Pension concerns cloud region’s economy

REGION - The Grand Traverse region's economic vitality is being threatened as an auto industry restructuring looms and "baby boomer" retirees are being hit with huge declines in their net worth, financial experts say.An already worrying situation could worsen if a nightmare scenario comes to...

Investing in big hitters (and pitchers)

TRAVERSE CITY - Jeff Mugerian had a decision to make. Should he sink $5,000 into a mutual fund or put his money where his heart is: Baseball cards?Mugerian, a local Traverse City business owner, took a hard look at the nearly perfect 1934 Goudey...

Goodwill’s auction site maximizes donations

TRAVERSE CITY - Down a hallway, behind office cubicles at Traverse City's Goodwill, is a doorway leading to a small back room containing treasures not likely to ever line the shelves of the retail shop next door. Far from keeping these items from bargain-shopping customers, Goodwill...

Lower interest rates may help housing rebound

REGION - While the downturn in the real estate market has been well chronicled, there is hope on the horizon: Interest rates have never been lower. Those historically low mortgage rates are translating to activity, say area professionals. "I do think there is positive impact....

Show me the money: Tips for financing your building project

Fourth in our series of articles discussing your team of professionals (architect, builder, etc.), here's some advice on selecting a financial institution to assist with financing your home building or remodeling project - often times the largest financial decision you'll make. The best way to start...

Economic stimulus plans enhance cost segregation benefits

Businesses with recent or planned building projects could benefit from "cost segregation" deductions, thanks to provisions in the recent economic stimulus plans. Cost segregation is a tax strategy that separates building components into various asset classes and allows for the accelerated depreciation of some building components....

The traveler’s buzz: Social media makes trip planning a snap

Imagine the 1983 National Lampoon film "Vacation" if the Griswold family had access to the online and mobile travel planning tools available to today's vacationers. It would hardly have been the means for high-grossing comedy, much less four sequels. Fortunate for modern-day Clark Griswolds, the resources...

Counseling for loss of job, wealth may yield silver lining

Life was rolling right along with a good job, possibilities for advancement, a nice house, spiffy car, a new boat and a growing investment portfolio. Then BAM! Everything vaporized. No more job. No more advancement. The investment portfolio or retirement plan became less than half...

Health Plans for One: BC/BS losses make coverage complex, expensive

TRAVERSE CITY - These days when someone knocks on insurance agent Mark Irwin's door, chances are good that they've come looking for an individual health insurance policy. As job losses mount, insurance agents throughout the area report a dramatic rise in both inquiries and purchases...