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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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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401k vs iul img

In the last decade, we had two major market crashes. Understandably, many working professionals worry about the long-term safety of their money. They may have retirement saving plans such as 401(k) plans at their disposal. But with its contribution limits, costly tax implications, and investment options’ exposure to market risk, the 401(k) can be unseemly for conservative-minded savers.

One trend we have seen is presentation of “IUL,” or indexed universal life insurance, as an alternative to the 401(k). To be clear, IUL isn’t an investment strategy, it is a type of permanent life insurance. So be wary of discussions in which IUL is treated as an investment vehicle, especially relative to a 401(k) plan.

With that said, IUL may be attractive to retirement savers, including younger professionals, on account of its more tax-efficient advantages over the 401(k), among other benefits. Some advantages include protection against market downfalls, more flexibility with contributions and money access, and better tax treatment for future income. Keep in mind, though – just like with any financial product, suitability will always depend on individual client needs, circumstances, and objectives.

Here’s a quick overview of indexed universal life insurance, and how it can differ from a 401(k) as a wealth-accumulating option.

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 Fed reserve

What do Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, the chairperson of the Federal Reserve, and retiring Americans all have in common? In a word, interest rates – or, more precisely, how interest rates affect all of these parties.

What the Fed sets as its interest rate agenda has broad implications for the U.S. economy. It has multiple touchpoints, including Americans’ retirement income security. With that said, political climate can also be impactful. It can be influential in shaping the debate over Fed interest rate policy.

In our previous Federal Reserve blog post, you may recall how we distinguished between “permanent” income and “maybe” income – and how interest rates can affect these retirement income types. Here’s a quick look at how our current climate of political affairs, the outlook for Fed interest rate policy – and what it may mean for income-generating vehicles funding our retirement.

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How Does Financial Literacy Affect Quality of Life

Last week we discussed ways to attain comfortable financial security. Of course this doesn’t just happen on its own. Rather, it’s the result of careful evaluation of financial goals, needs, and objectives, and then laying out a blueprint to achieve those milestones.

Once you have a plan in place, it’s a matter of staying on top of your finances. With steadfast diligence and assistance from a qualified financial professional, timely checkups on your portfolio and readjustments – if needed – will help keep your financial roadmap on course. In due time, this commitment pays off. It leads to financial independence, peace of mind, and clarity in the ways you deal with your money.

Ultimately, all of this begins with financial literacy. As the old saying goes, “Knowledge is power,” and having strong financial awareness puts you in the driver’s seat for sound decision-making. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for many American households.

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How Does Financial Education Pay Off

So we’ve discussed the likely effects of having inadequate financial knowledge. Shortfalls in someone’s financial well-being or even retirement security are just a few possibilities. But it isn’t limited to just this alone.

A lack of awareness can also limit someone’s ability to capitalize on wealth-building opportunities. After all, consumers have access to a wide, diverse landscape of financial products. These selections offer differing levels of value depending on what the consumer needs, and the financial industry is also a dynamic, ever-changing space.

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Helpful Resources for Financial Education

Last week’s post covered the deficiency in Americans’ financial education. Much of it is due to gaps in financial education. Ultimately, a lack of financial awareness leads to a shortfall in financial well-being.

For National Financial Literacy Month, SafeMoney.com has partnered together with nationwide financial literacy organization Society for Financial Awareness (SOFA). Over the course of April, we’ll be publishing helpful articles with comprehensive, actionable information to help you make retirement decisions with confidence. SOFA is also providing informative, public workshops on pressing financial topics. Through this partnership, we’re working toward alleviating financial illiteracy in the United States, one community at a time.

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SOFA NFLM 2016

Since 2003, April has been recognized as National Financial Literacy Month. It’s a 30-day period consisting of nationwide efforts to promote financial awareness and its benefits among all generations of Americans. As the old chestnut says, “knowledge is power,” and strong financial awareness empowers people to make good decisions about their future.

But on that note, just why is financial education so important? Unfortunately, studies show a widespread lack of financial awareness – and with it comes greater potential for shortfalls in Americans’ financial well-being. It’s a trend with tremendous implications for all Americans.

What Do the Numbers Say?

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The Importance of Financial Education

In the past, we’ve discussed the importance of being prepared for retirement. Unfortunately, not taking proper precautions can lead to shortfalls later on. It’s important to evaluate what your retirement needs will be and to develop a roadmap to meet those objectives.

Ultimately, one significant factor behind any retirement shortfalls is a gap in financial education, especially among younger generations of Americans. Unfortunately, surveys indicate a widespread lack of financial awareness. For example, in a study by Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy, researchers graded all 50 states on what they were doing to promote financial education in the classroom.

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What the Fed is Going on

One factor which can affect retirees and pre-retirees is changing interest rates. Specifically, it’s a matter of whether they’re rising or falling – and what effects it may have on retirement income.

This week brought news from the Economic Policy Symposium, an annual gathering of Federal Reserve officials, other central bankers from across the globe, and policy experts. It’s important because the participants share their insights on many trends – including what the Fed may do with interest rates in the future.

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