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

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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,

What Does a Financial Planner Do?

What Does a Financial Planner Do?

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Published: May 4, 2018

I am a financial planner. I own and run a financial planning firm. Our primary job is to make a projection and a plan that shows you the decisions that you can make that will help you achieve long-term financial success. Should you pay extra on the mortgage or put it in your 401(k) plan? What type of insurance do you need? Should you refinance? Buy that stock or use a mutual fund instead? We have answers to these questions. In a nutshell, financial planners answer questions. How Financial Planners Answer Questions Financial planners gather information and financial statements and put the

3 Engineer-Like Ways to Test Your Retirement Income Plan

3 Engineer-Like Ways to Test Your Retirement Income Plan

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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?

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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

How Much Should I Withhold for Taxes in Retirement?

How Much Should I Withhold for Taxes in Retirement?

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Published: March 11, 2018

Many upcoming retirees aren’t quite sure how taxes in retirement are calculated. It’s not all that different than the way they are calculated while you are working. Much like when you are working, you need to have an estimate of the amount of taxes you are required to pay so you know what amount to have withheld from pensions, Social Security, or other types of income. In this article we’ll look at a series of sample calculations so you can see how to calculate your tax withholding in retirement. We look at scenarios using both 2017 and the new 2018 tax

Inheritance Tax Checklist: Know Before You Sell

Inheritance Tax Checklist: Know Before You Sell

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Published: February 27, 2018

When a client asks about inheritance taxes “it depends” are usually the first two words out of my mouth. Many people don’t realize that inherited assets—property, stocks, investment accounts, etc.—may be subject to taxes and that there are specific tax rules for each type of asset or account. So before you sell Uncle Oscar’s rare wine collection, make sure you know the rules! We are not talking here about estate taxes. Estate tax is assessed on the total value of everything you own; real estate, stocks, bonds, retirement accounts, businesses, farms, land, and it even includes the death benefit values of

How to Get Thousands More in Social Security Survivor Benefits

How to Get Thousands More in Social Security Survivor Benefits

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Published: January 26, 2018

Social Security widow and widower benefit rules are complex. The amount of the Social Security survivor benefits you are entitled to rests on a host of variables including your age, the age of the deceased, and how old your spouse was when they started their benefits. Let’s look at an example to see how much more you might get by knowing all your options. Diane’s Social Security Survivor Options Diane is a widow. Her husband, Paul, had passed away at 57 and she is now age 62. She is no longer working – but she had worked for most of her life. Here’s

IRA Rollovers, IRA Transfers and 15 Other IRA Basics

IRA Rollovers, IRA Transfers and 15 Other IRA Basics

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Published: January 5, 2018

Some financial terms have become so ingrained in the vernacular that people are embarrassed to ask about them. It’s as if everyone else is speaking a language you feel you should know, but don’t really. Such is the case with IRAs. When clients come to us to discuss their finances, they often reveal they aren’t clear on some of the IRA basics. Below I address some basic terms and concepts about IRAs. What is an IRA? An IRA is an Individual Retirement Account. When you contribute to an IRA, you are putting money aside for your future so you will have

An Introduction to Medicare Part B Premiums

An Introduction to Medicare Part B Premiums

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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

Don’t Get Pinged by the Social Security Earnings Limit

Don’t Get Pinged by the Social Security Earnings Limit

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Published: November 21, 2017

I’d like to introduce you to Peggy. Born in 1956, Peggy will be 62 in 2018. She has worked in retail her whole life, the past twenty-five years spent in management. Peggy divorced from her husband 14 years ago, is still single and has no children. According to the Social Security Administration, Peggy’s Full Retirement Age (FRA) will be age 66 and four months which is when she will be entitled to full Social Security retirement benefits. FRA is a government set limit that varies based on your year, month and day of birth. FRA is gradually rising, and for those