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Mutual Funds A lot of people invest in mutual funds, and it's pretty easy to see why they're so popular. A mutual fund is a simple way to diversify. In other words, they help minimize your risk by not putting all your eggs in one basket.
So what do you need to know about mutual funds?
A mutual fund is a pool of investments-usually a combination of stocks, bonds, and cash instruments. They are bought and sold by an investment company based on the goals of the fund. The risk, size of the company and industry are all things the fund manager thinks about when making investment decisions.
When you put money in a mutual fund, you're basically buying a small amount of each investment in the fund's portfolio. You're counting on the company that creates the fund to investigate industries to invest in based on the fund's investment strategy and decide which ones to invest in.
IRAs There are three main types of IRAs:
  1. Traditional IRA: The contributions you make may be tax deductible. So instead of paying taxes now, you'll pay taxes on the money your IRA earns when you withdraw it. If you're in a lower tax bracket at that point, you'll pay taxes at a lower marginal income tax rate.
  2. Roth IRA: You pay taxes now so that you don't have to pay tax on any of the profits earned between now and when you start withdrawing the money.
  3. Rollover IRA: This type of IRA is a simple solution if you've got a 401(k) or other retirement plan from a past job, and you want to move the money without paying penalties. This is especially helpful if you have several 401(k)s. It gives you more options for how to invest your money, and helps keep things simple by consolidating them into one account.
529 College
Saving Plans
There are also IRAs for self-employed people, small-business owners, and non-working people whose spouses contribute on their behalf.
Here are the basic things you need to know about 529 college savings plans.
They are state-sponsored investment programs designed to specifically help people save for college. Each state chooses an investment company to manage their plan, so you get the benefit of no-hassle investment.
What's even better for prospective college students is that the money you put in and the money earned qualifies for tax advantages, which helps to stretch your dollars even further.
You can contribute to a state's 529 plan no matter what state you live in. Some plans offer preferential state tax treatment. And most 529 plans allow students to use their funds to attend any accredited college in the U.S.
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An annuity is a contract issued by an insurance company and generally composed of two stages: the accumulation period, during which the contract builds a cash value and money is added, and the payout period, when the funds are distributed. Annuities offer tax deferral during the accumulation phase, flexible payment options, and guaranteed death benefits.

Fixed Annuities Fixed annuities offer a guarantee of principal and interest. Contributions earn a stated interest rate for a specified period of time while earnings grow tax deferred. Fixed annuities are for conservative investors.
Variable Annuities Variable annuities offer single or flexible premiums, a broad range of sub-accounts, tax deferral on earnings, and a death benefit. Values change according to the performance of the selected sub-accounts. Generally, variable annuities have higher expenses than a fixed annuity. Variable annuities are long term investments designed for retirement purposes and are best suited for investors willing to tolerate risk.
Market Value Adjusted Annuities (MVAs) MVAs offer fixed interest rates combined with an interest rate adjustment factor that can cause the actual crediting rates to increase or decrease in response to current market conditions at the time of withdrawal. MVAs are appropriate for individuals who are willing to tolerate minimal risk for a higher initial credited interest rate.
Equity Indexed Annuities Equity indexed annuities present interest based on the upward movement of an equity index, but still maintain the minimum guaranteed interest rate feature of a traditional fixed annuity. Equity indexed annuities are for individuals who are moderate risk takers - they want the guarantees of a fixed annuity while their earnings benefit on possible market upswings.
Immediate Annuities Immediate annuities have no accumulation phase. It is purchased with a lump sum payment and income payments are started right away. Immediate annuities are suitable for individuals who recently received a lump sum of money and are in need of a steady stream of income.
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Life Insurance Although there are many uses for life insurance, its traditional function remains the same. Life insurance protects individuals during the loss of a loved one and helps provide a sense of security for their future. That is why having a thorough understanding of life insurance is important in providing your customer and their families with optimum protection and peace of mind.
Term Life Insurance Provides coverage for a specified period of time, usually 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30 years. Once the period for the policy runs out, the life insurance coverage expires. Some policies can be automatically renewed at the end of the coverage period, and some can be converted to permanent insurance without the need for a medical exam.
Universal Life Insurance Offers flexible premium options and a death benefit. Allows changes to the death benefit, the amount of premium, and payment frequency. Most policies pay a minimum guaranteed interest rate.
Variable Life

Contains death benefits and cash values that vary with the performance of underlying sub-accounts. The death benefit and cash value are not guaranteed and can fluctuate according to the current market. Most policies offer a guaranteed minimum death benefit for protection against poor markets.

Variable Universal Life Combines the flexible premium and death benefit options of universal life with the investment flexibility and risk of variable life. Most policies offer a guaranteed minimum death benefit.
Whole Life Insurance Provides a fixed guaranteed rate and builds guaranteed cash values. There are two variations of traditional whole life:
  • Joint Whole Life (Also known as first-to-die): Insures two lives and pays the death benefit to the surviving insured person when the first one dies.
  • Survivorship Life Insurance (Also known as second-to-die): Insures two people and pays a death benefit only when the second person has died. It is designed for married couples that want to provide funds to pay estate taxes that may be due after their deaths.
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