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Other Ways to Save for Retirement

OTHER WAYS TO SAVE FOR RETIREMENT

 

Direct & indirect opportunities than don’t get enough ink.

Provided by Mike Fassi

 

Besides periodic IRA contributions and elective salary deferrals into 401(k) and 403(b) plans, there are other ways to amass retirement savings, some of them often overlooked.

Put tax refunds & tax savings to work. If you get a few hundred back from the IRS, that is not an insignificant sum. You could save it or you could invest it with the potential to compound that money. The same goes for the dollars you save as a result of tax credits or tax breaks.

Relocation. Ever thought about living where lifestyle costs are less? Moving to a cheaper part of the country might cost you a few thousand dollars, but the long-run savings could end up dwarfing that expense; you could free up thousands of dollars annually toward your retirement savings effort.

As an example, Zillow’s Q3 2012 Home Value Index showed the median home value in San Jose as $525,000 and the median home value at $356,100 in Boston. A San Jose resident could move to Reno (Q3 median home value: $145,700) and a Boston resident could move to Nashua (Q3 median home value: $186,300).1,2,3,4

You could also downsize as you relocate; moving into a smaller residence could free up even more cash.

Rental income. While property management means occasional headaches even when a third party assumes the duty, a steady stream of income from a rental home or condo may give you another solid way to ramp up your savings efforts.

Redirecting some of your inheritance. If you receive any kind of wealth, think about assigning part of it to your retirement strategy. In fact, this is a good idea for any kind of sudden wealth you come into, whether it comes from a relative, a settlement, a casino, or simply your own talent and initiative.

Sell products or services, not simply your time. Most people sell their time for money. One of the characteristics of the wealthy is the entrepreneurial ability to sell products and services with a value indirectly related or unrelated to a time investment. Consider what products or services you could sell to make more money and build greater retirement savings, with the possibility of positively altering the way you work and live. The start-up costs of such a move may be less than you think.

Stay healthy. Hospitalization costs can be a real setback for retirement savers. Good health (indirectly) pays off as we age. Reasonable daily exercise and smart eating may help to reduce the risk of major hospital, drug, and therapy expenses between now and retirement.

Halt or modify some recurring discretionary expenses. Do you really need cable? Do you have to belong to the most opulent health club in town? Must you have season tickets? Fewer such expenses today can translate to additional money you can invest and save for your future.

Refrain from picking up your child’s college costs. If you started a college savings account long ago, that’s a different story; you have already dedicated money for this purpose. If you haven’t, remember that no one offers “retirement loans” or “retirement financial aid”. Your son or daughter may have a decade or longer to repay a college loan, and their incomes may rise significantly during that time. If you elect to pay some of their tuition or housing costs, you have comparatively fewer years to recover from the impact of those expenses. Encouraging self-reliance can lead to you retaining more of your savings for the third act of your life.

Mike Fassi, CLU, CHFC  is a Representative with Centaurus Financial Inc. and may be reached at Fassi Financial, 970-416-0088 or mike@fassifinancialnetwork.com.

 

This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 – www.zillow.com/local-info/CA-San-Jose-home-value/r_33839/ [11/20/12]

2 – www.zillow.com/local-info/MA-Boston-home-value/r_44269/ [11/20/12]

3 – www.zillow.com/local-info/NV-Reno-home-value/r_13478/ [11/20/12]

4 – www.zillow.com/local-info/NH-Nashua-home-value/r_33031/ [11/20/12]

 

 

How Could a Fed Rate Hike Affect Retirees

How Could a Fed Rate Hike Affect Retirees?

As the central bank starts tightening, some positives & negatives may emerge.

 

Provided by Mike Fassi

  

Economists widely expect the Federal Reserve to raise interest  rates this month. Additional incremental rate hikes may follow in 2016. If you are retired (or soon will be), you will want to consider what gradually higher interest rates could mean for you financially.

Some of the effects are already being felt. Glancing at Freddie Mac’s weekly surveys, average interest rates for fixed-rate home loans climbed about 0.2% between October 8 and December 10 on assumptions of the federal funds rate rising. (Bond market behavior influences these rates as much as the yield on the 10-year Treasury.) Interest rates on other types of home loans increased less in that interval, but any upward move by the Fed could quickly send them north.1

As the price of money rises, it will cost more to use a credit card. When the federal funds rate rises, credit card issuers quickly adjust their interest rates upward. Retirees who routinely pay down the whole balance on their cards every month will be less impacted than those who let outstanding balances linger.2

Yields on fixed-rate investments are poised to improve. Risk-averse retirees may finally start to see appreciable rewards on such vehicles with a higher federal funds rate, especially if the Fed makes two or three more upward moves in 2016.

Retirees may see a great chance to exploit a laddered approach with fixed-income investments. By spreading their money over a few such investments with overlapping maturity dates, they can take advantage of the resulting liquidity and flexibility and reinvest money at the end of a maturity term into a subsequent fixed-income vehicle with a higher interest rate.

Long-term bond values are poised to fall. This is a basic outcome of a rising interest rate environment, and warnings about major oncoming losses in the bond market have been sounded for years. Retirees with an eye on the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index can take heart in the knowledge that historically, deteriorations in bond prices have been more than offset by the Index’s increases in yield.3

Bond yields, on the other hand, are poised to rise. Total returns on the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index have indeed diminished this year, although they are not yet in the red. In 2014, the index’s total return was 5.97%; as of December 9, it was 0.95% YTD. That could improve in the near term, for the index will be adding newer bonds over time with presumably higher yields to replace maturing bonds, thereby improving the average yield of the overall index.3,4

  

How will Wall Street react? One school of thought believes that higher rates will amount to a powerful headwind; another says the market has largely priced a December rate hike in, and will handle successive adjustments calmly. Opinions of equity strategists and fund managers meeting for USA TODAY’s December roundtable varied greatly – some saw the S&P 500 making no progress at all in 2016, others felt that a double-digit advance could happen.5

Bearish analysts note two factors that may slow the bulls to a trot. Rising borrowing costs for public companies could cut into their profits and thereby hurt their share prices, and if Treasury yields grow more attractive, appetite for risk might lessen. Bullish analysts are countering with the opinion that rising rates go hand in hand with an improving economy, one characterized by better cash flows, higher revenues, and higher corporate profits. As long as the Fed refrains from tightening too abruptly, they argue, 2016 could be a good year on Wall Street.2,5,6

A federal funds increase may affect retirees in other ways. Those retirees who are paying off private student loans (either those of their children, or their own) will contend with higher interest rates on those loans, as those rates ride on movements in the prime rate. The same goes for auto loans and other forms of short-term consumer borrowing.2

They may also affect your community, the goods and services going into and out of it, and your travel plans. Retirees that invest conservatively with a large cash position may have more money to spend, translating to an economic bump in retiree-heavy towns and regions. Imports to the U.S. will become cheaper. Also, retirees may find overseas travel less costly in the near future. Once Treasuries yield more, more foreign investment dollars will start to pour into the U.S.; that makes for a stronger dollar, to the benefit of Americans vacationing abroad.2,6

So, there are upsides & downsides to higher interest rates for  retirees. One thing is for certain: interest rates cannot stay at historic lows forever. When the Fed adjusts them upward, investors and economists across the world will react – and then move on.

Mike Fassi, CLU, CHFC  is a Representative with Centaurus Financial Inc. and may be reached at Fassi Financial, 970-416-0088 or mike@fassifinancialnetwork.com.

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

 

Citations.

1 – freddiemac.com/pmms/archive.html [12/10/15]

2 – thefiscaltimes.com/2015/11/09/10-Ways-Fed-s-Looming-Rate-Hike-Touches-You [11/9/15]

3 – marketwatch.com/story/how-your-bond-portfolio-can-survive-higher-rates-2015-04-23 [4/23/15]

4 – news.morningstar.com/index/indexReturn.html [12/10/15]

5 – usatoday.com/story/money/markets/2015/12/05/all-nothing-2016-top-stock-pros-say/76802904/ [12/5/15]

6 – theconversation.com/fed-interest-rate-hike-may-have-less-of-an-impact-than-you-think-51970 [12/9/15]

Wise Decisions with Retirement in Mind

Wise Decisions with Retirement in Mind

Certain financial & lifestyle choices may lead you toward a better future.

 

Provided by Mike Fassi

  

Some retirees succeed at realizing the life they want, others don’t. Fate aside, it isn’t merely a matter of stock market performance or investment selection that makes the difference. There are certain dos and don’ts – some less apparent than others – that tend to encourage retirement happiness and comfort.

Retire financially literate. Some retirees don’t know how much they don’t know. They end their careers with inadequate financial knowledge, and yet feel that they can plan retirement on their own. They mistake retirement income planning for the whole of retirement planning, and gloss over longevity risk, risks to their estate, and potential health care expenses. The more you know, the more your retirement readiness improves.

Retire knowing that you’ll have to assume some risk. Growth investing is increasingly seen as a necessity for retirees who want to keep ahead of inflation.

According to data and research compiled by the Social Security Administration, the average 65-year-old man will live to be 84 and the average 65-year-old woman will live to be 86. So that’s a 20-year retirement. The SSA also notes that roughly a quarter of today’s 65-year-olds will live past 90, and about 10% of them will live beyond age 95.1

If these seniors rely on fixed-income investments for the balance of their lives, they may end up with reduced retirement income potential, and in turn a reduced standard of living. Look at the Rule of 72: if an investment is yielding 2%, it will take about 36 years to double your money. Yes, interest rates are rising – but inflation should rise with them.2

A generation ago, mature Americans were urged to gradually shift their portfolio assets out of stocks and into fixed-income investments. One old rule of thumb was to subtract your age from 100, with the resulting number being the percentage of your portfolio you should assign to equities.3

Today, retirees and retirement planners are reconsidering this thinking. As the Wall Street Journal reported recently, one study of retirement money and longevity risk concluded that retirement funds may last longer if a retiree gradually increases the stock allocation within a portfolio about 1% per year from an initial range of between 20-50% to between 40-80%. The concept here is that a retiree’s stock allocation should be lowest when their retirement nest egg is largest.3

Retire debt-free, or close to debt-free. Who wants to retire with 10 years of mortgage payments ahead or a couple of car loans to pay off? Even if your retirement savings are substantial, what will big debts do to your retirement morale and the possibilities on your retirement horizon? On that note, refrain from loaning money to family members and friends who seem quite capable of standing on their own two feet.

If the thought of using some of your retirement money to pay outstanding debts hits you, set that thought aside. You have dedicated that money to your future, not to bill paying. On second or third thought, other sources for the cash may be apparent.

Retire with purpose. There’s a difference between retiring and quitting. Some people can’t wait to quit their job at 62 or 65 – their work is “killing” them, or boring them senseless. If only they could escape and just relax and do nothing for a few years – wouldn’t that be a nice reward? Relaxation can lead to inertia, however – and inertia can lead to restlessness, even depression. You want to retire to a dream, not away from a problem.

A retirement dream can become even more captivating when it is shared. Spouses who retire with a shared dream or with utmost respect for each other’s dreams are in a good place.

The bottom line? Retirees who know what they want to do – and go out and do it – are contributing to their mental health and possibly their physical health. If they do something that is not only vital to them but important to others, their community can benefit as well.

    

Retire healthy. Smoking, drinking, overeating, a dearth of physical activity – all these can take a toll on your capacity to live fully and enjoy retirement. It is never “too late” to quit smoking, quit drinking or slim down.

Retire in a community where you feel at home. It could be where you live now; it could be a place hundreds or thousands of miles away where the scenery and people are uplifting. It could be the place where your children live. If you find yourself lonely in retirement, then “find your tribe” – look for ways to connect with people who share your experiences, interests and passions, and who encourage you and welcome you. This social interaction is one of the great intangible retirement benefits.

 

Mike Fassi, CLU, CHFC  is a Representative with Centaurus Financial Inc. and may be reached at Fassi Financial, 970-416-0088 or mike@fassifinancialnetwork.com.

 

This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

 

Citations.

1 – ssa.gov/planners/lifeexpectancy.htm [2/6/14]

2 – investopedia.com/terms/r/ruleof72.asp [2/6/14]

3 – tinyurl.com/m8akefj [2/3/14]

Should You Always Withdraw from IRAs Last

SHOULD YOU ALWAYS WITHDRAW FROM IRAs LAST?

 

Conventional wisdom says yes, but there are exceptions.

 

Shouldn’t you delay IRA distributions for as long as you can? According to conventional retirement planning wisdom, you should structure your retirement withdrawals so that money comes out of your taxable accounts first, then your tax-deferred accounts, and then finally your tax-free accounts. Roughly speaking, that means withdrawing income from investment funds, CDs, money market accounts and bank accounts before taking a dime from your IRAs.

The wisdom behind this is easy to discern. By postponing withdrawals from a traditional IRA and/or Roth IRA for as long as possible, you give the assets in those tax-advantaged accounts even more time to grow. You have to take required minimum distributions from a traditional IRA after age 70½, of course; if you have a Roth IRA, RMD rules are inapplicable while you are alive.1

Or should you disregard that approach? Under certain circumstances, it may be a good idea to tap your IRA(s) in the early stages of retirement. While it may seem unconventional, making IRA withdrawals in your 60s might potentially help you enhance your wealth in the long term.

How, exactly? If you start drawing down the assets in your traditional IRA before age 70½, your RMDs could eventually be smaller than they would be otherwise. Smaller RMDs mean less taxable income. Not only that, a smaller RMD might keep you in a lower income tax bracket; welcome relief if you have a large traditional IRA.

Can exemptions & deductions shelter the income? A study from Rider University in New Jersey sees merit in this unconventional strategy. In the big picture, the researchers at Rider feel it may help seniors to level out annoying fluctuations in adjusted gross income and taxable income over the long run.2

The key: sheltering some or all of the early IRA withdrawals with IRS standard deductions and personal exemptions. As an example, take a married couple in which both spouses are at least age 65. The spouses have done their homework and determined that their IRS deductions and exemptions will add up to (at least) $21,800 for 2012. If their taxable income before any IRA withdrawal would fall below $21,800, they could use “withdrawals from tax-deferred IRAs to create tax-free income,” according to Alan Sumutka, one of the researchers behind the Rider study.2

The Rider study compared 15 model scenarios. Each one used a hypothetical married couple (both 65-year-olds) retiring in 2013 with $2 million in investable assets, $80,000 in current living expenses and $30,000 arriving from Social Security. Within the mock $2 million portfolio, 70% of the assets were held in traditional IRAs, 20% in taxable accounts and the rest in Roth IRAs. The portfolio returned a steady 6% annually (again, these were model scenarios).2

What was the most tax-efficient model scenario in the bunch? It played out as follows: from age 65 to age 70, the couple drew down their traditional IRAs right to the limit of their combined deductions and exemptions. Then, they reached into their taxable accounts for the balance of the money needed to meet that $80,000 in expenses, incurring taxes of up to 15% on long-term gains. They didn’t tap their Roth IRAs.2

After age 70½, they altered their approach: they took required distributions from their traditional IRAs, withdrew money from taxable accounts until those were exhausted, and then they turned to Roth accounts with the remaining balances on the traditional IRAs representing the last of their retirement savings.2

After all that, the hypothetical couple still had $1.61 million in their portfolio at age 95. The conventional withdrawal strategy (taxable accounts first, then tax-deferred accounts, then tax-free accounts) left them with just $1.17 million at that age, and it also led to them spending 23 years in the 25% tax bracket.2

The Rider study found that this approach was ill-suited to very large portfolios (ones with assets above $8 million) and portfolios with roughly 50% in taxable assets. It was also a bad fit for couples with sizable taxable pensions.2

It is worthwhile to review your retirement assumptions. As the American vision of retirement has changed in the last generation, so have retirement planning precepts. The recession and the financial pressures facing the baby boomers have upended some of the conventional thinking. A talk with a retirement planner may lead you toward some new financial options and some good ideas worth exploring.

 

Mike Fassi, CLU, CHFC  is a Representative with Centaurus Financial Inc. and may be reached at Fassi Financial, 970-416-0088 or mike@fassifinancialnetwork.com.

 

This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. Marketing Library.Net Inc. is not affiliated with any broker or brokerage firm that may be providing this information to you. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is not a solicitation or a recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 – www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Retirement-Plans-FAQs-regarding-Required-Minimum-Distributions#3 [8/2/12]

2 – money.msn.com/retirement-plan/when-should-you-tap-your-iras [11/16/12]

Alternative Approaches to Retirement Planning

Alternative Approaches to Retirement Planning

Is the conventional wisdom for everyone?

 

Questioning traditional assumptions about retirement planning can be illuminating. Some retirement planners and economists argue that they need to be reexamined.

Does most retirement planning focus on the future at the expense of the present? One noted economist makes that case. Laurence Kotlikoff, the former White House economic advisor who writes for PBS NewsHour, contends that your retirement savings effort should be structured in a way that allows you to protect your standard of living today and tomorrow.1

A key question in retirement planning is “How much will you need to spend in the future?” Kotlikoff thinks the appropriate question should be “How should you gradually adjust your household spending as you grow older?” He argues that basing your retirement planning on a projected retirement income target is faulty.1

As an illustration, he references the example of what you do when you have errands to run before you catch a flight. The wisest thing to do is to start with your departure time and think backward. (How early do you have to be at the airport? How much time will you need to complete errand A and errand B? How much time should you allow for travel between A & B and after B?) This is what we usually do, and how we figure out when to leave home with enough time to accomplish everything. You plan by looking backward from the future.1

Kotlikoff thinks that typical retirement planning only looks forward. It projects an income target and implies that you have to save $X per year or per paycheck for X years to build a sufficient nest egg to generate that income. This amounts to mere guesswork, he believes, and invites two potential problems. One, if the retirement income target is set too high, you can end up saving more for retirement than you really need and injure your standard of living before retiring. Two, if the retirement income target is set too low, you can end up spending more than you should before you retire and saving less than you need. (And there’s another question. Will your household spending in retirement match what it was years before? Maybe, maybe not.) Kotlikoff thinks that lifetime spending and saving plans have more merit – again, planning by looking backward from the future.1

Is saving overrated? It is pounded home that Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement, but some people don’t think saving is the only step to retiring well. In 2013, retirement planner Joe Hearn (one of MarketWatch’s RetireMentors) posted a column noting several other tips to entering retirement in better financial shape. One, retire without debt. Two, retire with a paycheck (start a small business or work part-time). Three, don’t claim Social Security at 62. There were other pointers, such as retiring to a cheaper part of the country (or world) and going overseas for major surgeries. (As an example, the largest cardiac hospital in the world is India’s Narayana Hrudayalaya Health Center, which is highly regarded and charges about $2,000 for open heart surgery.) If you haven’t saved much for retirement, alternative financial moves like these (and others) could conceivably leave you with lower expenses and more money to live on or invest.2

Should you borrow money & invest it for retirement? This idea definitely isn’t for everyone; it was championed in 2010 by Yale University economists Ian Ayres and Barry Nalebuff. As twenty-somethings have time on their side but not usually a lot of money, Ayres and Nalebuff contended that young people would do well to borrow money and invest it in equities. You don’t need to see a loan officer to make this happen, as there are ways to do it through brokerages; a family loan could also be made pursuant to the same goal. As the risks are potentially major for borrower and lender, you don’t see many such arrangements.3

How about asking your employer for a second retirement plan? Some people have the leverage to pull this off. In particular, doctors and executives without much in the way of savings can make a valid argument that they need (and should have) a deferred compensation plan in addition to the usual qualified retirement plan, as Social Security payments won’t seem large enough when retirement comes. It helps, of course, if they have worked for the employer for quite some time. A reasonable benefit from such a plan would = number of years that the executive or doctor has worked for the employer x 2.0%.

With many people finding it a challenge to save for their futures, it isn’t surprising that these unconventional moves are getting a look.

Mike Fassi, CLU, CHFC  is a Representative with Centaurus Financial Inc. and may be reached at Fassi Financial, 970-416-0088 or mike@fassifinancialnetwork.com.

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 – pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/make-your-standard-of-living-the-basis-for-all-financial-planning/ [3/31/14]

2 – marketwatch.com/story/7-alternatives-to-saving-for-retirement-2013-09-27 [9/27/13]

3 – money.usnews.com/money/retirement/articles/2010/07/06/3-unconventional-retirement-investing-strategies [7/6/10]

Getting Financially Fit for Retirement at 50

Getting Financially Fit for Retirement at 50

Things for trailing-edge boomers & Gen Xers to consider.

 

When you turn 50, retirement starts to seem less abstract. In terms of retirement planning, a 50th birthday can act as a wake-up call. It may offer a powerful reminder to trailing-edge baby boomers and Gen Xers, many of whom are wrapping up their second act with inadequate retirement savings for their third.

 

You may find yourself with such a shortfall, and you wouldn’t be exceptional. Your peak earning years may arrive in your forties or fifties, but so do other responsibilities with big price tags (raising a family, caring for aging parents, building a business). Throw in some “wild cards” like divorce, bankruptcy, or health scares, and any fortysomething would be challenged to build significant wealth – and yet it happens.

According to the latest Wells Fargo Middle Class Retirement Study, the median monthly retirement savings contribution by middle-class Americans aged 40-49 is $200. How about middle-class folks in their fifties? It must be more, right? No, the median contribution is even less: $78, working out to $936 per year. (Wells Fargo defined middle-class households as having 2013 income of $50,000-99,999 or investable assets of $25,000-99,999.)1

Just as alarming, 50% of the survey respondents in their fifties said they would ramp up their retirement savings efforts “later” to make up for what they weren’t doing now. When you’re in your fifties, there is no “later” – you have to act now. “Later” equals your sixties and your sixties will likely be when you retire.1

So what can you do here and now? Whether you’ve saved a great deal for retirement or not, what decisions could possibly strengthen your retirement nest egg?

Make those catch-up retirement plan contributions. They may seem inconsequential in the big picture, but when you factor in potential investment returns and the power of compounding, they really aren’t. You can start making catch-up plan contributions in the year in which you turn 50. (You can make your first one while you are 49; it just has to be made within that calendar year.) If you only have a five-figure retirement savings sum at age 50, your retirement savings may double (or more) by age 65 through consistent inflows, compounding and catch-up contributions and decent yields.2,3

For 2015, there is a $1,000 catch-up contribution limit for IRAs and a $6,000 catch-up contribution limit for 401(k)s, 403(b)s, most 457 plans & the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan.4

 

Explore ways to save even more. Are you self-employed and a sole proprietor? You could create a solo 401(k) or a SEP-IRA. If eligible, you can defer up to $53,000 into those plans for 2015. Also, SIMPLE plans (to which both employers and employees may contribute) have contribution limits of $12,500 next year with a $3,000 catch-up limit.4,5  

Slim down your debt. Retiring debt-free is a remarkable financial gift that you can give to yourself, and you ought to strive for it. You will always have some consumer debt and you may incur medically-related debts, but paying off the house and avoiding large, new, “bad” debts should be high on your financial to-do list. If accelerating or pre-paying your mortgage payments makes sense, see if your monthly budget will let you do so; be sure you won’t face those rare prepayment penalties. Once your residence is paid off, you might consider living in a cheaper, tax-friendly state – another way to retain more money.

Look at LTC & disability insurance. Again, this comes down to “how much can you afford to lose?” While long term care coverage is rapidly growing more expensive, it still may be worth it in the long run as medical and scientific advances make the chances of lingering our way out of life more common. Should something impede your ability to earn between now and retirement, disability insurance could provide relief.

 

Consider revisiting your portfolio’s allocation. Since 1964, there have been seven bear markets. On average, they lasted slightly more than a year. On average, it took the S&P 500 3.5 years to return to where it was prior to the plunge. If you are 50 or older, think about those last two sentences some more. If your portfolio is allocated more or less the same way it was 30 years ago (some initial portfolio allocations go basically unchanged for decades), revisit those percentages in light of how soon you might retire and how much you can’t afford to lose.6,7

These are just some suggestions. For more, tap the insight of a seasoned financial professional who has known and seen the experience of saving during the “stretch drive” to retirement.

 

Mike Fassi, CLU, CHFC  is a Representative with Centaurus Financial Inc. and may be reached at Fassi Financial, 970-416-0088 or mike@fassifinancialnetwork.com.

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

 

Citations.

1 – forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2014/10/23/retirement-saving-workers-and-firms-must-step-up/ [10/23/14]

2 – forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2013/05/03/playing-catch-up-with-your-401k/ [5/3/14]

3 – forbes.com/sites/mitchelltuchman/2013/11/21/financial-planning-for-late-starters-in-five-steps/ [11/21/13]

4 – irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Announces-2015-Pension-Plan-Limitations;-Taxpayers-May-Contribute-up-to-$18,000-to-their-401%28k%29-plans-in-2015 [10/23/14]

5 – forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2014/10/23/irs-announces-2015-retirement-plan-contribution-limits-for-401ks-and-more/ [10/23/14]

6 – traderhq.com/illustrated-history-every-s-p-500-bear-market/ [4/5/14]

7 – mainstreet.com/article/stop-thinking-about-risk-tolerance-try-risk-capacity-instead/ [10/7/14]

 

Four Words You Shouldn’t Believe

 

These are the words that make investors irrational.

 

 

“This time is different.” Beware those four little words. They are perhaps the most dangerous words an investor can believe in. If you believe “this time is different,” you are mentally positioning yourself to exit the stock market and make impulsive, short-sighted decisions with your money. This is the belief that has made too many investors miss out on the best market days and scramble to catch up with Wall Street recoveries.

Stock market investing is a long-term proposition – which is true for most forms of investing. Any form of long-range investing demands a certain temperament. You must be patient, you must be dedicated to realizing your objectives, and you can’t let short-term headlines deter you from your long-term quest.

If stocks correct or the bulls run away, keep some perspective and remember how things have played out through some of the roughest stretches in recent market history.

In 2008, many people believed the market would never recover. The Dow dropped 33.84% that year, the third-worst year in its history. That fall, it lost 500 points or more on seven different trading days. Some prominent talking heads and financial prognosticators saw the sky falling: they urged investors to pull every dollar out of stocks, and some said the only sensible move was to put all your money in gold. It wasn’t unusual to visit your favorite financial website and see a “Dow 3,000!” pay-per-click doomsday ad in the margin.1

The message being shouted was: “This time is different.” Forget a lost decade, it would be a lost generation – it would take the Dow 10 or maybe 20 years to get back to where it was again, the naysayers warned. Instead it took less than six: the index closed at 14,253.77 on March 5, 2013 to top the 2007 peak and went north from there. The bear market everyone thought was “the end” for Wall Street lasted but 17 months.2,3

Where is the Dow today compared to fall 2008? Where are the S&P 500, the Nasdaq, the Russell 2000 compared to back then? And how has gold fared in the last few years? While the Federal Reserve has played a significant role in this long bull run, record corporate profits have played a major role as well.

The stock market has seen remarkable ascents through the years. From 1982-87, the S&P 500 gained more than 300%. The 1990s brought a 9½-year stretch in which the S&P rose more than 500%.2

A recovery from a Wall Street downturn usually doesn’t take that long. The bear market of 1987 – the one that came with Black Monday, the worst trading day in modern Wall Street history – was over in three months. The bursting of the dot-com bubble set off another bear market in 2000 that lasted a comparatively long 30 months – definitely endurable for an investor focused on long-term goals.3

What happens when investors believe those four little words? They panic. They sell. If they are mostly or wholly out of equities when the bulls come storming back, they run the risk of missing the best market days.

We’re looking at a turbulent stock market right now. This is the time for patience. Withdrawing money from a retirement savings account (and the investment funds within it) might feel rational in the short term, but it can be hazardous for the long term – especially since many Americans haven’t saved enough for retirement to start with. A recession is a few quarters long, not the length of your retirement; a bear market may right itself faster than presumed, and you want to be invested in equities when it happens. If you have questions about your money when jitters hit the market, turn to the financial advisor you count on as a resource.

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

 

Citations.

1 – djaverages.com/?go=industrial-milestones [10/7/14]

2 – nj.com/business/index.ssf/2013/03/dow_hits_new_record_regaining.html [3/5/13]

3 – nbcnews.com/id/37740147/ns/business-stocks_and_economy/t/historic-bear-markets/#.VDSESBbgVUI [10/7/14]

 

 

Step-Up CDs

Step-Up CDs

They allow you to take advantage of rising interest rates.

 

Provided by Mike Fassi

 

When interest rates start to climb, will these be the CDs to own? Step-up certificates of deposit (also called rising-rate CDs) are fixed-income investments with a bit of wiggle room. When you have a CD with a step-up provision, you have a chance to exchange the initial yield for a better one as interest rates rise. Given currently underwhelming long-term CD yields, what CD owner wouldn’t want that option in the future?

How does the step-up work? As an example, let’s say you buy a 48-month rising-rate CD today offering an initial yield of 0.6%. Let’s say that two years from now, the interest rate on that CD moves north to 1.6%. The step-up arrangement allows you to get the 1.6% yield.

This is different from a traditional laddered CD strategy, in which you buy multiple CDs of varying maturities in an attempt to get higher rates of return with liquidity. Interest rates are so low right now that CD laddering has all but disappeared, and that probably won’t change in the near future. Step-ups give you a chance at a better long-term return with the same CD.

You may have to notify the bank to get a step-up. On some of these CDs, the step-up kicks in at predetermined intervals or when interest rates move up. Other banks and credit unions allow you to voluntarily request the step-up; these variants are sometimes called bump-up CDs. In both cases, there is usually a restriction that you are only allowed so many step-ups during a specific interval or during the term of the CD.1

If you believe CD rates will rise frequently in the near future, then an automatic step-up may make a lot of sense to you. On the other hand, if you only get one automatic step-up per eight months or year, you may grow frustrated at not getting them frequently enough. If you only get one step-up per CD term and you can choose when you want it, it might be better to wait than to leap at the first opportunity.

A CD for inflationary times. Conservative investors who fear being stuck with subpar yields in the near future might want to take a close look at step-up CDs. They do offer the potential for CD investors to keep pace if inflation accelerates.

 

This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

 

Citations.

1 – foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2011/04/11/rising-rate-cds-flexibility-price/ [4/11/11]