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4 Reasons Your Retirement Plan Might Fall Short

May AOTM

Ever find yourself daydreaming about retirement? Whether your dream retirement entails traveling the world, dedicating time to beloved hobbies, or helping your children and grandchildren, saving enough for retirement is critical to enjoying all of these endeavors. Everyone deserves the best retirement possible, but numerous planning mistakes can cause retirement plans to fall short.

According to recent studies, retirement savings look grim for many Americans for reasons such as living longer, expensive medical care, and the rising cost of living. One survey showed that 45% of all Americans have saved nothing for their retirement, including 40% of Baby Boomers. This trend continues with younger generations too, with a recent report from The National Institute on Retirement Security showing that 66% of Millennials haven’t saved a penny towards their retirement.

May AOTM

(Credit: Time/GoBankingRates)

If you have started saving for retirement, you’re definitely ahead of the curve. However, you could still be engaging in some of the biggest retirement planning mistakes—without even realizing it. How can you save enough to thoroughly enjoy your ‘golden years,’ without hurting your finances in the meantime? Here are 4 retirement planning mistakes worth avoiding:

Mistake #1: Focusing on the Return Rate

If you have an investment that produces a high rate of return, it’s easy to get caught up in always pursuing that outcome. However, be wary of that type of bias, as it could negatively impact your future investments. Rather than chasing rates of returns, shift your focus to creating a diversified portfolio that spreads out investments through a variety of fund types. This might include balanced, index, equity, or global. Working with a financial advisor that helps you diversify your portfolio can help protect your retirement savings if/when the economy goes sideways. Plus, they’ll help you discover investments that match your retirement goals and risk tolerance.

Mistake #2: Retiring Too Early

Many of those saving for retirement aren’t saving as much as they need to continue their lifestyle during retirement. If that sounds like your situation, then possibly consider staying in the workforce a little longer and wait to take your Social Security benefits. This will allow you to save longer and also maximize your benefits if you don’t apply for them at age 62.

Additionally, Social Security data shows that around 33% of retirees live until 92 years old, and 75% of retirees apply for benefits as soon as they hit 62. With this in mind, pushing retirement back a bit could benefit you in the long-run.

With that said, pushing back retirement isn’t the best option for everyone. There are many reasons to retire as soon as you can, such as having health issues or other life circumstances that encourage early retirement. Whether you plan to retire early or need to retire later than expected, working with a financial advisor can help you determine the best way to prepare yourself for your specific retirement needs.

Mistake #3: Not Saving Consistently

One of the worst retirement mistakes to avoid is saving too little now and hoping you can ‘catch up’ in the future. The truth is, catching up rarely happens, and unexpected life circumstances can make catching up impossible in some cases.

According to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, the median retirement account balance for 55 to 64-year-olds was just over $110,000. If this money had to stretch over 20 to 25 years (which it likely will as people are living longer), it amounts to just over $400 per month to live on. We can see this is just not realistic in today’s world.

To save more, create a budget, cut out unnecessary spending, open a 401(k) through your employer or an individual retirement fund as a self-employed individual, and save extra money with each raise or bonus you receive from work. Working with a financial advisor is one way to shed light on other financial strategies to boost your retirement savings.

Mistake #4: Not Factoring Taxes into the Equation

 Another common mistake made during retirement is forgetting about taxes and their effect on your savings. Tax deductions change for many people once in their in retirement, and some retirees end up paying more in taxes. Consider speaking with a financial professional about tax-free withdrawals from Roth IRAs or about timing withdrawals from accounts that will be taxed.

Want to avoid other retirement saving mistakes and create a personalized retirement plan? Contact us today for a complimentary consultation.

Preparing Your Children for Adulthood through Financial Literacy

AOTM April GraphicAs a financial advisor, I learn a lot about clients’ short and long-term financial goals through many conversations and building relationships with them. I also often learn about their frustrations and regrets regarding past financial decisions. During these conversations about financial regrets, I often remind clients that it is important to remember that with time comes perspective and experience. So while they, as adults, may have regrets about past financial blunders, they can use their knowledge and experience to help their children steer clear of the same mistakes. With April being Financial Literacy Month, there is no better time to learn about the importance of teaching children about financial matters and helping them form good habits.

Are you hesitant to speak with your children about financial matters because of how you’ve handled past situations? Well, you aren’t alone. Many parents are reluctant to speak with their kids about finance but haven’t considered using their personal experiences as a lesson to teach their kids about financial consequences. While some parents think their child will learn financial literacy in school, only 17 states in America currently require students to take a personal finance course. If children aren’t learning about money from their parents and/or guardian, many children are left in the dark or could learn negative financial habits from their peers or media.

Broach the financial conversation with your children knowing you don’t have to be a financial genius in order to teach them helpful lessons for the future. Sometimes these conversations even help parents take better control of their own financial situation, in order to be a strong role model for their children.

Not sure which financial lessons are most important for your children to be aware of? Here are 4 to consider when you prepare to teach your son or daughter how to build a solid financial future:

  1. Earning Money. One of the first experiences your child will have when it comes to financial matters is earning money. Whether you are offering a small stipend for jobs around the home or your child has a part-time job after school, earning money through physical or mental effort helps your child associate value to labor.
  1. The Importance of Budgeting. The topic of budgeting can be brought up at a relatively early age. Whether your child earns an allowance or is paid from a job outside of the home, discuss how he or she can create a budget with the earnings. Some parents require the income a child earns to be used for their discretionary spending – things like gas, going out with friends, or buying a new clothing item. Be sure to help your child create a system where a portion of his or her money will go into savings, an emergency fund, their car or phone payment, etc.Budgeting helps children learn the value of money and gain a clearer picture of the time and effort involved in obtaining something of value or make a major purchase in the future.
  1. Saving Money. It seems like such a simple topic yet saving money is often not discussed with younger generations. As young men and women between the ages of 17 and 25 make plans to move away from the family home, many are unprepared for the shock of monthly bills and being tied to contractual obligations, such as rent, phone, and monthly car payment contracts.By having a firm grasp on saving money and budgeting ahead of time, your child can bypass “bill shock”, in addition to feelings of anxiety and confusion when he or she moves out of the home.You can teach younger children about the topic of saving money through the use of a piggy bank, and older children through opening a savings accounts and setting up various goals.
  1. The Difference of Needs vs. Wants. Because we live in a want-driven society, this is a crucial discussion to have with your child. We “need” food, shelter, clothing and security to survive – whereas our “want” is something we desire but do not depend on to live. Teach your child that “needs” should be built into their budget, whereas a splurge or extra money fund is what should be paying for the “wants” in life.

Of course, this can segue into a much broader discussion of why your child wants something – possibly because his or her friends have it, because they think it will make them more likeable, etc. There are many helpful conversations that can come from this topic that can benefit your children for years to come!

Take advantage of Financial Literacy Month this April and make a plan to start having regular discussions about money with your children. Teaching them while they’re young can help them build a strong and positive relationship with money, and instill in them the value of earning money, budgeting, saving, and setting up a secure future.

For more information on how to teach financial literacy to tweens, click here, and for teens, click here. Both links offer concepts and tasks that will help them develop the financial skills they need as they prepare for adulthood. If you would like more personalized financial guidance as you educate your kids about money, please contact us for a complimentary consultation.

Financial Complexities of a Longer Life

Americans are living longer. That’s the good news. The bad news is that most people aren’t financially prepared. Many Baby Boomers will be in retirement for over 20 years and unfortunately, many aren’t saving and investing with a longer life-expectancy in mind.

 There are serious consequences to financial planning around the wrong life expectancy. Some retirees are working later in life; others live in fear of running out of money, while others are leaving less of a legacy than they hoped. No one wants to run out of money in retirement.

 

How Long Should You Expect to Live?

The Social Security Administration notes that at 65-years old, the average man can expect to live to roughly 84.3 years of age, whereas the average 65-year old woman can expect to live until age 86.6. This means that on average, Americans can expect to spend about 20 years in retirement.

 

However, there is a strong chance that you should plan to be in retirement much longer than 20 years. One out of every four 65-year olds will live past the age of 90, and one out of every 10 will live past the age of 95. Are you prepared for three decades of retirement? Most people aren’t.

 

With these figures in mind, here are 3 steps that can be taken to ensure your financial longevity:

 

Step 1) Develop a Clear Vision of Your Retirement Lifestyle

 

To create a well-conceived plan and have the will to faithfully execute it, you need a clear vision of your lifestyle in retirement. Start by defining your goals and asking yourself:

  • Where will I live?
  • Where will I travel?
  • What will I drive?
  • How will my hobbies change?
  • Where will I donate my time and money?

It’s important to factor realistic spending assumptions into the cost of your retirement, based on your goals and desired lifestyle. Your plan should also include contingencies for health care costs and unexpected expenses.

 

Step 2) Adjust Investment Strategies

Start to plan for a longer retirement by adjusting your investment strategies — like saving more, being slightly more (or less) aggressive with your investment strategy, etc. We ensure our clients have these bases covered, so consider calling us if you’d like someone to review your investment strategies. We’re experienced in retirement planning if:

  • You are within 5 years of retirement
  • You have recently experienced a significant change in your income
  • Your investment accounts are exposed to higher risk due to natural market fluctuations
  • You aren’t confident that you are still on-target for your retirement and legacy goals

 

Step 3) Consider Health Insurance Options

Health insurance is the most expensive and bothersome insurance the average individual carries. Unfortunately, many people approach retirement and believe that the burden of health insurance will be lifted. In reality, even when covered by Medicare and other supplemental insurance plans, there are still substantial costs left for the individual to pay.

In addition to premiums, deductibles, and co-pays, prescription drug costs are likely to rise. In the last decade, the average annual cost of one brand-new drug used to treat chronic health conditions cost a senior $5,800 (2015), compared to $1,800 less than a decade earlier (AARP). Planning for a longer retirement requires keeping a keen eye on the rising cost of healthcare in the US.

Understanding the stresses that come with ensuring your financial longevity, we’re here to help you sort out the complications of an ever-changing financial plan. Contact us to review your retirement, legacy, and estate plans. Together, we’ll create a clear strategy that points you toward a comfortable retirement, whether it lasts one decade or three.

 8 Key Life Events that Require Financial Guidance

 

Almost everyone stresses over the daily obligations of financial planning, but many also neglect the significant life stages that require special attention and strategies. Here are 8 key life events that could benefit from professional financial guidance.

 

  1. Graduating from College

College graduation marks the first major transition into adulthood. The progression from school to career is a significant milestone and the perfect time to get financial advice.

 

Whether you or a loved one has graduated, this is also a great time to assess needs such as college debt repayment, savings strategies, or insurance.

 

Luckily, most recent graduates have time on their side. With the decades ahead and the power of compound interest, it’s the perfect time to have a discussion about the benefits of saving right now. The financial foundation built now will have a major impact on the rest of your financial life.

 

  1. Marriage or Divorce

Professional finance advice is extremely beneficial at the time of marriage. Goals such as combining finances, handling credit issues or debt problems, and building a successful financial life with your spouse will be hard to establish without objective financial advice.

 

On the other end of the spectrum, divorcees should ensure that they protect their finances. If you’re entering divorce proceedings, important tasks like updating your will, changing your insurance policies, and protecting your investment accounts need to be handled with care and are best managed by a professional.

 

  1. Adding a Member to Your Household

The birth of a child is a miraculous event, but that new addition will bring huge financial and lifestyle changes. College funds will need to be created, wills and insurance policies need to be updated, and a whole host of new expenses will need to be managed. Make sure that your new bundle of joy is off to the best start possible by bringing in a professional.

 

  1. Job and Income Changes

Whether you are starting a new job, changing careers, or accepting a well-deserved promotion, there are important financial considerations to address. During a job change, you’re better off with a financial planning professional who can help you minimize taxes by rolling over retirement accounts and making the most of your stock options. A professional can also help you adjust your financial plan so you start putting more money aside and preparing for a future of continued financial growth.

 

  1. Buying and Selling Property

If you’re buying a home, a professional can help you review your situation in an effort to maximize your tax benefits, deal with capital gains exclusions and taxes, and find write-offs and deductions you might otherwise have missed. Buying and selling property is complicated, and it’s not worth tackling on your own.

 

  1. Illness or Hospitalization

An unexpected illness or hospitalization can strike at any time, and when it does, your finances are soon to be impacted. If you find yourself hospitalized or stricken by a sudden illness, reaching out to a professional could minimize the financial impact and help you recover more quickly. A financial advisor will also help with long-term care options and disability insurance, estate planning, life insurance, and a host of other planning topics that will have an impact on your overall portfolio.

 

  1. Inheriting Property

Dealing with an inheritance can also be complicated, hence why it made our list. If your inheritance comes in the form of a lump sum, it is important that you minimize the tax bite and address outstanding debts. If you are inheriting a retirement account like a 401(k) or IRA, you’ll definitely benefit from assistance with rollover options and investment advice.

 

  1. Retirement

Retirement may be the most important transition in your life. From maximizing and managing benefits to developing a distribution strategy, the right professional can be an invaluable resource.

 

Everyone wants to feel comfortable by establishing long-term financial security, so it’s worth taking an honest look at your current financial situation and goals. Every day we take the complexity out of financial planning for our clients. We can make it simple for you too, so don’t hesitate to contact us directly if you need someone to look over things with you.

(How to) Avoid Expensive Divorce Mistakes

Certified Divorce Financial Analyst

During divorce, it’s important to get a solid understanding of your finances.  Simply put, financial mistakes today can cost you for the rest of your life. Regardless of where you may be in the divorce process, there are key financial decisions you need to make.

Emotions run high in divorce and chances are you’re feeling overwhelmed.  It’s hard to stay focused on the big picture given the complexities involved.  The decisions you make today will position you for the future.  The role of the certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA™) is to assist a client and his/ her lawyer/ mediator to understand how the divorce financial planning decisions made today will impact the client’s financial future.

Continue reading "(How to) Avoid Expensive Divorce Mistakes"

7 Small Changes You Can Make Today to Retire Sooner

You probably started thinking about retirement the day you entered the workforce. For some of us, retirement is very far off. For others, it’s right around the corner. No matter what stage of life you’re at, PA retirement income planning should always be at the top of your mind.

What if you haven’t saved enough for retirement? Or worse, what if you haven’t saved anything at all? Relax and take a deep breath. All hope isn’t lost. There are seven small changes you can make today that will help you save more money and may even help you retire sooner.

Continue reading "7 Small Changes You Can Make Today to Retire Sooner"

5 Reasons Women Should Take Control of Their Money

During a recent conference, I started chatting with the woman next to me. We got on the topic of money and financial planning, and she mentioned that her husband handles their finances and investments and she feels like she is not in the loop. She is a perfectly capable woman having run her own business for many years. It’s unfortunate that a good number of women, even professionals, relinquish control of the family finances to their husbands. In fact, she said that if her husband passed away tomorrow, she wouldn’t know what to do with their money or even where all the accounts are located!

That was a huge eye opener for me. How many other women are in her shoes?

Turns out there are a lot. A recent study found that women are no more confident about money than they were ten years ago. And only 20 percent of women feel prepared to make financial decisions.

When it comes to your finances, you can’t afford to take a backseat. Here are five reasons why you should take control or least be an equal partner in the management of your money:

Continue reading "5 Reasons Women Should Take Control of Their Money"

Planning For 100: 6 Ways to Retire With Financial Independence

Are you prepared for retirement?

If the answer is no, you’re not alone.

1 in 3 Americans have zero retirement savings. This includes people who are quickly approaching retirement (ages 50-64). Even those who are saving aren’t putting away very much.

This is especially troubling since people are living longer. That means there are a lot of people who won’t be able to keep up their lifestyle during retirement. I always tell my clients to plan as if they’re going to live to 100 (never say never – the oldest woman who ever lived was 122!).

If you haven’t been saving for retirement or if you haven’t saved enough, it’s not too late to turn things around. No matter which stage you’re at, here are six ways to retire with financial independence: Continue reading "Planning For 100: 6 Ways to Retire With Financial Independence"

Getting Divorced? 5 Reasons You Need a CDFA™

divorce financial planner in Southampton PAGetting divorced without a financial plan is like driving on a highway without your headlights. You have no idea where you’re going.

Divorce is one of the biggest life transitions. It has a huge impact on your finances – both short-term and long-term.

If that’s the case, why don’t more people divorce with a plan?

There are several reasons. One, it’s hard to have a plan when you’re not sure where to start. Two, it’s hard to plan when you’re riding an emotional rollercoaster. You need a voice of reason. You need someone to help you see clearly so you can plan for the future. You need a PA divorce financial planner with your bests interests in mind.

Times are changing. Having an attorney in charge of your finances doesn’t cut it. Attorneys and mediators are only present for the divorce proceedings. But what happens after the divorce? Who’s there to help you plan financially for this new chapter?

If you’re going through a divorce or even just thinking about one, here are 5 reasons why you need a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA™) in your corner: Continue reading "Getting Divorced? 5 Reasons You Need a CDFA™"

Planning for Uncertainty

Do you find yourself in one of these situations?

I’m thinking about getting divorced but haven’t taken that first step.

I’m getting divorced and my attorney isn’t helping me get the settlement I want.

I just got divorced and I have no idea how to manage the household finances.

I’m retiring and I want to make my money last as long as I do.

I haven’t saved enough for retirement.

I’m getting a divorce and I’m close to retirement.

Divorce and retirement have one thing in common: uncertainty. Especially when it comes to money. Continue reading "Planning for Uncertainty"

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