William C. Newell

William C. Newell

Thursday, 28 June 2018 18:19

The Case for Women Working Past 65

Why striving to stay in the workforce a little longer may make financial sense.

The median retirement age for an American woman is 62. The Federal Reserve says so in its most recent Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking (2017). Sixty-two, of course, is the age when seniors first become eligible for Social Security retirement benefits. This factoid seems to convey a message: a fair amount of American women are retiring and claiming Social Security as soon as they can.1

What if more women worked into their mid-sixties? Could that benefit them, financially? While health issues and caregiving demands sometimes force women to retire early, it appears many women are willing to stay on the job longer. Fifty-three percent of the women surveyed in a new Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies poll on retirement said that they planned to work past age 65.2

Staying in the workforce longer may improve a woman’s retirement prospects. If that seems paradoxical, consider the following positives that could result from working past 65.

More years at work leaves fewer years of retirement to fund. Many women are worried about whether they have saved enough for the future. Two or three more years of income from work means two or three years of not having to draw down retirement savings.

Retirement accounts have additional time to grow and compound. Tax-deferred compounding is one of the greatest components of wealth building. The longer a tax-deferred retirement account has existed, the more compounding counts.

Suppose a woman directs $500 a month into such a tax-favored account for decades, with the investments returning 7% a year. For simplicity’s sake, we will say that she starts with an initial contribution of $1,000 at age 25. Thirty-seven years later, she is 62 years old, and that retirement account contains $974,278.3

If she lets it grow and compound for just one more year, she is looking at $1,048,445. Two more years? $1,127,837. If she retires at age 65 after 40 years of contributions and compounded annual growth, the account will contain $1,212,785. By waiting just three years longer, she leaves work with a retirement account that is 24.4% larger than it was when she was 62.3

A longer career also offers a chance to improve Social Security benefit calculations. Social Security figures retirement benefits according to a formula. The prime factor in that formula is a worker’s average indexed monthly earnings, or AIME. AIME is calculated based on that worker’s 35 highest-earning years. But what if a woman stays in the workforce for less than 35 years?4

Some women interrupt their careers to raise children or care for family members or relatives. This is certainly work, but it does not factor into the AIME calculation. If a woman’s work record shows fewer than 35 years of taxable income, years without taxable income are counted as zeros. So, if a woman has only earned taxable income in 29 years of her life, six zero-income years are included in the AIME calculation, thereby dragging down the AIME. By staying at the office longer, a woman can replace one or more of those zeros with one or more years of taxable income.4

In addition, waiting to claim Social Security benefits after age 62 also results in larger monthly Social Security payments. A woman’s monthly Social Security benefit will grow by approximately 8% for each year she delays filing for her own retirement benefits. This applies until age 70.4  

Working longer might help a woman address major retirement concerns. It is an option worth considering, and its potential financial benefits are worth exploring.

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. 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.

Citations.

1 - dqydj.com/average-retirement-age-in-the-united-states/ [6/11/18]

2 - thestreet.com/retirement/18-facts-about-womens-retirement-14558073 [4/17/18]

3 - investor.gov/additional-resources/free-financial-planning-tools/compound-interest-calculator [6/14/18]

4 - fool.com/retirement/social-securitys-aime-what-is-it.aspx [6/9/18]

Friday, 25 May 2018 15:42

Facts About Refinancing

Even with interest rates rising, you may want to explore the possibilities.

In the first quarter of 2018, the refinance share of home loan applications in the U.S. fell to 40%, the lowest in ten years. Higher mortgage rates had reduced demand for refis.1

Still, the refi is not exactly dead. If you have good credit, you may be considering refinancing yourself, for one or more reasons. Perhaps you want to shorten the term of your home loan. Maybe you have an adjustable-rate mortgage now and want to refi into a fixed rate. Or, maybe you want to tap into home equity or consolidate debt. Whatever your reason(s), you must weigh two questions. One, how long do you want to stay in your home? Two, how much money will you really save?

Refinances break down into three types: rate-and-term, cash-out, and cash-in. Rate-and-term refis simply adjust the term and/or the interest rate of your existing loan. Even though interest rates are rising now, they still make up the bulk of refinances. This kind of refi could permit you to walk away from closing with as much as $2,000 in cash. The no-cash-out variety adds closing costs to the loan balance, relieving you from having to pay those costs out of pocket.2

A cash-out refi gives you an opportunity to tap home equity and pay off your existing mortgage. In a cash-out mortgage, the loan balance on the refinance is at least 5% more than the balance on the original loan. As you just owe the balance of your original loan to the lender, the overage is either paid out as cash at closing or routed to your creditors to help you whittle down other debts.2

A cash-in refi is the inverse of a cash-out refi. You bring cash to the closing to lower the outstanding principal of the loan, pursuant to a shorter loan term or a lower interest rate available at lower loan-to-values (LTVs). You may be able to cancel mortgage insurance premium payments as part of the move (i.e., by reducing a conventional mortgage to 80% LTV or lower).2

How much will a refi cost? In ballpark terms, the answer is often $2,000-$5,000. In percentage terms, think 3-5% of the loan amount.3,4

The price of a refi may be notably cheaper in one state than another, thanks to variations in closing costs. Of course, certain closing costs may be negotiable, like app and processing fees. Sometimes you can save on title searches, title insurance, and inspections by turning to a third party for those services. If your last appraisal was conducted recently, you might be able to negotiate your way out of a new one.3

Sometimes you can refinance without an appraisal. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Veterans Administration (VA) offer streamlined refinancing programs to homeowners with existing FHA or VA-backed home loans. The underwriting process is less demanding than it would be otherwise. Besides usually waiving the appraisal, these programs also commonly waive credit score and income verifications.2

In some situations, refinancing may not be “the answer.” If you are stretching the term of your loan out with a refi, you will carry mortgage debt for years longer than you originally planned, complete with thousands more paid out in interest. If you are using home equity to fund a remodel or upgrades, your home’s value may not rise as much as you anticipate from the work. Then there are the little curveballs life throws at us, such as potential job changes and relocations. If you sense you might have to move before you can recapture the closing costs of the refi, is it even worth the trouble to try?

Hopefully, you will be able to lower the interest rate on your loan, shorten its term, or find a way to reduce your monthly payments through refinancing. Online calculators and a conversation with a trusted mortgage professional may help you determine the potential break-even points for a refi and find paths to a home loan more suitable to your needs.

 

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.

  

Citations.

1 - cnbc.com/2018/03/13/mortgage-refinances-fall-to-decade-low.html [3/14/18]

2 - themortgagereports.com/16096/refinance-mortgage-rates [12/9/17]

3 - lendingtree.com/home/refinance/how-much-does-it-cost-to-refinance/ [3/14/17]

4 - investopedia.com/financial-edge/1010/9-things-to-know-before-you-refinance-your-mortgage.aspx [1/12/17]

Thursday, 12 April 2018 19:05

Good Reasons to Retire Later

Working longer might work out well for you.

Are you in your fifties and unsure if you have enough retirement savings? Then you have two basic financial choices. You could start saving and investing more of your pay than you currently do, or you could work longer so you have fewer years of retirement to fund.

That second choice might be more manageable, and it may also work out better financially.

Research suggests that working longer might be a good way to address this shortfall. Last month, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) published a paper on this very topic, and its conclusions are significant. The four economists writing the report maintain that when you reach your mid-sixties, staying on the job just one more year could help you greatly. Waiting a little longer to file for Social Security also becomes a plus.1

What was the most noteworthy finding? By the time you are 66, staying on the job just an additional three to six months will do as much for your standard of living in retirement as if you had contributed 1% more to your retirement plan for 30 years.1

Here is an example from the report, with an asterisk attached. A 66-year-old who has directed 9% of their earnings into an employee retirement plan during the length of their career retires. Had they simply put 10% of their pay per year into that retirement plan rather than 9%, they would have retired with 11.11% more money in that account.1

If they work for another year, retire at 67 and file for Social Security benefits at 67, they may put themselves in a better financial position. In this simple example, Social Security benefits would constitute the other 81% of their retirement income. They are just slightly past their Full Retirement Age as defined by Social Security, so by retiring at 67, they receive 108% of the monthly Social Security benefit they would have received at 66.1,2

The asterisk in this scenario is the outlook for Social Security. In the future, will Social Security benefits be reduced? That possibility exists.

Working full time until age 67 may be a tall order for some of us. Right now, only about a third of American workers retire after age 65; about a fifth retire at age 60 or younger. Perhaps the ambitious, energetic baby boom generation will alter those percentages.3

Working one or two more years may be worthwhile for several reasons. Your invested assets have one or two more years to compound before potentially being drawn down – and when assets have grown for decades, even a year of compounding is highly significant. If you have $350,000 growing at 6% annually in a retirement fund, waiting just a year will enlarge that sum by $21,000 and waiting five more years will leave it $118,000 larger – and this is without any inflows.3

Spending another year on the job may help you become fully vested in a pension plan, and it also positions you to receive greater Social Security payments (assuming you are currently 62 or older). Wait until age 65 to retire, and you can leave work without having to worry about buying health insurance – Medicare is right there for you. You also keep your mind active by working longer, and you maintain the friendships you have made through your career or workplace.3

Retire later, and you may do yourself a financial favor. Consider the idea, and be sure to consult with the financial professional you know and trust today regarding your retirement prospects.

 

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.

    

Citations.

1 - marketwatch.com/story/you-may-want-to-work-longer-heres-why-2018-01-22/ [1/22/18]

2 - bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-01-23/the-remarkable-financial-benefits-of-delaying-retirement [1/23/18]

3 - fool.com/retirement/2017/04/23/5-benefits-of-delaying-retirement.aspx [4/23/17]

Tuesday, 20 March 2018 13:44

The Value of a Stop-Loss Strategy

Why you may want to have one in place in any market climate.

What is a stop-loss strategy, and how can it potentially aid an investor? Savvy investors use stop-loss orders as a kind of “insurance” against stock market losses. Simply explained, a stop-loss order is an order you give to a brokerage to sell a stock when the share price falls to a certain level.

A stop-loss strategy may be used to preserve gains and alleviate downside risk. Say you buy 10 shares at $60 a share, and eight months later the price is at $68 a share. You place a stop-loss order with your broker, telling your broker you want to sell if the share price dips to $66. One day, the share price falls to that level, and the stop-loss order becomes a market order authorizing a trade. If the market (or market sector) dives quickly, you may not be able to sell your shares for $66, but you will likely be able to sell them near that price.1

You can also employ trailing stops as part of a stop-loss strategy. This can be useful with a growth stock. As an example, suppose you buy into a company at $20 a share, and two years later, the share price stands at $35 and seems poised to rise further. Is it time for profit-taking, or should you hang on to those shares a bit longer?

A trailing stop may provide an answer to this dilemma. When you put a trailing stop in place, you authorize your broker to sell the stock when the price dips a certain percentage below the current market value – say, 10% under market price. So if shares move up to $50, then fall to $45, you are able to sell at or near $45, and you profit more than you would had you sold at $35.2

The trailing stop moves up as the share price moves up. Obviously, you do not want to set the trailing stop only a handful of percentage points below the current price, because that could mean activating the stop too soon.

Profit targets are also part of stop-loss strategies. When the price of a stock reaches a certain level – a target price – you sell. In setting a profit target, you know when to get out, and you know your degree of profit as you close the trade.

How much gain do you need to break even or profit? Here is the key question in a stop-loss strategy. Reaching a price target represents a win, and a stop-loss represents a loss. At a glance, it seems easy to gauge whether your stop-loss strategy is a success: the wins merely have to exceed the losses. The evaluation is not quite that simple. You can use relatively simple math to figure out your break-even percentage: (Stop Loss ÷ (Target + Stop Loss)) x 100.3

For the sake of simplicity, say your average loss is $100 and your average target $200. The calculation becomes: (100 ÷ (200 + 100)) x 100, or 0.33 x 100 = 33%. Commissions aside, you need to win on 33% of your trades to break even. Win more trades than that and you are profiting.

When exactly will you break even or profit? Time will tell, but the answer may directly relate to the difference in your loss level and your target level. If your target level is way above your loss level, in theory you will have to win very few trades to profit – but in reality, you may have a hard time winning any trades, and your strategy could fail. When your target level is closer to your loss level, you must win more often to break even, but winning may become easier for you.

A stop-loss strategy could help you sustain the income stream from your portfolio. A little reflection will reveal why. When Wall Street slumps, a buy-and-hold investor can become a buy-and-fold investor, hanging onto losers too long and then selling them at or near a market bottom. Alternately, an investor may fall in love with a winner so much that no profit is ever taken – he or she learns a tough lesson when its share price falls and the opportunity to sell high is lost. Having price targets and stop orders in place takes some of the emotion out of trading in these circumstances, helping to mitigate losses and lock in gains.

Sure, there are potential drawbacks to a stop-loss strategy. Some people prefer price alerts to automatic stop-losses, because they want to stay hands-on and not cede control of trades to software and algorithms – and in a steep market drop, those algorithms may quickly drive a stock’s price well under a stop in the blink of an eye. An opportunity cost can also be paid with the use of price targets – maybe this or that stock clearly has more upside, and it really feels like you are selling too soon when the target is reached. These points aside, a well-considered stop-loss strategy may have real value for an investor, especially one who does not actively trade stocks on a day-to-day basis.  

  

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.

  

Citations.

1 - investopedia.com/ask/answers/06/stoplossorderdetails.asp [1/4/18]

2 - thebalance.com/trailing-stop-1031394 [7/25/17]

3 - thebalance.com/calculating-your-break-even-percentage-1031085 [10/14/16]

Friday, 26 January 2018 16:12

The Major Retirement Planning Mistakes

Why are they made again and again?                      

Much has been written about the classic financial mistakes that plague start-ups, family businesses, corporations, and charities. Aside from these blunders, there are also some classic financial missteps that 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 plan for and enter retirement.        

Leaving work too early. 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 greater retirement income. Filing for your monthly benefits before you reach Social Security’s Full Retirement Age (FRA) can mean comparatively smaller monthly payments. The FRA varies from 66-67 for people born between 1943-59. For those born in 1960 and later, the FRA is 67.1,2    

Some of us are forced to make this “mistake.” The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College says 56% of men and 64% of women apply for Social Security before full retirement age. Still, if you can delay claiming Social Security, that positions you for greater monthly benefits.1    

Underestimating medical bills. In its latest estimate of retiree health care costs, Fidelity Investments says that a couple retiring at 65 will need $275,000 to pay for future health care costs. That estimate may be conservative, as Fidelity’s calculation does not include eye care, dental care, or long-term care expenses.3    

Taking the potential for longevity too lightly. Actuaries at the Social Security Administration project that around a fourth of today’s 65-year-olds will live to age 90, with about one in ten 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. The American College New York Life Center for Retirement Income recently polled people about longevity, and 47% of respondents over age 60 underestimated the remaining life expectancy for an average 65-year-old male.4

Withdrawing too much each year. You may have heard of the “4% rule,” a popular guideline stating that you should withdraw only about 4% of your retirement savings annually. Many cautious 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.        

Ignoring tax efficiency & fees. 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” – that is, 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.

Many younger investors chase the return. Some retirees, however, find a shortfall when they try to live on portfolio income. In response, they move money into stocks offering significant dividends or high-yield bonds – which may be bad moves in the long run. Taking retirement income off both the principal and interest of a portfolio may give you a way to reduce ordinary income and income taxes.  

Fees have an impact. The Department of Labor notes that a 401(k) plan with a 1.5% annual fee will eventually leave a participant with 28% less money than one with a 0.5% annual fee.5   

Avoiding market risk. Equity investment does invite risk, but the reward may be worth it. In contrast, many fixed-rate investments offer comparatively small yields these days.    

Retiring with big debts. It is hard 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. Try to refrain from touching your home equity or your IRA to pay for their education expenses.  

Retiring with no plan or investment strategy. An unplanned retirement may bring terrible financial surprises; the absence of a strategy can leave people prone to market timing and day trading.

These are some of the classic retirement planning mistakes. Why not plan 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.  

    

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.    

Wednesday, 03 January 2018 20:43

Talking to Your Heirs about Your Estate Plan

They should not be left ill-informed or unaware.

Talking about “the end” is not the easiest thing to do, and this is one reason why some people never adequately plan for the transfer of their wealth. Those who do create estate plans with help from financial and legal professionals sometimes leave their heirs out of the conversation.

Have you let your loved ones know a little about your estate plan? This is decidedly a matter of personal preference: you may want to share a great deal of information with them, or you may want to keep most of the details to yourself. Either way, they should know some basics.

Having this talk can become easier when it is a values conversation, not a money conversation.

Values driven estate planning. You can let your heirs know that your values are at the core of the decisions you have made. You need not tell them how much they will inherit. You may let them know about the planning steps you have taken to make a difficult time a bit easier.

For example, you can tell your loved ones that you have a will and/or a revocable living trust. In all probability, your executor or successor trustee has been informed of his or her future responsibilities – but other heirs may not know who the executor or successor trustee will be.

You can tell them that you have an advance health care directive in place and inform them who you have named as an agent to make health care decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so. You can provide the contact information for your estate planner, your CPA, your retirement planner, and any insurance, legal, and medical professionals you consult. Have your heirs ever met these people? Tell your heirs the role they have played for you, your family, or your company and why the judgment of these professionals should be trusted.   

Do people beyond your household need to know any of this? Think about it for a second. If you have grandchildren, nieces, or nephews, do they figure into your estate plan? Is it appropriate to let them know that you have made an estate-planning decision or two on their behalf? How about charities or non-profits you have supported – have you notified them of your intent to make a gift from your estate and could knowledge of your decision better facilitate the process? How about your business partner(s)? Do they need to be informed of particular estate-planning intentions you have?

Obviously, you must keep certain details close to the vest. Keeping everything to yourself, however, can be problematic. Are your heirs aware of the location of a copy of your health care proxy? Might they discover that you have planned for some of your estate to transfer to charity only after your death? Dilemmas and surprises like these may be avoided through communication – the type of communication that anyone planning an estate should make a priority.

Not every couple or individual does, though. BMO Wealth Management asked the high net worth clients it advises if they had disclosed the location of their wills and power of attorney forms with their heirs. Thirteen percent of respondents said their heirs had no clue; 25% said “only my spouse and I” knew the location of the documents.1

A 2017 Caring.com poll determined that just 42% of Americans had gone so far as to draw up a will, let alone an estate plan. So, if you have planned for the transfer of your wealth, you are ahead of many of your peers. Just see that your intentions, and some specific details, are effectively communicated.1

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.

Citations.

1 - cnbc.com/2017/11/15/12-financial-planning-documents-to-handle-health-end-of-life-care.html [11/15/17]

Thursday, 16 November 2017 21:42

Are There Blind Spots in Your Insurance Plan?

Deficient coverage may cost you someday.

Many households and businesses are insufficiently insured. The problem is not necessarily the quality of coverage, but the breadth and depth of it. Your own business or household may be more vulnerable than you realize. 

Too many people go without disability insurance. If you work in a physically demanding field, your employer may provide short-term disability coverage – but many companies do not. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, just 39% of workplaces offer employees short-term coverage, and only 33% offer long-term coverage.1

If you are disabled and cannot work, your income soon disappears. Short-term disability insurance, which may last anywhere from 10-26 weeks, commonly replaces around 60% of it. Not ideal, but better than 0%. About 8% of the time, however, a short-term disability lasts more than six months and extends into a long-term disability. Long-term disability coverage can replace 50-70% of your salary for a period of 2-10 years, perhaps even until you turn 65.1,2

More people ought to have earthquake and flood coverage. You may think that earthquake insurance is only for those living right on top of fault lines. If your home sustains quake damage that you must repair with tens of thousands of dollars of your hard-earned money, or if your business is forced to close for two weeks after a major quake hits your area, your opinion will change.

Recent hurricanes and flood surges have underlined the value of flood insurance for those living in low-lying areas. Just 12% of U.S. homeowners have this coverage. A typical homeowner policy will cover minor water damage, but not flood damage.3   

If you finance a car and it is stolen or totaled, will you have to pay for it? Not if you have GAP (Guaranteed Auto Protection) insurance. If you are going to finance a car, SUV, or truck, ask about this coverage – especially if you intend to use that vehicle for work or business. The coverage is cheap – payments are usually $10-15 more each month (over the life of the loan).4

If you buy a new truck for $25,000 and it is totaled a year later, the insurer providing GAP coverage will determine the current value of the vehicle and write a check for that amount minus your deductible. You may want GAP coverage if you are buying a vehicle with less than 30% down. Without it, you may risk owing more than the current market value of your vehicle if it is stolen or wrecked.4

Is your sewer line insured? Cities usually require homeowners to maintain the sewer lateral running onto their property – the “branch” of the main sewer system on the street that connects to their house. If that sewer lateral backs up, it could cost you thousands and create a health problem for your neighbors. (Businesses have the same responsibility.) Tree roots and even improper disposal of paper products and grease can lead to this problem. Coverage against it is relatively cheap – it just adds about $40-50 to the annual premium on a homeowner policy.5

Address the weaknesses in your personal or business coverage, today. You certainly do not want to look back with regret on “what you should have done.” Be prepared, and put coverage for some or all of these potential crises in place.

  

 

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.

     

Citations.

1 - time.com/money/4428179/short-term-disability-pay/ [6/19/17]

2 - thebalance.com/what-is-long-term-disability-insurance-1918178 [7/9/17]

3 - cnbc.com/2017/09/11/navigating-insurance-claims-post-hurricane-irma.html [9/11/17]

4 - chron.com/cars/article/Financing-a-car-GAP-insurance-can-keep-drivers-12200736.php [9/15/17]

5 - wnins.com/resources/personal/features/sewerbackup.shtml [9/15/17]

Friday, 06 October 2017 15:20

Financial Priorities Young Families Should Address

Wise money moves for parents under 40.

 

As you start a family, you start to think about certain financial matters. Before you became a mom or dad, you may not have thought about them much, but so much changes when you have kids.

Parenting presents you with definite, sudden, financial needs to address. By focusing on those needs today, you may give yourself a head start on meeting some crucial family financial objectives tomorrow. The to-do list should include: 

Life & disability insurance coverage. If one or both of you cannot work and earn income, your household could struggle to meet education expenses, medical expenses, or even paying the bills. Disability insurance payments could provide some financial support in such an instance. Some employers provide it, but that coverage often proves insufficient. Every fifth American has a disability, and more than 25% of 20-year-old Americans will become disabled before reaching retirement age. One in eight working people will be disabled for five years or longer during their pre-retirement years. Could you imagine your household going that long on only a fraction of its current income?1,2    

Generally, the earlier you buy life insurance coverage, the cheaper the premiums will be. The biggest savings await those consumers who buy coverage before age 30 and before they marry and have kids. After 30, high blood pressure and cholesterol problems may begin to show up on blood tests, and other health problems may surface. As an example, a single, child-free 25-year-old in good health purchasing a 30-year term policy with a $500,000 death benefit will pay a monthly premium of about $75. The premium jumps to around $115 for the typical 35-year-old married parent in good health.3

Estate planning. Is it too early in life to think about this? No. Life insurance, a will, a living trust – these are smart moves, especially if you have children with any kind of special needs or health concerns of your own that may shorten your longevity or lead to weaknesses in body or mind. Besides documents linked to insurance and wealth transfer, consider a durable power of attorney and a health care proxy.

If you are considering designating a guardian for your children in the event of the unthinkable, whoever you appoint needs to be comfortable with the possibility of taking legal responsibility for your child. That person must also have the financial wherewithal to be a good guardian, and his or her family or spouse must also be amenable to it. 

College planning. What will a year at a public university cost in 2035? Vanguard, the investment company, conducted an analysis and projected an average tuition of $54,070. (The 2035 projection was $121,078 for a private college.) So, the message is clear: start saving now. Saving and investing for college through a 529 plan, a Coverdell ESA, or other accounts that offer the potential for tax-deferred growth may give you a better chance to meet those future costs.4

An emergency fund. Ideally, your household maintains a cash cushion equivalent to 3-6 months of salary. Build it a little at a time, set aside a bit of money per month, and you may be surprised at how large it grows during the coming years.

Address these priorities now, and you may lower your chance of financial stress in the future.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. 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.

    

Citations.

1 - ssa.gov/disabilityfacts/facts.html [8/10/17]

2 - blog.disabilitycanhappen.org/life-insurance-vs-disability-insurance/ [7/14/17]

3 - moneyunder30.com/buying-life-insurance-young-saves-money [1/5/17]

4 - teenvogue.com/story/college-tuition-cost-future [3/18/17]

Thursday, 14 September 2017 14:14

An Estate Plan or a Wealth Transfer Strategy?

Basic estate planning documents may not communicate your intentions.

 

There are three degrees of estate planning: advanced, basic, and none at all. Basic is better than none, but elementary estate planning can still leave something to be desired. While appropriate documents may be in place, they may not be able to fully convey what you really want to do with your estate.

Have you communicated your wishes to your heirs, in writing? Cut-and-dried, boilerplate legal forms will hardly do this for you.

In a wealth transfer strategy (as opposed to a basic, generic estate plan), you share your values and goals in addition to your assets. You hand down your wealth with purpose, noting to your beneficiaries and heirs what should be done with it. You also let them know how long the transfer of assets may take. This way, expectations are set, and you reduce the risk of your beneficiaries and heirs being unpleasantly surprised.

Are your heirs prepared to inherit your wealth? Prepare them as best you can during your lifetime. Introduce them to the financial, tax, and insurance professionals who have helped you through the years; they should know how to contact these professionals, and they should value their wisdom.

Explain the “why” of your estate planning decisions. For example, if you intend to transfer assets to heirs or charity through a living trust, a charitable remainder trust, or a qualified charitable distribution from an IRA, share the logic behind the move.

Also, let your heirs know that your wealth transfer strategy is dynamic. It can change. Five or ten years from now, you may have more or less wealth than you currently do, and life events may come along and prompt changes to your estate planning documents. Speaking of communication, this leads to a third, important aspect of a wealth transfer strategy.

Have you double-checked things? Look at your beneficiary forms and other estate planning documents. Are they up to date?

When a beneficiary form is out of date, it can invite problems – because legally, the instructions on a beneficiary form can overrule a will bequest. What if the named beneficiary is dead, and the contingent beneficiary is dead as well? What if your named beneficiary is estranged or divorced from you? In such instances, the asset may not transfer to whom you wish after you pass away. Looking at the wealth transfer process from another angle, you also want to make sure you have an executor who is of sound mind and who has the potential to remain lucid and reasonably healthy for years to come.1

A basic estate plan is better than procrastination. A bona fide wealth transfer strategy is even better. Involving your heirs in its creation, refinement, and implementation may help you guide your wealth into the future in accordance with your goals.

 

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.

  

Citations.

1 - thebalance.com/why-beneficiary-designations-override-your-will-2388824 [8/28/17]

Wednesday, 16 August 2017 14:46

Will You Really Be Able to Work Longer?

You may assume you will. That assumption could be a retirement planning risk.

How long do you think you will work? Are you one of those baby boomers (or Gen Xers) who believes he or she can work past 65?

Some pre-retirees are basing their entire retirement transition on that belief, and that could be financially perilous.

In a new survey on retirement age, the gap between perception and reality stands out. The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) recently published its 2017 Retirement Confidence Survey, and the big takeaway from all the data is that most American workers (75%) believe they will be on the job at or after age 65. That belief conflicts with fact, for only 23% of retired workers EBRI polled this year said that they had stayed on the job until they were 65 or older.1

So, what are today’s pre-retirees to believe? Will they upend all their assumptions about retiring? Will working until 70 become the new normal? Or will their retirement transitions happen as many do today, arriving earlier and more abruptly than anticipated?

Perhaps this generation can work longer. AARP, for one, predicts that nearly a quarter of Americans 70-74 years old will be working in 2022, including nearly 40% of women that age by 2024. That would still leave many Americans retiring in their sixties – and more to the point, working until 70 is not a retirement plan.2 

What if you retire at 63, two years before you can enroll in Medicare? EBRI’s statistics indicate that this predicament has been common. You can pay for up to 18 months of COBRA (which is not cheap), tap a Health Savings Account (if you have one), or take advantage of your spouse’s employer-sponsored health coverage (if your spouse still works and has some). Beyond those options, you could either pay (greatly) for private health insurance or go uninsured.3  

What if you end up claiming Social Security earlier than planned? Given an average lifespan (i.e., you live into your eighties), that may not be so bad – you will get smaller monthly Social Security payments if you claim at 63 rather than at the Full Retirement Age (FRA) of 67, but the total amount of retirement benefits you receive over your lifetime should be about the same. Retiring and claiming Social Security well before Full Retirement Age (FRA), however, may mean a drastic revision of your retirement income strategy, if not your whole retirement plan.4

What will happen to your retirement assets if you leave work early? Will you still be able to contribute to your IRA(s) or pay the premiums on a cash value life insurance policy? Could you postpone withdrawals from your retirement accounts for months or years? How long can you count on this bull market?

If you are a baby boomer or Gen Xer, hopefully you have planned or built wealth to such a degree that the shock of an early retirement will not derail your retirement plan. It is realistic to recognize that it could.

If you want to work past 65, one key may be keeping your job skills current. The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies reports that only about 40% of baby boomers are doing that.1

Lastly, if you switch jobs, you may improve your odds to work longer. A new study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College notes that 55% of college-educated workers who voluntarily changed jobs in their fifties were still working at age 65, compared with only 45% of workers who stayed at the same employer.1 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. 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.

       

Citations.

1 - cnbc.com/2017/04/21/the-dangers-of-planning-on-working-longer.html [4/21/17]

2 - aarp.org/politics-society/history/info-2016/baby-boomers-turning-70.html [1/16]

3 - forbes.com/sites/financialfinesse/2017/02/09/how-to-cover-medical-expenses-if-you-retire-before-65/ [2/9/17]

4 - fool.com/retirement/2017/03/04/the-one-social-security-mistake-you-dont-want-to-m.aspx [3/4/17]

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