, Doris Hopkins; in-laws, Bob Troxell, Foy Hopkins, Gerald Hardy, and John Raugland.

Arrangements are with Wenner Funeral Home, Richmond, Minnesota.

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LaVerne Laubach, 71 http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/laverne-laubach-71/ http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/laverne-laubach-71/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 11:33:31 +0000 http://dairylandpeach.com/?p=19987 Funeral Services will be 1:00 p.m. Saturday, March 28, 2015 at the Wenner Funeral Home in Cold Spring, MN for LaVerne Marie Laubach, age 71.

There will be a gathering of relatives and friends one hour prior to the service at the funeral home.

LaVerne was a longtime employee of St. Cloud VA Medical Center. Foster Grandma for St. Cloud School District. Beloved wife, mother, grandmother, sister and aunt.

Survivors include her husband of 48 years, Donald; children, Alan (Melissa) Laubach, Lisa (Mike) Bijold, Donald Laubach, Jr. (Quitton Anderson); grandchildren, Kyle Ratke, Nicole Laubach, Madison Bijold, Amanda Bijold, Lindsey Laubach; sisters, Barbara, Shirley, and many nieces, nephews, relatives and good friends.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Lawrence and Anne Colombe; sister, Delores Houle; brothers, Clifford “Pinky” Colombe and Ernie Colombe.

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Verena Pauly, 87 http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/verena-pauly-87/ http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/verena-pauly-87/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 11:33:27 +0000 http://dairylandpeach.com/?p=19984 Verena   Pauly, 87

Verena M. Pauly, age 87 of Sauk Centre, passed away peacefully on Thursday, March 19, 2015 surrounded by her family at CentraCare Health Nursing Home in Sauk Centre, Minnesota.
A Memorial Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, March 23 at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Sauk Centre with Rev. Jeremy Theis officiating. Inurnment will take place in the parish cemetery.
Visitation will be from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Monday at the church in Sauk Centre.
Verena Margaret Wiener was born October 10, 1927 in Elrosa, Minnesota to Walter and Katherine (Haider) Wiener. On December 29, 1951 she married Earl Pauly at the St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Sauk Centre and they had six children.
Verena was a member of St. Paul’s Catholic Church and Christian Mothers. She enjoyed reading, spending time with family and friends, and the connnections she made with community members while working in various local businesses. Faith and family were what she treasured most in her life.
Survivors include her six children, David (Lorraine) Pauly of Hinckley, Ken (Barb) Pauly of Willmar, Linda Homan of Bismarck, ND, Steve Pauly of Glenwood, Tom (Renae) Pauly of Princeton, and Bonnie (Dave) Klein of Shakopee; numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren; brother, Gerald Wiener; sisters, Florence Lieser (Ambrose) Dingmann and Marcy (Ralph) Klassen.
Verena was preceded in death by her parents; her beloved husband, Earl Pauly on July 30, 2013; great-grandson, Quentin Pauly; and sister, Marian Schlotfeldt Reynolds.
Serving as urn bearer will be David Pauly.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred.
Arrangements were made with Patton-Schad Funeral & Cremation Services of Sauk Centre.

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Spending on Happiness http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/spending-on-happiness/ http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/spending-on-happiness/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 20:30:02 +0000 http://dairylandpeach.com/?guid=b7dfb8acd21311a436dd08ef94a70a14 Giving money to people you love probably makes you happy. Spending money on others also probably makes you happier than spending it on yourself, just as spending money on experiences makes you happier than spending money on things. So does that mean you should max out your credit card to take your entire family on a cruise? Not exactly.

Conventional wisdom holds that some kinds of spending are linked to happiness. Andrew Blackman recently cited some actual substantiating research in his excellent Wall Street Journal article, “Can Money Buy You Happiness?

Before you pull out the plastic and start shopping, though, keep one important point in mind: Spending to create happiness must come from your discretionary money.

This is cash that's available to spend after you pay all such fixed expenses as rent, loan payments, utilities, retirement contributions, building emergency reserves, insurance premiums and the like. Discretionary spending can include luxuries or extras like eating out, vacations, gifts, entertainment and gadgets. It also can include items that may be necessities or fixed expenses, such as housing, vehicles, clothing, and food.

For example, a car is a necessity for most people in South Dakota, where I live. A well-maintained 10-year-old Toyota Avalon with 90,000 miles can transport you just as effectively as a new model. The older car costs around $10,000; the new one costs around $35,000. The $25,000 difference is discretionary spending.

If you want more discretionary money for happiness spending on such things as giving or experiences, you might spend more frugally on necessities. The other option – borrowing – generally doesn’t work. Research confirms that borrowing and debt create an unhappiness that pretty much cancels out any happiness from spending.

As Elizabeth Dunn, associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and co-author of Happy Money, says in the Journal article: “Savings are good for happiness; debt is bad for happiness. But debt is more potently bad than savings are good.” Dunn found that spending on others usually produces the greatest happiness and that the perceived effect of the gift, not the dollar amount spent, matters.

Even though we tend to view tangibles as offering more value, the memories and learning we gain from experiences also actually provide more happiness. Creating experiences can involve buying actual stuff: baseball equipment with the intention of playing with your children, for example, or a camper to hit the woods with your family. Of course, buying stuff for creating experiences only creates happiness if you use it and the mitts don’t gather dust in your basement or the abandoned camper rust in your backyard.

After reading research on the value of spending on giving and experiences, I came up with possibly the ultimate happiness-spending scenario: Give an experience that includes both the recipient and the giver. Maybe, if you can afford it out of discretionary money, taking the family on that cruise isn’t a bad idea after all.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq

Rick Kahler, MSFP, ChFC, CFP, is a fee-only planner and author. He is president of Kahler Financial Group in Rapid City, S.D. Find more information at KahlerFinancial.com. Contact him at Rick@KahlerFinancial.com, or 605-343-1400, ext. 111.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialtInvestment Questions y, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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Giving money to people you love probably makes you happy. Spending money on others also probably makes you happier than spending it on yourself, just as spending money on experiences makes you happier than spending money on things. So does that mean you should max out your credit card to take your entire family on a cruise? Not exactly.

Conventional wisdom holds that some kinds of spending are linked to happiness. Andrew Blackman recently cited some actual substantiating research in his excellent Wall Street Journal article, “Can Money Buy You Happiness?

Before you pull out the plastic and start shopping, though, keep one important point in mind: Spending to create happiness must come from your discretionary money.

This is cash that's available to spend after you pay all such fixed expenses as rent, loan payments, utilities, retirement contributions, building emergency reserves, insurance premiums and the like. Discretionary spending can include luxuries or extras like eating out, vacations, gifts, entertainment and gadgets. It also can include items that may be necessities or fixed expenses, such as housing, vehicles, clothing, and food.

For example, a car is a necessity for most people in South Dakota, where I live. A well-maintained 10-year-old Toyota Avalon with 90,000 miles can transport you just as effectively as a new model. The older car costs around $10,000; the new one costs around $35,000. The $25,000 difference is discretionary spending.

If you want more discretionary money for happiness spending on such things as giving or experiences, you might spend more frugally on necessities. The other option – borrowing – generally doesn’t work. Research confirms that borrowing and debt create an unhappiness that pretty much cancels out any happiness from spending.

As Elizabeth Dunn, associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and co-author of Happy Money, says in the Journal article: “Savings are good for happiness; debt is bad for happiness. But debt is more potently bad than savings are good.” Dunn found that spending on others usually produces the greatest happiness and that the perceived effect of the gift, not the dollar amount spent, matters.

Even though we tend to view tangibles as offering more value, the memories and learning we gain from experiences also actually provide more happiness. Creating experiences can involve buying actual stuff: baseball equipment with the intention of playing with your children, for example, or a camper to hit the woods with your family. Of course, buying stuff for creating experiences only creates happiness if you use it and the mitts don’t gather dust in your basement or the abandoned camper rust in your backyard.

After reading research on the value of spending on giving and experiences, I came up with possibly the ultimate happiness-spending scenario: Give an experience that includes both the recipient and the giver. Maybe, if you can afford it out of discretionary money, taking the family on that cruise isn’t a bad idea after all.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq

Rick Kahler, MSFP, ChFC, CFP, is a fee-only planner and author. He is president of Kahler Financial Group in Rapid City, S.D. Find more information at KahlerFinancial.com. Contact him at Rick@KahlerFinancial.com, or 605-343-1400, ext. 111.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialtInvestment Questions y, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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3 Steps to an Emergency Fund http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/3-steps-to-an-emergency-fund/ http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/3-steps-to-an-emergency-fund/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 19:00:02 +0000 http://dairylandpeach.com/?guid=42f2e926096697b664efbf9b25549ce2 If you lose your job tomorrow, do you have enough money to pay your rent next month? Bad things can happen. Start an emergency fund in three simple steps to cushion you in times of trouble.

Saving an emergency fund can sound like a daunting task. You may think you don’t even need one. But imagine if you had a serious emergency right now. How much is in your bank account? How can you afford an extra $1,000 obligation?

Emergency funds help protect you in case of any event, big or small: car repairs, your basement flooding or even a wild turkey in your living room. When an unexpected expense pops up – somehow it always seems to be at the most inconvenient times – you have something to fall back on.

Decide how much. You should have at least one month worth of your net pay saved in your emergency fund. Once you hit this goal, bump it up to three to six months. For couples who make similar incomes, I recommend about three months. But for people who are single or the sole breadwinner, you might want to aim for six months.

If you’re a contract employee whose income is less stable, you should save a little more to cover months when you earn less. You should also focus on saving more if you have dependents or planning on adding to your family. Your emergency fund should be able to cover a large deductible or co-pay in case of a family hospitalization.

Select an account. The key to an emergency fund is accessibility. Cash, savings accounts, money market accounts and high-yield savings accounts are all liquid, accessible and extremely low-risk, but some options are better than others.

Money market accounts typically offer a higher interest rate, meaning your money grows faster than in a typical savings account. True, the return is just a fraction of 1%, but better than nothing. In addition, you can withdraw and write checks from your money market account, making it very accessible. A high-yield savings account is very similar.

I like Ally Bank and CapitalOne 360 for places to stash your cash. These are online savings accounts that offer some of the highest interest rates on money market accounts.

If you don’t feel comfortable housing your money anywhere else but your local credit union savings account, keep it there. The bottom line is you want to be able to access your emergency fund quickly when you need it.

Set up direct deposit. The most effective way to save for your emergency fund is by setting up automatic withdrawal from your checking account. Consider starting out with $100 a month and increasing from there if you can. One of my favorite tips is to change your direct deposit at work, sending a portion of your paycheck directly to your savings account. If you don’t see it, you don’t spend it.

Remember, you don’t have to fully fund an account all in one go. Save what you can, even if it’s small, but prioritize your goals so that your emergency fund receives the most attention.

Having an emergency fund allows you to ward off financial catastrophe without draining other accounts, interrupting progress on other financial goals or forcing you into debt. It’s the best tool to help you build financial security and, eventually, independence.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq

Sophia Bera, CFP, is the founder of Gen Y Planning and is the top Google search for “Financial Planner for Millennials.” She works virtually with people in their 20s and 30s across the country as she builds a location independent practice. She is a contributor for the AOL Daily Finance website and has been quoted on various websites and publications including Forbes, Business Insider, Yahoo, Money Magazine, InvestmentNews, Financial Advisor magazine and The Huffington Post. Sophia is a sought-after speaker and presenter and in her free time enjoys performing as an actor/singer and traveling the world. Follow her on Twitter @sophiabera or sign up for the Gen Y Planning Newsletter to stay up to date on financial articles geared toward Millennials. She’s also the author of What You Should Have Learned About Money, But Never Did: A Gen Y Guide to Empowered Personal Finance (Kindle edition).  Oh, and she’s not your father’s financial planner.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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If you lose your job tomorrow, do you have enough money to pay your rent next month? Bad things can happen. Start an emergency fund in three simple steps to cushion you in times of trouble.

Saving an emergency fund can sound like a daunting task. You may think you don’t even need one. But imagine if you had a serious emergency right now. How much is in your bank account? How can you afford an extra $1,000 obligation?

Emergency funds help protect you in case of any event, big or small: car repairs, your basement flooding or even a wild turkey in your living room. When an unexpected expense pops up – somehow it always seems to be at the most inconvenient times – you have something to fall back on.

Decide how much. You should have at least one month worth of your net pay saved in your emergency fund. Once you hit this goal, bump it up to three to six months. For couples who make similar incomes, I recommend about three months. But for people who are single or the sole breadwinner, you might want to aim for six months.

If you’re a contract employee whose income is less stable, you should save a little more to cover months when you earn less. You should also focus on saving more if you have dependents or planning on adding to your family. Your emergency fund should be able to cover a large deductible or co-pay in case of a family hospitalization.

Select an account. The key to an emergency fund is accessibility. Cash, savings accounts, money market accounts and high-yield savings accounts are all liquid, accessible and extremely low-risk, but some options are better than others.

Money market accounts typically offer a higher interest rate, meaning your money grows faster than in a typical savings account. True, the return is just a fraction of 1%, but better than nothing. In addition, you can withdraw and write checks from your money market account, making it very accessible. A high-yield savings account is very similar.

I like Ally Bank and CapitalOne 360 for places to stash your cash. These are online savings accounts that offer some of the highest interest rates on money market accounts.

If you don’t feel comfortable housing your money anywhere else but your local credit union savings account, keep it there. The bottom line is you want to be able to access your emergency fund quickly when you need it.

Set up direct deposit. The most effective way to save for your emergency fund is by setting up automatic withdrawal from your checking account. Consider starting out with $100 a month and increasing from there if you can. One of my favorite tips is to change your direct deposit at work, sending a portion of your paycheck directly to your savings account. If you don’t see it, you don’t spend it.

Remember, you don’t have to fully fund an account all in one go. Save what you can, even if it’s small, but prioritize your goals so that your emergency fund receives the most attention.

Having an emergency fund allows you to ward off financial catastrophe without draining other accounts, interrupting progress on other financial goals or forcing you into debt. It’s the best tool to help you build financial security and, eventually, independence.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq

Sophia Bera, CFP, is the founder of Gen Y Planning and is the top Google search for “Financial Planner for Millennials.” She works virtually with people in their 20s and 30s across the country as she builds a location independent practice. She is a contributor for the AOL Daily Finance website and has been quoted on various websites and publications including Forbes, Business Insider, Yahoo, Money Magazine, InvestmentNews, Financial Advisor magazine and The Huffington Post. Sophia is a sought-after speaker and presenter and in her free time enjoys performing as an actor/singer and traveling the world. Follow her on Twitter @sophiabera or sign up for the Gen Y Planning Newsletter to stay up to date on financial articles geared toward Millennials. She’s also the author of What You Should Have Learned About Money, But Never Did: A Gen Y Guide to Empowered Personal Finance (Kindle edition).  Oh, and she’s not your father’s financial planner.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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Seasoned Italian Dressing http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/seasoned-italian-dressing/ http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/seasoned-italian-dressing/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 17:04:20 +0000 http://dairylandpeach.com/?p=19977 1/4 c. cider vinegar
1/2 c. salad oil
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. garlic salt

Combine ingredients in jar; cover and shake vigorously. Makes about 3/4 cup.

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Italian Salad http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/italian-salad/ http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/italian-salad/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 17:03:15 +0000 http://dairylandpeach.com/?p=19975 3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 c. chopped or broken walnuts
2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped
1/2 c. sliced ripe olives
1/2 c. chopped green onions
2 c. sliced celery
1/2 c. chopped green pepper
(Optional: chopped or torn lettuce).

Place all vegetables and nuts in a large bowl. Mix dressing ingredients together and pour over veggies. Toss well and marinate for two hours or longer.

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Italian Meat Sauce http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/italian-meat-sauce/ http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/italian-meat-sauce/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 17:01:55 +0000 http://dairylandpeach.com/?p=19973 2 lbs. lean ground beef
2 bay leaves
1/4 c. olive oil
1 tsp. basil
1 large onion, minced
2 tsp. oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. salt
2 cans tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste (29 oz. size)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. pepper
Wine or water, as needed

In dutch oven or medium sized kettle, brown meat in oil, chopping to separate. Add onions and garlic, sauté until onion is clear. Drain fat. Add tomato sauce, paste and seasonings. Simmer covered approximately three to four hours, stirring frequently. If sauce becomes too thick, thin with red wine or water (or use cranberry juice cocktail, it adds sweetness).

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Italian Pizza Popcorn http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/italian-pizza-popcorn/ http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/italian-pizza-popcorn/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 16:59:52 +0000 http://dairylandpeach.com/?p=19971 3 Tbsp. safflower oil, divided
1/4 tsp. salt (optional)
1/2 c. popcorn kernels
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. Italian seasoning, crushed
1/2 tsp. onion powder

In large heavy saucepan heat one tablespoon of the safflower oil until hot. Add popcorn kernels. Cover and shake pan over medium high heat until all corn is popped. Remove from heat. In a small saucepan combine Italian seasoning, onion and garlic powders, salt and remaining two tablespoons safflower oil. Stir over medium heat until hot, about 20 seconds. Pour over popcorn, stir to coat completely. Stir in cheese. Makes about eight cups.

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Amazing Brownies http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/amazing-brownies/ http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/amazing-brownies/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 16:57:56 +0000 http://dairylandpeach.com/?p=19969 1 box dark chocolate brownie mix
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 c. chocolate chips
1 c. butterscotch chips
1 c. chopped walnuts
1 c. coconut

Prepare brownie mix according to box instructions. Bake as directed in a 9-inch by 13-inch pan, but shorten cooking time by five minutes. Immediately drizzle the sweetened condensed milk on top of the brownies. Then sprinkle the other ingredients on top. Add coconut last so it toasts in the oven. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until the coconut is browning and the toppings are bubbly. Set out to cool. While still warm, with a knife sprayed with non-stick spray, cut into squares.

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Chocolate Pudding http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/chocolate-pudding/ http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/chocolate-pudding/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 16:56:04 +0000 http://dairylandpeach.com/?p=19967 For low sugar diets, you’ll love this chocolate pudding.

2 c. skim milk
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
2 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 Tbsp. sugar (Use equivalent sugar substitute, add after cooking along with the vanilla)
1/4 tsp. salt (optional)
2 tsp. vanilla

Scald 1 1/2 cup of the milk. Combine the cocoa, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Blend in the remaining half cup of cold milk into cocoa mixture. Mix well. Stir into the scalded milk. Cook over very low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick. Remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla. Cool. Spoon into four individual dessert dishes and chill.

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French Silk Chocolate Pie http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/french-silk-chocolate-pie/ http://dairylandpeach.com/2015/03/french-silk-chocolate-pie/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 16:54:36 +0000 http://dairylandpeach.com/?p=19965 1/2 c. butter
3/4 c. sugar
1 sq. unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
Topping:
Whipped Cream
Walnuts

Cream together butter and sugar, blend in melted chocolate & vanilla. Add two eggs, one at a time, beating five minutes after each addition. (Mixer at medium speed). Turn into cooled, baked pie shell. Chill one to two hours. Serve with whipped cream and chopped walnuts.

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