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Richard Connor

Richard Connor

Rick is a semi-retired aerospace engineer with a keen interest in finance. He retired from Lockheed Martin Space Systems after a 38-year career designing satellites. Rick is a lifelong Philadelphian with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Villanova University. He completed the Certified Financial Planner® and Retirement Income Certified Professional® programs at the American College of Financial Services. Rick and his wife Vicky have two sons and three grandsons. They recently retired to the Jersey Shore. Rick is an amateur winemaker and enjoys a wide variety of other interests, including chasing grandkids, sports, travel and reading. He's written more than 100 articles and blog posts for HumbleDollar.

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State of Taxation

Richard Connor  |  Oct 21, 2020

ONE OF MY FAVORITE things to do is sit on our local beach with a cold beverage on a beautiful day, and talk finance with interested friends and family members. This past Labor Day weekend, I did just that with a soon-to-be retiree.
One of the big issues facing him and his wife: where to live. He had been relocated to New York by his employer. But he and his wife are natives of the Philadelphia region,

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Paradise Lost

Richard Connor  |  Sep 7, 2020

BACK IN AUGUST, Adam Grossman wrote a thought-provoking article about regret. He offered six strategies to minimize the chances you’ll end up kicking yourself for a choice you made. That got me thinking about the financial decision I most regret.
I bought a timeshare.
I know this admission will generate strong reactions in the personal finance community. I’d like to claim the ignorance of youth, but I was in my early 50s. I’d like to blame my wife,

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Much Appreciated

Richard Connor  |  Aug 31, 2020

WHAT’S YOUR CAPITAL gains tax rate? It’s a crucial number to know—and it could open the door to some big tax savings.
Most investors are aware that there’s a significant difference between the tax rate on short-term capital gains—investments held for a year or less—and that on long-term gains, those held more than a year. Realized short-term gains are dunned as ordinary income, just like your salary or any interest income you earn, while long-term appreciation gets taxed at a lower rate.

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Victims of the Virus

Richard Connor  |  Aug 19, 2020

SOCIAL SECURITY retirement benefits are one of the most complicated topics in financial planning. As you try to figure out how much you might receive, there are thousands of rules, different types of benefit and numerous scenarios to evaluate.
And then there’s the impact of COVID-19.
It turns out that this year’s economic slump, which caused the economy to shrink by a tenth in the second quarter, may interact with Social Security’s methodology to hurt those who turn age 60 in 2020.

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Refi or Not?

Richard Connor  |  Aug 10, 2020

MY WIFE AND I BOUGHT our first home in the mid-1980s. We were thrilled to get an 8% mortgage, though we had to pay three points—an upfront fee equal to 3% of the loan amount—to get that rate. Many of our friends had bought a few years earlier and were paying 14%, a common occurrence back then, according to Freddie Mac data.
We kept our eyes open for opportunities to refinance our high rate.

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Working the Numbers

Richard Connor  |  Aug 4, 2020

THIS YEAR’S TAX DAY was the strangest I can remember. Amid the pandemic, the filing deadline had been pushed back to July 15, three months later than usual. And for me, it was our most complicated tax year ever. I had both retirement income and income from various in-state and out-of-state consulting gigs.
But the biggest complication stemmed from last year’s sale of our second home. This was a vacation home that we rented part-time and also used ourselves.

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Summer Job

Richard Connor  |  Jul 15, 2020

MANY OF US DREAM of owning a second home near the sea, a lake or the mountains. For my wife and me, that dream location was the southern New Jersey Shore. We’d both spent many vacations there as children and then did the same with our own growing family. We had visions of taking grandkids to the beach and boardwalk.
In March 2012, we realized our dream by purchasing a three-bedroom condo in Ocean City,

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Don’t Leave a Mess

Richard Connor  |  Jun 23, 2020

I’VE BEEN INVOLVED in settling five estates. They ranged from insolvent to almost seven figures. Some were well-organized, but one took significant time and effort to settle. These experiences taught me a key lesson: An organized and easily understood estate is a gift to those you leave behind.
I’m not an estate planning attorney. I’ve dealt with a few and found them to be professional, empathetic and helpful. If you have a complicated financial life or family situation,

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Treasure Hunting

Richard Connor  |  Jun 5, 2020

MANY OF US HAVE found ourselves with free time on our hands. I’ve read that folks are filling their days with shopping, baking, exercising and binge-watching TV. May I suggest another activity, one that may prove profitable?
Over the past few years, I’ve found significant amounts of money in unlikely places. These treasures often come not just with monetary benefits, but also great memories. Here are four places to look:
1. Forgotten savings bonds.

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Taking the Hit

Richard Connor  |  Apr 29, 2020

ONE OF MY GOALS for 2020: develop a plan for doing Roth IRA conversions over the next 10 years. Once the money is out of traditional IRAs and in a Roth, it’ll grow tax-free. Problem is, the conversion means taking a tax hit today.
So why am I interested? There are several reasons: lowering lifetime taxes for my wife and me, creating the flexibility to manage future tax bills and leaving a tax-free inheritance to our children.

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Buyer Take Care

Richard Connor  |  Apr 22, 2020

BEING STUCK AT HOME lends itself to some less-than-healthy habits, including binge watching TV, snacking at all hours and ignoring daily hygiene. One of the most tempting activities: online shopping.
I’m not normally a shopper, but even I can be lured by the thought of that daily delivery. Amazon, FedEx and UPS trucks go up and down my street all day long. With my older grandsons quarantined in California, buying and shipping a small treat to them—and then seeing their expressions of excitement via Zoom—is priceless.

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Numbers Game

Richard Connor  |  Apr 10, 2020

IT’S TAX SEASON—NOT something many of us look forward to. Although HumbleDollar’s readers may be ready and willing to tackle their own taxes, many others approach Form 1040 with dread. I’ve seen that firsthand.
This has been my second year as a certified volunteer tax counselor for the AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide program, which offers free tax preparation for low-to-moderate income taxpayers, especially those age 50 and older. Earlier this year, Tax-Aide was providing this service at nearly 5,000 locations nationwide,

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Should You Sell?

Richard Connor  |  Apr 6, 2020

WHEN STOCKS SLUMP, experts are often quick to advise investors to sit tight or, better still, buy more. But that won’t be the right advice for everybody.
Christine Benz, Morningstar’s director of personal finance and one of my favorite financial writers, recently penned an article listing five questions to ask yourself if you’re pondering whether to reduce your stock exposure during a bear market. I figured I’d work through the five questions—and see what I could learn about my own finances.

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This Too Shall Pass

Richard Connor  |  Mar 31, 2020

ONE OF MY FATHER’S favorite sayings was, “This too shall pass.” Recent events have made me dwell on its meaning—and wonder where the phrase came from.
It seems to have originated as a Persian adage. It was employed in a speech by Abraham Lincoln before he became the 16th president: “It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations.

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Think Like a Retiree

Richard Connor  |  Mar 26, 2020

I’VE BEEN TRYING to imagine what the immediate future will look like. How do we make sense of a situation where we seem to have so little control? You hear estimates of a few weeks to 18 months before things get back to normal.
I’ll admit I’ve lately had many sleepless nights worrying about all of this. How can we think about the financial implications in an organized way? It strikes that maybe we should ponder the financial issues we currently face in the same way we think about retirement.

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