Retirement Planning Education

Avoiding the Timing Landmines Hidden in Social Security and Medicare

Avoiding the Timing Landmines Hidden in Social Security and Medicare

If you think choosing when to start claiming Social Security benefits can be confusing, you’re right. But did you know there is even more to consider when deciding when to start collecting those benefits?

If you are approaching or planning for retirement, you need a Medicare enrollment strategy that synchronizes with your Social Security claiming strategy in order to:

  • Reduce your risk of losing benefits,
  • Prevent you from incurring penalties, and
  • Maximize your benefits from both programs for the rest of your life.

Medicare and Social Security are programs that “talk to each other.” Missed deadlines or poorly-timed benefit claims could mean as much as thousands of dollars of lost income. 

What we don’t know can hurt us. So, here’s a quick look at why you must verify deadlines and information for each program so everything is done right. Read More

Diversification and Its Role in Retirement Planning

Diversification and Its Role in Retirement Planning

Chances are you know the concept of asset allocation. As Forbes contributor Mitch Tuchman puts it, asset allocation is the “collection of investments you own,” depending on your risk tolerance and your desire for potential investment returns.

In the investing world, it is a strategy of apportioning assets to achieve a strategic balance of potential risks and returns that is right for an individual investor.

What Does That Have to Do with Retirement Planning?

That’s all good and fun, you may say. But what does that have to do with retirement planning?

Well, from a planning standpoint, plenty. It is the same question of deciding how to allocate a retirement portfolio.

But in this case, decisions revolve around striking a balance between managing potential risks and achieving desired retirement outcomes, like income certainty, wealth protection, or other goals. In financial lexicon, this strategy is known as “diversification.”

When it comes to retirement planning, diversification is arguably an essential part of a successful retirement strategy. But why? Read More

Retirement Planning Challenges for Women

Retirement Planning Challenges for Women

Women are taking a greater role in household money matters, according to a new report by Allianz Life. But despite this, many women face the prospect of an underfunded retirement.

In the study, 51% of women said they are the “chief financial officer” of their household. When it came to managing finances, 53% said they hold “a great deal of responsibility” or “all of it.”

Nevertheless, signs indicate that women face unique challenges on the retirement planning front. Rising life expectancy, lower lifetime earnings, and reduced savings all contribute to a significant retirement income gender gap, reports Prudential Research.

Sure, these challenges may seem considerable. But the good news is you can do many things to strengthen your retirement security and financial confidence.

Confident decisions start with being well-informed. So, as you plan for your retirement, it’s important to understand the challenges facing you and other women today. Here’s a quick look at some common issues that will likely come your way. Read More

Where Do Americans Stand in Their Retirement Planning Knowledge?

Where Do Americans Stand in Their Retirement Planning Knowledge?

Virtually everyone understands that money doesn’t grow on trees. But what about planning for retirement? If recent research gives any indication, many Americans may be coming up short. In the 2017 Retirement Income Literacy Quiz – courtesy of The American College for Financial Services and the New York Life Center for Retirement Income – most quiz-takers received barely-failing or below-failing grades.

To measure retirement literacy, the test comes with two options: a six-item questionnaire on key retirement planning areas, and a more comprehensive test with 38 questions. With retirement literacy and retirement planning success being closely linked, you may want to check out the six-question quiz yourself to gauge your own retirement readiness.

So, what exactly did these questions ask? And how did Americans fare in their retirement knowledge? Let’s delve into the data now. Read More

Understanding Risk Tolerance for Retirement Planning Success

Understanding Risk Tolerance for Retirement Planning Success

Like everything else we do, saving for retirement involves risk analysis. We might not think about getting in the car to go to the grocery store, or even booking our dream vacation to hike the Inca Trail in Peru, as particularly risky decisions. But there are still elements of risk involved in every choice we make.

Your risk tolerance will help to you maximize and protect your retirement savings when you make sound choices. As you save and near retirement, your risk tolerance should change, adapting to your financial and income needs. In order to manage your retirement planning effectively, you need to understand your risk tolerance, grasp your financial needs in retirement, and make effective decisions about your savings and asset allocation.

Overall, you should be ready for a “smooth” financial transition into retirement – when you stop earning a full-time salary or business income, and start drawing on the savings you accumulated over many years. Working with a financial professional will help you meet your retirement income and financial goals, like the independent financial professionals at SafeMoney.com.

Let’s go into more detail about risk tolerance and why it’s so important. Read More

Asset Allocation: The Linchpin for Your Retirement Withdrawal Rate

Asset Allocation: The Linchpin for Your Retirement Withdrawal Rate

You’ve heard it before: the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray. Through all stages of our personal and financial lives, we know there will inevitably be twists and turns. The market goes up, the market goes down. But there are safer routes than others for our money. While there’s no foolproof Waze app for retirement savings and investment, there are directions we can take—and avoid!

First, Let’s Look at Your Withdrawal Rate.

Two key players in the viability of your financial plan for retirement are the size of your retirement nest egg and the pace at which you plan to spend it. This is your withdrawal rate. After putting in the time and consideration to determine the magic number for your retirement and your intended rate to spend it down, you may have reservations about your actual investment portfolio and whether it will perform as expected to sustain you over time.

Since no one can say how long you will live, our lens of The Rule of 100 helps add perspective to this all-important strategy of making sure your retirement income will last. Read More

Can You Afford to Gamble with Your Retirement Money?

Can You Afford to Gamble with Your Retirement Money?

The stock market has been surging to new highs. For the first time ever, the Dow Jones exceeded 20,000 in January. Then on the heels of President Trump’s first address to Congress, it charged ahead yet again. The Dow posted a 300-point jump, closing at over 21,000 on Wednesday, March 1. These gains come at a time when market volatility has also been on the decline. In early February the CBOE Volatility Index – more commonly known as the “investor fear index” – showed investor concerns on the decline.

However, even as the market goes up many people still worry about their investments. What will the market do next? Do they own too many stocks? When the market goes down, will it be just be a spill, a correction, or a crash? For that matter, do they have too much money in other risky, market-based investments?

For people close to retirement, this brings up an important question. Should you stay with your current portfolio allocation mix, or is it time to move into a safer strategy? 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

Common Myths about Working in Retirement

Taking the Hassle Out of the Holidays

In the past, we’ve covered some of the financial challenges seniors are likely to face in retirement. In turn, these hassles have played a role in shaping Americans’ retirement expectations. One of the growing trends is post-retirement employment.

At present, many people have a shortfall in retirement funds. For instance, the Boston College Center for Retirement Research found many Americans were greatly underprepared. According to the center’s data, as of 2013 half of American households didn’t have enough money to sustain their current standard of living in retirement.

Despite this challenge, many Americans believe working longer will help cover the shortfall. This belief is increasingly giving way to a new expectation: that post-retirement employment in itself is enough to make up for not having a retirement plan. But the truth is many factors can unbalance this approach and lead to unnecessary financial hardship. Read More

Next Steps to Consider

  • Start a Conversation About Your Retirement What-Ifs

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    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

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    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

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