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retirement

The Retirement Answer

Although I will admit that the title of this post is a bit glamorous, I wanted to share the simplicity of the message. Typically, every morning we will sit down to eat breakfast. Meals at our house are generally jovial, with discussions ranging from which animal would win in a fight to how my kids will spend their day. A few mornings ago, however, my oldest asked me a rather interesting question. Knowing what I do for a living she asked, “Daddy, what do you have to do to retire?” My immediate response was, “That’s a great question!” At age 7, my heart swelled that she was already thinking about retirement. Before I could give an answer she quickly quipped, “Wait. I know. You have to save enough money so that one day you can retire.” I was speechless. Pretty profound for a 7-year-old. Finally, I replied, “That’s exactly what […]

Ready, Set, Go! When To Start A Pension Payout?

The question comes up often: I’m ready to retire at age 55, and I can begin collecting my pension right away. Should I? The amount of the pension increases to almost double if I wait to start collecting at age 62, and two-and-a-half times if I wait until age 65. What’s the best way to do this? Obviously, there are a lot of factors that will go into the answer to such a question, so right off, it’s hard to say for sure, but here are the basics of making this decision: These types of pensions are based on the employer’s assumption about your life expectancy. If you live to exactly the expected age, the cost to the employer will be roughly the same no matter which option you choose. You just need to do the math – bigger payments later are made for (expected) fewer years. It goes without […]

Mandatory Retirement Plans

A few weeks ago I finished a paper arguing for mandatory retirement contributions from both employers and employees. Though arguably the paper will not come close to changing public policy on retirement plans, it did raise some arguments in favor of the United States adopting a mandatory savings plan. In the paper I explained that research has shown that individuals risk not having enough saved for retirement. This could be due to employees not having a retirement plan through work or because employees face an abundance of mutual fund options in the plan that they don’t know where to begin. Some of these employees choose the default option or simply go with what a colleague recommends. Another problem the paper addresses is the declination of defined benefit pensions. Such pensions are employer sponsored and funded, thus removing funding an investment risk from the employee. At retirement the employee receives a […]

Life Cycle Finance Theory

This is an excellent video on one approach to thinking about retirement. Dr. Wade Pfau and Professor David Littell of The American College of Financial Services lead the discussion.

Should You Delay Retirement?

The question of delaying retirement may arise as you get closer to your “goal year” of when you want to retire. For some individuals’ fortunate enough to be covered under a company or state pension, it can be tempting to retire as soon as possible and collect the pension benefit. The same may be true for folks wanting to start taking Social Security at age 62. Before making the decision to retire or retire early an individual should consider the effects on delaying retirement and continuing to work. This is assuming that they can accrue extra pension benefits for the extra years of service. For Social Security, this would be delaying past an individual’s normal retirement age as long as to age 70. For example, let’s say an individual has the opportunity to be eligible to retire at age 55 and receive a pension of $5,500 per month. However, if […]

Why Watching the Stock Market Can Make You Sick

I recently read a fascinating article on the correlation between market declines and admission rates to hospitals. The authors point out that almost instantaneously; the effects of a market decline affect mental health such as anxiety. In a nutshell, the authors describe that expectations about the future play a role in investor’s utility (happiness) today. The research in this article can be beneficial on two fronts. One the one hand, the information can be beneficial to advisors in educating their clients that once proper assets allocation for a particular client is achieved there is little to be gained by logging into an account and watching the daily and even hourly fluctuations of the market. And every asset class will fluctuate – which is why we diversify and allocate assets accordingly such as real estate, large cap stock, small cap stocks, commodities, bonds, etc. It’s important to note that at any […]

Goals for 2014

Goals setting and resolutions are among the top things on peoples’ minds when they start the New Year. And rightfully so. A new year signals a fresh, start a new beginning, a clean slate. Feeling refreshed and ready, most people start on their resolutions with the best of intentions – for about a week or two. Then they either give up, forget, fall back onto the same habits and routines that they promised they’d get out of the year before. It’s great to have resolutions – but they must be accompanied by resolve. What is resolve? Resolve, according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary is to make a definite and serious decision to do something. This means planning ahead, expecting obstacles and figuring out ways to push through and achieve your goals. I recommend writing your goals or resolutions down. Here’s how: To begin write out your financial, fitness, work, eating, etc. goals […]

Avoid the Trap

Eating and dining out all the time can drain our money and potential retirement savings without us even being aware of it. We get asked from friends to go to lunch, coffee or we find ourselves skipping breakfast and getting in the line at the coffee shop for a scone and latte. Before we know it, we’re left asking, “Where did the money go?” Or worse, “I can’t afford to save for retirement.” What’s happened is we’ve fallen into the trap – a habit really, but it can be broken and we can relearn. Here’s how: The first thing you can do is to pass on that latte or scone all together. Instead, make yourself breakfast at home. Invest in a coffee maker if you don’t have one, and make your own coffee. Then make a nice meal of scrambled eggs and whole wheat toast, a cup of cottage cheese with […]

Opportunity Cost

Nearly every day in our lives we experience trade-offs and make choices affecting whether or not we’ll do something, buy something or do nothing and buy nothing. Some of us will choose to walk rather than drive, some will choose to pack a lunch rather than dine out, some of us will choose to save money while others will choose to spend it. These trade-offs are what can be referred to as opportunity costs; meaning what we’re giving up in order to take advantage of another availability opportunity. Financially, we make the choices all the time; the choice to dine out versus saving the extra money towards retirement; the choice to not save in our employer’s retirement plan so we can have more money to spend today. These opportunity costs can add up. Here’s why. When a person makes the choice to not save in order to spend for today, […]

5 Essential Financial Planning Steps for Your 30s and 40s

(jb note: the article below is from my friend Roger Wohlner, who blogs at The Chicago Financial Planner.) Many of the calls that I receive are from folks in their 50s or 60s who are either within sight of retirement or already retired.  Many of these callers are pretty well-prepared for retirement and are seeking my help to fine-tune their situation and/or to help them through this next phase of life.  This type of financial readiness doesn’t just happen it takes planning and preparation.  Here are 5 essential financial planning steps for those of you in your 30s and 40s to help you reach your retirement goals and more importantly to help you achieve financial independence. Get started  If for whatever reason you haven’t done much of anything to ensure your financial future it’s time to get going.  Today is the best day to get started, tomorrow is the second best […]

Book Review: The 7Twelve Portfolio

The 7Twelve Portfolio is an excellent concept for financial planners and novice investors alike. The book is very well written and easy to comprehend as Dr. Israelsen keeps the concepts simple and analogies easy to follow. The crux of the book is regarding diversification and Dr. Israelsen uses the analogy for making salsa as a reference. For example, you don’t have salsa of you just have diced tomatoes and it really doesn’t improve if you simply add some onions and salt. It improves a little bit, but still isn’t salsa. The same is true for diversification. You’re not diversified if you own one stock or bond in your portfolio and have all of your holdings in that one asset. The benefits of diversification begin when you start adding additional ingredients to the mix. This starts to lower risk and help maximize return. This is a concept us nerdy planners call correlation. The […]

The Airplane Analogy

Many parents face the decision during their working years to try to fund both retirement and college education. Some can adequately do both while others are forced to do the best they can with what money they can save. Sometimes parents can get caught up in wanting to save as much as they can for their children’s college education and forgo the need to save for or save more for retirement. When this situation presents itself, I have given my clients my airplane analogy. It goes something like this: Have you ever flown on an airplane before? If you have you know that once you’re scrunched in and belted and the plane makes its way from the gate the flight attendants break radio silence and start with their routine flight instructions. After you’re taught where the exit rows are and how to use your seat as a floatation device they […]

The Crystal Ball

Every so often we get asked by our clients or prospective clients which direction the market is going to go. This is always and entertaining question to get – and some of our “regulars” already know the answer. Having a bit of a sense of humor (albeit dry sometimes) I’ll joke with clients and tell them that the day they handed out crystal balls in my investment class, it was the one time I called in sick – and you only get one chance at the coveted crystal ball. Thus, I forever lost the opportunity to predict the future of the markets. Darn. Inevitably, clients laugh and understand the joke – and take away the underlying theme of the jocularity – that we can’t predict the future, especially in securities markets. But this doesn’t mean we can’t plan ahead. So why do we invest? Why do we save for retirement? […]

Your Employer’s Retirement Plan

Whether you work as a doctor, teacher, office administrator, attorney, or government employee chances are you have access to your employer’s retirement plan such as a 401(k), 403(b), 457, SEP, or SIMPLE. These plans are a great resource to save money into, and some employers will even pay you to participate! Let’s start with the 401(k). A 401(k) is a savings plan that is started by your employer to encourage both owners of the business and employees to save for retirement. Depending on how much you want to save, you can choose to have a specific dollar amount or percentage of your gross pay directed to your 401(k) account. Your money in your account can be invested tax-deferred in stock or bond mutual funds, company stock (if you work for a publicly traded company), or even a money market account. Your choice of funds will depend on the company that […]

Pay Yourself First

One of the first steps to saving is to get yourself on an automatic pay plan. You’re going to learn to pay yourself first. It doesn’t matter if it’s only a minimal amount. What does matter is that you are going to pay yourself first. This concept is found in the book, The Richest Man In Babylon by George S. Classon. Consider yourself the first bill you have to pay. Here’s how you can apply this to your life: First, one of the easiest things you can do is take a portion of your paycheck and stick it right in the bank, right away, the day you get paid. One of the best ways I know of to accomplish this is through the genius of direct deposit. If your employer allows it, have your paycheck directly deposited into your bank account each and every payday. Some employers even allow a […]

Take Your RMDs From Your Smallest IRA

Here’s a strategy that you could use to simplify your life: when you’re subject to Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) after age 70½, you have the option of taking separate RMDs from each IRA that you own OR you could take all of your RMDs from one account if you like. As long as you calculate your RMD based upon all of the IRAs that you own, you are free to take the full amount of all of your RMDs from one single account (or several accounts) if you wish.  And keep in mind that the “I” in IRA stands for Individual – so you can’t aggregate your IRAs with your husband’s, for example. By doing so, you could eliminate the smaller account(s) if you wish, thereby reducing paperwork (fewer accounts and statements).  As well, you don’t have to keep track of as many accounts for estate planning. But then again, […]

Advice on Social Security Benefits

Note: with the passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 into law, File & Suspend and Restricted Application have been effectively eliminated for anyone born in 1954 or later. If born before 1954 there are some options still available, but these are limited as well. Please see the article The Death of File & Suspend and Restricted Application for more details. I get a lot of questions about when to take benefits, how to use File & Suspend most efficiently, and when to begin Spousal Benefits.  And unfortunately, I am often at a loss for giving a specific answer to the individual, because I just don’t have enough information. Image by wallyg via Flickr Social Security planning has very many factors that must be considered – for example: It’s important to consider earnings if you’re filing early and continuing to work (see Social Security Earnings Tests for more information), […]

Social Security Eligibility

In order to be eligible to receive Social Security benefits – retirement, disability, or survivor benefits – a worker must earn eligibility to receive the benefits.  The general rule of thumb is that for full benefits, the worker must earn at least 40 quarters of credit within the system. Social Security Credit Generally speaking, a quarter of Social Security credit is earned for each $1,120 earned (in 2010 or 2011).  This amount is generally indexed each year – for example, the amount of earnings for a credit in 2009 was $1,090.  So if a worker earns at least $4,480 in 2011, four quarters of credit are earned with the Social Security system. Minimum Credits If you become disabled before age 62, disability benefits may be available to you if you have at least six quarters of credits earned.  Of course, these benefits will be reduced from the maximum, based upon […]

Linksharing 7/12/2009

Once again, I’ve found several interesting blog posts among my colleagues that I feel compelled to share with you. To start things off, Jeff “don’t call me Jan” Rose over at the “Good Financial Cents” blog wrote about the changes coming for Roth IRAs next year in the post Gone Daddy Gone – AGI Restriction For Roth IRA Conversion.  This is a good run-down of the specifics of this important change in the landscape – plus you’ve gotta appreciate a guy who can relate the Violent Femmes to the Roth IRA… The next article for this week is from Jean Keener at Keener Financial Planning.  Jean wrote a very good article about your 401(k) options when you change jobs – a timely article, given the upheaval many folks are facing nowadays in the job market. Aron Levin, on the “Gen Y – Retire Rich!” blog, brings us another timely article called […]

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