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Retirement Planning Blog

on 17 January, 2019

2019 advisor economist outlook

As 2019 begins, two new surveys suggest that both advisors and economists aren’t so optimistic about where the economy is headed.

This kind of insight from industry experts is useful, but especially to those who are approaching retirement. Knowing what pundits and advisors believe could lie ahead, and exploring what action can be taken in case of any untimely disruptions to their portfolios, is critical to those within five to 10 years of retirement.

So, what do advisors and economists see when they look ahead? They see the shakiness of 2018 leading to a potentially rocky 2019.

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on 06 December, 2018

10 most tax friendly states for retirees

While Uncle Sam plays a part in your retirement, he isn’t the only tax man. All 50 states are also partners to some extent.

Many state governments depend on income taxes for public revenues, and in some, city governments take a piece of the income tax pie as well. And what about the states that don’t have an income tax? They rely on other revenues, like gas, property, and sales tax collections.

If you are among the growing numbers of Americans who wish to retire elsewhere than your current community, take note. Many variables play into people’s choice of retirement relocation: the cost of living, unemployment rate, work possibilities, social opportunities, and closeness to people and causes that you hold dear.

However, they aren’t the only factors, as taxes can take a bite out of retirement income. It’s important to see how your tax situation might affect your bottom-line in any places you may be considering. 

Every year, Kiplinger publishes an updated, annual guide to state taxes. Their findings show how state and local government taxes are “all over the map” – and how living in different states can be a difference of thousands of dollars in income, depending on your retirement tax situation.

Just as importantly, the guide includes an analysis of each state’s “tax friendliness” for retirees. Those judgments are based, in large part, on taxability of Social Security payments, exemptions for other retirement income, and property tax rates.    

Here’s a look at the top 10 most tax-friendly states for retirees in the U.S., as ranked by Kiplinger.

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on 09 January, 2019

ring in retirement resolutions

A new year has dawned, and you can feel the anticipation in the air. People everywhere have scribbled down their New Year’s resolutions, as 2019 has swept in the allure of new beginnings.

A world of opportunity awaits!

Perhaps with a nod to another passing year, many of us will put eating healthier at the top of our list of resolutions. Hitting the gym more often (or even at all), being more productive with our time, and perfecting our work-life balance are perennial New Year’s Resolution favorites.

And for those in their 50s who have visions of their ideal retirement, the New Year is an ideal opportunity to take stock of what they want to achieve. It’s a time to evaluate where they are in terms of reaching that goal, and to reflect on whether they need to create or refine a retirement plan that will help them get there.

Especially for those who are planning on retiring within the next five years, here are three New Year’s Retirement Readiness Resolutions.

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on 29 November, 2018

year end financial checklist

With the holidays upon us, many demands compete for our time. It can be hard to sit down and organize our financial lives as the year draws to a close. Indeed, it might appear easier to put off financial planning and review until the New Year.

That being said, there are still money moves you can think about doing before the year ends. After all, life doesn’t take a straight path. People’s needs, goals, and situations change.

Making these moves before year-end can help with managing money-related stress in the upcoming year. Not only that, it can help you get started on the right foot. And if by chance you could meet with a financial professional for your annual review, you could measure progress, see where to improve, and set new goals.

Here are some savvy money moves to consider making before the New Year rolls in, so you can improve your financial wellness, your peace of mind, and your bottom-line.

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on 02 January, 2019

2019 market roller coaster

While a volatile stock market is often referred to as a roller coaster ride, the closing days of 2018 seemed to have been the next step up.

After a prolonged growth period, the market moved into a new record-setting path of volatility. And some financial pundits suggest that it may continue in the new year. Welcome to the new reality of 2019.

The week before Christmas, the Dow notched its worst weekly loss in a decade. This was followed by a Christmas Eve drop that was the worst on that date in the stock market’s history. These precipitous declines propelled the market to the edge of a bear market, which is considered a 20% decline from the market’s most recent high point.

Then, the Dow whiplashed to climb by 1,000 points. This was the highest one-day point gain ever. CNN.com called these events “a head-spinning, jaw-dropping 10 days in the markets.”

But with healthy employment figures and a surge of buoyant holiday shopping, how did things get here? And what could the new market volatility mean for those trying to plan for a successful retirement—and for those who already retired?

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on 20 November, 2018

steps to financial wellness

Buckle up, everyone. The holidays are just around the corner. And while they bring a spirit of joy and cheer, they can also be a stressful time for many Americans.

From Thanksgiving dinners and holiday shopping to seasonal parties and family get-togethers, there is no shortage of events in which folks participate.

Aside from the festivity, fellowship, and merriment, however, people can “feel the heat” in their money matters in a number of ways. And how might that be?

The pressure to overspend, for one. According to a recent survey by NerdWallet, a little over half of all Americans (51%) say they "typically overspend" on gifts.

Meanwhile, 39.4 million Americans are still paying off debt from last year’s holiday spending spree. And gift shopping is just one of many seasonal expenses that can keep the holiday cash register ringing.

Expenditures such as these can put the strain on retirees, who are more likely to have fixed incomes than other age groups. Not only that, the pressure of growing debt loads can have an impact on people’s retirement goals, not to mention any other financial objectives they may have.

But there is good news. Taking the right steps can go a long way toward achieving more financial security. If you, and your partner, are in your 50s or 60s, it’s good to start laying out your goals, mapping out a strategy for your future, and taking action so your money can work hard for you.

Here are some steps you can take to improve your financial wellness and potentially be more confident for the years ahead. 

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on 18 December, 2018

retirement concerns decline with age

With age comes wisdom - and apparently the ability to better handle unexpected expenses, according to the Society of Actuaries (SOA).

In their recent study, the SOA analyzed financial risk management across generations. Chief among their findings? That "the ability to handle unforeseen expenses increases with age, peaking with Early Boomers and then declining for the Silent Generation." 

It's one of many findings according to the study, "Financial Risk Concerns and Management Across Generations." The Silent Generation refers to those born between 1925 and 1945.

The SOA based its finding on the fact that 6 in 10 Early Boomers say they could afford a $10,000 expense using their savings or emergency funds. Yet "only 46% of Millennials would use their savings, which is not surprising since they have lower assets and more competing financial priorities."

Those in the Silent Generation remain vulnerable. The SOA reports that half of them aren't able to use their savings for an unexpected $10,000 expense.

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on 19 November, 2018

retirees struggle with taxes

Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda.

That is how a surprising number of retirees feel about their tax planning. In a recent study by Nationwide Retirement Institute, staggering proportions of retired Americans wished they had done more to prepare for their sometimes-surprising tax bills.

Over the course of the "Retirement Income and Tax Planning Consumer Survey," researchers asked people in different life stages about their preparedness for paying taxes in retirement.

The survey was revealing. An estimated 60% of future retirees, 70% of recent retirees, and 75% of those retired for more than 10 years said they are only “somewhat knowledgeable" or "not at all knowledgeable" about tax planning in retirement.

That’s right. Three of every four people retired for at least a decade still admit to feeling less than certain about planning for taxes in retirement.

The Impact of Ignoring Planning for Taxes

Counting those in all stages of retirement, 37% admitted they hadn’t considered how taxes would impact their retirement income. As a result, the report concludes, these people may have lost the opportunity to save an amount that could equal an additional six years of retirement income.

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in Annuity
on 12 December, 2018

annuity mistakes avoid

Whether you are considering purchasing an annuity or you already have one, there are some key mistakes to avoid in order to benefit from annuity ownership.

The pitfalls below have tripped up many annuity buyers. Our insider tips on knowing what to look out for can prevent you from experiencing the same fate. Use these tips to help you in simplifying your annuity buying decisions or in optimizing your annuity contract as part of your retirement strategy.

Mistake #1: Thinking you can get out of an annuity at any time.

Insurance companies stipulate “surrender” periods in an annuity contract for a reason. They want you to hold the contract for at least that length of time.

These surrender periods are part of annuity contracts for many reasons. One of the most important is it helps the insurance company maintain the guarantees it’s promised to you as a policyholder.

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on 13 November, 2018

social security benefits cola increase 2019

Good news, Social Security beneficiaries! Every year in mid-October, the Social Security Administration announces any cost-of-living adjustments to benefits – or “COLAs.” On October 12, the agency said that Social Security recipients would see a 2.8% COLA in 2019.

Until now, the 2018 cost-of-living adjustment had been the largest bump-up in benefits since 2012. What accounted for the heftier increase this year?

A rise in the cost of energy products, not to mention an increasing cost of shelter, were big inflationary contributors, according to experts. Both of those cost categories have heavy weightings within the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), the Department of Labor index on which COLAs are based.   

For Social Security beneficiaries, the increased benefit payouts will start in January 2019. People receiving SSI benefits will see the increase on December 31, 2018.

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