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

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

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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

The Scoop on Fee-only Financial Advisors

The Scoop on Fee-only Financial Advisors

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Published: August 24, 2018

Do you know how your financial advisor is compensated? A lot of people don’t. And maybe you don’t care. But you should. It can impact your wealth and the quality of advice you receive. I heard about this first hand from a friend recently. She shared with me that her MBA-degreed 60 year-old-brother, Michael, admitted he didn’t know how his financial advisor Meg, affiliated with one of the country’s top brokerage firms, made her money. Michael, with $3,000,000 in investments, is a pretty savvy fellow. How could he not know how Meg earns her keep? Is she a fee-only advisor that

Best Retirement Investments for a Steady Stream of Income

Best Retirement Investments for a Steady Stream of Income

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Published: August 16, 2018

As you near your 60’s, your prime earning and saving years will transition into a period of time where you get to enjoy the “fruits of your labor,” a.k.a retirement. We call this segueing from accumulation to decumulation, the period when you will be drawing from your accumulated nest egg. You need to find the best retirement investments so that you can generate regular income, without having to go back to work. Here’s an overview of the most popular income-producing retirement investments. 1) Immediate Annuities Immediate annuities provide guaranteed income immediately (hence the name). They are a form of insurance rather than

How to Build a Retirement Portfolio That Will Stand Up Over Time

How to Build a Retirement Portfolio That Will Stand Up Over Time

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Published: July 5, 2018

When working and saving, the goal of your retirement portfolio is to earn as high a rate of return as you can while not taking so much risk that it will scare you into pulling out of the market during a downturn. Once retired, the goal changes. A different goal means a different portfolio. A retirement portfolio needs to produce reliable cash flows that last the rest of your life regardless of the variety of market conditions that occur over your retirement years. In other words, you need a retirement portfolio that remains standing under all conditions. There are four primary ways you

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