Thursday
Jul312014

Social Security: Delaying vs. Collecting Retirement Benefits

 The wonderful and frustrating Socratic Method I learned in law school taught me that, for most issues, there were two plausible sides or conclusions.  Much to the chagrin of my colleagues (and dare I say my family at times) this perspective can be downright maddening.  So, as I apologize to those that have to deal with me every day! But in many instances, I also believe that it has served clients well.  As much as we’d all like a simple rule or answer at times, many of life’s decisions, and certainly financial decisions, are best contemplated based on the specific facts and circumstances. 

There may not be a greater example than this financial dilemma:

When do I begin receiving Social Security retirement benefits?

The majority of Americans take Social Security benefits at the earliest date possible, age 62, for the mere fact that they require the funds for everyday living expenses.  For those that have the financial flexibility, implementing the maximum social security strategy comes down to your specific circumstances.

Both Sides of the Social Security Coin

Financial Advisor Magazine recently published two articles on social security.  The first, Many Retirees Wish They Had Waited To Take Social Security and the second, Taking Social Security Early Can Make Sense. Your immediate response might be like mine, well wait a minute, which one is it?  Both articles do a fine job representing the pros and cons as I have shared in the past; and ultimately conclude that the “correct” decision is very individualized.

Delaying vs. Collecting at 66

The benefit of waiting past age 62 is that you will receive more each month.  And, if you wait until age 70 you will receive an 8% Delayed Credit each year from age 66 (technically from your full retirement age for people born between 1943 and 1954).  For those with a long life expectancy, waiting can add substantial dollars; but they are not realized until age 80 in most calculations.

However, delaying comes with a risk too.  If you delay and pass away early (and I say any age is considered too early), this will result in a substantial loss at best and a total loss at worst.  Also, is it reasonable to perhaps take funds from your own investments that ultimately pass to your heirs, while you wait to cross over the breakeven point?   

As shared in an earlier blog post of mine, couples have additional variables to consider due to what essentially amounts to joint life expectancy decisions.  

Whether you are single or a couple, getting the Social Security decision correct can be substantial.  I promise to go easy with the Socratic Method … but considering all of the questions and variables of your individual circumstances may lead to better decisions for you and your family.  Give us a call if we can help!

Timothy Wyman, CFP®, JD is the Managing Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. and is a frequent contributor to national media including appearances on Good Morning America Weekend Edition and WDIV Channel 4 News and published articles including Forbes and The Wall Street Journal. A leader in his profession, Tim served on the National Board of Directors for the 28,000 member Financial Planning Association™ (FPA®), trained and mentored hundreds of CFP® practitioners and is a frequent speaker to organizations and businesses on various financial planning topics.


The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Center for Financial Planning, Inc. and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. Links are being provided for information purposes only. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website’s users and/or members. C14-019070

Tuesday
Jul292014

EU Makes History by Setting Negative Interest Rates

 Some of you may have seen headlines recently regarding the European Central Bank’s (ECB) move to set interest rates on deposits from 0% to -.10%.   This is the first time in history that a major global central bank has made a move like this.  It’s important to note that this negative interest rate does not directly apply to customers of EU banks who deposit their money in savings and checking accounts.  The ECB is only applying this negative interest rate on deposits that banks make with the ECB.  In other words, the ECB is trying to penalize banks for parking large sums of money with the central bank, rather than lending it to consumers.   

Why set negative interest rates?

What is the ECB hoping to accomplish?  To answer this question I need to provide a little background on what’s been going on lately in the European economy.  The European Union (EU) has been going through a period of disinflation lately and there is much worry that it may fall into deflation. Disinflation is a slowing in the rate of inflation.  In the instance of the EU, the central bank estimates that increases in the general prices of goods and services has slowed over the last 12 months from 1.6% to .49% (as of May of 2014). If this trend continues, the ECB worries that deflation could set in, which is a general decrease in the price of goods and services.

What’s so bad about deflation?

Now this might not sound bad to many readers. After all, if the price of gas goes from $3.80 down to $2.80 that’s great, right? However, if companies aren’t making as much money on their products, they have to cut costs elsewhere in order to maintain the bottom line, and that ultimately means lower wages for workers. Which means less discretionary income to spend and the economy can get caught in a deflationary trap that can be hard to get out of.  

The hope is that setting a negative interest rate will stimulate lending and therefore growth in the economy. This could lead to slightly increasing inflation, which most experts agree is a better option over the long term than deflation. Will it work?  Experts are divided on how effective this monetary policy will ultimately be on the European economy, but like many things, only time will tell. 

Matthew Trujillo, CFP®, is a Registered Support Associate at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. Matt currently assists Center planners and clients, and is a contributor to Money Centered.


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Thursday
Jul242014

Is Retirement Too Late to Find a Financial Planner?

 Let’s say you are approaching retirement or you have already taken the plunge. Let’s also say you have not worked with a financial planner along the way. Is there a reason to consider forming a relationship at this stage of the game? 

Even at this stage in life, it may help to seek out a financial planner to be a thinking partner leading up to and along your retirement journey. But finding the right fit may not be easy. A successful financial planning engagement starts with you figuring out what is most important.  Details about your money are equally as important when put in context with your envisioned life. 

Here are two steps that will help you pull together your overall financial picture:

1. Create a financial plan: This will be a roadmap to help you see your financial picture in one coordinated view. 

  • This plan is all about you, your priorities and needs.  The goal is to help you feel secure and at ease about your financial future.
  • It will show you how you are currently invested and make suggestions for appropriate changes.
  • Analyze how your investments could be working to supplement your income, either on a regular basis or as needs arise.
  • Make sure that your estate plan is the way you want it. 

2. Consolidate: If your accounts are spread around with many different companies, it may come with a financial and organizational cost.

  • With consolidation you can easily access all of your information in one place.
  • You’ll simplify the ongoing paperwork you receive and streamline information gathering at tax time and when you must take required distributions.
  • It provides more consistent management and ongoing monitoring in a cohesive framework.

Even if you have the individual areas of your finances under control, it is still important to pull all the pieces together.  Perhaps you have multiple IRA’s that too closely mirror each other, investments you have inherited that aren’t worked into your overall strategy, or your life circumstances have changed and your investments have not. 

The right fit might take some trial and error.  You don’t have to settle.  A financial planner that truly understands your financial story will be able to guide you to think about areas of your financial life you may not have considered up to this point. If you’re nearing, at, or past retirement and need help exploring your financial planning options, don’t hesitate to contact me about building a relationship and shaping your plan.

Laurie Renchik, CFP®, MBA is a Partner and Senior Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. In addition to working with women who are in the midst of a transition (career change, receiving an inheritance, losing a life partner, divorce or remarriage), Laurie works with clients who are planning for retirement. Laurie was named to the 2013 Five Star Wealth Managers list in Detroit Hour magazine, is a member of the Leadership Oakland Alumni Association and in addition to her frequent contributions to Money Centered, she manages and is a frequent contributor to Center Connections at The Center.


Five Star Award is based on advisor being credentialed as an investment advisory representative (IAR), a FINRA registered representative, a CPA or a licensed attorney, including education and professional designations, actively employed in the industry for five years, favorable regulatory and complaint history review, fulfillment of firm review based on internal firm standards, accepting new clients, one- and five-year client retention rates, non-institutional discretionary and/or non-discretionary client assets administered, number of client households served.

Any opinions are those of Center for Financial Planning, Inc. and not necessarily those of Raymond James. You should compare your current and prospective account features, including any fees and charges, before making consolidation decisions. This material is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. C14-022519

 

Tuesday
Jul222014

How to Pick Between 3 Types of Life Insurance

 For most couples, having life insurance during the wealth-accumulating years can make a lot of sense. Also, some people may consider having a policy even in retirement, if their goal is to leave a financial legacy.  Life Insurance has a lot of potential benefits to consider such as:

  • Replacement for the loss of income of a spouse
  • Paying off liabilities such as a mortgage, auto loans, or credit cards
  • Covering education costs for children
  • Providing a lump sum for the surviving spouse to utilize in retirement
  • Leaving a legacy to family or charitable organizations

When it comes to life insurance, it’s not simply deciding if you want it. It’s also deciding which kind. Here are three main types of life insurance:

Level Term Insurance

 This is the easiest type of insurance to understand because it is similar to other types of insurance you have (auto, home, disability etc.).  With Level Term Insurance you pay a premium each year and, if you die, the insurance carrier will pay a death benefit to your beneficiaries.  Typical term periods are 10, 20, or 30 years.  While you are in the level term period, your premium will remain the same.  Once your policy is outside of the level term period, the premium will begin to increase; oftentimes it will increase substantially. A few reasons where this type of insurance is appropriate:

  1.  Replacing income in the event of an untimely/unexpected death
  2.  Paying off liabilities
  3.  Funding education goals

Universal Life Insurance

This is sometimes referred to as “permanent term insurance”.  This product is usually underwritten to make sure a death benefit remains in place until age 90, 95, or 100.  Sometimes there is a cash value in the earlier years of the policy, but this is usually eaten up by internal costs and expenses as the policy reaches maturity.  This product is often used when someone wants to leave a financial legacy to their kids, church, or charity. Also, it can be used to ensure alimony or other similar court settlement agreements are paid, even in the event of an unexpected death.

Whole Life Insurance

This type of insurance is conservatively underwritten, and because of this, it is often the most expensive type of insurance.  It does have a cash component that takes several years to begin accruing.  A lot of the products I have seen take approximately 10 years to break even from what you have paid in premiums compared to what’s available in cash value.  This is another type of permanent insurance that is frequently used in legacy planning.  When Estate Taxes were an issue for many Americans (back when the exclusion amount was $3.5 Million or less) these policies were purchased to provide liquidity to pay Uncle Sam at death.

What is the right type of insurance for you? 

We typically recommend Level Term Insurance for clients when the primary goal is income replacement during the wealth-accumulation years. It’s the most affordable, and usually isn’t a significant burden on cash flow.  However, if your goal is to leave a financial legacy, and you can afford it, then Universal Life or even a Whole Life policy might make sense.

The best strategy, when making these decisions, is to work with a qualified financial professional that understands all the moving parts of your personal situation and is making a recommendation that is in your best interest.

Matthew Trujillo, CFP®, is a Registered Support Associate at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. Matt currently assists Center planners and clients, and is a contributor to Money Centered.


The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Center for Financial Planning Inc. and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. Investments mentioned may not be suitable for all investors. These policies have exclusions and/or limitations. The cost and availability of life insurance depend on factors such as age, health and type and amount of insurance purchased. Policies commonly have mortality and expense charges. In addition if a policy is surrendered prematurely, there may be surrender charges and income tax implications. Guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the insurance company. C14-019165

Thursday
Jul172014

401(k) After-tax Accounts: Preparing your checklist

 In my last blog, I answered four common questions about an after-tax 401(k). If you’ve decided that this savings options might be right for you, your next step is to sit down with your financial advisor.

Getting ready: A checklist for the meeting

Your financial advisor can help you review your plan documentation to establish whether you have an after-tax contribution option; and, if so, whether it would make sense for you to set aside some of your pay on an after-tax basis. Before you meet with your financial advisor, you may want to gather some important information and documents:

  • The most recent statement from your 401(k) plan
  • Any plan documentation you may have, such as an SPD (your human resource department can provide a copy or you may be able to access it online)
  • The telephone numbers of your current and former employer’s benefits administrators so you and your financial advisor can confirm information
  • Any retirement income planning documents you may have accumulated
  • The contact information for your tax advisor should you have any tax-related questions

First, review your plan documentation with your financial advisor to establish whether you have an after-tax contribution option. Then determine with your tax advisor whether you should make after-tax contributions to your 401(k) plan and/or proceed with a conversion. Be sure to discuss any potential tax and penalty implications, as well as expenses and sales charges that may result from your decisions.

Rolling after-tax savings into a Roth IRA

Explore whether a conversion of all or a portion of your after-tax account to a Roth IRA or designated Roth account would be a strategy that advances your retirement savings and income planning goals.

If you decide to make after-tax contributions and/or execute a conversion of all or a portion of your after-tax account, work with your financial advisor to execute the proper documentation and authorizations. And, as always, we’re here to answer any questions that may crop up as you consider making contributions to an after-tax 401(k) plan.

Matthew E. Chope, CFP ® is a Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. Matt has been quoted in various investment professional newspapers and magazines. He is active in the community and his profession and helps local corporations and nonprofits in the areas of strategic planning and money and business management decisions. In 2012 and 2013, Matt was named to the Five Star Wealth Managers list in Detroit Hour magazine.


Five Star Award is based on advisor being credentialed as an investment advisory representative (IAR), a FINRA registered representative, a CPA or a licensed attorney, including education and professional designations, actively employed in the industry for five years, favorable regulatory and complaint history review, fulfillment of firm review based on internal firm standards, accepting new clients, one- and five-year client retention rates, non-institutional discretionary and/or non-discretionary client assets administered, number of client households served.

The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Center for Financial Planning, Inc. and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional. Every investor’s situation is unique and you should consider your investment goals, risk tolerance and time horizon before making any investment. Converting a traditional 401(k) into a Roth IRA has tax implications. An investor should carefully consider the source of funds used to pay the taxes owed on a Roth conversion. Penalties and taxes may apply if the investor uses money from the 401(k) as the source for conversion taxes. Consult a tax professional for details. C14-016529