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Retirement Planning Blog

on 14 August, 2019

900 pixels soho forum

Photo Credit: Reason.com and Soho Forum, Featured in Reason.com podcast, Source Link. Photo is strictly the intellectual property of its owner. All rights reserved.

Millions of retirees depend on Social Security benefits as a major income source. For many people, it's their primary income stream.

According to data from the Social Security Administration, and analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, nearly two-thirds of elderly benefits recipients count on Social Security as their major cash income source.

But some news headlines in recent years have stirred public concerns about the program's future. Dour, and even alarmist, news coverage of reports by the program trustees led many onlookers to wonder about the program's solvency.

To help cut through lingering confusion, two economists participated in a public debate, hosted by the Soho Forum. Set up as an Oxford-style debate, the discussion tackled this resolution: "Given Social Security's nearly $3 trillion trust fund, the system cannot add to the federal deficit."

 

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in Annuity
on 11 July, 2019

annuity inflation risk img

“Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber, and as deadly as a hit man,” Ronald Reagan once famously said.

And the worst time to try to fight this formidable foe is when you are in retirement, living on a fixed income. Many people have some employment, or some involvement with entrepreneurship, for a stream of retirement income.

But chances are they don't offer wage increases, or other inflation-countering benefits that you might have had in your working years, to help you keep pace.

Annuities are one of the few ways to obtain retirement income that is paid out as long as you live, making them a popular component of many retirement plans.

Investors have been using fixed annuities and fixed index annuities to provide lifetime income. These guaranteed income streams cover monthly costs and help people maintain their standard of living.

But if the annuity payout is fixed at the outset of the contract, by design it can’t be increased to keep pace with inflation. Should inflation rise 10% over time, for example, the buying power of a $3,300 monthly annuity payout erodes to $2,970.

This threat has the potential to affect a retiree’s lifestyle and could even require making unwelcome cuts in spending.

So how can investors seeking the benefits of annuities manage this inherent “inflation risk” and offset its impact? These are just a few of the ways.

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on 07 August, 2019

managing longevity in retirement

While retirement has many hard-to-predict moving parts, like what your spending might look like, perhaps one of the most difficult questions to answer is this: “How long will you live?”

Thanks to advances in healthcare and technology, people are living longer. According to the Social Security Administration, the statistical average for a 65-year-old man is to age 84. For a 65-year-old woman, it’s 87.

Economists call the possibility of spending decades in retirement a “longevity risk.” Still, keep in mind those numbers are just averages. What someone’s longevity looks like on a personal level will depend on their family history, health status, and lifestyle choices over the years, among other things.

For many people, the uncertainty adds up to financial concern. In one survey, almost two-thirds of surveyed Americans said they worried about running out of money in retirement more than death!

However, if you are to have a Retirement Plan that guides you across the Arc of Retirement, you will need some guestimate of how long you might live. That way you don’t underspend or overspend your financial resources.

Here are five steps to help keep longevity risk at bay and tame the uncertainty.

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on 02 July, 2019

no retirement plan what happens

Having a financial plan is essential for a comfortable lifestyle, whether you are approaching retirement or are already retired. But what if you haven’t prepared yet for retirement?

Should you find yourself procrastinating and not developing a long-term Retirement Plan (“PLAN.xls”), take heed. This can get you into serious trouble over the long run, with your post-work lifestyle possibly taking a hit in one of two ways: by either overspending or underspending.

There is a weird psychology that can cause a retiree to drag their feet on developing a personal financial strategy. They might worry that, if they know too much about how their finances will play out over time, it will either scare them or at least disappoint them as financial reality sets in.

Think of it as a distorted version of the old saying, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you.” So, retirees spend away, figuring that they will worry about it later.

However, in the case of retirement, what you don’t know CAN hurt you. Especially when time isn't on your side, and big financial mistakes are much harder to recover from since you aren't working (or as least as much as you were earlier in your career) and the lifespan clock is ticking.

Whether dealing with overspending or underspending, the irony is that you will carry a heavy burden of worry in either case. But what you are really searching for in retirement is, above all, peace of mind.

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in Annuity
on 31 July, 2019

annuity myths image

Before you add an annuity to your income strategy, it’s prudent to understand what an annuity does and what it doesn’t do.

Essentially, annuities are insurance contracts. They are built to pay lifelong streams of fixed income, protect money from market losses, or offer tax-deferred money growth.

Indeed, billions of dollars sit in these contracts. A large part of that is due to their popularity for lifetime income, or for higher growth potential than with other low-risk interest-earning vehicles.

Nonetheless, there are still a number of myths and misconceptions about annuities. That might be attributable to a few factors, from annuities being fairly complex to misleading annuity marketing and sales tactics being touted.

This isn’t to say that annuities don’t have a place in a retirement portfolio.

Just like with any other financial vehicle, though, they must have a specified role. That can include solving for particular retirement risks, working in tandem with other parts of a portfolio to reach certain goals, or even simply providing peace of mind with predictable retirement income streams.

Let’s break down some annuity myths and misunderstandings, one-by-one, and learn more about them.

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on 28 June, 2019

three retirement misconceptions katherine brown

Editor's Note: The following article is a retirement guest post that has been authored and contributed by Katherine Brown.

Have you already saved money for your retirement years, or are you playing catch-up now? You need to be aware of certain myths and misconceptions about retirement.

Surviving and thriving during your retirement years entails knowing the truth behind these misconceptions. When you are armed with the right information, it’s easier to turn your lifelong savings into dependable strategies that can help you retire comfortably.

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in Annuity
on 24 July, 2019

should you buy an annuity when interest rates are low

If you are approaching retirement, chances are you have been started exploring how you might enjoy a financially confident retired lifestyle.

This includes maximizing the value of your retirement portfolio – and creating dependable income streams that last as long as you need them to.

For retirement investors, one way to solve for this concern is drawing on a lifetime income stream from an annuity. But how appealing are annuities in the face of historically low interest rates? Especially ones such as those we have experienced for the last several years?

Since 2009, in the aftermath of the Great Recession, most developed countries have experienced a low-interest rate environment. Monetary authorities have sought to use low-interest rate schemas in order to spur economic growth and prevent deflation.

The U.S. saw rates cut to effectively 0% until 2016, when they began to inch higher. Still, today, the federal funds rate is only 2.5%, up just half-a-point from this time last year when it measured 2%.

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in Annuity
on 27 June, 2019

market value adjustment how it works

Have annuities ever popped up on your retirement-planning radar? You might have come across some annuity contracts with a Market Value Adjustment feature. Several fixed index annuities and multi-year guarantee annuities (MYGAs) include this factor in their contracts.

A market value adjustment (MVA) simply refers to the ability of an insurance carrier to offer you higher rates by protecting itself against bond market declines. When an annuity has a market value adjustment in its contract, it’s called a market value adjusted annuity (or MVA annuity for short).

Normally the insurance company holds the interest-rate risk when you buy a fixed annuity. But an MVA annuity gives you the chance to earn a higher rate in exchange for sharing in some of that risk with your insurer.

After all, bond values are sensitive to interest rate movements. So one way to think of this is as a “safeguard” for the insurance carrier against bond market losses.  

If an MVA annuity happens to fall into your retirement purview, here’s a helpful look at what it might involve.

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on 18 July, 2019

claiming social security early cost

Sure, you can start your Social Security benefits at age 62. But is it better to claim early or delay benefits until a later date?

While a one-size-fits-all answer doesn’t work for everybody, a new study suggests that ill-timed Social Security strategies are costing Americans dearly.

United Income found that retirees might lose $3.4 trillion in potential income due to timing of when they enroll for their benefits. The research was a joint effort between the fintech company and former top policy officials from the Social Security Administration.

What about the income effect on retirees at a personal level?  On average, each retired household would miss out on $111,000 of lifetime benefits. And for current retirees, premature decisions could add up to collective losses of roughly $2.7 trillion.

That would average out to roughly $67,000 in lost income per household.

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on 20 June, 2019

848 pixels tsp changes upcoming

While many private-sector workers build their nest eggs through 401(k) plans, federal employees and members of the uniformed services have their own retirement savings and investment plan. This is called the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).

With more than 5 million participants and close to $500 billion in assets, the TSP is recognized as the largest defined-contribution retirement plan in the world.

This fall, TSP plan participants will see significant changes to their withdrawal options.

Many participants have been asking for expanded options. But it took the TSP Modernization Act, which Congress passed and the president signed into law in November 2017, to make them a reality.

Starting November 15, 2019, after two years of planning, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB), the agency that administers the TSP, will offer new options.

These new additions and changes are designed to give plan participants and plan retirees more choices for withdrawing their investments.

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