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Retirement Planning Blog

on 22 March, 2018

market meltup over morgan stanley

The stock market certainly delivered an exciting start to 2018.

The S&P 500 climbed 7.5% between late December and January 26, when it recorded the last in a string of record closes at 2,872.87. That fateful Friday in January was also the day the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached its record high of 26,616.71.

That may have been the end of a much-anticipated "meltup," which CNBC reporter Sue Chang writes is defined as an unexpected rise in asset prices as a fear of missing out (FOMO) drives investors to surge into the market. Think of it as the opposite of a meltdown. But like a party that gets out of control, what often follows a meltup may be quite a slow clean-up.

One prominent analyst says 2018 peaked early and we shouldn’t expect much growth for the rest of the year.

"We think January was the top for sentiment, if not prices, for the year. With volatility moving higher we think it will be difficult for institutional clients to gross up to or beyond the January peaks," said Michael Wilson, chief U.S. equity strategist at Morgan Stanley Institutional Securities, in his weekly note on March 19, 2018.

"Retail sentiment indicators also look to have peaked in January and we do not see anything on the horizon to get retail investors more bullish than they were following a tax cut."

on 21 March, 2018

 planning for healthcare expenses in retirement

How should you include the price tag of healthcare costs in your retirement plan? Many people underestimate what their healthcare expenses may be. At times, it’s even to a great extent.

In a March 2017 survey by Voya Financial, 69% of baby boomers said they expected to pay “$100,000 or less” for healthcare expenses in retirement. Among retirees, 66% also expected their healthcare costs to be $100,000 or below.

on 19 March, 2018

asset based long term care

An income-rich retirement takes diligent effort to reach. Living well in the golden years means you have to start saving early. Over the years you save and invest some of your income in tax-advantaged retirement accounts, like a 401(k) or a Roth IRA. When retirement starts to draw near, it's time to create an air-tight financial plan that generates the income that would make your ideal retirement possible.

But, if you’re like the majority of Americans, you may not have planned for a big-ticket item that can derail even the best-laid retirement plan: the nest-egg-depleting cost of long-term care.

We know from recent studies that we are living longer than previous generations. However, most of us have our blinders on when it comes to planning for long-term care (LTC). A study by Northwestern Mutual revealed that 56 percent of Americans say that saving for LTC is one of their top financial priorities. But a whopping 73 percent haven't planned for this need.

in Annuity
on 15 March, 2018

market value adjustment

Have you heard of a “market value adjustment” when researching annuities? A market value adjustment is a contract feature that comes with annuities of the fixed variety. Generally you will find it attached to traditional fixed annuities and indexed annuities.

A contract with this feature is called a “market value adjusted annuity,” or an MVA annuity for short. MVA annuities tend to offer higher interest rates than regular fixed annuities do.

With a market value adjustment feature in the contract, the insurance company shares some of its investment risk with an annuity policyholder. In exchange, the policyholder may enjoy more chances for growth potential than a regular fixed contract may provide. That being said, the market value adjustment factor applies typically to excess contract withdrawals and surrender charges. And depending on the interest rate environment, an MVA may be positive or negative, which can increase or decrease a surrender charge amount. 

The insurance company uses the market value adjustment factor as a safeguard against annuity contract surrenders and, in turn, to maintain its financial strength. That way it can maintain its contractual guarantees and promises made to its annuity policyholders.

Let's look more at what a market value adjustment involves -- and how it may be beneficial or negative.

on 12 March, 2018

living to 100 article

What are the chances of living to 100? You may be surprised. Although people reaching 100 and beyond is rare, more Americans are joining the ranks.

In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau found 53,364 centenarians – or those fabled few who have attained age 100 and up – were living in the United States. A later study by the CDC estimated that the “100 and up” crowd had grown over 40 percent, or to 72,197 centenarians, in 2014.

Over the past few years, numerous studies have revealed that, in general, we are likely to live longer than previous generations did. In turn, that is changing people's expectations of the golden years. 

Apparently, we have gotten the message that we are likely to have many more years to enjoy than we may have previously expected. A newly released study from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies reveals that today’s workers are already thinking in terms of longer lives.

Their 2017 survey of more than 6,000 workers across the United States asked: “What age are you planning to live to?” Those who provided an answer to the question are planning to live to age 90 (median). Another 14 percent plan to live to age 100 or older, a finding which is even higher among millennials (18 percent).

on 08 March, 2018

a look at single premium iul

People depend on life insurance for many reasons. Some households use it for income protection, as they have children or other dependents for whom they provide. Retired and middle-aged working individuals may use it for legacy or estate planning goals. It could be part of a broader legacy or estate plan, as the tax treatment of life insurance allows for an efficient transfer of wealth to loved ones.

Depending on your goals, life insurance comes in many forms, and one is Single-Premium Indexed Universal Life Insurance. It's also known as "Single-Premium IUL," or even just "SPIUL." Let's take a closer look at this universal life insurance option and what it might have to offer.

in Annuity
on 07 March, 2018

annuity beneficiary payout options

You may have invested a fair amount of time crafting your retirement plan. Your financial plan might include an annuity that could both maximize your lifetime income and maximize the potential payout to your chosen beneficiaries. But you may not have focused on the options that your beneficiaries have when choosing how to take their payout.

So, what are the annuity beneficiary payout options and how do they work? Let’s find out.

in Annuity
on 05 March, 2018

indexed annuity floor

Some index-based financial products have a "floor," or the maximum value you would lose if the index went down. In a fixed indexed annuity, the floor is expressed as a guaranteed minimum interest rate. This floor is usually set at at an annual rate of 0%, meaning that even if the index decreases in value, the interest to be credited won't be negative.

Essentially, the annuity floor will consist of your annuity's accumulation value plus the guaranteed minimum rate. You can never lose money due to any index declines. But your money may lose value in the times of index losses, if the indexed annuity contract has optional rider fees or you pay a surrender charge for early withdrawals.

If you are researching fixed index annuities to see if annuities may be for you, it's helpful to have a good knowledge of the essentials. Let's get started with a more in-depth discussion of a fixed indexed annuity, some of its common features, and how the floor guarantee may work.

on 27 February, 2018

 how much life insurance do you really need

It's relatively straightforward to know how much insurance you might need for certain valuables, like a car or your home. But many people don't know the answer to this question: "How much life insurance do I really need?"

If you find yourself in these shoes, you aren't alone. According to a study by Life Happens and LIMRA, 40% of people haven’t bought life insurance, or more of it, because they are unsure of how much or what type to buy.

Whether you are retired or still working, life insurance can help solve for many issues. For young to middle-aged couples with dependents, it may be a source of financial protection, income replacement, or supplemental liquidity.

And for households of retirement age? Life insurance can let you enjoy tax-advantaged income, pass a legacy to heirs in a tax-efficient manner, mitigate tax burdens upon death, and even provide much-needed liquidity for post-death expenses.

Here are some helpful basics to consider as you research how much life insurance may be right for you.

on 26 February, 2018

 retirement planning expect unexpected

Scottish poet Robert Burns famously wrote, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” No doubt you likely have a plan for your retirement, even if you might not have a formal written financial plan.

You may know when you want to retire and what you’ll be doing afterwards with your newfound freedom. You may even have a roadmap to get you there.

Now imagine that a big hand reaches down from the sky, crumples up your roadmap, and tosses it aside. But wait, you protest! Too late, your circumstances have changed forever. While that sounds like a stretch, just being caught off-guard with your retirement plan would be less than pleasant, huh?

This is essentially what happened to half of the retirees in The Retirement Preparedness Study from Prudential Retirement. When surveyed, 51 percent said they retired earlier than planned. Sounds good, right? A chance to get to that retirement wish list sooner?

Not exactly. Only 23% retired earlier than planned because they wanted to, either because they had enough money to retire, wanted to retire, or were simply tired of working. Everyone else was dealt an unplanned event, either partially or fully out of their control:

  •  46 percent retired earlier than expected due to health problems
  • 30 percent were laid off from their jobs or offered an incentive package to retire early
  • 11 percent were forced to leave work to care for a loved one

For that 51 percent, their “best-laid plans” went awry, forcing them to adapt to a future they hadn’t foreseen.

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