Cybersecurity

Posted by on Oct 27, 2019 in 401k, 403b, atuos, bank statements, Boomers. Millenials, Budgeting, cars, Consumer Tools, Credit & Debt, credit card statements, family finances, financial advice, financial planning, Investing, IRA, IRS, Life Stages, Persoanl Financial tips, Retire Happy, Retire Happy Now, Retirement, retirement, retirement calculator, retirement planning, Saving Money, social security, tax returns, taxes | 0 comments

Protecting yourself from potential calamity.   Provided by Frederick Saide, Ph.D.   Cybercrime affects both large corporations and private individuals. You’ve likely read about the large data breaches in the business world. These crimes are both expensive and on the rise. The U.S. Identity Theft Resource Center says that these corporate data breaches reached a peak of 1,632 in 2017. The response to the growing need for data protection has been swift and powerful; venture capitalists have invested $5.3 billion into cybersecurity firms.1 That’s good news for the big companies, but what about for the individual at home? What can you do to protect data breaches to your personal accounts? For most private individuals, the key idea is to both: * Know what to do if you’ve had a data breach. * Know what you can do that might help prevent a data breach. Total cybersecurity for your financial matters isn’t something that can be strategized in a single short article like this one, but I would like to offer you two suggestions that can help you get started. Both can be done from home and represent reactive and preventative measures. Credit Freeze. By reactive, I mean that a step that you can take after the fact. In many cases, a credit freeze might be a reaction to identity theft or a data breach. What it specifically does is restrict access to your credit report, which has information that could be used to open new lines of credit in your name. The freeze prevents this, but it will not prevent a criminal from, for instance, using an active credit card number, if they’ve discovered it. For that reason, you still must monitor for unauthorized transactions during the freeze.2 While the freeze is in place, you can still get your free annual credit report. You also won’t have issues with credit background searches for job or renter’s applications or when you buy insurance – the freeze doesn’t affect those areas of your credit history. You can even apply for a new line of credit during a credit freeze, though that requires a temporary or permanent elimination of the freeze during the process. This can be done through either a call to the big three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion) or a visit to their respective websites.2 Password Manager. This is a preventative measure. Yes, we all know the poor soul who uses “Password” as their password. While you are probably not that far gone, the truth is that there are many tricks that cybercrooks use to learn or intuit our passwords. In fact, 20% of Internet consumers have experienced some sort of account compromise. That comes at a time...

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Sequence of Return Risk – Does it Matter?

Posted by on Oct 13, 2019 in 401k, 403b, bank statements, Boomers. Millenials, Budgeting, cars, college planning, Consumer Tools, Credit & Debt, 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 planning, Saving Money | 0 comments

A look at how variable rates of return do (and do not) impact investors over time.   Provided by Frederick Saide, Ph.D.   What exactly is the “sequence of returns”? The phrase describes the yearly variation in an investment portfolio’s rate of return. Across 20 or 30 years of saving and investing for the future, what kind of impact do these deviations from the average return have on a portfolio’s final value? The answer: no impact at all. Once an investor retires, however, these ups and downs can influence portfolio value – and retirement income. During the accumulation phase, the sequence of returns is ultimately inconsequential. Yearly returns may vary greatly or minimally; in the end, the variance from the mean hardly matters. (Think of “the end” as the moment the investor retires: the time when the emphasis on accumulating assets gives way to the need to withdraw assets.) An analysis from BlackRock bears this out. The asset manager compares three model investing scenarios: three investors start portfolios with lump sums of $1 million, and each of the three portfolios averages a 7% annual return across 25 years. In two of these scenarios, annual returns vary from -7% to +22%. In the third scenario, the return is simply 7% every year. In all three situations, each investor accumulates $5,434,372 after 25 years – because the average annual return is 7% in each case.1 Here is another way to look at it. The average annual return of your portfolio is dynamic; it changes, year-to-year. You have no idea what the average annual return of your portfolio will be when “it is all said and done,” just like a baseball player has no idea what his lifetime batting average will be four seasons into a 13-year playing career. As you save and invest, the sequence of annual portfolio returns influences your average yearly return, but the deviations from the mean will not impact the portfolio’s final value. It will be what it will be.1  When you shift from asset accumulation to asset distribution, the story changes. You must try to protect your invested assets against sequence of returns risk.  This is the risk of your retirement coinciding with a bear market (or something close). Even if your portfolio performs well across the duration of your retirement, a bad year or two at the beginning could heighten concerns about outliving your money. For a classic illustration of the damage done by sequence of returns risk, consider the awful 2007-2009 bear market. Picture a couple at the start of 2008 with a $1 million portfolio, held 60% in equities and 40% in fixed-income investments. They arrange to retire at the end of the...

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Annual Financial to-Do List

Posted by on Sep 29, 2019 in 401k, 403b, bank statements, Boomers. Millenials, Budgeting, college planning, Consumer Tools, Credit & Debt, 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 planning, Saving Money, social security, tax returns, taxes, TSA | 0 comments

Things you can do for your future as the year unfolds.   Provided by Frederick Saide, Ph.D.                         What financial, business, or life priorities do you need to address for the coming year? Now is a good time to think about the investing, saving, or budgeting methods you could employ toward specific objectives, from building your retirement fund to managing your taxes. You have plenty of choices. Here are a few ideas to consider:  Can you contribute more to your retirement plans this year? In 2020, the contribution limit for a Roth or traditional individual retirement account (IRA) remains at $6,000 ($7,000 for those making “catch-up” contributions). Your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) may affect how much you can put into a Roth IRA: singles and heads of household with MAGI above $139,000 and joint filers with MAGI above $206,000 cannot make 2020 Roth contributions.1  Before making any changes, remember that withdrawals from traditional IRAs are taxed as ordinary income, and if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. To qualify for the tax-free and penalty-free withdrawal of earnings, Roth IRA distributions must meet a five-year holding requirement and occur after age 59½. Make a charitable gift. You can claim the deduction on your tax return, provided you itemize your deductions with Schedule A. The paper trail is important here. If you give cash, you need to document it. Even small contributions need to be demonstrated by a bank record, payroll deduction record, credit card statement, or written communication from the charity with the date and amount. Incidentally, the Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.) does not equate a pledge with a donation. If you pledge $2,000 to a charity this year, but only end up gifting $500, you can only deduct $500.1 These are hypothetical examples and are not a replacement for real-life advice. Make certain to consult your tax, legal, or accounting professional before modifying your strategy. See if you can take a home office deduction for your small business. If you are a small-business owner, you may want to investigate this. You may be able to legitimately write off expenses linked to the portion of your home used to exclusively conduct your business. Using your home office as a business expense involves a complex set of tax rules and regulations. Before moving forward, consider working with a professional who is familiar with homebased businesses.3  Open an HSA. A Health Savings Account (HSA) works a bit like your workplace retirement account. There are also some HSA rules and limitations to consider. You are limited to a $3,550 contribution for 2020, if you are single; $7,100, if you have a spouse or...

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Retirement Wellness

Posted by on Sep 16, 2019 in 401k, 403b, bank statements, Boomers. Millenials, Budgeting, 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, Medicare Planning, Persoanl Financial tips, Retire Happy, Retire Happy Now, Retirement, retirement, retirement calculator, retirement planning, Saving Money, social security | 0 comments

Staying healthy could save you some money.   Provided by Frederick Saide, Ph.D.   How healthy a retirement do you think you will have? If you can stay active as a senior and curb or avoid certain habits, you could potentially reduce one type of retirement expense. Each year, Fidelity Investments presents an analysis of retiree health care costs. In 2019, Fidelity projected that the average 65-year-old couple would spend around $285,000 on health care during retirement, including about $11,000 in the first year. Both projections took Medicare benefits into account.1,2 Could healthy behaviors help you save retirement dollars? Maybe. From another point of view, ceasing unhealthy habits certainly would. For example, the average pack of cigarettes now costs $6.28, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That adds up to $2,292 annually. A decade of pack-a-day smoking therefore projects to $22,920 in expenses (and that does not even consider inflation or the possibility of new state or local cigarette taxes). If you could invest $2,292 a year for 20 years and realize a 7% annual return on that money, your sustained investment would grow to more than $100,000.  Think about joining a senior wellness program. Some communities offer classes developed through the National Council on Aging’s Center for Healthy Aging. (NCOA is a nonprofit senior advocacy organization founded in the 1950s.) These physical activity programs are evidence based; the exercise curriculum has been shown to provide discernible health benefits to their participants. Often, they are low cost or free and low impact as well.3  Be sure to use your Medicare benefits. Medicare entitles you to an annual free wellness visit with a primary care physician. In this visit, you can have your blood pressure, weight, and overall health checked, and the doctor can also run a check for the possibility of dementia. You can also get free screening for diabetes, certain kinds of cancers, hepatitis B and C, and heart disease under Medicare if your physician classifies you as “at risk” for these conditions. Medicare may even pick up the tab for smoking cessation counseling and obesity counseling for certain people.4 If you stay healthy well into your retirement, there could be a nice financial side effect: an exemption, for the present, from expenses that some of your peers could be dealing with. Fred Saide may be reached at 908-791-3831 or Frederick2@gmx.us www.moneymattersusa.net and www.wealthensure.com 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 risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged...

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Inventorying Your Possessions

Posted by on Sep 8, 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

It is helpful for insurance purposes.   Provided by Frederick Saide, Ph.D.   It’s great to have insurance against damage and loss, but if you can’t show proof of your possessions, it may result in a protracted settlement process with your insurance company.1 Four Tips for Creating an Inventory. Creating an inventory may take a bit of upfront work, but it can pay future benefits in smoothing the claims settlement process with your insurer as well as increase the potential of receiving the maximum payment possible.  Tip #1 – Make a Video of Your Possessions. A visual record of your possessions is the best proof of ownership. When videoing your home contents, make sure you are methodical and thorough in going through all your rooms and storage spaces. Speak while you are taping to describe each item; include any relevant information (e.g., “this is a signed first edition of “Moby Dick.”).  Tip #2 – Document Value of Your Items. Scan or video receipts of the items in your home. Indicate the make and model where appropriate. If you have artwork or antiques, consider creating a record of any appraisal you may have received on your collectibles.  Tip #3 – Secure Your Inventory. An inventory doesn’t help much if you keep it in the house and your home burns to the ground. If your video is digital (highly recommended), consider storing the file in a “cloud” account rather than on your computer, or alternately, on a USB stick stored in a safety deposit box.  Tip #4 – Keep Your Inventory Updated. Failure to regularly update your inventory may mean unintentionally leaving off expensive new purchases. Get started by asking your insurance agent if they have an inventory checklist, which may help you remember to include items that you might otherwise overlook. Fred Saide may 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 risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are...

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A Retirement Fact Sheet

Posted by on Sep 2, 2019 in 401k, 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, Medicare Planning, Persoanl Financial tips, Retire Happy, Retire Happy Now, Retirement, retirement, retirement calculator, retirement planning, Saving Money, social security, tax returns, taxes, TSA | 0 comments

Some specifics about the “second act.” Provided by Frederick Saide, Ph.D.      Does your vision of retirement align with the facts? Here are some noteworthy financial and lifestyle facts about life after 50 that might surprise you.  Up to 85% of a retiree’s Social Security income can be taxed. Some retirees are taken aback when they discover this. In addition to the Internal Revenue Service, 13 states levy taxes on some or all Social Security retirement benefits: Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia. (It is worth mentioning that the I.R.S. offers free tax advice to people 60 and older through its Tax Counseling for the Elderly program.)1 Retirees get a slightly larger standard deduction on their federal taxes. Actually, this is true for all taxpayers aged 65 and older, whether they are retired or not. Right now, the standard deduction for an individual taxpayer in this age bracket is $13,500, compared to $12,200 for those 64 or younger.2  Retirees can still use IRAs to save for retirement. There is no age limit for contributing to a Roth IRA, just an inflation-adjusted income limit. So, a retiree can keep directing money into a Roth IRA for life, provided they are not earning too much. In fact, a senior can potentially contribute to a traditional IRA until the year they turn 70½.1  A significant percentage of retirees are carrying education and mortgage debt. The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau says that throughout the U.S., the population of borrowers aged 60 and older who have outstanding student loans grew by at least 20% in every state between 2012 and 2017. In more than half of the 50 states, the increase was 45% or greater. Generations ago, seniors who lived in a home often owned it, free and clear; in this decade, that has not always been so. The Federal Reserve’s recent Survey of Consumer Finance found that more than a third of those aged 65-74 have outstanding home loans; nearly a quarter of Americans who are 75 and older are in the same situation.1  As retirement continues, seniors become less credit dependent. GoBankingRates says that only slightly more than a quarter of Americans over age 75 have any credit card debt, compared to 42% of those aged 65-74.1 About one in three seniors who live independently also live alone. In fact, the Institute on Aging notes that nearly half of women older than age 75 are on their own. Compared to male seniors, female seniors are nearly twice as likely to live without a spouse, partner, family member, or roommate.1 Around 64% of women say that they have no “Plan...

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