When Should I Seek Financial Advice?
Blog for August
Here are some life milestones and events that mark when you should make the call to a financial advisor.
- When there’s a new baby in the family.
Parents, grandparents, siblings—everyone is affected when the new baby comes along. Now is the time to plan for what this tiny family member will grow to need in the future—especially college funds. And now is also the time to make sure that you have the right insurance and protections in place to see the child through to adulthood should something unexpectedly happen to you.
- When you get married.
Two people joined together in holy matrimony are also going to need to bring their finances together, for better or worse. And if there are any children from a previous marriage involved, it’s doubly important to find and hire a financial advisor that you both like and respect.
A comprehensive financial plan—which includes your mutual goals, time horizon to retirement, and desires for wealth transfer to family members—is a very important way to get started on your life journey together.
- When you win the lottery, or inherit.
We all dream of receiving a big financial windfall someday, but when you actually land a large amount of money at one time, studies show that many people squander it away. In fact, nearly a third of lottery winners actually end up declaring bankruptcy, becoming worse off than before they won.
If you receive money, call a financial advisor first, because no matter what the amount, it is actually less than it seems. You need qualified financial advice to ensure you don’t lose 30-90% to the IRS by not understanding tax laws. Financial advisors work as a team with your tax professionals to help you navigate inheritance, winnings, and gift taxes, as well as qualified money (like an inherited IRA account) tax rules so that you can actually end up ahead of the game.
- When you start working.
Your first job is an exciting time in your life. Even if you’re trying to pay off student loan debt, don’t miss the chance to achieve your life goals by harnessing the power of compound interest. Putting away even a very small amount each month can snowball through the years. A financial advisor can help you lay a plan to get ahead and reach your goals over the long term.
- When you start a new business, or want to sell one.
Small businesses offer many different options for retirement plans for their owners depending on the company structure. Call a financial advisor to help you set up a financial and retirement plan for your business in order to have the best chance of achieving your goals. And don’t forget about an exit strategy. Whether you want to leave your business to a family member or sell it, planning for your own departure from the company is essential to your ultimate financial success.
- When you’re starting to get close to retirement.
You should start to save for retirement as early as possible, but as you get closer to your actual retirement day, having a written plan in place to guide you becomes critical. How will you transform that nest egg you’ve saved into monthly income after you’re no longer getting a paycheck—without running out of money? How much money will you need? How will you take money out? Which accounts should you withdraw from first? What kind of taxes will you have to pay? How does Social Security work? How will you live, what will you do? Should you pay off your house first?
There are so many issues and retirement risks to address that retirement planning is absolutely essential. Ideally, you should have a plan in place by age 50—55. If you don’t, call your advisor as soon as possible.
- When you’re creating estate planning documents or establishing a trust.
Estate attorneys can create the documents you need, but they may not know about all the ins and outs of investments and insurance that can reduce taxation while helping ensure your final wishes are carried out. Call your financial advisor to get that important piece of the estate and tax planning equation.
- If you lose your job midlife, or are getting divorced with a lot of assets.
An adverse life event can hit anyone. If you’ve lost a job or are getting divorced, your financial advisor can help determine your best options for putting an immediate action plan in place.
For instance, if you’ve lost your job, your financial advisor may be able help you position assets in order to be able retire early, or help you draw from certain accounts to get you through until you land your next job.
If you are getting divorced, be sure to get advice from a financial advisor as well as your divorce attorney. They can help you analyze the assets that will most benefit you based on your future goals in order to reach the best settlement split. They can help you see things you might not be able to see clearly, and that divorce attorneys may not know. Like what kind of burden versus advantage keeping the family home might be.
- In the final quarter of every year.
Once you do have a financial or retirement plan in place, you should absolutely review it every year. (Most likely you’ll just need to answer the call, since most advisors will reach out to conduct annual reviews with you.) The annual review will allow your advisor adjust the plan as well as make changes to account beneficiaries as your family changes through time.
April is Financial Literacy Month. Here are the Top Things You Should Know.
Blog for April
1) Tax reform changes a lot of things starting in the 2018 tax year. (And a lot of the new law sunsets in 2026, returning to 2017 levels.)
Under the new tax law passed last December—the “Tax Cuts & Jobs Act”—some of the changes include new tax brackets, new limits to mortgage interest deductions, lower deductions for local property/sales taxes, higher standard deductions, higher estate tax exemptions, and more. We suggest that you meet with both your financial advisor as well as your tax professional to see how you will be affected, and how you might best prepare for 2018 and future taxes.
2) RMDs (Required Minimum Distributions) kick in at age 70-1/2, which can change your tax bracket.
Even people who’ve saved up a large amount of money for retirement are often surprised to find that when they are required to start withdrawing a percentage of their money stashed in tax-deferred accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs every year starting at age 70-1/2, they’re suddenly thrown into a higher income tax bracket, and a big chunk of their savings ends up going to Uncle Sam. Make sure your retirement plan includes tax planning to help mitigate the effect of RMDs.
3) Sequence of returns risk can wipe out retirement money invested in the stock market; that’s what happened to a lot of people in 2008.
No one can predict the timing of a bear market, but if you retire during or right before a market downturn, sequence of returns risk can lead to retirement failure. As a retiree, you don’t have the time horizon to wait for the market to come back up before you withdraw funds needed for income—you need the money to live on. But by withdrawing funds during a market downturn, you amplify your losses, kind of like compound interest in reverse. There are options, just ask us.
4) Insurance can shift financial risk from your family over to an insurance company.
You may be able to take advantage of permanent insurance or annuity policies to help protect your family from a variety of risks depending on your situation; there are all sorts of new policy designs to cover long-term care, lifetime retirement income, spousal survivorship and tax-advantaged wealth transfer.
5) Health care expenses in retirement must be planned for.
Surprise, Medicare isn’t free and doesn’t cover everything. Total projected lifetime health care premiums (Medicare Parts B and D, supplemental insurance, and dental insurance) for a healthy 65-year-old couple retiring this year are expected to be $321,994 in today’s dollars ($485,246 in future dollars). Adding deductibles, copays, hearing, vision, and dental cost sharing, that number grows to $404,253 in today’s dollars ($607,662 in future dollars).
6) Long-term care is not covered by Medicare.
Surprising to many, long-term care (LTC) like going into a nursing facility is not covered by Medicare at all. It can be covered by Medicaid, which requires a complete spend-down of assets (which can bankrupt your spouse and leave nothing for heirs.) A semi-private room costs more than an average of $7,000 per month in 2017. Here are the costs for LTC, broken down by state.
7) You can get a free copy of your credit report once a year by visiting annualcreditreport.com.
We highly recommend that you check your credit reports at least yearly for fraudulent activity using your (potentially-stolen) identity, especially since the Equifax data breach which was all over the news last year.
8) Updating beneficiaries is incredibly important.
The beneficiaries you have listed on your insurance policies, investments, and retirement accounts like IRAs and 401(k)s take precedence over your will and/or trust. There have been court battles over this, and ex-spouses have received money no longer intended for them. Make sure your beneficiaries on all accounts and policies are up to date so that your wishes are carried out. (And update your estate plan regularly, too.) Let’s meet.
9) Know the difference between taxable, tax-deferred and tax-free accounts.
Taxable: Gains or interest received on non-retirement or investment accounts are taxed as income (at your tax bracket for the year) or as short- or long-term capital gains, depending.
Tax-deferred: Income taxes are due on gains when you take money out of tax-deferred retirement accounts like 401(k)s or traditional IRAs. And you have to start taking money out starting at age 70-1/2.
Tax-free: Roth IRA distributions (after age 59-1/2 or if other requirements are met) as well as life insurance benefits may be tax-free in most cases.
10) Only one thing is for certain: change.
Legislation, market conditions, economic events, financial instruments and your family dynamics change over time, so it is important to update your financial/retirement plan at least yearly to help ensure that your plan is on track, your retirement income stream is as safe as possible, and that your strategies are still recommended given your current life situation and analysis of current conditions/opportunities.
If you have questions about your finances or would like to meet, please don’t hesitate to call us at 513-984-9933.
7 Hidden Retirement Tricks
Blog for March
The average life expectancy has increased. Chances are that if you’ve reached 65 years old you will live into your mid-80s according to life expectancy calculations. Many are living even longer—one in four people will live into their 90s, while one in ten will live past 95. Make sure that your retirement plan takes longevity into account so that you don’t run out of money—no matter how long you live.
2) Loss of Income
Make sure both you and your spouse are protected from the unexpected. Consider the financial impact of the loss of one spouse, running the numbers both ways. Remember that your surviving spouse will only get the highest of your two Social Security checks, not both checks.
NOTE: Be sure to talk with us about Social Security. Recently it was discovered that the Social Security Administration failed to tell widows and widowers how they could receive a higher benefit amount.
3) Incapacity Risk
Longer life expectancy could lead to high costs of a stay in a long-term care facility. The average cost of a semi-private room in a nursing care facility was more than $7,000 per month in 2017, and it’s estimated that approximately 50% of people over 65 will need long-term care. We can help you devise a plan to pay for costs if you do need long-term care, but not overspend on policies that may be subject to drastic premium increases, sudden cancellations or never be needed at all. There are many strategies and new options to consider.
4) Negative Return Risk
A 50% gain does not allow a portfolio to recover from a 50% loss. In fact, a 100% gain is required to restore a 50% loss! Talk to us about how we can help reduce this risk in retirement. The “buy and hold” strategy that works when you are young—where you wait for the markets to come back up after a downturn—does not apply in retirement as we saw in 2008, when many people’s retirements were wiped out.
5) Bond Risk
When interest rates* rise, bond prices fall—and vice versa. Duration risk is the name economists give to the risk associated with the sensitivity of a bond’s price to a one percent change in interest rates; the higher a bond’s duration, the greater its sensitivity to interest rate changes.
6) Inflation Risk
You should plan on prices for food, goods and services getting higher during retirement, reducing your buying power incrementally as you are living on a fixed income. We can help you address inflation* risk in your retirement plan.
*Inflation and interest rates are considered by economists to be inversely related. So when inflation—or the cost of goods and services—rises, interest rates go down. Interest rates in the United States are set by the Federal Reserve based on the rate of inflation, which they like to see at 2%. In 2017, the Fed raised interest rates, and has said they will raise them even more in 2018.
7) Healthcare Costs
Surprising to some, Medicare is not free—your premiums for coverage are usually deducted from your Social Security check. And standard Medicare doesn’t cover dental, hearing or vision, is subject to deductibles, and doesn’t cover long-term care. Fidelity’s latest estimate is $275,000 per couple for out-of-pocket healthcare costs in retirement.
Let’s Create or Review Your Custom Retirement Plan
When people think about retiring, their number one fear is running out of money. That’s why we focus on creating reliable retirement income when we are developing your custom retirement distribution plan.
Once you have a retirement plan in place, it’s not set in stone. Things change. You may add or lose family members, your retirement goals may change, the economic environment may create new considerations, and financial innovations may present new strategies. Once per year is a minimum in terms of making sure your retirement plan (and beneficiaries) are constantly up-to-date.
And remember, the tax laws just changed. It’s more important than ever to plan ahead.
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10 Tips for a Living a Retirement You Love
Date Published: February 22nd, 2018
The best way to have a retirement you love is to plan for it! Here are some tips for success.
1. Create and keep a schedule
Although you may have dreamed for decades about the future when you would no longer have to set an alarm for the crack of dawn or race off to a job five days a week, once you retire you may start to feel differently about the lack of structure. Men in particular tend to identify with their work, and can start to feel isolated or bored after the initial excitement of free time has worn off.
That’s why one of our top tips for retirement happiness is to create new schedules and routines to replace the old nine-to-five—and stick to them.
2. Set goals
Creating new goals for yourself contributes to having a sense of purpose and importance—which helps lead to happiness and increased health.1
Forget about aging and get to work on your next objective! Keep dreaming big. We suggest both yearly goals as well as five-year plans.
3. Make your relationship better
After decades of leading separate careers, some spouses find that they have a little “too much togetherness” when they are both retired with just the two of them living together in their house. Instead of invading each other’s space, why not use this time to take your relationship to a whole new level?
Bring romance back by reenacting your first date or going on the honeymoon you always wanted. Or deepen your ties by finding new activities you want to try together, as well as some you want to pursue alone, allowing your partner to have the house to himself/herself at certain times.
Everyone knows that exercise and eating healthy foods is important at every age, but new studies point out that a fast gait is a strong indicator of cognitive strength, heart health and longevity2 when you are over age 65. So now that you’re retired, speed it up!
5. Be social
Avoid too much alone time in retirement by engaging in more social activities. There are multiple ways to do this, including taking classes, joining or forming a club, volunteering or inviting people over for dinner or to play cards.3
6. Spend time with your grandchildren
Spending quality time with your young grandchildren is good for them and good for you according to recent research4, bringing satisfaction, a sense of purpose and mutual unconditional love.
7. Get a dog
Pets are beneficial, especially in retirement. A study of 3.4 million people published in Scientific Reports found that “dog owners had a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular disease than people who did not report owning a dog, as well as a lower risk of death from other causes. That was true even after adjusting for factors such as smoking, body mass index and socioeconomic status.”5
8. Learn new things
Whether you pick up the guitar, read more books, take up skydiving, study another language or go back to college, learning new things keeps you engaged, active and interesting. And being inquisitive and curious keeps you young.
9. Start a new company
If you’re really ambitious, maybe it’s time to go back to work on your own terms. The internet has made this easier, and according to Inc. Magazine, “People over 50 are among the country’s most active entrepreneurs, starting businesses at rates higher than their young counterparts.”6
10. Continue to plan your retirement; think lasting income
Once you’re retired, don’t stop working with your financial advisor to assess and update your plan to ensure that your income lasts as long as you live. And make sure you review your tax situation as well as your estate plan regularly.
We can help! Call us to set up an appointment to refresh your retirement plan. Call 513-984-9933 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
1 “People Age Better If They Have a Purpose In Life.” Time.com. http://time.com/4903166/purpose-in-life-aging/ (accessed January 29, 2018).
2 “How Long Will You Live? It Depends on How Fast You Walk.” Oprah.com. http://www.oprah.com/health/fast-walking-health-benefits-how-fast-you-walk (accessed January 31, 2018).
3“7 Ways to Prevent Loneliness After You Retire.” U.S. News & World Report. https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/on-retirement/articles/2017-08-03/7-ways-to-prevent-loneliness-after-you-retire (accessed January 31, 2018).
4 “The Health Benefits of Having (and Being) Grandparents.” U.S. News & World Report. https://health.usnews.com/wellness/articles/2017-09-13/the-health-benefits-of-having-and-being-grandparents (accessed January 31, 2018).
5 “It’s Official: Dog Owners Live Longer, Healthier Lives.” Time.com http://time.com/5028171/health-benefits-owning-dog/ (accessed January 31, 2018).
6 “The Hot New ‘Retirement’ Plan for Baby Boomers: Starting a Business.” Inc.com https://www.inc.com/leigh-buchanan/next-act-the-real-reasons-so-many-baby-boomers-are-starting-businesses.html (accessed January 31, 2018).
Strong Earnings and Tax Cuts Send Stocks Higher
Date Published: February 14th, 2017
Welcome to the Great Tranquility ladies and gentlemen. Now start getting very afraid. As Charlie Bilello (Twitter: @CharlieBilello) noted recently, the S&P 500 hasn’t had a 1% intraday move since December 14.
This is the longest period of intraday calm…in history. We went from immense fear over a Donald Trump presidency to historic calm. We went from “America first” to emerging markets far outperforming. Everything thus far that dominated investor psyche in terms of narrative ended up being quite literally the exact opposite.
Now ask yourself – can this calm behavior in markets continue? Maybe, but volatility is notoriously mean reverting. Combined with high valuations and enormous complacency, we are likely nearing a time of great turbulence ahead, at least for US markets as a secular shift in emerging market leadership begins to take hold (and is long overdue). Amazing how the two overriding beliefs of the Fed hiking rates and a Donald Trump presidency being hurtful for emerging markets has led us to a 9-year low in emerging market high yield credit spreads. So much for that nonsense.
Whatever you think is going to happen, best be prepared for something completely unexpected. In markets, there is a tendency to always react rather than anticipate. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” dominates how investors view their portfolios, chasing past winners and looking at prior returns as an anchor for what to position in. But more often than not, you don’t know if your portfolio is broken until it’s too late. Logic dictates one should prepare for multiple scenarios through diversification and risk management. Unfortunately, few do this. Instead, investors get more optimistic and bullish after a bull run has already happened. Funny how a 30% rise from the February lows last year now makes people positive on stocks.