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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More