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Retirement Planning Blog

on 22 October, 2019

social security benefits cola 2020

On October 10, the Social Security Administration officially released the amount of their cost-of-living adjustment for 2020. Almost 70 million Americans will see their Social Security benefits rise by 1.6% next year.

While this raise is less than the 2.8% cost-of-living-adjustment for 2019, it’s still higher than the 1.4% average COLA that participants have received over the past decade. The Senior Citizens League was also spot on with its projection for Social Security next year.

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on 18 September, 2019

retirement tax planning

When it comes to taxes, you can be sure that Uncle Sam will want his share. Retirement tax planning can help you make the most of your money. Tax-wise strategies let you maximize your income and keep more of what you have accumulated over a lifetime of hard work.  

But while Uncle Sam’s tax collections are a certainty, what is less than clear for millions of retirees is their own tax bills. Many don’t know whether they are paying too much in taxes or not – and how, in turn, that affects their retirement income streams.

Fortunately, there are several ways that you can reduce your tax bill after you stop working through the proper use of annuities and IRAs.

The order in which you withdraw your assets can also substantially impact the amount of tax that you will have to pay. Studies have shown that a properly-structured withdrawal schedule can extend the life of an investment portfolio by as many as 6 years in some cases.

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on 16 October, 2019

retirement healthcare costs estimate

The high cost of healthcare looms as a major factor for retirees to deal with after they stop working. But a recent online survey revealed that things may actually be even worse than what retirees are predicting.

Sponsored by Nationwide Life Insurance Company, the survey was conducted from March through April of 2019. The 1,462 people who were polled were at least 50 years old. This group was a mix of pre-retirees, current retirees, and folks who had been retired for at least 10 years. An additional 516 caregivers were also polled.

The findings? Most of the retirees greatly underestimated their retirement healthcare costs. The majority predicted they would need to spend roughly $7,000 a year on healthcare in retirement. Nationwide estimated the real cost would be closer to $10,739 for the average retiree.

The insurer's health cost estimate was based on the Summary of National Health Expenditures, with reported spending data from the 1960s to 2017.

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on 12 September, 2019

will you have enough money to retire

Nobel prize winner William Sharpe calls it the “nastiest, hardest problem in finance.” What is that? Decumulation, or the process of building a dependable lifelong income stream from your retirement savings.

It’s no wonder millions of Americans are asking if they will have enough money to retire comfortably. Between rising health costs, multiplying risks, and the real possibility of “lifelong” referring to what can be a very long time, there are multiple priorities to juggle as you build a personal retirement strategy.     

Many Americans worry about whether their life savings and income will last for the rest of their lives, as a recent survey found.

In the poll of 3,119 adults, aged 25-74, the majority of retired individuals (71%) felt confident that their savings and income would last. Meanwhile, just 42% of working-age Americans said they had that confidence.

The survey findings were published by the Alliance for Lifetime Income, a non-profit funded by life insurance carriers and asset managers to educate the public on annuities.

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on 10 October, 2019

more predictable income certainty as pensions disappear

Once a corporate giant, General Electric Corporation has found itself in a downward spiral in recent years. The former staple of American business has been working to clear some substantial debt off its books.

One of the company’s latest big moves? To reduce debt by freezing its employee pension assets. This means that benefits will not continue to accrue for its employees, even though they continue to work there.

But while this is obviously better than pension termination, where the pension plan is simply dissolved, it marks the latest casualty in the pension landscape in corporate America.

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in Annuity
on 04 September, 2019

annuities tax efficient retirement strategies

As an annuity owner, you take comfort in knowing that you have planned for an uninterrupted lifelong retirement income stream. Working alongside other income sources from your nest egg, it will pay out, like clockwork, to fund the retirement you have always imagined.

But have you considered whether your income streams are as "efficient" as possible? Whatever retirement strategy you choose — income and all — needs to be "tax-efficient" to ensure you get the most mileage out of your money.

This is just one more piece in the retirement planning puzzle that each of us must solve. When we don't plan for retirement, we run the risk of underspending or overspending our retirement dollars.

What if underspending doesn’t seem like a problem, but rather like an advantage? Consider what events and opportunities to which you may say “no.” And simply because underspending pressures you to have a scarcity mentality, or when you don’t really know if you can afford them.

Perhaps you might pass on an important family event or skip that overseas vacation you always expected to be a highlight of your retirement years. All because you didn’t have a true picture of your anticipated income compared to your expenses.

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on 02 October, 2019

updates to tsp withdrawal options

The TSP Modernization Act has finally arrived. With it comes a host of new rules designed to give plan participants more freedom with taking distributions from their TSP accounts.

The new provisions have greatly expanded the withdrawal options that are available to TSP retirement savers under various circumstances. These provisions came into effect on September 15, 2019.

TSP investors haven’t wasted any time in taking advantage of these new rules. In the weeks following the release of the new rules, there were about 5,000 distribution requests in the hopper.

It’s not clear whether the avalanche of new requests is a show of accumulated demand or just that participants are willing to explore the new rules. But the number of requests is likely to continue at this rate for the foreseeable future.

The act has given the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board until November of 2019 to make the necessary changes in order to facilitate the new rules.

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on 30 August, 2019

mistakes hiring a financial advisor

If you are gearing up for retirement, take heed. Here are eight common mistakes that people make when engaging a financial advisor. These blunders occur more than they should, but the good news is they are easily preventable.

Up until this point, you may have worked with a financial advisor in growing the value of your nest egg. With their help, you created a personal investment strategy and built a portfolio to meet your goals.

But with people spending as long as one-third of their lives in retirement, your next phase-of-life requires careful planning as your working years did. This calls for a financial professional who can help you navigate the unique retirement challenges facing you.

Those new trials include the questions of how to convert your portfolio assets into dependable streams of monthly income that last as long as you need them – and how to manage risks that come with decades-long retirement life.

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on 25 September, 2019

social security benefits cola 2020

While the exact details are still under wraps, Social Security recipients will be pleased to know that their benefits will be receiving a boost in 2020.

Every October, the Social Security Administration releases information regarding Cost-of-Living Adjustments to benefits. This year is no exception. On October 10th, the SSA will be releasing official details regarding the Cost-of-Living Adjustment that applies to 2020 Social Security payouts.

Expect a Social Security Benefits Boost of 1.6%

According to The Senior Citizen League, a nonpartisan group focused on senior issues, Social Security recipients will likely receive a 1.6% boost to their payouts, starting in 2020.

The league tracks data relating to how the SSA calculates its Cost-of-Living Adjustments. It bases their estimate on quarterly movements in the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers (CPI-W).

Mary Johnson, TSCL's Social Security policy analyst, mentions that this increase will be smaller than prior raises. She said that it “would raise an average retiree benefit by about $23.40 per month, a big drop from the $40.90 that people with that level of benefits received this year."

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on 23 August, 2019

lifetime income options img

Today, Americans bear more financial responsibility for their retirement than ever.

The days of receiving monthly pension checks are gradually fading. According to Willis Towers Watson, only 16% of Fortune 500 companies were offering pensions to new hires in 2017, down from 59% of firms in 1998.   

Defined-contribution plans like 401(k) accounts are taking their place. And this shift is huge. Now, people must count on them, IRA assets, and personal savings to create income streams that might need to last for a very long time.  

How long? Potentially decades. The Society of Actuaries estimates that among married couples who are 65, there is a 72% chance that one spouse will live to 85. Not just that, one of them has a 45% chance of reaching age 90.

In other words, someone may spend as much as one-third of their life in retirement. In the face of that, how do you ensure your nest egg lasts for the rest of your lifetime?

While the answer is different for everyone, a new study offers some fresh insights. The Georgetown University Center for Retirement Initiatives partnered with Willis Towers Watson to explore different ways to generate income in defined-contribution retirement plans.  

Their findings show how various lifetime income options, whether as a combination or as stand-alones, can help retirees better enjoy lifelong financial confidence.

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