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Social Security Basics: Answers to Your Questions

For nearly 80 years, Social Security has been a valuable resource for America’s retirees. The program was created in August 1935 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act.1 The law created an independent governmental agency that would provide lifetime income benefits to retirees, the disabled and their surviving spouses and children.

The agency was originally called the Social Security Board but was later renamed the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA began collecting payroll taxes in 1937 and paid out the first lump-sum benefit to a Cleveland motorman the same year. He retired one day after paying a 5-cent payroll tax, and he received a retirement benefit of 17 cents.1

In 1940 the SSA started making monthly payments to retirees age 65 and older. While the benefits and eligibility requirements have changed slightly over the years, Social Security operates today much like it did in the beginning. Below are common questions and answers about Social Security and the role it may play in your retirement:

What does Social Security cover?

As of December 2017, Social Security provided benefits to more than 45 million retirees and dependents, over 10 million disabled Americans and dependents, as well as 6 million survivors. Retirees account for 72 percent of benefits; disabled workers account for 16 percent, and the remainder of benefits are paid to survivors.2

Nearly 90 percent of retirees receive Social Security benefits.2 Research indicates that many seniors rely on Social Security for a substantial portion of their income. Among retirement benefit recipients, half of married couples and 71 percent of singles say that Social Security represents more than half of their income.2

When can you file for Social Security?

You can file for Social Security as early as age 62, although you could see a benefit reduction of as much as 35 percent if you file at that time. To avoid a reduction, you need to wait until your full retirement age (FRA) to file. Most people reach their FRA between their 66th and 67th birthdays.3

You don’t have to file at your FRA, though. In fact, you can delay your filing all the way to age 70. Social Security offers an 8 percent benefit credit for every year that you wait after your FRA. If your FRA is 66 and you wait until age 70 to file, that’s a total permanent benefit increase of 32 percent.4

Will Social Security run out of money?

Much has been made of the prospect that Social Security may run out of money. While Social Security won’t disappear anytime soon, it’s true that the program faces some serious financial challenges. In 2020 the SSA will start paying out more in benefits each year than it collects in payroll taxes. That means it will have to dip into the trust fund, which is projected to be depleted by 2034.5

Even after the trust fund is gone, however, the program will continue to collect taxes to fund benefits. Experts estimate that with benefit cuts, perhaps as much as 21 percent, the program could remain solvent through 2090.5

Ready to plan your Social Security strategy? Let’s talk about it. Contact us today at Retirement Peace Project. We can help you analyze your needs and develop a plan. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.

1https://www.ssa.gov/history/briefhistory3.html

2https://www.ssa.gov/news/press/factsheets/basicfact-alt.pdf

3https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/agereduction.html

4https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/1943-delay.html

5https://www.fool.com/retirement/2017/05/22/a-big-social-security-change-is-coming-in-2020-and.aspx

 

17846 – 2018/7/30

Is Your Retirement Strategy Built on a Solid Foundation?

Are you just starting to save for retirement? If so, you have company. A recent study found that nearly a third of all Americans have no retirement savings. An additional 22 percent have less than $10,000.1

The good news is you can get back on track and overcome your savings shortfall by developing a plan and taking action. There are plenty of steps you can take to boost your savings. For example, you can cut back on your spending. You could push your retirement to a later age. You could even work part time in retirement.

However, the most effective strategy may be to develop a foundation of solid financial habits. Retirement is a sizable financial challenge. It takes years of saving and preparation to achieve your goal and live your desired lifestyle. You can put yourself in a better position by taking action early. Below are three steps and lifelong financial habits to consider. Master these habits, and you’ll greatly improve your chances of funding a comfortable and enjoyable retirement.

Invest in your skills and potential.

Investments play a role in any retirement strategy. However, the most valuable investment you may make is an investment in yourself. Your ability to earn income may be your most valuable financial asset. You can improve your ability to save for retirement by increasing your income throughout your career.

Consider ways to improve your skills and advance your career. For example, could you gain a promotion by advancing your education? Could you learn new skills to make yourself more attractive to employers? Or is it time to consider a career change so you can elevate your earnings?

Your earnings drive your ability to save. Of course, as your income increases, it’s important that you allocate those additional funds to savings. If you simply spend the additional money, you won’t capture the benefit of your increased earnings.

Minimize your exposure to risk.

Retirement planning is about accumulating assets, but it’s also about minimizing your exposure to risk. Any number of threats could derail your retirement plans. You could become disabled and have limited earning potential. You or your spouse could pass away unexpectedly, creating a financial crisis for the family. You could see a sizable downturn in the value of your investments. You might face a costly health care challenge that drains your savings.

Develop a retirement strategy that minimizes your exposure to these risks and others. Insurance is an effective risk management tool. You can use disability insurance to replace your income should you suffer a serious injury or illness. Life insurance can protect your family should you pass away. A financial professional can also help you find tools and strategies that reduce your exposure to market risk.

Regularly review your plan and adjust accordingly.

Life changes. When it does, your retirement strategy should change with it. Take time each year to review your strategy and see if it still aligns with your needs, goals and risks. For example, perhaps your family needs have changed. Maybe you suffered a career setback that changes your savings capacity. Or you may simply have a lower tolerance for risk.

Your financial professional can help you analyze your strategy and objectives and make the appropriate changes. For instance, they may suggest an annuity that protects you from downside loss. Or they could suggest a change to your savings strategy to maximize tax efficiency.

Ready to build your retirement strategy? Let’s talk about it. Contact us today at Retirement Peace Project. We can help you analyze your needs and implement a plan. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.

 

1http://time.com/money/4258451/retirement-savings-survey/

 

17859 – 2018/7/31

Gen X: A 3-Step Retirement Catch-Up Plan

Are you a member of Generation X? Feeling uncomfortable about your preparedness for retirement? You’re not alone. A recent study from Transamerica found that only 12 percent of Gen Xers feel secure about their ability to retire. The study found that the average Gen X household has only $69,000 in retirement savings.1

Generation X is generally defined as individuals born between the mid-1960s and the early 1980s. They’re also known as the “sandwich generation,” because they’re squeezed between two much larger generational groups—baby boomers and millennials. Most Gen Xers are in their 40s or 50s. While they still have time to save for retirement, their window is quickly closing.

Are you a Gen Xer who’s behind on retirement? If so, now may be the time to take quick action. You can still reach your savings goal if you are disciplined and focused. Below are a few tips to help you get started:

Estimate your retirement number.

Have you ever gone on a road trip without knowing your final destination? Probably not. Without an endpoint, it would be impossible to develop a route or track your progress. The same is true in retirement planning.

Your retirement strategy should have an endpoint in the form of a retirement number. That’s how much you need to save to fund your expenses and desired lifestyle in retirement. Obviously, you can’t predict every expense you may have in retirement, but you can develop an informed estimate based on your current spending and inflation.

You can also project your sources of retirement income, such as a pension or Social Security. If those sources don’t cover all your expenses, you’ll have to fund the difference with distributions from your savings. Multiply that difference by the expected duration of your retirement, such as 30 years, and you’ll get a ballpark retirement number estimate.

Obviously, this exercise is simple and doesn’t include other factors such as inflation, increasing health care costs or investment returns. However, it’s a good starting point to see where you need to go. A financial professional can help you develop a more precise retirement estimate.

Cut your expenses and save the difference.

There’s no more effective retirement strategy than to simply spend less and save more. Of course, that may be easier said than done. One way to reduce your spending is to implement a budget, as it helps you manage your spending and track your progress toward large financial goals such as retirement. Unfortunately, nearly 60 percent of Americans don’t use a budget.2

If you’re among that group, now may be the time to make a change. You can use an online budgeting program or a simple spreadsheet, or even a pencil and paper. Look for areas to cut back, like on entertainment and dining out. Perhaps you could consolidate debt and reduce your interest costs. Every dollar in spending you can cut is a dollar you can allocate toward retirement.

Protect yourself against risk.

Even if you’re saving a sufficient amount of money, all it takes is one outsize risk to throw a wrench in your retirement plans. For instance, you could suffer a disability on the job. Or the unexpected death of you or your spouse could create financial difficulty. The financial markets could decline sharply.

Work with a financial professional to evaluate your risk exposure and take preventive action. For instance, you could use insurance to protect against disability risk or unexpected death. Tools such as annuities can protect against market loss and even generate guaranteed* retirement income. Develop a risk management strategy to protect your retirement.

Ready to develop your retirement strategy? Let’s talk about it. Contact us today at Retirement Peace Project. We can help you analyze your needs and goals and develop a plan. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.

 

1https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2016/08/23/transamerica-survey-highlights-american-retirement/?slreturn=20180616152205

2https://money.cnn.com/2016/10/24/pf/financial-mistake-budget/index.html

 

Licensed Insurance Professional. This information is designed to provide a general overview with regard to the subject matter covered and is not state specific. The authors, publisher and host are not providing legal, accounting or specific advice for your situation. By providing your information, you give consent to be contacted about the possible sale of an insurance or annuity product. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting insurance professional. The statements and opinions expressed are those of the author and are subject to change at any time. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, presenting insurance professional makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax or investment advice. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and is not sponsored or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any government agency.

 

*Guarantees, including optional benefits, are backed by the claims-paying ability of the issuer, and may contain limitations, including surrender charges, which may affect policy values.

 

17847 – 2018/7/30

Check These 3 Items Off Your Planning List Before You Retire

 


 

Trying to decide when to retire? It’s a question that every worker faces at some point. In some cases your decision is made for you, because of health issues or employer restructurings. In an ideal world, however, you would get to retire at the time that’s right for you. There’s no universal correct answer on when that time is. It should be based on your unique needs, goals and objectives.

It may be helpful to think about what you need to complete before you retire. For example, you may want to save a certain amount of assets. Or you may want to reach full retirement age (FRA) for Social Security. Maybe you have stock options or other employer benefits that need to vest before you leave the working world.

There are also planning items you can use to minimize risk and improve your odds for success. Below are three such items. If you’re thinking about retirement but haven’t completed these items, now may be the time to do so. A financial professional can help you complete your planning so you can enter retirement with confidence.

Develop your retirement budget.

Are you one of the 60 percent of Americans who don’t use a budget?1 If so, retirement is the perfect time to make a change. A budget is one of the most effective financial tools available because it helps you make informed purchasing decisions and stay on track to reach your goals.

A budget is especially important as you enter retirement. One of the biggest risks in the early years of retirement is that you spend too much and deplete your assets too quickly. That could lead to you not having enough money in the later years of retirement. A budget can minimize this risk.

You can’t predict every expense you’ll face in retirement, but you can make estimates based on your current spending and your desired lifestyle. Also, be sure to include inflation in your budget. Your cost of living is likely to increase over time.

Map out your retirement income.

Where will your income come from in retirement? If you’re like most retirees, you’ll receive Social Security benefits. You also may receive a pension or some other type of income. And you’ll likely need to take distributions from your 401(k) plan, IRA or other retirement accounts.

Take some time to project your income. The Social Security Administration can provide you with benefit estimates, and your company’s human resources department should be able to provide estimated pension payments. A financial professional can help you determine a reasonable distribution amount to take from your savings each year. You also may want to consider an annuity, which can generate guaranteed* lifetime income.

Minimize your risk exposure.

Life can be unpredictable, and it’s possible that your retirement may not go according to plan. For instance, you or your spouse may develop a condition such as Alzheimer’s that requires long-term care. The financial markets could suffer a downturn that limits your ability to draw income. Your health care costs could be greater than expected.

A financial professional can help you develop strategies to minimize your exposure to risk. For example, you may want to consider long-term care insurance. An annuity could be a helpful tool to guarantee* your income and minimize downside risk. These steps and more could help you avoid dangerous threats that could sink your retirement.

Ready to implement your retirement strategy? Let’s talk about it. Contact us at Retirement Peace Project. We can help you analyze your needs and develop a plan. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.

 

1https://money.cnn.com/2016/10/24/pf/financial-mistake-budget/index.html

*Guarantees, including optional benefits, are backed by the claims-paying ability of the issuer, and may contain limitations, including surrender charges, which may affect policy values.

17848 – 2018/7/30

 

Self-Employed? 3 Retirement Account Options

For many, self-employment is a dream come true. You get to set your own schedule and make your own rules, and you may even get to do something you love for a living. If you’re like most entrepreneurs, your self-employment is the result of years of hard work and planning.

While self-employment may be fulfilling, it can also create unique challenges, especially when it comes to retirement planning. You don’t get the benefit of an employer 401(k) or pension. You may face tough decisions about whether to save for retirement or reinvest in your business. You may face cash flow challenges that make it difficult to save.

The good news is, as a self-employed individual, you have options that aren’t available for traditional employees. In fact, you may be able to put large sums away on a tax-advantaged basis each year. Below are a few popular vehicles you can use to save for retirement:

 

Solo 401(k)

The Solo 401(k) is much like traditional employer 401(k) plans, except it’s meant for one-employee companies. As the owner and employee, you make both the participant and employer contributions. That allows you to put a significant amount of money into the plan each year.

In 2018 you can put as much as $18,500 into the plan, or up to $24,500 if you’re age 50 or older. That’s the employee contributions portion. As the employer, you can also contribute up to 25 percent of compensation. Your compensation is defined as your net income less one-half of your self-employment tax and contributions. Your total contributions can’t exceed $55,000.1

It’s important to remember that these contributions are deducted pretax. That means they reduce your taxable income and thus your tax exposure. The funds are then invested and grow tax-deferred until you take distributions in retirement.

 

SEP IRA

The Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA is a popular choice for entrepreneurs. It operates much like a traditional IRA but with higher contribution limits. You make tax-deductible contributions to the account, and your funds grow tax-deferred. You pay taxes on all distributions from the plan.

You can contribute up to 25 percent of your income to a SEP IRA in 2018, with a maximum contribution of $55,000. If you’re 50 or older, you can contribute as much as $61,000. Keep in mind that if you have employees, you’ll have to make contributions for them, too. However, contributions are discretionary, so you can change the contribution amount from year to year based on your income and cash flow.2

 

Defined Benefit Plan

A defined benefit plan, also known as a pension, could give you added flexibility and savings capacity. You can contribute to a defined benefit plan alongside a solo 401(k) or SEP IRA. You design the plan to meet your needs and fund it to provide a desired level of income after you retire. The contributions are considered business expenses, so they’re tax-deductible.

However, there are some important considerations with a pension. First, you have to commit to an annual level of funding, so it may not be a wise strategy if your cash flow fluctuates. Also, you’ll have to offer participation in the plan to any employee you hire. That could get costly over time if you plan on expanding.

The Retirement Peace Project is a “non-commercial” retirement education organization.  Classes are supported by local churches, employers and United Way chapters. Call us today (217) 498-7700 for a schedule of an upcoming Retirement Peace University in your area.

 

 

1https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/one-participant-401k-plans

2https://www.goodfinancialcents.com/open-sep-ira-contribution-limits-and-rules/

 

 

17747 – 2018/6/19

Have You Included These Expenses in Your Retirement Budget?

A budget can be one of your most valuable financial tools as you plan your retirement. Your budget can help you plan your required income and make smart buying decisions. Unfortunately, most Americans don’t use a budget. According to a study from U.S. Bank, only 41 percent of American households rely on a budget to guide their spending.1

Even if you don’t use one today, there’s nothing saying you can’t change that habit in retirement. However, you may find it difficult to project your future expenses. After all, you can’t predict the future. You can, though, use your current expenses and your plans for retirement to develop an accurate estimate of your anticipated spending.

Your regular bills, such as utilities, insurance and credit cards, should be included in your budget. So, too, should money for groceries, dining out, entertainment and other discretionary costs. You may even include money for travel or your favorite hobby. Below are four other costs you may not want to ignore. They’re easy to forget, but they can have a big impact on your retirement spending.

 

Housing Costs

Planning on being mortgage-free in retirement? That could be a wise move, as the elimination of your mortgage could free up cash flow for other costs. However, just because you pay off your mortgage doesn’t mean you won’t have housing expenses.

Be sure to budget for utilities, taxes, insurance, homeowners association costs and any other housing-related bills. Also, plan to keep money aside for maintenance and repairs. As you get older, you may find that you can’t do things like clean or maintain the yard. It may be wise to budget money to hire help for those tasks.

You also may want to consider downsizing. By selling your home and moving to a smaller property, you can reduce your housing-related expenses. You also may be able to pocket some cash to fund your retirement.

 

Health Care

Many retirees assume that Medicare covers their health care costs. That assumption is usually incorrect. Medicare is a helpful program that covers many costs, but it doesn’t cover everything. Even for those treatments that are covered, Medicare often pays only a portion of the bill.

That means you’ll likely face substantial out-of-pocket costs for premiums, deductibles, copays and more. Consider funding a health savings account or purchasing a supplemental insurance policy to cover your costs.

 

Taxes

Taxes don’t end just because you stop working. In retirement, you could face taxes on a wide range of income sources, including Social Security, pension benefits, retirement account withdrawals and much more. If you don’t include taxes in your budget, you may face a nasty surprise in retirement.

Fortunately, you can take steps to minimize the impact of taxes on your retirement budget. A financial professional can help you analyze your potential tax exposure and implement steps to manage the burden.

 

Emergencies

Life can change quickly. Health scares, job loss, housing damage and much more can have a severe impact on your financial stability. These risks don’t go away after you retire. You may want to maintain an emergency reserve or additional insurance protection so you don’t have to drain your retirement assets in the event of an emergency.

One possible emergency to consider is the need for long-term care. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that today’s 65-year-olds have a 70 percent chance of needing long-term care at some point.2 Long-term care can be costly and may be needed for years. Discuss a funding strategy with your financial professional so this emergency expense doesn’t drain your savings.

The Retirement Peace Project is a “non-commercial” retirement education organization.  Classes are supported by local churches, employers and United Way chapters. Call us today (217) 498-7700 for a schedule of an upcoming Retirement Peace University in your area.

 

 

1http://money.cnn.com/2016/10/24/pf/financial-mistake-budget/index.html

2https://longtermcare.acl.gov/the-basics/how-much-care-will-you-need.html

17743 – 2018/6/19

3 Different Accounts to Save for Your Child’s Education

According to recent research from Fidelity, many parents are off track to fund their child’s college education. The study found that 70 percent of parents want to fully fund their child’s tuition and education costs. On average, however, parents are on track to cover only 29 percent of the costs by the child’s freshman year.1

College is a major financial challenge for many families, especially those who have multiple children. It’s only getting more expensive. From 1988 to 2018 the tuition for a private, nonprofit college rose 129 percent. Tuition for public college rose 213 percent over the same period.2

Fortunately, you have options available. Below are three different tools you can use to save for your child’s education. Each offers its own benefits and considerations. Your financial professional can help you choose the strategy that’s right for you.

 

529 Plans

The 529 plan has been around for years and has quickly become a popular choice for saving for college. These plans allow you to make tax-deductible contributions to an account for your child’s benefit. You can invest them as you like, and growth is tax-deferred. If you take distributions for qualified educational expenses, the withdrawals are tax-free.

Each state offers its own 529 plan, but you don’t have to use the plan in your state. You may get a deduction on your state income taxes if you use your state’s plan, but that’s not always the case. You also may find that another state’s plan has features and investment options that better fit your needs.

Keep in mind that 529 plan distributions are tax-free only if the funds are used for higher education. If your child doesn’t go to college, you may face taxes on your withdrawals. You can change the plan beneficiary to a different child. To take advantage of the tax break, however, you must ultimately use the funds for education.

 

UGMA/UTMA Accounts

These plans may be a better fit if you want more flexibility with regard to your child’s options. These are general savings accounts for minors. When your child reaches the age of majority in your state—usually either 18 or 21—the accounts transfer to their ownership. Your child can then use the funds as they wish.

However, you retain control of the assets until your child reaches adulthood. Also, while the growth in the accounts isn’t tax-deferred, it also isn’t fully taxable. Some growth is tax-free, and then, at additional levels, growth is taxed at the child’s rate.

 

Roth IRA

Do you use a Roth IRA to save for retirement? If so, you also may be able to use it to pay for your child’s education. Normally, you can’t take out distributions from a Roth before age 59½ without paying a penalty. However, you may be able to get a waiver on the penalty if you’re using the funds to pay for college.

You can also always take out your contributions from a Roth at any time without paying taxes or penalties. If you withdraw your contributions, however, you’ll reduce your balance and limit your growth potential in the future.

The Retirement Peace Project is a “non-commercial” retirement education organization.  Classes are supported by local churches, employers and United Way chapters. Call us today (217) 498-7700 for a schedule of an upcoming Retirement Peace University in your area.

 

1https://www.bankrate.com/finance/savings/3-ways-to-save-for-your-child-s-future-1.aspx

2https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/29/how-much-college-tuition-has-increased-from-1988-to-2018.html

 

 

17742 – 2018/6/19

3 Health Care Costs That Could Bust Your Retirement Budget

Planning on retiring soon? Do you have a projected retirement budget? If not, now may be the time to create one. It’s an important financial tool that can help you manage your spending and preserve your retirement assets. You can use your budget to plan for a wide range of expenses, such as housing, utilities, taxes, travel and more.

One major expense you don’t want to overlook is health care. Many retirees assume that Medicare covers all health care costs. The truth is there are many medical expenses that aren’t covered by Medicare. In fact, Fidelity estimates that the average retired couple will spend $275,000 on out-of-pocket medical expenses.1 That figure doesn’t even include the cost of long-term care.

If you don’t plan ahead, medical costs could bust your retirement budget. The good news is you can take action today by developing a strategy. Below are a few of the types of health care costs you may face. Use these to estimate your cost exposure and build your budget.

 

Premiums, Deductibles and Copays

Many people assume that Medicare is completely funded by Medicare taxes and that the program doesn’t have premiums. The truth is that only Part A, which covers hospitalizations, doesn’t have a premium. The other parts, however, do have monthly premiums. If you want coverage for things like doctor visits and prescription drugs, you will likely have a monthly health insurance premium.

Also, remember that all parts of Medicare have deductibles and copays. The amounts depend on your specific policy. The more robust your coverage, the higher your premiums are likely to be. You can reduce your premiums by changing your coverage, but doing so may increase your deductible and copay.

 

Service Not Covered by Medicare

Traditional Medicare doesn’t cover a wide range of services and treatments. Dental, vision and hearing services aren’t covered. The same is true of physical therapy and some types of mental health treatment. Even hospitalizations and skilled nursing care are only covered for short periods of time.

Medicare Advantage, also known as Part C, exists to fill these gaps. It’s an innovative program that allows retirees to purchase coverage from private insurers. These policies offer traditional Medicare coverage plus enhanced protection for additional services.

Of course, since Medicare Advantage is optional, it also comes with additional premiums. A wide range of Medicare Advantage policies are available, so it’s important to consider your specific needs, budget and objectives before you purchase a policy.

 

Long-Term Care

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, most retirees will need long-term care at some point in their lives. The agency estimates that today’s 65-year-olds have a 70 percent chance of needing long-term care in the future.2

Long-term care is usually costly, whether it’s provided in a facility or in the home. According to Genworth, the average monthly cost for an assisted living facility in 2017 was $3,750. The average cost of an in-home health aide was more than $4,000.3 Many retirees need long-term care for many months or even several years, and the costs can add up to be a drain on retirement assets.

You may want to consider purchasing long-term care insurance to cover some of the cost. You pay premiums to an insurer, which then covers some or all of your long-term care expenses. Most policies cover care provided either in a facility or in the home. Some even provide a death benefit to loved ones in the event that you don’t need the long-term coverage.

The Retirement Peace Project is a “non-commercial” retirement education organization.  Classes are supported by local churches, employers and United Way chapters. Call us today (217) 498-7700 for a schedule of an upcoming Retirement Peace University in your area.

 

 

1https://www.fidelity.com/viewpoints/retirement/retiree-health-costs-rise

2https://longtermcare.acl.gov/the-basics/how-much-care-will-you-need.html

3https://www.genworth.com/about-us/industry-expertise/cost-of-care.html

 

17743 – 2018/6/19

3 Catch-Up Strategies for Retirement

Worried you won’t have enough money for retirement? You’re not alone. According to a recent study from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, baby boomers have a median retirement savings balance of only $147,000.1

Baby boomers face a number of challenges not faced by previous generations of retirees. They’re living longer than ever. Most baby boomers won’t have the benefit of a company pension. And today’s retirees face significant out-of-pocket costs for health care and long-term care.

Fortunately, it’s never too late to correct course. With careful planning and quick action, you can retake control of your retirement. Below are three steps you may want to consider. A financial professional can help you analyze your needs and implement the best course of action.

 

Delay retirement.

One of the best ways to catch up on your savings target is to delay your retirement. Even delaying your retirement by only a few years can have a big impact. You get more time to save money, and you eliminate a few years of spending from your retirement.

An added benefit of delaying your retirement is that it could help you delay your filing for Social Security, which could increase your benefit amount. Social Security offers an 8 percent increase in benefits for every year past your full retirement age (FRA) that you wait to file. You can delay all the way to age 70, which means you could earn a cumulative 32 percent increase in your Social Security payments.2

 

Put away more money each year.

Another effective strategy is to increase your annual retirement contributions. Of course, that’s not always easy to do. You may feel that you’re already saving as much as possible. If you examine your budget and cut spending in certain areas, however, it’s likely that you can find ways to save more.

If you’re age 50 or older, you can take advantage of catch-up contributions to put more money into your qualified accounts. In 2018 you can contribute as much as $18,500 to your 401(k). However, those age 50 and older can contribute an additional $6,000. Similarly, people age 50 and older can put an additional $1,000 into an IRA, on top of the standard $5,500 limit.3

 

Cut your planned retirement expenses.

Already saving as much as possible? Can’t push back retirement any further? If so, it may be time to analyze your plans for retirement. Develop a retirement budget and think of ways you can reduce your expenses. For example, you could downsize to a more affordable home or move to an area with a lower cost of living.

Also, don’t rule out the possibility of working in retirement. A part-time or seasonal job could give you supplemental income, which could help you minimize your withdrawals from your savings.

The Retirement Peace Project is a “non-commercial” retirement education organization.  Classes are supported by local churches, employers and United Way chapters. Call us today (217) 498-7700 for a schedule of an upcoming Retirement Peace University in your area.

 

 

1https://www.rothira.com/average-retirement-savings-age-2017

2https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/delayret.html

3https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2017/10/19/irs-announces-2018-retirement-plan-contribution-limits-for-401ks-and-more/#5b5edb7b25ac

 

17698 – 2018/5/30

Boost Your Retirement Savings With These 5 Strategies

Feel like you should have more saved for retirement? That’s a common concern. Saving for retirement is a difficult task. If you’re like most Americans, you’re probably dealing with other financial challenges that feel more urgent, like paying down debt or funding your child’s education.

While you may think you have plenty of time to catch up, there’s no time like the present to get started. The earlier you start saving, the easier it will be to hit your objectives. Time is a valuable asset when it comes to retirement planning. If you start saving early, you give your assets plenty of time to grow and compound, which could help you accumulate more money.

Below are a few strategies you can implement to boost your retirement savings. If you haven’t started yet, or if you feel like you’re behind, now is the time to make changes and increase your savings rate. A financial professional can help you implement a plan.

 

Contribute up to the employer match.

Do you participate in your employer’s 401(k), 403(b) or other retirement savings plan? If so, it could be your most effective retirement savings tool. Qualified retirement accounts such as 401(k) plans offer tax-deferred growth. That means you don’t pay taxes on your gains as long as the funds stay in the account. That tax deferral may allow your funds to compound at a faster rate than they would in a similar, taxable account.

These plans also offer another powerful benefit. Many employers offer matching contributions. For example, if you contribute 3 percent of your salary, your employer may match your contribution dollar-for-dollar. Every employer’s rules are different. However, the employer match can be an effective way to boost your savings rate with someone else’s money. If you’re not taking advantage of your employer’s match, now may be the time to do so.

 

Contribute to an IRA.

Your employer’s retirement plan isn’t the only tax-deferred account at your disposal. You can also contribute to an individual retirement account, or IRA. There are various types of IRAs, but all of them offer tax-deferred growth.

Some offer other tax benefits, too. For example, the traditional IRA allows you to deduct your contributions, assuming you meet income limits. The Roth IRA doesn’t offer upfront deductions, but you can withdraw your funds tax-free. Consider using an IRA as an additional account to save retirement funds on a tax-favored basis.

 

Automate your savings.

Many people don’t save enough for retirement because they simply choose to do other things with their money. Other bills or expenses may feel more urgent, so they become a higher priority than retirement savings.

You can avoid this risk by putting your retirement savings on autopilot. Treat your retirement savings like a mandatory bill, and set up automatic transfers to your IRA or other accounts. Once you take choice out of the equation, you’ll likely see your retirement balances increase quickly.

 

Take advantage catch-up contributions.

Are you age 50 or older? If so, the next few years may be your best chance to save for retirement. Fortunately, you can take advantage of catch-up contributions to put away more money.

In 2018 you can contribute as much as $18,500 to a 401(k) and $5,500 to an IRA. If you’re 50 or older, however, you can contribute an additional $6,000 to your 401(k) and an additional $1,000 to your IRA, bringing your total contributions to $24,500 and $6,500, respectively. Look at your budget and find ways to take advantage of these additional contribution limits.1

 

Delay Social Security.

Finally, you may want to consider a strategy that doesn’t necessarily boost your savings but does boost your retirement income. If you can delay your filing for Social Security benefits past your full retirement age (FRA), you could increase your benefits. Social Security offers a permanent 8 percent benefit credit for every year you wait past your FRA, up to age 70.2 That extra income could help you enjoy more financial stability in retirement.

The Retirement Peace Project is a “non-commercial” retirement education organization.  Classes are supported by local churches, employers and United Way chapters. Call us today (217) 498-7700 for a schedule of an upcoming Retirement Peace University in your area.

 

 

1https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2017/10/19/irs-announces-2018-retirement-plan-contribution-limits-for-401ks-and-more/#7e363e0925ac

2https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/1943-delay.html

 

17698 – 2018/5/30