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Catherine Bennett

Should We Reconsider What “Retirement” Means?

By Uncategorized

An executive transitions into a consulting role at age 62 and stops working altogether at 65; then, he becomes a buyer for a church network at 69. A corporate IT professional concludes her career at age 58; she serves as a city council member in her sixties, then opens an art studio at 70.

Are these people retired? Not by the old definition of the word. Our definition of “retirement” is changing. Retirement is now a time of activity and opportunity.

Generations ago, Americans never retired – at least not voluntarily. American life was either agrarian or industrialized and formalized retirement was not something they would have recognized. Their “social security” was their children.

After World War II, the concept of retirement changed. The typical American worker was now the “organization man” destined to spend decades at one large company. Americans began to associate retirement with pleasure and leisure.

By the 1970s, the definition of retirement had become rigid. You retired in your early sixties because your best years were behind you, and it was time to go. You lived your remaining years with an employee pension and Social Security checks, and the risk of outliving your money was low. Turning 90 was remarkable, much more than today.

One factor has altered our view of retirement more than any other. That factor is the increase in longevity. When Social Security started, retirement was the quiet final years of life; by the 1960s, it was a sort of extended vacation lasting 10-15 years; today, it can be a decades-long window of opportunity.

Working past 70 may soon become common. Whether by choice or chance, some may retire briefly and work again; others might rotate between leisure periods and work for as long as possible. Working full-time or part-time not only generates income. Another year on the job also may mean one less year of retirement to fund.

Perhaps we should see retirement foremost as a time of change – changing what we want to do with our lives. Preparing for change may be the most responsive move we can make for the future.

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This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. M.S Howells does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your legal or tax advisor regarding your individual situation.

 

Annual Financial To-Do List

By Uncategorized

What financial, business, or life priorities do you need to address for the coming year? Now is an excellent time to think about the investing, saving, or budgeting methods you could employ toward specific objectives, from building your retirement fund to managing your taxes. You have plenty of choices.

Remember that this article is for informational purposes only and not a replacement for real-life advice. The tax treatment of assets earmarked for retirement can change, and there is no guarantee that the tax landscape will remain the same in years ahead. A financial or tax professional can provide up-to-date guidance.

Here are a few ideas to consider:

Can you contribute more to your retirement plans this year? In 2023, the contribution limit for a Roth or traditional individual retirement account (IRA) remains at $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. With a traditional IRA, you can contribute if you (or your spouse if filing jointly) have taxable compensation. Still, income limits are one factor in determining whether the contribution is tax-deductible.1

Once you reach age 72, you must take the required minimum distributions from a traditional IRA in most circumstances. The I.R.S. taxes withdrawals as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, they may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty.

Roth 401(k)s offer their investors a tax-free and penalty-free withdrawal of earnings. Qualifying distributions must meet a five-year holding requirement and occur after age 59½. Such a withdrawal also qualifies under certain other circumstances, such as the owner’s passing. Employer match is pretax and not distributed tax-free during retirement. The original Roth IRA owner is not required to take minimum annual withdrawals.

Make a charitable gift. You can claim the deduction on your tax return, provided you follow the Internal Review Service guidelines and itemize your deductions with Schedule A. The paper trail can be important here. If you give cash, you should consider documenting it. A bank record can demonstrate some contributions, payroll deduction records, credit card statements, or written communication from the charity with the date and amount. Incidentally, the IRS does not equate a pledge with a donation. If you pledge $2,000 to a charity this year but only end up gifting $500, you can only deduct $500.2

Consult your tax, legal, or accounting professional before modifying your record-keeping approach or your strategy for making charitable gifts.

See if you can take a home office deduction for your small business. You may want to investigate this if you are a small business owner. You might be able to write off expenses linked to the portion of your home used to conduct your business. Using your home office as a business expense involves complex tax rules and regulations. Before moving forward, consider working with a professional familiar with the tax rules related to home-based businesses.

Open an HSA. A Health Savings Account (HSA) works like your workplace retirement account. There are also some HSA rules and limitations to consider. You are limited to a $3,850 contribution for 2023 if you are single; $7,750 if you have a spouse or family. Those limits jump by a $1,000 “catch-up” limit for each person in the household over age 55.3

If you spend your HSA funds for non-medical expenses before age 65, you may need to pay ordinary income tax and a 20% penalty. After age 65, you may need to pay ordinary income taxes on HSA funds used for non-medical expenses. HSA contributions are exempt from federal income tax; however, they are not exempt from state taxes in certain states.

Pay attention to asset location. Tax-efficient asset location is one factor to consider when creating an investment strategy. Asset location is different from asset allocation, which is an approach to help manage investment risk. Asset allocation does not guarantee against investment loss.

Review your withholding status. Should it be adjusted due to any of the following factors?

* You tend to pay the federal or state government at the end of each year.

* You tend to get a federal tax refund each year.

* You recently married or divorced.

* You have a new job with adjusted earnings.

Consider consulting your tax, human resources, or accounting professional before modifying your withholding status.

Did you get married in 2022? If so, it may be time to review the beneficiaries of your retirement accounts and other assets. The same goes for your insurance coverage. If you are preparing to have a new last name in 2023, you may want to get a new Social Security card. Additionally, retirement accounts may need to be revised or adjusted.

Are you coming home from active duty? If so, go ahead and check on the status of your credit. Check on any tax and legal proceedings your orders might have preempted, too.

Consider the tax impact of any upcoming transactions. Are you preparing to sell any real estate this year? Are you starting a business? Might any commissions or bonuses come your way in 2023? Do you anticipate selling an investment held outside of a tax-deferred account?

Vow to focus on your overall health and practice sound financial habits in 2023. And don’t be afraid to ask for help from professionals who understand your situation.

If you have questions about your finances, take advantage of American Wealth Management’s 1-hour no-cost financial consultations. Submit this form to us and we will contact you to schedule a video call with one of our advisors.

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This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. M.S Howells does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your legal or tax advisor regarding your individual situation.

Citations.

  1. U.S. News and World Report, September 1, 2022
  2. irs.gov, November 23, 2021
  3. irs.gov, September 6, 2022

Should You Prepare to Retire on 80% of Your Income?

By Uncategorized

A classic retirement preparation rule states that you should retire on 80% of the income you earned in your last year of work. Is this old axiom still true, or does it need reconsidering?

Some new research suggests that retirees may not need that much annual income to keep up their standard of living.

The 80% rule is really just a guideline. It refers to 80% of a retiree’s final yearly gross income, rather than his or her net pay. The difference between gross income and wages after withholdings and taxes is significant to say the least.1

The major financial challenge for the new retiree is how to replace his or her paycheck, not his or her gross income.

So concluded Texas Tech University professor Michael Finke, who analyzed the 80% rule and published his conclusions in Research, a magazine for financial services industry professionals. Finke noted four factors that the 80% rule does not recognize. One, retirees no longer need to direct part of their incomes into retirement accounts. Two, they no longer involuntarily contribute to Social Security and Medicare, as they did while working. Three, most retirees do not have a daily commute, nor the daily expenses that accompany it. Four, people often retire into a lower income tax bracket.1

Given all these factors, Finke concluded that the typical retiree could probably sustain their lifestyle with no more than 77% of an end salary, or 60% of his or her average annual lifetime income.1

Retirees need to determine the expenses that will diminish in retirement. That determination, rather than a simple rule of thumb, will help them realize the level of income they need.

Imagine two 60-year-old workers, both earning identical salaries at the same firm. One currently directs 25% of her pay into a workplace retirement strategy. The other directs just 5% of her pay into that strategy. The worker deferring 25% of her salary into retirement savings needs to replace a lower percentage of their pay in retirement than the worker deferring only 5% of hers. Relatively speaking, the more avid retirement saver is already used to living on less.

This is a hypothetical example used for illustrative purposes only. It is not representative of any specific investment or combination of investments.

New retirees may not necessarily find themselves living on less. The retirement experience differs for everyone, and so does retiree personal spending. A recent Employee Benefit Research Institute survey found that over a third of retirees report spending more than they had originally expected. Only 9% reported that they were spending less than they had expected.2

A timeline of typical retiree spending resembles a “smile.” A 2013 study from investment research firm Morningstar noted that a retiree household’s inflation-adjusted spending usually dips at the start of retirement, bottoms out in the middle of the retirement experience, and then increases toward the very end.3

A retirement budget is a very good idea. There will be some out-of-budget costs, of course, ranging from the pleasant to the unpleasant. Those financial exceptions aside, abiding by a monthly budget (with or without the use of free online tools) may help you to rein in any questionable spending.

Any retirement income strategy should be personalized. Your own strategy should be based on an accurate, detailed assessment of your income needs and your available income resources. That information will help you discern just how much income you will need when retired.

If you have questions about your finances, take advantage of American Wealth Management’s 1-hour no-cost financial consultations. Submit this form to us and we will contact you to schedule a video call with one of our advisors.

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This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. M.S Howells does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your legal or tax advisor regarding your individual situation.

Citations.

1 – http://www.michaelfinke.com/research.html [2022]

2 – https://www.ebri.org/retirement/retirement-confidence-survey [2022]

3 – https://www.thestreet.com/retirement/want-to-be-rich-in-retirement-plan-better-save-more [2/23/22]

5 Retirement Concerns Too Often Overlooked

By Uncategorized

Retirement is undeniably a major life and financial transition. Even so, baby boomers can run the risk of growing nonchalant about some of the financial challenges retirement poses, for not all are immediately obvious. In looking forward to their “second acts,” boomers may overlook a few matters that a thorough retirement strategy needs to address.

RMDs. The Internal Revenue Service directs seniors to withdraw money from qualified retirement accounts after age 72. This class of accounts includes traditional IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans. These drawdowns are officially termed Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs).1

Taxes. Speaking of RMDs, the income from an RMD is fully taxable and cannot be rolled over into a Roth IRA. The income is certainly a plus, but it may also send a retiree into a higher income tax bracket for the year.1

Retirement does not necessarily imply reduced taxes. While people may earn less in retirement than they once did, many forms of income are taxable: RMDs; investment income and dividends; most pensions; even a portion of Social Security income depending on a taxpayer’s total income and filing status. Of course, once a mortgage is paid off, a retiree loses the chance to take the significant mortgage interest deduction.2

Health care costs. Those who retire in reasonably good health may not be inclined to think about health care crises, but they could occur sooner rather than later – and they could be costly. A report by HealthView Services found that even with additional insurance coverages such as Medicare Part D, Medigap, and dental insurance, a healthy 65-year-old couple can expect to pay almost $208,000 out-of-pocket for their healthcare expenses.3

Eldercare needs. Those who live longer or face health complications will probably need some long-term care. One month’s stay in a private room in a nursing home costs an average of $9,000 nationally, so it’s important to consider these when preparing for retirement. Long-term care insurance is expensive, though, and can be difficult to obtain.4

One other end-of-life expense many retirees overlook: funeral and burial costs. Preparing to address this expense may help surviving spouses and children.

Rising consumer prices.

Historically, healthcare costs inflation has risen between 1.5-2 times the Consumer Price Index. For a 65-year-old couple, this equates to an additional projected $85,917 in lifetime retirement healthcare costs. Retirees would be wise to invest in a way that gives them the potential to keep up with increasing consumer costs.5

As part of your preparation for retirement, give these matters some thought. Enjoy the here and now, but recognize the potential for these factors to impact your financial future.

If you have questions about your finances, take advantage of American Wealth Management’s 1-hour no-cost financial consultations. Submit this form to us and we will contact you to schedule a video call with one of our advisors.

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This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. M.S Howells does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your legal or tax advisor regarding your individual situation.

Citations.

1. thebalance.com/required-minimum-distributions-2388780 [1/14/22]

2. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/retirement/12/will-you-pay-taxes-during-retirement.asp [7/31/22]

3. https://hvsfinancial.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/2021-Retirement-Healthcare-Costs-Data-Report.pdf [2021]

4. https://www.genworth.com/aging-and-you/finances/cost-of-care.html [2022]

5. https://hvsfinancial.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/HVS-Data-Report-Brief-0312222.pdf [2022]

Required Minimum Distributions 101

By Uncategorized

If you are approaching your seventies, get ready for required minimum distributions. You may soon have to take RMDs, as they are called, from one or more of your retirement accounts.

You can now take some RMDs a bit later in life, which is good. Recent rule changes give your invested savings a little more time to potentially grow in your retirement savings vehicles before that first required drawdown.

What account types require RMDs? Any retirement plan sponsored by an employer, plus traditional Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs) and IRA-based retirement plans, such as SIMPLE IRAs and Simplified Employee Pension plans (SEPs). Original owners of Roth IRAs do not have to take RMDs.1

You can take your initial RMD from a retirement plan by December 31 of the the calendar year in which you turn 72. You actually have the choice of taking that first annual RMD as late as April 1 of the following year, i.e., the year in which you will turn 73, but you’ll have to take your second RMD by December 31 of that same year. So if you wait 16 months to take your first RMD, you will end up taking both your first and second RMDs from that account in the same year – and since each RMD represents taxable income, that could lead to higher-than-anticipated tax bill for that year.1

How are RMDs calculated? The Internal Revenue Service provides calculation formulas in Publication 590-B. Commonly, you calculate your yearly RMD by dividing the balance of your retirement account on December 31 of the previous year by a life expectancy factor, a number you take from tables published within Publication 590-B.1

If you have multiple retirement accounts (as many of us do), each one will require an annual RMD calculation. If you own multiple traditional IRAs, you have the choice to calculate RMDs for each of those IRAs and take the combined RMD amounts for all three IRAs from just one of those IRAs. You have the same choice if you have multiple 403(b) plan accounts.1

What do you need to do to avoid penalties with RMDs? The most important thing to do is to take them by the annual December 31 deadline. The second most important thing to do is to withdraw the right amount.

If you take an RMD after the December 31 deadline or withdraw less than you should, a penalty may apply. The I.R.S. may levy as much as a 50% tax on the amount not withdrawn.1

The good news is some investment firms will update you on your upcoming RMDs well in advance of annual deadlines, and your RMDs may even be calculated for you. This is not a given, however, and even when you receive such information, you must act on it, because it takes time to authorize and execute the RMD.

Lastly, take a look at how the RMD income may affect your taxes. There are ways to manage the tax impact of RMDs, and you can explore those choices with a financial or tax professional.

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This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. M.S Howells does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your legal or tax advisor regarding your individual situation.

Citations.

1. Internal Revenue Service, March 16, 2022

What Happens When There Are No Beneficiaries?

By Uncategorized

Some accounts have no designated beneficiary. Rarely, the same thing occurs with insurance policies. This is usually an oversight. In exceptional circumstances, it is a choice. What happens to these accounts and policies when the original owner dies?

The investment or insurance firm gets the first chance to determine what happens. On many retirement plans, for example, a spouse is often the default beneficiary, even if not named on a beneficiary form. If the deceased has no spouse, then the plan assets may just become part of that person’s estate. Brokerage accounts without any designated beneficiaries are also poised to become part of the estate of the decedent. The next stop for these assets could be probate.1

The state may end up deciding where the assets go when beneficiary forms are blank. If the deceased failed to name account or policy beneficiaries but had a valid will or other valid estate documents, this will influence the path from here – but it may not exempt the assets from probate court.  

If no legally valid estate documents exist, then the deceased party dies intestate, and the state determines the destiny for the assets. Most states go by the same ladder of potential inheritors – surviving spouse at the top, then kids, then grandkids, then parents, grandparents, siblings, nephews or nieces. If absolutely no legitimate heir can be found, then the assets become property of the deceased’s state of residence.2

What about life insurance policies? A life insurance policy usually has at least two levels of designated beneficiaries, and it is rare when a policyholder outlives them and even rarer when a policy has none. In such a circumstance, the proceeds of the life insurance policy become part of the estate of the policyholder upon the policyholder’s death.3

Several factors will affect the cost and availability of life insurance, including age, health, and the type and amount of insurance purchased. Life insurance policies have expenses, including mortality and other charges. If a policy is surrendered prematurely, the policyholder also may pay surrender charges and have income tax implications. You should consider determining whether you are insurable before implementing a strategy involving life insurance. Any guarantees associated with a policy are dependent on the ability of the issuing insurance company to continue making claim payments.

What if a person simply lacks possible heirs, or sees no worthy heirs? Occasionally, this happens. Some people remain single for life, and others are estranged from relatives or heirs who would otherwise be beneficiaries.

A person in this situation has a choice: charity. Perhaps a charitable or non-profit organization deserves the assets. Perhaps a college or university would be a worthwhile destination for them. Choices exist, and those who are single can explore them as they consider their estate.

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This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. M.S Howells does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your legal or tax advisor regarding your individual situation.

Citations.

1. Kiplinger, June 6, 2022
2. Schwab.com, September 24, 2021
3. SmartAsset, April 28, 2022

Creating a retirement strategy: Do more than invest

By Uncategorized

Across the country, people are saving for that “someday” called retirement. Someday, their careers will end. Someday, they may live off their savings or investments, plus Social Security.  They know this, but many of them do not know when, or how, it will happen. What is missing is a strategy – and a good strategy might make a great difference.

A retirement strategy directly addresses the “when, why, and how” of retiring. It can even address the “where.” It breaks the whole process of getting ready for retirement into actionable steps.

This is so important. Too many people retire with doubts, unsure if they have enough retirement money and uncertain of what their tomorrows will look like. Year after year, many workers also retire earlier than they had expected, and according to a 2022 study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, about 47% do. In contrast, you can save, invest, and act on your vision of retirement now to chart a path toward your goals and the future you want to create for yourself.1      

Since it’s impossible to predict the future, some people dismiss having a long-range retirement strategy. Indeed, there are things about the future you cannot control: how the stock market will perform, how the economy might do. That said, you have partial or full control over other things: the way you save and invest, your spending and your borrowing, the length and arc of your career, and your health. You also have the chance to be proactive and to prepare for the future.

A good retirement strategy has many elements. It sets financial objectives. It addresses your retirement income: how much you may need, the sequence of account withdrawals, and the age at which you claim Social Security. It establishes (or refines) an investment approach. It examines financial implications and possible health care costs, as well as the transfer of assets to heirs.

A prudent retirement strategy also entertains different consequences. Financial professionals often use multiple-probability simulations to try and assess the degree of financial risk to a retirement strategy, in case of an unexpected outcome. These simulations can help to inform the financial professional and the retiree or pre-retiree about the “what ifs” that may affect a strategy. They also consider sequence of returns risk, which refers to the uncertainty of the order of returns an investor may receive over an extended period of time.2

Let a retirement strategy guide you. Ask a financial professional to collaborate with you to create one, personalized for your goals and dreams. When you have such a strategy, you know what steps to take in pursuit of the future you want.

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This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. M.S Howells does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your legal or tax advisor regarding your individual situation.

Citations.

EBRI.org, 2022
Investopedia.com, October 4, 2021

 

Couples Retiring on the Same Page

By Uncategorized

What does a good retirement look like to you? Does it resemble the retirement that your spouse or partner has in mind? It is at least roughly similar?

The Social Security Administration currently projects an average retirement of 18 years for a man and 21 years for a woman (assuming retirement at age 65). So, sharing the same vision of retirement (or at least respecting the difference in each other’s visions) seems crucial to retirement happiness.1

What kind of retirement does your spouse or partner imagine? During years of working, parenting and making ends meet, many couples never really get around to talking about what retirement should look like. If spouses or partners have quite different attitudes about money or dreams that don’t align, that conversation may be deferred for years. Even if they are great communicators, assumptions about what the other wants for the future may prove inaccurate.

Are couples discussing retirement, or not? According to a recent survey by Fidelity, seven in ten couples say they communicate at least very well with their partner about financial issues. Couples that do communicate with each other are more than twice as likely to report that they expect to live a comfortable lifestyle in retirement. They are also more likely to report their financial household’s financial health as “excellent” or “very good.”2

If you’re having trouble building a retirement strategy with your significant other, working with a financial professional may help. According to the same survey, couples that work with a financial professional are more likely to talk about money with each other, feel confident about their finances, and agree on their visions of retirement. This may explain why nearly half of all Baby Boomers work with a financial professional.2

Be sure to talk about what you want for the future. A few simple questions can get the conversation going, and you might even want to chat about it over a meal or coffee in a relaxing setting. Dreaming and strategizing together, even on the most basic level, gives you a chance to reacquaint yourselves with your financial needs, goals and personalities.

To start, ask each other what you see yourselves doing in retirement – individually as well as together. Is the way you are saving and investing conducive to those dreams?

Think about whether you are making the most of your retirement savings potential. Could you save more? Do you need to? Are you both contributing to tax-advantaged retirement accounts? Are you comfortable with the amount of risk you are assuming?

If your significant other is handling the household finances (and the meetings with financial professionals about a retirement strategy), are you prepared to take over in case of an emergency? When one half of a couple is the “hub” for money matters and investment decisions, the other spouse or partner needs to at least have an understanding of them. If the unexpected occurs, you will want that knowledge.

Speaking of knowledge, you should also both know who the beneficiaries are for your retirement plans, workplace retirement accounts, and investment accounts, and you both need to know where the relevant paperwork is located.

A shared vision of retirement is great, and respect for individual variations on it is just as vital. A conversation about how you see retirement today can give you that much more input to prepare for tomorrow.

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This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. M.S Howells does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your legal or tax advisor regarding your individual situation.

Citations.

SSA.gov, 2022
Fidelity.com, 2021

The Behavior Gap and Your Financial Health

By Uncategorized

“It turns out my job was not to find great investments but to help create great investors,” writes Carl Richards, author of “The Behavior Gap.” From increasing our budget mindfulness to taking a steadier approach to investing, Richards has drawn attention to how our unexamined behaviors and emotions can be to our detriment when it comes to living a happy and financially sound life. In many cases, we make poor financial decisions when experiencing panic or anxiety due to personal or widespread events. 1

The Behavior Gap Explained. Coined by Richards, “the behavior gap” refers to the difference between a wise financial decision versus what we decide to do. Many people miss out on higher returns because of emotionally driven decisions, creating a behavior gap between their lower returns and what they could have earned.

Excitement When Stocks Are High. Whether in a bull market or witnessing the hype from a product release, many investors may feel tempted to increase their risks or attempt to gain from emerging investments when stocks are high. This can lead to investors constantly readjusting their portfolios as the market experiences upswings.

Fear When Stocks Are Low. In response to market volatility, investors may feel the need to choose more secure investments and avoid uncertain or seemingly unsafe investments. When stocks are low, a typical response may be to sell and effectively miss out on potential long-term gains.

Short-Term Anxiety and Focus. As humans, viewing aspects of our lives through the lenses of current circumstances is normal. However, one emotional response to any event is letting the moment consume us. Many may find it difficult to think long-term and remember. However, making a rash decision can inhibit the long-term benefit of maintaining a balanced perspective without reactionary behavior.

The market can go up or down at any given point, or it can remain the same. One thing we can control is how we handle our financial strategy. Remembering the likelihood of recovery over time — and the market’s nearly inevitable up-and-down movement — can provide a more logical angle to calm the nerves.

If you’re experiencing financial anxiety in response to the markets, take a breath and remember the potential for long-term gains. Of course, you can and should always reach out to your financial professional for further clarification.

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This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. M.S Howells does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your legal or tax advisor regarding your individual situation.

Citations.

1. Investment Company Institute, 2020

What is an Annuity? Here’s What You Should Know.

By Uncategorized

Individuals hold about $2.5 trillion in annuity contracts; a tidy sum considering an estimated $12.2 trillion is held in all types of IRAs.1

Annuity contracts are purchased from an insurance company. In exchange, the insurance company makes regular payments to the buyer — either immediately or at some future date. These payments can be made monthly, quarterly, annually, or in a single lump sum. Annuity contract holders can opt to receive payments for the rest of their lives or a set number of years.

The money invested in an annuity grows tax-deferred. The amount contributed to the annuity will not be taxed when the money is withdrawn, but earnings will be taxed as regular income. There is no contribution limit for an annuity.

There are two main types of annuities. Fixed annuities offer a guaranteed payout, usually a set dollar amount or a set percentage of the assets in the annuity. Variable annuities offer the possibility to allocate premiums between various subaccounts. This gives annuity owners the ability to participate in the potentially higher returns these subaccounts offer. It also means that the annuity account may fluctuate in value.

Indexed annuities are specialized variable annuities. During the accumulation period, the rate of return is based on an index. Annuities have contract limitations, fees, and charges, including account and administrative fees, underlying investment management fees, mortality and expense fees, and charges for optional benefits. Most annuities have surrender fees that are usually highest if you take out the money in the initial years of the annuity contract. Withdrawals and income payments are taxed as ordinary income. If a withdrawal is made before age 59½, a 10% federal income tax penalty may apply (unless an exception applies). The guarantees of an annuity contract depend on the issuing company’s claims-paying ability. Annuities are not guaranteed by the FDIC or any other government agency.

Variable annuities are sold by prospectus, which contains detailed information about investment objectives and risks as well as charges and expenses. You are encouraged to read the prospectus carefully before investing or sending money to buy a variable annuity contract. The prospectus is available from the insurance company or your financial professional. Variable annuity subaccounts will fluctuate based on market conditions and may be worth more or less than the original amount invested when the annuity expires.

Case Study: Robert’s Fixed Annuity. Robert is a 52-year-old business owner. He uses $100,000 to purchase a deferred fixed annuity contract with a 4% guaranteed return.

Over the next 15 years, the contract will accumulate, tax-deferred. By the time Robert is ready to retire, the contract should be worth over $180,000.

At that point, the contract will begin making annual payments of $13,250. Only $7,358 of each payment will be taxable; the rest will be considered a return of principal.

These payments will last the rest of Robert’s life. Assuming he lives to age 85, he’ll eventually receive over $265,000 in payments.

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This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. M.S Howells does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your legal or tax advisor regarding your individual situation.

Citations.

1. Investment Company Institute, 2020