Category: Retirement Planning

When to Start Social Security for Singles, Marrieds, and Survivors

When to Start Social Security for Singles, Marrieds, and Survivors

Posted in: ,

Published: August 31, 2018

What would you guess your Social Security benefits are worth; a few hundred thousand, maybe? Would it surprise you to know the average single person living twenty-five years could receive $500,000 or more in total Social Security benefits? Many married couples will receive over a million dollars. According to the Social Security office, in 2018 the average monthly Social Security retirement benefit was $1,413. That’s $16,956 a year. If you were a high-wage earner, the maximum monthly benefit for someone who had reached Full Retirement Age (determined by your date of birth) was $2,788 –  or $33,456 per year. And, you can get

When Can I Retire?  Two Calculations (And a Bit of Philosophy) to Find the Answer

When Can I Retire? Two Calculations (And a Bit of Philosophy) to Find the Answer

Posted in:

Published: June 1, 2018

The question is not “When can I retire?” it’s “When can I retire so I don’t run out of money in my lifetime?” Wouldn’t it be great if there were a simple answer to tell you how much you need to retire without financial worry? Everyone is different, and the right amount for you will be different than the right amount for your neighbor. However, there are calculations each of us can make to determine if we have enough to retire and live the life we want. Happy Retirees Plan Ahead While it makes sense to gauge how much you will need,

3 Engineer-Like Ways to Test Your Retirement Income Plan

3 Engineer-Like Ways to Test Your Retirement Income Plan

Posted in:

Published: March 30, 2018

I’ve always found engineering fascinating, particularly when it comes to building something that will last. After all, when you build a skyscraper, you can’t have it fall. The same thing is true for building a retirement income plan – it needs to last. Early in my career, I realized I wanted to find a more engineering-like way to deliver financial planning advice. I wanted answers based on data, not on speculation. Yet, when I started in the financial planning business in 1995, providing answers based on data was not the norm. At that time if someone wanted to know if they

At What Age Should I Start Making 401(k) Withdrawals?

At What Age Should I Start Making 401(k) Withdrawals?

Posted in: ,

Published: March 20, 2018

The 401(k)suffers from a branding problem. If the name were more descriptive or catchy, people would pay closer attention to these savings tools. They are hugely beneficial–often including free money (yes, free) –and are currently the bedrock for most retirement savers. However, despite the benefits, two-thirds of workers do not take advantage of their company’s employer-sponsored 401(k)plans. Before we review the optimal ages for 401(k) withdrawals, and when you are required to make them, let’s look at the history behind 401(k)s. The basics 401(k) plans are employer-sponsored, retirement saving vehicles. They provide some tax advantages: they reduce your taxable income in the years

An Introduction to Medicare Part B Premiums

An Introduction to Medicare Part B Premiums

Posted in:

Published: December 23, 2017

Everyone knows (or should know) they can sign up for Medicare at age 65. In fact, given the uncertainties regarding health insurance over the past year or so, many are chomping at the bit to get there faster! What many don’t know, though, is that there are several parts to Medicare. Part A is the more commonly known feature of Medicare. That’s the part most people are thinking about when they refer to Medicare. But there are also parts B, C and D. Here are some common questions about Medicare Part B. What is the difference between Medicare Part A and

Required Minimum Distributions: When Uncle Sam “makes” you take $ out of savings

Required Minimum Distributions: When Uncle Sam “makes” you take $ out of savings

Posted in:

Published: August 28, 2017

You’ve been putting money away in your IRA for much of your life to have some measure of economic security in your senior years (and to reduce your taxable income in boon years). And through some mixture of discipline, good fortune and wits you find that don’t have to use your IRA savings the moment they become available to you at age 59½. Good for you. Keep in mind, upon reaching age 70½ you must completely change your mindset because the U.S. Government requires you to start withdrawing money. It’s called Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs). If you’re like many of our

Should I Purchase Long-Term Care Insurance?

Should I Purchase Long-Term Care Insurance?

Posted in: ,

Published: August 11, 2017

A 55-year-old friend, Jen, recently asked my opinion about long-term care insurance. Very few Americans, about eight percent, have long-term care insurance policies. Jen, who is at the age when many are weighing the pros and cons of long-term care insurance, had thought about buying a policy but didn’t feel like she had the money to do so. Recently Jen received an inheritance, as Muriel, her mother, passed away at age 87. Now Jen has the funds to pay for long-term care insurance (LTC) but is having second thoughts about it based on her experience with mom. Muriel had purchased

Should You Be a Landlord in Your Retirement?

Should You Be a Landlord in Your Retirement?

Posted in:

Published: August 4, 2017

In 2005, everyone I knew was buying real estate. With no experience and no money, they bought properties they couldn’t afford and were convinced they were going to make a fortune. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way, and most of them now have a foreclosure or short sale in their past. Does that make real estate a bad investment? No. It’s an investment. The good or bad part comes from how you approach it. What’s good for one person can be bad for another. To find out how to make real estate investments work, I decided to talk with a few experienced

How Do You Rebalance Accounts in Retirement?

How Do You Rebalance Accounts in Retirement?

Posted in:

Published: May 26, 2017

Smart investors follow a plan; specifically an asset allocation plan. An asset allocation plan tells you how much of your total investments should be in stocks versus bonds and then gets into additional detail, such as how much should be in large company U.S. stocks (or index funds) vs. international vs. small cap. You maintain investment ratios by rebalancing on a predetermined basis, such as once a year. In a 401(k) plan, rebalancing is often accomplished automatically by checking a box that says something like “rebalance every x months to this allocation.” In general, while you are saving, rebalancing can be easy. If

Hidden Estate Planning Mistakes That Have Horrible Consequences

Hidden Estate Planning Mistakes That Have Horrible Consequences

Posted in:

Published: May 13, 2017

Imagine your spouse is ill, and you meet with an estate planning attorney to get your family affairs in order. Your attorney drafts a trust document and a will. You and your spouse sign it. You think everything is fine. Your spouse passes, and shortly after that, you find that the accounts are not set up to transfer the way you both intended. Everything is not fine. Can this happen? Yes, and it happens all the time. The situation described above happened to a client couple that I’ll call Ralph and Sue. It was a second marriage, they had no children in common,