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Catherine Bennett

Should You Downsize for Retirement?

By Uncategorized

You want to retire, and you own a large home that is nearly or fully paid off. The kids are gone, but the upkeep costs haven’t fallen. Should you retire and keep your home? Or sell your home and retire? Maybe it’s time to downsize.

Lower housing expenses could put more cash in your pocket. If your home isn’t paid off yet, have you considered how much money is going toward the home loan? When you took out your mortgage, your lender likely wanted your monthly payment to amount to no more than 28% of your total gross income, or no more than 36% of your total monthly debt repayments. Those are pretty standard metrics in the mortgage industry.1

What percentage of your gross income are you devoting to your mortgage payments today? Even if your home loan is 15 or 20 years old, you still may be devoting a significant part of your gross income to it. When you move to a smaller home, your mortgage expenses may lessen (or disappear) and your cash flow may greatly increase.

You might even be able to buy a smaller home with cash (if finances permit) and cut your tax liability. Optionally, that smaller home could be in a state or region with lower income taxes and a lower cost of living.

You could capitalize on some home equity. Why not convert some home equity into retirement income? If you were forced into early retirement by some corporate downsizing, you might have a sudden and pressing need for retirement capital, another reason to sell that home you bought decades ago and head for a smaller one.

The lifestyle reasons to downsize (or not). Maybe your home is too much to keep up, or maybe you don’t want to climb stairs anymore. Maybe a condo or an over-55 community appeals to you. Maybe you want to be where it seldom snows.

On the other hand, you may want and need the familiarity of your current home and your immediate neighborhood (not to mention the friends close by).

Sometimes retirees underestimate the cost of downsizing. Even the logistics can be expensive. Just packing up and moving a two-to-three-bedroom home will cost about $1,250 if you are resettling locally. If you are sending it long distance, you can expect the journey to cost around $5,000, if not more. If you can’t sell or move everything, the excess may go into storage, and the price tag on that may be around $90 a month. In selling your home, you will probably pay commissions to both your agent and the buyer’s agent that add up to 6% of the sale price.2,3,4

Some people want to retire and then sell their home, but it may be wiser to sell a home and then retire if the real estate market slows. If you sell sooner instead of later, you can always rent until you find a smaller house that could save you thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars over time.

Run the numbers as accurately as you think you can before you make a move. Downsizing always seems to have a hidden cost or two, but for many retirees, it can open a door to long-term savings. Other seniors may find it cheaper to age in place.

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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. nerdwallet.com/blog/mortgages/two-ways-to-determine-how-much-house-you-can-afford/ [4/26/22]

2. investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/061914/downsides-downsizing-retirement.asp [9/16/21]

3. moving.com/movers/moving-cost-calculator.asp [4/27/22]

4. gobankingrates.com/saving-money/home/why-still-wasting-money-storage-units/ [8/31/21]

 

 

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. BehaviorGap.com, May 16, 2022

Why don’t all affluent people become wealthy?

By Uncategorized

Perceptions, hesitations, & poor decisions are all factors.

Why do some people let their potential for lifetime wealth slip away? Some people are better off economically at 30 or 40 than they are at 50 or 60. In some cases, fate deals them a bad hand. In other cases, bad decisions and inaction are to blame.

Some buy depreciating assets instead of allowing assets to appreciate. They rack up debt and live beyond their means. What are they spending so much on? It isn’t just consumer staples. It’s not unusual for a family to “keep up with the Joneses.”

Contrary to the bumper sticker, the person who dies with the most toys does not necessarily win. In fact, that person may leave a pile of debt and little else behind. Today’s hottest cars, clothes, flat screens, phones, and tablets may be tomorrow’s junk and clutter.

Some never prioritize a retirement strategy. For many, there are opportunities to invest, whether it be through a traditional individual retirement account or a workplace retirement account. In the case of workplace retirement accounts, some companies offer matching contributions, which may be an opportunity to heighten your savings power. That being said, not everyone takes advantage of these opportunities.1

Once you reach age 72, you must begin taking required minimum distributions from your 401(k) plan and traditional IRA in most circumstances. Withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty.

Some never build up an emergency fund. Financial challenges will arise, and a rainy-day fund can help you meet them. Striving to save for that rainy day also helps to promote good, lifelong saving habits.

Some invest without a strategy. Chasing the recent hot trend is a behavior that may lead to frustration instead of financial freedom. Instant wealth seldom comes from an overnight winner. These ideas don’t stop people from hazardously assigning an excessive portion of their assets to one investment.         

Some accept a “forever middle class” mindset. Some people define themselves as middle class and accept that definition all their lives. The danger is that this can amount to a kind of psychological barrier, a sense that “this is it” and that “getting rich” is for others.

Behavior & belief may count as much as effort. It takes some initiative to create lifetime wealth from present-day affluence, but a person’s outlook on money (and view of its purpose) can influence that effort – for better or worse.

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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. CNBC.com, March 4, 2022

Getting (Mentally) Ready to Retire

By Uncategorized

A successful retirement is not merely measured in financial terms. Even those who retire with small fortunes can face boredom or depression and the fear of drawing down their savings too fast. How can new retirees try to calm these worries?

Two factors may help: a gradual retirement transition and some guidance from a financial professional.

An abrupt break from the workplace may be unsettling. As a hypothetical example, imagine a well-paid finance manager at an auto dealership whose personal identity is closely tied to his job. His best friends are all at the dealership. He retires, and suddenly his friends and sense of purpose are absent. He finds that he has no compelling reason to leave the house, nothing to look forward to when he gets up in the morning. Guess what? He hates being retired.

On the other hand, if he prepares for retirement years in advance of his farewell party by exploring an encore career, engaging in varieties of self-employment, or volunteering, he can retire with something promising ahead of him. If he broadens the scope of his social life, so that he can see friends and family regularly and interact with both older and younger people in different settings, his retirement may also become more enjoyable.

The interests and needs of a retiree can change with age or as he or she disengages from the working world. Retired households may need to adjust their lifestyles in response to this evolution.

Practically all retirees have some financial anxiety. It relates to the fact of no longer earning a conventional paycheck. You see it in couples who have $60,000 saved for retirement; you see it in couples who have $6 million saved for retirement. Their retirement strategies are about to be tested, in real time. All that careful preparation is ready to come to fruition, but there are always unknowns.

Some retirees are afraid to spend. They fear spending too much too soon. With help from a financial professional, they can create a strategy.

Retirement challenges people in two ways. The obvious challenge is financial; the less obvious challenge is mental. Both tests may be met with sufficient foresight and dedication.

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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.

Major Risks to Family Wealth

By Uncategorized

All too often, family wealth fails to last. One generation builds a business—or even a fortune— lost in the ensuing decades. Why does it happen, again and again?

Often, families fall prey to serious money blunders, making classic mistakes, or not recognizing changing times.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a replacement for real-life advice. Make sure to consult legal and tax professionals before modifying your overall estate strategy. 

Procrastination. This is not just a matter of failing to create a strategy but also failing to respond to acknowledged financial weaknesses.

As a hypothetical example, say there is a multimillionaire named Alan. The designated beneficiary of Alan’s six-figure savings account is no longer alive. He realizes he should name another beneficiary, but he never gets around to it. His schedule is busy, and updating that beneficiary form is inconvenient. Alan forgets about it and moves on with his life.

However, this can cause significant headaches for those left behind. If the account lacks a payable-on-death (POD) beneficiary, those assets may end up subject to probate. Using our example above, Alan’s heirs may discover other lingering financial matters that required attention regarding his retirement accounts, real estate holdings, and other investment accounts.1

Minimal or absent estate management. Every year, some multimillionaires die without leaving any instructions for distributing their wealth. These people are not just rock stars and actors but also small business owners and entrepreneurs. According to a recent Caring.com survey, 58% of Americans have no estate preparations in place, not even a will.2 

Anyone reliant on a will alone may risk handing the destiny of their wealth over to a probate judge. The multimillionaire who has a child with special needs, a family history of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, or a former spouse or estranged children may need a greater degree of estate management. If they want to endow charities or give grandkids an excellent start in life, the same idea applies. Business ownership calls for coordinated estate management with consideration for business succession. 

A finely crafted estate strategy has the potential to perpetuate and enhance family wealth for decades, and perhaps, generations. Without it, heirs may have to deal with probate and a painful opportunity cost—the lost potential for tax-advantaged growth and compounding of those assets.

The lack of a “family office.” Decades ago, the wealthiest American households included offices: a staff of handpicked financial professionals who supervised a family’s entire financial life. While traditional “family offices” have disappeared, the concept is as relevant as ever. Today, select wealth management firms emulate this model: in an ongoing relationship distinguished by personal and responsive service, they consult families about investments, provide reports, and assist in decision-making. If your financial picture has become far too complex to address on your own, this could be a wise choice for your family.

Technological flaws. Hackers can hijack email and social media accounts and send phony messages to banks, brokerages, and financial professionals to authorize asset transfers. Social media can help you build your business, but it can also expose you to identity thieves seeking to steal both digital and tangible assets.

Sometimes a business or family installs a security system that proves problematic—so much so that it’s silenced half the time. Unscrupulous people have ways of learning about that, and they may be only one or two degrees separated from you.

No long-term strategy in place. When a family wants to sustain wealth for decades to come, heirs will want to understand the how and why, and be on the same page. If family communication about wealth tends to be more opaque than transparent, then that communication may adequately explain the mechanics and purpose of the strategy.

No decision-making process. In some high net worth families, financial decision-making is vertical and top-down. Parents or grandparents may make decisions in private, and it may be years before heirs learn about those decisions or fully understand them. When heirs do become decision-makers, it is usually upon the death of the elders.

Horizontal decision-making can help multiple generations commit to the guidance of family wealth. Financial professionals can help a family make these decisions with an awareness of different communication styles. In-depth conversations are essential; good estate managers recognize that silence does not necessarily mean agreement.

You may attempt to reduce these risks to family wealth (and others) in collaboration with financial and legal professionals. It is never too early to begin.

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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. SmartCapitalMind.com, February 4, 2022
  2. Yahoo.com, January 18, 2022

Roth IRA Conversions: What are the benefits?

By Uncategorized

If you own an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), perhaps you have heard about Roth IRA conversions. Converting your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA might be a sound financial move depending on your situation.

But remember, this article is for informational purposes only, not a replacement for real-life advice. A professional should be consulted before attempting this type of strategy. Tax rules are constantly changing, and there is no guarantee that the tax treatment of Roth or Traditional IRAs will remain the same as it is now.

Also, Roth IRA conversions have come under much scrutiny during the past few years. Congress has considered legislation that would prevent high-income Americans from Roth conversions. While no action has taken place, it is possible that Roth rules may change in the future.

Why go Roth? Every Roth IRA conversion is based on a belief: the belief that income tax rates will be higher in the future than they are now. If you hold this belief, then you may want to consider a Roth IRA conversion.

Once you are 59½ and have had your Roth IRA open for at least five calendar years, withdrawals of the earnings from your Roth IRA are exempt from federal income taxes. In addition, once five calendar years have passed, you can withdraw your Roth IRA contributions tax-free and penalty-free.1

Under current I.R.S. rules, if you are the original owner of a Roth IRA, you never have to make mandatory withdrawals from your account. And you can make contributions to a Roth IRA as long as you continue to have earned imcome.2

Currently, if your federal tax filing status is married filing jointly and your adjusted gross income (AGI) is $204,000 or less, you can contribute a maximum of $6,000 to your Roth IRA, $7,000 if you’re age 50 or older. The maximum contribution is also available to single filers with an AGI of $129,000 or less. Depending on how high your AGI is, the amount you are able to contribute may change.3

Why not go Roth? There are many reasons, but here are two to consider: you have to be prepared for the taxable event and time may not be on your side.

A Roth IRA conversion cannot be undone. The I.R.S. regards it as a payout from a traditional IRA prior to that money entering a Roth IRA, and the payout represents taxable income. That taxable income stemming from the conversion could have tax consequences in the year when the conversion occurs.4

In many respects, the earlier in life you convert a regular IRA to a Roth, the better. Your income may rise as you get older; you could finish your career in a higher tax bracket than you were in when you were first employed. Those conditions relate to a key argument for going Roth: it is better to pay taxes on IRA contributions today than on IRA withdrawals tomorrow.

On the other hand, since many retirees have lower income levels than their end salaries, they may retire at a lower tax rate. That is a key argument against Roth conversion.

You could choose to “have it both ways.” As no one can reliably predict the future of American taxation, some people contribute to both Roth and traditional IRAs – figuring that they can be at least “half right” regardless of whether taxes increase or decrease.

If you do go Roth, your heirs may receive tax-free distributions. Lastly, Roth IRAs can prove to be very useful estate management tools. If I.R.S. rules are followed, Roth IRA heirs may end up with a tax-free inheritance from the account. In contrast, distributions of inherited assets from a traditional IRA are taxed.1

Under the 2019 SECURE Act, most non-spouse beneficiaries of a Roth IRA are required to have the funds distributed to them by the end of the tenth calendar year following the year of the original owner’s death.5

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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, January 27, 2022
2 – Internal Revenue Service, November 27, 2021
3 – Internal Revenue Service, November 5, 2021
4 – Investopedia, February 2, 2022
5 – Forbes, December 14, 2021

Taking Charge of Your Financial Life

By Uncategorized

Delegating responsibilities to others may lead to problems down the road.

When you are putting together a household, it isn’t unusual to delegate responsibilities. One spouse or partner may take on the laundry, while another takes on the shopping. You might also decide which one of you vacuums and which one of you dusts. This is a perfectly fine way to divvy up household tasks and chores.

One household task it’s valuable for both partners to take part in, however, is your shared financial life. It’s important, regardless of your level of wealth or stage of life. Counting on one spouse or partner to handle all financial decisions can create a gap for the other partner. Should the one in charge of the money separate, become severely disabled, or pass away, that may leave the other partner in a bind. A situation like that is probably difficult enough without adding additional stress.

Begin the conversation. If you are the partner who isn’t steering the household finances, ask yourself why. It may be that you have preconceived notions about how difficult it might be to educate yourself to make informed decisions. Maybe you know how to do it, but you would simply rather not be bothered. It’s also possible that you recognize that your spouse or partner has a particular expertise in these matters and doesn’t need your help.

Regardless of the reason, it’s probably a good idea that you should at least be able to hop into the driver’s seat, should misfortune strike your household. In that unfortunate circumstance, you should feel confident that whatever the reason or the duration, you won’t have any unnecessary concerns about managing your household’s finances.

For example, what if you have insurance that covers extended care, in case of a severe injury that causes your spouse or partner to be away from work for an indefinite period? How will you be certain that the claim is made? Who will make sure the bills get paid? The job will fall to you.

Getting involved. The good news is that through communication, regular conversations, and a little effort, you can probably learn what you need to know in order to help yourself in these situations. Part of this, too, may be meeting and getting to know the financial professional who works for your household.

The more knowledge you have, the more confident you can become. Starting the conversation is just the first step. It may take you some time to become comfortable in taking a greater role in the decision-making, but when you do, you may feel more confident if the responsibility ever falls solely to you.

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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. Nasdaq.com, January 12, 2022
2. ADP, January 30, 2022
3. Barron’s, January 3, 2022
4. National Law Review, October 29, 2021
5. MarketWatch, March 31, 2021

state retirement mandate

States are requiring retirement plans

By Uncategorized

Too many Americans save too little for retirement.

This problem has been discussed for decades in all kinds of media, and there seems to be no easy way to solve it.

Fourteen states are giving it a try, however: they have passed or introduced laws requiring or urging companies to provide retirement savings opportunities to employees. In most of these 14 states, employers must either sponsor a retirement plan, or automatically enroll their workers in a state program.1

Payroll giant ADP notes that a majority of states have considered mandatory retirement saving programs. A similar mandate is being discussed on Capitol Hill: H.R. 2954, informally called SECURE ACT 2.0, would require employers to auto-enroll employees in workplace retirement plans. This bill stalled in Congress in 2021, but the House and Senate are likely to revisit it this year.2,3

California and New York are among the states now stipulating worker enrollment.

By June 30, 2022, any private employer in California with more than five full-time employees (FTEs) must offer those FTEs a retirement savings program, enroll them in the new CalSavers retirement plan, or face fines after 90 days of non-compliance. New York now requires most businesses and non-profits with ten or more employees to either provide retirement savings choices for them or auto-enroll them in the New York State Secure Choice Savings Program.1,4

In Vermont and Washington, the employer mandate is voluntary. In all 14 states, employees have the right to opt out of the state-run retirement programs.1

Will efforts like this solve the problem of inadequate retirement saving?

Not entirely. Only about 50% of Americans participate in employer-sponsored retirement programs. Tens of millions of Americans lack access to any kind of retirement plan.5

Even if SECURE Act 2.0 becomes law, its automatic enrollment stipulation would not be retroactive. Automatic enrollment would only be a requirement for new workplace retirement plans, not those created in the past. It could also allow employer-sponsored retirement plans to set a deferral rate as low as 3%, and many financial professionals would like to see savers direct greater percentages of their earnings toward retirement.5

The list of states with retirement program mandates either live or oncoming includes California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. Twenty-one other states have introduced bills into their legislatures that could create similar requirements.1

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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. Nasdaq.com, January 12, 2022
2. ADP, January 30, 2022
3. Barron’s, January 3, 2022
4. National Law Review, October 29, 2021
5. MarketWatch, March 31, 2021

Retirement Preparation Mistakes

By Uncategorized

Much is out there about the classic financial mistakes that plague start-ups, family businesses, corporations, and charities. Aside from these blunders, some classic financial missteps plague retirees.

Calling them “mistakes” may be a bit harsh, as not all of them represent errors in judgment. Yet whether they result from ignorance or fate, we need to be aware of them as we prepare for and enter retirement.

Timing Social Security. As Social Security benefits rise about 8% for every year you delay receiving them, waiting a few years to apply for benefits can position you for higher retirement income. Filing for your monthly benefits before you reach Social Security’s Full Retirement Age (FRA) can mean comparatively smaller monthly payments.1

Managing medical bills. Medicare will not pay for everything. Unless there’s a change in how the program works, you may have a number of out-of-pocket costs, including dental, and vision.     

Underestimating longevity. Actuaries at the Social Security Administration project that around a third of today’s 65-year-olds will live to age 90, with about one in seven living 95 years or longer. The prospect of a 20- or 30-year retirement is not unreasonable, yet there is still a lingering cultural assumption that our retirements might duplicate the relatively brief ones of our parents.2  

Withdrawing strategies. You may have heard of the “4% rule,” a guideline stating that you should take out only about 4% of your retirement savings annually. Some retirees try to abide by it.   

So, why do others withdraw 7% or 8% a year? In the first phase of retirement, people tend to live it up; more free time naturally promotes new ventures and adventures and an inclination to live a bit more lavishly.            

Talking about taxes. It can be a good idea to have both taxable and tax-advantaged accounts in retirement. Assuming your retirement will be long, you may want to assign this or that investment to its “preferred domain.” What does that mean? It means the taxable or tax-advantaged account that may be most appropriate for it as you pursue a better after-tax return for the whole portfolio.

Retiring with debts. Some find it harder to preserve (or accumulate) wealth when you are handing portions of it to creditors.

Putting college costs before retirement costs. There is no “financial aid” program for retirement. There are no “retirement loans.” Your children have their whole financial lives ahead of them.

Retiring with no investment strategy.  Expect that retirement will have a few surprises; the absence of a strategy can leave people without guidance when those surprises happen.

These are some of the classic retirement mistakes. Why not attempt to avoid them? Take a little time to review and refine your retirement strategy in the company of the financial professional you know and trust.

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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. Forbes.com, December 9, 2021
2. SSA.gov, January 24, 2022

2022 Contribution Limits: Is it time to contribute more?

By Uncategorized

Preparing for retirement just got a little more financial wiggle room. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced new contribution limits for 2022.

Staying put for 2022 are traditional Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), with the limit remaining at $6,000. The catch-up contribution for traditional IRAs remains $1,000 as well.1

For workplace retirement accounts (i.e. 401(k), 403(b), amongst others), the contribution limit rises $1,000 to $20,500. Catch-up contributions remain at $6,500.1

Eligibility for Roth IRA contributions has increased, as well. These have bumped up to $129,000 to $144,000 for single filers and heads of households, and $204,000 to $214,000 for those filing jointly as married couples.1

Another increase was for SIMPLE IRA Plans (SIMPLE is an acronym for Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees), which increases from $13,500 to $14,000.1

If these increases apply to your retirement strategy, a financial professional may be able to help make some adjustments to your contributions.

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Once you reach age 72, you must begin taking required minimum distributions from a Traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees IRA in most circumstances. Withdrawals from Traditional IRAs are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty.

To qualify for the tax-free and penalty-free withdrawal of earnings, Roth IRA distributions must meet a five-year holding requirement and occur after age 59½. Tax-free and penalty-free withdrawal can also be taken under certain other circumstances, such as the owner’s death. The original Roth IRA owner is not required to take minimum annual withdrawals.

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. CNBC.com, November 5, 2021