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June 2019

When Should I Seek Financial Advice?

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Here are some life milestones and events that mark when you should make the call to a financial advisor.

  1. When there’s a new baby in the family.

Parents, grandparents, siblings—everyone is affected when the new baby comes along. Now is the time to plan for what this tiny family member will grow to need in the future—especially college funds. And now is also the time to make sure that you have the right insurance and protections in place to see the child through to adulthood should something unexpectedly happen to you.

  1. When you get married.

Two people joined together in holy matrimony are also going to need to bring their finances together, for better or worse. And if there are any children from a previous marriage involved, it’s doubly important to find and hire a financial advisor that you both like and respect.

A comprehensive financial plan—which includes your mutual goals, time horizon to retirement, and desires for wealth transfer to family members—is a very important way to get started on your life journey together.

  1. When you win the lottery, or inherit.

We all dream of receiving a big financial windfall someday, but when you actually land a large amount of money at one time, studies show that many people squander it away. In fact, nearly a third of lottery winners actually end up declaring bankruptcy, becoming worse off than before they won.

If you receive money, call a financial advisor first, because no matter what the amount, it is actually less than it seems. You need qualified financial advice to ensure you don’t lose 30-90% to the IRS by not understanding tax laws. Financial advisors work as a team with your tax professionals to help you navigate inheritance, winnings, and gift taxes, as well as qualified money (like an inherited IRA account) tax rules so that you can actually end up ahead of the game.

  1. When you start working.

Your first job is an exciting time in your life. Even if you’re trying to pay off student loan debt, don’t miss the chance to achieve your life goals by harnessing the power of compound interest. Putting away even a very small amount each month can snowball through the years. A financial advisor can help you lay a plan to get ahead and reach your goals over the long term.

  1. When you start a new business, or want to sell one.

Small businesses offer many different options for retirement plans for their owners depending on the company structure. Call a financial advisor to help you set up a financial and retirement plan for your business in order to have the best chance of achieving your goals. And don’t forget about an exit strategy. Whether you want to leave your business to a family member or sell it, planning for your own departure from the company is essential to your ultimate financial success.

  1. When you’re starting to get close to retirement.

You should start to save for retirement as early as possible, but as you get closer to your actual retirement day, having a written plan in place to guide you becomes critical. How will you transform that nest egg you’ve saved into monthly income after you’re no longer getting a paycheck—without running out of money? How much money will you need? How will you take money out? Which accounts should you withdraw from first? What kind of taxes will you have to pay? How does Social Security work? How will you live, what will you do? Should you pay off your house first?

There are so many issues and retirement risks to address that retirement planning is absolutely essential. Ideally, you should have a plan in place by age 50—55. If you don’t, call your advisor as soon as possible.

  1. When you’re creating estate planning documents or establishing a trust.

Estate attorneys can create the documents you need, but they may not know about all the ins and outs of investments and insurance that can reduce taxation while helping ensure your final wishes are carried out. Call your financial advisor to get that important piece of the estate and tax planning equation.

  1. If you lose your job midlife, or are getting divorced with a lot of assets.

An adverse life event can hit anyone. If you’ve lost a job or are getting divorced, your financial advisor can help determine your best options for putting an immediate action plan in place.

For instance, if you’ve lost your job, your financial advisor may be able help you position assets in order to be able retire early, or help you draw from certain accounts to get you through until you land your next job.

If you are getting divorced, be sure to get advice from a financial advisor as well as your divorce attorney. They can help you analyze the assets that will most benefit you based on your future goals in order to reach the best settlement split. They can help you see things you might not be able to see clearly, and that divorce attorneys may not know. Like what kind of burden versus advantage keeping the family home might be.

  1. In the final quarter of every year.

Once you do have a financial or retirement plan in place, you should absolutely review it every year. (Most likely you’ll just need to answer the call, since most advisors will reach out to conduct annual reviews with you.) The annual review will allow your advisor adjust the plan as well as make changes to account beneficiaries as your family changes through time.

 

There are three different advisory disciplines you should seek out—tax professionals, legal professionals (like estate attorneys), and financial advisors. We can help you with the financial advice part of the equation. We can help you get set up with a tax professional and estate attorney from our network of contacts, or work as a team with yours.

7 Hidden Retirement Risks

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  1. Longevity

The average life expectancy has increased. Chances are that if you’ve reached 65 years old you will live into your mid-80s according to life expectancy calculations. Many are living even longer—one in four people will live into their 90s, while one in ten will live past 95. Make sure that your retirement plan takes longevity into account so that you don’t run out of money—no matter how long you live.

  1. Loss of Income

Make sure both you and your spouse are protected from the unexpected. Consider the financial impact of the loss of one spouse, running the numbers both ways. Remember that your surviving spouse will only get the highest of your two Social Security checks, not both checks.

NOTE: Be sure to talk with us about Social Security. Last year it was discovered that the Social Security Administration failed to tell widows and widowers how they could receive a higher benefit amount.

  1. Incapacity Risk

Longer life expectancy could lead to high costs of a stay in a long-term care facility. The average cost of a semi-private room in a nursing care facility was more than $7,441 per month in 2018, and it’s estimated that approximately 50% of people over 65 will need long-term care. We can help you devise a plan to pay for costs if you do need long-term care, but not overspend on policies that may be subject to drastic premium increases, sudden cancellations or never be needed at all. There are many strategies and new options to consider.

  1. Negative Return Risk

A 50% gain does not allow a portfolio to recover from a 50% loss. In fact, a 100% gain is required to restore a 50% loss! Talk to us about how we can help reduce this risk in retirement. The “buy and hold” strategy that works when you are young—where you wait for the markets to come back up after a downturn—does not apply in retirement as we saw in 2008, when many people’s retirements were wiped out.

  1. Bond Risk

When interest rates* rise, bond prices fall—and vice versa. Duration risk is the name economists give to the risk associated with the sensitivity of a bond’s price to a one percent change in interest rates; the higher a bond’s duration, the greater its sensitivity to interest rate changes.

  1. Inflation Risk

You should plan on prices for food, goods and services getting higher during retirement, reducing your buying power incrementally as you are living on a fixed income. We can help you address inflation* risk in your retirement plan.

*Inflation and interest rates are considered by economists to be inversely related. So when inflation—or the cost of goods and services—rises, interest rates go down. Interest rates in the United States are set by the Federal Reserve based on the rate of inflation, which they like to see at 2%.

  1. Healthcare Costs

Surprising to some, Medicare is not free—your premiums for coverage are usually deducted from your Social Security check. And standard Medicare doesn’t cover dental, hearing or vision, is subject to deductibles, and doesn’t cover long-term care. Fidelity’s latest estimate is $275,000 per couple for out-of-pocket healthcare costs in retirement.

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Let’s Create or Review Your Custom Retirement Plan

When people think about retiring, their number one fear is running out of money. That’s why we focus on creating reliable retirement income when we are developing your custom retirement distribution plan.

Once you have a retirement plan in place, it’s not set in stone. Things change. You may add or lose family members, your retirement goals may change, the economic environment may create new considerations, and financial innovations may present new strategies. Once per year is a minimum in terms of making sure your retirement plan (and beneficiaries) are constantly up-to-date.

And remember, the tax laws just changed. It’s more important than ever to plan ahead.

Call us!

Managing Your Finances

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We work with dozens of people to help them create retirement plans. But in order to get to a successful retirement, there are thousands of small decisions along the way. Like, should you drive through your local coffee place and grab a latte this morning? Go with the office gang for lunch at that little bistro across the street, which usually costs you around $15? Should you order pizza delivered for dinner tonight because you didn’t go to the grocery store yesterday? Grab that new shirt because it’s 50% off?
Sticking to a budget is the beginning of mastering your money. But why do so many of us find it difficult?
A recent article in Forbes magazine may hold some clues as well as ideas about how to take control of your discretionary expenses. The author, Thomas Dichter, advocates writing every expenditure down, to the penny, as well as calculating how well you met your budget on an annual basis. (He usually comes within 1% of his goal, and many times comes in under, which he attributes to his meticulous record-keeping.)
Mr. Dichter explains how he started the process:
I forced myself to write down what I had spent under each category. After a week my inner accountant had emerged and I kept at it. By month six I noticed something magical: the act of tracking expenses had a feedback effect on my spending. My expenses in the categories that all of us tend to ignore (take-out food and coffee, a candy bar at a vending machine, impulse buying a shirt, or a magazine at the check out line, etc.) were going down, not because I wanted to deny myself, but because I could see what was happening.
At the end of that first full year those few minutes a day of what became compulsive recording paid off. It took me about a half hour to add up each category and then total it all (a side benefit became obvious when I had to do my taxes). Then I compared that total to my take-home income for the year and saw I was ahead, for the first time in my life. I decided to do a budget for the next year, using the past year’s expenses as a guide. At the end of that year I saw I had come within 1% of my budget estimate. Passing that self-imposed test soon became an annual goal. Each year on December 31st, I see how close I’ve come to my budget estimate of twelve months earlier. Usually I come within that 1%, sometimes over but more often under.
The author goes on to say that he believes that easy access to credit, along with an economy based on consumption, contributes to the overspending problem in America. And the main excuse for resisting his simple method—“I don’t have time”—is just a cover story for other, deeper reasons. For example, he believes that some people don’t really want to know what they spend, because it might rock their feeling that “everything is okay.” Some operate on the subconscious wavelength that it’s better to risk their financial future rather than turn into some kind of accounting nerd or tightwad.
As financial advisors who work with people every single day, we are here to tell you that managing your finances is possible, and might even be easier than you think. Let’s talk.
Source:
“A New Year’s Resolution To Manage Your Finances: Why Is Sticking To It So Hard?” by Thomas Dichter, Contributor, Forbes.com. https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasdichter/2019/01/01/a-new-years-resolution-to-manage-your-finances-why-is-it-so-hard/#38ef8202106f (accessed January 14, 2019).