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Retirement Planning Blog

in Annuity
on 13 June, 2019

how annuity indexing works

Annuities come in all shapes and sizes. And when you are considering one as part of your retirement strategy, sure, it’s important to determine whether an annuity is right for your financial situation.

But there are more annuities than hedge funds in today’s financial marketplace. That is a staggering number of options. If, relative to other solutions, an annuity does help you achieve your retirement goals, then choosing the right one is just as important as its role in your portfolio.

When people plan for their retirement, they usually have one chance to get it right. Your choices will determine whether you live well in later years – or will fall short and will have to deal with the results. This applies just as much to annuity purchase decisions as well as other financial choices for your future.

If you happen to be considering a fixed index annuity for your retirement, understanding how the annuity indexing works is a crucial component.

Your index annuity has many ways of being credited interest. And you might also have a wide menu of index options, from the plain-vanilla S&P 500 price index to newly-minted “volatility controlled” indices.  

First, let’s explore how annuity indexing works. This will cover only annuities of the fixed variety.

Then we will address the new wave of indexing options that include volatility controls, which are a debated topic in the industry.

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on 08 May, 2019

pension maximization

If you are among the rare few with a retirement pension, congratulations! You have a benefit that is becoming increasingly rare.

With the 401(k) plan becoming the workplace retirement plan of choice, people hold more responsibility for their financial futures than ever.

Knowing you have a pension gives you the comfort of knowing that, once you retire, you are scheduled to receive monthly income payouts for life. Your income payment will be based on your salary and your length of employment.

Just like with annuity payout options, the lifetime payout option you select with your pension plan will have a direct bearing on how much income you receive.

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on 06 June, 2019

secure act us retirement

For some time now, small business owners and their employees have had only a limited menu of effective workplace retirement-saving options.

High plan fees and other barriers have kept traditional retirement planning tools, such as 401(k)s, and income tools, such as annuities, beyond their reach.

A new bill, recently passed by the House of Representatives, aims to level the playing field for small businesses. It would also change some rules for required minimum distributions, or RMDs, which could help simplify retirement distribution planning.

The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (the “SECURE” Act) passed the House by a 417-3 vote in late May.

Now it’s on track to move forward to the Senate. With unprecedented bipartisan support in both houses, the bill is expected to have a good chance of sailing through.

If the president signed it into law – or if Congress overturned a presidential veto – the Act would represent the most substantial changes to the U.S. retirement landscape in a decade.

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on 01 May, 2019

worst financial crises part 2

Editor's Note: This article is the second feature in a two-part series on the top financial crises in U.S. economic history.

From reading the first recap of the Top 10 Financial Crises in History (Crises 6 through 10), you may have noticed that certain patterns emerge.

Sometimes we have an overblown sense of optimism, even in the face of empirical evidence to the contrary. At times, it has led our country into a number of financial crises. And while these crises have proven to be more exception than norm, they are yet another reminder of how we just can’t put off personal financial planning.

Not only that, history repeating itself shows that every investor is responsible for protecting their own financial future. With the days of employer-backed pensions fading away, Americans are more responsible for their personal financial security than before.

Having all that in mind, here are five more historical market events which remind us that bad things happen to good investors.

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on 30 May, 2019

retirement planning for long term care

Making a plan to cover your long-term care needs in retirement is one of the most difficult issues you will face. No one knows what will be required in the future.

Some experts, such as Christine Benz with Morningstar, believe the probability can be quite high. In one of its bulletins (in which it also interviewed Benz), AARP estimates a 50 percent chance of someone needing some form of long-term care (LTC) at age 65 and beyond.

Of course, these statistical forecasts might not end up reflecting your personal situation. The truth? The answer may range anywhere from a price tag of zero to the need of skilled nursing care that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars over several years.

As fuzzy as that picture is, you can still plan effectively for the future potential costs of long-term care, not to mention other healthcare expenses.

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on 26 April, 2019

ready for financial wellness need a guide

Editor's Note: This article is Part 4 of a month-long series on financial illiteracy in America. April marks National Financial Literacy Month, and to help raise Americans' financial awareness, SafeMoney.com is teaming up with the Society for Financial Awareness (SOFA), a leading financial literacy non-profit, to spread the word. You can find Part 3, "Watch Out for These Financial Blunders," and can read here our dynamic interview with Jim Chilton, the CEO and founder of SOFA.

Have you ever seen a documentary on thrill-seekers heading to some far-flung destination?

Scaling Mount Everest. Base-jumping off Europe’s Troll Wall. Biking on the World’s Most Dangerous Road in Bolivia. Traversing the Alps.

Whether one of these treks or someplace else, chances are you will see that they have something in common. Rarely do the thrill-seekers go it alone.

Their expeditions often include some sort of guide. And not just any guide. It’s someone who knows the terrain, understands the challenges, and offers the experience to successfully navigate potential mishaps.

Although they don’t involve thrill-seeking, money matters can operate in the same fashion. Without guidance from an advisor, it’s easy to make choices that lead not to financial wellness but to fiscal misery.

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on 23 May, 2019

how much money do i need in retirement

Determining how much money you need in retirement is both a mathematical and a personal issue. Like a fingerprint, the answer is unique to you and your spouse.

That is why it's so important to discuss your 30-year retirement plan early – or in other words, definitely some time before you actually retire. And just not early, but often. This approach will help ensure you and your spouse are on the same page.

Here are a few guidelines you can use in your determination of how much money you need in retirement for a comfortable lifestyle.

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on 24 April, 2019

worst financial crises part 1

Editor's Note: This is Part 1 of a series on the worst financial crisies in U.S. economic history. Stay tuned for Part 2 coming up in a short time!

When the economy is tooling along and we find ourselves facing only an occasional hiccup in our money matters that falls short of expectations, it’s easy to feel complacent about the future. Surely life tomorrow will be a lot like it was today.

Except, as anyone who owned a home, a retirement account, or an investment account in 2008 knows all too painfully, our situations can change in a ‘heartbeat.’ And, in turn, they can affect our future outlooks.

To make sure we are all diligent about protecting our financial futures so that we can achieve the retirement we envision, here are 10 valuable reminders.

These historical lessons reinforce the importance of having a financial plan – so you can trudge on ahead or reset your course as needed. They aren't necessarily typical of what might happen in our lifetimes, but they do show the value in being financially prepared.

As you think about the future, consider working with an experienced financial professional, who acts in your best interest, and who can help you make any such determinations. That includes the whens and ifs of any changes that might be right for you. And keep an eye out for part 2 of our series, coming next week.

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on 16 May, 2019

retirement income planning

If only retirement income planning were as easy as answering one question: "What is your number for lifetime retirement security?"

That would be nice if retirement boiled down to just one number. But this oversimplifies what it takes to enjoy a secure retirement because, in truth, it requires a customized income planning approach.

Why? Because determining how much money you need in retirement is just as much a personal question as it is a mathematical one.

Just think about your goals and what you might need financially to make them happen. Do you plan to travel? To begin a career 'second act' by getting involved with entrepreneurship or consulting? To donate time and resources to causes that are near and dear to you personally?

Bottom-line, everyone will have different income needs. So, here are five important tips to help guide you through your retirement income planning process. You can also further explore some topics by checking out the other SafeMoney articles linked to throughout this piece.

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on 18 April, 2019

lump sum retirement not enough

Congratulations! You have accumulated a nice “nest egg” – or a large lump sum for your retirement. But, believe it or not, just having a hefty portfolio and other assets isn't enough to ensure your retirement security.

There is also the matter of making sure your money lasts for the rest of your lifetime. A retirement income plan will go a long way toward helping you enjoy a comfortable retirement lifestyle.

In other words, building up retirement capital and investing your way to a large portfolio size isn't enough. It's just as important to know what you will do with the money you have accumulated through the development of income and distribution strategies.

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