Tax-Deferred or Tax-Exempt? Potential Benefits to Having Both

Over the years, you may have heard it’s good to have different “kinds” of money as you head into retirement. A financial advisor may recommend a combination of tax-deferred and tax-exempt financial products, diversifying your money to help take advantage of the tax benefits both types of products provide.

What many people don’t understand, however, is why it’s important to take advantage of the different types of financial products available. What are the potential benefits of utilizing both tax-deferred and tax-exempt products? First, let’s take a look at the difference between the two.

A tax-deferred financial product means simply that: You owe taxes on the money, but those taxes have been deferred or pushed back. You haven’t paid any taxes on the contributions or the growth that’s occurred over the life of the product. When you take money out of it, those distributions are 100 percent taxable at ordinary income rates.1 Withdrawals taken prior to age 59 1/2 may also be subject to an additional 10 percent federal tax.

What types of financial products are tax-deferred? A 401(k), 403(b) or traditional IRA are all examples of tax-deferred investment products. Growth in some types of annuities or life insurance policies may also be tax-deferred.2

Tax-exempt means no taxes are owed on qualified distributions made from the financial product. A Roth IRA or Roth 401(k) is a good example of a tax-exempt account. Contributions to a Roth are made with money that’s already been taxed.3

So why can it be beneficial to have a mix of tax-deferred and tax-exempt financial products in your financial strategy? Mostly, it gives you flexibility in how you take distributions during your retirement. For example, you might use distributions from tax-deferred products to pay for your fixed expenses every month. If you have expenses that are outside of your “normal” spending — such as a vacation or a large purchase — you could use money from a tax-exempt product and not incur a taxable event.

While it could be tempting to go heavy in tax-exempt financial products when you’re establishing a financial strategy, using a tax-deferred product may put more money in your pocket in the long run. Many people are in a lower tax bracket during their retirement years. If that is the case, you may pay less taxes on distributions during retirement than if you were paying taxes on your contributions up front while still working.4

What’s the right mix of tax-deferred and tax-exempt financial products for you? Every situation is unique. If you’re not sure what types of financial products you should be using, give us a call. We can look at your existing financial strategy and make recommendations based on your specific circumstances. We can also help you determine if life insurance and annuities could play a part in your tax-efficient strategy. Our mission is to help you plan for the best retirement possible.

Content prepared by Amy Ragland

1 The Balance. “What is a Tax-Deferred Investment Account?” https://www.thebalance.com/tax-deferred-savings-account-and-investments-2388988. Accessed May 31, 2017.

2 Prudential. “Tax Strategies: Tax-Deferred Annuities.” http://www.prudential.com/view/page/public/12609?param=12624. Accessed June 1, 2017.

3 Teresa Mears. U.S. News & World Report. Dec. 19, 2014. “7 Retirement Savings Accounts You Should Consider.” http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2014/12/19/7-retirement-savings-accounts-you-should-consider. Accessed May 31, 2017.

4 Arthur Pinkasovitch. Investopedia. “Retirement Savings: Tax-Deferred or Tax-Exempt?” Updated April 5, 2017. http://www.investopedia.com/articles/taxes/11/tax-deferred-tax-exempt.asp. Accessed May 31, 2017.

We are not permitted to offer, and no statement contained herein shall constitute, tax or legal advice. Individuals are encouraged to consult with a qualified professional before making any decisions about their personal situation.

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 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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How to Help Avoid Struggling with Caregiver Burnout

Serving as a caregiver for a loved one can be a wonderful thing. It often allows ill or disabled individuals to remain in their own home, surrounded by familiar surroundings. However, it can often take a toll on the person providing care, and can sometimes lead to the caregiver feeling depleted or exhausted. This feeling is commonly known as caregiver burnout.1

The National Alliance for Caregiving reported an estimated 43.5 million adults provided care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged loved one in 2014. The organization also reported the average caregiver spends nearly 25 hours per week providing assistance, the equivalent of a part-time job.2

While being a caregiver can be rewarding, it can also be emotionally, physically and mentally taxing. Burnout tends to happen when the caregiver neglects his or her own needs — often without realizing it’s happening.

If you are providing care for an ill or disabled loved one, it’s important to recognize the symptoms of burnout in the early stages. The ALS Association reports some of these patterns as signs of burnout for caregivers:3

  • Irritability and impatience
  • Overreacting to small things or comments made by others
  • Problems sleeping
  • Abuse of food, tobacco, drugs or alcohol
  • Feelings of isolation, alienation or resentment
  • Increasing levels of stress

The time and money dedicated to helping someone else can also be a drain on the caregiver. While retirees in particular may feel they have the time available to take care of a friend in need, it’s important they consider how that kind of time commitment could affect their own energy levels and financial resources.

How do you avoid caregiver burnout? Here are five suggestions from the Caregiver Action Network:4

  1. Seek support. Providing care can be isolating. Reach out to family and friends, and tell them exactly what you need. Many of them want to help, but they aren’t sure how. Also explore online options. The AARP provides a list of resources for caregivers,5 including online communities where people can share experiences.
  2. Take breaks. Letting someone else provide care can be difficult, since others don’t do things quite the same way and it might be challenging for the person receiving care to adjust to someone new. Taking a break, however, is important for both mental and physical respite.
  3. Don’t neglect your own health. It might take some creativity, but find ways to work in activity, even if it’s taking a 15-minute walk. Pay attention to your own nutrition. Try not to let go of all the things that bolster your mental health; it can be easy to neglect your own hobbies and interests.
  4. Get the paperwork in order. Organize medical records, legal paperwork and other items so they’re easy to find. Introduce yourself to your loved one’s lawyer, accountant, financial professional and other service providers. Provide them with a copy of a power of attorney so you can have access to records if needed. If you have questions about how taking the time to care for someone else could affect you financially, don’t hesitate to reach out to your financial professional.
  5. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Caregiving is a tough job. Recognizing that you also have physical, mental and emotional needs will help you avoid burnout and continue to provide the best care to your loved one.

Content prepared by Amy Ragland.

 1 Senior Helpers. “Caregiver Burnout.” http://www.seniorhelpers.com/resources/family-caregiver-burnout.  Accessed May 21, 2017.

2 National Alliance for Caregiving in Collaboration with AARP. June 2015. Pages 6 and 33. “Caregiving in the U.S. 2015.” http://www.caregiving.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/2015_CaregivingintheUS_Final-Report-June-4_WEB.pdf. Accessed May 21, 2017.

3 ALS Association. “Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout.” http://www.alsa.org/als-care/caregivers/caregivers-month/symptoms-of-caregiver-burnout.html. Accessed May 21, 2017.

4 Caregiver Action Network. “10 Tips for Family Caregivers.” http://caregiveraction.org/resources/10-tips-family-caregivers. Accessed May 21, 2017.

5 AARP. “Resources Caregivers Should Know About.” http://www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving/info-08-2012/important-resources-for-caregivers.html. Accessed May 21, 2017.

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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Preventing Elderly Financial Abuse

A recent study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College concluded that many retirees who do not suffer from any cognitive impairment can still manage their money through their 70s and 80s.1 The study reports that financial capacity relies on accumulated knowledge and that knowledge stays mostly intact as we age.

However, the study points out that it generally is not a good idea to start managing financial decisions in your late 70s and 80s if you haven’t had experience doing this before — such as after the death of a spouse who handled the finances.2 We work closely with our clients to help them develop financial strategies designed to last a lifetime, with the goal of reducing the need to make dramatic financial changes later in life. However, we are here to address any questions or concerns of our clients no matter what stage of their financial planning. Please give us a call; we’re here to help.

Having a plan for late-stage financial management is important due to the increase in elderly financial fraud. With more than 45 million seniors in America, this is a large and tempting market for scammers. One study estimated that about 5 million older Americans are financially exploited each year. In New York state alone, allegations of elderly financial abuse spiked by more than 35 percent between 2010 and 2014.3

In response to this growing problem, several government regulatory agencies have stepped up efforts to help prevent and address elder financial abuse, including the following:

  • The SEC requires brokers to make “reasonable efforts” to identify a “trusted contact” for investment accounts and allows them to prevent the disbursement of funds from the account and notify the trusted contact if the broker suspects abuse.4
  • The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA, set up a senior help line at 844-57-HELPS (844-574-3577)5
  • In 2016, four state legislatures approved a rule requiring advisors to notify adult protective services and state regulators if they detect abuse; 10 more states are expected to adopt similar rules this year, and three other states already had such rules in place.6

According to the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, some of the most common ways the elderly are taken advantage of financially are: forging their signature; getting them to sign a deed, will or power of attorney through deception, coercion or undue influence; using their property or possessions without permission; and telemarketing scams. Some of the most likely perpetrators of elder financial abuse are: family members; predatory people who seek out vulnerable seniors; and unscrupulous business professionals.7 If you believe you are a victim of fraud, contact your local law enforcement, state agency on aging and/or a community senior services group.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Anek Belbase and Geoffrey T. Sanzenbacher. Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. January 2017. “Cognitive Aging and the Capacity to Manage Money.” http://crr.bc.edu/briefs/cognitive-aging-and-the-capacity-to-manage-money/. Accessed June 22, 2017.

2 Ibid.

3 Christine Idzelis. Investment News. April 23, 2017. “Advisers on front lines in battle against financial abuse of the elderly.”  http://www.investmentnews.com/article/20170403/FEATURE/170339977. Accessed June 22, 2017.

4 Mark Schoeff Jr. Investment News. April 3, 2017. “Advisers taking steps to protect elderly.” http://www.investmentnews.com/article/20170403/FREE/170339979?utm_campaign=socialflow&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social. Accessed June 22, 2017.

5 FINRA. “FINRA Securities Helpline for Seniors.” http://www.finra.org/investors/highlights/finra-securities-helpline-seniors. Accessed June 22, 2017.

6 Mark Schoeff Jr. Investment News. April 3, 2017. “Advisers taking steps to protect elderly.” http://www.investmentnews.com/article/20170403/FREE/170339979?utm_campaign=socialflow&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social. Accessed June 22, 2017.

7 National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse. “Financial Abuse.” http://www.preventelderabuse.org/elderabuse/fin_abuse.html. Accessed June 22, 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. 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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Tips for Bargain Hunters

For many of us, retirement means living on a fixed income, and that often means making a budget and watching expenses. One way to help stay on budget is to shop for the best prices on items that fall within our discretionary income budget.

According to Consumer Reports, even though consumers can now buy just about anything they want online at any time of the year, deep discounts for many products still tend to be seasonal.1 For example, the best time to buy summer clothes is halfway through the summer, when stores cut prices to move inventory and make room for the next season’s stock.2

The following list from Consumer Reports details the best months for buying certain consumer items.3

  • January — bathroom scales, ellipticals, linens and sheets, treadmills, TVs, winter sports gear and clothing
  • February — humidifiers, mattresses, winter sports gear and coats
  • March — boxed chocolates, digital cameras, ellipticals, humidifiers and treadmills
  • April — carpet, desktop and laptop computers and digital cameras
  • May — baby high chairs, desktop and laptop computers, interior and exterior paints, mattresses, strollers and wood stains
  • June — camcorders, ellipticals, indoor furniture, summer sports gear and treadmills
  • July — camcorders, decking, exterior and interior paint, siding, summer clothing and wood stains
  • August — air conditioners, backpacks and back-to-school goods, dehumidifiers, outdoor furniture and snow blowers
  • September — desktop and laptop computers, digital cameras, interior and exterior paint, lawn mowers and tractors, printers and snow blowers
  • October — desktop computers, digital cameras, gas grills, lawn mowers and tractors
  • November — camcorders, gas grills, GPS and TVs
  • December — Blu-Ray players, camcorders, e-book readers, gas grills, GPS, headphones, kitchen cookware, major appliances and TVs

According to US News & World Report, the best time to buy a car is not when you see all those ads on TV for Presidents Day, etc. Rather, the best months to shop for good deals are May, October, November and December. The best days to shop are Mondays, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.4

When it comes to holiday gift giving, some of the spoils go to those who procrastinate. If your gift list doesn’t include popular items that will sell out, waiting until the last 10 days before Christmas frequently can net the highest savings. Looking for holiday lights and decorations? The best time to shop is just after the big day, when you can stock up for next year at clearance prices.5

If you’re in the market to buy or sell a house, note that the best time for sellers to list a home is in May, when the supply of houses is tight, thus commanding the highest prices. The best time to buy is at summer’s end, when sellers are cutting house prices that have been on the market for several months.6

As for where to find the best bargains, you’re probably already familiar with local discount stores and volume warehouses. If you’re a member of Amazon Prime, be on the lookout for “Prime Day” each year when the online retailer drastically reduces prices on select items for 24 hours for Prime members. If you’re not an Amazon Prime member, “Prime Day” is the time to join because the annual membership fee is usually reduced as well.7

Of course, one of the best ways to stay on budget during retirement is to help ensure your income is ongoing and reliable, which is something we can help with. Give us a call so we can talk about how we can help you create strategies using a variety of insurance products to help you work toward your retirement income goals.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Consumer Reports. “Best Time to Buy Things.” http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/money/best-time-to-buy-things/index.htm. Accessed June 22, 2017.

2 Nikki Willhite. All Things Frugal. “Shopping the Seasonal Sales.” http://www.allthingsfrugal.com/s_sale.htm. Accessed June 22, 2017.

3 Consumer Reports. “Best Time to Buy Things.” http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/money/best-time-to-buy-things/index.htm. Accessed June 22, 2017.

4 Eric C. Evarts. US News & World Report. March 31, 2017. “6 Best Times to Buy a Car.” https://cars.usnews.com/cars-trucks/6-best-times-to-buy-a-car. Accessed June 22, 2017.

5 Denise Groene. The Wichita Eagle. June 16, 2017. “When is the best time to buy a grill, and other stuff.” http://www.kansas.com/news/business/biz-columns-blogs/article156570289.html. Accessed June 22, 2017.

6 Susie Gharib. Fortune. June 21, 2017. “Do’s and Don’ts for Buying and Selling a House.” http://fortune.com/2017/06/21/zillow-tips-for-buying-and-selling-a-house/. Accessed June 22, 2017.

7 Matt Swider. TechRadar. June 28, 2017. “Amazon Prime Day deals 2017 in the US: Find the best sales for July 11.” http://www.techradar.com/news/amazon-prime-day-2017-usa-when-is-it-and-how-can-you-find-the-best-deals. Accessed June 30, 2017.

Guarantees and protections provided by insurance products including annuities are backed by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurer.

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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Divorce During Retirement

A funny thing happens when you get busy with trying to achieve all the things you want out of life: You lose a few along the way. Unfortunately, some people lose their marriage.1 However, for those who are truly unhappy and can’t see a way back to blissful partnership, a “gray divorce” isn’t necessarily all negative. Even in retirement, leaving a spouse can open up new avenues to be explored, the chance to pursue activities perhaps not supported before and new opportunities to reinvent yourself.

With that said, you also must deal with a myriad of details when it comes to dividing assets to help ensure each ex-spouse has enough income to live comfortably during retirement. Just as it takes a village to raise children, it can take a team of experienced and qualified professionals to help you do this, from attorneys to financial advisors to tax planners and perhaps even a therapist. The goal is to emerge confident about your financial future, and we’re here to help both spouses on this journey should you need it.

When it comes to Social Security, there are certain rules that apply to benefits for a divorced spouse based on the ex’s earning history. For example, the marriage must have lasted for at least 10 years, the couple must be divorced for at least two years and the claiming ex must be currently unmarried – if the claimer gets remarried, the ex’s spousal benefits will stop. Furthermore, the ex-spouses must both be at least age 62 to begin drawing spousal benefits, and the spouse/divorcee must be full retirement age to be eligible for the full spousal benefit.2

Another important component to address is life insurance. If there are alimony payments involved, life insurance can help cover the loss of that income should the payer die first. Depending on their circumstances, divorcing couples may want to update their named beneficiaries on their respective policies. If a policy has a cash value, that money belongs to the owner. While the policy is active, the owner may forgo the death benefit and instead take the cash value, a process known as cashing out your life insurance policy.3

Research has found that divorce may be a reason why many people are working long past traditional retirement age.4 Because of this, it’s important to set aside animosity and work on an equitable agreement for both spouses’ retirement. Divorcing spouses should be cognizant that if one ends up struggling financially, their adult children may have to pick up the slack.5

 Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications

1 Linda Melone. Next Avenue. July 11, 2016. “Why Couples Divorce After Decades of Marriage.” http://www.nextavenue.org/slideshow/why-couples-divorce-after-decades-of-marriage/. Accessed June 6, 2017.

2 Social Security Administration. “Retirement Planner: If You Are Divorced.” https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/divspouse.html. Accessed June 6, 2017.

3 Greg DePersio. Investopedia. Nov. 25, 2015. “How Life Insurance Works in a Divorce.” http://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/112515/how-life-insurance-works-divorce.asp. Accessed June 6, 2017.

4 Ben Steverman. Bloomberg. Oct. 17, 2016. “Divorce Is Destroying Retirement.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-10-17/divorce-is-destroying-retirement. Accessed June 6, 2017.

5 Charlotte Cowles. The Cut. May 12, 2017. “My Mom Is Broke. How Can I Help Her?” https://www.thecut.com/2017/05/my-mom-is-bad-with-money-how-do-i-help-her.html. Accessed June 6, 2017.

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.

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.

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 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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Retirement: Loneliness Can Sneak Up on You

Even people who have spent a lot of time planning for retirement may encounter unexpected challenges once they’re in those golden years. They focus on retirement income planning, which is, of course, important and appropriate — and we can help you there. They also focus on things they want to do while they’re still in good health, such as traveling or playing pickleball. They look forward to spending more time with their spouse and good friends.

It can be quite joyful, but the less joyful realization often sets in when a spouse or a close friend passes away. That’s when many retirees truly understand they are facing the reality of their mortality. Apart from that, they’ve also lost a best friend and companion.1

Sometimes the pain of loss causes us to want to avoid that pain altogether, which can lead to an unwitting desire to isolate ourselves. Unfortunately, this can be particularly problematic during retirement, when people are less likely to have scheduled daily interaction with others outside the household.

Studies in the U.S. and Britain show the prevalence of loneliness among people older than 60 ranges from 10 percent to 46 percent.2 Additionally, people with low levels of social interaction can experience brain changes that cause them to see other human faces as threatening and, therefore, are less likely to seek social ties.3 It’s all kind of ironic, isn’t it? With so many people experiencing the same malady, you would hope we could find each other, since companionship would certainly help.

One social scientist — Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Oxford — summed it up with this observation: “It has become apparent in the last 10 years that the most important factor influencing your health, well-being, risk of falling ill, even your risk of dying and divorce is actually the size of your friend network.” His research shows bonding is strongest when endorphins are released, so he recommends that one way to strengthen friendships is by singing, dancing and working out with others.4

Retirement isolation is being studied from a number of different perspectives, particularly in housing. Although many retirees are reluctant to move to an assisted living facility, the longer they live, the more they will need help. Some have taken to moving into co-housing apartment buildings in which the tenants plan activities and support each other without all the rules and restrictions of a retirement home.5

We’re always happy to get together and chat with you about any retirement income planning questions you might have. Give us a call toll-free at 1-888-272-1099 if we can be of assistance and be sure to spend time with friends and family doing the activities you enjoy.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

 1 National Institute on Aging. July 2016. “Mourning the Death of a Spouse.” https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/mourning-death-spouse. Accessed May 28, 2017.

2 Katie Hafner. The New York Times. Sept. 5, 2016. “Researchers Confront an Epidemic of Loneliness.” https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/06/health/lonliness-aging-health-effects.html?_r=2. Accessed June 13, 2017.

3 Olga Khazan. The Atlantic. April 6, 2017. “How Loneliness Begets Loneliness.” https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/04/how-loneliness-begets-loneliness/521841/.

4 Aylin Woodward. Scientific American. May 1, 2017. “With a Little Help from My Friends.” https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/with-a-little-help-from-my-friends/?WT.mc_id=SA_TW_MB_NEWS. Accessed May 28, 2017.

5 Idil Mussa. CBC News. May 2, 2017. “Seniors in Ottawa look to co-housing to avoid isolation.” http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/seniors-in-ottawa-look-to-co-housing-to-avoid-isolation-as-they-age-1.4094267. Accessed May 28, 2017.

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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Checking Up on Health Care Expenses

If there’s one thing every adult demographic in America values, it’s maintaining good health.

People with medical conditions may be interested in topics like new medical technology, pharmacology or national changes to health care insurance. Meanwhile, those without serious medical issues want to know how they can stay that way, through nutrition, exercise, weight loss and preventive screenings. It’s a national conversation, and not one that’s likely to diminish any time soon.

The 6.5 percent growth rate in medical expenses has plateaued recently, according to business consulting firm PwC, but the company’s researchers see signs the rate will increase again in the near future.1

This isn’t just a reflection of the cost of health care insurance, but also the prices charged by facilities, physicians and specialists for the drugs and therapies necessary to treat medical conditions. Escalating health care usage and prices contribute to the increase of insurance premiums, deductibles, copays and coinsurance.2

Whether you’re working or retired, the issues of finances and health care are inextricably interwoven. You can’t really think or plan about one without considering the other. This is true whether you’re covered under employer-sponsored insurance, a plan from the individual market or a government-sponsored plan. As financial professionals, we work with clients in each of these situations to help ensure their retirement income plan takes into consideration current and potential medical expenses in the future. If you need help assessing your retirement income needs, please contact us for help.

Ultimately, the message the health care industry is promoting is that people need to take better care of themselves. They need to research and understand their health care options, and also work on improving their overall health now to prevent problems — and related expenses — in the future.

When it comes to individuals taking responsibility for their own health, there’s no need to wait for the government to step in and pass legislation. There’s plenty of knowledge available at our fingertips to help maintain health, from advice on healthy eating away from home3 to using diet to manage indigestion problems like acid reflux.4

For older Americans, taking on new fitness activities may be worrisome since they can increase the likelihood of injury. On the other hand, when done correctly, moderately and consistently, exercise can also help decrease the likelihood of injury.

Plus, it may be easier than you think to catch up on today’s fitness trends. Many are simply rejuvenated from the workouts of yesteryear.5 Like today’s trendy Pilates exercises, which were quite popular in the 1950s and 60s,6 one thing that will never go out of style is taking strides to maintain health.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications

 1 PwC. 2017. “Medical Cost Trend.” https://www.pwc.com/us/en/health-industries/health-research-institute/behind-the-numbers.html. Accessed May 5, 2017.

2 NBC News. Nov. 4, 2016. “Why Health Care Eats More Of Your Paycheck Every Year.” http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/why-health-care-eats-more-your-paycheck-every-year-n678051. Accessed May 5, 2017.

3 Harvard Medical School. 2017. “Tips for healthy eating away from home.” http://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/tips-for-healthy-eating-away-from-home. Accessed May 5, 2017.

4 Jane E. Brody. The New York Times. Mar. 20, 2017. “Pop a Pill for Heartburn? Try Diet and Exercise Instead.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/well/pop-a-pill-for-heartburn-try-diet-and-exercise-instead.html?_r=0. Accessed May 5, 2017.

5 Jessica Smith. Shape.com. 2017. “Then & Now: 7 Retro Workouts That Still Get Results.” http://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/then-now-7-retro-workouts-still-get-results. Accessed May 5, 2017.

6 Balanced Bodies. 2017. “Pilates Origins.” http://www.pilates.com/BBAPP/V/pilates/origins-of-pilates.html. Accessed May 5, 2017.

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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Taxes and Retirement Planning

The White House recently introduced what it billed the “biggest tax cut” in U.S. history. While a presidential tax proposal is not likely to get passed without significant changes, the fact that Republicans dominate both chambers of Congress suggests 2017 may well be a year in which significant tax reform is engineered.1

One thing should be perfectly clear: The U.S. tax code is highly complicated.2 There may not be anyone who understands it all off the top of their head. CPAs and tax professionals must conduct thorough due diligence to tailor strategies and complete returns for taxpayers with complex situations.

Because of this, we recommend our clients who require tax advice work directly with an experienced and qualified tax professional. However, we also believe financial and tax professionals should not work in a vacuum, and therefore are more than happy to work in concert with our clients’ tax advisors to help align their financial strategy with their tax situation.

This is particularly important when it comes to retirement planning, because you want to save as much as possible before you retire, which may include tax-deferred financial vehicles such as a 401(k) or IRA, but you don’t want to get hit with a big tax bill on untaxed earnings once you’re in retirement.3 This is a delicate balance that requires experience and collaboration from both a financial professional and a tax professional.

One tax issue each of us deals with is the federal income tax rate. Our annual earnings determine which federal tax bracket we land in, but that tax bracket isn’t the tax rate applied to our entire income. Instead, we pay every tax rate on income blocks up to our individual bracket. Like many things about filing taxes, this can be highly confusing for many people.

It may be easier to understand this through a hypothetical example. Let’s say Joe, who is single, had $92,000 of taxable income in 2016, which landed him in the 28 percent tax bracket. This is how his total tax is calculated:4

  • He pays 10% on the first $9,275 (tax of $927.50)
  • He pays 15% on the next $28,375 (tax of $4,256.25)
  • He pays 25% on the next $53,500 (tax of $13,375)
  • He pays 28% on the final $850 (tax of $238)
  • Total tax bill of $18,796.75

As you can see, Joe doesn’t pay 28 percent on the full amount of his taxable income; his taxable amount progresses through each income bracket and their respective tax rates until it reaches his total taxable income for the year. Therefore, a person who falls in the highest tax bracket is only paying that higher tax rate on a portion of his or her income.

This is an important distinction to remember as the U.S. works toward tax reform. On one hand, reducing the number of tax rates from seven to three (Trump’s proposal: 10 percent, 25 percent, 35 percent)5 looks to simplify tax filings, but for many people, this could mean paying a higher tax rate on larger blocks of income. Let’s take the hypothetical example of Joe again, using the same income brackets (to date, no tax rate income brackets have been proposed). Here’s how Joe’s scenario might break down:

  • He pays 10% on the first $9,275 (tax of $927.50)
  • He pays 25% on the next $81,875 (tax of $20,468.75)
  • He pays 35% on the final $850 (tax of $297.50)
  • Total tax bill of $21,693.75

This example simply illustrates how a progressive income tax works. Obviously, it doesn’t take into consideration credits and deductions, which vary substantially among taxpayers. Nor does it include payroll taxes.6

Federal income brackets and their respective tax rates are the most fundamental issues Americans are subject to when filing taxes. But as you can see, there’s nothing straightforward about them. This is worth remembering as tax reforms continue to be proposed and debated moving forward: Nothing concerning taxes is simple, and there are usually layers that impact us that the average layperson isn’t likely to see.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications

1 Fox News. April 26, 2017. “Mnuchin vows ‘biggest tax cut’ in US history, confirms plan to slash business rate.” http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/04/26/mnuchin-vows-biggest-tax-cut-in-us-history-confirms-plan-to-slash-corporate-rate.html. Accessed May 5, 2017.

2 Vanessa Williamson. The Atlantic. April 18, 2017. “How the Tax-Filing Process Confuses Americans about Tax Policy.” https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/04/paying-taxes-confusion-policy-1040/523287/. Accessed May 5, 2017.

3 Fidelity. March 1, 2017. “How to invest tax efficiently.” https://www.fidelity.com/viewpoints/investing-ideas/tax-strategy. Accessed May 5, 2017.

4 Tina Orem. Nerd Wallet. Sept. 8, 2016. “2016 Federal Income Tax Brackets.” https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/taxes/federal-income-tax-brackets/. Accessed May 5, 2017.

5 Martha C. White. NBC News. May 2, 2017. “Even Families Making $100K Won’t Be Better Off Under New Tax Plan.” http://www.nbcnews.com/business/taxes/even-families-making-100k-won-t-be-better-under-new-n753941. Accessed May 5, 2017.

6 NPR. 2017. “On Tax Day, an Economist Outlines How the Payroll Tax Works.” http://nhpr.org/post/tax-day-economist-outlines-how-payroll-tax-works#stream/0. Accessed May 5, 2017.

These hypothetical examples are for illustrative purposes only. This information is not intended to provide tax advice. Be sure to speak with qualified professionals about your unique situation.

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 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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