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Economic Review and Outlook – September 30, 2014

It seems likely that 2014 will be the third consecutive year in which U.S. GDP will have expanded by just over 2%. While this modest result appears disappointing relative to our initial forecast of 2.5% to 3.0% growth, it masks very solid economic performance after the miserable winter quarter. GDP rebounded sharply to above 4% in the spring quarter, and annualized growth in the vicinity of 3% is likely to be realized in the second half of the year. This achievement is all the more impressive given the sluggish state of so many of the world?s major economies and an increasingly dangerous geopolitical situation.

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How to Protect Yourself From Data Breaches

At Washington Trust, the basis of each customer relationship, many of which span generations, is trust. We take the security and privacy of our customers very seriously and take extra steps to ensure that their information is protected. Throughout the month, we will share tips on how you can best protect your finances both online and off.

"While there isn't really anything consumers can do to prevent a breach, you can be on the lookout for signs that something like this has occurred," said Jeff Kopchik, a Senior Policy Analyst with the FDIC. "And, if you receive formal notice from your bank or a retailer that your credit or debit card information was stolen as a result of a breach, there are steps you can take to protect yourself."

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It's Never Too Early -- Or Too Late -- To Start Investing for Retirement

"Time is money." -- Benjamin Franklin.

Benjamin Franklin may not have been referring to the effect of time on money accumulating in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, but his words certainly ring true to today's investor. That's because time is one of the best allies an investor has. But even if you didn't start investing in your plan until later in life, there's another old saying that you may want to heed -- "Better late than never."

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You Can Meet the Spiraling Cost of College

Higher education opens doors for a young person, but these advantages come at a price: Today, tuition and fees at a four-year private college can run over $40,000 per year. With advance planning, your family can manage these costs. You'll need to research investment vehicles designated for college savers as well as potential sources of financial aid. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

Take advantage of tax-free investment opportunities. Section 529 college savings plans were designed specifically to fund higher education. Contributions grow tax free, and withdrawals are tax free when used to fund qualified education expenses. There is no annual contribution limit, although contributions in excess of $14,000 a year ($28,000 when done jointly with a spouse) are likely to trigger the federal gift tax.

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Fulfilling Your Philanthropic Vision With the Appropriate Giving Vehicle

Andrew Carnegie, perhaps the most celebrated American philanthropist, was credited with having said, "The man who dies rich, dies disgraced." Indeed, Carnegie lived by these words, amassing an enormous fortune and then giving away more than $350 million. Through his supreme acts of charity, Carnegie set the standard for generations of philanthropists.

Today's philanthropists are as diverse and unique as the causes they support. Family groups may work together to channel their charitable goals and build a philanthropic legacy that can be passed down through the years. Entrepreneurs may approach philanthropy with the same drive and commitment they apply to building their businesses. Other generous souls may simply adhere to "checkbook philanthropy," informally supporting various causes with direct cash donations.

Whatever their charitable aspirations, when selecting giving vehicles, donors of significant wealth must evaluate a number of factors, such as their need for current income, the desired level of involvement for the donor and other family members currently and in future generations, as well as important tax considerations.

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Avoid These Five Common Investment Mistakes When Planning for Retirement

Only about 14% of American workers say they are "very confident" they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout retirement. To help reduce such uncertainty from your life, consider these five common investment pitfalls -- and how to avoid them.

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Teach Your Children to Save for College

Being part of the college planning process can be very educational for children, as it presents them with valuable financial lessons for the future. Children can earn money, learn about sources of financial aid, research potential colleges, and take other steps that may relieve their parents of some of the responsibility of college planning.

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Retirement Savings Tips for Those 50+

If you find yourself with an empty nest and a well-paying job, it may be tempting to indulge in a few splurges that were not possible when college tuition or mortgage payments were due. But before throwing caution to the wind financially, remember that you could be passing up your last opportunity to make significant headway in investing for retirement. Here are three steps to prepare financially.

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Financial Preparedness for Hurricane Season

Not only is September the peak of hurricane season, it is also National Preparedness Month. National Preparedness Month is sponsored by the Ready Campaign of FEMA and held each September to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for potential emergencies in their homes, businesses and communities. The Ready Campaign asks individuals to do three key things to prepare for the unexpected: 1) get an emergency supply kit, 2) make a family emergency plan, and 3) be informed about the different types of emergencies that could occur and their appropriate responses. Something else to consider is your financial readiness in case of an emergency.

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The opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the author and may not reflect those of The Washington Trust Company. The information in this report has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but its accuracy and completeness are not guaranteed. Any opinions expressed herein are subject to change at any time without notice. Any person relying upon this information shall be solely responsible for the consequences of such reliance. Performance is historical and does not guarantee future results.

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Important Information about FDIC Insurance Coverage

System Maintenance

October 19, 2014
10:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m.

Due to system maintenance, Online Banking and Mobile Banking will be unavailable on Sunday, October 19 between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m.