From the Desk of: Todd Gregory
Are you this type?
You always go for the better price…
It’s called “price protection,” a little known credit card perk which some credit cards offer. If you buy something and it goes on sale, you can call your credit card company--and they’ll refund you the difference.
So, if saving money appeals to you, and you own a Whole Life or a cash-value Life Insurance policy, read on….
Do you have a written plan that covers every aspect of your financial life? If your answer is no, you’re not alone. According to a study from the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, only 19 percent of Americans could be categorized as “comprehensive planners.” The remaining 81 percent may plan for specific goals or challenges, like retirement or debt management, but don’t have a comprehensive plan that pulls everything together.1
Certainly, some planning is better than none. If you lack a comprehensive financial plan, however, you could be missing out on opportunities and may be unaware of potential threats.
The different areas of your financial life are likely intertwined, so any planning that you implement in one area could affect another. For instance, your retirement planning could impact your estate planning. Your college savings for your children could impact your ability to save for retirement.
While the benefits are fairly straightforward, there are a few complexities to consider. With some advanced planning, you can further maximize the tax advantages of the Roth IRA for future generations. There are also some mistakes that could wipe out any potential tax benefits.
Are you one of the millions of Americans who have decided to use a Roth IRA to accumulate retirement assets? That may be a wise idea. The Roth IRA has a number of appealing features, including tax-deferred growth and tax-free distributions after age 59½.
Have you used a traditional IRA to save for retirement? You’re not alone. Traditional IRAs are among the most popular retirement savings vehicles. Much of their popularity is due to their unique tax treatment. You can deduct your IRA contributions, and all growth is tax-deferred as long as it stays in the account.
Of course, you can’t avoid taxes on your traditional IRA growth forever. Distributions from your traditional IRA are treated as taxable income. That means that in retirement, your traditional IRA income could create a tax liability and possibly even push you into a higher tax bracket.
Some people delay traditional IRA distributions to avoid the tax hit. However, the latest you can delay your distributions is to age 70½. At that point, you have to begin taking required minimum distributions (RMDs).
Are you approaching retirement? If so, you’re probably finalizing your plans and making sure you’re on solid financial ground. Retirement can be a major financial challenge, so it’s important to take any additional planning steps necessary while you’re still working.
However, you may want to focus your planning on more than just retirement. This is also a good time to review your estate plan. It’s possible that your life has changed since you initially established your estate planning documents. Maybe your plan doesn’t address every possible risk. Maybe you don’t have a plan at all.
Are you considering the purchase of a life insurance policy? Perhaps to provide protection for your spouse, children or other loved ones? Or possibly to support your estate planning and business planning goals?
Life insurance can be a powerful financial tool. If you have dependents, they can use your life insurance death benefit to overcome financial challenges in the aftermath of your death. You could leave a life insurance benefit to loved ones to help them fund their education or reach other major goals.
Worried about your ability to afford retirement? You’re not alone. According to Gallup’s 2017 survey on Americans’ financial worries, 54 percent of those surveyed said they were concerned about not having enough money for retirement. That number is large enough to make retirement America’s No. 1 financial concern.1
Much of the stress surrounding retirement comes from the unknown. There are many variables and factors in retirement that are impossible to predict. You can’t know how long you will live or how long your retirement might last. You can’t know in advance what kind of health issues you may face. And it’s impossible to predict how economic factors could impact your retirement.
There was a time when retirees could count on guaranteed lifetime income from Social Security and an employer pension to fund their golden years. Those days are long gone, though. While today’s retirees still enjoy Social Security income, very few have access to a pension. In 1998 nearly 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies offered a pension. As of 2015 fewer than 20 percent offer one.1
Still, there are some employers that offer their employees pensions, also known as defined-benefit plans. The 401(k) is the standard when it comes to retirement benefits, but the defined-benefit plan hasn’t gone totally extinct yet.
You’re probably aware of the risk posed to retirees by long-term care, which is extended assistance with daily living activities such as eating, mobility and bathing. Long-term care is often provided either in a facility or in the home, and it is usually very costly.
AARP recently published a report on the current state of long-term care. Specifically, it ranked each state by the quality and affordability of care available to seniors. While the scores and information vary by state, there is some information that’s applicable to all retirees, regardless of where they live.
According to AARP, more than half of all people turning 65 today will require long-term care at some point in the future. The report also estimates that care provided in a nursing home can cost more than $90,000 per year, while in-home care costs north of $30,000 annually.1
Have you developed a strategy to manage the biggest financial risks you could face in retirement? If so, you may have an emergency fund to cover unexpected costs, a strategy to minimize market risk, and possibly a plan to cover health care and long-term care costs. Maybe you even have a tax management plan.
There’s one risk, though, that many retirees overlook. It’s inflation, which is the regular, gradual increase in the price of goods and services. Inflation is a natural part of the economy. It’s driven by a broad range of factors including labor and material costs, interest rates, and overall economic conditions.