Have you ever been on your way to an epic summer road trip and then all of a sudden you come upon a roadblock? That can ruin the excitement you feel for the upcoming trip. This can happen in retirement as well. In retirement, you may confront roadblocks on your journey and if you don’t know how to maneuver around them it can leave you feeling stuck.
On this episode of Financial Symmetry, Allison Berger joins me to discuss 3 not so obvious retirement roadblocks that you may encounter along your retirement journey. We want to be your GPS so that if you experience them you can find your way around them without too much hassle.
Your first years of retirement are so important when it comes to investment returns. Sequence of return risk is when you have several years of bad returns at the beginning of retirement when you are starting to withdraw your money. There is no way to control your market returns, but there are ways to mitigate this risk.
To combat sequence of return risk, you’ll need to maintain a balanced portfolio the way you maintain a balanced diet. Use the financial food groups! In retirement, you can no longer subsist solely on financial junk food (stocks). You’ll want to make sure that you have a healthy serving of vegetables (bonds and cash) thrown into the mix.
After maintaining a growth mindset in the accumulation stage of life by using mainly stocks, you may be hesitant to reduce your risk load in retirement. However, having a balanced portfolio can ensure that you won’t be forced to sell when prices are down.
You want to ensure that your money will be worth something in retirement, but inflation reduces purchasing power over time. We can visualize how inflation works by thinking about what the price of milk was 20 years ago. Inflation not only impacts the prices of goods but also impacts your retirement income. Even with the cost of living adjustments, your Social Security may not have the same buying power in 20 years.
Inflation is also known as the silent assassin. It is most dangerous for those who are overly cautious. To fight inflation you’ll need to make sure that there is some growth in your portfolio. You’ll need to take on some risk.
It is important to understand how different events can impact your taxes. The best way to combat unforeseen tax bombs is through multi-year tax planning. Most people are used to tax planning one year at a time, but retirement offers an opportunity to plan ahead. You can reduce your lifetime tax burden by thoughtful planning.
If you put together a financial plan for retirement you’ll have a road map for the years ahead. In retirement, you’ll want to become flexible and look for opportunities. This is part of what we do with our clients. If you are interested in using us as your GPS to help you through those retirement roadblocks then check out our website and click Learn More.
What are you investing for? Many say higher or better returns--but higher or better than what? What do those higher returns make possible for you?
Video recap: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKC2ulw3cz8
To have a successful investment experience you need to have a plan in place. Mike Eklund joins me once again on this episode of Financial Symmetry to discuss our 3 step investing process. This process creates the guideposts for all Financial Symmetry clients. Listen in to learn why failing to plan means you are planning to fail.
Have you ever thought about why you are investing in the first place? Before creating your investment plan you’ll want to set your goals. This way you can understand what kind of returns you need in order to achieve your goals.
We are all often guilty of the lottery mindset--that mindset that thinks if we could choose that one next big thing then we would be set. All we needed to do was buy Apple in 2000, or Tesla in 2012, or Bitcoin at $1000. But the reality is, successful investing requires a plan. Your investment plan can help you understand when to buy and sell or increase or reduce risk in your portfolio.
At Financial Symmetry, we use a 3 step process to help our clients achieve their financial goals.
You may be wondering what we at Financial Symmetry offer to our clients. Our clients can expect these 5 things from us.
What is your investment plan? Do you have a rules-based process? Investing is a lot like fitness. Everyone wants to start, but it can be hard to keep up. We can be your financial personal trainer and help you stay on track to reach your goals.
We can make investing easier for you. If you don’t have the knowledge, experience, and interest to do this all on your own we can help.
Have you been on the fence about hiring a financial advisor? This indecisiveness can cost you. This episode will help you decide whether hiring a financial advisor is right for you. You’ll learn the 5 C’s that you can expect when hiring a financial advisor. Press play to find out what you should expect from your financial advisor.
Video Recap: https://youtu.be/zuTdjdDkqUI
Have you been considering hiring a financial advisor? If so, then you may be seeking assistance in one of several areas.
Competence - You are looking for someone who knows more than you and is an expert in their field.
Coaching - You may know quite a bit, but knowing and doing are 2 different things. A financial advisor can be like a personal trainer and give you the push you need to get things done.
Convenience -A financial advisor can do what you don’t have time for.
Continuity - You may want someone to help you coordinate with others for family or legacy planning.
Do any of these reasons seem familiar to you? Keep listening to hear what a financial planner can do to help you.
Collaboration - Your financial advisor will co-create a plan that serves you and helps you reach your financial goals. This should be a collaborative process between the two of you. In your first meeting, you can expect to be asked a lot of questions so that they can learn about you and your goals. You want your financial advisor to lead with a planning focused approach. If you receive a sales pitch instead, this should raise a red flag.
Credentials - Many people are surprised to learn that you don’t have to have any qualifications to be a financial advisor. However, you may see a bit of an alphabet soup after a financial advisor’s name. It is important to understand what these letters mean. Are they real credentials or simply sales designations? Look for the gold standard CFP certification. CFA and CPA are two other certifications that may be relevant to your situation.
Communication - You can expect regular communication from your financial advisor. They may set up a communication calendar with you to help you set expectations in communication. This regular communication will help you stay updated. Your advisor may also reach out to discuss tax opportunities, set goals, and to review progress. Listen in to hear what red flags you should look out for in your advisor communications.
Compounding value - Are you better off after you pay your advisor than you would have been otherwise? This can be hard to quantify and may take a bit of introspection. Look at your return on life as well as the quantitative parts. Consider your investment returns, rebalancing, and tax deferral. If you think that your advisor is providing a free service then make sure to look for the hidden costs in your portfolio. A fee-only financial advisor discloses their costs upfront so that there are no surprises. If you are looking for a fee-only financial advisor you can find out more about our services at FinancialSymmetry.com.
The American Rescue Plan was recently passed, but do you know all the changes it will bring? You probably already know about the stimulus checks, but you may not know how it could affect your taxes and healthcare. This latest economic stimulus package could mean big things for your tax planning.
Video recap here: https://youtu.be/Vq8Y2CFYS6E
Since the American Rescue Plan has a heavy tax focus, I invited tax planning extraordinaire, Grayson Blazek, to brief us all on the risks and opportunities that we should be looking out for with the newest piece of legislation. He simplifies this complex topic down to 5 key areas. If you are looking for tax planning opportunities or want to know the risks to look out for, then make sure to tune into Grayson Blazek’s breakdown of the American Rescue Plan.
The third round of stimulus checks may be the most widely known part of the American Rescue Plan. These checks are capped at $1400 per person. Although the income range of those who qualify has narrowed, many people who were not previously eligible for stimulus checks will be eligible for round 3.
The age range for dependents has been expanded to those in college and older high school students, whereas with the previous rounds of stimulus, dependents were limited to ages 16 and under. Listen in to find out how the income bracket for stimulus checks has changed and learn how you could use this stimulus package as an opportunity for careful tax planning.
If you were laid off or terminated like many others last year, your company must continue to offer health insurance through COBRA. The drawback with COBRA is that the full cost of the insurance premium was placed solely on the participant without the employer absorbing a share. The American Rescue Plan will now fully subsidize the premiums of COBRA until September of 2021. This means that if you are on COBRA your premiums will be zero.
That wasn’t the only change in health insurance premiums through the ARP. Find out how the thresholds of the Affordable Care Act have changed with the bill as well. Press play to hear how.
Most people don’t pay attention to their taxes until the time comes for them to file. But maybe after listening to this episode you may want to start getting in front of your taxes and plan the year ahead rather than focus on the previous year.
If you have children, then this year is an especially good time to consider tax planning. You’ll want to take advantage of the expanded tax credit that went from $2000 to $3000 and $3600 for children under 6 years old. In addition to the child tax credit, the child dependent care tax credit was expanded to max out at $8000 per child.
Lastly, the American Rescue Plan has extended state and federal benefits to unemployment compensation until September 6. Lawmakers also chose to make unemployment compensation tax-free for 2020.
Listen in to hear all the details so that you can develop a plan to utilize these changes in your tax planning efforts. This may be a good year for you to consult a CPA to help you file your taxes.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Stock market manias have an uncanny way of capturing our attention.
Short video recap: https://youtu.be/wr04xy1pDnU
Not only do they dominate weekly headlines, but create visions of what could be. The most recent example is the rapid rise of meme stocks, including Gamestop, AMC and Blackberry among others.
In this episode, we’ll explore what happened with this most recent mania, and describe the why behind how we can become enamored with this type of approach. We'll then offer three questions to provide a framework for the next time you're facing similar feelings.
You may have seen a Game Stop store at your local mall or shopping center. Game Stop is a video game retailer whose future did not look promising. Many people compared it to Blockbuster Video.
This uncertain future attracted the interest of short-sellers and the retailer ended up becoming one of the most heavily shorted stocks. When an online Reddit group discovered what was happening to the stock, many people decided to jump in and stop the short. This sudden influx of investors drove the share price up to unprecedented levels.
Manias are nothing new. We've seen them in many forms including the Nifty Fifty in the 1950s, the tech bubble in the 1990s and BRIC Countries during the 2000s. The speed and size of these rallies can foster a fear of missing out feeling that's is more analogous to gambling.
There's a fine line between gambling and investing. In stock market manias, it's easy for people to throw risk considerations out the window because the possibility of life-changing gains takes over. Subsequently, this mentality could lead to detrimental results when investors are using money they can't afford to lose.
With Game Stop, investing quickly becomes interesting when the stock is increasing like a rocket ship within a week. For many, this strategy looks miles more exciting when compared to a disciplined long-term strategy. This is when the gambling temptation can circumvent the longer-term evidence based approach you may have used up to that point. Enter diversification.
That's because diversification decreases your investment risk. When you diversify, you invest in many different types and sizes of companies all over the world. The goal of diversification is to ensure the performance of one specific stock won’t impact your entire portfolio.
If you find yourself considering a specific stock purchase, there are a few questions that can help your decision.
Your investment strategy will be most appropriate for you when it's created in service to your financial plan. A plan that is specifically created for your goals and circumstances. Understanding the interaction between your income and future expenses for the next few years.
Carefully considering your investment decisions and ensuring that they align with a cohesive and diversified investment strategy will help you stay on target to reach your long-term goals.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
From a historically quick bear market decline to a speedy rebound, 2020 certainly took us on a wild ride. But there is a lot we can learn from this crazy year.
Short video recap: https://youtu.be/fUfGwGk-gEY
In this episode, we are reflecting on the investment lessons we learned over the past year. What were the lessons you took away in 2020? Listen in to hear if there are any other lessons you can learn from the year.
Historically, the S&P 500 returns 8-10% per year. Since markets go up in the long term, people who focus on the long-term growth of the stock and bond markets, as well as the growth of the economy, will prosper.
This lesson was put to the test in March of 2020 when we had the shortest bear market in history. Investors that stuck it out profited greatly. From March 23 to the end of 2020 the market went up an astonishing 68%.
Since no one has a crystal ball, buying in a bear market can be scary. This is why we recommend having an investment plan or a rules-based process in place.
If you lost sleep over or sold stocks during the decline then you need to reassess your asset allocation. How did you fare in the market decline? Were you an optimist or pessimist? Did you stick to your investment plan and wait it out?
These days, the markets move at lightning speed. At this velocity, people often feel like they need to stay on top of all the latest financial news. However, listening to the financial media can hinder your ultimate goal. The media’s job is to sell advertising, not to help you reach your financial goals.
Even if all the uncertainty drives you crazy, step away from the sensationalist news. The number one predictor of long-term investment success is investment behavior, so teach yourself the discipline not to act on every little thing you hear on the news. Turn off your notifications and guard your time instead.
We all hear the rags to riches stories about the latest fads. Raise your hand if you have a friend who has struck it rich with Bitcoin lately. These stories can be so powerful, however, no one ever talks about the downside.
FOMO (fear of missing out) is real and we often want to jump on the latest bandwagon, whether it be Bitcoin, gold, or whatever the new shiny thing is. At the end of the day, the value of what you own is only what someone else is willing to pay you.
If you still want to jump on the latest bandwagon understand your motive and think about the impact of your investment on your financial plan.