Financial Planning: Helping You See the Big Picture. By John Jastremski

Do you picture yourself owning a new home, starting a business, or retiring comfortably? These are a few of the financial goals that may be important to you, and each comes with a price tag attached.

That’s where financial planning comes in. Financial planning is a process that can help you target your goals by evaluating your whole financial picture, then outlining strategies that are tailored to your individual needs and available resources.

Why is financial planning important?

A comprehensive financial plan serves as a framework for organizing the pieces of your financial picture. With a financial plan in place, you’ll be better able to focus on your goals and understand what it will take to reach them.

One of the main benefits of having a financial plan is that it can help you balance competing financial priorities. A financial plan will clearly show you how your financial goals are related–for example, how saving for your children’s college education might impact your ability to save for retirement. Then you can use the information you’ve gleaned to decide how to prioritize your goals, implement specific strategies, and choose suitable products or services. Best of all, you’ll know that your financial life is headed in the right direction.

The financial planning process

Creating and implementing a comprehensive financial plan generally involves working with financial professionals to:

• Develop a clear picture of your current financial situation by reviewing your income, assets, and liabilities, and evaluating your insurance coverage, your investment portfolio, your tax exposure, and your estate plan

• Establish and prioritize financial goals and time frames for achieving these goals

• Implement strategies that address your current financial weaknesses and build on your financial strengths

• Choose specific products and services that are tailored to meet your financial objectives

• Monitor your plan, making adjustments as your goals, time frames, or circumstances change

Some members of the team

The financial planning process can involve a number of professionals.

Financial planners typically play a central role in the process, focusing on your overall financial plan, and often coordinating the activities of other professionals who have expertise in specific areas.

Accountants or tax attorneys provide advice on federal and state tax issues.

Estate planning attorneys help you plan your estate and give advice on transferring and managing your assets before and after your death.

Insurance professionals evaluate insurance needs and recommend appropriate products and strategies.

Investment advisors provide advice about investment options and asset allocation, and can help you plan a strategy to manage your investment portfolio.

The most important member of the team, however, is you. Your needs and objectives drive the team, and once you’ve carefully considered any recommendations, all decisions lie in your hands.

Why can’t I do it myself?

You can, if you have enough time and knowledge, but developing a comprehensive financial plan may require expertise in several areas. A financial professional can give you objective information and help you weigh your alternatives, saving you time and ensuring that all angles of your financial picture are covered.

Staying on track

The financial planning process doesn’t end once your initial plan has been created. Your plan should generally be reviewed at least once a year to make sure that it’s up-to-date. It’s also possible that you’ll need to modify your plan due to changes in your personal circumstances or the economy. Here are some of the events that might trigger a review of your financial plan:

• Your goals or time horizons change

• You experience a life-changing event such as marriage, the birth of a child, health problems, or a job loss

• You have a specific or immediate financial planning need (e.g., drafting a will, managing a distribution from a retirement account, paying long-term care expenses)

• Your income or expenses substantially increase or decrease

• Your portfolio hasn’t performed as expected

• You’re affected by changes to the economy or tax laws

Common questions about financial planning

What if I’m too busy?

Don’t wait until you’re in the midst of a financial crisis before beginning the planning process. The sooner you start, the more options you may have.

Is the financial planning process complicated?

Each financial plan is tailored to the needs of the individual, so how complicated the process will be depends on your individual circumstances. But no matter what type of help you need, a financial professional will work hard to make the process as easy as possible, and will gladly answer all of your questions.

What if my spouse and I disagree?

A financial professional is trained to listen to your concerns, identify any underlying issues, and help you find common ground.

Can I still control my own finances?

Financial planning professionals make recommendations, not decisions. You retain control over your finances. Recommendations will be based on your needs, values, goals, and time frames. You decide which recommendations to follow, then work with a financial professional to implement them.

This material was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of John Jastremski, and The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, Chevron, Hughes, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

John Jastremski is a Representative with FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

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Cash Flow Management by John Jastremski

Cash Flow Management

An underappreciated fundamental in financial planning.

                       

You’ve probably heard the saying that “cash is king,” and whether you own a business or not, it is a truth that applies. Most discussions of business and personal “financial planning” involve tomorrow’s goals, but those goals may not be realized without attention to cash flow today.

 

Management of available cash flow is a key in any kind of financial planning. Ignore it, and you may inadvertently sabotage your efforts to grow your company or build personal wealth.

 

Cash flow statements are important for any small business. They can reveal so much to the owner(s) and/or CFO, because as they track inflows and outflows, they bring non-cash items and expenditures to light. They denote your sources and uses of cash, per month and per year. Income statements and P&L statements may provide inadequate clues about that, even though they help you forecast cash flow trends.

Cash flow statements can tell you what P&L statements won’t. Are you profitable, but cash-poor? If your company is growing by leaps and bounds, that can happen. Are you personally taking too much cash out of the business and unintentionally letting your growth company morph into a lifestyle company? Are your receivables getting out of hand? Is inventory growth a concern? If you’ve arranged a loan, how much is your principal payment each month and to what degree is that eating up cash in your business? How much money are you spending on capital equipment?

A good CFS tracks your operating, investing and financing activities. Hopefully, the sum of these activities results in a positive number at the bottom of the CFS. If not, the business may need to change to survive.

In what ways can a small business improve cash flow management? There are some fairly simple ways to do it, and your CFS can typically identify the factors that may be sapping your cash flow. You may find that your suppliers or vendors are too costly; maybe you can negotiate (or even barter) with them. Like many companies, you may find your cash flow surges during some quarters or seasons of the year and wanes during others. What steps could you take to improve it outside of the peak season or quarter?

What kind of recurring, predictable sales can your business generate? You might want to work on the art of continuity sales – turning your customers into something like subscribers to your services. Perhaps price points need adjusting. As for lingering receivables, swiftly preparing and delivering invoices tends to speed up cash collection. Another way to get clients to pay faster: offer a slight discount if they pay up, say, within a week (and/or a slight penalty to those that don’t). Think about asking for some cash up front, before you go to work for a client or customer (if you don’t do this already).

While the Small Business Association states that only about 10% of entrepreneurs draw entirely on their credit cards for startup capital, there is still a temptation for an owner of a new venture to go out and get a high-limit business credit card. It might be better to shop for one with cash back possibilities or business rewards in mind. If your business isn’t set up to receive credit card payments, consider it – the potential for added cash flow could render the processing fees utterly trivial.1

How can a household better its cash flow? One quick way to do it is to lessen or reduce your fixed expenses, specifically loan and rent payments. Another step is to impose a ceiling on your variable expenses (ranging from food to entertainment), and you may also save some money in separating some or all those expenses from credit card use. Refinancing – if you can do it – and downsizing can certainly help. There are many, many free cash flow statement tools online where you can track family inflows and outflows. (Your outflows may include bugaboos like long-term service contracts and installment payment plans.) Selling things you don’t want can make you money in the short term; converting a hobby into an income source or business venture could help in the long term.

Better cash flow boosts your potential to reach your financial goals. A positive cash flow can contribute to investment, compounding, savings – all the good things that tend to happen when you pay yourself first.

This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 – smallbusinesscomputing.com/tipsforsmallbusiness/5-tips-for-a-smoother-small-business-cash-flow.html [11/19/12]

This material was prepared by Peter Montoya Inc, and does not necessarily represent the views of John Jastremski, and The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.


The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

John Jastremski is a Representative with FSC Securities and may reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

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Lump-Sum Distribution from Inherited IRAs and Retirement Plans. By John Jastremski

What is it?

A lump-sum distribution is the withdrawal of the entire balance of an inherited traditional IRA or employer-sponsored retirement plan account in one tax year. It is this one-tax-year time frame, not the number of distributions, that determines a lump-sum distribution. A lump-sum distribution can take the form of a single distribution, or multiple distributions taken over the course of the tax year. This distribution option is generally available to you when you inherit a traditional IRA, and may be available to you when you inherit a retirement plan account (if the terms of the plan allow it). If you are not the sole primary beneficiary of the IRA or plan, the lump-sum distribution option will apply separately to your share of the inherited funds.

As an IRA or retirement plan beneficiary, you will generally be subject to federal (and possibly state) income tax on a lump-sum distribution for the tax year in which it is taken (to the extent that the distribution represents pretax or tax-deductible contributions, and investment earnings). For this and other reasons, a lump-sum distribution is generally not regarded as the best way to distribute funds from an inherited IRA or plan. Other options for taking post-death distributions will typically provide more favorable tax treatment and other advantages.

This discussion does not apply to Roth IRAs or Roth 401(k), 403(b), and 457(b) accounts. You can take a lump-sum distribution from an inherited Roth IRA, or an inherited Roth 401(k)/403(b)/457(b) account, but since qualified distributions from these plans are tax free (and nonqualified distributions are taxable only to the extent earnings are distributed), the considerations are quite different.

Requirements to take a lump-sum distribution

To be eligible to take a lump-sum distribution from a deceased IRA owner’s or plan participant’s account, you obviously must be a beneficiary of that account. Being a beneficiary of an IRA or retirement plan account generally means that you are designated by name as a primary beneficiary in the IRA or plan documents. You could also become a primary beneficiary of the IRA or plan if you are named as a secondary beneficiary (also known as a contingent beneficiary), and one or more of the original primary beneficiaries disclaims (i.e., refuses to accept) the inherited funds or predeceases the account owner.

In the case of a retirement plan account, you can only take a lump-sum distribution of the inherited funds if the plan offers this distribution option. Most plans do permit account beneficiaries to take lump-sum distributions, but you should check with the plan administrator to make certain.

Advantages of taking a lump-sum distribution

You receive all of the funds now

The main attraction of taking a lump-sum distribution from an inherited IRA or retirement plan is that you receive a sum of money in one tax year to use for your own benefit. The amount that you ultimately receive could be substantial depending on the size of the account, your share of the funds, and the portion that is lost to taxes. Once the funds are distributed to you, you generally have complete discretion over their use. You could use the money to pay your medical bills, finance your children’s education, or fund the down payment on a home, or for any other purpose.

Special tax treatment may be available

With inherited retirement plan accounts, another potential advantage of taking a lump-sum distribution is that such distributions may be eligible for special income averaging treatment (if you were born before 1936). This can reduce the income tax liability on the inherited funds, but the availability of this special treatment is limited. In addition, special capital gains rules may apply to a portion of a lump-sum distribution attributable to pre-1974 plan participation. Special rules may apply to lump-sum distributions that include employer securities.

In many cases, the drawbacks of taking a lump-sum distribution from an inherited IRA or retirement plan will outweigh the perceived advantages.

Disadvantages of taking a lump-sum distribution

There may be adverse income tax consequences

As noted, when you take a lump-sum distribution of your inherited IRA or plan funds, you receive all of the funds in one tax year. This distribution must be reported as taxable income on your federal income tax return for that year. (If there were ever nondeductible or after-tax contributions made to the account, a portion of the distribution would not be taxable.) Depending on the size of the distribution and your federal income tax bracket, the portion of the funds that is lost to taxes may be substantial. This may be especially true if the distribution pushes you into a higher income tax bracket, causing the funds to be taxed at a higher rate.

To make matters worse, your lump-sum distribution may be subject to state income tax as well as federal income tax. You should check the laws of your state for information regarding the tax treatment of IRA and retirement plan distributions.

If you want to minimize income taxes on the inherited IRA or plan funds, a lump-sum distribution is probably not the appropriate distribution option. Other methods of taking post-death distributions from the IRA or plan may be available, and will typically provide more favorable tax treatment.

The distributed funds will miss out on tax-deferred growth opportunities

Another major drawback to taking a lump-sum distribution from an inherited IRA or retirement plan is the loss of tax-deferred growth opportunities. When you take a lump-sum distribution, you are removing all of the IRA or plan funds from a tax-deferred environment. You may take the money from a lump-sum distribution (what is left of it after taxes) and invest it elsewhere, but the earnings will generally be subject to tax. Even if you immediately reinvest your lump-sum distribution in another tax-deferred vehicle, such as an annuity, you will still have to pay tax on the distribution itself.

How to take a lump-sum distribution

  • Contact the plan administrator to confirm that a lump-sum distribution is an option.
  • Consult a professional advisor: Before taking a lump-sum distribution from an inherited IRA or plan, speak to a tax advisor or other professional regarding your distribution options and the tax and estate planning considerations. Your advisor should be able to tell you whether a lump-sum distribution is appropriate in your case. In many cases, it will not be.
  • Contact the IRA custodian or plan administrator: If you decide to take a lump-sum distribution, you will need to contact the IRA custodian or the plan administrator to request the necessary form for withdrawal. Return the form along with any necessary documentation (such as personal identification and/or a death certificate), indicating that you want to receive a lump-sum distribution.
  • Report the distribution on your tax return: You must enter the taxable amount of your lump-sum distribution on your federal income tax return for the year of the distribution. Remember, not all of the distribution will be taxable if part of it represents nondeductible or after-tax contributions. Determine whether special averaging or other special tax treatment is available.

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, ING Retirement, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

This material was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of John Jastremski, and The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

John Jastremski is a Representative with FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

 

 

 

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Coping With College Loans. By John Jastremski

Coping With College Loans

Paying them down, managing their financial impact.

Are student loans holding our economy back? Certainly America has recovered from the last recession, but this is an interesting question nonetheless.

In a November 2013 address before the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Assistant Director Rohit Chopra expressed that college loan debt “may prove to be one of the more painful aftershocks of the Great Recession.” In fact, outstanding education debt in America doubled from 2007 to 2013, topping $1 trillion.1

More than 60% of this debt is held by people over the age of 30 and about 15% is carried by people older than 50. The housing sector feels the strain: in a November National Association of Realtors survey, 54% of the first-time homebuyers who had difficulty saving up a down payment cited their college loan expenses as the main obstacle. The ProgressNow think tank believes that education debt siphons $6 billion of new car purchasing power out of the economy per year.2,3

As the Detroit Free Press notes, the average 2012 college graduate is burdened with $29,400 in education loans. If you carry five-figure (or greater) education debt, what do you do to pay it down faster?4

How can you overcome student loans to move forward financially? If you are young (or not so young), budgeting is key. Even if you get a second job, a promotion, or an inheritance, you won’t be able to erase any debt if your expenses consistently exceed your income. Smartphone apps and other online budget tools can help you live within your budget day to day, or even at the point of purchase for goods and services.

After that first step, you can use a few different strategies to whittle away at college loans.

*The local economy permitting, a couple can live on one salary and use the wages of the other earner to pay off the loan balance(s).

*You could use your tax refund to attack the debt.

*You can hold off on a major purchase or two. (Yes, this is a sad effect of college debt, but backhandedly it could also help you reduce it by freeing up more cash to apply to the loan.)

*You can sell something of significant value – a car or truck, a motorbike, jewelry, collectibles – and turn the cash on the debt.

Now in the big picture of your budget, you could try the “snowball method” where you focus on paying off your smallest debt first, then the next smallest, etc. on to the largest. Or, you could try the “debt ladder” tactic, where you attack the debt(s) with the highest interest rate(s) to start. That will permit you to gradually devote more and more money toward the goal of wiping out that existing student loan balance.

Even just paying more than the minimum each month on your loan will help. Making payments every two weeks rather than every month can also have a big impact.

If the lender presents you with a choice of repayment plans, weigh the one you currently use against the others; the others might be better. Signing up for automatic payments can help, too. You avoid the risk of penalty for late payment, and student loan issuers commonly reward the move: many will lower the interest rate on a loan by a quarter-point or so in thanks.5

What if you have multiple outstanding college loans? Should one of those loans have a variable interest rate (about 15% of education loans do), try addressing that debt first. Why? Think about what could happen with interest rates as this decade progresses. They are already rising.5

Also, how about combining multiple federal student loan balances into one? If you graduated college before July 1, 2006, the interest rate you’ll lock in on the single balance will be lower than that paid on each separate federal education loan.5

Maybe your boss could pay down the loan. Don’t laugh: there are college grads who manage to negotiate just such agreements. In fact, there are small and mid-sized businesses that offer them simply to be competitive today. They can’t offer a young hire what the Fortune 500 can when it comes to salary, so they pitch another perk: a lump sum that the new employee can use to reduce a college loan.5

To reduce your student debt, live within your means and use your financial creativity. It may disappear faster than you think.

     

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 – consumerfinance.gov/newsroom/student-loan-ombudsman-rohit-chopra-before-the-federal-reserve-bank-of-st-louis/ [11/18/13]

2 – forbes.com/sites/halahtouryalai/2013/06/26/backlash-student-loans-keep-borrowers-from-buying-homes-cars/ [6/26/13]

3 – realtor.org/news-releases/2013/11/home-buyers-and-sellers-survey-shows-lingering-impact-of-tight-credit [11/13]

4 – tinyurl.com/nouty3k [4/19/14]

5 – tinyurl.com/k29m48y [5/1/14]

This material was prepared by Peter Montoya Inc, and does not necessarily represent the views of John Jastremski, and The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, AT&T, Qwest, access.att.com, ING Retirement, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

John Jastremski is a Representative with FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

 

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Gauging Your Financial Well-Being by John Jastremski

Gauging Your Financial Well-Being

Six signs that you are in good shape.

 

How well off do you think you are financially? If your career or life takes an unexpected turn, would your finances hold up? What do you think will become of the money you’ve made and saved when you are gone?

These are major questions, and most people can’t answer them as quickly as they would like. It might help to think about six factors in your financial life. Here is a six-point test you can take to gauge your financial well-being.

Are you saving about 15% of your salary for retirement? That’s a nice target. If you’re earning good money, that will probably amount to $10-20,000 per year. You are probably already saving that much annually without any strain to your lifestyle. Annual IRA contributions and incremental salary deferrals into a workplace retirement plan will likely put you in that ballpark. As those dollars are being invested as well as saved, they have the potential to grow with tax deferral – and if your employer is making matching contributions to your retirement account along the way, you have another reason to smile.

Do you have an emergency fund? Sadly, most Americans don’t. In June, Bankrate polled U.S. households and found that 26% of them were living paycheck-to-paycheck, with no emergency fund at all.1

A strong emergency fund contains enough money to cover six months of expenses for the individual who maintains it. (Just 23% of respondents in the Bankrate survey reported having a fund that sizable.) If you head up a family, the fund should ideally be larger – large enough to address a year of expenses. At first thought, building a cash reserve that big may seem daunting, or even impossible – but households have done it, especially households that have jettisoned or whittled down debt. If you have done it, give yourself a hand with the knowledge that you have prepared well for uncertainty.1

Are you insured? As U.S. News & World Report mentioned this summer, about 30% of U.S. households don’t have life insurance. Why? They can’t afford it. That’s the perception.2

In reality, life insurance is much less expensive now than it was decades ago. As the CEO of insurance industry group LIMRA commented to USN&WR, most people think it is about three times as expensive as it really is. How much do you need? A quick rule of thumb is ten times your income. Hopefully, you have decent or better insurance coverage in place.2

Do you have a will or an estate plan? Dying intestate (without a will) can leave your heirs with financial headaches at an already depressing time. Having a will is basic, yet many Americans don’t create one. In its annual survey this spring, the budget legal service website RocketLawyer found that only 51% of Americans aged 55-64 have drawn up a will. Just 38% of Americans aged 45-54 have drafted one.3

Why don’t more of us have wills? A lack of will, apparently. RocketLawyer asked respondents without wills to check off why they hadn’t created one, and the top reason (57%) was “just haven’t gotten around to making one.” A living will, a healthcare power of attorney and a double-check on the beneficiary designations on your investment accounts is also wise.3

Not everyone needs an estate plan, but if you’re reading this article, chances are you might. If you have significant wealth, a complex financial life, or some long-range financial directives you would like your heirs to carry out or abide by, it is a good idea. Congratulate yourself if you have a will, as many people don’t; if you have taken further estate planning steps, bravo.

Is your credit score 700 or better? Today, 685 is considered an average FICO score. If you go below 650, life can get more expensive for you. Hopefully you pay your bills consistently and unfailingly and your score is in the 700s. You can request your FICO score while signing up for a trial period with a service such as TransUnion or GoFreeCredit.4

Are you worth much more than you owe? This is the #1 objective. You want your major debts gone, and you want enough money for a lifetime. You will probably always carry some debt, and you can’t rule out risks to your net worth tomorrow – but if you are getting further and further ahead financially and your bottom line shows it, you are making progress in your pursuit of financial independence.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

    

Citations.

1 – dailyfinance.com/2014/09/03/why-american-wages-arent-rising/ [9/3/14]

2 – money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2014/07/16/do-you-have-enough-life-insurance [7/16/14]

3 – forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2014/04/09/americans-ostrich-approach-to-estate-planning/ [4/9/14]

4 – nerdwallet.com/blog/credit-score/credit-score-range-bad-to-excellent/ [9/4/14]

 

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

This material was prepared by Peter Montoya Inc, and does not necessarily represent the views of John Jastremski, and The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

John Jastremski is a Representative with FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

 

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It Isn’t Too Late to Save for Retirement. By John Jastremski

If you’re 40 or 50 and haven’t begun, you must make the effort.

Some people start saving for retirement at 20, 25, or 30. Others start later, and while their accumulated assets will have fewer years of compounding to benefit from, that shouldn’t discourage them to the point of doing nothing.

If you need to play catch-up, here are some retirement savings principles to keep in mind. First of all, keep a positive outlook. Believe in the validity of your effort. Know that you are doing something good for yourself and your future, and keep at it.

Starting later means saving more – much more. That’s reality; that’s math. When you have 15 or 20 years until your envisioned retirement instead of 30 or 40, you’ve got to sock away money for retirement in comparatively greater proportions. The good news is that you won’t be retiring strictly on those contributions; in large part, you will be retiring on the earnings generated by that pool of invested assets.

How much more do you need to save? A ballpark example: Marisa, a pre-retiree, has zero retirement savings at age 45 and dedicates herself to doing something about it. She decides to save $500 each month for retirement. After 20 years of doing that month after month, and with her retirement account yielding 6% a year, Marisa winds up with about $225,000 at age 65.1

After 65, Marisa would probably realize about $10,000 a year in inflation-adjusted retirement income from that $225,000 in invested retirement savings. Would that and Social Security be enough? Probably not. Admittedly, this is better than nothing. Moreover, her retirement account(s) might average better than a 6% return across 20 years.1

The math doesn’t lie, and the message is clear: Marisa needs to save more than $6,000 a year for retirement. Practically speaking, that means she should also exploit vehicles which allow her to do that. In 2014, you can put up to $5,500 in an IRA, $6,500 if you are 50 or older – but you can sock away up to $17,500 next year in a 401(k), 403(b), Thrift Savings Plan and most 457 plans, which all have a maximum contribution limit of $23,000 for those 50 and older.2

If Marisa is self-employed (and a sole proprietor), she can establish a solo 401(k) or a SEP-IRA. The yearly contribution limits are much higher for these plans. If Marisa’s 2013 net earnings from self-employment (after earnings are reduced by one-half of self-employment tax) work out to $50,000, she can put an employer contribution of up to $10,000 in a SEP-IRA. (She must also make similar percentage contributions for all “covered” employees, excepting her spouse, under the SEP IRA plan.) As a sole proprietor, Marisa may also make a combined employer-employee contribution of up to $33,000 to a solo 401(k) this year, and if she combines a defined benefit plan with a solo 401(k), the limit rises to $47,400. If her 2013 net earnings from self-employment come out to $150,000, she can make an employer contribution of as much as $30,000 to a SEP-IRA, a combined employee salary deferral contribution and employer profit sharing contribution of up to $53,000 to a solo 401(k), and contribute up to $96,300 toward her retirement through via the combination of the solo 401(k) and defined benefit plan.3

How do you save more? As you are likely nearing your peak earnings years, it may be easier than you initially assume. One helpful step is to reduce some of the lifestyle costs you incur: cable TV, lease payments, and so forth. Reducing debt helps: every reduced credit card balance or paid-off loan frees up more cash. Selling things helps – a car, a boat, a house, collectibles. Whatever money they generate for you can be assigned to your retirement savings effort.

Consistency is more important than yield. When you get a late start on retirement saving, you naturally want solid returns on your investments every year – yet you shouldn’t become fixated on the return alone. A dogged pursuit of double-digit returns may expose you to considerable market risk (and the potential for big losses in a downturn). Diversification is always important, increasingly so when you can’t afford to lose a big portion of what you have saved. So is tax efficiency. You will also want to watch account fees.

If you start saving for retirement at 50, your retirement savings will likely double (at least) by age 65 thanks to consistent inflows of new money, decent yields and compounding.4

What if you amass a big nest egg & still face a shortfall? Maybe you can reduce expenses in retirement by moving to another city or state (or even another country). Maybe you can broaden your skill set and make yourself employable in another way (which also might help you before you reach traditional retirement age if you find yourself in a declining industry).

If you haven’t begun to save for retirement by your mid-40s, you have probably heard a few warnings and wake-up calls. Unless you are independently wealthy or anticipate being so someday, the truth of the matter is…

If you haven’t started saving for retirement, you need to do something to save your retirement.

That may sound harsh or scary, but without a nest egg, your vision of a comfortable future is in jeopardy. You can’t retire on hope and you don’t want to rely on Social Security, relatives or social services agencies for your well-being when you are elderly.

This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 – money.cnn.com/2012/08/15/pf/expert/late-start-retirement.moneymag/ [8/15/13]

2 – irs.gov/uac/IRS-Announces-2014-Pension-Plan-Limitations;-Taxpayers-May-Contribute-up-to-$17,500-to-their-401%28k%29-plans-in-2014 [11/4/13]

3 – forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2013/11/01/retirement-savings-for-the-self-employed/ [11/1/13]

4 – forbes.com/sites/mitchelltuchman/2013/11/21/financial-planning-for-late-starters-in-five-steps/ [11/21/13]

This material was prepared by Peter Montoya Inc, and does not necessarily represent the views of John Jastremski, and The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

John Jastremski is a Representative with FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

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Women, Longevity Risk & Retirement Saving. By John Jastremski

Statistics point out the need to save early, save consistently & stay invested. 

Will you live to be 100? If you’re a woman, your odds of becoming a centenarian are seemingly better than those of men. In the 2010 U.S. Census, over 80% of Americans aged 100 or older were women.1

Will you eventually live alone? According to the Administration on Aging (a division of the federal government’s Department of Health & Human Services), about 47% of women aged 75 or older lived alone in 2010. If that prospect seems troubling, there is another statistic that also may: while 6.7% of men age 65 and older lived in poverty in 2010, 10.7% of women in that age demographic did.2,3

Statistics like these carry a message: women need to pay themselves first. A phrase has emerged to describe all this: longevity risk. As so many women outlive their spouses by several years or more, a woman may need several years more worth of retirement income. So there is a need to consider income sources – and investment strategies – for the years after a spouse passes away.

What does this mean for the here and now? It means contributing as much as your budget allows to your retirement accounts. Procrastination is your enemy and compound interest is your friend. It means accepting some investment risk – growth investing for the long run is looking more and more like a necessity.

You will need steady income, and you will need to keep growing your savings. In 2012, Social Security income represented 50.4% of the average annual income for unmarried and widowed woman aged 65 and older. Having a monthly check is certainly comforting, but that check may not be as large as you would like. The average woman 65 or older received but $12,520 in Social Security benefits in 2012.4

You will likely need multiple streams of income in retirement, and fortunately forms of investment, housing decisions and inherited assets can potentially lead to additional income sources. A chat with a financial professional may help you determine which options are sensible to pursue.

Your income and your savings must also keep up with inflation. Even mild inflation can exact a toll on your purchasing power over time.

Risk-averse investing may come with a price. In 2013, the investment giant Allianz surveyed Americans with more than $200,000 in investable assets and unsurprisingly learned that their #1 priority was retirement savings protection. What did surprise some analysts was their penchant for conservative investing during a banner year for stocks.5

Memories of the 2008-09 bear market were apparently hard to dispel: 76% of those surveyed indicated that given the choice between an investment offering a 4% return with protection of principal and an investment offering an 8% return but lacked principal protection, they would take the one with the 4% return.5

A substandard return shouldn’t seem so attractive. If your portfolio yields 4% a year and inflation is running at 1% a year (as it is now), you can live with it. Your investments aren’t earning much, but the Consumer Price Index isn’t gaining on you. If consumer prices rise 3.3% annually (which was what yearly inflation averaged across 2004-07), you are barely making headway. You actually may be losing ground against certain consumer costs. If inflation tops 4% (and it might, if interest rates take off later in this decade), you have a real problem.6

Cumulative inflation can really eat into things, as a check of a simple inflation calculator reveals. An $18.99 steak dinner at a nice restaurant in 2000 would cost you $24.54 today given the ongoing tame-to-moderate inflation over the last 14 years. That’s 36.3% more.7

As much as we would like to park our retirement money and avoid risk, fixed-income investments don’t always offer much reward these days. Retirees can feel like they are being punished by low interest rates, as they can see prices rising faster around them at the grocery store and for assorted services and goods. Interest rates will rise, but equity investments have traditionally offered the potential for greater returns than fixed-income investments and in all likelihood will continue to do so.

Growth investing is a necessary response to longevity risk. After all, you can’t risk outliving your retirement savings. Keeping part of your portfolio in the stock market offers you the potential to keep growing your retirement money, thereby offering you the chance have a larger retirement fund from which to withdraw proportionate income.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 – census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/2010_census/cb12-239.html [12/10/12]

2 – aoa.gov/Aging_Statistics/Profile/2011/6.aspx [4/10/14]

3 – aoa.gov/Aging_Statistics/Profile/2011/10.aspx [4/10/14]

4 – ssa.gov/pressoffice/factsheets/women.htm [3/14]

5 – foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2013/10/24/wall-streets-rallying-so-why-are-boomers-so-scared/ [10/24/13]

6 – usinflationcalculator.com/inflation/current-inflation-rates/ [4/10/14]

7 – usinflationcalculator.com/ [4/10/14]

This material was prepared by Peter Montoya Inc, and does not necessarily represent the views of John Jastremski, and The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by ING Retirement, AT&T, fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

John Jastremski is a Representative with FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

 

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Couples Retiring on the Same Page by John Jastremski

Couples Retiring on the Same Page

Agreeing about what you want from retirement is crucial.

 

What does a good retirement look like to you? Does it resemble the retirement that your spouse or partner has in mind? It is at least roughly similar?

The Social Security Commission currently projects an average retirement of 19 years for a man and 21 years for a woman (assuming retirement at age 65). So sharing the same vision of retirement (or at least respecting the difference in each other’s visions) seems crucial to retirement happiness.1

What kind of retirement does your spouse or partner imagine? During years of working, parenting and making ends meet, many couples never really get around to talking about what retirement should look like. If spouses or partners have quite different attitudes about money or dreams that don’t align, that conversation may be deferred for years. Even if they are great communicators, assumptions about what the other wants for the future may prove inaccurate.

Are couples discussing retirement, or not? It depends on who you ask – or more precisely, what poll you reference.

A 2013 survey of 5,400 U.S. households by Hearts & Wallets (a research firm studying retirement money management trends) found that just 38% of couples plan for retirement together. The fourth Couples Retirement Study conducted by Fidelity Investments (released this February) offered similar results. In that study, 38% of the working couples polled cited some disagreement on what kind of lifestyle they would retire to, 32% disagreed on how much they would need to work in retirement, and 38% hadn’t planned to manage retirement health care costs.2,3

In contrast, Capital One ShareBuilder surveyed 1,008 employed adults this winter and found that on average, couples discuss retirement 14 times a year. (There was no word on the depth or length of those conversations, however.)4

Be sure to talk about what you want for the future. A few simple questions can get the conversation going, and you might even want to chat about it over a meal or coffee in a relaxing setting. Dreaming and planning together, even on the most basic level, gives you a chance to reacquaint yourselves with your financial needs, goals and personalities.

To start, ask each other what you see yourselves doing in retirement – individually as well as together. Is the way you are saving and investing conducive to those dreams?

Think about whether you are making the most of your retirement savings potential. Could you save more? Do you need to? Are you both contributing to tax-advantaged retirement accounts? Are you comfortable with the amount of risk you are assuming?

If your significant other is handling the household finances (and the meetings with financial professionals about a retirement strategy), are you prepared to take over in case of an emergency? When one half of a couple is the “hub” for money matters and investment decisions, the other spouse or partner needs to at least have an understanding of them. If the unexpected occurs, you will want that knowledge.

Speaking of knowledge, you should also both know who the beneficiaries are for your IRAs, workplace retirement accounts, investment accounts, and life insurance policies, and you both need to know where the relevant paperwork is located.

A shared vision of retirement is great, and respect for individual variations on it is just as vital. A conversation about how you see retirement today can give you that much more input to plan for tomorrow.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 – forbes.com/sites/jamiehopkins/2014/02/03/planning-for-an-uncertain-life-expectancy-in-retirement/ [2/3/14]

2 – heartsandwallets.com/till-death-or-retirement-or-retirement-do-us-part/news/2013/02/ [2/13]

3 – shrm.org/hrdisciplines/benefits/articles/pages/retirement-couples-disagree.aspx [2/7/14]

4 – usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/03/16/retirement-planning-couples-fight/6368967/ [3/16/14]

This material was prepared by Peter Montoya Inc, and does not necessarily represent the views of John Jastremski, and The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.


The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, access.att.com, ING Retirement, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

John Jastremski is a Representative with FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

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6 Steps to Get Out of Debt. By John Jastremski

6 Steps to Get Out of Debt

Why not plan to lighten your financial burden?

Positive moves to counteract negative cash flow. The financial analysis website nerdwallet.com keeps track of the various debts common to the U.S. household. As of April 2014, they’ve found an average mortgage debt of $154,365. They have also discovered an average household has $7,087 in debt from credit cards, but when the numbers are revised to only look at American households already in debt, the average more than doubles to $15,191. When you add this to the average student loan debt of $33,607, it paints a rather bleak picture.1

Every day, people draw on money they don’t actually have – via credit cards, various loans, home equity lines of credit, and even their 401(k)s. Many of them end up making minimum payments on these high-interest loans – a sure way to stay indebted forever.

If this is your situation, you may be wondering: how do I get out of debt? Here are some ideas.

*Make a budget. “Where does all the money go?” If you are asking that question, here is where you learn the answer. You might find that you’re spending $80 a month on gourmet coffee, or $100 a week on lousy movies. Cable, eating out, buying retail – costs like these can really eat at your finances. Set a budget, and you can stop frivolous expenses and redirect the money you save to pay down debt.

*Get another job. I know, this doesn’t sound like fun. But having more money will aid you to reduce debt more quickly. A family member who isn’t working can work to help reduce a shared family problem.

 

*Sell stuff. The Internet has proven that everything is worth something. Go to eBay, craigslist or some other online marketplace – you’ll be amazed at the market (and the asking prices) for this and that. What people collect, want and buy may surprise you. Don’t be surprised if you have a few hundred dollars – or more – sitting around your house or in your garage. You might be able to pay off a couple of credit cards – or even a loan – with what you sell.

*Ditch the big car payment and drive a cheaper car that gets good MPG. You’ve likely been thinking about saying goodbye to your current car if it gets terrible mileage. Get a car that makes sense instead of a statement. Your wallet will thank you.

 

*Pay off all debts smallest to largest. The benefits are psychological as well as financial. Knock off even a small debt, and you have an accomplishment to build on – encouragement to erase bigger debts. Also, every debt you have incurs its own interest charge. One less debt means one less interest charge you have to pay.

 

*Or, pay off your highest-interest debts first. Take a minute to figure out which of your debts hits you with the highest interest rate. Pay the minimum amounts toward each of your other debts, and apply all the extra money you can toward paying off the debt with the highest interest. This will have a cumulative effect. Your highest-interest debt will become smaller, meaning you will be saving some dollars on interest charges on the balance because the balance is lower. If the balance is lower, you should be able to pay off the debt faster. When you say goodbye to that debt, you can start paying down the debt with the next highest interest, and so on.

 

Keep the real goal in mind. Building wealth, not reducing debt, should be your ultimate objective. Some debt reduction and debt consolidation planners obsess on getting you out of debt, but that is only half the story. Minimizing debt is great, but maximizing wealth is even better.

 

You can plan to build wealth and reduce debt at the same time. If you have a relationship with a financial advisor, you might be able to do it in the same unified process. Why just keep debt at bay when you can leave it behind? Do yourself a favor and talk with a good financial advisor who can show you ways toward financial freedom.

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 – nerdwallet.com/blog/credit-card-data/average-credit-card-debt-household/ [5/8/14]`

 

This material was prepared by Peter Montoya Inc, and does not necessarily represent the views of John Jastremski, and The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.


The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

John Jastremski is a Representative with FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

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Getting It All Together for Retirement. By John Jastremski

Getting It All Together for Retirement

Where is everything? Time to organize and centralize your documents.

 

Before retirement begins, gather what you need. Put as much documentation as you can in one place, for you and those you love. It could be a password-protected online vault; it could be a file cabinet; it could be a file folder. Regardless of what it is, by centralizing the location of important papers you are saving yourself from disorganization and headaches in the future.

What should go in the vault, cabinet or folder(s)? Crucial financial information and more. You will want to include…

Those quarterly/annual statements. Recent performance paperwork for IRAs, 401(k)s, funds, brokerage accounts and so forth. Include the statements from the latest quarter and the statements from the end of the previous calendar year (that is, the last Q4 statement you received). You don’t get paper statements anymore? Print out the equivalent, or if you really want to minimize clutter, just print out the links to the online statements. (Someone is going to need your passwords, of course.) These documents can also become handy in figuring out a retirement income distribution strategy.

 

Healthcare benefit info. Are you enrolled in Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan? Are you in a group health plan? Do you pay for your own health coverage? Own a long term care policy? Gather the policies together in your new retirement command center and include related literature so you can study their benefit summaries, coverage options, and rules and regulations. Contact info for insurers, HMOs, your doctor(s) and the insurance agent who sold you a particular policy should also go in here.

 

Life insurance info. Do you have a straight term insurance policy, no potential for cash value whatsoever? Keep a record of when the level premiums end. If you have a whole life policy, you want to keep paperwork communicating the death benefit, the present cash value in the policy and the required monthly premiums in your file.

Beneficiary designation forms. Few pre-retirees realize that beneficiary designations often take priority over requests made in a will when it comes to 401(k)s, 403(b)s and IRAs. Hopefully, you have retained copies of these forms. If not, you can request them from the account custodians and review the choices you have made. Are they choices you would still make today? By reviewing them in the company of a retirement planner or an attorney, you can gauge the tax efficiency of the eventual transfer of assets.1

Social Security basics. If you haven’t claimed benefits yet, put your Social Security card, last year’s W-2 form, certified copies of your birth certificate, marriage license or divorce papers in one place, and military discharge paperwork or and a copy of your W-2 form for last year (or Schedule SE and Schedule C plus 1040 form, if you work for yourself), and military discharge papers or proof of citizenship if applicable. Social Security no longer mails people paper statements tracking their accrued benefits, but e-statements are available via its website. Take a look at yours and print it out.2

 

Pension matters. Will you receive a bona fide pension in retirement? If so, you want to collect any special letters or bulletins from your employer. You want your Individual Benefit Statement telling you about the benefits you have earned and for which you may become eligible; you also want the Summary Plan Description and contact info for someone at the employee benefits department where you worked.

 

Real estate documents. Gather up your deed, mortgage docs, property tax statements and homeowner insurance policy. Also, make a list of the contents of your home and their estimated value – you may be away from your home more in retirement, so those items may be more vulnerable as a consequence.

Estate planning paperwork. Put copies of your estate plan and any trust paperwork within the collection, and of course a will. In case of a crisis of mind or body, your loved ones may need to find a durable power of attorney or health care directive, so include those documents if you have them and let them know where to find them.

 

Tax returns. Should you only keep last year’s 1040 and state return? How about those for the past 7 years? At the very least, you should have a copy of last year’s returns in this collection.

 

A list of your digital assets. We all have them now, and they are far from trivial – the contents of a cloud, a photo library, or a Facebook page may be vital to your image or your business. Passwords must be compiled too, of course.

     

This will take a little work, but you will be glad you did it someday. Consider this a Saturday morning or weekend project. It may lead to some discoveries and possibly prompt some alterations to your financial picture as you prepare for retirement.

   

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Citations.

1 – fpanet.org/ToolsResources/ArticlesBooksChecklists/Articles/Retirement/10EssentialDocumentsforRetirement/ [9/12/11]

2 – cbsnews.com/8301-505146_162-57573910/planning-for-retirement-take-inventory/ [3/18/13]

This material was prepared by Peter Montoya Inc, and does not necessarily represent the views of John Jastremski, and The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.


The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

John Jastremski is a Representative with FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

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