​June 13, 2020 - "Defense"

In a continuation to my newsletter from June 6th, we experienced another week of high volatility in the Financial markets as well as high volatility on the Political and Social (Socialistic) patterns that have emerged.

From last week - here are my bullet points, actual facts to consider…

  • The Fed has removed Reserve Limits on all Banks down to Zero % to back up your bank account deposits.

You just have the FDIC insurance to back you up now. They get to loan our your money at will and at leverage, no limits:

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics weekly reports, have fudged the numbers admittedly and don’t plan to make any corrections to their fudging, 'cause that might hurt the market rally:

These two things should have had Main Stream Media - screaming 'bloody murder' because what about 'Stress Tests' and 'Transparency'?

What about sound fiscal policy?

Shouldn't it be higher reserves with the clear sign of the loan defaults to come with the shutdown?

How could they do this without oversight of Congress, where's the protest???

The Media response: Meh, who cares, the market is up, never-mind, don't look here, nothing to see. It's all good.

So now it's OK to let the Fed buy Junk bonds to prop up failing companies.

It's OK to let the Fed Drop Reserve Limits on Banks to 0%, leaving you at risk if the bank makes a stupid bet.

Now it's OK to let the Fed buy up High Yield Bonds ETF's to prop up Money Market accounts.


This is not about COVID, not about Police Brutality, or Racism, which are quite real, but carry all the attention that's spinning on TV and news.

Let me say it again. There is Something - Wrong - With - The - Banks (and Hedge Funds).

Why else would the Fed need to add more liquidity to the banks if everything was purring so great.

This money is going to the banks to the corps to stock buybacks to the market prop up.

Problem is, it won't last and never has.

As an Independent Investment Advisor, I follow technical, fundamental, quantitative and macro analysis and subscribe to the same from the very best industry voices. I have access to daily research, real time. The collective voice says trouble ahead.

Inside note to my managed account holders… you are already protected with WealthGuard. And my annuity clients, well that's why we have guaranteed accounts, in the event of a market drop.

Those of you that are not current clients, my word for the week would be Defense. You better get a defensive position in your financial picture tuned up. I recommend shifting allocations if you have not done so.

My clients that are conservative or moderately conservative have a portion of their portfolio in the very best Fixed Index Annuities. If you want more info, email me.

We have more volatility ahead… but there is definitely something not right with the banking system.

The pre-skirmish drop, Yes - the pre-skirmish drop we experienced on Thursday, just took the skin off. Time to get defensive for more to come.

No noise about politics or protests this week.   Stay aware, stay safe and be prepared.

​JUNE 6, 2020 - Changes Coming to America

It's always good to trust but verify… and in this case the verification tells a mixed message.

Why did the Department of Labor suddenly shift their methods of reporting and under report the TRUE unemployment number on Friday???… This should be the question of the day….

Of course the Main Stream Media, (MSM) ran with the incorrect intel, CNBC pumped it up to a Record Day, the POTUS took a bow, and pumped it some more.... All a lie to the people, like lipstick on a pig.  Does anyone have ethics anymore???

We already have a FED that has decided it's (OK) to buy Junk securities to prop up zombie companies.

Companies that should have filed bankruptcy long ago, but kept alive with stock buybacks. BLATANT MARKET MANIPULATION in any sense of the word. Any of us would go to JAIL for manipulation or insider trading like this …. Ask Martha Stewart!!!

THIS WILL NOT END WELL, THE PROP UP, THE BACK DOOR BAILOUTS, THE FREE MONEY TO CORPORATE POCKETS. WHAT will be the result? Look at history. It has never ended well before. Bigger debt, enslaving us with more taxes to come, hyperinflation is an outcome when you expand the money supply at the 7 Trillion dollar level without limits to go higher.

OUR FED even decided to bypass the 'Japan playbook' of buying equities …which has failed miserably for 20 years by the way.

Now the FED changed their charter, without oversight, They chose to bypass purchasing assets with earnings history and dividends and just go all in and went right to Junk bond purchases like a DRUNK IN VEGAS… to stimulate once again over leveraged companies. Manipulate the money market funds, oh yeah that's a good idea.

IS ANYONE PAYING ATTENTION to the collateral damage this will cause??? How is this ethically legal???

THIS IS THE SAME FED that changed the rules of the entire banking system on what a bank must maintain in loan reserves…from historically 10%... To now ZERO %.

Yes, no reserves on deposits.. Hope that makes you feel safe, with your money in the bank and nothing to back it up but good will. Bank Failures have happened before. You might remember the whole BANK REPO (Bailout) the FED started SEPT of 2019, Again, manipulating the markets by creating liquidity to failing banks… It will all come out eventually. But now the REPO noise has been taken over with the COVID noise and the PROTEST/RIOT noise.. Don’t be fooled, there are problems, real problems with the financial system.

#EndTheFed #market #jobs #bearmarket #correction

….back to our story…

Here's what you should know…. The after hours last minute clarification…

The May unemployment rate is actually 16.3%, not 13.3%, because 4.7 million workers were misclassified as employed, but are really unemployed. and... Total jobless claims are approximately 35.89 million. (The implied unemployment rate is 23%.)

If you add in the underemployed and the displaced self-employed, this is a 40% number and will take time to get back to some semblance of normal….

Always question and verify. I would like to hope everything is back to normal but facts are facts. Never in my wildest dreams could you script the crap we're going through right now,

Economic, Socialistic and Political and Financial nonsense and policies that will not end without great disruption.

Now is the time to reassess what's most important to you, not someone else, you. Will your present financial plan, retirement plan, investment account protect and serve YOU???

Is it ( your financial plan ) bulletproof to serve you over the next ten years???

My guess is you're like most, in total shock and buckling in for a 'no change' to your approach.

This could be very dangerous NOT to address the changes in our DAILY REALITY and how it could affect our future. Stop being fed the lies you see in the news, research and verify.

Reach out to me and let's talk about it. My direct line is (214)536-4678.

Be proactive and prepared, what ever your leaning is, depend on yourself with a well thought plan, one flexible to the shifting changes we are seeing.

To Your Success,

Mark Stoecker

Getting A Mortgage In Retirement

It’s not so uncommon when you hear someone who retired wanting to pack up their things and move. While it can be an exhilarating time, it can also be rather difficult, especially if their planning on buying a new house altogether. Did you know that lenders are barred from discriminating against older people who are trying to apply for a loan? Despite having the advantage of not having to worry about discrimination, retirees are still going to face some difficult challenges in obtaining a mortgage.

Read on to learn a few tips about securing a mortgage while in retirement.

Purchasing a New Home Isn’t Always the Best Decision

Purchasing a mortgage is a huge undertaking for anyone, regardless of whether they work or not. Should someone even get approved for one, it’s not always the smartest financial decision to make. A lot of retirees these days have a lower income than they did while they were working. Due to this, many people tend to underestimate how long the money needs to last for them. Adding a mortgage payment can deplete what little money is there even faster, which can make it difficult to live comfortably.

Regardless of age potential home buyers need to do their homework. Make sure you carefully evaluate your finances before applying for a mortgage. Buying a home involves a lot more than just the monthly payment. You also need to consider property tax and homeowner insurance. In addition, you need to plan for other monthly expenses, which include power, water and even unexpected medical bills.

In addition, remember to evaluate whatever debts you have as well. Having debt not only lowers your credit score, it can significantly hurt your chances of securing a mortgage. Finally, having too much credit can also work against you. It's recommended that you utilize only 20 percent of your total credit. Lenders like to see that you know how to manage your credit responsibly.

Showing the Right Amount of Income

Having a job is not a requirement for applying for a mortgage and here’s why; any income that is received from pensions or a social security account will count. In addition to that, withdrawing from a retirement account is also counted. Aside from showing a stable income, retirees must also show a low debt-to-income ratio. It may not be a challenge for some people as this depends on how much they have to their name and how much income they have during their retirement.

Talk to a few lenders about the requirements they have when it comes to income and debt-to-income ratios before signing a mortgage application.

It’s important to keep in mind lenders look at a number of factors when you apply for a mortgage. They’ll want to look at your credit score, down payments and occupancy status. If you’re retired and looking to purchase a mortgage, make sure you’re prepared for it.

Financial Goals for 2019

2018 was an up-and-down year for many Americans. The stock market boomed, and then it busted. No one knows what is on the horizon for 2019, but it doesn't hurt to set goals. Here are some financial goals that could help you get off to a great start in 2019.

Start an Emergency Fund
Whether you've retired or you're a professional with many years of experience under your belt, you need an emergency fund. This is the first point of emphasis that many financial experts point to. If you have no emergency fund, you'll likely have to go into debt when an unexpected expense pops up. A fund of $1,000 is a good start, but many of the same financial gurus that recommend having an emergency fund recommend building it up to between three and six months worth of expenses.

Get out of Debt
If setting up an emergency fund is the first recommendation from most financial experts, getting out of debt is a close second. Whether you look to pay off debt with the debt snowball that encourages people to pay off debts from the smallest to the largest balance or with the debt avalanche that takes interest rates into consideration, paying off debt can pay some serious dividends. If you're able to retire debt early, you effectively get a rate of return that equals the interest rate that you might have been paying. For credit cards with interest rates of 15 percent or more, paying off the debt can be one of the best investments that you can make.

Read Five Personal Finance Books
This recommendation might be surprising, but those who want to learn about science in college have to read books on science. If you're looking to improve your personal financial literacy, it's a good idea to learn as much as possible about the topic. Much of the heavy lifting has already been done. There are financial experts who have gotten where you want to be, and many of them have written books. It's a good idea to pick up a few and read them. If you have a local library, checking these books out for free would be the smartest option. Don’t want to read or have the time to dive in to several paperbacks? Start working with an experienced Financial Advisor to help guide you along the way. We are here to help you.

Start Side Jobs
Side hustles are all the rage, and there's a great reason why. The labor market has improved over recent years, but many people no longer have jobs that will comfortably pay their bills each month. One of the best ways to improve your financial standing is through a side job that brings in a few hundred dollars each month. A few hundred bucks could mean the difference between living paycheck-to-paycheck and building up a healthy emergency fund and paying off debt. All side job income should go toward improving your balance sheet each month. That means paying off debt or saving for retirement.

Improve Your Health
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Americans are some of the least healthy people in the developed world. Exercise and healthy diets are not really the norm in the USA. This means that the United States has one of the lowest life expectancy levels in the developed world. Healthcare in the US is also more expensive than anywhere else in the world. For those who are looking to save money and build wealth, avoiding costly healthcare bills is an important step to take. Just deciding to incorporate a few minutes of exercise into your day can make a difference and can cut down on your risk of serious diseases that can cost a load of money.

These are just a few of the goals that could help you with your finances in 2019. Getting started with one or more could be the step that could radically change your life for the better in the coming year. There's no time like the present to get started.

2018 was an up-and-down year for many Americans. The stock market boomed, and then it busted. No one knows what is on the horizon for 2019, but it doesn't hurt to set goals. Here are some financial goals that could help you get off to a great start in 2019.

Start an Emergency Fund
Whether you've retired or you're a professional with many years of experience under your belt, you need an emergency fund. This is the first point of emphasis that many financial experts point to. If you have no emergency fund, you'll likely have to go into debt when an unexpected expense pops up. A fund of $1,000 is a good start, but many of the same financial gurus that recommend having an emergency fund recommend building it up to between three and six months worth of expenses.

Get out of Debt
If setting up an emergency fund is the first recommendation from most financial experts, getting out of debt is a close second. Whether you look to pay off debt with the debt snowball that encourages people to pay off debts from the smallest to the largest balance or with the debt avalanche that takes interest rates into consideration, paying off debt can pay some serious dividends. If you're able to retire debt early, you effectively get a rate of return that equals the interest rate that you might have been paying. For credit cards with interest rates of 15 percent or more, paying off the debt can be one of the best investments that you can make.

Read Five Personal Finance Books
This recommendation might be surprising, but those who want to learn about science in college have to read books on science. If you're looking to improve your personal financial literacy, it's a good idea to learn as much as possible about the topic. Much of the heavy lifting has already been done. There are financial experts who have gotten where you want to be, and many of them have written books. It's a good idea to pick up a few and read them. If you have a local library, checking these books out for free would be the smartest option. Don’t want to read or have the time to dive in to several paperbacks? Start working with an experienced Financial Advisor to help guide you along the way. We are here to help you.

Start Side Jobs
Side hustles are all the rage, and there's a great reason why. The labor market has improved over recent years, but many people no longer have jobs that will comfortably pay their bills each month. One of the best ways to improve your financial standing is through a side job that brings in a few hundred dollars each month. A few hundred bucks could mean the difference between living paycheck-to-paycheck and building up a healthy emergency fund and paying off debt. All side job income should go toward improving your balance sheet each month. That means paying off debt or saving for retirement.

Improve Your Health
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Americans are some of the least healthy people in the developed world. Exercise and healthy diets are not really the norm in the USA. This means that the United States has one of the lowest life expectancy levels in the developed world. Healthcare in the US is also more expensive than anywhere else in the world. For those who are looking to save money and build wealth, avoiding costly healthcare bills is an important step to take. Just deciding to incorporate a few minutes of exercise into your day can make a difference and can cut down on your risk of serious diseases that can cost a load of money.

These are just a few of the goals that could help you with your finances in 2019. Getting started with one or more could be the step that could radically change your life for the better in the coming year. There's no time like the present to get started.

2019 Catch Up Contributions Increase

Arm yourself to save more for your retirement in 2019! The Treasury has announced inflation-adjusted numbers for retirement savings for 2019, as well as a lot of changes that will help investors stuff these accounts.

The amount which you could contribute to an Individual Retirement is being bumped from $5,500 up to $6,000 for 2019. Also, the amount you can contribute to your 401(k) (or similar workplace) retirement plan goes up from $18,500 in 2018 to $19,000 in 2019.

That means that quite a few high earners and super-savers age 50-plus can sock away $32,000 during these tax-advantaged accounts. If your hiring manager allows after-tax contributions possibly you’re self-employed you can save double. The overall defined contribution product limit moves up to $56,000, from $55,1000. People who are over 50 and working can save up to $7,000 with the new contribution limit in place according to Market Watch.

Do these limits tend to be unreachable? During 2017, 13% of employees with consideration plans at work saved the maximum of $18,000/$24,000, according to the Vanguard’s Strategies America Saves study. In opportunities offering catch-up contributions, 14% of those age 50 and older took advantage of the savings opportunity. The amount you should set aside will relate to how you want to live after retirement. Survive on the just the basics or play golf every day. It‘s something each person will need to decide when setting up or making adjustments to their retirement account.

The annual contribution limit for workers who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, as well as federal government’s Thrift Reserves Plan, is $19,000 for 2019, a $500 increase over 2018. You will need to elect the change to your 401(k) which some employers send you an indication to update your elections for the plan year. You should take that time to evaluate and make necessary changes as needed.

Strengthening the 401(k) contribution is great for savers, but not everyone takes advantage of it. About 10% of participants, according to Vanguard, maxed out their 401(k) in 2016.

If you need guidance on your retirement plan or to get started, we are here to help.

Stock Market & Economy: What's Ahead in 2019

Since 2008, stocks have rewarded investors with solid returns. Can equity investors count on a repeat of recent history? Well, precise predictions about the market are notoriously difficult to distinguish from luck, and very easy to justify in retrospect.

Risk Factors

This bull market started in 2009 and although it is an adage that "bull markets don't die of old age", it is also a bit foolish to assume things will go well simply because they have gone well.

Another factor to consider is industrial activity, often taken as a benchmark of economic health. Industry requires a healthy investment in capital as well as labor, it moves commodities and responds to widespread demand. Copper, being a widely used and necessary metal, provides another hint that things won't go well for long with this stock market. As this reference shows, bouts of high copper prices sometimes correlate with recessions shortly afterward. This pattern held in the 2001 and 2008 recessions. Note how copper prices have hovered at around $3.15/pound since fall of 2017 and have fallen sharply to $2.66/pound in July 2018. This sharp drop may be due to lax demand that hints at slowing construction and related business activity which heralds a stock market drop.

On the international stage, Chinese and European growth is becoming less and less impressive. Never-mind the tariff issue. Even without it there would be cause for concern as Chinese demand wavers in the face of ever-rising debt and inefficient use of capital by state-controlled agencies that are motivated by politics far more than by market-based rationality.

Lastly, note the low and flattening unemployment rate curve. Over time, one sees a pattern of a flattening dip that precedes recessions. The short and sweet explanation for this recurring phenomenon is that business costs are made of fundamental components: commodities or "parts" and labor. As more people are employed and job applicants have more bargaining power for wages and benefits, businesses, especially those operating on tight margins, have to either absorb the cost of rising wages, pass on the cost to consumers that are then dissuaded by rising prices, or forego the hire and skill sets/benefits that come with it. Every option is basically bad for profits, so, again, earnings and business activity slows down.

While stock markets don't necessarily "die of old age", prolonged economic expansions such as this one lower risk avoidance and encourage speculation by lenders and consumers who are assured that the good times will continue at least long enough for their purposes. The flattening yield curve, correlation with a copper peak and subsequent recessions, rising interest rates, and growing hiccups in the international markets could be enough to continue market volatility or tip the stock market down in 2019. No one has a crystal ball to predict the future but it may be wise for some investors to plan for capital preservation as a priority over and above prospective gains.

2018 Year End Contribution Reminders

Tax season comes quickly after the year comes to a close. In 2018, a few changes have occurred due to legislation that was created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. One of the main changes was a lowering of tax rates and a near doubling of the standard deduction. Also, a number of expenses that were allowed as itemized deductions in previous years have been severely restricted or eliminated. It helps to understand which changes were made so that you can get ahead of preparing your return. Here are some of the changes that were made that may affect you in 2018:

Changes To Itemized Deductions

In 2018, tax bracket numbers stayed the same. However, rates were reduced. The tax rate at the top of the scale was lowered to 37 percent. While the standard deduction increased, other changes to allowable itemized deductions may mean that you will actually have a higher tax bill to pay.

Tax prep fees, investment expenses, foreign real estate taxes paid, home equity loan interest that wasn't used for home improvement and personal exemptions are no longer allowable as itemized deductions. Alimony payments for any divorce that is finalized in 2019 or after will also be added to that list and be applicable in 2019.

A Change To Charitable Donations

Charitable donations can only be used as a deduction if you decide to itemize. However, if you do itemize and have any cash contributions that were made to public charities, those can be deducted by as much as 60 percent of their AGI, which is up 10 percent from the previous limit which was 50 percent.

Tax Reform Only Offers A Few New Opportunities

There was a change in 529 plans. You now have the ability to use as much as $10,000 per year from the plan to pay for tuition related to kindergarten through 12th grade. The advantage of using a 529 plan is that it provides tax-free withdrawals and tax-free growth at the federal level for all qualified expenses.

Another change involves S corporations, partnerships and sole proprietorships. If you own one of these businesses, you may be eligible for a 20 percent deduction. However, this deduction does have some contingencies related to the type of business and the amount of income received.

Changes To The Alternative Minimum Tax For Individuals

There were also changes made to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) for individuals. If you are married and filing jointly, exemptions have been raised to $109,400. If you're single your exemption has been raised to $70,300. These start to phase out at the $1 million level if you are a couple and $500,000 if you're single.

What Is The Best Way To Prepare

It's always a good idea to get stared as soon as possible before the end of the year to understand how any changes in the tax reform will affect your filing. It also helps to use a professional tax advisor or CPA who understands the nuances of the new tax act. You want to make sure that you pay the appropriate amount for estimated taxes or for your withholding tax for the year.

What You Should Know About 2018 Qualified Charitable Distributions

You have until December 31 to do a qualified charitable distribution (QCD) for 2018. This is an effective tax strategy that many individuals are overlooking. A QCD is worth considering if you are donating to charitable organizations and taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) this year. With the increase in the Standard Deduction, many people (specifically Retirees) won’t be itemizing. If you plan to give to charity and you’re over 70 & ½ , using a QCD can be an efficient way to accomplish your charitable giving goals while being tax efficient.

If you are an owner or beneficiary of an IRA and you are at least 70 ½ years old, you can make a QCD, unless you intend to distribute funds from a Roth IRA. Read on to learn about the advantages and stipulations of QCDs.

Tax Break on Giving Back

Thanks to tax reforms, QCDs are more beneficial than ever for the 2018 tax year. If you take the standard deduction, you would be eliminating your tax deduction for gifts to charity since you would not be itemizing deductions. You can get a tax break for this year’s charitable contributions with a QCD.

Lower AGI

You can add a QCD to the standard deductions. It lowers your AGI by allowing you to deduct charitable donations disbursed from your IRA from your income.

QCD Limits

The annual limit is $100,000 per individual. Married couples can both quality, each contributing a QCD of $100,000 each year. However, you will not be able to take a tax deduction for the charitable gift.

How to Make a QCD

You must make your QCD as a direct transfer from the IRA to the nonprofit of your choice. You could also have the IRA issue a check made payable to the your preferred organization. If you receive a distribution, you are not allowed to forward those funds to your charity.

You can make a QCD from IRA, Roth IRA, SIMPLE IRA, or inactive SEP. However, you are not allowed to do a QCD from any employer plan. QCDs can only apply to taxable amounts in your retirement account. Because of this exception to the pro-rata rule that typically applies to traditional IRA distributions, Roth IRA QCDs are not common.

What about RMDs?

The amount you transfer from your IRA to your nonprofit as a QCD will count toward your RMD for 2018. Your QCD may help you meet all or a portion of your RMD. For instance, if your 2018 RMD is $20,000, you can withdraw $10,000 and do a $10,000 QCD.

How to Report on Tax Return

To report a QCD on your tax return, report the total amount of the donation on the line for IRA distributions. Enter “zero” on the line for the taxable amount if the entire amount was a QCD, and enter “QCD” next to the line. You can find more information in the Form 1040 instructions.

You will be required to file Form 8606, Nondeductible IRAs if:

-the QCD is disbursed from a Roth IRA; or

-you make the QCD from a traditional IRA in which you have basis and receive an IRA distribution during 2018.

Words of Caution

You must not receive any remuneration of any kind -- financial, gift, or otherwise --for the donation. QCDs do not include gifts to private foundations or donor advised funds.

If you plan to do a QCD for this year, inform your tax preparer. The 2018 Form 1099-R that you will receive from the IRA custodian will not likely have any information regarding a QCD if the donation is made close to the end of the year. Make them aware of the the disbursement to prevent any oversight.

Failing to take your RMD exposes you to penalties of up to half of the amount you were supposed to have taken. QCDs allow you to donate to your favorite causes tax-free, help you meet your RMD, and avoid the stiff and unnecessary cost of not using your money. You still have time to tap into this tremendous opportunity.

Long Term Care Planning Could Save Your Retirement

Yes, saving for retirement and planning for income is important but so is planning for the unexpected. It is incredibly easy to get caught up in the present and not think about how much one needs to take care of themselves in the future. This is why retirement planning is more about planning for all aspects of your retirement years and now just about income.

As one ages, the amount that they have to spend to take care of themselves will likely increase. For those entering the old age, these payments tend to be significantly more. Medical bills and housing costs increase with time. In short, everything becomes more expensive over time, and your earnings in the present need to be able to take care of your needs in the future.

Doing the math and figuring just how much you can save for the future is essential, even as one starts their career. People who are in well-paying jobs and who are more than well situated for their futures to decide to start planning early to take care of their lives in advance. To understand the importance of planning early, here are some of the prominent statistics that have been derived after a thorough analysis of the earnings that people have and the costs associated with them as a result of their savings.

  1. 52% of the total population above the age of 65 are in need of specific resources that can aid them with their medical bills and additional care. As a person ages, they tend to encounter a lot more health problems than those who are younger and healthier. This means that when planning for one’s future, they have to take into account certain costs that are associated with medical bills and care costs.
  1. 14% of the total population need long-term care for more than five years. This again is because of the prevalent health issues that people within this category tend to face. Persistent health issues and conditions often need a lot more tending to, especially in the later stages of one’s life, and planning for this future is incredibly important for anyone who wants to get treated for their conditions.
  1. 10% of Americans over the age of 65 have developed some form of neurological disorders, or have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. These are disorders in which individuals need round-the-clock care, and a lot of treatments to get better. Since these aren’t cheap by any means, paying for them can burn one’s pocket rather easily.
  1. 57.5% of the population who are above the age of 65 years tend to spend around $250,000 on long-term care. As the number of disorders that people face tends to increase, the expenditure on medical costs also tends to go up. Americans generally spend incredible amounts on health care, and these costs are only going to grow over the next few years.
  1. 3.8% is the amount of inflation that nursing rooms tend to experience every five years. This means that over the years, the amount that one is going to need to spend on a simple room to take care of themselves is only going to increase. Since these become a necessity in many instances, it becomes important for an individual to plan properly for the future.

We are here to help you plan for the road ahead. Contact us, today.

2019: Contribute More Toward Your Retirement

Planning for retirement will be easier for those contributing to in 2019! Recent changes to a list of savings accounts are going to yield higher returns for savers in the new year.

You will be able to take advantage of "Employee-Sponsored Account", including 401(k) and 403(b)plans. The current limit for contribution is a little over $18,000. In the new year, the contributions are going to exceed more than $19,000. The plan also includes catch-up contributions around $6,000. You need to be 50 years of age or older to qualify. Those whose birthday fall on December 31st of that year also qualify. You should check with your employer to get more information, especially if you plan on leaving the company at some point. There are terms and conditions that apply, but that should make your life a little easier.

If you are self-employed, you can look into a "Self-Employed 401(k) Plan”. The only difference between this plan and the traditional 401 (k) plan is that you set it up instead of an employer. The contributions you make will reduce your gross income, but can help you when it comes to tax time. Keep in mind that this starts next year.

IRA plans are getting a boost, too. The contribution limit was $5,500 but will increase to $6,000. This plan applies to any IRA plan you have. You could be making some considerable tax savings with this new increased limit if you are 50 years or older.

The IRS also announced that it increased all income limits used in determining eligibility to make deductible contributions to traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs and even for claiming the Savers Credit.

Finally, there is also a "Health Savings Plan" that can help your financial picture when it comes to medical expenses. The 2019 annual HSA contribution limit for individuals with single medical coverage is $3,500, an increase of $50 from 2018. The limit is $7,000 for those covered under qualifying family plans (up from $6,900 in 2018). But if you're 55 or older in 2019, you can contribute an additional $1,000 annually, or $4,500 total to an HSA for singles and $8,000 for families.

If you're enrolled in a high-deductible health plan, you really should take advantage of this special savings opportunity. Make it a point to set aside pretax money into an HSA because you don't pay taxes on the earnings, which can also be withdrawn tax-free in retirement when used to reimburse yourself for qualified medical expenses.

Look forward to 2019 and take advantage of the changes to prepare for the retirement road ahead!

Medicare Fall Open Enrollment Ends Soon

Time is almost up for this years Medicare Open Enrollment period. You have until the 7th of December to modify your existing Medicare plans. In this period you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Part D drug plan.

Any modification made during this period is effective from January 1st of the following year. Generally, this is the only time of the year when one can opt for a new plan or switch from Advantage plans to Original Medicare plans. A tweak not known to many is to purchase a Medigap policy which compensates for Medicare costs to some extent. The availability of a Medigap Policy completely depends on the place of residence.

Medicare coverage and costs are revised every year. It is recommended to compare the existing package with the new ones for better understanding before making any possible modifications. The members of Medicare Advantage Plans of Part D receive notice of changes and the current evidence of coverage which are to be compared to see if any modification will result in cost and coverage benefits.

Medicare has rolled out a Plan Finder tool for locating the best plans in Part D drug coverage policies. The tool is designed to understand the requirement of drugs, cost of those drugs and the availability in pharmacies often visited based on which it runs extensive comparisons with other plans and end up displaying the best plan to opt for if there is any.

Joining an Advantage Plan is a very simple process. Calling their national toll free number may be the quickest way to know about the plans in that area following which one can choose to opt for a particular package best suited for the requirements. Calling the State Health Insurance Assistance Program can help you understand the available options and is recommended for changes if necessary. After shortlisting a plan, it is a must to check that the doctors and hospitals are included in the network. Speaking to the representative should be followed by noting down the date, the conversation and a cross-check with the current plans for transparency.

Though there are different ways to enroll during the fall open enrollment period, the most hassle-free way of enrolling and protecting yourself is to directly call their toll free number which is 1-800-MEDICARE. One last check to confirm all the details before making payment is suggested.

In case that you are not satisfied with any Advantage Plan opted for during the Fall Open Enrollment period, you can modify the plan in the next window which is called the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period abbreviated as MA OEP. This period starts from 1st January and ends on 31st March of every year. This is the final window for making any sort of changes wished for in the Medicare Advantage Plans and the Part D drug coverage plans.

There lies a distinct difference between Open Enrollment for Federal Marketplaces and the Fall Open Enrollment period. The federal marketplaces are meant to annually offer enrollment periods for American citizens who are not insured or underinsured according to the standards set by the law. Though the duration of both the windows may coincide, the federal marketplaces or exchanges is not recommended citizens with existing membership with Medicare or are eligible for Medicare. For people who can afford and are eligible for Medicare and are looking to modify their current plans or opt for the new membership with the organization, the Fall Open Enrollment Period starting from October and ending on December is the correct time of the year.

Your Social Security Benefits Get A Boost

Some seniors are dependent on their Social Security benefits, but the majority of your retirement income may be derived from other sources. While your Social Security income may not be your primary source of income in retirement, you nonetheless may be counting on that income to provide financial support for your quality of life in a modest capacity. Social Security benefits increases have been minimal most years since 2000. The exception was in 2012 when benefits increased by 3.6 percent. However, in 2010, 2011 and 2016, there was no cost-of-living adjustment. The announced cost-of-living increase for the 2019 calendar year is 2.8 percent.

More than 67 million Americans are Social Security beneficiaries, so this has a major impact on the lives of many people. The modest increase in income is not the only change made by the Social Security Administration for 2019. The amount of income that can be taxed for Social Security has increased, and the earnings limit for some individuals has also been adjusted.

While this year's increase is substantially higher than the increase in most years in recent history, it is not enough to compensate recipients for the diminished buying power of their Social Security income. The Senior Citizens League has estimated that the buying power of Social Security benefits has decreased by 34 percent since 2000. This estimate takes into account the planned increase in benefits for 2019. Over this same period of time, this organization estimates that expenses for seniors have increased by as much as 96 percent. For example, homeowners insurance premiums for seniors have increased by 164 percent and property taxes have increased by 129 percent in this time period. Prescription drug costs have increased by 188 percent, and home heating oil costs have increased by 181 percent.

In recent years, cost-of-living adjustments to Social Security benefits has also resulted in an increased premium for Medicare premiums. In fact, the net benefit for many retirees has been minimal when both factors are taken into account. Updates to Medicare premiums for 2019 have not yet been released. However, because the cost-of-living adjustment for this year is substantial, any premium increases are not expected to make a huge impact on the raise that many beneficiaries are receiving for 2019. Keep in mind that Medicare premiums have increased by 195 percent between 2000 and today, and Medigap costs have increased by 158 percent.

While the impact of the Social Security benefits increase this year and in the next few years may have a modest impact on your financial situation at the moment, you can see that continued increases to senior living expenses could make you more reliant on Social Security benefits in the years ahead. It is important that you pay attention to benefits adjustments, Medicare costs and cost-of-living increases in the years ahead as their effects can become increasingly significant as you get older. In addition, now that you know more about the increase to Social Security benefits in 2019, you can update your financial plan and budget going forward.

Retirement Should Not Scare Women

Halloween may be an appropriate time for a good scare, we should limit unwanted surprises in retirement! Generalizations may not necessarily reflect your individual circumstance although there are fact-based reasons why the average woman faces greater hurdles than the average man does in securing her retirement. However, an awareness of the negatives and a proactive plan to take full advantage of some positives should demonstrate that retirement should not scare women.

More years of retirement and with fewer assets

The deck is stacked against some women before they even think about enjoying their first day of retirement. Some of the factors include:

• Longer life expectancy
• Greater likelihood of being the surviving spouse
• Wage gap as compared to male counterparts
• Less working years due to child rearing and caring for aging parents

One factor that may be interpreted as either a positive or negative is risk tolerance. Women tend to invest more conservatively than men, which can lead to lower potential returns. Conversely, conservative investors tend to move money around less often and continuity can lead to more consistent growth in the long term.

Take control

Where one starts is seldom as important as where one ends up. Consider these strategic goals to level the retirement playing field:

Save – Start early, continue to save and save as much as possible. 20 percent of income is a nice goal but maximizing what is practical is the ultimate goal.

Know what is needed – In our sunset years, we tend to fear dying less than outliving our retirement money. One way to prevent that is to begin with knowledge of what it costs to live. Be realistic about expenses that are fixed and what will no longer be needed once work is no longer in the picture. Ideally, the fixed expenses of one year of retirement living is generated annually by retirement income.

Invest the savings – This comes with one caveat – invest savings once an emergency fund for unexpected expenses is established. Most experts recommend six months of living expenses in cash assets as a minimum. Once that is accomplished, an asset allocation plan should be devised based primarily on age and ultimate financial goals.

Keep working – Other than the satisfaction work can provide as wells as a longer timeline to save, extending work past age 65 pays dividends in social security benefits. Although many women are concerned social security may one day fail, experts predict its pending demise is over exaggerated. One thing that is certain is that the longer a worker waits before taking benefits, the better. Consider that at age 62 a worker receives 70 percent her full retirement benefits, but that number rises to 132 percent at age 70.

Include an estate plan

Careful planning includes what-if scenarios. Take the time to set up a will and more preferably a trust, as well as a financial power of attorney and durable power of attorney for healthcare.

There’s no reason any woman should fear retirement. A realistic analysis, a well-crafted plan and disciplined execution will go a long way towards a secure and serene future. We are here to help, give us a call, today.

October is Financial Planning Month

You have worked hard for your money, because you have a bigger goal than just paying the monthly expenses. You have a long term goal that is important to you. For some, that goal is to be able to retire comfortably, while others have other dreams that they are putting away money to be able to achieve. Whatever your goal, your savings are being set aside for a reason.

Savings Are Not Enough

However, if you are just putting your money into savings, you are really not getting the biggest bang for your buck, so to speak. Although rising, interest rates are at very low rates; therefore, having your money in a savings account is really not going to accomplish anything other than having a place to hold your money. Wouldn't you rather that money WORK for you to reach your goals faster or reach higher goals?

Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

The market can be a highly effective place for income growth, but it can also be a very scary place for your money. While we all like a good scare in October, your money should not be where you get scared. Unfortunately, that is often the reality.

If you just throw your money into investments without a strategy for that money, it could be hit and miss and full of risk. At the vest best, you could simply be missing the best opportunities out there for you.

As of a Gallup goal in 2015, the reality that they discovered was that a mere 38% of investors like you had a financial plan, while only 18% said they didn't find financial plans useful. The rest wanted to but didn't create one. Of those that created a plan, 74% said they created the plan with the help of an experienced investment professional.

Getting Qualified Help

This is where it is important to take time to create an investment plan that will guide your investment growth to reach your goals, but how do you know where those best opportunities lie for you. You spent a lot of time learning your craft and becoming experienced at what you do, and others trust you to do your job. The same peace of trusting a qualified individual can be found in an experienced Financial Advisor that knows the best investments and the risks that can hinder your growth.

National Financial Planning Month

This month is National Financial Planning Month, and it is a good time to meet with a skilled Advisor to communicate your short term and long term goals that you desire to reach. After hearing your dreams and your timeline, they will be able to translate those into options for you to consider.

So, this month is a great time to face the scary market by creating an investment plan with an investor's steady hand and vision to be able to reach the dreams that have inspired your work for so long. Then, you can rest in knowing you have given your dream the best potential to be what you will need when needed. We are here to start that conversation with you or take a second look at your current plan.

Retirement Planning Mistakes To Avoid

Retirement should be a time of rest, relaxation, and play. It should be about focusing on those pursuits that you wanted to do when you were younger, but you have yet to cross them off of your bucket list.

Failing to plan for a comfortable retirement, however, can be a major stressor in the life of someone facing their golden years. Recreational hopes and dreams can quickly be squashed in the wake of news that you haven’t set up things to be nearly as prosperous as you’d hoped. Learning what to do, and what NOT to do, as you plan for this time in your life will be key to being able to enjoy these years. Here are some things to avoid as you plan for this exciting time in your life:

Don’t Rely Solely On Social Security

You may have been somewhat misled with regard to social security—it was never meant to replace your original paycheck. Social security will cover approximately 40 percent of your pre-retirement income, and unless you are intending to pare down your expenses in retirement, its best to put other things in place to make sure you can live comfortably.

Social security funds are also subject to availability, so if market fluctuations affect the overall health of this national account pool, you could also be affected.

Don’t Assume Cost Of Living Will Be Cheaper

If you think of your day to day living expenses like food, clothing, and utilities, it is likely that these expenses will not go away in retirement. You might even find that certain expenses, like health care and leisure entertainment, actually go up during this time. To plan for a comfortable retirement, you’ll need to take into account all of these potential expenses when you budget what your cost of living will be.

Don’t Neglect Catch-Up Contributions

Many people simply don’t prioritize adding to their retirement savings in their early years of contribution to the workforce–most of their income is spent on student loan payments, housing, and supporting their families.

After 50, people can take advantage of a catch-up contribution option, where you are able to put additional money into an IRA or another retirement account. While a startlingly low percentage of people over 50 do take advantage of the catch-up option, it is strongly recommended that you look into this as an efficient way to expand and grow your retirement portfolio.

Don’t Forget Those Taxes

It may seem at first with social security and other avenues of income streaming in that you have a pretty healthy influx of cash at your disposal. Stop and consider whether you have paid Uncle Sam his dues. Most retirement income is still taxable by law; up to 85 percent of social security income is still taxable! Interest and investment income are not immune to tax regulations either, even in retirement. Staying informed and making wise decisions with the counsel of trusted financial advisors will be key to maximizing your profit while minimizing your tax liability.

An Ounce Of Prevention

You’ve heard the phrase, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. It is especially true when planning for retirement. Making smart decisions now and preparing for this time will help ensure that your golden years are just that. We are here to help you create a plan that will help you pursue a successful retirement.

Passing Your Estate to Imperfect Heirs

When planning one’s last will and testament, one always hopes that the people they will be passing on their hard-earned wealth to will be responsible enough to handle it well and if possible, carry on their legacy. This is a hope which can be difficult to keep alive, especially in cases where the heirs have issues such as bad spending habits, drug addiction, gambling problems, and other weaknesses which compromise their judgment. When passing your estate to an imperfect heir, you need to make sure that you have put in place measures to control the manner in which they will use the money to prevent wastage. Here are some of the most common approaches.

Creating a trust

A trust is one of the ways in which you can pass on wealth to an heir while at the same time controlling the manner in which they use the money. You can open a trust fund and appoint someone to play the role of trustee. The trustee is usually an independent and non-partisan party to the agreement. They should also be responsible, trustworthy, firm and principled. There are people who opt to appoint family members as trustees although there are times that these arrangements do not work out because of the possibility that they will cave when pressured by a family member who needs the money. The ideal features of a trust is that they can specify the circumstances under which the money can be withdrawn. There are also trusts which state that it is only the trustee who will have discretion on when the funds can be disbursed.

Structured ideas

There are other approaches proven to have some success;

· You could decide to only have a lump sum payment made to them after they graduate from college

· You could decide to have chunks of the money offered to them after a specified period of time of sobriety. For instance, you could have money released to them after five years of being sober.

· You could create a will which says that payments are made directly to their utility providers such as their landlords and other utility companies.

There are many other specifications which you can make, but the most important part of to ensure that you are dealing with a professional who understands the rules and regulations of the process.

Dealing with the problem at the present

Another approach that many people never think about, and one that can be more helpful than trying to make safety nets, is dealing with the problem in the present. For instance, if you have a child that has an addiction issue, you can work to correct the issue now. Speak to them in the present and tell them that they need to get help. Create incentives that work in the present and work towards making sure that by the time you are approaching your sunset, the child has tried their best to reform.


This may sound harsh, but in some circumstances, when you have tried all other approaches and when you are sure that leaving the property to the problematic heir will just be the same as throwing it away, you can choose to disinherit them. However, this is a last resort and usually applied if everything else that you can think about has completely stopped working.

These are just a few of the ways in which you can resolve the inheritance issue when their heirs are less than perfect. Ensure that you start looking for a solution long beforehand so that you can protect the child and/or family member from further destruction.

9-23-18  Start Your Year End Planning Now

It may seem as if the end of the year is very far away and that there is no need to start making end of the year financial plans as of yet. However, the reality is that the end of the year, and the activities which surround it are busy. At times, with all the festivities going on, it becomes close to impossible to do anything sensible where financial planning is concerned. You should consider starting your end of year plans now because early plan may spare you the heavy fines. Here are a few things that you should consider doing right now.

If It’s Time, Get Your RMD

You probably know that you are supposed to start making withdrawals from your IRA or other retirement plans when you reach the age of 70 and a half. If you don’t take your RMD on time, you may be forced to pay a 50 percent excise tax on the amount which you will have failed to distribute. This is another reason why working with a Financial Advisor can help you avoid penalty’s and anxiety.

Making A Charitable Contribution

Did you know that if you make a charitable contribution using a Qualified Charitable Distribution, you will get a tax exemption of the amount and the amount donated could also qualify as RMD? If you have not made any donation this year, perhaps now is the right time to make a meaningful contribution from your IRA. Again, seek professional guidance on this strategy.

Other Tax Mitigating Strategies

This is the perfect time to look into all your accounts and see whether there are tax gains which you can still capitalize on this year. If you do not understand how having investments such as mutual funds could affect your taxes and distribution, talk to a financial expert and have everything straightened out before the year ends and you are left with massive losses in your hands.

Avoid Tax Deferral

Don’t Delay! When the year is coming to an end, some postpone all their tax related items until a later date. Tax deferral may seem like a quick fix to grow your money, but it is important to note that it puts off your taxes as opposed to getting a permanent resolution to the problem. If you are employed, it may be wise to fund your employer sponsored plan as much as possible to get the full match of the company. After all, free money is indeed the best kind that there is, right?

Yes, all of this takes knowledge and effort but can pay off with the proper plan. We are here to help you plan for everything that comes with a successful retirement. Start early, plan ahead and you will have the best shot at a confident retirement.

9-3-18  Charitable Giving And Retirement

The average individual can spend less during their retirement due to a budget. One exception can be giving to charitable causes. A study by the WPI or the Women's Philanthropy Institute looked at the way households in America spent money as they retired. The study revealed both single women and married couples maintained the same level of giving to charities both prior to and after they retired.  The charitable giving of single men decreased once they retired.

The report from the WPI also showed both married and single women have less confidence regarding their financial health upon retirement than men. Their focus is not on outliving their savings. Considering women generally live longer than men, this fear is justified. There are numerous ways for both women and men, married and single, to donate to charitable causes without being concerned about running out of money. Using a savings meant for retirement to make donations is most likely to cause the individual to outlive their savings unless they use proper care.

A way to donate to causes in retirement is to plan for them just as you did your retirement savings portfolio. A portfolio likely plans for retirement income to last the life of the individual. One of the most important aspects of the retirement portfolio are the monthly retirement paychecks. These are guaranteed and will last for a lifetime. If the stock market crashes, this income will not decrease. These paychecks can then be supplemented with either yearly or monthly retirement bonuses. These may have fluctuations depending on the investment performance, but they can last for life.

When the portfolio is properly in place, charitable giving can be funded with these bonuses and paychecks. It is important to allow for charitable giving as part of the budget in addition to the other living expenses. This will enable the individual to give to charities while ensuring the person will not outlive their savings. There is another excellent method for planning to increase effectiveness for charitable giving. Many individuals have concerns the recent changes made to the tax laws may decrease their income and impact their charitable giving.

The concern is there will be a significant decrease in the taxpayers itemizing their deductions. This makes it harder to use taxable income to make donations. Any individual age 70 and 1/2 or above has another option. A traditional IRA can be used for a qualified charitable distribution. This distribution will not be included in the taxable income. The distribution will also apply towards the minimum required distribution.

There is an annual limit of $100,000 for qualified charitable distributions. This cannot be funded from both 401(k) plans and IRA's. If the 401 (k) plan contains a substantial savings, these funds can be used for charitable giving by rolling over the savings into an IRA. The IRA platform must enable the individual to be able to write checks.

The report from the WPI also revealed married couples and single women have a higher likelihood of volunteering once they retire than single men. There is a lot of research showing volunteers enjoy financial security and health benefits while providing their communities with substantial contributions. The documentation for this research is located in the Hidden in Plain Sight report prepared by the Center on Longevity located at Stanford. Anyone not currently volunteering may want to give some thought to pursing this activity once they have retired.

Planning for both volunteering and charitable giving may be important when determining retirement planning. This will not only enable the individual to give something back to their community, it often increases the enjoyment of life. Let’s review your plan today, contact us to set up a time to talk.

8-27-18   Retire Early, Tap Your 401k Early... Penalty?

The way we work and save for retirement has changed and the old rules no longer apply to every individual's situation. There are many professionals with the resources to retire early, but continue working until retirement age just to avoid paying penalties to the IRS. However, there are ways to retire early that you might want to consider.

You Can Pay the Penalty

The most obvious solution is to bite the bullet and pay the 10% penalty

for early withdrawal. Most people are motivated to avoid paying the early withdrawal penalty and will wait until the legal retirement age of 59 ½, before accessing funds in their retirement accounts. This can be an attractive option, simply because the tax-deferred investments in your 401k may have outperformed other taxable investments. If this is the case, your tax benefits may actually pay for the penalty by the time you're ready to retire. Of course, this all depends on how well your tax-deferred investments have performed.

The Substantially Equal Periodic Payments Option

The IRS allows early retirees to access their retirement funds without paying the penalty through their Substantially Equal Periodic Payments (SEPP) program. An early retiree will have to consent to making substantial annual withdrawals each year until they reach traditional retirement age, as outlined by a calculation chart published by the IRS. However, failing to withdraw the correct amount each year can cause the IRS to charge you with the 10% penalty for each withdrawal you have already made. For this reason, it's best to work with a tax professional to ensure you meet all of the requirements set out through the

SEPP program

Additionally, the program requires that you fulfill a minimum of five withdrawals, before your obligation is complete. If you retire at 40, you must adhere to the withdrawal requirements until you turn 59 ½ years old. However, if you retire at 57, you must continue the SEPP withdrawals until you reach 62 years of age. As long as you can adhere to the timetable, this may be a good option for accessing your retirement funds early and without paying the penalty.

Convert to a Roth IRA

Another option that will help you avoid the 10% penalty is to convert your 401k to a Roth IRA. Once you open the account, you will have to wait five years, before you can begin withdrawing your contributions. For that reason, it will be important to anticipate your early retirement and plan ahead. However, once you have met that requirement, you can begin withdrawing without facing a penalty.

An additional restriction is that the IRS requires that withdrawals be made in a particular order. You must withdraw direct contributions first, before withdrawing funds that were converted into the account. Lastly, you can withdraw earnings on those contributions. Depending on your situation, this may be a worthwhile alternative.

While these options do exist, waiting for retirement age may still be worthwhile. Where a 401k account is concerned, remaining on the job will keep those employer contributions coming. That "free money" will pad your retirement account, while your savings continue to earn on investments. Additionally, you'll continue to benefit from tax breaks for a few more years. Ultimately, it will be your decision, which you can only base on your specific circumstances. If you do choose to retire early, you should consult a Financial Advisor and/or tax professional, before you act.

8-20-18    Top 5 Things You Could Spend Less On In Retirement

When you read retirement planning books and articles, you will commonly see advice that tells you estimate future financial needs at 80 percent of your current monthly expenses. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that actual retirees spend approximately 25 percent less than they did in their working years. This five percent difference may not sound like much, but it can result in a significant reduction in the amount of money that you need to save for retirement. These are some of the major expenses that may decrease after you retire.

Transportation Expense

Your current transportation expense may include two car loan payments, auto insurance on two vehicles and gas. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that fuel expense may decrease by more than 30 percent annually after you retire. In addition, many married couples are able to downsize from a two-car household to a one-car household. This eliminates a substantial amount of money on car loan payments and auto insurance premiums.


Working adults may go out to eat more frequently than retired adults. For example, it may be convenient to drop by a fast food restaurant on your lunch break at work or to pick up a pre-made meal on your way home in the evening. When you are retired, you may have more time to make thoughtful grocery store purchases and to prepare affordable meals at home. In fact, you may expect to spend up to 25 percent less on food after you retire.


The primary housing expenses for older adults are a mortgage payment, property taxes and home insurance. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that almost 62 percent of retirees have paid off their mortgage, and this number increases as seniors continue to get older. While property taxes and home insurance premiums remain, the elimination of a mortgage payment can result in significant savings in your budget.


Insurance costs fluctuate in retirement. After all, as you get older, you may pay more on medications and related expenses regardless of the insurance plan that you have. However, you may qualify for auto and home insurance discounts. You also may no longer have the financial need to maintain life insurance, and you may be able to eliminate this premium from your budget.


As you prepare for retirement, you may believe that your entertainment expense would increase dramatically because you seemingly will have more time to spend golfing or watching movies at the theater. However, as you get older, your energy level for participating in these types of activities can decline, and you may feel more content to simply spend time at home or in the company of family and good friends. You may expect to spend a decreasing amount of money on entertainment as you continue to advance in age.

As you can see, you could actually spend considerably less in retirement in many areas than you currently do. This information can help you to create a more realistic budget based on your projected lifestyle. Remember to review your retirement budget periodically going forward so that it remains as realistic as possible. Yes, we are here to help create your budget and plan with you.

In retirement it’s not always about the money you have, it’s about how much you are spending. As you prepare or revise your retirement plan, one of the most important steps that you can take is to ensure that your projected future budget is accurate. Any oversights or poor estimations can unfortunately lead to financial shortage in retirement. However, the flip side of this is that overestimating expenses may lead to unnecessary financial anxiety. It could cause you to scale back your lifestyle so dramatically now that you cannot maintain a comfortable lifestyle. In some cases, it could cause you to work for several additional years than you actually need to.

8-13-18   One Basket, All Eggs. Risky!

Achieving a high income and net worth is half the battle in the quest for financial security. The other half is trying to keep and grow your assets once you have them. While this latter half is perhaps a nice problem to have, it has been the cause of many a headache.

One problem some people make is the proverbial "putting all of their eggs in one basket.” In the investing world, even just putting too many eggs in too few baskets can be enough to sink a financial battleship. Too often, people make this mistake in a misguided effort to go all in on chasing maximum returns.

Conventional wisdom does indeed hold that you have to accept higher risk in order to get higher returns and, accordingly, have to accept lower returns in order to lower your risk. However, there are a couple of quite serious problems with this logic, common though it may be. For starters, it is almost impossible to predict with certainty which investments will flourish in the future and which ones will tank.

It is not as though anyone ever sets out to have their financial goals torpedoed by a bad investment, but, no matter how sound a plan may seem at the outset, there is always at least some chance that it could go awry. If a particular investment makes up even as little as 20 percent of your portfolio and crashes, it can take your financial goals and security down with it. Fortunately enough, this reality does not have to doom investors to rolling the Wall Street dice as best they can and then sweating out results over numerous sleepless nights.

The concept of financial diversification is actually old enough to have been referenced in a Shakespeare play, "The Merchant of Venice," four centuries ago. In the 1950s, Harry Markowitz, an academic researcher, articulated modern portfolio theory. His research uncovered the insight that putting together a portfolio of investments that did not all correlate with each other had the effect of reducing the variability (risk) of the portfolio without giving up returns.

In other words, as long as all of your investments do not tend to rise and fall in value at the same time, your portfolio could be effectively insulated from catastrophic losses while still set up for strong long-term gains. Accordingly, diversifying your investments across numerous (thousands) of companies prevents you from having to worry about whether one or even several of them will collapse. Even though it could happen, it could be on a small enough scale that it will not hurt you.

Undoubtedly, these realizations explain much about why it is so difficult for even professional investors to beat the returns of broad indexes like the S&P 500. Diversification is sometimes described as the only free lunch in finance. Accordingly, as simple as it sounds, the best approach, by far, that you can take once you have otherwise reached a high income or net worth is to put your investment money in broadly diversified funds and leave the anxiety to those prone to over-thinking things.
Allow us to take a look at your retirement plan and assess the amount of risk you currently have. You should be confident your plan will make it through any potentially volatile years to come.

8-6-18  Procrastinating; The Cost To Your Retirement

If you are like many other hardworking adults, you may find yourself periodically dreaming about what life will be like after you leave the workforce and enter retirement. Regardless of whether you plan to simply kick back and relax close to home or you have grand dreams of traveling frequently in retirement, you will need to have enough cash on hand to live on. Unfortunately, a report released by Financial Engines indicates that almost one in seven adults who are at least 55 years old have stated that they procrastinated on saving for retirement.

Why Adults Procrastinate on Saving for Retirement

You may think that the primary reason why individuals would not save money regularly for their golden years is because of a lack of funds, but this is not the case. In the same report, two out of five procrastinators said they got a late start because they had other priorities for their money. Half indicated that stress played a role in retirement planning and saving. Some of the other more common reasons for procrastination include the belief that it is too difficult, the thought that they may get taken advantage of or a lack of knowledge about retirement planning and saving.

The Impact of Procrastination on Your Retirement Plans

Many adults who procrastinate in this important area have the intention of playing catch-up later in life. However, this may be more challenging than it may seem at first glance. When you procrastinate, you give up your regular contributions. You also give up employer-matching contributions and compounded growth, and these two factors can have a huge impact on the size of your nest egg. Delaying your retirement planning and saving effort essentially means that you must come up with a tremendous amount of additional money to catch up to a balance that you would have had if you started saving regularly in your 20s.

The Urgency to Get Started Today

Regardless of the reasons or age, now is the time to make a bold change. By continuing to procrastinate, you simply dig an even larger hole that is more difficult for you to get out of. Saving may be as easy as foregoing that fancy vacation that you take every year or downsizing the scope of your vacation. It may mean not redecorating your home as frequently or scaling down your holiday gift-giving efforts. There are many ways that you may be able to simply cut back without detracting from your quality of life, and these steps can have a huge impact on your financial status in your retirement years. Of course, making regular monthly contributions is also advisable. Saving at least some money now is better than not saving any.

How to Get Started

There are various types of retirement accounts that you may have access to depending on your circumstances. A good starting point is to maximize an employer-sponsored retirement account if your employer offers matching contributions. These contributions could essentially double your total account contributions and help you to get back on track more quickly and easily. If this is not an option, carefully review the pros and cons of various retirement accounts. Once you decide which type of account you want to open, schedule automated transfers. By automating this aspect of your finances, your balance will grow without additional effort required.

Some people prefer to hire a financial advisor to assist with retirement planning and account management. If you are confused about or intimidated by any aspect of retirement planning, it is best to seek professional guidance rather than to take chances. Remember, you see a doctor when you have concerns with your health, why not talk to a financial professional when you have concerns about your finances? We are here to help.

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