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Financial Symmetry: Balancing Today with Retirement

When considering retirement, do you wonder what financial opportunities you may be missing? Busy lives take over and years pass without taking advantage. In this retirement podcast, the Financial Symmetry advisors unveil financial opportunities, to help you balance enjoying today so you are ready to retire later. By day, they are fiduciary fee-only financial advisors who answer questions about tax savings, investment decisions, and how to save more. If you’ve been putting off your financial to-do list or are just not sure what you’ve been missing, subscribe to the show and learn more at www.financialsymmetry.com. Financial Symmetry is a Raleigh Financial Advisor. Proudly serving clients in the Triangle of North Carolina for over 20 years.
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Financial Symmetry: Balancing Today with Retirement
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Now displaying: Category: Retirement
Apr 18, 2022

Deciding to retire is just the beginning of your retirement decision-making. From tax planning to Social Security decisions, finding the best strategies for you requires regular analysis.

Video recap: https://youtu.be/TleOZ8CwYXw

Today’s question comes from a client who recently read an article from Rethinking 65 titled Why Trying to Quantify Roth Conversions Is Futile. After reading the article the client wanted to know if they should take advantage of Roth conversions. As we explore this question today, you’ll learn how you can decide whether Roth conversions would be a good fit for your retirement situation.

Outline of This Episode

  • Cameron’s thoughts on the article [1:42]
  • When to take the income [3:48]
  • Look at other areas of your life when considering a Roth conversion [7:48]
  • Longevity risks that come with retirement [13:38]
  • How taking Roth conversions could affect Social Security [16:58]
  • Today’s progress principle [22:20]

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Cameron

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

Apr 4, 2022

Many people that listen to retirement podcasts and read financial articles are fantastic savers. If that sounds like you, congratulations!

Video recap: https://youtu.be/pUvfv1815fw

You have done the hard work to accumulate plenty of assets and be on track to reach your financial retirement goals.

However, after a lifetime of accumulation, you may discover that you have a hard time letting go of your assets. I recently came across an article in Barron’s magazine called Retirees Aren’t Spending Enough of Their Nest Eggs. Here's Why. On this episode of Financial Symmetry, Allison Berger and I will discuss the reasons that some retirees are reluctant to spend their savings and explore strategies that you can use to ensure that you have a successful transition into retirement.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:33] Retirees aren’t spending enough of their nest eggs and here’s why
  • [3:30] Why is there a reluctance to spend in retirement?
  • [6:53] Tactics to spend
  • [10:20] Create a retirement paycheck
  • [12:26] Delay taking Social Security
  • [14:48] Understand the tax tools available to you
  • [19:31] Estate planning is not only about documents
  • [22:05] Today’s progress principle

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

Mar 21, 2022

Financial planning is a powerful tool that can help you not only anticipate risks and opportunities but also help you envision your future to ensure that you can retire the way you want to retire.

Video recap: https://youtu.be/hKJRvl-_RlM

As Howard Marks says, “You can’t predict but you can prepare.”

As you prepare for retirement it is helpful to stay up to date with the latest retirement trends. This is why we're excited to share our takeaways from the JP Morgan Guide to Retirement with you. You may be curious about how you are doing compared to others in your demographic and guides like this one can help you more deeply understand where you stand in your retirement planning journey.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:10] Increased longevity is changing retirement 
  • [5:33] How will you spend your 3rd act?
  • [9:30] Time is a limited resource
  • [13:50] How are retirees spending their money
  • [20:21] The benefits of diversified sources of savings

Resources & People Mentioned

 

Feb 28, 2022

From data breaches to text messages, emails, and phone calls, scammers are always looking for new ways to commit fraud.

Video recap: https://youtu.be/_PwxMMqnjNk

Fraud can devastate retirement plans, so it is important to stay one step ahead of scammers and keep your guard up to protect yourself and your retirement. 

On this episode, we discuss types of scams to be on the lookout for and how you can protect yourself from the conmen that are constantly devising new ways to ruin people’s lives. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:12] Elder fraud is an egregious form of fraud
  • [6:47] Victim shaming can make things worse
  • [9:43] Be cautious about new romantic relationships
  • [10:58] Ways that you can protect yourself from scams
  • [18:38] Is a credit freeze a good idea if you have been a victim of fraud?
  • [19:56] The progress principles

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Allison and Will

Jan 17, 2022

The biggest financial threat to your wealth is not the market; it is your brain.

Video clip with Money Egg example: https://youtu.be/PJ4Zryp2w8Y

Human behavior surrounding money varies greatly and can be fascinating to study. Allison Berger has been studying financial behavior in more detail over the past year in the Certified Financial Transitionist coursework.

On this episode of Financial Symmetry, we delve deeper into the common money scripts that drive financial behavior. Our conversation is inspired from the book Wired for Wealth by Brad Klontz, Ted Klontz, and Rick Kahler.

When you listen you’ll learn what a money script is and how it can impact your financial wellbeing.  You will also learn 5 steps you can take to help you improve your money mindset.

What is a money script?

Markets go up and down but one fact holds true: the money scripts you play in your head will determine your financial well-being. The things we do surrounding money are defined by the money scripts we learned in childhood.

Money scripts come from the explicit or implicit messages we received about money as children as we were trying to make sense of the world. Usually, these ideas are partial truths based on our parents' teachings and actions around money. We have internalized these money scripts and unconsciously follow them as adults as the logical response to what we saw as children. 

Here are common examples of money scripts: money doesn’t grow on trees, money can’t buy happiness, rich people are shallow, money is the root of all evil. 

Money scripts can keep you poor

Your money scripts can become roadblocks in your thinking about money, so it is important to think about how they may be affecting your life. At their worst, money scripts can contribute to financial disorders like financial infidelity, compulsive buying, pathological gambling, compulsive hoarding, financial dependence, and financial enabling. 

These are examples of money scripts that will keep you poor: your self-worth equals your net worth, it's ok to keep financial secrets from your partner, if you are good your financial needs will be taken care of. 

These negative money scripts can be linked with overspending, compulsive shopping, or workaholism. As people edge closer to retirement the more they tend to stick with the money scripts that have led them through life. However, retirees may need to embrace new ideas to be able to reach their financial goals. If you are struggling with your money mindset, try reaching out to an objective third party for help. 

Money scripts may keep you poor in spirit 

Money should be saved, not spent. You can never have enough financial security. Money that I did not earn is not really mine to spend. These are a few examples of money scripts that can cause people to underspend. Scripts like these can lead to hoarding wealth and workaholism. 

A financial plan can help you break free from your money scripts. Without a financial plan in place, you don't know how much you can safely spend. A financial plan will ensure that you look at the details and the reality of your spending situation. You want to make the most of your money and your life especially as you transition into retirement.

5 Steps to change your money mindset 

You can change your mindset surrounding money and the book recommends 5 steps to overcome your limiting financial beliefs. 

  1. Face your fear. Accept that you have beliefs about money that are not currently serving you. Identify your present reality to see how your money scripts have contributed to your financial situation. 
  2. Visit your past. Ask yourself these questions to help you dig a bit deeper into your money scripts to discover where they stem from. What was your first money memory? What is a positive money memory? What money experience was painful to you?
  3. Understand your present. What is your current financial situation? What is your current reality? Explore your financial situation deeply to understand it fully.
  4. Envision your future. What does your future hold? What would you want your life to look like if you had 30 days to live? What are your goals?
  5. Transform your life. Redefine your priorities and your core values. In light of these changes, what are your new financial goals? What lifestyle or behavioral changes are necessary to take action? 

These are not quick, easy steps to take. They require a bit of soul searching to get to the heart of your issues with money. However, if you find yourself with a money mindset that is not serving your goals you’ll want to do what you can to solve your problems. 

If you think that you may need help changing your money mindset, reach out to us to see if we can help you. Head over to FinancialSymmetry.com and click talk to an advisor. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [3:30] What is a money script
  • [7:01] How can you move away from your money script
  • [10:42] The money scripts that keep you poor
  • [14:22] The money scripts that promote wealth accumulation
  • [17:15] How to change your money mindset
  • [22:15] The progress principle

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

Nov 22, 2021

The end of the year is a great time to start tax planning for next year. 

Video example: https://youtu.be/lzghkK2iP3Q

This week we are discussing the strategies you can utilize to enhance your tax situation before year-end.

You’ll learn which tools you can use and how the actions you take in one area of your financial life can flow into other areas.  

Are you maximizing your retirement account contributions?

When considering your pre-tax retirement account contributions there are a couple of aspects that you should consider. These contributions are a great way to reduce your tax burden, but you also need to examine your cash flow. 

Do you maximize your employer match? If not, look at your budget to see how you could take advantage of this free money. You could also take your savings a step further to maximize the pre-tax retirement account contribution cap. In 2021, the yearly max was $19,500, but in 2022 that number rises to $20,500. 

If you are maximizing your savings, it is important to review whether you are at risk of over-contributing both this year and next. After analyzing the amount that you want to save, then you can consider which account type is best for you to save in. 

Harvesting capital losses or capital gains

Another tax opportunity is to harvest capital gains and losses. Harvesting capital losses can offset any capital gains that you have realized over the year. This year it may be difficult to find capital losses; however, this is a concept that you can explore so that you can understand how it impacts your tax return. Harvesting capital losses creates an opportunity to reduce your tax burden. 

Itemizing vs taking the standard deduction

The standard deduction changed in 2017 to $12,500 for singles and $25,100 for married people filing jointly and thus causing 90% of filers to utilize the standard deduction. There are 4 deduction categories to consider when calculating whether to take the standard deduction or to itemize deductions: state and local income taxes, mortgage interest, charitable contributions, and medical deductions.

Listen in to learn if you should take the standard deduction or whether it would make sense to itemize, you’ll also hear how you could receive a tax benefit of $600 for charitable contributions.

Should you utilize Roth conversions?

Roth conversions can be an exciting opportunity to take advantage of current tax rates and have your investments grow tax-free. However, you have to be careful about how you take them. The best way to consider whether to make Roth conversions is to zoom out and look at your overall lifetime tax plan. 

If you are in a higher tax bracket than you are projected to be in the future then taking a Roth conversion now doesn’t make much sense. You also need to consider how taking a Roth conversion now could trigger other events, especially if you are 63 or older. Listen in to hear how doing a Roth conversion at age 63 could trigger an additional Medicare premium. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:42] Your retirement account contributions
  • [6:00] Harvesting capital losses or capital gains
  • [8:47] Review your deductions
  • [14:23] How to utilize Roth conversions
  • [18:05] Tax withholding for high earners
  • [20:58] Utilize catch-up contributions to supersize your savings
  • [27:50] RMDs are back in 2021
  • [29:39] Create a checklist of these opportunities

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Grayson

Oct 18, 2021

The decumulation stage of retirement is different from all those years you spent accumulating your retirement savings.

Video Recap: https://youtu.be/UyvHGltT1Z0

This is why you need to have a retirement plan in place to help guide you through this transition. Unfortunately, the same plan won’t work for everyone which is why it is important to understand what type of strategy would work best for you. 

On this episode of Financial Symmetry, Allison Berger and I will check out the risks and opportunities to consider as you approach the decumulation stage of your life. Listen in to hear what you need to consider to make the most of your personal retirement plan. 

What to consider if you are retiring before age 59.5 

If you are planning to retire before the age of 59.5 you first need to make sure that you have all your ducks in a row. Before age 59.5 you won’t be able to access your various retirement accounts without a penalty, so you’ll want to make sure that you have access to money for this time period outside of a traditional retirement account. You could obtain funds from a brokerage account, home equity, rental properties, or an inheritance. Before you retire early, think about which funds you could source without having to take a penalty by dipping into your tax-deferred accounts. 

You’ll not only need to know where your money is coming from when retiring early, but you’ll also have to think about health insurance. Obtaining health insurance before you are eligible for Medicare can be quite costly. Many people choose to go with COBRA or the ACA. Make sure you consider the costs of health insurance when creating your retirement plan. 

The younger you retire the more susceptible you are to sequence of return risk. Sequence of return risk can lead many people to become conservative with their investments, however, this leads to increased inflation risk. To consider these two types of risk it is important to have a balanced portfolio

Retirement between the ages of 59.5 and 65

If you are planning to wait until full retirement age at 67 or beyond then you may be funding the early years of retirement all on your own without the help of Social Security. Once you reach the age of 59.5 you can access your retirement accounts without penalty. However, it is important to remember that income from your IRAs, 401Ks, and 403Bs will be taxed when you access them. 

Sequence of returns is still a factor this early on in retirement so make sure that your portfolio can weather the storms that the market could bring. Listen in to discover what you should be thinking about 2 years before you apply for Medicare. 

Retirement considerations after age 65

Once you reach 65 you can enroll in Medicare and will no longer have to worry about paying for costly medical insurance. This is a good time to start thinking about when you will take Social Security and the tax ramifications. If you are unfamiliar with the Social Security tax bubble check out episode 101 to learn more. 

During retirement, your annual tax plan should always be taken into consideration with your overall retirement tax plan to ensure that you save as much as you can over the course of your lifetime.

Retirement strategies don’t always go according to plan

You’ve probably heard of popular retirement strategies like the 4% rule, the guardrails, the bucket strategy, or a systematic withdrawal approach. These strategies are all great on paper but they can often fall apart when life gets in the way. We like to take a flexible approach to retirement planning that is based on your life and your financial plan. We look at the big picture to think about how you can reduce your lifetime tax rate and create a plan that works with your financial goals. 

Examine where you are on your retirement journey. Think about your risks and opportunities when creating your retirement plan. Listen to this episode to hear what you need to think about during the different phases of your retirement. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:40] What to consider if you are retiring before age 59.5 
  • [7:30] Considerations for those between the ages of 59.5 and 65
  • [9:49] Retirement strategies don’t always go according to plan
  • [12:10] Retirement between ages 65 and 72
  • [16:39] Retirement in the post-RMD age
  • [22:28] Progress principles

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

May 17, 2021

A recent survey discovered that millions of Americans 55 or older are in a rush to retire.  The pandemic has many contemplating retiring years earlier than originally imagined after adopting a "life is short" mentality.

Video recap: https://youtu.be/q5r5ZiVw7d4

But before you rush into a decision to retire early you’ll want to consider it carefully. We've listed 6 steps below to analyze if you are ready to retire.

Why retire early?

Since the pandemic has made us all consider how we are spending our time, people have become more and more frustrated with their daily grind. Many people would like to spend more time with their families or pursuing hobbies that they enjoy. 

However, if you are in a position to retire early it is important to think about why you really want to retire beyond the initial urge to leave the work world behind. It is important to consider how you will spend your days. Think about your purpose so that you are retiring to something, rather than simply running away from the 9-5. Have a plan, not just a portfolio.

Use the acronym RETIRE to consider early retirement

Grayson Blazek and I have come up with 6 strategies to consider when thinking about early retirement. We’re using the word RETIRE as an acronym to help keep it easy to remember.

  • Risk - Have you considered the sequence of return risks? You may have good returns now but a bear market could ruin that. You don’t want to have to sell low, so make sure your portfolio is allocated with risk in mind. If you want to retire early, you’ll need to have the upcoming 5-7 years of spending available to avoid the risk of having to sell a position when you aren’t ready to. Everyone has their own risk tolerance, so carefully consider yours. In addition to the sequence of return risk, you’ll also need to think about inflation risk. 
  • Early retirement account withdrawals - If you are retiring early you won’t want to pull from accounts where there might be a penalty. This means that you’ll have to consider which accounts your income will come from. Be sure to have a diversified mix of accounts to pull from. Give yourself flexibility and make sure you have access to your wealth outside of retirement plans. Have different buckets ready and understand all the tools that you have available.
  • Taxes - Take advantage of strategic tax moves. Use Roth conversions to take money from pre-tax accounts and convert it to a Roth IRA. You can take advantage of lower tax rates to fill your buckets with tax-deferred funds. In retirement, you'll want to think about your lifetime tax rate rather than your yearly tax bill.
  • Insurance game plan - One of the biggest issues for early retirees is where to get insurance. You’ll need to carefully plan how you will source insurance and how much it will cost. Most early retirees consider 3 choices: COBRA, a spousal healthcare plan, or the Affordable Care Act. You’ll want to ensure that you understand the expenses involved with each of these choices.
  • Regular reviews - How will you know if you are on the right track? Have a plan to monitor your situation periodically. Ask yourself these questions: Have your goals changed? Do you want to pivot? Has your financial situation changed? 
  • Estate loose ends - Nobody likes thinking about end-of-life decisions, but having your estate documents in place will give you peace of mind. Consider the 3 most important ones: a will, a healthcare power of attorney, and financial power of attorney. 

Download the Pre-Retirement Checklist

The question of whether to retire early is one that should not be taken lightly. You can use these 6 considerations to help you contemplate your retirement readiness, in addition, you can also download our Pre-Retirement Checklist to ensure that you are making the right decision for you and your family.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:46] Questions people have about retiring early
  • [3:48] R is for risk
  • [8:42] E is for early retirement account withdrawals
  • [13:06] T is for taxes
  • [17:52] I is for insurance
  • [20:56] R is for regular reviews
  • [23:02] E is for estate loose ends
  • [25:42] The progress principle

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Mike

 

Mar 8, 2021

It’s always fun to peek behind the curtain and see the strategies and process people use for their decision making.

Video recap: https://youtu.be/DDp2dBUhrSg

During this conversation, we review some of my core beliefs around:

  • importance of tradeoffs - how every financial decision affects others
  • being intentional in being a good steward
  • Defining the balance between enjoying today while saving for tomorrow
  • Structuring your money management around the give, grow, owe and live philosophy

4 Primary Uses of Money

You can use it to live, give, owe or grow. For us, we rank these in the following order: give, grow, live, owe.

Giving is at the top of our budget. Giving first breaks the power of money and releases its hold over people. Therefore, tithing to our church has been at the top of our priority list.

We then focus on the growth aspect. This starts with automating our savings so that we can reach 15% of our income. As for how we invest we focus on various types of accounts from 401K to Roth IRAs to 529s for the kids. We explain in the episode how we've set up a system to where we don't lose sleep over our 90% stock allocation.

With 3 yr old twins, a large part of our spending goes to daycare costs. My spouse and I try to spend our money on the things that create joy, including going to NC State sporting events and going on camping trips.

I've always used debt as a tool for large, low-interest purchases such as his home and car. We only hold one credit card and doesn’t want to open any more accounts than are necessary.

Outline of This Episode

  • [4:25] What are Cameron’s money influences?
  • [9:07] How does Cameron divide up his resources?
  • [15:27] Does he worry about his 90% stock allocation?
  • [21:26] How does he see debt?
  • [26:30] What was the best money he spent in 2020?
  • [31:15] The power of small wins

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Cameron

Follow Our Podcast Here

Feb 22, 2021

Have you wondered if there are any financial mistakes that you may have been making?

Video recap here: https://youtu.be/9fsWlp56R2U

Sometimes our financial mistakes aren’t obvious, so in this episode of Financial Symmetry, we discuss 3 hidden financial mistakes that you may be making and how you can spot them. 

Uncertain outcomes cannot be predicted

Are you guilty of believing an uncertain outcome is certain? Sometimes we feel confident that things are going to happen. This can be true even with geopolitical events like the Coronavirus. You may have known the virus would happen, but could you have predicted this current situation? 

People are naturally overconfident, but the market is smarter than you. Trying to anticipate corrections will cost you money. In fact, trying to anticipate market corrections will end up costing you more money than the market corrections themselves.

One way to prevent overconfidence is by talking through potential outcomes with a financial advisor or a financial accountability partner. 

Don’t underestimate the market’s ability for positive surprises

Many people have a negative money script or way that we view finances. This scarcity mindset could penalize their financial potential. There will always be reasons to wait it out or not invest, but instead of focusing on those reasons focus on not missing out on opportunities. You don’t want to take a pay cut in retirement because of missed opportunities. 

We often delay financial decisions to give ourselves time to think about it more or evaluate the alternatives and to consider all outcomes. But often the best investments are the most difficult ones that you have to make. This is why having an investment plan makes sense. 

“Investing is a lifelong journey. Making money slowly is much better than making then losing money quickly.” -- David Booth

Are you missing hidden tax opportunities?

There are different tax opportunities that can be taken depending on your phase of life and how the laws change. One opportunity that many retirees were able to take advantage of this year was the lack of required minimum distributions (RMDs). This allowed people to do Roth conversions. Retirement brings on a wealth of tax planning opportunities since you have more control over your income in retirement. Advanced tax planning early in retirement can help you save on your lifetime tax bill. Listen in to hear how long-term tax planning can save you money over your lifetime. 

Estate planning pitfalls

Estate planning is often the last part of a financial plan that people want to address since it is the least enjoyable part of financial planning. But if you want a say in what happens to your money after you are gone then you’ll need to create an estate plan and review it periodically. Check out episodes 102 and 122 to learn more about estate planning. 

Do you have enough? Are you saving enough? When is the best time to invest? Are you missing out? These are all questions that can be answered with the right financial plan. Think about what a financial plan can do for you. If you are looking for a financial advisor to help you create a financial plan click through to our website.

.Outline of This Episode

  • [2:40] Believing an uncertain outcome is certain 
  • [10:16] Missing hidden tax opportunities 
  • [14:50] Are you taking advantage of an HSA?
  • [17:15] Estate planning pitfalls
  • [21:18] Today’s progress principle

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

Jan 25, 2021

What is the most important thing you can do for building wealth?

Video recap: https://youtu.be/OVSKtk6TzB0

Recently, Jeff Levine (@CPAPlanner) put this question out into the Twitterverse: Other than saving and investing, what is the one single most important factor to financial success?

Too often when dealing with financial decisions, we try to overcomplicate what is best for us. We liked the simplicity of a single thing to focus on, so this week we are breaking down our version of the most important thing you can do in each decade to improve your financial journey.

Harness the power of compound interest while you’re young

If you are starting to build wealth in your teens and 20s you’re in luck. Time is on your side.

An often cited roadblock to getting this started, is the overwhelming debt obligations to student loans. While important to tackle high interest rate debt, carving out a small amount of automated savings can be life-changing.

For many, the first time we see a compound interest example, we are inspired. We included a powerful example below to demonstrate how much investment growth accumulates over 40 years, compared to the amount you are saving.

By saving small amounts early, compound interest becomes your super power. Automating this savings each month in an investment account with exposure to a diversified stock portfolio starting in your 20s, is arguably the single biggest impact decision you'll make in building wealth. Because of the natural discipline it creates, making it harder to stop it down the road.

Continue to pay yourself first

During your 30s, life often becomes busier. Between new marriages, job changes and growing families, consequential decisions can pile up. These exciting changes bring curveballs you often don't expect, like childcare for remote school over the past year.

This is when deciding to pay yourself first benefits you behind the scenes when life decisions are taking priority. If your saving and investing decisions are made only after you cover your expenses, then your budget is upside down.

Automating your savings and charitable giving can leave you better positioned as you head in to your 40s.

Don’t compare yourself with those around you

During this decade, it's tempting to continue moving the goalposts as you reach certain levels of success.

Comparing your financial situation to others is a common derailment to your long-term success in your 40s. Keeping up with the Joneses can feel like an endless treadmill.

In the The Psychology of Money, Morgan Housel writes, “the ceiling of social comparison is so high that virtually no one will ever hit it, which means it is a battle that can never be won or that the only way to win is to not fight it to begin with, to accept that you might have enough even if it’s less than those around you.”

Determine your definition of enough. Is it a certain amount of money in the bank? A bigger house? Being laser focused on your ultimate financial goals, allows you stick to your financial plan, providing peace of mind along the way.

Be flexible in your 50s

Successful financial planning begins with understanding potential high impact risks.

More and more, we see unexpected hurdles for people in their 50s. It could be a layoff or a loss of assets due to grey divorce, but understanding the potential impact with scenario planning beforehand can leave you more agile to adjust.

Investing in your personal and professional relationships through the years, allows for more flexibility when reinventing yourself in these circumstances. Additionally, understanding the impact of withdrawals on your assets can be valuable in the case you need temporary withdrawals to sustain you during a transition.

After building wealth, keep perspective

Hopefully, in your 60s you are reflecting on a life well lived. This is a time to gain perspective. Common rules of thumb or family recommendations may not be the best. Some common things we hear related to this are:

  • Because I'm retiring soon, shouldn't I reduce the risk in my investment strategy?
  • I need to pay off your mortgage before I retire.
  • Shouldn't I take Social Security at 62, because I not sure it will be there if I wait?
  • Why would I want to make withdrawals from my IRA before I have to?

Having a plan in your 60s provides confidence. Hiring a financial professional can help you develop a plan and to gain perspective so that you can create a long term plan for your money.

Outline of This Episode

  • [4:06] What is the one thing you can do in your teens and 20s to help build wealth?
  • [8:23] The one thing in your 30s that you can do to build wealth 
  • [10:57] What should you be doing in your 40s to build wealth?
  • [14:35] The one thing in your 50s that you can do to build wealth
  • [17:49] What can you do in your 60s to build wealth?
  • [21:30] Consider continuity in your 70s
  • [22:55] What should you be doing in your 80s?
  • [25:32] The progress principle

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Mike

Nov 16, 2020

Have you been offered an early retirement package?

Video recap: https://youtu.be/jpIfdhYVx6Y

Early retirement packages are on the rise. Companies are often looking for ways to cut costs and one way to do that is to give highly compensated employees an incentive to ease into retirement. Usually, these packages offer a one-time payment and sometimes they come with a period of additional healthcare coverage. 

If you are offered an early retirement package many questions will arise. Is this a good deal? Is the package negotiable? What will I do about health insurance? And, of course, should I take it? 

On this episode, Mike and I will give you the tools to create a framework to think about the questions that early retirement packages bring. Listen in to learn how to weigh this huge decision. 

How does this early retirement package affect your long-term financial plan?

Before you consider anything else you need to think about how this package fits into your long-term financial plan. Receiving a lump sum can give you a lottery mindset, so you’ll need to consider what is most important to you. How would this package fit into the bigger picture of retirement?

This is a good time to ask a professional for help. If you are working with a financial advisor, you’ll definitely want to ask their opinion. A financial advisor can help you spot risks and opportunities that you may not have otherwise seen. Mike has some questions you may not have asked yourself about this early retirement package, so make sure you listen in to hear all the questions. 

What about insurance?

The main reason that many people decline an early retirement package is due to insurance. You may want to see if health insurance is a negotiable part of the package. Sometimes the company will offer to pay for your health insurance for a certain period of time. 

You can also check into COBRA coverage which will guarantee you 18 months of health insurance coverage under your old plan--just be prepared for a bit of sticker shock. 

Another way to cover your health insurance is to check into the ACA healthcare exchange. Be sure to weigh all of your healthcare options before signing the deal. 

How will this influence your tax picture down the road? 

So many tax opportunities pop up with an early retirement package. You’ll want to consider all the ways that you can save on taxes if you do decide to accept it. Do you have a health savings account? If so, make sure to max it out. Have you maxed out your 401K for the year? What about your company stock?

If you are under 59 ½, where will your income come from? When do you plan on taking Social Security? Now is the time to plan how to build your ultimate retirement withdrawal strategy. 

Ask yourself: what’s next?

Will you be able to transition into retirement successfully? The answer to this may be dependent upon whether you are retiring from something or to something. This is why it is important to consider what’s next. 

Will you relax on a beach somewhere, find another job, become a consultant, or try your hand at entrepreneurship? An early retirement package can bring about myriad choices, but you need to make sure that you are financially prepared to accept them. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [3:15] How does this decision affect your long term financial plan?
  • [8:02] Health insurance often makes or breaks this offer
  • [10:02] How will this influence your tax picture down the road? 
  • [15:04] Ask yourself: what’s next?
  • [17:43] Alternate scenarios
  • [18:40] The progress principle

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

 

Jul 27, 2020

2020 has brought us a new reality with our vacation mindsets. With many vacation plans put on hold or completely cancelled, the pandemic has become the impetus for second homes becoming more of a reality.

Short Youtube video recap: https://youtu.be/dZvXxmFmDxM

If you have been considering purchasing a second home, we lay out 5 questions to consider as you're analyzing your purchase decision.

Questions to ask yourself before buying a second home

Have you ever considered buying a lake house, beach house, or mountain house? Vacation home purchases have surged this year, quadrupling the sales of last year. After an amazing vacation, some people want to jump right in and buy. But before you apply for that second mortgage there are some questions you need to consider. 

How much can you afford?

Many people only consider the cost of the mortgage, but with a second home, there is much more to consider. Where will you get the down payment? How will you pay 2 sets of utilities? Will you have 2 HOA’s to pay for? If you or your spouse lost a job, how would you continue to pay for this second home? Remember, typically a second home is not a great investment. They can be hard to sell and generally do poorly in recessions. Another important consideration is: how will this purchase impact your other financial goals? 

How often will you use it?

When will you use your new home? Every weekend? Winters? Summers? Will you rent it out? Consider whether you really want a second home, or 2 nice beach vacations a year. 

How much time will you use it? Will you feel like you have to go there? Will it limit other vacations? Is this really where you want to spend all of your time? 

Many people end up selling their vacation home because they realize that they didn’t use it as much as they had envisioned. How close is it to your primary residence? Oftentimes, the amount of use a vacation home gets is based on proximity to one’s house.

How will your life be affected by a second home purchase?

Remember there are not only the financial costs to consider but the time cost as well. Another house means more maintenance. This upkeep requires a financial cost but it could also mean that you have to spend your own personal time fixing up the place. What will you be giving up in return for the new house? 

If you are still keen on the idea of purchasing a vacation home after answering all of these questions, listen in to hear what steps you should take next are. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:37] This year second home purchases have increased
  • [4:19] How much can you afford?
  • [7:40] How often will you use it?
  • [9:16] How will your life and kids’ lives be affected by this purchase?
  • [10:32] What about the ongoing maintenance?
  • [13:07] Describe your ideal second home
  • [13:45] How far is it from your home?
  • [15:47] Do you plan to rent it out?
  • [20:57] The key takeaways from today

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

Jul 13, 2020

You spend half your life preparing for retirement, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be surprises when you get there.

YouTube Recap here: https://youtu.be/zzEnHR9Qv8I

Retirement can bring on both positive and negative surprises, so it's important to prepare the best you can beforehand. So in this episode we breakdown the different kinds of surprises you may experience in retirement and how you can be ready.

A year of surprises

2020 has been a year of surprises. It seems that every time we turn around the world has something new in store for us. Life has changed substantially and we are all dealing with a new reality. A changing reality amidst retirement can be scary if you aren’t prepared. If you want to be prepared for any eventuality during retirement then listen to this episode now.

5 positive retirement surprises

In retirement, there could be good surprises or bad ones. We like to start out with the potentially beneficial surprises. You’ll want to hear which surprises might start out negative but could lead to positive changes.

  • A second career - Some people find that retirement brings them into a second career. They may find this second round more fulfilling or it could be a way to give back to their community. Being able to contribute and still earn an income is an unexpected surprise for many. 
  • An unexpected inheritance - While the situation may not be that positive, an unexpected inheritance could completely change your retirement plans. Coming into money unexpectedly requires careful consideration and planning
  • A layoff - Not everyone retires when they want to. If you get laid off close to retirement age you could turn that negative into a positive especially if it includes a severance package. 
  • Increased travel - If you have family that moved across the country or even across the world this could bring more travel into your retirement itinerary. Although seeing new places is always exciting, it’s important to prepare for the added expenditure. 
  • A change in family dynamics - You may be surprised by taking on a caregiving role in retirement. This role could be for aging parents or even raising the grandkids. Another way that family dynamics change in retirement is through grey divorce. Listen in to discover how changes in family dynamics can change your financial outlook as well. 

Don’t let negative changes in retirement surprise you

Unfortunately, retirement doesn’t always bring sunshine and rainbows. It’s important to be prepared for negative surprises in retirement as well. 

  • A decline in health - Health changes can change your finances as well. You may find that your Medicare premiums are higher than expected. Find out how you can rectify that by listening to episode 104. Long term care can also have a huge impact on your retirement finances. 
  • Downsizing didn’t have the expected effect. Sometimes we think that downsizing in retirement will bring substantial financial benefits but that isn’t always the case.
  • Inflation can be the silent killer of retirement savings. Even if you pay off your home taxes and insurance are still there and they tend to increase over time. Is your portfolio prepared to battle inflation?
  • Taxes continually surprise us. Many people discover that in retirement they are still paying high tax rates.
  • A market correction - sometimes the timing of market corrections can come as a surprise (although it shouldn’t!) How you respond to a market correction matters. Learn how to factor your risk tolerance into your portfolio so that you can be prepared for any eventuality.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:30] What are you going to do in retirement?
  • [4:38] You receive an unexpected inheritance
  • [6:01] Turn a negative into a positive
  • [10:12] A caregiving role can be a surprise
  • [13:42] Healthcare costs can be surprising in retirement
  • [16:02] Sometimes downsizing doesn’t provide the expected financial benefits 
  • [19:35] Taxes can be surprising
  • [20:21] Market corrections can come as a surprise

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

May 4, 2020

Today we're taking a deep dive to explore the retirement changes within this landmark piece of legislation. On this episode, you’ll learn what CRD’s are, who are qualified individuals, and how to note CARES Act withdrawals on your tax return. Join us to hear about financial opportunities that you may not have considered.

Short Youtube video recap: https://youtu.be/2QjSpi3op_U

 

What is the purpose of the CARES Act?

The CARES Act was recently passed to help Americans get through this difficult time that has been filled with job losses, furloughs, lay-offs, and the mandatory closing of workplaces. The goal of the new law was to make it easier for citizens to access their money during these stresses. The CARES Act makes retirement account withdraws easier and more accessible without the standard early withdrawal penalties.

What are Coronavirus Related Distributions (CRD’s)?

Coronavirus related distributions or CRD’s allow for qualified individuals to take up to $100,000 from their retirement accounts during the period of January 2020 to January 2021. This withdrawal for qualified individuals is taxable but you can pay the taxes on these withdrawals over a period of 3 years. It’s easy to remember what the CRD’s offer by thinking of the 3 R’s. 

  1. Relief - The CARES Act offers relief from the standard 10% penalty when you pull money from an IRA or 401K.
  2. Repay - You can repay the withdrawals over a 3 year period. 
  3. Regimented - The taxes from these withdrawals are regimented and can be paid over a 3 year period. 

Who are qualified individuals?

The CRD’s are only available to qualified individuals, but who exactly can qualify for these withdrawals? You can qualify if you or your spouse has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or if you have experienced a loss of income during this time. You may have experienced a job loss, a reduction of hours, or an inability to work due to lack of child care. If you do qualify for a CRD you’ll want to examine all of your options before you make this choice. Make sure to work with a professional to see if this is the best choice for you. 

This year you do not have to take an RMD

The government doesn’t want to force you to sell your stocks at lower prices, so for 2020 RMD’s will not be required for anyone. If you have already taken your RMD for the year you can even pay it back. Listen in to learn how. Instead of taking your RMD, you may want to consider doing a Roth conversion. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:27] $100,000 withdrawal for qualified individuals
  • [4:46] Examples of how to use your withdrawals
  • [5:55] Who are qualified individuals?
  • [8:00] This year you do not have to take an RMD
  • [13:10] Make sure to note the CRD on your tax return

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apr 6, 2020

The CARES Act was just recently passed and the new law will impact just about every American. But do you know how it will affect you?

View Youtube recap here: https://youtu.be/BTaeWH0aEB0

On this episode of Financial Symmetry, Grayson Blazek joins me to give you some actionable information that you can use to help you consider how best to take control of this challenging financial situation. During this stressful time, it will be helpful to learn as much as you can to give you a feeling of empowerment.

Who is eligible for the recovery rebate? 

The most discussed part of the CARES Act is the recovery rebate. The full rebate is eligible for taxpayers that make $150,000 or less when filing jointly with their spouse or $75,000 for single filers. If you make more than that you can use a calculator discover how much you will receive. The full rebate is a one-time payment of $1200 per adult and $500 per qualifying child. The recovery rebate will be directly deposited into the bank account listed on your most recent tax return. Listen to this episode to hear if you should file your taxes right away or if it would be best for you to wait a bit longer. 

What happens if you or your income is impacted directly by Coronavirus?

If you have been impacted directly from the Coronavirus directly or if you have experienced lost wages then you will be able to pull funds out of your retirement accounts in the year 2020 without the usual 10% early withdrawal penalty. These funds will still be taxed, but you can spread the tax burden over a period of 3 years if needed. The CARES Act also changes the maximum 401K loan limit from $50,000 to $100,000. You’ll want to carefully consider before taking the full loan amount. 

What else did the CARES Act change?

There were several other changes that should be noted as well. 

  1. No RMD’s in 2020. The CARES Act waived the required minimum distributions for the year 2020. 
  2. You can take an above the line deduction of up to $300 for charitable giving. To encourage citizens to continue supporting their favorite charities during this crisis the law has created this deduction for one time charitable giving. 
  3. Federal student loans have been suspended until September 2020. This is only for federal student loans, but this was designed to help people free up their cash flow.
  4. There has been an increase in unemployment benefits in both the maximum amount of money you can receive and the amount of time that you can receive it. 
  5. If you have a federally backed mortgage you can extend your loan by up to 6 months.

How did healthcare change with the CARES Act?

This landmark legislation didn’t only affect people’s finances, it made some changes to health care as well. The CARES Act has ensured that health insurance will have to pay for any COVID testing or potential vaccines that are developed. It also expanded qualified medical expenses for HSA’s. What will be the biggest change brought to you by the CARES Act?

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:27] Who qualifies for the recovery rebate?
  • [8:18] What happens if your income is impacted directly by Coronavirus
  • [13:12] What has changed with RMD’s?
  • [14:30] Qualified charitable contributions have changed
  • [17:38] Federal student loans have been suspended until September 2020
  • [20:11] Increase in unemployment
  • [23:44] Will your mortgage payment be delayed?
  • [26:52] What changed in health care?

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Grayson Blazek

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Feb 24, 2020

Will your retirement regrets list be full of "I wish I would have...?" What if you could use regrets of other retirees to change or improve your current course?

Short Youtube Recap here: https://youtu.be/CiGxXeem2yI

Listening to the wisdom of those that have gone before you, can help you avoid their big mistakes and take advantage of financial opportunities you may have missed.

In our role as financial advisors, we have the unique opportunity of hearing a long list of retirement regrets. In listening to their perspectives, we gain an understanding of the path they took and the things they wish they could have done to prepare for retirement.

In this episode of the Financial Symmetry podcast with Chad Smith and Allison Berger, we break down the top retirement regrets that investors typically experience. Listen in so you can learn from others and ensure that you don’t make the same mistakes they did.

9 Avoidable Retirement Regrets

  1. I wish I had a detailed retirement plan. 3 out of 4 baby boomers don’t have a detailed retirement plan. Without a retirement plan, it makes it hard to anticipate what may come next. You'll need to consider those big purchases, how often will you buy cars, and if you are going to move. Life can feel much more uncertain in retirement, without the dependability of a steady income you’ve relied on your entire working life. Without a plan, opportunities could be passing you by each year.
  2. I wish I hadn’t planned to work so long. There are many people who plan to work until age 70, but due to unforeseen issues, they had to stop working before they were ready. Some had to stop due to family illness, layoffs, or forced early retirement. Whatever the reason, running what-if scenarios could leave you more prepared to face the unknown risks that are lurking.
  3. I wish I would have started saving in a tax-free account earlier. An often overlooked strategy while saving, is your lifetime tax rate. By focusing on tax-free savings, it creates flexibility for future retirement withdrawals. There are many that think they can’t take advantage of a Roth IRA due to having a high income, but there are options. Back-door Roths, after-tax 401k savings and HSA's all offer other opportunities. We've included past detailed episodes on all three in the links below.
  4. I wish I didn’t have such a big house. Many people become enamored with the idea of a mansion. So much that they sacrifice saving in retirement accounts. More expensive homes require more expensive upkeep. The social pressures in higher priced neighborhoods cause extra lifestyle creep. Years pass, and you realize savings isn't where you thought it would be. Once reaching retirement, downsizing becomes the new trend but moving is often delayed due to frustrations of moving and decluttering their homes.
  5. I wish I hadn’t worried so much about market drops. The idea that you could lose half of your savings is scary. There is always a reason you should not invest, but inflation is the silent killer that awaits you, if you don't. Finding the appropriate risk is vital to helping you sleep at night. Research shows a tremendous difference when missing the best days in the market. So while timing market drops is tempting, a buy and hold strategy with appropriate percentages of risk is your best bet.
  6. I wish I hadn’t counted on rental income. Be careful about counting on rental real estate if that is your plan. Assure you are factoring in all expenses to your calculation with forecasting returns on rental real estate. Appreciation rates will suffer, if proper maintenance is not kept up on properties. This could affect the long-term health of your financial plan.
  7. I wish I would have invested more in friendships. Think intentionally about how you will spend your time in retirement. Many people end up socially isolated in retirement. Retiring to something vs. from something can add to happiness levels and improve your odds of a successful retirement with less regret.
  8. I wish I hadn’t taken Social Security so early. Delaying Social Security can be a benefit in multiple ways. An alarming amount of people (57%) take Social Security before their full retirement age. This decreases the amount they could receive and provides more tax flexibility. Less guaranteed income, provides for more IRA/401k withdrawals at lower tax rates potentially.  If you are married, you might also consider the survivor benefit element. Listen in to hear details of the benefits of delaying your Social Security.
  9. I wish I had had more experiences. Many wish they had traveled more while they were healthy or while their kids were still at home. Too many look back with the regret of waiting to late to travel.

Outline of This Episode

  • [3:07] I wish I would have had a detailed plan earlier
  • [5:06] I wish I hadn’t planned to work so long
  • [7:07] I wish I would have started saving in a tax-free account earlier
  • [10:30] I wish I didn’t have such a big house
  • [12:47] I wish I hadn’t worried so much about market drops
  • [17:45] I wish I hadn’t counted on rental income
  • [20:33] I wish I would have invested more in friendships
  • [22:45] I wish I hadn’t taken Social Security so early
  • [26:00] I wish I had had more experiences

Resources & People Mentioned

The Financial Symmetry Podcast is an original podcast from Financial Symmetry in Raleigh, NC. To learn more about the show or the past 104 episodes, visit https://www.financialsymmetry.com/retirement-podcast/.

Connect with us here:

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Feb 10, 2020

How closely did you look at your Medicare premium notice letter this past December? If it mentioned an IRMAA adjustment, and you experienced a life-changing event, you may want to look again. There's a few steps you can take that can save you thousands of dollars in Medicare premiums. In this episode, we are breaking down the the tax cliff known as IRMAA and how proper planning can help you avoid overpaying for your Part B and Part D Medicare premiums.

YouTube recap: https://youtu.be/BQ7K_DeJiHs

What is IRMAA?

This often misunderstood or overlooked area of the tax code is how Medicare determines the premiums that are automatically taken from your Social Security check. IRMAA stands for Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount. Understanding the IRMAA threshold is key to understanding your Medicare premium. 

Watch out for the IRMAA tax cliff

Generally, when you think about Medicare you think about age 65 and above. It’s actually important to begin thinking about Medicare when you are 63. Your Medicare premium at age 65 is actually based on the income that you made 2 years prior. So if you were in one of the higher income brackets before you retired, your Medicare premium will reflect that. There are 5 tiers of IRMAA and if you go even $1 over you will be knocked into the next bracket. If you end up in the highest tier you could be paying over $4000 in extra Medicare Part B premiums. 

How can you plan ahead?

Now that you know about IRMAA you can begin to plan ahead. If your AGI is $87,000 or less for singles or $174,000 or less for a married couple then you will qualify for the Medicare Part B baseline premium which is $144.66 per person per month. It’s important to understand your income sources and whether they are taxable or not. Knowing where you fit in the IRMAA tiers will save you money. Listen in to hear more about IRMAA and how it can affect your retirement plans. 

What can you do to appeal?

If you didn’t plan ahead and are stuck with high premiums you may be able to appeal. You can appeal based on marriage, divorce, death of a spouse, work stoppage, work reduction, or loss of income. If you qualify for an appeal then you’ll need to fill out an SSA44. There are 5 steps to follow to appeal process. Listen in to discover what you can do if IRMAA has got you down. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [3:27] Which parts of Medicare does IRMAA affect?
  • [7:20] An example
  • [9:55] How can you appeal?

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Grayson Blazek

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Jan 13, 2020

The SECURE Act is the biggest piece of retirement legislation to pass since 2006.

On this episode, we discuss what the SECURE Act is and how it will affect you and your retirement plans. The acronym SECURE stands for "Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement." 

Watch corresponding Youtube video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0K8KBlCYhs&t=2s

In our breakdown of the new bill, you’ll learn about the highlights including new IRA rules, changes to 401K’s, non-retirement changes, and extenders.

The Stretch IRA is not as stretchy

One of the most impactful changes in the legislation deals with the Stretch IRA provision for non-spouse beneficiaries. Under the old law, upon a person’s death, the non-spouse beneficiaries of their 401K’s and IRA’s could withdraw savings over the span of their entire lifetime.

Now, as of January 1, 2020, the Secure Act compresses that time period to only 10 years after the year of death, thus speeding up the timeframe for taxes to be paid on these pre-tax savings. This complicates some old strategies being used, but creates new planning techniques for others.

There are a few eligible designated beneficiaries that will avoid the 10 year payout. These include:

  • the surviving spouse of the deceased account owner
  • a minor child of the deceased account owner
  • a beneficiary who is no more than 10 years younger than the deceased account owner
  • a chronically-ill individual
  • a disabled individual

Tune in to see how you may need to tweak your retirement withdrawal strategies to best work for you and your heirs.

More changes to IRA’s

The Stretch IRA wasn’t the only thing that changed with IRA’s. The required minimum distribution (RMD) age was raised from age 70 ½ to 72. This means, for those yet to reach 70.5 by 1/1/2020, that you won’t have to take funds out of your IRA until age 72. You’ll have a year and a half longer to convert those funds to a Roth IRA, depending on tax brackets.

Despite the RMD age moving back, you still have the option to make a qualified charitable distribution (QCD) at age 70. If you'd like a refresher for some of these financial acronyms we're mentioning, check out episode 63, our Financial Acronymology guide.

Additionally, those over 70 and still working can now contribute to a traditional IRA if they have earned income. In the old law, this ability stopped at 70.5. But people are living and working longer now (without adequate retirement savings for many), so the SECURE act makes this possible.

Good news for 401K’s

Finally, we get to the part about setting communities up for retirement. With the changes in the Secure Act, more small business owners will be able to offer 401K’s to their employees.

The bill makes it easier to be auto-enrolled to help those people that never get around to setting up their 401K contributions. Part-time employees will also benefit from the new bill. Now part-timers who have worked 500 hours over the past 3 years will have access to 401K’s. These changes are designed to make retirement savings a bit easier.

How will the Secure Act change your financial plans?

The Secure Act is a great reminder of how quickly laws can change. Without close attention, your original intent could no longer be the most optimal strategy for your retirement plans.

One of our primary responsibilities is to help you uncover tax saving or planning opportunities when they become available. Remember, financial planning is like putting together a puzzle. Make sure you have all the pieces by learning as much as you can to improve your financial opportunities.

Financial Symmetry is a Raleigh Financial Advisor. Proudly serving clients in the Triangle of North Carolina for 20 years.

Outline of This Episode

  • [3:04] The biggest changes with the Secure Act are to IRA’s
  • [11:44] Small businesses will find it easier to offer 401K’s to their employees
  • [17:07] Non-retirement changes
  • [18:55] The extenders

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Spotify <> Google Podcasts

Dec 2, 2019

Who you gonna call? Retirement Mythbusters!

Short Youtube recap here: https://bit.ly/2R0QJcA

Visit Full Article Here: https://wp.me/p6NrVS-3g5

Not as catchy as Ghostbusters, we know, but these retirement myths can be much more hazardous to your long-term financial health. Many of us have certain beliefs, internet rumors or family hearsay that are passed down about retirement rules of thumb. But believing in these stories could be detrimental to the long-term success of your retirement. On this episode, we do our best Mythbusters imitation (of Discovery Channel fame) to bust these common retirement myths. Listen in to hear why you may want to challenge conventional thinking, and discover what it could cost you to continue to buy in to the hype. 

8 common retirement myths

  1. I’m not going to live that long. So many people don’t think they will live until age 90. But the truth is, men who are 65 today have a 20% chance of living until 90 and women have a 33% chance. Couples have a 48% chance of one of them making it to age 90. You need to make sure your money will last as long as you do. Does your financial plan cover you until age 90?
  2. I’ll work until age 65. The actual median retirement age is 62. Many people plan to work longer, but they are forced into retirement early. Some people try out a second act. Whenever you do choose to retire, be sure that you are retiring to something, not away from something. Do you have big plans for your retirement? 
  3. Social Security will run out. Some people use this myth as an excuse to claim their Social Security benefit early. But claiming Social Security below your retirement age greatly reduces your lifetime benefit. If you delay until age 70 will result in an 8% increase per year!
  4. Once I reach X amount of money I can retire. The reality is that everyone’s situation is different. There is no magic number! There is so much more to retirement planning. What magic retirement number did you have in mind?
  5. Paying the lowest amount of tax is always best. Are you trying to be too tax efficient? Think about optimizing your tax situation rather than minimizing your taxes. Consider working with a financial planner and an accountant to help you consider long-term tax planning. 
  6. When I retire my investments should be conservative. This isn’t always the case. People are living longer than ever so you may need your investment portfolio to last you 30 or 40 years. There is actually a bigger risk of being too conservative rather than risky. 
  7. I need to pay off my mortgage now. A mortgage is the cheapest money you can get in a loan. So not paying it off and investing the difference actually makes more sense financially. But for some people paying off their mortgage provides them with peace of mind. Which camp do you fall into? Would you prefer the peace of mind that a paid-for house provides?
  8. Retirement spending is the same throughout retirement. Retirement planning is more complicated than you think. Your spending in retirement changes throughout the years. In the first 5 years of retirement, people spend a huge amount of money. You may spend it on travel, fixing up your home, eating out, or whatever it is that interests you. You finally have the time to spend all the wealth that you have built. Then spending slows down as you do. Unfortunately, retirement spending tends to increase the older you get, but this time it’s on medical expenses. Have you planned to spend the same amount each year in retirement?

Financial Symmetry is a Raleigh Financial Advisor. Proudly serving clients in the Triangle of North Carolina for 20 years.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:47] I’m not going to live that long
  • [5:30] I’ll work until age 65
  • [9:22] Social Security will run out
  • [13:12] I can retire after I have $1 million saved
  • [15:10] Paying the lowest amount of tax is best
  • [18:00] When I retire my investments should be conservative
  • [21:00] I need to pay off my mortgage now
  • [23:55] Retirement planning is more complicated than you think 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Spotify <> Google Podcasts

Oct 21, 2019

There’s a lot of conflicting information about buying a timeshare. Some call it the worst financial decision you could make. But is that true? On this episode, we invite Allison Berger to discuss the pros and cons of buying a timeshare. If you’ve ever been roped into one of those high-pressure sales meetings you’ll want to listen to consider if you made the right decision.

Short YouTube video: https://youtu.be/RqfiAvdPS-I

In this episode of Financial Symmetry, host Chad Smith talks with Allison Berger about strategies for spotting timeshare scams and thinking through decisions about timeshares.

If you have ever been on vacation at a nice resort you may have sat in on a timeshare presentation. These high-pressure sales meetings are designed to make you a buyer and they pull out all of the stops to get you to sign on the dotted line. They claim to only need 90 minutes of your time, but those 90 minutes can be pretty intense. According to the American Resort Development Corporation, 2018 was the 9th consecutive year of growth for timeshare sales. Out of 127 million households in America, 9 million own at least 1 shared vacation product. So 7% of families are also timeshare owners. That means they must not be too bad, right? But what exactly are you buying? What is a timeshare?

If you have ever stayed at an upscale resort, you may have sat in on a timeshare presentation. These high-pressure sales meetings are designed to make you a buyer and they pull out all of the stops to get you to sign on the dotted line. They claim to only need 90 minutes of your time, but those 90 minutes can be pretty intense.

According to the American Resort Development Corporation, 2018 was the 9th consecutive year of growth for timeshare sales. Out of 127 million households in America, 9 million own at least 1 shared vacation product. That means they must not be too bad, right? But what exactly are you buying?

We all know about the incentives to get you to buy a timeshare (or even just to sit in on the sales meeting), but what other positive experiences can be had from buying a timeshare? You will guarantee yourself a vacation each year if you buy a timeshare. The accommodations are typically very nice and often include two-bedroom suites with a kitchen. This beats staying in a cramped hotel room. Typically the break-even point of buying a timeshare is between 8-14 years, so if you vacation every year for 20-30 years you’ll come out ahead. 

But there are many negatives that come along with timeshares. Even though the average maintenance fees are only about $1000 a year, the average sales price is $21,000. If you change your mind and wish to resell the timeshare you may be out of luck. There isn’t much of a market for timeshare resales. Timeshares are complicated and can be challenging to book. If you don’t know the jargon of the timeshare company you could be lost and stuck vacationing somewhere you never wanted to be. Tell us about your experiences with timeshares. Shoot us an email, we’d love to hear your stories. 

Resources Mentioned in the Episode

Sep 23, 2019

Many of you are inching closer to retirement and the decisions you make now will have a big impact on your retirement lifestyle. It’s time to start thinking ahead and seriously consider your retirement strategy. Are you concentrating on the best ways to save to set up for the life you want in retirement?

This is why we have created a pre-retirement checklist with 8 key wealth builder areas for you to consider. Listen in now to discover what you need to think about now that you are rounding the final stretch in this race to retirement. 

Your pre-retirement checklist

  1. How will you spend your time in retirement? Explore what you might enjoy doing and give it some practice. Try to structure a calendar of your average week. How might you allocate your time? How will you challenge yourself? What new skills will you learn?
  2. How will your income change? What will it take for you to retire? How much will you need and where will that money come from? Most people have a combination of 6 sources of income to provide for their retirement which includes: social security, pensions, deferred compensation, withdrawing from savings, part-time work, and passive income.
  3. What will your retirement lifestyle be like? The more you spend the more income you’ll need and the less you spend the less income you’ll need. Think about how much you plan to spend and how will you spend it. 
  4. What is your current net worth? In retirement, your accounts will no longer grow and they may start to fall in value. Take an inventory of what accounts you have. Are they pre-tax or post-tax? Do you have an HSA? Brokerage accounts? Annuities? Where do you stand financially? Lay it all out on paper so that you can decide what you need to do next. 
  5. Tax diversification is as important as investment diversification in retirement. How tax-efficient are your savings? A 401K conversion is a great way to save in taxes. You should also consider what your tax bracket will be in retirement. 
  6. What is your investment strategy? How do your emotions play a role in investing? What is your risk capacity? What is your risk tolerance? You will need to understand when and how much you will need from your investments and have the appropriate asset allocation. Know what your expected returns will be. This will help you understand how long your portfolio will last you.
  7. Healthcare can be the deciding factor for how and when you retire. If you are planning to retire before the age of 65 you’ll want to factor in healthcare costs. How will you bridge the gap until Medicare kicks in? Will you take COBRA or use your state’s health insurance exchange? You should also consider whether you want to get long-term care insurance. 
  8. Do an annual review of your estate. Block off some time each year to check if your estate plan still reflects your wishes. 

Are you in your catch-up years?

Your 50’s are often referred to as the catch-up years when it comes to retirement planning. There are lots of opportunities to think about as you approach retirement. Successful retirees look at all of these considerations as they make decisions. The decisions you make now can have a major impact on your retirement lifestyle. Use this pre-retirement checklist to help you begin to plan your retirement strategy.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:27] Are you on the final stretch to retirement?
  • [6:33] How will you spend your time in retirement?
  • [7:37] How much income will you need?
  • [11:35] What is your net worth?
  • [14:24] What is your investment strategy?
  • [20:11] What kind of insurance do you have?
  • [23:45] Do an estate review

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Mike

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Aug 12, 2019

The Mega Backdoor Roth IRA could be the secret weapon you have yet to use in your retirement saving strategy. If you consider yourself a super saver, looking for alternative ways to save tax efficiently, this could be a great option. This strategy is of most interest to those maxing out all other tax-efficient savings accounts. Including standard employee 401k contributions, Roth IRA, 529, and HSA. In this episode, you'll see why we call this the secret weapon for super savers, as we breakdown who the Mega Backdoor Roth is for, why you might be interested in it, and how it compares to other IRAs.

Who should take advantage of the Mega Backdoor Roth IRA?

In order to take advantage of the Mega Backdoor Roth IRA, you first have to have access to a 401k that allows after-tax contributions. These are contributions on top of your regular $19k allowable contributions to a 401k in 2019. Hence the "Mega" moniker. So if you are already maxing out your 401K, Roth IRA, 529, and HSA contributions then the Mega Backdoor Roth IRA could be a great extra additional savings opportunity. Many get confused as to why it's called a Mega Backdoor Roth IRA when we are talking about your 401k. Good question. The name derives from where the money will be after you complete the consolidation process.

You're now seeing more larger companies and solo 401ks allow for "in-service" distributions. Meaning, you could withdraw portions of your 401k savings, while still employed. The real benefit with this savings strategy, is when you can save the extra after-tax contributions and then roll them to a Roth IRA in the same year. Meaning, you could get a larger amount in to a tax-free savings account to grow for years to come.

What’s so great about the Mega Backdoor Roth?

If done correctly, the Mega Backdoor Roth can allow you to contribute up to 6X what you can contribute to a regular Roth IRA. With a regular Roth IRA, you can contribute only $6,000 per year in 2019. The Mega Backdoor Roth allows you to contribute up to $37,000 extra each year on top of your normal employee 401k contributions.

Many people don’t know this, but the limit for 401K contributions is $56,000 or $62,000 and for those over 50. Many people assume that the limit is only $19,000. But this $19,000 limit is for pretax contributions. You can actually contribute up to $37,000 more after taxes are withheld (depending on your employer match amount). You can ask your employer if they contribute to after-tax contributions. If you aren’t sure then you should contact your HR department. They may not even know about the Mega Backdoor Roth, but if you communicate with them you could get it started in your company.

What is the difference between the Mega Backdoor Roth and the regular backdoor Roth?

If your income for a married couple is over $203,000 then you are ineligible to contribute to a typical Roth IRA. Instead, you can implement the Backdoor Roth IRA strategy. But this strategy has multiple steps to assure it's done correctly which we wrote about in a previous post. To be a good candidate for this strategy, you need to first move existing pretax accounts to an existing 401K, if you have one. The next step is to contribute $6000 to a regular non-deductible IRA. After completing this, you can convert the non-deductible IRA to a Roth IRA. The issue with the Backdoor Roth is that you can only contribute $6,000 per year.

The Mega Backdoor Roth allows you to contribute much more and would be a provision of your 401k account. Essentially, is the amount above your normal employee contributions ($19k in 2019; or $25k if over age 50) plus your employer match contributions. It’s important to consider all of your options to see if the Mega Backdoor Roth is right for your circumstances.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:27] Who is the Mega Backdoor Roth for?
  • [4:31] What is the difference between the Mega Backdoor Roth and the regular backdoor Roth?
  • [12:33] How do you know if you can take advantage of the Mega Backdoor Roth?
  • [17:59] What are the risks?

Connect With Chad and Mike

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Jul 15, 2019

Most people know little or nothing about sequence of returns risk. The subject doesn’t make for the most interesting topic for cocktail party discussions. Some refer to it as your biggest retirement risk. Reason being, sequence of returns risk can have a major impact on how long your hard-earned savings will last through retirement. This week's episode we dive in to examples of how you could be affected and steps you could use to fight against it.

Dollar-weighted returns vs time-weighted returns

Many people aren’t familiar with the difference between dollar-weighted returns and time-weighted returns. Dollar-weighted returns are the actual returns you get. The dollar-weighted return is a more accurate representation of your actual return. A time-weighted return impacts your cash flow. A time-weighted return assumes you don’t contribute or withdraw any money during a period of time. If you put a lot of money in the bottom of the stock market and pull the money out at the top of the stock market then you will have a better dollar rated return than a time-weighted return. 

An example of sequence of returns risk

Let’s consider a couple that is 60 years old with a million dollars who just retired. In the first example, they earn 8% each year over the next 30 years. They withdraw at 6% which leads them to the ideal scenario and after 30 years in which they end at zero dollars. Their money ran out just as they did. The second example takes the same couple but rather than earning 8% each year they had great returns of 25% for the first 2 years, then they averaged 8% and then the last 2 years they averaged 0%. This scenario left the couple with a million dollars at the end of 30 years. The last scenario has the couple experience a bad market the first few years then 8% returns and then a great market at the end. This scenario leads the couple to run out of money. Although all of these examples had the same average return the end results were completely different. The first few years have a big impact on your long term success. 

Why did Chad and Mike end up with different balances at the end of their careers?

Chad and Mike work for the same amount of years, they make the same pay and save the same amount each year. One of them begins their career before the other and they retire at different times. The last years before retirement Mike experienced poor returns. Chad had poor returns when he was just starting out. This is an example of a good sequence of returns for Chad and a bad sequence of returns for Mike. The difference ended up being a $300,000 difference between Chad and Mike’s final balance. When you are younger your balance isn’t that big so how the market performs doesn’t matter as much. When you are older it is important to your balance sheet that the market rate of returns are high.

What strategies can you implement to protect yourself from the sequence of returns risk?

  1. Diversification is important. Think about a globally diversified portfolio. U.S. stocks, international stocks, large and small cap investments. 
  2. Consider your asset allocation. The time right before and right after you retire is not a time to take on a lot of stock risk.
  3. Adjust your spending based on portfolio performance.
  4. Adjust the amount of stock you own based on market valuations. If the market is expensive you should own less in stocks, if the market is cheap you can own more.
  5. Don’t get nervous and go to cash and bonds. Stocks are a good hedge against rising costs of inflation. Remember that people are living longer, you may need that money to stretch farther than you thought.

Outline of This Episode

  • [4:27] What constitutes good or bad returns?
  • [8:56] The first few years have a big impact on your long term success
  • [11:15] Why did Chad and Mike end up with different balances at the end of their careers?
  • [14:23] What strategies can you implement to protect yourself from the sequence of returns risk?

Connect With Chad and Mike

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May 20, 2019

Rolling over your 401K is a complicated process so we brought in a few experts that have helped our clients rollover hundreds of 401K’s. Understanding the unexpected roadblocks surrounding a 401K rollover is a vital step in making the best decisions with your money. So listen to this episode to hear steps of how to properly rollover a 401K quickly and efficiently.

How to rollover a 401K?

Maybe you just left a job or maybe you need an in-service rollover but you are at the point that you need to rollover your 401K. So how do you do it? Unfortunately, there isn’t only one way. It depends on the type of account you have and where you want the money to go. If you have a brokerage account linked to your 401K it will make the task a bit easier. Brokerage links give you the opportunity to invest in funds at a lower cost. If you have just quit or left your job you need to ensure that all of your contributions and your employer contributions have settled before you move your 401K or you will have to redo the process again once it does settle.

How do you tackle the 401K rollover paperwork?

401K rollover paperwork can be quite daunting. Nowadays there are many forms that you can fill out online, but there are still actual papers that must be completed in person. The paperwork can be a bit confusing and overwhelming, but it is important to fill everything out correctly. Even if you mis-check just one box they won’t process your rollover and you’ll have to start the process all over again. Oftentimes you may need your spouse to sign, a notary to sign, and you’ll also need your plan administrator to sign. Sometimes finding the plan administrator can be tricky. If you know the right people to call the paperwork really doesn’t take much time. It can take a few days or even a few weeks to complete the paperwork. If you feel daunted by all the paperwork you might want to consider hiring a professional to help you out.

What are some problems that can arise with a 401K rollover?

It's important to reduce your risk of being out of the market. You want to ensure that your money is out of the market for as little time as possible. Pay careful attention to the timing and ensure that you have all your ducks in a row first. This means that you need to have the accounts where the money is going set up beforehand. If you have a brokerage link you can reduce the time out of the market. You’ll also want to double check where your allocations are in case you need to change those settings. There are many steps involved in moving your 401K and you may have to contact different service representatives to get all of your questions answered.

How can you reduce your risk?

Having your money pulled out of the market for any amount of time can be costly. If there is a way to expedite getting your check you’ll want to do it. Think about it, if you have your money out of the market and it goes up a few points you’ll be losing out trying to get it all back in. Getting the money back in as quickly as possible is important. Having a brokerage account linked to your 401K can give you the opportunity to invest in funds at a lower cost. Listen to the experts, Heather and Angela, to help you understand how to rollover a 401K to make your transition run as smoothly as possible.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:27] How do I rollover my 401K is one of the most frequent questions
  • [6:16] How do you tackle the paperwork?
  • [7:24] How much time does it take?
  • [11:03] What are some problems that can arise?
  • [17:05] Where does the money go?
  • [27:07] What can go wrong?

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Heather Gudac and Angela Keeley-White

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

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