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Saturday, January 16, 2010

How to Help Earthquake Recovery in Haiti

Please Support the Earthquake Recovery in Haiti through the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.

On January 12, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti just outside the capital city of Port-au-Prince. The devastation – in lives lost, property destroyed, and families displaced – is immense.

At the request of President Obama, we are partnering to help the Haitian people reclaim their country and rebuild their lives.

Our immediate priority is to save lives. The critical needs in Haiti are great, but they are also simple: food, water, shelter, and first-aid supplies. The best way concerned citizens can help is to donate funds that will go directly to supplying these material needs.

Through the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, we will work to provide immediate relief and long-term support to earthquake survivors. We will channel the collective goodwill around the globe to help the people of Haiti rebuild their cities, their neighborhoods, and their families.

We ask each of you to give what you can to help ensure the people of Haiti can build back stronger and better than ever.

Both of us have personally witnessed the tremendous generosity and goodwill of the American people and of our friends around the world to help in times of great need. There is no greater rallying cry for our common humanity than witnessing our neighbors in distress. And, like any good neighbor, we have an obligation and desire to come to their aid.

Thank you for taking the time to visit, and we hope you will donate to this worthwhile cause. The people of Haiti now need our assistance more than ever.

President William J. Clinton
President George W. Bush

To contribute, visit the secure online donation page or mail a check to:

The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund
c/o William J. Clinton Foundation
Donations Department
610 President Clinton Avenue
Little Rock, AR 72201


The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund
c/o Communities Foundation of Texas
5500 Caruth Haven Lane
Dallas, TX 75225

For additional information please see The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund FAQs.

Friday, January 15, 2010

How to Invest Retirement Assets

We are often asked how to distribute assets between accounts that usually include
  • Taxable accounts at brokerages
  • 401K and SEP plans at work
  • Regular IRAs
There is no "right answer" but some things to consider are:

Taxes on dividends and long-term capital gains are lower than regular income so you should have equities you expect to hold for a long time in taxable accounts.

The tax rates are highest for short term trading and regular income such as distributions from CDs, Money Market Funds and corporate bonds. These are good items for deferred accounts and ROTH IRAs.

Some securities, like US Treasury Bonds, Notes and Bills, may be exempt from State Income Tax (the rules are so complex with AMT I hate to say "always" so check your tax accountant to see how this applies for you.) These may be better in your taxable account than your IRAs.

Index funds, which are all we recommend in our Retirement Advisor model portfolios, are very tax efficient so they are good for taxable accounts if you don't trade in and out often. It often makes sense to have the model portfolio equity funds duplicated in your retirement accounts to help you rebalance without paying short term capital gains, but this adds complexity some may wish to avoid.

Managed mutual funds are often not very tax efficient so they are good for tax deferred accounts. For example, I have a few managed mutual funds in my personal "IRA Rollover" account I have kept from the 1990s when I worked at HP. I don't recommend them in either of my newsletters, but I like them for diversification and kept them as part of my "core and explore" approach to investing. They have done very well through the last two bear market cycles so I will keep them as long as they continue to beat or match the markets. If they start only matching the markets, then I will simplify my portfolio and add the money to the index funds we recommend in the Retirement Advisor.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cash for Appliance Program Texas

The State of Texas will implement a mail-in rebate program to help residents replace older, inefficient appliances with new, ENERGY STAR® qualified and ultra-efficient appliances. The program is tentatively scheduled to begin in April 2010 to coincide with Earth Day activities, and will continue until funds are expended.

Eligible products include

Clothes washers
Room air conditioners
Gas condensing water heaters
Gas storage water heaters
Gas tankless water heaters
Electric heat pump water heaters
Solar water heaters
Central air conditioners
Air source heat pumps

Customers may reserve their rebates online before the program begins, and are required to provide proof of haul-away of replaced appliances. Consumers can also obtain a bonus rebate by providing proof that their old appliances were recycled through a State Energy Conservation Office partner retailer or recycling center.

Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program FAQs

Will Texas participate in the Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program being funding by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act?

Yes, Texas will participate in the program.

How much funding will Texas receive?

Texas expects to receive $23,341,000.

Who is eligible for a rebate?

Consumers who purchase residential Energy Star appliances to replace older, functional appliances will be eligible.

When will this program take effect?

The mail-in rebate program will apply to eligible appliances purchased between April 16 and April 25, 2010. The 10-day period will coincide with Earth Day. Offering the program next spring will give retailers time to stock up on appliances, give the state time to select a vendor to administer the rebates, and allow ample time to inform consumers about details of the rebate program..

Will consumers be able to take advantage of this program retroactively?

No, the energy efficiency appliance rebate program will only apply to purchases made once the program officially begins.

How will consumers know when the program has begun?

The State Energy Conservation Office is working on creating a rapid notification plan to ensure consumers are aware of this opportunity. This plan will likely include retailers and other interested parties. Also, information on the program and its implementation will be posted on the State Energy Conservation Office stimulus site, as soon as it becomes available. In addition, those interested in the program can sign up for our Appliance Rebate e-mail list to be informed as soon as rebates are available.

Will replaced appliances have to be recycled?

Texas plans to include recycling opportunities of old appliances in the program design. Once finalized, details will be provided online.

Can the appliance rebate for heat pumps be used in conjunction with the federal tax credit that currently exists for the purchase of this type of appliance?

To qualify for a Federal tax credit, a heat pump must meet the energy efficiency criteria listed on this page:

It appears that the qualifying requirements are slightly higher to receive the Federal tax credit than to receive the Texas appliance rebate. It's possible that some products could qualify for the Texas rebate, but not the Federal tax credit. However, any unit that meets both sets of criteria would be eligible for both the rebate and the Federal tax credit.

We covered the Cash for Appliance Program in our January Retirement Advisor Newsletter. To learn how to subscribe to The Retirement Advisor Newsletter, visit our web site where you can download a free issue with instructions on how to subscribe. Subscribers are able to obtain all of our back issues at no extra cost.

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Don't Delay Your Financial Health Any Longer!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Cash for Applicance Program - New York


In February 2010, New York State residents can participate in the Great Appliance Swap-Out, a program designed to provide a boost to New York's economy while providing an incentive for consumers to reduce their energy consumption. Under the program, residents will be able to receive a cash rebate for replacing older appliance(s) with a new ENERGY STAR®-qualified appliance. This program, funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), will also provide added incentives for consumers who recycle their old appliances to help reduce the impact on landfills.

Under New York State's proposed plan, consumers can receive rebates for purchasing eligible appliances individually or in a bundle of three specific appliances. Only appliances with an ENERGY STARĂ‚® label denoting higher efficiency are eligible for a rebate. Consumers may receive a larger rebate by purchasing three eligible appliances that meet standards issued by the Consortium of Energy Efficiency (CEE) that are higher than ENERGY STAR standards.

As proposed, customers purchasing appliances would qualify for a rebate of $75 ($105 with documented recycling) for ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerators, $75 ($100 with documented recycling) for clothes washers and $50 ($75 with documented recycling) for freezers. Rebates are available for dishwashers when they are purchased as part of a three-appliance package (refrigerator, dishwasher, clothes washer), which may qualify for a $500 rebate ($555 with documented recycling).

Refer to for more information on this program.

We covered the Cash for Appliance Program in our January Retirement Advisor Newsletter. To learn how to subscribe to The Retirement Advisor Newsletter, visit our web site where you can download a free issue with instructions on how to subscribe. Subscribers are able to obtain all of our back issues at no extra cost.

Click to Subscribe Now

Don't Delay Your Financial Health Any Longer!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Cash for Appliances: California Program Rules

California has been allocated $35.2 million in federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to participate in the State Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program (SEEARP). The California Energy Commission will administer the SEEARP that will provide rebates to consumers for purchasing ENERGY STAR®-qualified home appliances during the rebate period.

The rebate program will:

* Save energy by replacing inefficient appliances with more efficient ones.
* Make rebates for efficient appliances available to residential consumers.
* Leverage the ARRA funds with existing rebate programs and partnerships.

The California Appliance Rebate program roll out is expected in early spring 2010. The Energy Commission has submitted its proposed Appliance Rebate Program design to the U.S. Department of Energy on October 14, 2009.

Three residential appliance categories were selected to be eligible to receive rebates:
  1. clothes washers (proposed rebate $100)
  2. refrigerators (proposed rebate $75)
  3. room air conditioners (proposed rebate $50)
These rebates are in addition to existing rebates offered by California's utilities or appliance manufacturers. The Energy Commission used the list of "pre-screened" appliances from the DOE. To qualify, the appliances must be ENERGY STAR-listed and certified to the Energy Commission as meeting all state and federal appliance efficiency standards.

To get e-mail updates about California's appliance programs, you can enter your name and e-mail address in the box on the right hand side of California's website called "Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program and ENERGY STAR® Recovery Funding" at
Current Consumer Rebates & Incentives

California has consumer rebates and incentives available now. Details are their Flex Your Power website.