Retirement Planning Blog

Key Retirement Questions for Your Advisor

As you near retirement, it’s important to talk to your financial advisor about retirement. While the essentials of retirement planning don’t change, the 2020s have brought some unique conditions: huge market swings in a short time, fast-rising interest rates, and ongoing global economic uncertainty. For 2024, here are a few questions to ask your financial advisor about retirement. After all, you need to know that your advisor can competently guide you on your retirement goals, build a plan that lets you maintain your preferred lifestyle, and help your money last as long as possible.

This begins with having a conversation around your unique situation. It’s good to ask your financial advisor the right questions that help put everything in context. To help you get started, here are some questions to ask your financial advisor about retirement:

  • Tell me about what you do to help people with retirement planning.
  • How long have you worked as a retirement financial advisor?
  • Why do you do what you do, and what are you most passionate about in this field?
  • When do you think that I can retire, and what are my options?
  • Do I have enough money to retire?
  • What should my retirement goals be?
  • What do you think of my current financial plan for retirement?
  • How much can I spend in retirement? Will I be able to keep up my lifestyle?
  • How will I fund my lifestyle once I have retired?
  • What will taxes be like for me in retirement?
  • How long will my money last before I run out of income?
  • What can you do to help me be ready for major financial risks in retirement?
  • I have a pension. What could happen if something happened to my old employer or if my pension benefits were cut?
  • When should I take Social Security benefits?
  • What should I know and do about Medicare and health coverage in general?
  • What can healthcare cost me throughout my retirement years?
  • What do you do to help my retirement plan keep up with inflation?
  • What can happen if I retire in a recession or market crash? How do we plan for that?
  • What are some other ‘bad situations’ to keep in mind, and how can you help you plan for those scenarios?
  • Say I choose to delay retirement or keep working. What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing that?
  • What can we do to ensure that my spouse or I have sufficient financial resources in place should one of us pass away?
  • How much could long-term care cost us in retirement? How likely are we to need some sort of long-term care support?
  • What sort of life changes have you seen other people experience in retirement?
  • What do you think of my estate plan?
  • What else can I do to prepare for retirement?

Read More

SECURE Act 2.0 – Key Provisions and How They Affect Retirement


The SECURE Act 2.0 is now law. In December 2022, Congress passed and President Biden signed this sweeping legislation that effectively overhauls much of the retirement landscape in America. The bill’s key provisions are centered around required minimum distributions, when they must be taken, and some changes to workplace retirement plans and retirement accounts.

On top of RMD changes, SECURE Act 2.0 also contains a great many changes to Roth savings accounts and how they can be used. The Roth rules have been expanded in an effort to increase current tax revenue, as Roth accounts are always funded with after-tax contributions.

Here, we will examine the key provisions of SECURE Act 2.0 and how they might affect retirement for you as well as your loved ones.

Read More

403(b) Distribution Rules – How They Work


Are you counting on a 403(b) plan to help you in retirement? It helps to understand your 403(b) distribution rules so that you can make the most of your money. After spending so many years building up those retirement assets, you want to make the best possible use of them.

Many public employees have a 403(b) account. In retirement planning, they find that they can retire at as much as 60 percent or so of their career income without using any individualized income planning. However, some people will prefer to have a retirement income that is more than just that.

This article will cover 403(b) distribution rules and options at a high level. The goal is to help you make more well-informed decisions about your retirement savings and your financial future. You will also learn some options to help close any income gaps between what you expect to get and what you need to cover your preferred lifestyle in retirement.

The first option – always available – is simply to keep your savings in your 403(b) retirement plan. However, the mutual funds or other investment options in these plans can vary widely in terms of fees and investment options available. If you are happy with how your money has done so far, you might choose to keep it where it is.

However, you will still face required withdrawals in the future via required minimum distributions (see below) if you choose this route. Let’s get more into the various 403(b) distribution rules now.

Read More

Safe Money: A Guide to Growing Your Money Safely in 2023


There are many safe money sources out there, but not all of them are created equal. Not all of these “safe money” guides give you the full picture or other details that may factor into your financial decisions. For example, many safe money options won’t protect your assets from the effects of inflation. Other safe money options may come with additional risks that their issuers might not tell you upfront.

In this article, we will go over safe money options to grow your retirement savings safe and sound. You have a variety of safe money options to accumulate money for your golden years, but their value can differ based upon your situation, need for liquidity, potential for growth, and more.

Let’s cover more of your safe money options available to you now — and how some safe money vehicles stand out more than others in different ways.

Read More

Roth Deferral: What Is It and How Can It Benefit You in Retirement?


Are you worried about taxes in retirement? You may want to explore Roth deferral as part of your retirement-saving strategy. Roth deferral is a way to reduce your taxable income and drum up tax savings.

In this article, we will go over Roth deferral, what it is, and how to incorporate it in your tax-planning strategy. This article will also cover ways to use Roth deferral to save money on your taxes. Read on for more insights into this tax-smart money move.

With this option, you make after-tax contributions to your IRA or employer-sponsored retirement plan and then take tax-free withdrawals in retirement. This can be a great way to diversify your tax burden in retirement and maximize your income with tax-free dollars.

Read More

Index Annuity Crediting Methods — What You Should Know


If you are considering a fixed index annuity for your retirement goals, you may have heard of different ‘crediting methods’ tied to an indexed annuity and how your money can grow with them. But what is a fixed index annuity, and how does their growth exactly work?

Fixed indexed annuities are a tool for building up retirement savings on a tax-advantaged basis. They are becoming more popular for many retirement savers, as they let your money grow by earning interest, protect your principal against losses, and offer a guaranteed income stream in retirement.

If you are thinking about this retirement-saving option, one key aspect is understanding fixed index annuity crediting methods. These are the means by which your annuity money can earn interest.

A fixed indexed annuity usually has a fixed option that will pay a guaranteed rate for a certain timespan. However, indexed annuity crediting methods aren’t guaranteed, but they generally offer growth potential above the fixed option. You can also have more growth potential with a fixed index annuity than other types of fixed annuities.

In this article, we will go over the different types of crediting methods, their components, and how these crediting methods work. These annuity crediting methods are linked to underlying index benchmarks. Those benchmarks can be everyday financial indices that you know (the S&P 500 price index) or niche indices that focus on domestic, foreign, or different asset classes.

Read More

Spotlight Series Interview – John Chopak spotlight series interview

The Spotlight Series highlights independent agents and financial advisors who are part of our tight-knit community of financial professionals across the country. They come from all walks of life, and each one brings rich life experiences, insights, and wisdom from their involvement in financial services and other professional pursuits.


We celebrate them as independent business owners, neighbors, friends, educators, and movers-and-shakers affecting positive change in their communities. Today, we are joined by John Chopak, a highly experienced, independent agent from Massachusetts. John is singularly unique as to the extent and breadth of his business experience before he jumped into financial services and opened an independent practice. He is very entrepreneurial, hands-on, and deeply involved with each client’s retirement planning. John handles all services for each client himself. Keeping things “human” in his practice is a strong focus for him.

He has an unyielding commitment to integrity and doing the right thing for all clients. We are proud to have him as part of our national network of financial professionals, which has been featured on major news outlets that reach 84+ million households across the U.S. In short, you can say that John brings a deep, practical insight and wisdom to every client he serves.

Read More

Which Annuities Help with Inflation?


With inflation on the rise, many people in retirement are concerned about maintaining their lifestyle. How can they keep up with the rising cost of living while making sure they don’t run out of money? One option that can help with inflation is with an annuity.

Inflation can be a major problem for retirees, as the cost of living goes up while their income stays the same. Annuities can help protect against inflation by providing a set, unchanging, minimum income that can give you more flexibility with the rest of your money to counter changes in the cost of living. Some annuities also have benefits that pay increasing income over time.

In this article, we take a look at how annuities can help offset the effects of inflation, which specific types of annuities might be worth exploring for this, and how to choose the right annuity for your needs.

Read More

Annuity Expert Advice — Finding the Right Guide to a Secure Retirement


Annuities are a great solution for guaranteed lifetime income and other contractual guarantees, but you want the right one for your situation. How do you navigate an annuity market with thousands of annuity products – and sometimes inferior choices, at that?

It starts with finding the right annuity expert advice – or in other words, professional guidance for your situation to locate the best-fitting annuity just for you. In this article, we will go over different things to keep in mind as you search for expert annuity advice that is right for your circumstances.

Read More

Where Is the Safest Place to Put Your Retirement Money?


The ‘safest’ places to put your money are in low-risk investments and savings vehicles that provide guaranteed growth. These low-risk options include fixed annuities, CDs, Treasury securities, corporate bonds, savings accounts, and money market accounts.

You usually get the highest interest rates with fixed-type annuities of this bunch. There are other fixed-type annuities that can give higher growth potential than guaranteed-rate annuities, if that is something that appeals to you.

Retirement can be an uncertain stage in life. Markets go up and down, inflation rises and falls, and no one knows how long their retirement might last. You can explore options to grow your retirement savings with guaranteed interest earnings and then turn those funds into predictable income streams for retirement.

In this article, we will look at some of the more popular low-risk places to put your retirement money – and what each of those options can involve.

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