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THIS PAGE.... is one of the most important pages on this site. Check it often. It will contain information that will change... sometimes often.

There are three sections to this page...

The first section is "NOTES OF NOTE", where you`ll find important and timely reminders and... well... notes. Some are meant specifically for clients of Financial Concepts Unlimited LLC, and some are meant for the general public and clients alike. Either way, it`s a good idea to check this area often.

The second is "FCU FAMILY HAPPENINGS", where you`ll find news of some of the events that make life so memorable for Financial Concept Unlimited`s clients, family, staff, and friends.

The third section is "ARTICLES", which are written to stir your thinking, create thought regarding your financial plans, and inform you.

THE DISCLAIMER... Unless otherwise stated, any numbers or figures you read on this page connected with any investment vehicle or subject, are approximate numbers. As you may or may not know, past performance is certainly no guarantee of future performance. The ideas you may read about on this page are not recommendations. A recommendation would only be appropriate from a Financial Professional after more in-depth information regarding you... the client... has been obtained. These articles and notes are here to inspire thought and to let you know there are many alternatives out there to achieving your dreams and goals. You should however, do your own research or talk with a financial professional before taking action. And about prospectuses... they`re good things. Potentially boring... but good. The information they contain allows you to make intelligent decisions.
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NOTES OF NOTE:

OUR OFFICE ADDRESS HAS CHANGED!! - Financial Concepts Unlimited, LLC has moved to a new location. Our new address is

Financial Concepts Unlimited, LLC

1 Bradley Road, Suite 402
Woodbridge, CT 06525

Our new phone number is 203-281-7526
Our new fax number is 203-248-5900
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IRA CONTRIBUTIONS!!! - Please get your IRA contributions in on time and try not to wait till the last minute.
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FAVORITES - Here`s a suggestion ... add this site to your "Favorites" section! Through FCU’s web site, you can access information important to your financial planning needs, access your own account(s) on line, link to a variety of other financial web sites that may be of interest to you, find financial calculators, and many other helpful services.
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THE P.A.R. (Portfolio Analysis Review) PROGRAM - If you`re not a client of Financial Concepts Unlimited LLC, think about taking advantage of the P.A.R. Program. It cost nothing and there is no obligation at all except to let us sit down with you in person to explain it. If you`re a client of FCU, this analysis is done for you when reviewing your assets. The P.A.R. Program (which stands for Portfolio Analysis Review Program) is a no cost analysis of all your mutual funds and variable annuity sub-accounts. We`ll give you a bound analysis containing approximately 20 different facts for each asset, including 1, 3, and 5 year average performance returns, 1, 3, and 5 year Beta averages (how volatile an asset is compared to the index it`s measured against), Average Standard Deviations for 1, 3, and 5 years, 1, 3, and 5 year Alpha averages (how the return that your asset achieved compared to the risk it took in achieving it), average durations, average maturities, and maybe most importantly, how your assets measured up against their own peer group (Domestic Growth Funds are compared only to other Domestic Growth funds, etc). You get all these measurements and points of interest plus many others in a bound analysis along with an explanation of terms so you can understand them all. You`ll find out if a fund is built to specifically go down more then the index it`s measured against (Beta) when that index goes down, you`ll find out if the manager managing your fund was the one responsible for achieving your fund`s past performance history (Manager Start Date), and many other items of interest that will help you become more informed as an investor. Remember, performance isn`t the only criteria for selecting a fund or sub-account (consistency may be important to you), and this analysis will help you become more informed.
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ON-LINE ACCESS TO YOUR BROKERAGE ACCOUNTS - If you have a Pershing brokerage account, and would like to have on-line access to it, enabling you to view current values, recent activities, your holdings, etc., call or email FCU and we will arrange it for you.
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FCU FAMILY HAPPENINGS:



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ARTICLES:

YES, YOU DO HAVE A WILL - Make sure you have a will of your own choosing! If you DON`T have a will, your state probably has one for you, and it may not be to your liking. Particularly if you have children!
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YOUR INSURANCE SCORE – Do you know your insurance score? Most likely you don’t because not many people do. There are many factors that go into deciding the cost of your homeowner and auto insurance, such as your age, driving record, and safety features (burglar alarms for instance), but did you know you also have an “insurance score” that companies use to decide your premiums? According to USA Weekend Magazine and Jean Sherman Chatzky, author of Talking Money, your insurance score is somewhat like your credit report in that they are both culled from your credit reports. The link between them is that they are both supposed to indicate a level of personal responsibility. Insurers say that those who are financially responsible are also responsible in handling their properties too. The result is that people who score better on their insurance score pay less in premiums. And vice versa. Although most insurers won’t tell you your score, there are pieces of information that matter to insurers, such as whether you pay your bills on time. This is extremely important to insurers, maybe more so than to creditors. Another key is how long you’ve had your credit and how long you’ve had the same accounts. Many people keep switching cards to find the lowest rate. While they may be saving money on the interest from their credit cards, they may be costing themselves money on their insurance premiums at the same time. Maxing out your credit and applying frequently for more cards are also negatives. Having low credit balances is better than having no credit balances. It shows that you are using your card(s), but not abusing them. If you have no credit balances, that’s a sign to insurers that you have the potential to go on a spending spree.
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ESTATE TAXES & ILIT`s - If you own a sizable estate, particularly if a portion of it is made up of qualified accounts (IRA,s, 401k`s, 403b`s, etc), be aware of the taxes that will be due upon your death (or your spouses, if you pre-decease your spouse). Although these are only approximate numbers, qualified monies can be subject to about 40% in income taxes. The majority of your estate may be subject to even more in estate taxes, and that doesn`t even include the income taxes. THAT`S A LOT OF TAXES! One strategy that may be appropriate for you is to create an ILIT (Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust). If you pay the insurance premiums with a distribution from your qualified monies, it gets those monies out of your estate. Even if you were only getting the premiums back it might be worth it because you`re removing those monies from your estate and therefore not subjecting them to estate taxes. Plus, the insurance benefits will go to your heirs income tax and estate tax free (unlike the qualified monies if they were still in your estate). However, you won`t be getting back just the premiums. When you purchase life insurance, you basically pay pennies on the dollar. What YOU pay, will depend of course, upon how old you are, your health, etc. In essence though, the point is to plan to have enough left over to pay ALL of the estate taxes. This is particularly helpful if your estate is illiquid (such as when an estate is primarily made up of real estate, or a business, or land, etc). Estate taxes are usually due approximately 9 months after death, and you may not want to liquidate in order to pay them. Where do you get the monies from if you don`t want to liquidate? Now you have a possible answer. Especially since when you HAVE to liquidate in a short period of time, it`s under "fire sale" circumstances and you very rarely get your liquidated asset`s true value.

Before taking action and for more information, please seek the cousel of a qualified estate planner.
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SELLING YOUR FUNDS – How do you know when it’s time to get rid of one or more of the mutual funds or variable annuity sub-accounts in your portfolio? It’s very often easy to judge your assets negatively, particularly when times are tough and your portfolio value is steadily going down. In those times, it’s easy to reason that the funds you have in your portfolio just aren’t doing the job they’re supposed to be doing.

Instead, consider examining two key aspects before deciding anything. While there may be many aspects that you might want to look at, if you’re only going to examine two, these two warrant consideration:

Your asset categories – Take a look at the asset categories you’re invested in. Are they still valid? What are the reasons you invested in them in the first place? Do those reasons still hold true? If you’re a long term aggressive investor and you invested in a particular asset category because you felt it held the most promise for long term rewards, do you still feel that way? After you’ve gotten a taste of what it can be like during harder times, do you still feel comfortable being as aggressive? If you believe the original premise for investing in that asset category still holds true, then that asset category may still be appropriate for you.

Your mutual funds or variable annuity sub-accounts – Now that you’ve looked at the asset categories you own, take a look at the specific mutual funds you have within these asset categories. The first thing you’ll want to do is only judge each fund against other funds of the same type. You’ll be misleading yourself if you don’t. An obvious example would be not to judge a growth fund against a government bond fund. But a less obvious example would be judging a mid-cap growth fund against a large-cap growth fund, or a large-cap growth fund against a large-cap value fund. Since the market runs in cycles, even between asset categories, there is a good chance that one fund will be doing much better than the other at any particular point in time. That doesn’t mean that the lagging fund is a bad one though. It just isn’t its’ time to shine. So compare your funds to other funds in the same peer group. In that way, even with your own specific set of criteria to judge them with, you’ll be giving a fair comparison.

Once you’ve taken a look at these two aspects, your specific funds and the asset categories they’re in, you’ll be in a better position to decide whether or not to keep each fund. Are the funds still fulfilling your criteria and performing well compared to their peer group? If so, maybe your asset class isn’t appropriate for you. Is the asset class still valid? Does the original premise which made you decide to invest in that asset class in the first place still hold true? If so, and if you judge your funds to still be good ones, maybe you should stay put.

Please seek the counsel of your qualified financial representative before taking action.
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MUTUAL FUND CAPITAL GAIN DISTRIBUTIONS - At the end of every year, mutual funds are required by law to distribute capital gains. This distribution usually occurs in November or December and may result in tax consequences. If you`re planning on investing during that particular time of year, you`ll want to be aware of, and consider, these distributions. If you invest just prior to the distribution date, you may inccur tax consequences when those capital gains are distributed although you did not get to benefit from the build up of those capital gains. If you invest AFTER the distribution, not only may your share price be less per share, but you might be able to avoid a capital gains distribution that will result in negative tax ramifications.
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INCREASED PORTFOLIO STABILITY - How can you increase the stability of your portfolio while still achieving your goal of growth or income (or both)? Two ways, among many others that come to mind, are "Asset Allocation" and "Portfolio Rebalancing".

Asset allocation is the concept that the markets go in cycles. There are many markets, such as the equity markets, the bond markets, the real estate markets. There are sub-markets such as the small company market, mid-sized company market, etc. Another criteria that will differentiate an asset from another is whether it is a “value” asset or a “growth” asset. Stocks usually have either a Value and Growth "personality" and each act and react to the various markets in a different way. Historically, all asset categories have had their day in the sun. The hard part is knowing when each of these asset classes will shine and when each of them won’t. The concept is to include all of the appropriate asset categories for an individual in their portfolio and in the correct proportions. By doing that, you will never have too many eggs in one basket. Basically, it is diversification with a plan, or a reason. When one asset category in your portfolio is down, another should be up, and so forth. While two different assets may provide similar average returns over a long period of time, by combining them, your overall portfolio may be more stable and more consistent, as opposed to either being all up or all down at any one time.

Portfolio rebalancing is the concept of never letting one particular asset or asset category become too large a part of your portfolio. It, in effect, actually forces you to invest correctly… sell high and buy low. The concept is to rebalance your asset categories on a periodic basis, thereby selling off the ones that have grown out of proportion and putting the monies into the asset categories that have been lagging. Hopefully, those asset categories that have been lagging will have their day in the proverbial sun and you’ll be happy you rebalanced by taking monies out of what was once doing so well… but is now lagging. For instance, take a look at this hypothetical example.  Let’s say sometime in 1998, you invested $10,000.00. You invested 50% ($5,000.00) of your portfolio in large company value stocks, and 50% ($5,000.00) of your portfolio in technology stocks. By the end of 1999, your value stocks were worth $4,000.00, and your technology stocks were worth $16,000.00. In other words, your technology stocks were now 80% of your portfolio. If you had rebalanced your portfolio at that time, $6,000.00 from your technology asset category would have gone into your large company value asset category, thereby rebalancing your portfolio back to the original 50% in value (now $10,000.00) and 50% in technology (now $10,000.00). In the year 2000, value stocks far exceeded the growth of technology stocks. If you hadn’t rebalanced, you would have been risking 80% of your portfolio to a sector that took a big hit in the year 2000.

Granted, asset allocation and portfolio rebalancing isn’t for everybody. Those who want to be more aggressive and can stomach the ups and downs of the markets may desire not to take advantage of those two concepts. And except for within certain managed mutual fund portfolios and most variable annuities, portfolio rebalancing, particularly on a frequent basis, may be impractical. It is not though, a bad idea to give consideration to these two strategies when constructing your portfolios.

Please note that neither asset allocation nor portfolio rebalancing can ensure a profit or protect against a loss.
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