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on 20 November, 2017

4 steps to financial house order holidays

The holidays are approaching, and everyone is stepping into high gear. From Thanksgiving dinners and seasonal gift shopping to family get-togethers, these are busy but joy-filled times. Aside from the festivity, fellowship, and merriment, though, it can also be financially stressful for many households.

The holiday season brings more pressure to spend, and this can put strain on retirees, many of whom live on a fixed income. For lots of Americans, there’s also the issue of personal debt. Having the pressure of growing debt loads, many people feel the impact of debt on their retirement goals, not to mention other objectives. And excessive holiday spending can be partly to blame. A survey by NerdWallet found that 24% of shoppers overspent last year, while 27% made no budget at all.

The good news is with the right steps, financial wellness is within reach. If you are in your 50s or 60s, it’s prudent to start taking steps to set goals, plan for the future, avoid financial missteps, and make changes so your money works for you.

Here are some steps to get your financial house in order for the year-end and for greater financial confidence in the future.

on 19 September, 2017

difference between traditional and roth ira

There are many types of IRAs. But two of the most common are the traditional IRA and the Roth IRA. The type of account you select can have a significant impact on your long-term household savings.

The biggest difference between a traditional IRA and Roth IRA is their classifications in the IRS tax code. A traditional IRA is a “qualified plan,” which means that money going into it has pre-tax status. On the other hand, a Roth IRA is a “non-qualified plan.” This means that the account is funded with after-tax dollars. The qualified and non-qualified classifications also mean both types of accounts have different rules for required minimum distributions.

Because of this difference and others, it’s important to understand the fundamentals behind these two plans. This brief discussion will help you understand their distinctions, their eligibility criteria, and other important factors. Let’s get into it.

on 14 August, 2017

protect wealth academy

Brent Meyer, President and Founder of SafeMoney.com, recently sat down with Protect Wealth Academy (PWA). PWA is an organization which teaches investors how to protect their assets, minimize taxes, and create wealth. During the conversation, they talked about retirement planning, why it's critical to plan for a long retirement lifespan, as well as growth, income, and protection strategies using guaranteed insurance contracts.

You can read the interview in full here.

on 28 April, 2017

401k fake news

Note: This is the fifth and final part of a month-long series on financial awareness in the U.S., and how investors are planning – or not preparing – for retirement. Here are some surprising insights into how the spread of fake news is growing - and how it's affecting the lives of retirement investors.

Fake news has struck again. The spread of misinformation has whipped up a new public storm, this time with 401(k)s and their tax-favored status. If the news buzz was any indicator, President Trump appeared to be pushing for an end to tax-deferred saving advantages tied to 401(k) contributions in his tax policy reform proposal.

The mayhem began at a White House press conference, when press secretary Sean Spicer was taking questions about the proposed tax reforms. Trump’s plan outline had called for a pullback of nearly all tax deductions in exchange for tax code reforms elsewhere.

Amid a volley of questions, Spicer was asked if Trump’s plan would affect 401(k) contributions. He responded by saying the plan protected charitable gifts, mortgage interest deductions, and “that’s it.” Then began a flurry of media activity – press reports ranged from uncertainty to affirmation of the tax proposal advocating for 401(k) changes. The Trump administration later clarified, responding that changes to 401(k) contributions were not in the works.

While the press outlets reporting uncertainty over possible changes had it right, it shows an emerging trend: the impact of fake news, or false and/or misleading articles, on the lives of everyday Americans. And research shows it is having effects on people’s financial lives.

on 21 April, 2017

More Americans Losing Sleep Over Money than Before Great Recession

Note: This is the fourth part of a month-long series on financial awareness in the U.S., and how investors are planning – or not preparing – for retirement. Here are some important takeaways that are keeping Americans from financial security and peace of mind.

For the first time in a long while, Americans are feeling more stressed than ever. If surveys are any indicator, money concerns are a big part of it. In fact, more Americans are losing sleep over money issues than before the Great Recession.

According to CreditCards.com, 65% of Americans report having insomnia over money issues – a 9-point jump from 56% in 2007. And what accounts for these new, high levels of stress? Here’s a quick look at the sleep killers for Americans in 2017.

on 13 April, 2017

How can High 401k Fees Affect Your Retirement Success

Note: This is the third part of a month-long series on financial awareness in the U.S., 401(k) plans, and how investors are planning – or not preparing – for retirement. If you have an employer-sponsored retirement plan, here are some strong insights into how high 401(k) plan fees can be detrimental for retirement saving goals.

As prior posts have mentioned, the 401(k) is the retirement savings plan most used by U.S. employers. And millions of Americans use it for their retirement saving goals. It’s no surprise as to why.

For one, the IRS permits pre-tax employee contributions of up to $18,000 (2017 contribution limit). Plan participants aged 50 and up are able to make pre-tax, “catch-up” contributions of an additional $6,000. Many 401(k)s also come with an employer match, providing a powerful savings incentive for U.S. workers.

Yet while the 401(k) is a valuable retirement savings vehicle, it has its downsides. One negative is the presence of high cumulative fees within some 401(k) plans and their in-plan investment classes. Over time, costly high fees can dwindle away earnings, which also siphons off money that would grow with compounding. So there is also the opportunity cost of the money investors could have earned if those funds remained within their 401(k). It could be a difference of thousands, if not tens of thousands of lost dollars in potential retirement income.

on 07 April, 2017

Financial Illiteracy and the Great 401k Experiment

Note: This is the second part of a month-long series on financial awareness in the U.S., 401(k) plans, and how investors are planning – or not preparing – for retirement. If you have an employer-sponsored retirement plan, read on for insights on how a lack of financial education can tie into people’s experiences with their 401(k) plans.

Financial Literacy: A Must for Retirement Success

Financial wellness is the ground-spring for a happy and financially secure retirement. As common sense may indicate, this begins with well-informed retirement planning decisions. But many Americans fall short in their knowledge of even the basics, as numerous consumer surveys document, year after year. And in turn, this knowledge gap can lead into broken retirement dreams: crushing debt, depletion of savings, scaled-back lifestyles, and other headaches that undermine Americans’ post-work standard of living.

on 20 March, 2017

interest rates going up

After years of waffling on a more aggressive interest rate agenda, the Federal Reserve is indicating change may be ahead. Earlier this month, a new employment report showed the U.S. added 235,000 jobs in February. With job growth, wage growth, and other indicators on the rise, the Fed decided to raise the federal funds rate – or the rate for overnight loans – to a target range of 0.75-1.0%. In turn, it will affect interest rates nationwide – from credit card rates and lending rates to mortgage interest rates and more.

This hike comes after a three-month impasse – the last time the Fed increased its benchmark rate was in December 2016. As a New York Times article noted, this is the Fed’s third rate hike since the financial crisis of 2008-2009.

Now, how can this affect retired and near-retired investors - and does it mean future interest rate hikes?

on 30 November, 2016

bolster your financial confidence in 2017 with a year end review

As the holiday festivities roll around, many of us are thinking about 2017. What steps can we take to start off with a clean slate in the new year? One urgent priority should be conducting a year-end financial review and creating a well-balanced plan for the future, preferably with a financial professional. Not only will it help you start off strong, but it also will bring clarity and precision to your financial outlook.

Of course, this proactive approach doesn't bring just short-term benefit. A year-end review and wrap-up of remaining plans can help you prepare well for long-term retirement goals and overall financial security. If you need to have your own financial review done, read on for some quick tips to consider during your annual review and planning process.

on 23 November, 2016

5 ways to boost your financial wellness during the holiday season

The holidays offer a great opportunity for us to reconnect with loved ones, relatives, and friends. From Thanksgiving dinners and seasonal gift shopping to holiday get-togethers and family gatherings, these times are truly special. But apart from the joy, merriment, good cheer, and great company, many Americans find this period financially stressful.

Discretionary spending, in the form of gift buying and other holiday shopping, ups the pressure on household budgets. And for a large proportion of retired and working Americans, the coming year-end may increase the brunt of existing financial pressures and obligations. Having sufficient income and healthy cash-flow is a concern for all households, especially people in their retirement years. The holidays are an ideal time-frame for financial review, but it can be intimidating to get our house in order, as personal finances are tedious, detailed, and, for many, overwhelming.

However, a secure financial life is well within reach, and it involves taking the right steps. If you are retired or approaching your golden years, read on for four quick tips to boost your financial wellness this holiday season.

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