Investing for the Long Term

What does the phrase “long term” mean to you? For children, long term can mean waiting for Christmas or summer vacation that feels like a million years away. For young adults, long term may reference how long it takes to pay off student loans. As we get older, we begin to understand that long term can be a really long time – even decades. We may wonder where the years went. Suddenly we’re in our 50s, 60s, 70s or older. Long term tends to be a subjective phrase depending on what stage you have reached in life and what your goals are.

When it comes to investing, its meaning is only marginally clearer. In other words, if we’re encouraged to invest for the long term, how long is that – 10 years, 20, 30? It largely depends on what your financial goals are – a house, college tuition for the kids, retirement and so on. We take the time to help clients define their financial goals and then create strategies using a variety of investment and insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. Give us a call so we can work with you to help you pursue your long-term goals.

It’s worth noting that even an experienced investor can’t say for sure whether they’ve got the right mix of investments for the long term. Take, for example, Jack Bogle, the founder of The Vanguard Group. He recently responded to a question he received from a young investor concerned about how potential catastrophes would impact his portfolio. Bogle replied by sharing his own portfolio mix (50/50 indexed stocks and short/intermediate bond indexes) but said that half the time he worries that he has too much in equities, and the other half that he doesn’t have enough. “We’re all just human beings operating in a fog of ignorance and relying on our common sense to establish our asset allocation,” he wrote to the investor. 1

The S&P 500 has nearly quadrupled in annualized returns since its low in 2009.2 Several prominent market analysts and investment firms suggest this means it’s about time for a market downturn.3 The question is, if you’re a long-term investor, do you sell in anticipation of a correction? After all, if the point is to buy low and sell high, it makes sense to take gains while prices are at their highest before they begin to drop. Or does it?

That’s not what long-term investing is about. The reason returns over 30 years tend to outperform those from, say, five years, is that time is what typically smooths out those periods of volatility. If we continue investing automatically, we may end up buying during those periods of price drops and we can potentially make stronger gains as prices rise again.4

If we base our investment decisions on when the market will take a turn for the worse, we could end up missing out on the future gains that could have been made. Long-term investing may involve patience, unlike children who anxiously await the holidays.

Investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal.  No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. It’s important to consider any investment within the context of your own goals, risk tolerance, investment timeline and the composition of your overall portfolio. This information is not intended to provide investment advice.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Andy Clarke. Vanguard Blog for Advisors. July 12, 2017. “Stocks and the meaning of “long term.” https://vanguardblog.com/2017/07/12/stocks-and-the-meaning-of-long-term/. Accessed Oct. 12, 2017.
2 Joe Ciolli. Business Insider. Sept. 15, 2017. “An investing legend who’s nailed the bull market at every turn sees no end in sight for the 269% rally.” http://www.businessinsider.com/laszlo-birinyi-interview-investing-legend-bull-market-sage-2017-9. Accessed Sept. 19, 2017.
3 Paul J. Lim. Money. Sept. 19, 2017. “ ‘Unnerved’: These 5 Big Wall Street Players Are Predicting a Downturn.” http://time.com/money/4943479/wall-street-prediction-stock-market-downturn/. Accessed Sept. 19, 2017.
4 Maya Kachroo-Levine. Forbes. Sept. 18, 2017. “Should You Invest As Usual When Stocks Are This High?” https://www.forbes.com/sites/mayakachroolevine/2017/09/18/should-you-invest-as-usual-when-stocks-are-this-high/print/. Accessed Sept. 19, 2017.

This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Goals-Based Investing

There’s a difference between monitoring an investment and checking its performance on a daily basis. Rather than being concerned about short-term volatility in the market, consider the future purpose or goal of what you want your money to pay for. This is the fundamental idea behind goals-based investing. You don’t just seek out investments that will yield a certain average annual return; you identify other factors that may matter more.1

In goals-based investing, it’s not about how much your investment earns; it’s about how much you need your investment to yield. For example, let’s say you need about $50,000 to pay for your child’s college education. You save diligently from the time he or she is 10 years old through his or her last year in college – 12 years. During that time, you save $37,000. Your investment needs to earn an additional $13,000. There are a lot of factors here that will determine your return, but the point is that your investment need not be overly aggressive to achieve the return you desire. It should reflect how much risk you’re willing to take to yield the amount you’ll need to pay for your child’s education. Not necessarily more. Preferably no less.

If the investment earns more, you can put those additional earnings in your retirement savings bucket. If it earns less, you may need to tighten the belt on your finances and use more current income to pay for expenses during those college years, or get aggressive about applying for loans and scholarships. The point is, an investment should align with a goal – including its timeline for when you’ll need the money. The timeline can help you determine how aggressively to invest. The longer you have to invest, the more risk you may be able to take.

Just as the timeline matters, so does your age. Young investors with a longer investment timeline usually can be more flexible at choosing riskier investments – as long as those risks are aligned with their goals.2

However, let’s say your last child came later in life. If you will turn 60 before he or she goes to college, you could consider saving for his or her college education via tax-deferred retirement plans. You can start tapping these funds after age 59 ½ and no longer be subject to an early withdrawal penalty, but keep in mind that distributions will be subject to income taxes at that point.

Defining each goal you want to achieve can help guide your investment strategy, which can include the type of account in which you invest, such as a tax-advantaged college savings account or a tax-deferred retirement account. Different goals may call for different types of accounts, so you may need to create an investment strategy for each individual goal and monitor several different types of investments.3

This is where we can help. We’ll work with you to define each goal, establish which type of plan is most appropriate and what types of investments suit your timeline and tolerance for market risk. Then, we’ll help monitor how well those investments stay on track as you work toward your financial goals.

When all of these factions are aligned, you can be less concerned about day-to-day fluctuations. If you think you need to save more, you might want to consider different ways you can generate additional income sources that will allow you to save and invest more.

Perhaps one of the most significant benefits to a goals-based approach is that it makes us think about what we want in life in very tangible terms. Suppose you want to retire to a coastal community. That’s your goal, and how early you get started saving and investing and at what age you’ll want your money can help determine your investment allocations. The return on that investment will ultimately decide how much house you can afford when retiring to your coastal destination. When creating your financial strategy, you should also consider the sort of lifestyle you want to provide your family and how expensive a college you want your children to attend. As with investment risk, trade-offs may need to be made in order to pursue your financial goals.

Investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. It’s important to consider any investment within the context of your own goals, risk tolerance, investment timeline and the composition of your overall portfolio. This information is not intended to provide investment advice.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Michael Finke. The American College. June 19, 2017. “The Philosophy of Goal-Based Investment Planning.” http://knowledge.theamericancollege.edu/blog/the-philosophy-of-goal-based-investment-planning. Accessed Aug. 30, 2017.
2 Amy Kemp and Dorsey Wright. NASDAQ. Aug. 3, 2017. “The Next Generation of Investors.” http://www.nasdaq.com/article/the-next-generation-of-investors-cm826808. Accessed Aug. 30, 2017.
Sunder R. Ramkumar and P. Brett Hammond. Forbes. April 10, 2017. “Goals-Based Investing: From Theory to Practice.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/pensionresearchcouncil/2017/04/10/goals-based-investing-from-theory-to-practice/#462b4018459d. Accessed Aug. 30, 2017.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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What Type of Investor Are You?

Each person is unique. We are composed of many variables, such as genetics, family influence, geographic influence and even the birth order among siblings – a veritable combination of the forces of biology and society.1 So when it comes to managing your finances, the debate isn’t about nature versus nurture; it’s both.

For example, consider two siblings raised in the same household: same socio-economic background, same parental influence, even the same level and type of education. Yet one sibling is a saver while the other is a spendthrift. Why is that?

We can’t always control whatever personal characteristics drive our needs, desires and indulgences, but we can learn to manage them responsibly. One way to pursue your financial goals is to work with an objective and knowledgeable financial advisor, a role we’re proud to fill for our clients. We can research and analyze your financial needs and objectives to help match appropriate investment and insurance products for your financial situation.

While self-knowledge is important, so is investor knowledge. Knowing how and where to invest isn’t an instinct we’re born with, but takes time and effort. If you’re wondering where you currently stand with financial literacy, consider taking the investor quiz at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).2

Investors tend to fall into various personality types. According to psychologists who study financial psychology, financial personality types can run the gamut from hoarder to social value spender to the ostrich (i.e., the proverbial “head in the sand”).To help counteract any obstacles that may be driven by your financial personality, one strategy is to focus on your goals. We may have very tangible components that influence our financial goals, such as the timeline for needing specific funds, the amount we’ll need and our personal tolerance for market risk. These three factors are instrumental in determining where and how to invest your money.4

When it comes to investing with the goal of creating retirement income, designing your retirement plan may become even more complex. Not only should we take into consideration our household budget and all the travel, philanthropic and expensive items on our bucket list, but we also must weigh the potential impact of additional factors, such as:

  • How long we expect to live
  • How long we expect our spouse to live
  • Whether or not our children or grandchildren might need financial help
  • Whether we’ll experience significant health care expenses
  • Whether we’ll need full- or part-time assistance as we age

The point is, even if we are natural savers, ongoing students of financial education, experienced investors or obsessive planners, there are still plenty of unknowns that can potentially knock us off course.

But the more we know, the better prepared we can be.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Martha C. While. Money. April 8, 2016. “Blame Your Brothers and Sisters for Making You Messed-Up About Money.” http://time.com/money/4279788/siblings-money-attitudes/. Accessed Aug. 18, 2017.
FINRA. 2017. “Investor Knowledge Quiz.” http://www.finra.org/investors/investor-knowledge-quiz. Accessed Aug. 18, 2017.
3 Naomi Rovnick. Financial Times. Jan. 12, 2017. “Six financial personality types — which one are you?” https://www.ft.com/content/5e8da24c-bb09-11e6-8b45-b8b81dd5d080. Accessed Aug. 18, 2017.
4 Michael Finke. ThinkAdvisor. July 3, 2017. “What’s the Point of Investing?” http://www.thinkadvisor.com/2017/07/03/whats-the-point-of-investing?slreturn=1503255710&page_all=1. Accessed Aug. 18, 2017.

This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial advice. All investments are subject to risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Monitoring Insurance Needs Is a Good Policy

Life insurance is something you purchase, then hopefully don’t need to use until many years down the road. But that doesn’t mean you should stop paying attention to it. As you age, it’s important to monitor the policies you own.

Some policies may no longer be needed, while others may be needed now more than ever. It’s a matter of evaluating your personal situation as you move through life. Since insurance is meant to help protect us from major financial loss, it’s important to continually assess how our goals and needs change over time, and determine if our insurance coverage is aligned with them.1

If it’s time for you to get a customized insurance review, please give us a call.

Many people may assume they no longer need life insurance during retirement. For some, this may be true. Once children are out on their own, retirees who feel they have saved enough to provide income for both spouse’s lifetimes are likely to drop their policies.However, before making this decision, it’s important to review your retirement and legacy goals. Some people decide to keep life insurance during retirement in order to provide a tax-free death benefit for their beneficiaries when they die. This can free up other assets for use in retirement without concerns about whether they will have money to leave to their children.

For large estates, policy owners may use life insurance proceeds to help pay state and federal inheritance taxes. Still others may want life insurance to provide the surviving spouse with additional funds for unexpected expenses.3

In some cases, it may be appropriate for retirees to purchase life insurance for the death benefit, as well as a complementary strategy for additional retirement income. Some permanent life insurance policies offer a cash value account that grows over time and can be used to supplement retirement income, typically through the use of policy loans. At the same time, the policy can provide tax-advantaged proceeds to help protect loved ones upon the owner’s death.Please note that policy loans and withdrawals will reduce the available cash value and death benefit.

Retirees who stop paying premiums for policies they determine they no longer need can use that excess money to help pay for the policies they may need during retirement, such as long-term care insurance.5 This is even true of policies we often take for granted, such as homeowners and auto insurance. If you downsize to a less expensive home, your homeowners premium will likely drop as well. If you downsize to one car or, eventually, no car at all, you can free up extra cash, which can help defray any new transportation costs.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Lisa Brown. Kiplinger. June 2017. “Rethink These 3 Financial Strategies Every Decade (or sooner!)” http://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T023-C032-S014-rethink-these-3-financial-strategies-every-decade.html. Accessed Aug. 20, 2017.
2 Tim Grant. Times-Union. Aug. 12, 2017. “Rethink dropping life insurance.” http://www.timesunion.com/business/article/Rethink-dropping-life-insurance-11813300.php. Accessed Aug. 20, 2017.
3 Cheryl Winokur Munk. The Wall Street Journal. July 5, 2017. “Should Retirees Have Life Insurance?” https://www.wsj.com/articles/should-retirees-have-life-insurance-1499261075?utm_campaign=Q32017%20Thought%20Leadership. Accessed Aug. 20, 2017.
4 Jacob Alphin. Forbes. May 11, 2017. “How To Use Life Insurance In Your Retirement Planning.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesfinancecouncil/2017/05/11/how-to-use-life-insurance-in-your-retirement-planning/#85e67b469cff. Accessed Aug. 20, 2017.
5 Jennifer Fitzgerald. Betterment. March 3, 2016. “3 Important Types of Insurance to Have When Preparing for Retirement.” https://www.betterment.com/resources/retirement/planning-ahead/3-important-types-of-insurance-when-preparing-for-retirement/. Accessed Aug. 20, 2017.

Life insurance policies are contracts between you and an insurance company. Life insurance product guarantees rely on the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurer. If properly structured, proceeds from life insurance are generally income tax free.

 We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives.This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Live Long or Prosper? How Retirees can do Both.

Some retirees underspend throughout their golden years, sacrificing quality of life to assure they don’t outlive their income. Others resist their desire to be philanthropic because of concerns that donations could leave them short on money down the road.1

A market downturn during the early years of retirement can be one of the biggest risks of running out of money. This may seem incongruous, since the earlier a downturn happens, the more time a portfolio has to recover. However, early loss of principal combined with steady withdrawals can lead to a challenging financial situation.

One common form of financial stability used to come in through a company pension plan. When combined with Social Security benefits, pensions gave retirees an idea of how much they could spend each month for the rest of their life.

Social Security is expected to be in good shape for the next 15+ years, but pensions are quickly becoming a thing of the past.2 If you don’t have or expect a pension when you retire, consider learning how you can create a steady and reliable income stream using an annuity from an insurance company. Annuities can help enhance quality of life throughout retirement by providing a similar sense of financial confidence that pensions once offered.

Annuities are insurance products that may be subject to fees, surrender charges and holding periods which vary by company. Annuities are not a deposit of, nor are they insured by, any bank, the FDIC, NCUA or by any federal government agency. Guarantees and protections provided by insurance products including annuities are backed by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurer.

1 Bruce S. Udell. Kiplinger. January 2017. “Why Retirees Aren’t Enjoying Their Wealth.” http://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T003-C032-S014-why-retirees-aren-t-enjoying-their-wealth.html. Accessed Feb. 8, 2017.

2 Carolyn Colvin. Social Security Administration. “Social Security Funded Until 2034, and About Three-Quarters Funded for the Long Term.” http://blog.ssa.gov/social-security-funded-until-2034-and-about-three-quarters-funded-for-the-long-term-many-options-to-address-the-long-term-shortfall/. Accessed Feb. 27, 2017.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications & Advisors Excel. We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

Strategies for Early Retirement

Many people find they have to retire earlier than planned, often for health reasons or due to layoffs, and need to figure out how to make their retirement savings last.1 That’s why it’s important to determine the base amount of income you’ll need to live during retirement; examine your expenses and determine what is a necessity and what can be cut out. Be sure to also factor in possible health care needs.

Bear in mind that one retiree might fall short of a financial goal that another would consider a windfall, so determining what you can live on is completely subjective. Many people can live on less; the question is: How much less?

Next, estimate how long you (and your spouse) might live. You can find longevity calculators online, including the Social Security Administration’s at www.ssa.gov/oact/population/longevity.html.2 Then factor in the amount you’re scheduled to receive from Social Security; you can find that out by establishing an account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount.3

Once you’ve determined your Social Security benefit, along with any pension money you’ll receive, subtract that amount from the annual income you need. This will determine how much you need to withdraw each year from personal savings, such as a 401(k). To the extent you can limit withdrawals early on, either by getting part-time work or reducing living expenses, the longer your money can last.

Here are some potential strategies to help effectively utilize the retirement assets available to you:

  1. Convert to Lifetime Income – A retiree might consider using a portion of his or her savings to buy an immediate annuity. This irrevocable purchase exchanges a lump sum for a lifetime stream of fixed income guaranteed by an insurance company.
  2. Pay off Debt – If a homeowner is paying a mortgage after retirement, he or she might consider selling the home and using the proceeds to buy a less-expensive residence outright.
  3. Share Assets – Another option is for a homeowner to rent out space to help pay the mortgage and utilities, or to provide income if the house is already paid for.
  4. Apply for Benefits – Some people who are forced to retire due to poor health may qualify for Social Security disability benefits; learn how to apply at ssa.gov/disabilityssi.4

We can help you determine your income needs in retirement and work with you to create strategies through the use of insurance products to help you work toward your long-term retirement income goals – just give us a call.

Annuity guarantees are backed by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company. Annuities are insurance products that may be subject to fees, surrender charges and holding periods which vary by insurance company. Annuities are not FDIC insured.

We are able to provide you with information but not guidance or advice related to Social Security benefits. Our firm is not affiliated with the U.S. government or any governmental agency.

1 Marlene Y. Satter. BenefitsPRO. Dec. 4, 2017. “What is forcing workers to retire earlier than they planned? http://www.benefitspro.com/2015/12/04/what-is-forcing-workers-to-retire-earlier-than-the. Accessed June 22, 2017.

2 Social Security Administration. “Retirement & Survivors Benefits: Life Expectancy Calculator.” https://www.ssa.gov/oact/population/longevity.html. Accessed June 22, 2017.

3 Social Security Administration. https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/. Accessed June 22, 2017.

4 Social Security Administration. “Disability Benefits.” https://www.ssa.gov/disabilityssi/. Accessed June 22, 2017.

Content provided by Kara Stefan Communications and Advisors Excel.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

Retirement Matters 

If you’re wondering how much of a Social Security payout you may receive, one number to keep in mind is 35.

Your benefit is based on your 35 highest years of earnings. If you work less than 35 years, the calculation uses zero for your annual income in the years you’re short. Here is an article that provides a description of how Social Security benefits are calculated.1

Social Security benefits were established during the Great Depression to help ensure Americans would not retire in poverty.2 However, they’re not meant to be the “end-all” retirement income plan. If you haven’t taken a good, hard look at all of the savings and assets that you’ve acquired to create a financial strategy for retirement, that’s where we can help. We can help identify potential retirement income gaps and create a financial strategy using a variety of investment and insurance products to help you pursue your financial goals.

It’s also important to assess your current financial strategy and determine what assets to draw from first, particularly in light of their tax status during retirement and the option to delay taking Social Security to potentially optimize your benefit. You should talk to a financial advisor and tax advisor about how to create a tax-efficient retirement income withdrawal strategy.

A common mistake in retirement planning is underestimating your life expectancy — maybe based on your parents’ or grandparents’ age — and not saving as much as you need. However, it’s more likely for people to live longer than previous generations, and also have higher medical bills.3 Even if one spouse dies young, it doesn’t mean the other won’t live late into their 90s.

Women who took time out of the workforce to care for dependents can be particularly vulnerable during retirement. One recent study found that, in a 10-year break early in their career, the shortage of contributions to Social Security and a retirement plan could result in a loss of up to $1.3 million in retirement savings.4

You also should consider the impact of inflation throughout retirement. Even though the inflation rate has been low in recent years, it can still make an impact over the long term. For example, an average 2 percent inflation rate over a 20-year timeframe can reduce the buying power of a dollar to just 67 cents.5

Also investigate the investment fees associated with your retirement account, as they can have a tremendous impact. A recent analysis revealed that many teachers who invested in 403(b) retirement plans could have account balances 20 to 50 percent higher had they invested in lower-cost holdings over their savings period.6

The same issues can be found with company-sponsored 401(k) plans. A plan that offers funds from only one fund family may not give you enough choices. It is also important to understand the fees you are paying.7

Our firm is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any governmental agency and does not provide tax or legal advice.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications. 

Squared-Away Blog. Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Oct. 20, 2016. “Your Social Security: 35 Years of Work.” http://squaredawayblog.bc.edu/squared-away/your-social-security-35-years-of-work/. Accessed Oct 23, 2016.
2 Ibid.
3 Jeff Brown. U.S. News & World Report. Aug. 3, 2016. “What’s Your Plan B for Retirement?” http://money.usnews.com/investing/articles/2016-08-03/whats-your-plan-b-for-retirement. Accessed Oct. 23, 2016.
4 Financial Planning. Oct. 9, 2016. “How retired clients can deal with small COLA: Retirement Scan.” http://www.financial-planning.com/news/how-retired-clients-can-deal-with-small-cola-retirement-scan. Accessed Oct. 23, 2016.
5 Jeff Brown. U.S. News & World Report. Oct. 13, 2016. “Pros and Cons in Investing with TIPS.” http://money.usnews.com/investing/articles/2016-10-13/pros-and-cons-in-investing-with-tips. Accessed Oct. 23, 2016.
6 Tara Siegel Bernard. The New York Times. Oct. 21, 2016. “Think Your Retirement Plan Is Bad? Talk to a Teacher.” http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/23/your-money/403-b-retirement-plans-fees-teachers.html?_r=0. Accessed Oct. 23, 2016.
7 Jill Cornfield. Bankrate.com. Sept. 27, 2016. “Q&A: Fees and Your Retirement Plan.” http://www.bankrate.com/one-to-million/qa-fees-and-your-retirement-plan/. Accessed Oct. 23, 2016.

This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial advice. All investments are subject to risk including the complete loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. 

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference. 

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Retiring Takes Effort 

The first things that come to mind when thinking about retirement may be rest and relaxation, but before you reach that point, you need a financial strategy that can support your post-career plans.

A recent study found many current retirees are worried about just making day-to-day expenses:1

  • The median annual income for married retirees is $48,000; $19,000 for singles
  • 25% of today’s retirees are still paying off credit card debt
  • 60% retired sooner than expected, typically due to downsizing or other employment-related reasons or health issues

Even if you are sufficiently prepared for retirement, it’s good to establish a budget and stick to it. The Employee Benefit Research Institute recently found that nearly half of households spend more money in the first two years of retirement than they did while they were still employed.2

It’s important to recognize that retirement is much like your career — you get out of it what you put into it. That goes for both your finances and your enjoyment. Being financially prepared for retirement means more than just having enough income, you also need to plan for unexpected expenses, potentially large health care bills and the possibility of long-term care.3

We’re here to help you create a financial strategy to help you feel confident that these types of expenses won’t prevent you from living your preferred retirement lifestyle.

But let’s talk about something other than financial preparedness for just a moment. Keeping in mind that people live longer — but not necessarily healthier — lives these days, have you thought about what you’ll do on a day-to-day basis during retirement? Without a “lifestyle plan,” many retirees sink into a state of isolation, lack of mobility and bad habits.

Some people think, “I’m doing nothing but playing golf when I retire” — an admirable goal indeed. But if you eventually grow tired of walking the course five to seven days a week, it’s good to have fallback options to fill your schedule. Here’s a possible idea: Most community colleges offer courses for retirees, so why not go back to school and study something you’ve always been interested in? Not only will you engage your mind, you’re likely to meet other retirees who share your interests. Maybe team up and start an “encore career.”4

In Australia, a nonprofit organization started an initiative called the “Men’s Shed,” a place where retired men show up every day to drink coffee, debate the issues and work on community projects.5

There are plenty of occupations and hobbies out there that let you work on what you enjoy, without the constraints of working 40 hours a week. Whether you’re already retired or getting ready for it, just remember that what you put into retirement is often what you’ll get out of it.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. April 2016. “The Current State of Retirement: A Compendium of Findings about American Retirees.” http://www.transamericacenter.org/docs/default-source/retirees-survey/tcrs2016_sr_retiree_compendium.pdf. Accessed Sept. 29, 2016.
2 Tanisha A. Sykes. USA Today. Sept. 28, 2016. “More free time could mean risky spending for new retirees.” http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2016/09/28/spending-overspending-new-retirees-free-time/90498760/. Accessed Sept. 29, 2016.
Emily Zulz. ThinkAdvisor. Oct. 3, 2016. “Morningstar’s ‘Must-Know’ Stats About Long-Term Care.” http://www.thinkadvisor.com/2016/10/03/morningstars-must-know-stats-about-long-term-care. Accessed Oct. 11, 2016.
4 Knowledge@Wharton. Jan. 14, 2016. “The Retirement Problem: What Will You Do with All That Time?” http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/the-retirement-problem-what-will-you-do-with-all-that-time/. Accessed Sept. 29, 2016.
Gavin Fisher. CBC News. March 17, 2016. “Kelowna’s ‘Men’s Shed’ replaces isolation with purpose in retirement.” http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/kelowna-s-men-s-shed-replaces-isolation-with-purpose-in-retirement-1.3496600. Accessed Sept. 29, 2016.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial advice. All investments are subject to risk including the complete loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. 

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Assessing Risk in Retirement Income

When it comes to investing, there’s no such thing as a “safe bet.” Every type of financial vehicle has some level of risk, even checking and savings accounts. Back in the 1920s, people believed that the safest place to keep their money was a bank, and they were right. But as they witnessed during the Great Depression, even those assets were not 100 percent safe. Bank runs caused banks to deplete their cash holdings, and they had to call in loans and liquidate assets to try to keep up with withdrawal demands, which subsequently led to bank failures.1 In response, the government created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which insures deposits up to $250,000 per depositor, per FDIC-insured bank, per ownership category.2

Throughout history, bank deposit accounts have generally been considered the safest place to keep assets. However, today’s longer lifespans illustrate that risk takes many forms, including the potential risk of outliving your money if you don’t save enough, have a well-diversified financial portfolio to help outpace inflation and seek out multiple sources for reliable income streams. We can recommend a variety of strategies to help retirees pursue each of these goals, based on individual circumstances. Give us a call, and let’s discuss your options

Consider even Social Security. The agency projects that by 2034, its Trust Fund will be reduced to the point where it can pay out only 74 percent of promised benefits to retirees. While it’s unlikely this safety net will collapse, Congress will need to take steps to keep the fund fully solvent.3

However, individuals who invest in 401(k)s should be aware that even if their company closes or goes bankrupt, vested 401(k) assets belong to the account owner; the employer or the employer’s creditors can’t touch them.4

Another factor that can potentially affect your retirement assets is the impact long-term inflation can have on cost of living expenses for people who spend 20 to 30 years or more in retirement. Inflation has remained low for many years, and some market experts believe that, as a result, many investors are not well-prepared for a resurgence of inflation.5

With the knowledge that investing offers the possibility of growth but also the risk of loss, it’s a good idea to consider working with a financial advisor to help tailor a financial portfolio to your specific goals, timeline and tolerance for different types of risk. Your financial advisor may also suggest annuities, and although they are not investments, some annuity contracts credit interest earnings that are linked to the performance of an external market index. These types of annuities, often referred to as fixed index annuities, offer a combination of higher interest growth potential and guaranteed income. The guarantees are backed by the insurance company so it’s important to check out the credit rating and financial strength and experience of the issuing insurer.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 History.com. “Bank Run.” http://www.history.com/topics/bank-run. Accessed Aug. 6, 2017.

2 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. June 3, 2014. “Deposit Insurance FAQs.” https://www.fdic.gov/deposit/deposits/faq.html. Accessed August 15, 2017.

3 Chris Farrell. Forbes/Next Avenue. June 24, 2016. “The Truth About Social Security’s Solvency And You.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2016/06/24/the-truth-about-social-securitys-solvency-and-you/#2590b10b2199. Accessed Aug. 14, 2017.

4 Dana Anspach. The Balance. Nov. 22, 2016. “If My Company Closes, What Happens to My 401k?” https://www.thebalance.com/if-my-company-closes-what-happens-to-my-401k-2388225. Accessed Aug. 14, 2017.

Rebecca Ungarino. CNBC. Aug. 5, 2017. “Inflation isn’t stirring, but still the biggest risk to investors even as it’s ‘least apparent’: Brown Brothers.” https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/05/with-inflation-dormant-investors-downplay-risks-to-the-economy.html. Accessed Aug. 6, 2017.

Investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal. Any references to reliable income generally refer to fixed insurance products, never securities or investment products. Annuities are insurance products that may be subject to fees, surrender charges and holding periods which vary by company. Annuities are not a deposit of nor are they insured by any bank, the FDIC, NCUA, or by any federal government agency. Annuities are designed for retirement or other long-term needs.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Income Strategies for an 8,000-Day Retirement

By 2030, it’s estimated that 20 percent of the U.S. population will be over age 65.1 That means a fifth of all Americans will be on the fringe of retirement or already retired, a milestone that’s generally perceived to come late in life. But consider this, there are approximately 8,000 days in today’s average retirement. That’s approximately the same number of days from:2

  • Birth to college graduation
  • College graduation to mid-life crisis
  • Mid-life crisis to retirement

Eight thousand days translates to about 22 years. That may seem long for retirement, but it’s actually quite common these days: Retire at 65 and live to 87; retire at 70 and live to 92; retire at 80 and live to 102. More people are doing this all the time.3

If you are fortunate enough to enjoy 8,000 days of retirement, you’ll need plenty of retirement savings accumulated to make it last. For many people, that may not happen. Some young people don’t save enough because they struggle to make ends meet. People in their 40s might splurge on a sporty convertible or have unexpected expenses for a family member.

Sometimes the bulk of retirement saving gets crammed into those 8,000 days between mid-life and retirement. If this scenario sounds familiar, note that we have experience working with clients who are in similar situations. One of the keys is to use today’s retirement income strategies and financial vehicles to help maximize your assets for long-term financial confidence. We can use a variety of investment and insurance products to customize a financial strategy for your unique situation.

One possible strategy to help with the concern of outliving your retirement income may be to delay starting Social Security benefits.4 For example, an economist at Boston University demonstrated a scenario in which a 66-year-old retiree begins withdrawing income from his 401(k)/IRA account while delaying Social Security until age 70. His calculations show that this strategy would yield a higher income throughout retirement than if the retiree started pulling from all income sources at full retirement age.5

Also remember that the concept of 8,000 days is a middling number. Roughly, half of retirees will die before 8,000 days and half live longer. Annuities can be an option for people who want to help ensure a portion of their retirement income will be guaranteed. An annuity is an insurance contract that can provide long-term retirement income to help protect you against longevity risk, such as a retirement spanning two decades or more.

It’s important to understand there are several different types of annuities, and they don’t all work the same way. They may offer various features; such as payout options, death benefits and potential income for your spouse. Some can offer guaranteed income (a fixed annuity) while others offer an income stream that relies on the performance of the investments you choose (a variable annuity). There may be tradeoffs for these features, like additional fees or lower income payouts.6 A financial professional can help you understand which type of annuity suits your financial needs.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications

1 Richard Eisenberg. Forbes. May 9, 2017. “Why Isn’t Business Preparing More for The Future of Aging?” https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2017/05/09/why-isnt-business-preparing-more-for-the-future-of-aging/#108dfd522dec. Accessed July 31, 2017.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Mark Miller. The New York Times. Feb. 18, 2017. “How to Make Your Money Last as Long as

You Do.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/18/your-money/retiring-longevity-planning-social-security.html. Accessed July 31, 2017.

5 Laurence Kotlikoff. Dallas News. May 5, 2017. “Which should you take first: Social Security or your 401(k)?” https://www.dallasnews.com/business/personal-finance/2017/05/05/take-first-social-security-401k. Accessed July 31, 2017.

6 CNN. 2017. “What is an annuity?” http://money.cnn.com/retirement/guide/annuities_basics.moneymag/index.htm. Accessed July 31, 2017.

 The hypothetical example provided is for illustrative purposes only; it does not represent a real life scenario, and should not be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation. We are able to provide you with information but not guidance or advice related to Social Security benefits. Our firm is not affiliated with the U.S. government or any governmental agency.

Insurance and annuity product guarantees are backed by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company. Annuities are insurance products that may be subject to fees, surrender charges and holding periods which vary by company. Annuities are not a deposit of nor are they insured by any bank, the FDIC, NCUA, or by any federal government agency. Annuities are designed for retirement or other long-term needs.

 This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial advice. All investments are subject to risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. 

 The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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