Social Security by the Numbers Facts about the federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program. Provided By: Paul Lewis, CFP®,CWS® Social Security has been a pillar of retirement life for several decades, but how much do you really know about it? Here are some facts that might surprise you: The Social Security trust fund exceeds the gross domestic product of every major economy in the world, except the nine largest: China, the European Union, the United States, India, Japan, Germany, Russia, Indonesia, and Brazil.1 For 61% of retirees, Social Security is a major source of income.1 Benefits are subject

Bad Money Habits to Break Behaviors worth changing. Provided By: Nate Lewis Do bad money habits constrain your financial progress? Many people fall into the same financial behavior patterns, year after year. If you sometimes succumb to these financial tendencies, now is as good a time as any to alter your behavior. #1: Lending money to family & friends. You may know someone who has lent a few thousand to a sister or brother, a few hundred to an old buddy, and so on. Generosity is a virtue, but personal loans can easily transform into personal financial losses for the

Is America Prepared to Retire? A look at some ways to get ready. Provided By: Nate Lewis Are Americans saving enough? Only 19% of U.S. adults describe themselves as “very confident” when asked about their savings. Worry spots include retiring without enough money saved (16%) and anxiety about having a “rainy day” emergency fund (14%). These findings come from the 2018 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. (The survey collected data from 2,017 U.S. adults.)1 Only 41% of us keep a regular budget. If you are one of those roughly two-out-of-five Americans, you’re on

Strategic vs. Tactical Investing How do these investment approaches differ? Provided by: Nate Lewis Ever heard the term “strategic investing”? How about “tactical investing”? At a glance, you might assume that both these phrases describe the same investment approach.   While both approaches involve the periodic adjustment of a portfolio and holding portfolio assets in varied investment classes, they differ in one key respect. Strategic investing is fundamentally passive; tactical investing is fundamentally active. An old saying expresses the opinion that strategic investing is about time in the market, while tactical investing is about timing the market. There is some

The Anatomy of an Index The S&P 500 represents a large portion of the value of the U.S. equity market Prepared by: Nate Lewis Did you know that nearly $10 trillion in assets are benchmarked to the Standard & Poor’s 500 Composite Index, including about $3.5 trillion in index assets?1 The S&P 500 is ubiquitous. It is constantly referenced in financial and non-financial media, and we may compare the return of our own investments to its performance. As the index represents approximately 80% of the value of the U.S. equity market (or about 80% of market capitalization), it may be

An Executor Checklist The steps you may need to take to fulfill a major responsibility. If you are an executor to an estate, you must carry out your duties responsibly. Fulfilling these duties is not only a measure of your ability, but a measure of your character. You can approach these tasks methodically. In fact, it is probably best if you do. Here are the common steps required of executors, before and after the death of a testator. What should you do now, before having to assume the role of executor? The most important thing you can do is to

Your Year-End Financial Checklist Seven aspects of your financial life to review as the year draws to a close. The end of a year makes us think about last-minute things we need to address and good habits we want to start keeping. To that end, here are seven aspects of your financial life to think about as this year leads into the next.. Your investments. Review your approach to investing and make sure it suits your objectives. Look over your portfolio positions and revisit your asset allocation.    Your retirement planning strategy. Does it seem as practical as it did

Why Do You Need a Will? It may not sound enticing, but creating a will puts power in your hands. According to the global analytics firm Gallup, only about 44% of Americans have created a will. This finding may not surprise you. After all, no one wants to be reminded of their mortality or dwell on what might happen upon their death, so writing a last will and testament is seldom prioritized on the to-do list of a Millennial or Gen Xer. What may surprise you, though, is the statistic cited by personal finance website The Balance: around 35% of

Tax Scams & Schemes The “dirty dozen” favored by criminals & cheats. Year after year, criminals try to scam certain taxpayers. Year after year, certain taxpayers resort to schemes in an effort to put one over on the Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.). These cons occur year-round, not just during tax season. In response to their frequency, the I.R.S. has listed the 12 biggest offenses – scams that you should recognize, schemes that warrant penalties and/or punishment.    Phishing. If you get an unsolicited email claiming to be from the I.R.S., it is a scam. The I.R.S. never reaches out via email,

Tax Considerations for Retirees Are you aware of them? The federal government offers some major tax breaks for older Americans. Some of these perks deserve more publicity than they receive.        If you are 65 or older, your standard deduction is $1,300 larger. Make that $1,600 if you are unmarried. Thanks to the passage of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, the 2018 standard deduction for an individual taxpayer at least 65 years of age is a whopping $13,600, more than double what it was in 2017. (If you are someone else’s dependent, your standard deduction is much less.)1 You

Ways to Ease the Cost of College A look at grants, scholarships, 529 plans, and other methods. How much could a college education cost in the 2030s? You may want to take a deep breath and sit down before reading the next paragraph   A MassMutual analysis projects that four years of tuition, room, and board at a private college will cost nearly $369,000 in 2031. An article at CNBC offers a slightly cheaper estimate, putting the total expense at $303,000 for a freshman setting foot on campus in 2036. (Today, the cost of four years at a private university is

Social Security Gets Its Biggest Boost in Years Seniors will see their retirement benefits increase by an average of 2.8% in 2019. Social Security will soon give seniors their largest “raise” since 2012. In view of inflation, the Social Security Administration has authorized a 2.8% increase for retirement benefits in 2019.1 This is especially welcome, as annual Social Security cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs, have been irregular in recent years. There were no COLAs at all in 2010, 2011, and 2016, and the 2017 COLA was 0.3%. This marks the second year in a row in which the COLA has been

Staying Out of Debt Once You Get Out of Debt As you reduce your liabilities, embrace the behaviors that may improve your balance sheet. Paying off a major debt produces a sense of relief. You can celebrate a financial milestone; you can “pay yourself first” to greater degree and direct more money toward your dreams and your financial future rather than your creditors. Once you get out of excessive consumer debt, the last thing you want to do is fall right back in. What steps can you take to reduce that possibility, and what missteps should you avoid making?   Step

The IRA and the 401(k) Comparing their features, merits, and demerits. Taxes are deferred on money held within IRAs and 401(k)s. That opens the door for tax-free compounding of those invested dollars – a major plus for any retirement saver.1    IRAs and 401(k)s also offer you another big tax break. It varies depending on whether the account is traditional or Roth in nature. When you have a traditional IRA or 401(k), your account contributions are tax deductible, but when you eventually withdraw the money for retirement, it will be taxed as regular income. When you have a Roth IRA

Discover the 403(b) This retirement plan allows teachers & employees of non-profits to invest for their futures.  Does your spouse contribute to a 401(k)? You are probably eligible for a retirement plan that can help you save and invest for retirement in the same way – a 403(b). 403(b) plans actually predate 401(k)s. They first appeared in the 1950s. School districts and non-profit organizations commonly offer these retirement savings vehicles to their employees.1  Contributions to most 403(b)s are 100% tax deductible. Typically, you just defer a small percentage of your salary into these plans per paycheck, prior to taxes being

Getting Your Personal Finances in Shape for 2019 Fall is a good time to assess where you stand and where you could be. You need not wait for 2019 to plan improvements to your finances. You can begin now. The last few months of 2018 give you a prime time to examine critical areas of your budget, your credit, and your investments. You could work on your emergency fund (or your rainy day fund). To clarify, an emergency fund is the money you store in reserve for unforeseen financial disruptions; a rainy day fund is money saved for costs you

Pros & Cons of Different Small Business Retirement Plans As a small business owner, you may want a better retirement plan – one that will let you and your key employees save much more for retirement.  If the annual contribution limits on standard retirement plans disappoint you, you should know about these alternatives.  Simplified Employee Pension plans (SEPs). A SEP allows your business to set up and fund IRAs for your workers as well as for yourself. The employer makes 100% of the plan contributions, and the money contributed is tax deductible. The annual contribution limit is $55,000 in 2018.

5 Easy Ways For Businesses To Save On Their Taxes Download the Guide For Free Click Here FREE Is Your Company’s 401k plan up to date? Book a Free Consultation and find out. Click Here FREE Is Your Company’s 401(k) Plan as Good as It Could Be? Two recent court rulings may make you want to double-check.  How often do retirement plan sponsors check up on 401(k)s? Not as often as they should, perhaps. Employers need to be especially vigilant these days. Every plan sponsor should know about two recent court rulings. One came from the Supreme Court in 2015;

5 Retirement Concerns Too Often Overlooked Baby boomers entering their “second acts” should think about these matters. Retirement is undeniably a major life and financial transition. Even so, baby boomers can run the risk of growing nonchalant about some of the financial challenges that retirement poses, for not all are immediately obvious. In looking forward to their “second acts,” boomers may overlook a few matters that a thorough retirement strategy needs to address. RMDs. The Internal Revenue Service directs seniors to withdraw money from qualified retirement accounts after age 70½. This class of accounts includes traditional IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement

Underappreciated Options for Building Retirement Savings Facebook Google+ Twitter LinkedIn More people ought to know about them.  There are a number of well-known retirement savings vehicles, used by millions. Are there other, relatively obscure retirement savings accounts worthy of attention? Are there prospective benefits for retirement savers that remain under the radar? The answer to both questions is yes. Consider these potential routes toward greater retirement savings.      Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). People enrolled in high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) commonly open HSAs for their stated purpose: to create a pool of money that can be applied to health care expenses.