According to a recent UBS poll, 60% of women surveyed let their spouses and partners handle their finances. This is not uncommon, even among wealthy couples. The gradual shifting of financial responsibility and knowledge to one person often begins early in the relationship. But if the couple goes through divorce or the family financial manager dies or becomes physically or mentally incapacitated, their spouse or partner will have to scramble to figure out where their money is, how it’s being invested, and how debts are being paid while they’re also dealing with a legal or healthcare crisis. That’s why it’s important for couples to discuss these issues candidly and transparently, especially before retirement, so that either spouse or partner gains the knowledge they need to step in and manage their finances should a crisis occur. If this task is too challenging or contentious for a couple to do on their own, they should consider hiring a fee-only fiduciary financial planner to help organize and document their income, debts, savings and investments and serve as their impartial educator and mediator.
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Right now, millions of high school seniors are receiving acceptance letters and financial aid offers from colleges and universities. These offers usually include a combination of merit-based scholarships and grants, student loans, work study grants, and private parent loans. In past years, it was challenging to convince many schools to increase this aid. But according to author and college planning expert Ron Lieber, with the COVID-19 crisis reducing the number of applicants to most schools, parents are now in a better position to diplomatically ask for better offers. But this can be a confusing process. Parents need to negotiate scholarships and grants with the Admissions office, and loans and work study grants with the Financial Aid office. When meeting with these officials, parents should feel free to ask them to match or exceed the more generous financial aid offers their children have received from other schools. Even after students have accepted an offer, they should seek additional money by applying online for a share of the billions of dollars available through thousands of private grants and scholarships. Even with all this aid, parents’ share of their children’s annual college costs will still be significant. They should try to borrow as little as possible, particularly through private parent loans whose payback periods could last a decade or more. This is particularly important for parents who are approaching retirement age, since some of their Social Security benefits may be garnished if they’re unable to make monthly payments on their own. For parents with younger children, contributing to a 529 College Savings Plan as early as possible can give them a head start on building a reserve to help pay for future educational costs. Grandparents, too, can help by contributing to these plans or giving up to $15,000 a year per child without gift tax implications. The most important thing is to not let your fear about your children’s future or your guilt about what you’re able to afford keep you from making the right financial decisions.
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As Richard says, “It’s a doozy of a tax year.” The IRS will be way behind in issuing refunds, yet the deadline for filing your 2020 federal tax returns is still April 15. For most people, it will be filing as usual, but there are situations where special attention may be required. If you earned $75,000 or less ($150,000 as a couple) in 2020 and should have received a $1,200 government stimulus payment last year and a $600 payment in January but didn’t, you can claim these missing payments when you file your 2020 federal tax return. Even if you made no income last year, you still need to file if you want to claim these missing payments. If you donated to charity last year, you can deduct up to $300 in cash contributions even if you can’t normally itemize deductions. If you’re under age 59½ and took advantage of the CARES Act provision to take up to $100,000 out of your Traditional IRA or 401(k) account without early withdrawal penalties, you’ll still have to pay taxes on this withdrawal. But if you fully reinvest the amount you withdrew within the next three years, you’ll be able to request a refund for the taxes you paid. If you were one of the millions of Americans who received state unemployment benefits last year, you’ll have to pay taxes on those benefits. Unfortunately, if you were working for your employer at home last year, you won’t be able to deduct any money you paid for furniture, equipment or other job-related expenses. However, if your income declined significantly from previous years, you may qualify for tax relief. And if you’re expecting a refund or your missing stimulus payments, make sure you file electronically and allow the IRS to deposit this money into your bank account. Otherwise, you may have to wait months to receive the money you’re owed.
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In January, news from Wall Street was dominated by the GameStop saga. To put it simply, a group of individual investors belonging to a social media forum called WallStreetBets started buying shares of GameStop, a moribund online videogame retailer. This speculation drove the price up from $20 to nearly $500 in three weeks. The WallStreetBets clique pitched a Main Street versus Wall Street story, claiming that they were trying to punish hedge funds, which were making huge bets that the price of GameStop would go down. For a time this worked. Early investors became stock multimillionaires, and some hedge funds were on the verge of bankruptcy before the madness petered out and GameStop lost more half of its value by the first week of February. While the hedge funds ended up okay, individual investors who bought shares right before the bottom fell out were the biggest losers. This saga created a clamoring for regulators to step in and stop this kind of market manipulation, and focused industry ire on Robinhood, a popular, no-cost trading app that many of the WallStreetBets crowd used to buy GameStop shares. While this story is fun to read about, there’s no need for most retirement investors to lose sleep over it. The market is heavily regulated. Over the long term prices reflect what’s going on in the economy, and are rarely impacted by price gyrations among a few small companies. Investors who own a diversified portfolio of stock and bond mutual funds in their retirement accounts have even less to worry about, since these funds hold many different kinds of securities, so if the price of one goes down it will be offset by the rising price of another. If you do want to dabble in individual stocks, research each stock first to see if its current price reflects the company’s real value. If you buy shares, set a target price at which you’ll sell out and stick with it. That way, you won’t get stung when the bubble bursts.
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According to the Social Security Administration, the number of retirees who drew Social Security outside the U.S. jumped 40% from 2007 to 2017. While the COVID-19 pandemic has put the brakes on Americans’ plans to more aboard, once the crisis is over there’s likely to be an explosion of retirees choosing to live outside the U.S. part of the year or permanently.
While it’s fun to dream about spending your retirement years in Europe or in a tropical paradise, there are many issues you need to think about before making such a life-changing decision. If you’re on Medicare, your plan will provide limited coverage in foreign countries. Even if the nation you’re considering offers free or low-cost government-subsidized healthcare, you may not be eligible for it as a non-citizen. And the quality of physicians and facilities in most nations is likely to be inferior to those in the U.S
If you plan to earn income while living aboard, you’ll probably have to pay taxes to both your adopted country and to the U.S. Banks and financial institutions in developing nations may charge higher fees and have lax standards for protecting against fraud. And if you give up your U.S. citizenship, you’ll be taxed on the value of the remaining assets in your estate.
If you’re still committed to retiring abroad after the pandemic subsides, now is a good time to start researching the financial, healthcare, and lifestyle pros and cons of the countries you’re considering. And even if you find what seems to be the perfect location, consider renting first before you make a permanent investment in your new home.
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According to research from Fidelity Investments, retirees should expect to pay $295,000 for healthcare during their retirement years, and this doesn’t include the costs of long-term care. Guest speaker and author Philip Moeller says that while retirees can find many ways to lower their healthcare costs, it takes a lot of time and effort.
A major decision facing those turning 65 is whether to choose Traditional Medicare plus optional prescription drug and supplemental insurance or sign up for an all-inclusive Medicare Advantage plan. While premiums for Medicare Advantage may be lower, your choice of doctors, facilities and prescription drugs may be limited and out-of- pocket expenses could be higher.
People who aren’t committed to seeing specific physicians in person may save money by using telemedicine providers. If your physician is recommending medical procedures, get a cost estimate from your healthcare insurance provider, or use web sites that offer comparison pricing for these procedures.
For prescription drugs, don’t automatically have your physician send your prescription to a local pharmacy. Bring it there yourself and ask the pharmacist if lower-cost generic alternatives or discounts are available. Prescription drug price comparison web sites can help you find lower prices at local pharmacies and national buying clubs. You may also want to ask your physician to help you legally purchase prescription drugs from Canada, where prices are often significantly lower.
If you’re still working and your employer offers a Health Savings Account (HSA), try to take full advantage of this option. Contributions are pre-tax, and all withdrawals you make for qualified healthcare purposes are tax-free. While you can’t contribute to your HSA once you’re enrolled in Medicare, you can use the balance in your account to pay for most Medicare premiums, co-pays and other out-of-pocket expenses.
Finally, if these decisions seem overwhelming, look for help. Your state offers free counseling services to help evaluate your various Medicare options. If you’re friends with a retired nurse or doctor, see if they’re willing to serve as your healthcare advocate—and pay them for their time. And make sure you fill out a healthcare proxy form that gives someone you trust the legal authority to make healthcare decisions for you should you become physically or mentally capacitated.
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The start of a new year is always a good time to take a closer look at where you are financially and figure out whether certain changes may help you boost your retirement readiness. While there are many things you can do, here are four steps you might want to move to the top of your "to consider" list.
First, look over your year end investment statements to see if your portfolio needs rebalancing. Even with the economic havoc wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic, the stock market generated double-digit returns last year. This may have boosted the stock allocation in your retirement portfolio higher than you originally intended. To restore your targeted asset allocation, consider selling some stocks and reinvesting the proceeds into bonds or cash to get your portfolio back in balance. This is something you should do at least once a year, and even more often if you can.
Second, think about converting some or all of your Traditional IRA assets to a Roth IRA. Even though you’ll have to pay taxes on the converted amount, once this money is in your Roth IRA and you’ve held the account for five years, you’ll never have to pay taxes on any withdrawals you make after age 59½. And, unlike with Traditional IRA and 401(k) plans, you’ll never have to take required minimum distributions. The earlier you complete the conversion, the longer you’ll benefit from the Roth’s tax-free compounding.
Third, if you have dividend-paying stocks in your taxable investment accounts, consider using some of this dividend income to help pay for everyday expenses. Since most dividends are taxed as ordinary income whether you spend them or reinvest them, thinking of them as an additional source of annual income may make it easier to rationalize spending them. More importantly, if spending dividends in the years leading to your retirement can help you delay taking Social Security or tapping into the principal of your investments, then you’ll boost the odds of having more money to live on when you’re ready to retire.
Finally, if you’re approaching retirement and are having trouble figuring out these complex financial issues on your own, now may be an ideal time to seek out a fee-only fiduciary financial planner. These professionals can conduct a comprehensive analysis of your investments, projected Social Security and pension payments and your estimated income needs to help you determine if it makes sense to implement any of these new year’s financial resolutions or other strategies to help smooth your path toward a more comfortable retirement.
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Next Avenue, 3 Smart Money Resolutions for 2021
If you and your spouse or partner make less than $150,000 (if filing jointly) or $75,000 (if filing as individuals), you should have received an economic stimulus payment ($2,400 for couples, $1,200 for individuals) that was part of last year’s COVID-19 relief legislation. In January of 2021, you should also have received an additional payment ($600 for individuals/$1,200 for couples) as part of the new relief legislation passed in December.
If you didn’t receive your payment, you have several options. The IRS Get My Payment tool will tell you whether the IRS sent you these payments and in what form–a check, a debit card, or a direct deposit to your bank. If the IRS says it’s sending your second payment as a check, you can see when it’s being sent using the U.S. Post Office’s Informed Delivery service, which will provide you with digital images of the exterior, address side of all mail sent to you.
If you never received your payments, there may be several reasons. A check or debit card may have been set to an outdated or wrong address. Or, if in the past you filed your tax return electronically and used a now-closed bank account for online payment or refund transactions, the IRS may have tried to deposit your checks to that account and failed.
If these or other situations left you without stimulus payments or the full amount you were entitled to, hope is not lost. You can claim a tax credit for these amounts on your 2020 Form 1040 or 1040-SR. These tax forms will include a Recovery Rebate worksheet you can use to determine how much of a tax credit you’re eligible for. You’ll enter the amount on line 30. Even if your income level doesn’t require you to fill a 2020 federal tax return, file it anyway if only to claim the stimulus amount you deserve.
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Terrysavage.com, Get the Original Stimulus AND the New One!
Many people who are approaching or in retirement are asking similar questions: What value do I offer if I no longer have a full-time job? What will I do all day? Can I afford to live the way I want do? In his new book, Shifting Gears: 50 Baby Boomers Share Their Meaningful Journeys in Retirement, author and retiree Richard Haiduck offers valuable insights into the aspirations and concerns of those who are experiencing the joys and challenges of their golden years. Most don’t plan on kicking back and doing nothing. By desire or financial necessity, many are working part-time or joining the gig economy. They continue to support the causes they believe in, through direct action and charitable giving. They’re starting new hobbies, speaking their minds, and pushing back against society’s outdated attitudes about older Americans. For many, the pandemic has not changed their retirement lifestyle at all.
The biggest worry among most of Haiduck’s interviewees is whether they’ll have enough money to live the way they want to during a retirement that could last decades. Those who are approaching retirement facing this financial uncertainty should consider working longer, delaying taking Social Security until age 70, boosting contributions to their retirement plans, and envisioning how they want to live when they retire. Many could also benefit by meeting with a fee-only fiduciary financial planner who can help them gain a full understanding of their projected income and expenses during retirement and what they may need to do now to shift as smoothly as possible into their life after work.
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When you’re reviewing quarterly and year-end performance in your 401(k) and brokerage account statements, it’s important to consider how much you may be paying in annual fees (expense ratios) to mutual funds and commissions to brokers. These combined costs could be as high as 2% per year. While this may seem small, over several decades of investing, these costs could potentially reduce the value of your retirement nest egg by tens of thousands of dollars. And if you’re retired and now invest mostly in low-yielding bond funds, these costs may actually wipe out the small amount of income these funds generate each year.
It’s up to you to research how much you’re paying in investment costs, and whether less expensive options are available. For example, most mutual funds come in various share classes, each of which have different expense ratios. Shares of funds you purchase on your own may have significantly lower expense ratios than different share classes of the same funds you purchase through a broker, which may add on as much as 1% in additional “marketing” fees to pay brokerage commissions. Not to mention added “back-end” sales charges if you sell shares before a certain time period has elapsed.
If you invest on your own and you’re not a strong believer in the ability of mutual fund managers to make the best investing decisions, consider investing in index funds and ETFs that offer broadly diversified exposure to different segments of the market at a fraction of the cost of actively managed funds.
If you’re working with a broker, ask them to disclose the total annual costs of the funds they’ve sold you. If these costs seem too high, ask them to recommend cheaper alternatives that have similar characteristics and track records—but make sure you won’t have to pay back-end sales charges if you make the switch. If your broker doesn’t take your cost concerns seriously, consider firing them and hiring a fee-only fiduciary investment adviser to manage your portfolio. These professionals charge you an annual fee (which they will fully disclose) and never accept commissions from fund companies. In exchange, they’ll be able to tell you exactly how much you’re currently paying in mutual fund fees and recommend lower-cost options that align with your investment objectives and risk tolerance.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of making decisions that will make it easier for others to carry out your wishes should you become physically or mentally capacitated or when you pass on. At the very least, you should assign someone you trust to serve as your health care proxy should you no longer be able to make healthcare decisions on your own. You should also formalize a living will that documents whether you want or don’t want life-prolonging treatments at the end of your life. Also consider assigning durable financial power of attorney to someone you trust to manage your finances if you’re no longer able to.
To help ensure that you, rather than a court, determines how your assets in your estate will be distributed to your heirs, make sure that you’ve completed a will that states your wishes and names an executor. Review and update your will if circumstances change. To avoid probate, consider setting up a revocable living trust and funding it with high-value assets such as your home and taxable investment accounts. You’ll need to retitle these assets in the name of the Trust. You won’t, however, need to retitle your IRA accounts and life insurance policies, since these assets will go directly to your assigned beneficiaries.
It’s highly recommended that you hire an experienced attorney to legally formalize these decisions. Since attorneys are expensive, consider working with a fee-only financial planner who can turn your decisions into an estate planning action plan at a relatively lower cost. You can then give this plan to your attorney to execute the legal requirements.
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With the U.S. presidential election results finally settled, many investors are wondering how a Biden presidency may affect their portfolios next year and beyond. If the special elections in Georgia in January restore control of the Senate to the Democrats, there is a possibility that President Biden may fulfill his campaign promise to raise capital gains taxes and income and estate taxes on wealthy Americans. But the chances of all Democrats falling in line to support these hikes is unlikely while the economy is still struggling. Of far greater importance is the timing and extent of the next round of economic stimulus. Congress and the new president will need to quickly agree on a package that provides relief for the millions of Americans still out of work and for small businesses that are struggling to survive. Wall Street is already betting that the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccinations by spring, in combination with stimulus and low interest rates, will accelerate economic growth and job creation in the second half of 2021, which is why the stock market has hit record highs recently. Yet, with so much uncertainty in the air, you should think carefully before making any major end-of-year investment decisions or discuss your concerns with an experienced fiduciary financial advisor before you act.
For years, many financial professionals have suggested that most retirees can afford to withdraw up to 4% of their retirement assets each year with very low risk of their money running out in less than 25-30 years. But this “4% rule” was created at a time when interest rates were much higher than they are today. Back then, many investors with conservative portfolios could depend more on bond income to replenish these withdrawals. Now, retirees have to allocate more money to stocks to help make up for today’s historically low bond yields. In any case, there is no “hard and fast” rule on how much money you can or should withdraw. The actual amount needs to be based on your retirement age, life expectancy, lifestyle and other sources of income. Other factors, such as whether you have long-term care insurance or whether you’re hoping to leave some of your retirement money to your heirs or favorite charities also need to be considered. If you’re struggling to deal with these complex issues, consider seeking the advice of a fee-only fiduciary financial planner, who can help you understand different retirement cashflow scenarios and recommend a strategy that may increase the chances of your retirement nest egg lasting as long as you want it to.
It’s important for your grandchildren to start building their “money-awareness” at an early age. Since schools generally don’t teach financial literacy and parents often don’t have the time or energy to discuss these matters with their kids, you can play a key role in helping your grandchildren become smarter about money. With younger children, help them understand how much of their parents’ paychecks are spent on food, clothes, mortgage payments and home repairs and taxes. Visit online retailers with them so they can see the costs of the clothes, books and toys they own or want for the holidays. Give them odd jobs that put extra money in their pockets and help them figure out how much of their earnings to reserve for saving, spending, investing and charity. For teenagers and college students, help them learn how to keep debit card spending from spiraling out of control and avoid getting trapped in credit card debt. This is also a good time to teach them the basics of investing by offering inexpensive ways for them to enter the stock market.
A variety of online tools are available to help your grandchildren become smarter money managers. They include:
Why are you seeing an endless stream of commercials for Medicare providers? Because right now it’s the annual Medicare enrollment period, which ends on December 7. If you haven’t signed up for Medicare yet, you can do so several months before you turn 65 so your coverage starts on your birthday. If you’re 65 or older and have been laid off from your job and no longer have healthcare coverage, you can sign up for Medicare right away. Once you’ve enrolled, you can change your coverage during this annual fall enrollment period. The most common and puzzling decision Medicare enrollees face is what kind of coverage to get. They can enroll in standard Medicare (Part A and B) and add prescription drug (Part D) and supplemental coverage (known as Medigap). Or they can choose a comprehensive Medicare Advantage plan offered by private insurers that covers Medicare services and prescriptions. While Medicare Advantage plans often have cheaper monthly premiums, they can incur higher out-of-pocket costs and limit your choice of physicians and hospitals. Confused? Fortunately, there are resources you can use to use to compare your options and get human assistance. These include:
With interest rates at record lows and economic uncertainty expected to continue, you’re probably wondering, like millions of other Americans, whether you’ll have enough income to last 20 or more years of retirement. Fortunately, there are a number of steps you can take right now to improve your chances. First, try to avoid taking Social Security as long as possible, since each year you delay could increase your benefits by 8%. Second, use online tools like maxmyinterest.com to find online banks offering better interest rates on savings than you’re earning now. Third, consider reallocating some of your investments to increase income without taking on excessive risk; equity-income funds offer an attractive combination of dividend income and the potential for capital growth. Fourth, look for ways to reduce non-essential spending and investment expenses. If all of this seems too overwhelming to do on your own, considering working with a fee-only fiduciary financial planner who can analyze your entire financial life and recommend a plan to help you live the way you want to during retirement.
401(k) plans are by far the largest source of income and capital for most retirees. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re making the most of your plan’s potential by finding ways to reduce costs and make smarter investment choices. Edward Gottfried of Betterment suggests that the easiest way to lower costs is to move your money from mutual funds that charge you 1% or more in annual investment management fees into index funds with fees ranging from 0.05% to 0.25%. Online tools like Blooom can analyze all of your plan’s funds and suggest less-expensive alternatives. It’s also important to make sure that your asset allocation—your current mix of stock funds, bond funds and cash--reflects your investment goals, timeframe and risk tolerance. As you approach retirement, you may want to reduce your allocation to stocks to protect against potential losses in your portfolio should the market plummet when you need to start making withdrawals. However, it’s important to keep some exposure to stocks because they’re more likely to keep your portfolio growing faster during retirement than if you only invest in bonds and cash.
When you retire, or move to a different company, you need to decide what to do with the assets in your former employer’s 401(k) plan. If you’re switching jobs, it only makes sense to transfer assets from your old plan if your new company’s plan offers better investment options and lower costs. But for most people, moving 401(k) plan assets into a brokerage Rollover IRA makes the most sense. A Rollover IRA gives you access to thousands of different mutual funds and ETFs and most offer online retirement planning tools to help you determine an appropriate asset allocation model and select investment options. If you don’t want to make your own investment decisions, consider rolling over your 401(k) assets into an IRA professionally managed by a fee-only fiduciary investment adviser.
According to industry research, only half of retirees save enough money to maintain their current level of spending for more than five years. Trying to figure out if their income from Social Security and retirement savings will last potentially 30 years or more is one of the biggest sources of stress among those in their 60s and 70s. According to Steve Vernon, author of Don’t Go Broke at Retirement, retirees need to find a middle ground between carelessly spending away their nest eggs and allowing their fears about running out of money keep them from enjoying life. There are two strategies you can use to help ensure that you won’t spend your way into poverty. First, try to delay taking Social Security benefits until age 70 if possible, even if you need to take a part-time job to earn extra income. The longer you wait, the higher the monthly benefits you’ll receive. Second, look for ways to reduce your spending. While going out to eat less often and cutting your cable and cell phone bills can help, the most significant, long-lasting savings come from eliminating major expenses. Getting rid of a vehicle you no longer need or moving into a townhouse or to a state with a lower cost of living can significantly reduce the thousands of dollars per year you spend on repairs, loans, insurance and taxes. Since these decisions can be very complex, consider seeking the advice of an unbiased, fee-only financial planner who can recommend strategies to keep you financially and emotionally secure during your golden years.
If you’re thinking about moving to a smaller home, you may want to begin this process by figuring out what you need to keep and what you can get rid of. In this episode, David Ekerdt, a sociology professor at Kansas University and author of Downsizing: Confronting our Possessions in Later Life, reveals that many older people find this process to be a major source of tension and emotional duress, especially if they have a short timeframe for getting rid of things. Often their children and grandchildren aren’t interested in taking their china, silverware or furniture. Or no wants to buy the collectibles and artwork they thought would bring in a small fortune. Or the charities they’d like to donate things to are overly picky. A process that they thought would be done quickly can sometimes takes months. To lessen this stress, parents should invite their children to either “claim” or take items they want long before they plan to move to a different location. The earlier they shed the things they no longer need, the less they’ll have to deal with later on.
Scammers, identity thieves and false unemployment claim filers have stolen hundreds of millions of dollars this year, taking advantage of COVID-19 confusion to prey on vulnerable and scared people isolated in their homes. Some call pretending to be the Social Security Administration, demanding personal financial information to stop benefit cuts. Others pretend to be from the federal government, asking people to provide their Social Security numbers to authorize economic stimulus payments. Other scammers send solicitations from fake charities or GoFundMe campaigns claiming to be helping first responders and pandemic victims. If you receive unsolicited calls, texts or emails asking for your Social Security number or other financial information, ignore them. If you inadvertently fall for one of these scams, or you believe that you are a victim of identity theft, immediately contact the three credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and Transunion, and request a credit freeze, which will prevent thieves from opening more credit cards in your name. Also request a free credit report from each agency and look them over closely to identify any credit cards or loans you didn’t authorize. If you believe that someone is filing false unemployment claims under your name, contact your local state employment office or contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI or www.tips.fbi.gov. Make sure you document your attempts to research this fraud.
Going through a divorce is tough at any age, but it can be particularly challenging when you separate over age 55, when your emotional and financial lives may have been intertwined for decades. In this episode, Pam, Richard and Terry discuss the three most expensive financial mistakes people going through a divorce often make. They also offer tips for reducing legal costs, outline the steps spouses need to take to understand the joint assets they’re entitled to and the debts they may be responsible for, and discuss ways to get through the rigors of divorce and emerge with a positive outlook and a strong sense of financial independence.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created dilemmas that college students and their parents have never had to face before. With many already financially struggling higher education institutions keeping campuses closed, cancelling athletic seasons and offering online courses only, students are being denied the full college experience. Are the 10%-15% tuition reductions some colleges and universities are offering adequate compensation? Pam, Richard and Terry discuss the pros and cons of various options, including: Negotiating tuition costs and financial aid packages; taking a gap year to earn money for the 2021-2022 school year; and deferring enrollment and earning a 1-2 years’ worth of transferable credits at a community college.
For centuries, gold has been considered a store of wealth. For some investors, this belief may be stronger than ever before, as gold prices have reached record highs recently, driven largely by its reputation as a hedge against market volatility and concerns over the safety of global currencies. Yet it’s important to remember that while gold is doing well now, as an asset class it has significantly underperformed the S&P 500 over the past decade. That’s why most advisors recommend that investors allocate no more than 15% of their portfolio to gold. What’s the best way to get into the gold market? Pam, Richard and Terry weigh in on the pros and cons of investing in physical gold like coins and bullion, versus ETFs and mutual funds that invest directly in gold and funds that invest in mining companies that fulfill the global demand for this precious metal.
We're now halfway through what's become a very strange year. The turmoil we started experiencing inthe financial markets may be making you more than a little jittery about your finances. So in today’s Friends Talk Money episode, we're back to help you make informed money decisions. This episode is your midyear financial checkup that includes suggestions for things to do to stay on track – or at least get a start on it. We'll also talk about finding work and doing some volunteering virtually.
We may have seen the worst from the Coronavirus pandemic that shut down businesses across America. Now we have to manage, save, and invest our money in a brand new environment. With savings rates near zero and stock prices once again looking expensive, and therefore potentially risky, retirement investors are wondering how to put their savings to work and figure out how to fill any gaps in income. In this second special edition of Friends Talk Money, Richard talks employment opportunities for people over 50, Terry provides a crisp summary of what’s happening in our economy, and Pam offers those nearing retirement three tips about investing for both income and growth.
The Coronavirus pandemic has created an unprecedented global healthcare, economic and personal financial crisis. The risks are magnified for those approaching retirement, who face a higher risk of infection, loss of income, and a steep drop in the value of their retirement savings. In this special edition of Friends Talk Money, Richard, Pam and Terry serve up advice and insights about what’s going on with stimulus checks, and how to stay solvent and avoid making bad decisions during these trying times.
Travis Iles, Texas Securities Commissioner
Jason Williams, CFP(R), Sullivan Bruyette Speros & Blayney
Managing your finances during retirement is like trying to land a helicopter in the wind--it requires accuracy, monitoring and caution. Texas Securities Commissioner Travis Iles advises retirees to steel themselves against unscrupulous brokers and precious metals hawkers who try to appeal to retirees’ greed and fear of losses. Financial planner Jason Williams says that the key to managing your money during retirement is to know exactly how much money will be coming in versus going out and to make sure your retirement investments achieve an optimal balance of capital protection and future growth potential. And while you can use online retirement planning calculators to get a ballpark estimate of how long your nest egg will last, these tools’ well-documented inaccuracies strengthen the case for working with an experienced fiduciary financial planner to address these critical issues and gain greater peace of mind.
Guest speaker Steve Vernon suggests that pre-retirees worried about their financial security adopt two mindsets: One, that it’s okay to start spending the money you’ve saved for retirement, and two, you may need to change your retirement investing objective from maximizing savings to generatng income. He also recommends that people delay applying for Social Security benefits as long as possible, since annual benefits are 8% higher for every year you delay taking benefits after you reach your full retirement age up to age 70. Pam, Richard and Terry also remind people that, outside of when they start taking Social Security benefits, nearly every decision they make about their financial life during retirement, from taking on a part-time job to generate extra income to revising their investment strategy, is reversible.
In this episode of the Friends Talk Money podcast, the topic is debt and retirement. Co-host Richard Eisenberg — the managing editor of Next Avenue, the public media website for people 50+ — leads the discussion on the rising amount of debt held by retirees compared to the past and which types of debt cause the most stress for retirees.
One is Chris Farrell, a journalist and author (Purpose and a Paycheck) who focuses on personal finance and work topics for people 50+ in media outlets including Next Avenue and public radio’s Marketplace. He has recently been studying data about retirees and debt.
The other is Ohio State University professor Stephanie Moulton, co-author of a recent study on the relationship between debt and financial stress for older Americans: Debt Stress and Mortgage Borrowing in Older Age: Implications for Economic Security in Retirement.(https://mrdrc.isr.umich.edu/publications/conference/pdf/2019RDRC%20P5%20Moulton.pdf)
The Next Avenue article, “The Hidden Retirement Crisis: Older Americans’ Debt,” https://www.nextavenue.org/retirement-older-americans-debt/) describes some of Farrell’s and Moulton’s insights.
The reputation of annuities as “guaranteed” income-generators for retirees has been shredded by countless horror stories of hidden fees, sky-high commissions and dishonest sales practices. We hear one such story from Lucian, a 37-year old investor who fell for a salesperson’s promises of “lifetime payments” and “money-doubling potential” and sank $400,000 of his life savings into a high-cost, low-return equity-indexed annuity. Fee-only fiduciary advisor Eric Lau, who is trying to help Lucian cancel his contract, advises that anyone considering purchasing any annuity should have an attorney review any contract and/or consult with an objective investment professional to discuss other retirement-income options.
Pam and Richard remember the days when reverse mortgages were hawked like Ab Crunchers on late-night infomercials. But tighter regulations have now made them a legitimate source of supplemental tax-free income for seniors who wish to remain in their homes until their deaths. In fact, Terry helped her father get a reverse mortgage in that enabled him to live in his retirement condominium until he passed away at age 96. But it’s not a decision to be taken lightly, and the federal government has established safeguards to ensure that potential applicants and their families fully understand both the benefits and risks of this often misunderstood option.
Meet one feisty 75-year old woman who is redefining retirement. Her empowering message may change people’s lives and how they think about retirement. Pam interviewed retirement research expert, Warren Cormier explains the different phases of retirement. Working past 70 is now the ‘new normal’.
Richard raised the issue of age discrimination at work for older people looking for jobs.
Resources: Warren Cormier study: Link
Age discrimination in the workforce: Link
Someone turning age 65 today has almost a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care services, whether it’s in-home care or in an assisted living facility or nursing home. Guest Phyllis Shelton, President of Got LTCi, reveals that home health care can cost as much as $5,000 a month, and average nursing home care costs are $7,500 a month.
Richard warns that if you’re thinking about buying long-term care insurance you should do it while you’re still healthy. Many insurers won’t underwrite policies for people with diabetes and other pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, and dementia.
Pam warns that when shopping for policies it’s important to research the financial stability of the insurance companies, since many companies that used to provide long-term care insurance either left the business or refused to pay benefits because they underestimated the health care costs and longevity of policyholders. People should work with unbiased, fiduciary experts who do not sell insurance in order to evaluate the need.
Cindy Hounsell, president of WISER (Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement)
WISER website: https://www.wiserwomen.org