Category

401(k)

Six benefits to starting your financial planning now

Last month, I posted a picture on Instagram with a cake to celebrate my company’s 5th birthday. I had planned to write a blog post to go along with it but due to the coronavirus, my world has been pretty crazy. Instead of blogging, I’ve been doing a lot of tax loss harvesting and taking on new clients who wanted to take advantage of the downturn in the market.

However, this long holiday weekend (happy belated Fourth of July!) brought some time to reflect on these past five years. While year one looks vastly different than today, one question from clients has remained the same: “Megan, how come they don’t teach this in school?”

What follows that comment is often the client’s regret of wishing they had started their planning earlier in life. While we do our very best to set a client of any age up for retirement success, this is why I love meeting with young individuals/couples. A bonus is that our similarity in age means that we usually become friends and I love new friends. I also have a single younger sister, so I am on the hunt to find her a man … kidding … (maybe)!

Coming from my five years of experience with clients who started their financial planning at an earlier age as well as the alternative, the former has benefits of:

  • seeing their investments grow over a longer period of time with compounding returns,
  • having a higher risk tolerance and therefore, possibly greater returns,
  • potentially getting better life insurance rates before they may face possible medical issues,
  • knowing exactly what to do when their employer offers them a 401(k), Simple IRA, health insurance plans, etc.,
  • feeling confident with their day-to-day budget right out of the gate, knowing that they are setting themselves up for short and long-term success,
  • creating flexibility and control with their future retirement (e.g., a few clients I work with are projected to retire early).

I’m sure I will continue getting the question, “Why don’t they teach this in school?” for the next five years or more. Either way, what matters is that people understand why they should begin financial planning early on. I always joke, “No one has ever said I’m intimidating!” and make it clear that I don’t bill for my time.

If you’d like to not wait a day longer to kick off your financial plan or get a second opinion, don’t hesitate to reach out using the contact information at my page. It’s important that you work with someone who you like and trust. I may not always have birthday cake, but my door is always open!

What are catch-up contributions, and should you be making them?

Man review finances on tablet

Man reviewing finances on tablet

If you’re among the millions of Americans putting money into a workplace retirement plan, you probably know that IRS rules limit annual tax-deferred contribution amounts. For example, 401(k) and 403(b) participants can set aside a maximum of $19,500 in income on a tax-deferred basis in 2020. But if you’re age 50 or older, you could be eligible to contribute amounts that exceed the standard IRS limitations.

Catch-up contributions, as the name implies, allow workers to save more tax-deferred income as they get closer to traditional retirement age. Allowable catch-up amounts vary depending on the type of retirement plan. For our 401(k) or 403(b) example, the catch-up amount is $6,500 in 2020.

Catch-up contributions only extend the amounts workers can contribute to their plans each year. They do not increase employer-match limits.

The IRS updates annual contribution limits each year—including catch-up contribution amounts—for each type of retirement plan. A professional financial advisor can explain the rules that apply to your specific account to you.

Should you get in on this?

If you’re 50 or over and looking to grow tax-deferred savings for retirement, and you already max out your plan’s limits each year, making catch-up contributions might be right for you.

On the other hand, if a large portion of your retirement savings is in tax-deferred dollars, you could be facing a sizable income-tax burden when you retire and begin taking plan distributions. In that case, there might be better retirement savings options for you than increasing your tax-deferred contributions.

Because everyone’s financial needs and objectives are unique, we can’t over-stress the importance of consulting a trained financial advisor when planning for retirement. A qualified professional can help forecast whether you’re saving enough for the retirement lifestyle you want—and help you determine if you have any “catching up” to do.

Talk to Steve


Prepared by The Creative Block, Inc. Copyright 2020.
The Creative Block, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, legal, or retirement advice or recommendations. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances.
To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.
These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable—we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

Are you ahead of the pack?

Man out for a jog

Do you ever wonder whether you’re doing enough to plan for retirement?

Man out for a jog
Do you question, from a savings perspective, whether you’re on track to retire when you hope to? Have you thought about how much retirement savings you should have at this point in your life?

If those questions sound familiar, you’re not alone. Clients often ask how their current financial situations compare to others in their age groups. The national statistics might shock you.

According to the nonprofit think tank Economic Policy Institute, nearly half of working-age families lack any retirement savings at all. Zero. That means whatever amount you’ve accumulated puts you further ahead than many people. Unfortunately, most individuals who do have retirement savings accounts are significantly behind where they need to be to retire comfortably.

Retirement Savings by Age Group

Looking at typical retirement accounts—for only those who have one—helps provide a perspective on how your savings compare to your age-group cohorts.

The following table uses data from the Federal Reserve to show both average and median retirement account balances by various age groups. NOTE: The material is provided for informational purposes only and not intended as investment advice.

Age Group
Average Retirement Account
Median Retirement Account
Under age 35
$32,500
$12,300
Age 35 – 44
$100,000
$37,000
Age 45 – 54
$215,800
$82,600
Age 55 – 64
$374,000
$120,000
Age 65 – 74
$358,000
$126,000
Dollar amounts rounded to nearest hundred.

What’s Your Plan?

Now that you know how you stack up to others when it comes to saving for retirement, it’s time to consider more relevant questions. First, how much income will you need in retirement? And second, what steps should you be taking toward reaching your retirement savings goals?

Every person’s situation is unique, of course. That’s why it’s helpful to work with a professional financial advisor when planning for retirement. A trained advisor can help project the retirement income you’ll need to enjoy life the way you want. And with that knowledge, your advisor will work with you to develop and execute a comprehensive retirement savings plan.

Talk to Steve


Prepared by The Creative Block, Inc. Copyright 2020.
The Creative Block, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, legal, or retirement advice or recommendations. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances.
To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.
These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable—we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

Is history repeating itself? Market declines continue.

Is history repeating itself? Are we in the midst of another Great Recession?

The last three weeks have been intense in the stock market. On Thursday, March 12 and Monday, March 16, we’ve seen drastic declines. It’s difficult to see the silver lining in the market when the headlines are just as terrifying as the unknown of our investment returns. We haven’t seen the markets act in this manner since 2008-09.

Are we repeating history, and at the start of a recession? The short answer: no. Let’s talk about why …

To begin, I don’t think I could write a comparison better than the one USA TODAY published last week: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/03/11/recession-heres-how-coronavirus-crises-different-2008/5012228002/

If you read their article and still want my perspective, read on!

As financial advisors, we look to different measurements to gain insight as to what the future of our economy and the market may hold. Without boring you with an economics lesson, I would like to give an overview of just two of them: gross domestic product (GDP) and the consumer price index (CPI).

With respect to our country’s GDP, consumer spending is its key driver. If we look at how the stock market ended in 2018, we were down about 20 percent. Therefore, it must mean a recession followed, right? Fortunately for everyone, that was not the case as we saw tremendous returns in 2019.

So how did the stock market get it wrong? We knew the noise of daily news was causing concerns of trade wars and a government shutdown to investors. In times of uncertainty, volatility increases. Despite the everyday investor seeing significant losses in their investment accounts, Christmas-time consumer spending was up 19 percent from the previous year! This shows us that drastic changes in the market did not translate to drastic changes in consumer behavior. Our country’s current GDP is more than 2 percent. Until we hit GDP of 1 percent, I am confident with our country’s growth.

Another key factor is understanding the CPI. If you look at the chart below from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you can see that once the CPI reaches 4 percent, a recession is quickly on the horizon. The CPI is currently in the mid to low twos. We haven’t reached the threshold and we shouldn’t assume the coronavirus is a catalyst for a recession.


*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Health care providers, scientists, and the leaders of our communities are working diligently on preventative measures and access to care for the well-being of all. There is not a country more well equipped than America. Hysteria, uncertainty, and volatility will pass. It always does, and once that happens, our country’s strong economic fundamentals will be restored just like they always do.

If you gain one takeaway from this: stay the course. What if in December 2018, you decided to get out of the market for fear of the negative markets to continue? You would have missed out on the positive returns that followed. While this uncertainty is uncomfortable, please stay safe and please choose to be hopeful.

About Megan:
Megan Rightnowar got into the financial services business almost five years ago to help individuals and families create a plan for financial freedom. She believes that money doesn’t have to control your life and she helps people live that out.  As an extension of her love for educating clients, she enjoys writing blog posts covering a myriad of financial topics. Megan also teaches finance and personal planning for pharmacy students at the University of Toledo.

*Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Securities and investment services offered through Royal Alliance Associates, Inc. (RAA), member FINRA/SIPC. RAA is separately owned and other entities and/or marketing names, products or services referenced here are independent of RAA.

An advisor’s four-part strategy to saving

Megan Rightnowar

Now that we are more than one month into the new decade, let’s revisit the goals that you made: going vegan, hitting the gym, attending church, sticking to your budget, etc.  As we are “adulting,” one New Year’s resolution question I got bombarded with was, “Megan, where do I put the money I am going to start saving?”

I thought this would be a good time to share the specifics of what my husband and fellow financial advisor Nick and I do for our personal finances.  Let’s dive into our four-part strategy!

Megan working with a customer.Annual Review
We sit down once a year for an annual review of our budget. Yup, that’s it.  That’s how often I recommend that my clients review theirs, too.  Money does not have to control your life, and I believe that revisiting your budget once a year is sufficient if you do it right.

Expenses
We get our pumpkin cream cold brews from Starbucks and pull out our budget sheet (see below).  We use this to outline our recurring expenses, including our mortgage, groceries (aka, takeout … your girl can’t cook!), Pure Barre, our sweetest employee, Kerigan, etc.  We then determine if there are any expenses we can eliminate, such as the gym across the street that I have not gone to once. (WHOOPS!) Next, we estimate expenses that do not occur monthly but know will happen throughout the year like hair appointments.  Lastly, we dedicate 10 percent of our income to our church and other charities – SO many people and organizations doing awesome things in our community!

Savings
Now it’s time to add our savings to the mix.  We set aside $416.67 a month to our savings account so that each year our savings grows by $5,000.  We max out our Roth IRAs and Health Savings Accounts (HSA) with monthly contributions to each.  We then put money toward our non-retirement investment account and our LIRPs (Life Insurance Retirement Plan).  As business owners, we must factor in savings for taxes each month too – shoutout to all the 1099 business owners out there!

(Fun!) Income
At the bottom of the budget sheet, we include our take-home pay and then subtract our expenses and savings.  Drum roll please (with my calculator) … we have our discretionary income, aka our FUN money!  Sometimes we may only have $20 left and other times it may be $2,000.  This is my, “Girl, get that dress!” money.  Some months my closet is growing while other months I ask to borrow a dress from a friend (you know who you are!).  Because we have done the hard part first, we have no regrets, and can truly enjoy the money we have earned.

Now that you know our process, let’s get back to you.  Take a deep breath and start your own budget sheet.  Make a commitment to saving so you can have some FUN!  Need help with the savings piece?  Holla at your girl.

Monthly Budget WorksheetSecurities and investment advisory services offered through Royal Alliance Associates, Inc. (RAA), member FINRA/SIPC. RAA is separately owned and other entities and/or marketing names, products or services referenced here are independent of RAA.
Font Resize
Contrast