Why Did Treasury Yields Jump?

Posted by on Oct 15, 2018 in 401k, 403b, atuos, bank statements, Boomers. Millenials, cars, college planning, Consumer Tools, credit card statements, Deflation, Elder Care, estate planning, family finances, financial advice, financial planning, Fixed Income Investing, Inflation, insurance, Investing, IRA, Medicare Planning, Retire Happy Now, Retirement, retirement, retirement calculator, retirement planning, sales, social security, tax returns, taxes, TSA | 0 comments

A look at the early October selloff of U.S. government bonds.   Provided by Frederick Saide, Ph.D.      Investors raised eyebrows in early October as long-dated Treasury yields soared. On Tuesday, October 2, the yield of the 10-year note was at 3.05%. The next day, it hit 3.15%. A day later, 3.19%. What was behind this quick rise, and this sprint from Treasuries toward riskier assets? You can credit several factors.1   One, Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell made an attention-getting comment. On October 3, he expressed that the central bank’s monetary policy is “a long way from neutral.” In other words, interest rates (in his view) are nowhere near the point where the Fed needs to stop increasing them. Bond investors found his remark plenty hawkish.2   Two, great data keeps emerging. The Institute for Supply Management’s service sector purchasing manager index hit an all-time high of 61.6 in September. (It should be noted that this index has only been around for a decade.) ADP’s latest payrolls report found that private companies added 230,000 net new jobs last month, a terrific gain vaulting above the 168,000 noted in August. Additionally, initial unemployment claims were near a 49-year low when October started. These indicators signaled an economy running on all cylinders. Further affirming its health, Amazon.com announced it would boost its minimum wage to $15 an hour, giving some of its workers nearly a 30% raise.3   Three, you have the influence of the Fed thinning its securities portfolio. It has been reducing its bond holdings since last fall and is now doing so by $50 billion per month (compared to $40 billion per month last quarter).2      Four, NAFTA could be replaced. Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. have agreed to a preliminary trilateral trade pact designed to supplant the North American Free Trade Agreement. Wall Street applauded that news as October began, which whetted investor appetite for stocks and lessened it for bonds.4     What is the impact of these soaring yields? When 10-year, 20-year, and 30-year Treasury yields rise abruptly, the takeaway is that investors believe the economy is booming and inflation pressure is increasing. Meaning, more interest rate hikes are ahead.   As long-dated Treasury yields escalate, the housing market could feel the impact. Mortgage rates track the path of the 10-year note, and when the 10-year note yield rises, they move north in response. Higher mortgage rates would further decelerate the pace of home buying, which has been slowing.4   When the yield on the 10-year note reached its highest level in more than seven years on October 4, Wall Street grew a bit worried. The Nasdaq Composite fell 145.57, the Dow Jones Industrial...

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Underappreciated Options for Building Retirement Savings

Posted by on Aug 26, 2018 in 401k, 403b, atuos, bank statements, Boomers. Millenials, cars, college planning, Consumer Tools, credit card statements, Deflation, Elder Care, estate planning, family finances, financial advice, financial planning, Fixed Income Investing, Inflation, insurance, Investing, IRA, IRS, Medicaid Planning, Medicaid Recovery, Medicare Planning, Retire Happy Now, Retirement, retirement, retirement calculator, retirement planning, sales, social security, tax returns, taxes, TSA | 0 comments

More people ought to know about them.   Provided by Frederick Saide, Ph.D.   There are a number of well-known retirement savings vehicles, used by millions. Are there other, relatively obscure retirement savings accounts worthy of attention? Are there prospective benefits for retirement savers that remain under the radar?   The answer to both questions is yes. Consider these potential routes toward greater retirement savings.     Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). People enrolled in high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) commonly open HSAs for their stated purpose: to create a pool of money that can be applied to health care expenses. One big perk: HSA contributions are tax deductible. Another, underappreciated perk deserves more publicity: the federal government permits the funds within HSAs to grow tax free. Just ahead, you will see why that is important to remember.1,2   While 96% of HSA owners hold their HSA funds in cash, others are investing a percentage of their HSA money. Tax-free growth is nothing to sneeze at: an HSA owner who directs 100% of the maximum $3,450 yearly account contribution into investments returning just 4% annually could have an HSA holding more than $200,000 in 30 years. Prior to age 65, withdrawals from HSAs are tax free if they are used for qualified medical expenses. After that, withdrawals from HSAs may be used for any purpose (i.e., for retirement income), although they do become fully taxable.1,2   In 2018, an individual can direct $3,450 into an HSA; a family, $6,900. Additional catch-up contributions are allowed for HSA owners aged 55 and older.1,2   “Backdoor” Roth IRAs. Some people make too much money to open a Roth IRA. That does not mean they are barred from having one. Anyone can convert all or part of a traditional IRA to a Roth, and pre-retirees with high incomes and low retirement savings occasionally do. Why? A Roth IRA offers the potential for future tax-free withdrawals. Roth IRA owners also never have to take Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs). A Roth conversion is typically a taxable event, and it cannot be undone. The IRA owner may enter a higher tax bracket in the year of the conversion, so anyone considering this should speak with a tax professional beforehand.3       Cash value life insurance. Permanent life insurance policies often have the capability to build cash value over time, and high-income households sometimes purchase them with the goal of achieving more tax efficiency and using that cash value to supplement their retirement incomes. Cash value accounts within these policies are designed to earn interest and grow, tax deferred. Withdrawals lower the cash value of the policy, but are untaxed up to the total amount of premiums you have paid....

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Tax Moves to Consider in Summer

Posted by on Aug 19, 2018 in 401k, 403b, atuos, bank statements, Boomers. Millenials, cars, college planning, Consumer Tools, credit card statements, Deflation, Elder Care, estate planning, family finances, financial advice, financial planning, Fixed Income Investing, Inflation, insurance, Investing, IRA, IRS, Medicaid Planning, Medicaid Recovery, Medicare Planning, Retire Happy Now, Retirement, retirement, retirement calculator, retirement planning, sales, social security, tax returns, taxes, TSA | 0 comments

Now is a good time to think about a few financial matters.  Provided by Frederick Saide, Ph.D.   Making changes earlier rather than later. If you own a business, earn a good deal of investment income, are recently married or divorced, or have a Flexible Savings Account (FSA), you may want to think about making some tax moves now rather than in December or April. Do you now need to pay estimated income tax? If you are newly self-employed or are really starting to see significant passive income, you may need to quickly acquaint yourself with Form 1040-ES and the quarterly deadlines. Every year, estimated tax payments to the Internal Revenue Service are due on or before the following dates: January 15, April 15, July 15, and October 15. (These deadlines are adjusted if a due date falls on a weekend or holiday.) It might seem simple just to make four consistent payments per year, but your business income may be inconsistent. If it is, and you fail to adjust your estimated tax payment per quarter, you may be setting yourself up for a tax penalty. So, confer with your tax professional about this.1  Has your household size changed? That calls for a look at your pre-tax withholding. No doubt you would like to take home more money now rather than wait to receive it in the form of a tax refund later. This past April, the I.R.S. said that the average federal tax refund was $2,864 – the rough equivalent of a month’s salary for many people. Adjusting the withholding on your W-4 may bring you more take-home pay. Ideally, you would adjust it so that you end up owing no tax and receiving no refund.2 Think about how you could use your FSA dollars before the end of the year. The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act changed the rules for Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). The I.R.S. now permits an employer to let an employee carry up to $500 in FSA funds forward into the next calendar year. Alternately, the employer can allow the FSA accountholder extra time to use FSA funds from the prior calendar year (up to 2.5 months). Companies do not have to allow either choice, however. If no grace period or carry-forward is permitted at your workplace, you will want to spend 100% of your FSA funds in 2018, for you will lose those FSA dollars when 2019 begins.3 You could help your tax situation by contributing to certain retirement accounts. IRAs and non-Roth workplace retirement plans are funded with pre-tax dollars. By directing money into these retirement savings vehicles, you position yourself for federal tax savings in the year of the contribution. If...

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For Retirement, Income Matters as Much as Savings

Posted by on Jul 29, 2018 in 401k, 403b, atuos, bank statements, Boomers. Millenials, cars, college planning, Consumer Tools, credit card statements, Deflation, Elder Care, estate planning, family finances, financial advice, financial planning, Fixed Income Investing, Inflation, insurance, Investing, IRA, IRS, Medicaid Planning, Medicaid Recovery, Medicare Planning, Retire Happy Now, Retirement, retirement, retirement calculator, retirement planning, sales, social security, tax returns, taxes, TSA | 0 comments

A recent poll of pre-retirees suggests that truth risks being ignored.   Provided by Frederick Saide, Ph.D.   Steady income or a lump sum? Last year, financial services firm TIAA asked working Americans: if you could choose between a lump sum of $500,000 or a monthly income of $2,700 at retirement, which choice would you make?1   Sixty-two percent said that they would take the $2,700 per month. Figuring on a 20-year retirement for today’s 65-year-olds, $2,700 per month comes to $648,000 by age 85. So, why did nearly 40% of the survey respondents pick the lump sum over the stable monthly income?1    Maybe the instant gratification psychology common to lottery winners played a part. Maybe they ran some numbers and figured that the $500,000 lump sum would grow to exceed $648,000 in twenty years if invested – but there is certainly no guarantee of that. Perhaps they felt their retirements would last less than 20 years, as was the case with many of their parents, making the lump sum a “better deal.”   The reality is that once you retire, income is the primary concern. The state of your accumulated retirement savings matters, yes – but retirement is when you start to convert those savings to fund your everyday life.   Could you retire with income equivalent to 80% of your final salary? If you have saved and invested consistently through the years, that objective may be achievable.   Social Security replaces about 40% of income for the average wage earner. (For those at higher income levels, the percentage may be less.) So where will you get the rest of your retirement income? It could come from as many as six sources.2   Systematic withdrawals from retirement savings and investment accounts. You may start taking distributions from these accounts at an initial withdrawal rate of 4% (or less). If these accounts are quite large, the income taken could even match or exceed your Social Security benefits.3   Private income contracts. Some retirees opt for these, though the income they receive may not be immediate.   Pensions. The health of some pension funds notwithstanding, here is another prime source of income.   Your home. Selling an expensive residence and buying a cheaper one can free up equity and reduce future expenses, thereby leaving more money for you to live off in the future.   Passive income streams. Examples include business income produced without material participation in the business, rental income, dividends, and royalties.   Work. Part-time work also lessens the pressure to draw down balances in your retirement and investment accounts.   Work longer, and you may indirectly give your retirement income a boost. One recent analysis from...

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Why Do People Put Off Saving for Retirement?

Posted by on Jul 1, 2018 in 401k, 403b, atuos, bank statements, Boomers. Millenials, cars, college planning, Consumer Tools, credit card statements, Deflation, Elder Care, estate planning, family finances, financial advice, Fixed Income Investing, Inflation, insurance, Investing, IRA, IRS, Medicaid Planning, Medicaid Recovery, Medicare Planning, Retire Happy Now, Retirement, retirement, retirement calculator, retirement planning, sales, social security, tax returns, taxes, TSA | 0 comments

A lack of money is but one answer.   Provided by Frederick Saide, Ph.D.     Common wisdom says that you should start saving for retirement as soon as you can. Why do some people wait decades to begin?   Nearly everyone can save something. Even small cash savings may be the start of something big if they are invested wisely.       Sometimes, the immediate wins out over the distant. To young adults, retirement can seem so far away. Instead of directing X dollars a month toward some far-off financial objective, why not use it for something here and now, like a payment on a student loan or a car? This is indeed practical, and it may be necessary. Even so, paying yourself first should be as much of a priority as paying today’s bills or paying your creditors.   Some workers fail to enroll in retirement plans because they anticipate leaving. They start a job with an assumption that it may only be short term, so they avoid signing up, even though human resources encourages them. Time passes. Six months turn into six years. Still, they are unenrolled. (Speaking of short-term or transitory work, many people in the gig economy never get such encouragement; they have no access to a workplace retirement plan at all.)   Other young adults feel they have too little to start saving or investing. Maybe when they are further along in their careers, the time will be right – but not now. Currently, they cannot contribute big monthly or quarterly amounts to retirement accounts, so what is the point of starting today?   The point can be expressed in two words: compound interest. Even small retirement account contributions have potential to snowball into much larger sums with time. Suppose a 25-year-old puts just $100 in a retirement plan earning 8% a year. Suppose they keep doing that every month for 35 years. How much money is in the account at age 60? $100 x 12 x 35, or $42,000? No, $217,114, thanks to annual compounded growth. As their salary grows, the monthly contributions can increase, thereby positioning the account to grow even larger. Another important thing to remember is that the longer a sum has been left to compound, the greater the annual compounding becomes. The takeaway here: get an early start.1   Any retirement saver should strive to get an employer match. Some companies will match a percentage of a worker’s retirement plan contribution once it exceeds a certain level. This is literally free money. Who would turn down free money?   Just how many Americans are not yet saving for retirement? Earlier this year, an Edward Jones survey put the figure...

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Retirement Plans for Individuals & Businesses

Posted by on May 20, 2018 in 401k, 403b, atuos, bank statements, Boomers. Millenials, cars, college planning, Consumer Tools, credit card statements, Deflation, Elder Care, estate planning, family finances, financial advice, financial planning, Fixed Income Investing, Inflation, insurance, Investing, IRA, IRS, Retire Happy Now, Retirement, retirement, retirement calculator, retirement planning, sales, social security, tax returns, taxes, TSA | 0 comments

A look at some of the choices.   Provided by Frederick Saide, Ph.D.   Households are saving too little for the future. According to one new analysis, 41% of Gen Xers and 42% of baby boomers have yet to begin saving for retirement. In a recent financial industry survey, 35% of small business owners said they were planning to use the sale proceeds from their company for a retirement fund, an idea which comes with a flashing question mark.1,2   Do you need to build retirement savings? Take a look at these retirement plans:   SEP-IRA: low fees, easy to implement and maintain. These plans cover sole proprietors and their workers with no setup fees or yearly administration charges. Your business makes all the contributions with tax-deductible dollars. The amount of the contribution your company can deduct is the lesser of your contributions or 25% of an employee’s compensation. You can even skip contributions in a lean year.3,4   SIMPLE IRAs and 401(k)s: low maintenance, high contribution limits. In contrast to SEP-IRAs, Savings Incentive Match Plan (SIMPLE) IRAs are largely employee-funded. A worker can direct as much as $12,500 or 100% of compensation (whichever is less) into a SIMPLE IRA per year. That current $12,500 annual contribution limit rises to $15,500 for plan participants 50 and older. Matching employer contributions are required: you can either put in 2% of an employee’s annual compensation, or match employee contributions dollar-for-dollar up to 3% of the employee’s annual compensation.2,4   Does your company have less than 100 workers? Do you want a 401(k) plan that is relatively easy to administer? The SIMPLE 401(k) might do. This is a regular 401(k) with a key difference: the employer must match employee contributions in the manner described in the previous paragraph. As with the SIMPLE IRA, employee contributions are elective. Contributions to a SIMPLE 401(k) vest immediately. While you must file a Form 5500 annually with the I.R.S., no non-discrimination testing is necessary for these 401(k)s.2,4    Solo 401(k)s: a great way to “play catch-up.” Both pass-through firms and C corps can install these plans, which allow a solopreneur to contribute to a retirement plan as both an employee and an employer. In 2018, a business owner can direct up to $55,000 into a solo 401(k). As with a standard 401(k), participants age 50 and older can make a $6,000 catch-up contribution each year. If you are 50 or older, your maximum annual contribution could be as large as $61,000.2,5,6   If you are behind on retirement saving, a solo 401(k) presents an outstanding opportunity to help you grow your retirement fund. The catch is that your business must be very small and stay that...

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