Retirement Planning Blog

4 Ways to Boost Your Financial Wellness This Holiday Season

4 Ways to Boost Your Financial Wellness This Holiday Season

The holidays offer a great opportunity for us to reconnect with loved ones, relatives, and friends. From Thanksgiving dinners and seasonal gift shopping to holiday get-togethers and family gatherings, these times are truly special. But apart from the joy, merriment, good cheer, and great company, many Americans find this period financially stressful.

Discretionary spending, in the form of gift buying and other holiday shopping, ups the pressure on household budgets. And for a large proportion of retired and working Americans, the coming year-end may increase the brunt of existing financial pressures and obligations. Having sufficient income and healthy cash-flow is a concern for all households, especially people in their retirement years. The holidays are an ideal time-frame for financial review, but it can be intimidating to get our house in order, as personal finances are tedious, detailed, and, for many, overwhelming.

However, a secure financial life is well within reach, and it involves taking the right steps. If you are retired or approaching your golden years, read on for four quick tips to boost your financial wellness this holiday season. Read More

Using Annuities for Growth and Income Goals

Using Annuities for Growth and Income Goals

After years of hard work, all of us want a comfortable retirement. But it may be unclear as to what we need to achieve this. What steps are necessary for a worry-free financial life – the ability to spend with confidence?

Part of it means a transition in thinking. In real-world terms, it encompasses a shift in focus from asset values to monthly income. We want to be sure we have sufficient cash-flow for funding a retirement lifestyle. On the other hand, we should also be attentive to the matter of preserving wealth. With all those savings accumulated over many years, our money will now need to last for the rest of our lifetime.

However, this doesn’t mean that savings growth has to be put on the back-burner. For Americans looking for “safe money financial” vehicles, annuities may be attractive. In particular, fixed-type annuities can offer guaranteed lifelong income, tax-deferred accumulation, and growth via guaranteed interest rates or rising index values.

If you are investigating fixed annuities or fixed index annuities for personal growth or income goals, here’s a quick look at a few variables to consider. Read More

Reaching Retirement Savings Goals: Bank CDs or Fixed Annuities?

Reaching Retirement Savings Goals: Bank CDs or Fixed Annuities?

As many of us know, October is the renewal month for many bank certificates of deposit. Some common selling points for bank CDs are low risk and steady earning potential. But today’s low interest rate environment throws some real curveballs for retirement savers.

In fact, CD rates have remained low for some time now. And what interest rates might be in the future still remains unclear. With the diminished prospects for wealth accumulation, many people seek an alternative to bank CDs and their low yields.

When used properly, annuities are often tapped as transfer-of-risk strategies. Many Americans rely upon them for lifelong income security, dependable asset protection, or other financial assurances. Nevertheless, annuities of the fixed variety – particularly fixed index annuities (FIAs) and multi-year guarantee annuities (MYGAs) – can also offer value as tax-efficient savings vehicles.

If you are looking for alternatives to CDs, here’s a quick look at fixed index annuities and multi-year guarantee annuities – and how they can differ from today’s low-yield bank CDs as retirement-savings solutions. Read More

Don’t Get Shortchanged by These Common Retirement Financial Challenges

Don’t Get Shortchanged by These Common Retirement Financial Challenges

When it comes to lifestyle, it can be said that we have “two” lives – or rather two different life phases. The first phase is the working years, or when we work for a living. The second phase is retirement, or when we can choose to stop working, should we desire to, and do what we want. From volunteering or spending time with family to social gatherings, vacation getaways, gourmet dining, or personal luxuries, there’s no shortage of ways we can enjoy our time in retirement.

However, many Americans who are retired or nearing retirement face unique barriers – financial challenges which can keep them from enjoying the lifestyle they worked hard for. Preparation is key, so the importance of planning ahead can’t be overemphasized. Here’s a quick look at some common financial challenges to account for. Read More

What is Safe Money in Retirement Planning?

What is Safe Money in Retirement Planning?

Chances are you have heard of “safe money” at some point. From financial talk shows and radio commercials to television broadcasts and retirement seminars, it’s a concept that is all over the place. “Safe money” is commonly defined as the money you can’t afford to lose.

But for those of us approaching retirement, what does that mean in real-world terms? Many advisors explain safe money in investment terms. For example, it could mean discussion of “safe money investments,” or vehicles with less exposure to market volatility.

A downside with this approach is its investment planning focus. We have discussed how retirement planning should emphasize monthly income over asset values in its goal-setting. After all, retirement is a life stage in which we draw on a nest egg and other income sources for income – wealth we have accumulated over many years for this timespan. So, when discussing “safe money” in retirement, we shouldn’t frame it in terms of only the possibility of money losing value. Read More

Should an Annuity Be Part of Your Income Strategy?

Should an Annuity Be Part of Your Income Strategy?

Record numbers of Americans are retiring. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there will be over 80 million retirees by 2040. Life expectancies are on the rise – people are living longer. And a large proportion of Americans worry about market risk. They get anxious over how the stock market performs or fear potential losses.

Because of these and other reasons, some Americans have been adopting annuities as transfer-of-risk strategies. They want the guarantees associated with these contracts – particularly the assurance of lifelong income, for many annuity buyers. For those of us worried about outliving our money or other income-related risks in retirement, this raises an important question: “Should an annuity be part of my income strategy?”

It’s indisputable that many Americans desire guarantees in their financial plan, and this number continues to grow. But that doesn’t mean annuities are right for everybody. If you are wondering whether an annuity is for you, here’s a quick look at some situations you may want to consider. Read More

3 Reasons to Prioritize Income Over Assets

3 Reasons to Focus on Income over Assets in Retirement Planning

Why is Income More Important than Assets in Retirement Planning?

This question is crucial for retirees. After all, retirement can last for 30 years or more, and mistakes can lead to significant financial complications.

In previous discussions, we’ve highlighted how income planning differs from investment planning, particularly with its emphasis on generating monthly income. Unlike the working years, when accumulating assets and replenishing them with employment income is possible, retirement is a phase of “distribution,” where we rely on our nest egg for income. Seniors don’t have the luxury of replenishing their savings through employment. For this reason, among others, focusing on retirement income is paramount.

Here’s why income should take precedence over assets in retirement planning and why this approach might benefit your planning strategy.

1. Income Ensures a More Efficient Planning Framework

Income, as it pertains to cash flow, allows for more efficient financial planning. While income is a well-understood component of retirement finances, cash flow management is equally crucial. Cash flow management involves using income streams to cover retirement expenses. This includes:

  • Diverse Income Sources: Retirement plan distributions, Social Security benefits, guaranteed pension payments, annuity payouts, and part-time employment income.
  • Income Timing: Effectively managing when money is received from various income sources and using it to pay bills and expenses punctually.
  • Expense Management: Ensuring adequate funds for various retirement expenses, including fixed monthly costs, discretionary spending like vacations, and unexpected emergencies.

By relating income to expenses, focusing on monthly income can enhance planning efficiency. Nobel laureate Robert C. Merton points out that in the current retirement planning landscape, where many depend on 401(k)s and other defined-contribution plans, decision-making is often influenced by behavioral biases.
Read More

How Does Income Planning Differ from Investment Planning?

How Does Income Planning Differ from Investment Planning?

There are many decision-points leading up to retirement. Much of this process relates to financial planning. Should we wish to maintain a comfortable lifestyle, we must have sufficient income to support it. An effective retirement plan will lay out not only income goals we need to achieve, but also personalized strategies to sustain income security.

In earlier years, many of us focused on investment strategies to build up wealth. You may have worked with a financial advisor to find investments or investment packages with solid return potential over time. Or you may have engaged in investment planning yourself. However, retirement brings change, and this includes a shift in financial planning focus – an emphasis on planning for income.

Here’s a quick look at how income planning is different from investment planning – and why you may want to incorporate an income-focused retirement planning approach. Read More

5 Steps to Building an Effective Retirement Plan

5 Steps to Building an Effective Retirement Plan

As we approach retirement, we face many decisions. Many of these decision-points revolve around future financial life. Retirement income planning – or creating a plan to cover expenses and retirement uncertainty – is an essential step.

But everyone has different income needs, and they vary in their readiness for retirement. Plus today’s retirement landscape is far different than what our parents and grandparents dealt with. In the past, a steady pension from an employer, dependable income from Social Security, and a small fund of retirement savings was standard fare. Now those days are largely a distant memory for most Americans. Read More

Next Steps to Consider

  • Start a Conversation About Your Retirement What-Ifs

    retirement planning services next steps

    Start a Conversation About Your Retirement What-Ifs

    Already working with someone or thinking about getting help? Ask us about what is on your mind. Learn More

  • What Independent Guidance
    Does for You

    independent vs captive advice

    What Independent Guidance
    Does for You

    See how the crucial differences between independent and captive financial professionals add up. Learn More

  • Stories from Others
    Just Like You

    safe money working with us

    Stories from Others
    Just Like You

    Hear from others who had financial challenges, were looking for answers, and how we helped them find solutions. Learn More

Proud Member