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Retirement Planning Blog

on 23 August, 2017

top social security questions answered

Like other people, you probably hold a Social Security card. But unless you are close to retirement, you may not know that much about Social Security benefits. As a large governmental program, Social Security has many rules and moving parts that can affect you.

Social Security plays an important role for retired households. Among elderly beneficiaries, 48% of married couples and 71% of single persons receive half or more of their income from Social Security. As you near retirement, you may have questions of your own. Learning more about Social Security will help you get the most out of your benefits.

Because Social Security is a major income source for many people, when you claim benefits might be one of your most important retirement decisions. However, moving through the ins-and-outs of this program can be daunting. To help you get started with planning for your benefits and other income sources, here are answers to seven top Social Security questions.

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in Annuity
on 15 August, 2017

how long accumulation period last for immediate annuities

The short answer? Immediate annuities actually don’t come with an accumulation period. Once you have paid premium into the contract – in most cases a one-time lump – the insurance carrier will start income payments nearly right away. Your income payouts may start anywhere from 1-12 months after the premium payment date.

When this starting date is depends on your contract and frequency of payments. You may receive income on a monthly, quarterly, or even annual basis. Many contract holders opt for a monthly payment schedule.   

The insurance carrier puts the entire sum of your premium into a pool of other premiums it has been paid. Then it allocates these premiums into conservative, low-risk investments. In return, the carrier pledges to make payments to you – or someone you specify – for a specified period of time, which can be for the rest of your life. The income you receive includes a fixed sum and interest paid on a continual basis.  

Therefore, immediate annuities don’t have an accumulation period – there is little time between when you pay premium and start receiving income. Many immediate annuity contracts start income payments just a month after the day you bought your annuity.

Where accumulation periods do apply is with deferred annuities. In these contracts, your money will be left alone for a number of years before you start taking income. Let’s get into more details below.

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on 22 August, 2017

safe money retirement intro img

Whether you are in your 40s or approaching retirement, long-term financial planning should be on your mind. If you want to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle, but you will no longer receive income from a full-time job, you will need to think about cash-flow from other sources, including Social Security, lifetime savings, a retirement portfolio, and maybe some other sources.

While each individual situation will require a specific approach, it’s a good idea to get a general idea of some retirement planning fundamentals. Two primary aspects of financial planning for retirement are wealth preservation and income certainty. Not only should a financial plan match retirement expenses and costs of living with income streams, it also needs to account for how income-producing assets will last as long as you need them to.

Say your risk tolerance tilts toward the conservative spectrum, or where appetites for stomaching financial losses are low. Then you may want to evaluate retirement strategies that provide the emotional comfort of knowing where your money will be coming from, month-to-month, to pay household bills and expenses. We call this Safe Money retirement planning – or making assurances that the money you can’t afford to lose is under the “lock and key” of contractually guaranteed protections.

Of course no retirement success springs up overnight. So, here’s a quick look at 4 simple steps to help you reach more long-term financial wellness and peace of mind.

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on 14 August, 2017

protect wealth academy

Brent Meyer, President and Founder of SafeMoney.com, recently sat down with Protect Wealth Academy (PWA). PWA is an organization which teaches investors how to protect their assets, minimize taxes, and create wealth. During the conversation, they talked about retirement planning, why it's critical to plan for a long retirement lifespan, as well as growth, income, and protection strategies using guaranteed insurance contracts.

You can read the interview in full here.

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on 21 August, 2017

 safe money strategies blog

As we inch closer to our retirement age, it becomes more important for us to have more control of our money and the future. This is true for a variety of reasons. But for many of us, more control means a greater sense of financial security.

However, financial peace is hardly a happy accident. Rather, it comes from careful planning and following a well-laid-out strategy built for retirement, a plan that emphasizes income, safety, and protection. In simple terms, we can call this sort of plan a “Safe Money Strategy.”

Building a solid safe money strategy, however, is not as simple as it may sound. For one, the financial needs for each of us are different, especially at the near-retirement and post-retirement phases of life. And as the life expectancies of people in the U.S. have increased, retirement planning has certainly become important like never before.

There was a time not so long ago when our grandparents lived comfortably throughout their retirement years, relying mostly on their employer pension, Social Security, and perhaps other income sources. However, the golden days of pensions and other employer-sponsored income vehicles are long gone. Now our approach to retirement planning must be different, as it’s more of an individual responsibility than ever.

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in Annuity
on 10 August, 2017

annuity options explained master

Are you considering different annuity options for your retirement portfolio? An annuity is a type of insurance product, purchased from a life insurance company and/or an annuity company. Annuities are popular retirement options due to the safety they offer for your money, the potential for tax-deferred growth, and their reliability for giving permanent, lifelong income.

That being said, sometimes it can be confusing when you try to make sense of different annuity types, contract features, benefits, and downsides. Since you would commit a sum of your money to an annuity contract for a period of time, it’s prudent to do research and develop an understanding of your annuity options before committing to any financial decision. Here is a short guide to help you get started on understanding the different annuity options.

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on 17 August, 2017

roth ira vs life insurance

In a few ways, a Roth IRA and life insurance share some similarities. They both receive tax-advantaged treatment in the IRS code. They enable efficient wealth transfers from one generation to another, and they can provide a tax-free legacy. But despite these similarities, Roth IRAs and life insurance are very different.

For one, a Roth IRA is a retirement plan while life insurance is, well, just that – an insurance product. Yet some people have been asking which of these options might be the “better” retirement planning vehicle.

However, it isn’t an “either-or” question, but rather a matter of what makes sense for each person based on their individual needs, goals, and overall financial picture. That may include planning situations in which a life insurance policy is used as a tax-advantaged growth and income vehicle alongside a Roth IRA. And maybe even some other retirement accounts!

Nevertheless, it’s important to understand the differences between a Roth IRA and life insurance – including ways the rules may apply differently to them. With that said, here's a quick look at these two options.

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on 09 August, 2017

longevity retirement planning

A number of recent studies indicate that today’s Americans have a higher life expectancy compared to previous generations. The Social Security Administration suggests that after reaching the standard age of retirement, 65, U.S. men and women may anticipate living at least a couple of decades more.            

There is no denying the fact that a longer life is a reason to celebrate. However, this increased longevity certainly adds new challenges in the process of retirement planning. While living a longer life is a worthy milestone for most, whether it will be enjoyable is largely based on the question of whether its quality is high. So, it’s prudent to pay careful attention to longevity risk in retirement planning – that way you are well-prepared for the uncertainty of potentially spending decades in your post-work life stage.

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on 16 August, 2017

  what is safe money img

“What is safe money?” That is a question that many Americans are asking. And it’s not surprising why. From retirement presentations and dinner seminars to weekend financial talk shows and radio commercials, safe money is a common theme in many public forums.

Generally speaking, a broad definition of safe money is “the money you can’t afford to lose.” Since everyone has different needs, goals, and situations, this concept means different things to every person. For some, safe money could be lifelong savings they have built up and need to preserve. Or it might be accumulated wealth that needs to be protected from risk, as it will be a source of retirement income.

For others, it could be a stockpile of money they will need at a certain time, like funding their children’s college education, paying off the mortgage, or buying a luxury item for which they saved a long time. Yet for some other Americans, safe money might be a future account balance – a sum of money that they want to grow safely and efficiently.

So, the answer to “what is safe money?” is it depends. Your own needs, goals, and situation provide the financial context of its meaning. But boiling down to the essentials, safe money is about security and protection… money that is safe and as free from unnecessary risk as is possible.

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in Annuity
on 08 August, 2017

Is an Annuity Death Benefit Taxable

The proceeds from an annuity death benefit are taxable when they are received by the beneficiary. In the case where the recipient is a surviving spouse, he or she can initiate certain measures to defer the payment or taxes on the amount received. In other instances where the recipient is not the spouse, the recipient will have to pay taxes on the money he or she receives from the annuity. Depending on who the beneficiary is, these funds may be subject to estate taxes as well.  

Before deep diving into this, it may be useful to have a clear understanding of what an annuity is. A simple way to think of an annuity is to refer to it as an insurance product that offers a certain income benefit, backed by contractual guarantees. It can be utilized as a component of a retirement benefit plan. As an individual, you can purchase the annuity by paying a lump-sum premium payment or by making several premium payments over an extended span of time. The annuity premiums are allocated into the annuity contract, and the annuity owner receives benefits as the money grows over time. 

What is an Annuity Death Benefit? 

When the holder of an annuity contract passes away, the money and the death benefit available from the annuity come into play. Many annuity products come with the provision for the annuity holder to include a death benefit for a beneficiary, which they choose while setting up the contract. The policyholder may choose his or her child, spouse, or any other individual as the beneficiary. In some cases, depending on the type of payout option the policyholder chooses, the insurance company may be the beneficiary. It would receive the balance of the money in the contract when the policyholder passes away. This payout option is called “life-only,” and depending on your financial picture it may or may not make sense for your personal situation. You can ask your insurance or financial professional for more details.

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