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Retirement Planning Blog

on 10 October, 2018

lederman photo edited
Photo Credit: Associated Press. All rights reserved, source link.

Nobel laureates are certainly top achievers. In 1988, Leon Lederman won a Nobel Prize for his work in physics. Apart from award-winning research into subatomic particles, he is famous for coining the infamous name of the Higgs bosin: the "God particle."

Lederman passed away in a nursing home in Idaho on October 4. He was 96, according to the Associated Press. The AP describes him as a “giant in his field who also had a passion for sharing science.”

While Lederman’s contributions to science speak volumes, another striking story of him emerges from a past headline by NBC News.

And what happened? In 2015, the physicist was forced to auction his Nobel medal so he and his family could cover healthcare expenses. The medal sold for $765,000. It was a winning bid of $633,335 plus a buyer’s premium that drove the medal to its $765k sell price.

It’s yet another example of how high-cost retiree healthcare needs can change the financial situation of any of us.

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on 10 September, 2018

retirement mistakes made by federal employees

As a postal or federal employee, you have high-quality federal benefits. In time, they will play directly into your retirement, whether you will be eligible to retire in the next 15 years or are a new career hire.

Among your many benefits are programs that directly affect your financial future. Tax-advantaged retirement savings plans, guaranteed-pension payouts, and cost-efficient life insurance coverage are just a few of those programs.

Your challenge is to ensure that you maximize what is available to you. Making smart choices early will help you reap rewards for the rest of your life. So, it’s important to weave your federal employee benefits into your complete financial picture to set yourself up for the most successful retirement possible.

To get there, you need to avoid the mistakes some federal employees make with their benefits and retirement planning. These slip-ups can cost you tens of thousands of dollars in lost benefits. And what's more, once these mistakes are made, they can't be reversed or changed.

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in Annuity
on 27 September, 2018

fixed annuity reach near record sales

Rising interest rates and an easing regulatory environment are contributing to near-record levels of fixed annuity sales. It’s good news for people who might rely on these fixed contracts for guaranteed income or protection. A strong marketplace can lend to new innovations, contract benefits, and contract features.

In the second quarter of 2018, total fixed annuity sales reached $33.7 billion, an 18% increase over second quarter 2017 sales. That figure shattered the quarterly benchmark, according to the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute (LIMRA), a financial industry research firm.

Year-to-date, total fixed annuity sales were $60.9 billion, 9% higher than the first half of 2017, LIMRA reported.

Why all the excitement and elevated interest in fixed annuities? Two possible reasons - rising interest rates and relaxing regulatory pressures on financial markets.

"These products offer a unique value for retirees and pre-retirees seeking protected accumulation and guaranteed lifetime income features," says Todd Giesing, LIMRA’s annuity research director, in an interview with InvestmentNews. "Clearly, with the Department of Labor’s (DOL) fiduciary rule vacated and the prospect of continued rising interest rates, demand for this product is high."

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in Annuity
on 06 September, 2018

ken fisher annuities intro img

Photo Credit: Fisher Investments, Featured in USA Today Special, Source Link. Photo is strictly intellectual property of its owner. All Rights Reserved. 

Long-time money manager Ken Fisher says he hates annuities. And he isn’t exactly shy about it. Since 2013, the head of Fisher Investments has run many blistering anti-annuity promotions – from critical columns and print ads to aggressive TV spots and online display advertising.

Over time, those promotional spots have driven market awareness, boosting Fisher's profile as a well-recognized annuity critic. Many campaigns still run today, with the ads building on the Fisher celebrity, retirement tips, annuity leg sweeps, or other stickler points.

But while the annuity marketing blitz has been a success, a recent article raises questions about Fisher’s strong public stand against annuities.

It may point to what some call a contradiction between the “I hate annuities” mantra of Fisher advertising campaigns and the investment holdings of Fisher’s firm.

At InvestmentNews, reporter Greg Iacurci writes that while the infamous anti-annuity ads were running, Fisher Investments itself was invested in companies with large annuity business.

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on 03 October, 2018

average retirement income intro img

Do you know what the average retirement income is in the United States? A typical retiree household brings in $49,097 annually before taxes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) defines retiree households as those led by someone who is 65 or older.

And what about their spending? On average, a retiree household spends roughly $49,542 per year, which is slightly more than the average retirement income mentioned earlier.

Meanwhile, the average annual pre-tax income for all U.S. households is $73,573. And as for household spending across all age groups, the BLS estimates average expenditures to be $60,060 annually.

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in Annuity
on 29 August, 2018

annuity myths

Before you commit to an annuity as part of your retirement plan, it’s good to know the basics of this retirement tool. Every year, Americans put hundreds of millions of dollars into new annuity policies. Yet there still seems to be a measure of annuity misconceptions and confusion among consumers.  

You may have seen that a quick internet search of the word "annuity" delivers a wildly diverse set of opinions! And every financial pundit has their own take on annuities. Some of the loudest voices on the internet even claim to be against them, all the while offering annuity or annuity-like solutions to their following.

To help you sort through the noise, we break down common annuity myths and supplement the conversation with some facts.

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on 20 September, 2018

dont let this happen in retirement

If you have already created a confidence-boosting retirement plan, congratulations! You are on track to achieving the rewarding retirement of your dreams.

But what happens if you put this necessary task off? If you take a "someday" approach to stopping to assess your needs in retirement and exploring strategies and solutions that can help you achieve them?

It’s not hard to find out. You may even have watched people you know and care about struggle financially in their golden years. A time in their lives that was supposed to be free of financial pressures -- or at least relatively, so we think -- instead forces them to make unpleasant choices just to stay afloat.

Most often, poor financial decisions (or a lack of planning) — fueled by the emotional pressures of life changes or financial stressors — tip that first domino that can begin to topple a care-free retirement.

It takes discipline in matters of money and financial planning to ensure your money works for you, instead of the other way around.

Because you don’t want to find yourself going down the wrong path to retirement, consider these consequences of not taking action to create a plan that can provide you benefits such as reliable income for life.

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on 22 August, 2018

every american lost 70k financial crisis

The Great Recession that began in late 2007 was a painful period in many Americans' lives. Everyone who was invested in the market, people who were overextended in mortgages, and those who lost jobs as a result of a crippled economy, were among the millions affected. 

Since then, many people have recovered from the financial setbacks. Nevertheless, a new study by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco suggests that challenges linger. According to Fed researchers, the long-run effects of the financial crisis cost every American an estimated $70,000 in lifetime income.

The researchers point to a big decline in domestic output levels as a primary cause of those losses. Based on early-2000s Congressional Budget Office forecasts, our national gross domestic product remains well below what its 2007 trend implies we might have been at now. And it's said to be unlikely that the economy will ever make up that lost territory.

While that specter raises many questions, it brings up another important, practical query. How should people preparing for retirement overcome this gap? 

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on 13 September, 2018

what you need to know about thrift savings plan

Are you part of the majority of federal civilian employees in the Federal Employee Retirement System? Or maybe you are a member of the uniformed services. If so, you probably have access to the Thrift Savings Plan, one of the workplace benefits that people receive as United States government employees.  

The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a 401(k) like plan for federal workers. It allows you to contribute to your retirement fund and receive a matching contribution from your federal agency.

According to recent statistics, over 5 million people participate in the TSP, which has more than $500 billion in assets under management.

One common issue for many federal employees is they don’t understand their TSP accounts and what it can offer them. If you find it hard to navigate, no sweat. Here’s a quick rundown of some must-know facts about your Thrift Savings Plan account that can be of benefit.  

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on 15 August, 2018

retirement income planning for couples with age gaps

Like other folks, you probably see waves of retirement advice from the papers, financial talkshows, online news sources, and other outlets. Much of that advice assumes that among couples, both spouses are approximately the same age. That often results in solutions designed to address the needs of couples entering their retirement years together.

But what about couples with sizable age differences? Their different retirement timelines are likely to present unique problems. When such is your situation, how can you plan for your retirement effectively?

If one spouse is eligible to retire 10 or more years ahead of the other, that spouse will be making choices that not only affect their own retirement. It impacts their partner's retirement, as well. Those decisions could have a dramatic impact on the younger spouse’s lifestyle now and during their own golden years.  

Not only does their age disparity affect their retirement plan, it means that life events, both those foreseen (e.g., retirement or required minimum distributions) and unforeseen (e.g., the need to help care for aging parents), will be faced at different stages in their lives.

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