Your 2019 Financial To-Do List

Posted by on Nov 11, 2018 in 401k, 402k, 403b, Boomers. Millenials, Consumer Tools, 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

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 2019? 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 lowering your taxes. You have plenty of options. Here are a few that might prove convenient.   Can you contribute more to your retirement plans this year? In 2019, the yearly contribution limit for a Roth or traditional IRA rises to $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 $137,000 and joint filers with MAGI above $203,000 cannot make 2019 Roth contributions.1   For tax year 2019, you can contribute up to $19,000 to 401(k), 403(b), and most 457 plans, with a $6,000 catch-up contribution allowed if you are age 50 or older. If you are self-employed, you may want to look into whether you can establish and fund a solo 401(k) before the end of 2019; as employer contributions may also be made to solo 401(k)s, you may direct up to $56,000 into one of those plans.1   Your retirement plan contribution could help your tax picture. If you won’t turn 70½ in 2019 and you participate in a traditional qualified retirement plan or have a traditional IRA, you can cut your taxable income through a contribution. Should you be in the new 24% federal tax bracket, you can save $1,440 in taxes as a byproduct of a $6,000 traditional IRA contribution.2   What are the income limits on deducting traditional IRA contributions? If you participate in a workplace retirement plan, the 2019 MAGI phase-out ranges are $64,000-$74,000 for singles and heads of households, $103,000-$123,000 for joint filers when the spouse making IRA contributions is covered by a workplace retirement plan, and $193,000-$203,000 for an IRA contributor not covered by a workplace retirement plan, but married to someone who is.1   Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k)s, 403(b)s, and 457 plans are funded with after-tax dollars, so you may not take an immediate federal tax deduction for your contributions to them. The upside is that if you follow I.R.S. rules, the account assets may eventually be withdrawn tax free.3   Your tax year 2019 contribution to a Roth or traditional IRA may be made as late as the 2020 federal tax deadline – and, for that matter, you can make a 2018 IRA contribution as late as April 15, 2019, which is the deadline for filing your...

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When You Retire Without Enough What Happens?

Posted by on Nov 5, 2018 in 401k, 403b, bank statements, Boomers. Millenials, cars, college planning, 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

Start your “second act” with inadequate assets, and your vision of the future may be revised.   Provided by Frederick Saide, Ph.D.     How much have you saved for retirement? Are you on pace to amass a retirement fund of $1 million by age 65? More than a few retirement counselors urge pre-retirees to strive for that goal. If you have $1 million in invested assets when you retire, you can withdraw 4% a year from your retirement funds and receive $40,000 in annual income to go along with Social Security benefits (in ballpark terms, about $30,000 per year for someone retiring from a long career). If your investment portfolio is properly diversified, you may be able to do this for 25-30 years without delving into assets elsewhere.1 Perhaps you are 20-25 years away from retiring. Factoring in inflation and medical costs, maybe you would prefer $80,000 in annual income plus Social Security at the time you retire. Strictly adhering to the 4% rule, you will need to save $2 million in retirement funds to satisfy that preference.1 There are many variables in retirement planning, but there are also two realities that are hard to dismiss. One, retiring with $1 million in invested assets may suffice in 2018, but not in the 2030s or 2040s, given how even moderate inflation whittles away purchasing power over time. Two, most Americans are saving too little for retirement: about 5% of their pay, according to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Fifteen percent is a better goal.1 Fifteen percent? Really? Yes. Imagine a 30-year-old earning $40,000 annually who starts saving for retirement. She gets 3.8% raises each year until age 67; her investment portfolio earns 6% a year during that time frame. At a 5% savings rate, she would have close to $424,000 in her retirement account 37 years later; at a 15% savings rate, she would have about $1.3 million by age 67. From boosting her savings rate 10%, she ends up with three times as much in retirement assets.1  Now, what if you save too little for retirement? That implies some degree of compromise to your lifestyle, your dreams, or both. You may have seen your parents, grandparents, or neighbors make such compromises. There is the 75-year-old who takes any job he can, no matter how unsatisfying or awkward, because he realizes he is within a few years of outliving his money. There is the small business owner entering her sixties with little or no savings (and no exit strategy) who doggedly resolves to work until she dies. Perhaps you have seen the widow in her seventies who moves in with her son and his spouse out...

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No, That Is Not the I.R.S. Calling

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

Watch out for crooks impersonating I.R.S. agents (and financial industry professionals).   Provided by Frederick Saide, Ph.D.     Do you know how the Internal Revenue Service contacts taxpayers to resolve a problem? The first step is almost always to send a letter through the U.S. Postal Service to the taxpayer.1   It is very rare for the I.R.S. to make the first contact through a call or a personal visit. This happens in two circumstances: when taxes are notably delinquent or overdue or when the agency feels an audit or criminal investigation is necessary. Furthermore, the I.R.S. does not send initial requests for taxpayer information via email or social media.1     Now that you know all of this, you should also know about some of the phone scams being perpetrated by criminals claiming to be the I.R.S. (or representatives of investment firms).   Scam #1: “You owe back taxes. Pay them immediately, or you will be arrested.” Here, someone calls you posing as an I.R.S. agent, claiming that you owe thousands of dollars in federal taxes. If the caller does not reach you in person, a voice mail message conveys the same threat, urging you to call back quickly.1   Can this terrible (fake) problem be solved? Yes, perhaps with the help of your Social Security number. Or, maybe with some specific information about your checking account, maybe even your online banking password. Or, they may tell you that this will all go away if you wire the money to an account or buy a pre-paid debit card. These are all efforts to steal your money.   This is over-the-phone extortion, plain and simple. The demand for immediate payment gives it away. The I.R.S. does not call up taxpayers and threaten them with arrest if they cannot pay back taxes by midnight. The preferred method of notification is to send a bill, with instructions to pay the amount owed to the U.S. Treasury (never some third party).1   Sometimes the phone number on your caller I.D. may appear to be legitimate because more sophisticated crooks have found ways to manipulate caller I.D. systems. Asking for a callback number is not enough. The crook may readily supply you with a number to call, and when you dial it someone may pick up immediately and claim to be a representative of the I.R.S., but it’s likely a co-conspirator – someone else assisting in the scam. For reference, the I.R.S. tax help line for individuals is 1-800-829-1040. Another telltale sign; if you ever call the real I.R.S., you probably wouldn’t speak to a live person so quickly – hold times can be long.1   Scam #2: “This is a special offer to...

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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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Preparing to Retire Single

Posted by on Oct 7, 2018 in 401k, 403b, bank statements, Boomers. Millenials, Consumer Tools, Elder Care, estate planning, family finances, financial advice, financial planning, Fixed Income Investing, Inflation, insurance, Investing, IRA, Medicaid Planning, Medicaid Recovery, Medicare Planning, Retire Happy Now, Retirement, retirement, retirement calculator, retirement planning, sales, social security, tax returns, taxes, TSA | 0 comments

Unmarrieds need to approach retirement planning pragmatically.   Provided by Frederick Saide, Ph.D.                         In an ideal world, it would be simple to prepare for a solo retirement. You would just save half as much as a couple saves, buy half as much insurance coverage, and expect to live on half the income. Reality dictates otherwise.   Real-world planning for a solo retirement begins with an assumption. You assume, at some point, that you will retire alone. You may be ready to make that assumption at age 40. Or, that distinct probability may emerge at age 55. These midlife assumptions aside, you should acknowledge the possibility that you may end up spending some of your retirement alone, even if you retire with a spouse or partner.   As a solo ager, your retirement becomes a test of self-reliance. As ABC News notes, the Elder Orphan Facebook Group recently polled its 8,500 members about the “safety net” they had and collected 500 responses. Thirty-five percent lacked “friends or family to help them cope with life’s challenges,” and 70% had no specific idea of who their caregiver would be in event of mental or physical decline.1   Think about what you do for your elderly parents or what you have done. Look ahead and consider who or what resource could provide that help to you someday.   Insuring yourself is critical before and after you retire. If you retire before becoming eligible for Medicare, could you lean on COBRA or remain on a group health plan a bit longer before having to find your own health insurance? Disability insurance is also important while you are still working, to protect your income. As Dave Ramsey says, your income is your most powerful wealth building tool. When you lose your income, that tool is broken, and that restricts your retirement savings effort.2   How about long-term care insurance? Opinions are divided, and even affluent single retirees may find it hard to afford. Look into it, but also look at other possible methods for coming up with the money you may need for your eldercare. As for assistance with daily living, some creative seniors who age alone take in a younger relative, friend, or roommate who lives with them rent free in exchange for helping them with daily tasks.   It is also crucial for a solo ager to assign powers of attorney. Through a durable power of attorney for health care and a living will, you can respectively identify who will make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated and the degree of care you want (or do not want) if that occurs. (Some states fuse both documents into one, called...

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The IRA and the 401(k)

Posted by on Sep 30, 2018 in 401k, estate planning, family finances, financial advice, financial planning, Fixed Income Investing, Inflation, insurance, Investing, IRA, Retire Happy Now, Retirement, retirement, retirement calculator, retirement planning, social security, tax returns, taxes | 0 comments

  Comparing their features, merits, and demerits.   Provided by Frederick Saide, Ph.D.   How do you save for retirement? Two options probably come to mind right away: the IRA and the 401(k). Both offer you relatively easy ways to build a retirement fund. Here is a look at the features, merits, and demerits of each account, starting with what they have in common.   Taxes are deferred on money held within IRAs and 401(k)s. That opens the door for tax-free compounding of those invested dollars – a major plus for any retirement saver.1   IRAs and 401(k)s also offer you another big tax break. It varies depending on whether the account is traditional or Roth in nature. When you have a traditional IRA or 401(k), your account contributions are tax deductible, but when you eventually withdraw the money for retirement, it will be taxed as regular income. When you have a Roth IRA or 401(k), your account contributions are not tax deductible, but if you follow Internal Revenue Service rules, your withdrawals from the account in retirement are tax free.1   Generally, the I.R.S. penalizes withdrawals from these accounts before age 59½. Distributions from traditional IRAs and 401(k)s prior to that age usually trigger a 10% federal tax penalty, on top of income tax on the withdrawn amount. Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k)s allow you to withdraw a sum equivalent to your account contributions at any time without taxes or penalties, but early distributions of the account earnings are taxable and may also be hit with the 10% early withdrawal penalty.1    You must make annual withdrawals from 401(k)s and traditional IRAs after age 70½. Annual withdrawals from a Roth IRA are not required during the owner’s lifetime, only after his or her death. Even Roth 401(k)s require annual withdrawals after age 70½.2   Now, on to the major differences:    Annual contribution limits for IRAs and 401(k)s differ greatly. You may direct up to $18,500 into a 401(k) in 2018; $24,500, if you are 50 or older. In contrast, the maximum 2018 IRA contribution is $5,500; $6,500, if you are 50 or older.1   Your employer may provide you with matching 401(k) contributions. This is free money coming your way. The match is usually partial, but certainly nothing to disregard – it might be a portion of the dollars you contribute up to 6% of your annual salary, for example. Do these employer contributions count toward your personal yearly 401(k) contribution limit? No, they do not. Contribute enough to get the match if your company offers you one.1   An IRA permits a wide variety of investments, in contrast to a 401(k). The typical 401(k) offers only...

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