Your Financial Co-Pilot

Posted by on Apr 5, 2019 in 401k, 403b, atuos, bank statements, Boomers. Millenials, Budgeting, cars, college planning, Consumer Tools, Credit & Debt, credit card statements, Deflation, Elder Care, estate planning, family finances, financial advice, financial planning, Fixed Income Investing, Inflation, insurance, Investing, IRA, IRS, Life Stages, Medicaid Planning, Medicaid Recovery, Medicare Planning, Persoanl Financial tips, Retire Happy, Retire Happy Now, Retirement, retirement, retirement calculator, retirement planning, sales, Saving Money, social security, tax returns, taxes, TSA | 0 comments

If anything happens to you, your family has someone to consult.   Provided by Frederick Saide, Ph.D.   If you weren’t around, what would happen to your investments? In many families, one person handles investment decisions, and spouses or children have little comprehension of what happens each week, month, or year with a portfolio. In an emergency, this lack of knowledge can become financially paralyzing. Just as small business owners risk problems by “keeping it all in their heads,” families risk problems when only one person understands investments. A trusted relationship with a financial professional can be so vital. If the primary individual handling investment and portfolio management responsibilities in a family passes away, the family has a professional to consult – not a stranger they have to explain their priorities to at length, but someone who has built a bond with mom or dad and perhaps their adult children.      You want a professional who can play a fiduciary role. Look for a financial professional who upholds a fiduciary standard. Professionals who build their businesses on a fiduciary standard tend to work on a fee basis or entirely for fees. Other financial services industry professionals earn much of their compensation from commissions linked to trades or product sales.1 Commission-based financial professionals don’t necessarily have to abide by a fiduciary standard. Sometimes, only a suitability standard must be met. The difference may seem minor, but it really isn’t. The suitability standard, which hails back to the days of cold-calling stock brokers, dictates that you should recommend investments that are “suitable” to a client. Think about the leeway that can potentially provide to a commission-based professional. In contrast, a financial professional working by a fiduciary standard always has an ethical requirement to act in a client’s best interest and to recommend investments or products that clearly correspond to that best interest. The client comes first.1 You want a professional who looks out for you. The best financial professionals earn trust through their character, ability, and candor. In handling portfolios for myriad clients, they have learned to watch for certain concerns and to be aware of certain issues that may get in the way of wealth building or wealth retention. Many investors have built impressive and varied portfolios but lack long-term wealth management strategies. Money has been made, but little attention has been given to tax efficiency or risk exposure. As you near retirement age, playing defense becomes more and more important. A trusted financial professional could help you determine a risk and tax management approach with the potential to preserve your portfolio assets and your estate. Your family will want nothing less. With a skilled financial professional around to...

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You Could Retire, But Should You?

Posted by on Mar 31, 2019 in 401k, 403b, atuos, bank statements, Boomers. Millenials, Budgeting, cars, college planning, Consumer Tools, Credit & Debt, credit card statements, Deflation, Elder Care, estate planning, family finances, financial advice, financial planning, Fixed Income Investing, Inflation, insurance, Investing, IRA, Life Stages, Persoanl Financial tips, Retire Happy, Retire Happy Now, Retirement, retirement, retirement calculator, retirement planning, sales, Saving Money, social security, taxes | 0 comments

It might be better to wait a bit longer.   Provided by Frederick Saide, Ph.D.   Some people retire at first opportunity, only to wish they had waited longer. Your financial strategy likely considers normal financial ups and downs. That said, a big “what if” on your mind might be “what if I retire in a down time that doesn’t swing back upward in a year or two?” It could happen to everyone, and it certainly doesn’t work on your schedule. For that reason, the fact that you can retire doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. Retiring earlier may increase longevity risk. The concern can be put into three dire words: “outliving your money.” Sudden medical expenses, savings shortfalls, financial downturns, and larger-than-planned withdrawals from retirement accounts can all contribute to it. The downside of retiring at 55 or 60 is that you have that many more years of retirement to fund. There are also insurance issues to consider. Medicare will not cover you until you turn 65; in the event of an illness, how would your finances hold up without its availability? While your employer may give you a year-and-a-half of COBRA coverage upon your exit, that could cost your household more than $1,000 a month.1,2 How is your cash position? If your early retirement happens to coincide with a severe market downturn or a business or health crisis, you will need an emergency fund – or at the very least, enough liquidity to quickly address such issues. Does your spouse want to retire later? If so, your desire to retire early might cause some conflicts and impact any shared retirement dreams you hold. If you have older children or other relatives living with you, how would your decision affect them? Working a little longer might ease the transition to retirement. Some retirees end up missing the intellectual demands of the workplace and the socialization with friends and coworkers. They find no ready equivalent once they end their careers. Also, it may be difficult to find a part-time job in another field, so staying a while longer could help you make the change at a pace that will be more comfortable, both financially and emotionally.3 Ideally, you will retire with adequate savings and a plan to stay physically and mentally active and socially engaged, so waiting a bit longer to retire might be advantageous to your bottom line. Fred Saidevmay be reached at 908-791-3831 or Frederick2@gmx.us www.wealthensure.com and www.moneymattersusa.net   This material was prepared by a third party, and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves...

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Is America Prepared to Retire?

Posted by on Feb 24, 2019 in 401k, 403b, atuos, bank statements, Boomers. Millenials, Budgeting, cars, college planning, Consumer Tools, Credit & Debt, credit card statements, Deflation, estate planning, family finances, financial advice, financial planning, Fixed Income Investing, Inflation, insurance, Investing, IRA, Life Stages, Medicare Planning, Persoanl Financial tips, Retire Happy, Retire Happy Now, Retirement, retirement, retirement calculator, retirement planning, sales, Saving Money, social security, tax returns, taxes, TSA | 0 comments

A look at some ways to get ready.  Provided by Frederick Saide, Ph.D.   Are Americans saving enough? Only 19% of U.S. adults describe themselves as “very confident” when asked about their savings. Worry spots include retiring without enough money saved (16%) and anxiety about having a “rainy day” emergency fund (14%). These findings come from the 2018 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. (The survey collected data from 2,017 U.S. adults.)1   Only 41% of us keep a regular budget. If you are one of those roughly two-out-of-five Americans, you’re on the right track. While this percentage is on par with findings going back to 2007, the study also finds that while 65% of Americans are saving part of their annual income towards retirement, 29% indicate they are “not at all confident” that their savings will be enough to sustain them.1 Relatively few seek the help of a financial professional. When asked “Considering what I already know about personal finance, I could still benefit from some advice and answers to everyday financial questions from a professional,” 79% of respondents agreed with the statement. Yet only 13% indicated that they would seek out the help of some sort of financial professional if they had “financial problems related to debt.” While it isn’t surprising to think that 24% of respondents would turn to friends and family, it may be alarming to learn that 18% would choose to turn to no one at all.1 Why don’t more people seek help? After all, Americans of all incomes and savings levels certainly are free to set financial goals. They may feel embarrassed about speaking to a stranger about personal financial issues. It may also be the case that they feel like they don’t make enough money to speak to a professional, or perhaps, a financial professional is something that millionaires and billionaires have, not the average American worker. Another possibility is that they feel like they have a good handle on their financial future; they have a budget and stick to it, and they contribute to an IRA, 401(k), or have some other investments. But that 79% admission, mentioned above, indicates that a vast majority of Americans are not as confident.1  Defined goals lead to definite strategies. If you set financial objectives, you vault ahead of most Americans – at least according to these findings. A written financial strategy does not imply or guarantee wealth, of course, nor does it ensure that you will reach your goals. Yet that financial strategy does give you an understanding of the distance between your current financial situation (where you are) and where you want to be.  How much have you...

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The Anatomy of an Index

Posted by on Jan 13, 2019 in 401k, 403b, atuos, bank statements, Boomers. Millenials, Budgeting, cars, college planning, Consumer Tools, Credit & Debt, credit card statements, Deflation, Elder Care, estate planning, family finances, financial advice, financial planning, Fixed Income Investing, Inflation, insurance, Investing, IRA, Life Stages, Persoanl Financial tips, Retire Happy, Retire Happy Now, Retirement, retirement, retirement calculator, retirement planning, Saving Money, social security, tax returns, taxes, TSA | 0 comments

The S&P 500 represents a large portion of the value of the U.S. equity market   Provided by Frederick Saide, Ph.D.   Did you know that nearly $10 trillion in assets are benchmarked to the Standard & Poor’s 500 Composite Index, including about $3.5 trillion in index assets?1   The S&P 500 is ubiquitous. It is constantly referenced in financial and non-financial media, and we may compare the return of our own investments to its performance. As the index represents approximately 80% of the value of the U.S. equity market (or about 80% of market capitalization), it may be worthwhile to gain a better understanding of its structure and workings.1   Breaking down the benchmark. The S&P 500, as we know it today, was introduced in March 1957. It tracks the market value of about 500 large firms that are listed on the Nasdaq Composite and the New York Stock Exchange. The S&P is structured to include companies from across the sectors of the business community, in an effort to represent the breadth of the U.S. economy.1,2   There are a number of criteria a company must meet to be considered for inclusion in the index. A firm must be a U.S. company publicly listed on a major equity market exchange, have a market capitalization of $6.1 billion or more, and have at least 250,000 of its shares traded in each of the six months prior to its consideration for index membership by Standard & Poor’s. A company must also be financially viable: the ratio of its annual dollar value traded to its float-adjusted market cap must be greater than 1.0.3   The S&P has changed over time. Companies have been gradually removed and added over the past 60-odd years. At the benchmark’s fiftieth anniversary in 2007, just 86 of the original components remained. Subsequent mergers and acquisitions have reduced that number further.3   Right now, about 20% of the weight of the S&P is held in ten companies, and the performance of tech shares influences the benchmark’s return, perhaps more than any other factor.3   The index has been altered through the years in response to changes in the economy. Across several decades, the makeup of the index’s various sectors has differed, along with their weightings. This leads to frequent updates for the equity funds that aim to replicate the index; in order to maintain that replication, they may quickly need to buy or sell shares of corporations that are being added or removed.3   Keep in mind that amounts in mutual funds and ETFs are subject to fluctuation in value and market risk. Shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Equity...

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S Some Changes Are Coming For 401(k) Plans

Posted by on Dec 23, 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, social security, tax returns, taxes, TSA | 0 comments

Take note of them for 2019. Provided by Frederick Saide, Ph.D. Some notable developments are about to impact 401(k) plans. They follow a major change that became effective in 2018. Thanks to the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, workers who borrow from 401(k) accounts and leave their jobs now have until October of the following year to repay plan loans.1 The Internal Revenue Service has eased the rules on 401(k) hardship distributions. Plan participants who arranged such withdrawals in 2018 (and years prior) paid an opportunity cost. The Internal Revenue Code barred these employees from making periodic contributions to their 401(k) accounts for six months after the withdrawal, and it also prevented them from exercising any stock options for that length of time.2 In 2019, some flexibility enters the picture. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (passed in February) allows plan sponsors to remove both of those restrictions in 2019, if they wish.2 Some fine print worth noting: the BBA also permits plan sponsors to give employees more sources for hardship withdrawals. In 2019, plan participants may take hardship distributions from their 401(k) account earnings, qualified non-elective employer contributions (QNECs), and qualified matching contributions (QMACs) in addition to elective deferral contributions, discretionary employer profit-sharing contributions, regular matching contributions, and earnings on contributions made before December 31, 1988.2 In 2018 and years prior, a plan participant could only take a hardship distribution after taking a loan from his or her 401(k) account. Next year, plan sponsors can waive this requirement, if they choose, and let their employees take hardship withdrawals from 401(k)s without a loan first.2 In addition, plan sponsors may let victims of California wildfires make special hardship withdrawals. An individual who suffered economic losses due to the massive fires in the Golden State (and whose principal residence is in a California wildfire disaster area) may take qualified wildfire distributions of up to $100,000 from a 401(k) through December 31, 2018. The money withdrawn is fully taxable, but the withdrawal is not subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty. The amount withdrawn can also be recontributed to the plan within three years of the distribution. This type of hardship withdrawal may be permitted immediately; the plan sponsor has until the last day of the first plan year, beginning on or after January 1, 2019, to revise the plan documents to denote the new terms.2 What do these rule changes mean for companies sponsoring 401(k) plans? The message is clear. Review your plan documents and hardship withdrawal guidelines before 2019 begins, and decide whether you want to include these provisions. Lastly, annual contribution limits for 401(k) accounts are rising. An employee can put up to $19,000 into a 401(k) in...

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Tax Scams & Schemes

Posted by on Dec 3, 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

The “dirty dozen” favored by criminals & cheats.   Provided by Frederick Saide, Ph.D.   Year after year, criminals try to scam certain taxpayers. Year after year, certain taxpayers resort to schemes in an effort to put one over on the Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.). These cons occur year-round, not just during tax season. In response to their frequency, the I.R.S. has listed the 12 biggest offenses – scams that you should recognize, schemes that warrant penalties and/or punishment.   Phishing. If you get an unsolicited email claiming to be from the I.R.S., it is a scam. The I.R.S. never reaches out via email, regardless of the situation. If such an email lands in your inbox, forward it to phishing@irs.gov. You should also be careful with sending personal information, including payroll or other financial information, via an email or website.1,2   Phone scams. Each year, criminals call taxpayers and allege that said taxpayers owe money to the I.R.S. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration says that over the last five years, 12,000 victims have been identified, resulting in a cumulative loss of more than $63 million. Visual tricks can lend authenticity to the ruse: the caller ID may show a toll-free number. The caller may mention a phony I.R.S. employee badge number. New spins are constantly emerging, including threats of arrest, and even deportation.1,2   Identity theft. The I.R.S. warns that identity theft is a constant concern, but not just online. Thieves can steal your mail or rifle through your trash. While the I.R.S. has made headway in terms of identifying such scams when related to tax returns, and plays an active role in identifying lawbreakers, the best defense that remains is caution when your identity and information are concerned.1,2   Return preparer fraud. Almost 60% of American taxpayers use a professional tax preparer. Unfortunately, among the many honest professionals, there are also some con artists out there who aim to rip off personal information and grab phantom refunds, so be careful when making a selection.1,2   Fake charities. Some taxpayers claim that they are gathering funds for hurricane victims, an overseas relief effort, an outreach ministry, and so on. Be on the lookout for organizations that are using phony names to appear as legitimate charities. A specious charity may ask you for cash donations and/or your Social Security Number and banking information before offering a receipt.1,2   Inflated refund claims. In this scenario, the scammers do prepare and file 1040s, but they charge big fees up front or claim an exorbitant portion of your refund. The I.R.S. specifically warns against signing a blank return as well as preparers who charge based on the amount of your tax...

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