Value Investing Strategy

Many of the greatest investors (Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffett, and Seth Klarman) that have ever lived have employed some form of value investing as an integral part of their overall stock investing strategy. However, value investing is a broad term applied to many strategies under its umbrella. While no investment strategy can guarantee positive returns, there are some lessons to take away from the value investment strategy that can possibly help reduce downside risk.

Despite there being many different ways to incorporate a value investment strategy into your own investing approach, there is common ground that carries from value investor to value investor. The most basic definition of value investing is to look for investment opportunities in companies that they believe are trading in the market below its intrinsic value. To put it simply, buy when the market price is below what they believe the fundamental value of the company is. Additionally, most value investing strategies attempt to exploit disconnects that occasionally occur between a company’s stock price and its true underlying fundamental value. This means that value investors believe that the market makes mistakes but eventually corrects them over time, a thought process about market that goes against the Efficient Market Hypothesis. As Warren Buffett once said in a talk he gave at Columbia Business School in 1984, “The common intellectual them of the investors from Graham-and-Doddsville is this: they search for discrepancies between the value of a business and the price of small pieces of that business in the market. Essentially, they exploit those discrepancies without the efficient market theorist’s concern as to whether the stocks are bought on a Monday or Thursday, or whether it is January or July, etc”. In addition, value investors are generally risk-averse, meaning that while a lot of investors use volatility as a measure of risk, a value investor will look at the chance of permanent loss of capital as risk and volatility as opportunity. That in mind, a value investor will look for long term opportunities that they believe offer them a “margin of safety”.

Although value investing implies investing in a business below its fundamental value, that calculation can vary between different common stocks depending on which industry or stage of the business life cycle it is in. For example, a high dividend paying company with low growth in the utilities sector will require a much different calculation of fair value than a high earnings growth no dividend paying company in the technology sector. This paper will not delve into the different ways fair value is calculated, instead it will focus on the common ground shared by all value investors no matter which stock they are choosing to value.

Successful Value Investors Invest with a Long Time Horizon

One common thread among value investors is investing with a long time horizon and the belief that while there are short term market inefficiencies, in the long run the market will correct itself despite short-term volatility. This can be especially challenging when in the short-term the stock is experiencing extreme volatility and negative news is coming out about the company seemingly every day. It is actually this volatility and bad news which can create even more buying opportunities. It makes sense that unpopular or overlooked stocks would be more likely to be undervalued, as this unpopularity creates the discrepancy between fundamental value and price. The greatest opportunities in the eyes of a value investor are when a company that continues to have strong fundamentals and good leadership experiences a drop in stock price.

While it is challenging to not give into temptation and participate in the crowd mentality, it is sticking to your guns that can prevent unnecessary loss of capital. In addition, “constantly turning over your portfolio is expensive as you are exposed to transaction costs, making you losses bigger and your gains smaller… But more importantly, accomplished value investors also understand that in the long run, fundamentals matter most.”

Value Investors Care Deeply about Capital Appreciation and Total Return

It is true that value investors tend to not care about short-term price fluctuation or losses and are more focused on not losing capital. It is also true that value investors care deeply about realizing profits. A true value investor will be willing to accept losses in the short-term because they know that in the long-term stock performance is linked to the underlying success of the business, not speculation about its future.

In this light, a value investor will pay less attention to media reports and instead look at the underlying fundamentals such as dividends (if one is paid), free cash flow, debt level, and earnings growth to name a few. If the company has exhibited a history of strong performance under great leadership, a short term dip could be looked at as a signal to buy more instead of sell.

Value investors do care about more than avoiding loss of capital; they just usually have the patience and conviction in their research to wait for the value to be realized. This, by no means, suggests that they are right 100% of the time, but it does indicate that they believe if they have done the proper and thorough research and have used a margin of safety, they have a good chance at realizing significant total return on their investments.

Value Investors Invest with a Margin of Safety

Not only do value investors tend to look for stocks that they believe are trading below their intrinsic value, but they want to find stocks that are trading well below their intrinsic value. This concept is called margin of safety. The main risk that most value investors is the chance at permanent loss of capital. This in mind, they believe the larger the difference between price and intrinsic value; the less likely it is that they will lose money.

The idea of margin of safety is especially important since it is impossible to include every factor that has and is affecting the company. Also, because the future is impossible to predict, it makes sense that investors are unable to calculate a company’s intrinsic value with absolute certainty. Value investors who know and understand their limitations will be certain to invest in companies only when they believe a large margin of safety exists. In addition, the companies that have the largest margin of safety will have the largest return if their value is fully realized by the market. So it can be viewed as both a protection against your own biases as well as a way to be more efficient with investments and possibly receive larger returns.

Value Investors are often Contrarian Investors

The most value in the market often comes from going against the overall sentiment in the market. This makes sense as the market price and intrinsic value would be constantly matched up if everyone was valuing it the same way. This thinking goes against the Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH) which states that the market instantaneously incorporates and reacts to any new developments about the company.

Instead value investors try to find pockets of inefficiencies and look to capitalize on those inefficiencies before the market corrects itself. This requires a lot of confidence and the ability to remain rational every time a new piece of news-good or bad- comes out about your holdings.

Warren Buffett says that the two most powerful emotions in investing are fear and greed. Understanding this, value investors sell to those who are greedy and willing to overpay while buying from those who are fearful and willing to sell at a bargain. A perfect example of this is during the financial crisis in 20082009 when the market crashed and many financial companies were selling at pennies to the dollar. Many investors wouldn’t touch them. For example, in February 2009 Wells Fargo & Company (WFC) was trading at the low price of $12.10. Many investors missed out on this opportunity as they were fearful to get involved in what was a distressed industry at the time and, as a result, missed out on an over 350% price increase to $54.79 (February 2015) in just six years time.

Why doesn’t everyone invest with a Value Approach?

With big names in investing like Warrant Buffett, Charlie Munger and Benjamin Graham experiencing such great success with this style of investing, one would think the strategy would become oversaturated and obsolete. The reason there are still opportunities with this strategy is that most people do not want to put in the hard work it takes to uncover these undervalued stocks. Another reason is that a lot of the best opportunities are with companies that are unattractive and out of favor and most people do not have the patience to sit through multiple periods of underperformance before the value is actually realized and instead get caught chasing returns. That is why there is still value in value investing for the hardworking investor who is able to stay level-headed and rational even in the toughest of times.

Posted in Financial Planning, Investing and the Markets, Investment, John Jastremski, Retirement Planning, The Retirement Group John Jastremski, The Retirement Group LLC, Types of Investment, Why Investment | Comments Off

Maintaining Sustainable Withdrawal Rate in Retirement

What is a sustainable withdrawal rate?

A withdrawal rate is the percentage that is withdrawn each year from an investment portfolio. If you take $20,000 from a $1 million portfolio, your withdrawal rate that year is two percent ($20,000 divided by $1 million).

However, in retirement income planning, what’s important is not just your withdrawal rate, but your sustainable withdrawal rate. A sustainable withdrawal rate represents the maximum percentage that can be withdrawn from an investment portfolio each year to provide income with reasonable certainty that the income provided can be sustained as long as it’s needed (for example, throughout your lifetime).

Why is having a sustainable withdrawal rate important?

Your retirement lifestyle will depend not only on your assets and investment choices, but also on how quickly you draw down your retirement portfolio. Figuring out an appropriate withdrawal rate is a key factor in retirement planning. However, this presents many challenges and requires multifaceted analysis of many aspects of your retirement income plan. After all, it’s getting more and more common for retirement to last 30 years or more, and a lot can happen during that time. Drawing too heavily on your investment portfolio, especially in the early years, could mean running out of money too soon. Take too little, and you might needlessly deny yourself the ability to enjoy your money. You want to find a rate of withdrawal that gives you the best chance to maximize income over your entire retirement period.

A sustainable withdrawal rate is critical to retirement planning, but it can apply to any investment portfolio that is managed with a defined time frame in mind. It’s also fundamental to certain types of mutual funds that are managed to provide regular payments over a specific time period. For example, some so-called distribution funds, which are often used to provide retirees with ongoing income, are designed to distribute all of an investor’s assets by the time the fund reaches its targeted time horizon. As a result, the fund must calculate how much money can be distributed from the fund each year without exhausting its resources before that target date is reached.

Tip: Each distribution fund has a unique way of addressing the question of a sustainable withdrawal rate. Before investing in one, obtain its prospectus (available from the fund), and read it so you can carefully consider its investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses before investing.

How does a sustainable withdrawal rate work?

Perhaps the most well-known approach is to withdraw a specific percentage of your portfolio each year. In order to be sustainable, the percentage must be based on assumptions about the future, such as how long you’ll need your portfolio to last, your rate of return, and other factors. It also must take into account the effect of inflation.

Example: John has a $2 million portfolio when he retires. He estimates that withdrawing $80,000 a year (adjusted for inflation) will be adequate to meet his expenses. John’s sustainable withdrawal rate is four percent, and he must make sure that his portfolio is designed so that he can continue to take out four percent (adjusted for inflation) each year.

Other approaches to withdrawal rates

A performance-based withdrawal rate

With this approach, an initial withdrawal rate is established. However, if you prefer flexibility to a fixed rate, you might vary that percentage from year to year, depending on your portfolio’s performance. Each year, you would set a withdrawal percentage, based on the previous year’s performance, that would determine the upcoming year’s withdrawal. In years of poor performance, a portfolio’s return might be lower than your target withdrawal rate. In that case, you would reduce the amount you take out of the portfolio the following year. Conversely, in a year when the portfolio exceeds your expectations and performance is above average, you can withdraw a larger amount.

Example: Fred has a $2 million portfolio, and withdraws $80,000 (four percent) at the beginning of his first year of retirement to help pay living expenses. By the end of that year, the remaining portfolio balance has returned six percent, or $115,200–more than the $80,000 he spent on living expenses. For the upcoming year, Fred decides to withdraw five percent of his portfolio, which is now worth $2,035,200 ($2 million – $80,000 + $115,200 = $2,035,200). That will give him $101,760 in income for the year, and leave his portfolio with $1,933,440. However, during December of that second year of retirement, his portfolio experiences a seven percent loss; by the end of the year, the portfolio has been reduced by the $101,7600 Fred withdrew at the beginning of the year, plus the seven percent investment loss. Fred’s portfolio is now worth $1,798,099. Fred reduces his withdrawals next year–the third year of his retirement–to ensure that he doesn’t run out of money too soon. (For simplicity’s sake, this hypothetical illustration does not take taxes in account, and assumes all withdrawals are made at the beginning of the year.)

Important: If you hope to withdraw higher amounts during good years, you must be certain that you’ll be able to reduce your spending appropriately during years of lower returns; otherwise, you could be at greater risk of exhausting your portfolio too quickly. And be sure to take inflation into account. Having other sources of reliable, fixed income could make it easier to cushion potential income fluctuations from a performance-based withdrawal rate, and handle emergencies that require you to spend more than expected.

A withdrawal rate that decreases or increases with age

Some strategies assume that expenses in the later years of retirement will be lower as a retiree becomes less active. They are designed to provide a higher income while a retiree is healthy and able to do more.

Example: Bill sets a six percent initial withdrawal rate for his portfolio. However, he anticipates reducing that percentage gradually over time, so that in 20 years, he’ll take only about three percent each year from his portfolio.

Caution: Assuming lower future expenses could have disastrous consequences if those forecasts prove to be wrong–for example, if health care costs increase even more sharply than they have in the past, or if a financial emergency late in life requires unplanned expenditures. Even assuming no future financial emergencies and no unexpected increases in the inflation rate, this strategy would require discipline on a retiree’s part to reduce spending later, which might be difficult for someone accustomed to a higher standard of living.

Other strategies take the opposite approach, and assumes that costs such as health care will be higher in the later retirement years. These set an initial withdrawal rate that is deliberately low to give the portfolio more flexibility later. The risk, of course, is that a retiree who dies early will leave a larger portion of his or her retirement savings unused.

Consider the impact of inflation

An initial withdrawal rate of, say, four percent may seem relatively low, particularly if you have a large portfolio. However, if your initial withdrawal rate is too high, it can increase the chance that your portfolio will be exhausted too quickly. That’s because you’ll need to withdraw a greater amount of money each year from your portfolio just to keep up with inflation and preserve the same purchasing power over time. For a retirement portfolio, that can become problematic, since the amount withdrawn is no longer available to generate income in future years. An appropriate initial withdrawal rate takes into account that inflation will require higher withdrawals in later years.

Example: Jean has a $1 million portfolio invested in a money market account that yields five percent. That gives her $50,000 of income that year. However, inflation pushes up prices by three percent over the course of the year. That means Jean will need more income–$51,500–the next year just to cover the same expenses ($50,000 x.03=$1,500). Since the account provides only $50,000 of income, the additional $1,500 must be withdrawn from the principal. That principal reduction, in turn, reduces the portfolio’s ability to produce income the following year. In a straight linear model, principal reductions accelerate, ultimately resulting in a zero portfolio balance after 25 to 27 years, depending on the timing of the withdrawals. (This example is a hypothetical illustration and does not account for the impact of any taxes.)

Inflation is one reason you can’t simply base your retirement income planning on the expenses you expect to have when you first retire. Costs for the same items will most likely continue to increase over your retirement years, and your initial withdrawal rate needs to take that into account to be sustainable.

There’s another inflation-related factor that can affect your planning. Seniors can be affected somewhat differently from the average person by inflation. That’s because costs for some services that may represent a disproportionate share of a senior’s budget, such as health care and food, have risen more dramatically than the Consumer Price Index (CPI)–the basic inflation measure–for several years. As a result, seniors may experience higher inflation costs than younger people, and therefore might need to keep initial withdrawal rates relatively modest.

What determines whether a withdrawal rate is sustainable?

  • Your time horizon: The longer you will need your portfolio to last, the lower the initial withdrawal rate should be. The converse is also true (e.g., you may have health problems that suggest you will not need to plan for a lengthy retirement, allowing you to manage a higher withdrawal rate).
  • Anticipated and historical returns from the various asset classes in your retirement portfolio, as well as its anticipated average annual return: Though past performance is no guarantee of future results, the way in which you invest your retirement nest egg will play a large role in determining your portfolio’s performance, both in terms of its volatility and its overall return. That, in turn, will affect how much you can take out of the portfolio each year without jeopardizing its longevity.
  • Assumptions about market volatility: A financial downturn that reduces a portfolio’s value, especially during the early years of withdrawal, could increase the need to use part of the principal for income. It could also require the sale of some assets, draining the portfolio of any future income those assets might have provided. Either of those factors could ultimately affect the sustainability of a portfolio’s withdrawal rate.
  • Anticipated inflation rates: Determining a sustainable withdrawal rate means making an assumption about changes in the cost of living, which will likely increase the amount you’ll need the portfolio to provide each year to meet your expenses.
  • The amounts you withdraw each year: When planning your retirement income, your anticipated expenses will obviously affect what you need to withdraw from your retirement portfolio, and therefore affect its sustainability. However, because this is one aspect over which you have at least some control, you may find that you must adjust your anticipated retirement spending in order to make your withdrawal rate sustainable over time.
  • Any sources of relatively predictable income, such as Social Security, pension payments, or some types of annuity benefits: Having some stability from other resources may allow greater flexibility in planning withdrawals from your portfolio.
  • Your individual comfort level with your plan’s probability of success.

As with most components of retirement income planning, each of these factors affects the others. For example, projecting a longer lifespan will increase your need to reduce your withdrawals, boost your returns, or both, in order to make your withdrawal rate sustainable. And of course, if you set too high a withdrawal rate during the early retirement years, you may face greater uncertainty about whether you will outlive your savings.

Example: Mary’s financial professional tells her that given her current withdrawal rate and asset allocation strategy, there is an 80 percent chance that her retirement savings will last until she’s 95 years old. Mary has several choices. If she wants to increase her confidence level–maybe she prefers a 95 percent chance of success–she might reduce her yearly spending, try to increase her portfolio’s return by changing her asset allocation, direct a portion of her portfolio into an investment that offers a guaranteed lifetime income, or some combination. On the other hand, if she’s a risk taker and is comfortable with having only a 75 percent chance that her portfolio will last throughout her lifetime, she might decide to go ahead and spend a bit more now. (This is a hypothetical illustration only, not financial advice).

Income-only withdrawals vs. income and principal

Many people plan to withdraw only the income from their portfolios, intending not to touch the principal unless absolutely necessary. This is certainly a valid strategy, and clearly enhances a portfolio’s sustainability. However, for most people, it requires a substantial initial amount; if your portfolio can’t produce enough income to meet necessary expenses, an income-only strategy could mean that you might needlessly deprive yourself of enjoying your retirement years as much as you could have done. A sustainable withdrawal rate can balance the need for both immediate and future income by relying heavily on the portfolio’s earnings during the early years of retirement, and gradually increasing use of the principal over time in order to preserve the portfolio’s earning power for as long as possible.

Planning to use both income and principal requires careful attention to all the factors mentioned above. Also, in establishing your strategy, you should consider whether you want to use up all of your retirement savings yourself or plan to leave money to heirs. If you want to ensure that you leave an estate, you will need to adjust your withdrawal rate accordingly.

Your decision about income versus income-plus-principal should balance the need for your portfolio to earn a return high enough to sustain withdrawals with the need for immediate income. That can provide a challenge when it comes to allocating your assets between income-oriented investments, and investments that have the potential for a higher return but involve greater volatility from year to year. You may need to think of your portfolio as different “buckets”–for example, one “bucket” for your short-term living expenses, another bucket that could replenish your expenses bucket as needed, and another bucket invested for the long term.

Estimating lifespan

In general, life expectancies have been increasing over the last century. Life probabilities at any age are listed on the Social Security Administration’s Period Life Table, available under the Actuarial Publications section of its web site.

Regularly updated longevity estimates are published in the National Center for Health Statistics’ National Vital Statistics Reports.

However, be aware that averages are not necessarily the best guide when determining how long an individual portfolio may need to last. By definition, many people will live beyond the average life expectancy for their age group, particularly those who have a family history of longevity. Also, average life expectancies don’t remain static over an individual’s lifetime; a 30-year-old may have an average life expectancy of 76, while a 76-year-old may have a life expectancy of 85.

Couples will need to consider both individuals’ life expectancies when planning a sustainable withdrawal rate.

Establishing a comfort level with uncertainty

As noted previously, setting a sustainable withdrawal rate requires many assumptions and forecasts about what will happen in the future. Changing any of the variables may increase or decrease the level of certainty about whether your portfolio will last as long as you need it to. Increasing certainty about the outcome may require reducing your withdrawal rate or revising your investment strategy. Conversely, increasing your withdrawal rate, especially in the early years of retirement, may also increase the odds that your portfolio will be depleted during your lifetime.

The challenge is to balance all factors so that you have an acceptable level of certainty about the portfolio’s longevity consistent with providing the level of income needed over your expected lifetime and the risk you’re willing to take to provide it.

One increasingly common method for estimating the probability of success is the Monte Carlo simulation. This technique uses a computer program that takes information about your portfolio and proposed withdrawal strategy, and tests them against many randomly generated hypothetical returns for your portfolio, including best-case, worst-case, and average scenarios for the financial markets. Based on those aggregated possibilities, the program calculates your portfolio’s probability of success. Monte Carlo simulations also allow you to revise assumptions about lifespan, withdrawal rates, and asset allocation to see how changing your strategy might affect your portfolio’s chances. Though the process offers no guarantees, it does take into account potential fluctuations in your portfolio’s year-to-year returns. The result is a more sophisticated analysis than simply establishing a withdrawal rate based on a constant rate of return on your investments over time.

Some retirement income strategies tackle the question of uncertainty by including not only income sources that pay variable amounts, but also sources that provide relatively fixed or stable income, or lifetime income that is guaranteed. Just remember that the purchasing power of any fixed payment amounts can be eroded over time by inflation.

Once you’ve established an initial withdrawal rate, you probably should revisit it from time to time to see whether your initial assumptions about rates of return, lifespan, inflation, and expenses are still accurate, and whether your strategy needs to be updated.

Conventional wisdom about withdrawal rates

The process of determining an appropriate withdrawal rate continues to evolve. As baby boomers retire and individual savings increasingly represent a larger share of retirement income, more research is being done on how best to calculate withdrawal rates.

A seminal study on withdrawal rates for tax-deferred retirement accounts (William P. Bengen, “Determining Withdrawal Rates Using Historical Data,” Journal of Financial Planning, October 1994), looked at the annual performance of hypothetical portfolios that are continually rebalanced to achieve a 50-50 mix of large-cap (S&P 500 Index) common stocks and intermediate-term Treasury notes. The study took into account the potential impact of major financial events such as the early Depression years, the stock decline of 1937-1941, and the 1973-74 recession. It found that a withdrawal rate of slightly more than four percent would have provided inflation-adjusted income for at least 30 years. More recently, Bengen used similar assumptions to show that a higher initial withdrawal rate–closer to five percent–might be possible during the early, active years of retirement if withdrawals in later years grow more slowly than inflation.

Other studies have shown that broader portfolio diversification and rebalancing strategies can also have a significant impact on initial withdrawal rates. In an October 2004 study (“Decision Rules and Portfolio Management for Retirees: Is the ‘Safe’ Initial Withdrawal Rate Too Safe?,” Journal of Financial Planning), Jonathan Guyton found that adding asset classes, such as international stocks and real estate, helped increase portfolio longevity (although these asset classes have special risks). Another strategy that Guyton used in modeling initial withdrawal rates was to freeze the withdrawal amount during years of poor portfolio performance. By applying so-called decision rules that take into account portfolio performance from year to year, Guyton found it was possible to have “safe” initial withdrawal rates above five percent.

A still more flexible approach to withdrawal rates builds on Guyton’s methodology. William J. Klinger suggests that a withdrawal rate can be fine tuned from year to year using Guyton’s methods, but basing the initial rate on one of three retirement profiles. For example, one person might withdraw uniform inflation-adjusted amounts throughout their retirement; another might choose to spend more money early in retirement and less later; and still another might plan to increase withdrawals with age. This model requires estimating the odds that the portfolio will last throughout retirement. One retiree might be comfortable with a 95 percent chance that his or her strategy will permit the portfolio to last throughout retirement, while another might need assurance that the portfolio has a 99 percent chance of lifetime success. The study (“Using Decision Rules to Create Retirement Withdrawal Profiles,” Journal of Financial Planning, August 2007) suggests that this more complex model might permit a higher initial withdrawal rate, but it also means the annual income provided is likely to vary more over the years.

Don’t forget that all these studies are based on historical data about the performance of various types of investments, and past results don’t guarantee future performance.

Market volatility and portfolio longevity

When setting an initial withdrawal rate, it’s important to take a portfolio’s volatility into account. The need for a relatively predictable income stream in retirement isn’t the only reason for this. According to several studies in the late 1990s by Philip L. Cooley, Carl M. Hubbard, and Daniel T. Walz, the more dramatic a portfolio’s fluctuations, the greater the odds that the portfolio might not last as long as needed. If it becomes necessary during market downturns to sell some assets in order to continue to meet a fixed withdrawal rate, selling at an inopportune time could affect a portfolio’s ability to generate future income. And a steep market downturn, or having to sell assets to meet unexpected expenses during the early years of retirement, could magnify the impact of either event on your portfolio’s longevity because the number of years over which those investments could potentially have produced income would be greater.

Withdrawal rates and tax considerations

When calculating a withdrawal rate, don’t forget the tax impact of those withdrawals. For example, your withdrawal rates may need to cover any taxes owed on that money. Depending on your strategy for providing income, you could owe capital gains taxes or ordinary income taxes. Also, if you are selling investments to maintain a uniform withdrawal rate, the tax impact of those sales could affect your withdrawal strategy. Minimizing the tax consequences of securities sales or withdrawals from tax-advantaged retirement savings plans could also help your portfolio last longer.

Posted in 401(k), Financial Planning, Investing and the Markets, Investment, Ira Rollover, John Jastremski, Pension, Pension Plan, The Retirement Group John Jastremski, The Retirement Group LLC | Comments Off

8 Tenets when Picking a Mutual Fund

When hiring active managers, many advisors look for the star rating on Morningstar rather than using solid criteria.  Advisors and investors should focus on active managers who skillfully allocate capital to their best investment ideas. Passive investment options are widely available to investors who want market returns with low fees. Active managers must add value by acting in clients’ best interests by allocating capital to attractive risk-adjusted investments to increase returns and more than justify fees.

 “Wide diversification is only required when investors do not understand what they are doing. Diversification is a protection against ignorance. It makes very little sense for those who know what they’re doing.”

– Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway

Look for Value managers that fit the following criteria. They are:

  1. At least 10 yr performance history
  2. Low expense ratios.
  3. A single manager because it demonstrates ownership of fund and avoids group think
  4. Manager does not over diversify and is a best idea or focus fund
  5. High cash positions- Shows that a manager is actively searching for the best opportunities
  6. Consistently low P/E ratio on holdings (ex. S&P 500 P/E = 19.8)
  7. Managers who eat their own cooking- meaning that they have their own money in their fund
  8. Low turnover rate- demonstrates convictions in holdings

Briefly covered is each of the 8 criteria below:

  1. Long term survivability: A minimum of 10 years of performance history gives us a long term look into how the manager performs through varying market cycles. We prefer to see at least one market crash and rebound to see how the manager reacts and makes their investment decisions.
  2. Low cost of management: We expect low cost management of the fund just like we would expect low cost management for a company. The more value that can be driven from the fund the more profitable the fund is for its managers and its shareholders.
  3. Single Vision and Responsibility: Single managers are less likely to be convinced and/or moved from their originating ideals. When a single manager makes a decision he/she alone is responsible for that decision. When a team of managers make a decision, it is difficult to place blame or praise (identify ownership) for an investment decision. Single managers by definition have more riding on their decisions and thus spend more time during the due diligence portion of their investment hypotheses.
  4. Does not Over-diversify: Volatility-aversion of investors and lack of in-depth research influence fund managers into creating over-diversified portfolios, diluting the alphas of their best ideas. This leads to the widespread underperformance of mutual funds compared to their benchmark indices after deducting the expenses and fees. Our definition of risk, defined as “permanent capital impairment”, forces us to disregard short-term volatility and focus on making the best investment decisions based on fundamental research.

“There is no sense diluting your best ideas or favorite situations by continuing to work your way down a list of attractive opportunities.”

        -Joel Greenblatt, Gotham Capital

  1. Holds cash when deals are unavailable: Good managers stay true to their ideals and hold fast when markets do not provide good investment opportunities. In elevated markets we see good value manager’s portfolios having increasing cash positions. When managers cannot find good companies to re-invest their capital into, they are forced to hold cash because they are unwilling to deviate (drift) from their investment objective.
  2. Focus on finding “On Sale” companies: Value mangers are always trying purchase companies at a price that is lower than what their intrinsic value is. One way of identifying these companies is through the Price to Earnings Multiple. A low market price in relation to a company’s earnings signifies a cheaper price than if the market realized the company’s intrinsic value.
  3. Eat their own cooking: We place high importance on whether or not a manager has any of his/her own money invested along-side their shareholders. We find it hard to invest with a manager who does not believe in their own product.
  4. High Level of Conviction: Low turnover signifies a high level of conviction in the positions within the fund. When a manager has low turnover he/she is not transitioning in and out of specific positions because he/she is confident in their research and investment hypothesis.

“It talked about a couple of studies, including the best-performing fund from 2000 to 2010, which was up 18% a year even when the market was flat. The average investor in that fund went in and out at the wrong times on a dollar-weighted basis to lose 11% per year. Meanwhile, the statistics for the top-quartile managers for that decade were stunning: 97% of them spent at least three of those 10 years in the bottom half of performance, 79% spent at least three years I the bottom quartile, and 47% spent at least three years in the bottom decile.”

-Joel Greenblatt, in reference to his book The Big Secret for the Small Investor during an interview with Barron’s.com

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Reaching Retirement: Now What? -by John Jastremski

You’ve worked hard your whole life anticipating the day you could finally retire. Well, that day has arrived! But with it comes the realization that you’ll need to carefully manage your assets so that your retirement savings will last.

Review your portfolio regularly

Traditional wisdom holds that retirees should value the safety of their principal above all else. For this reason, some people shift their investment portfolio to fixed-income investments, such as bonds and money market accounts, as they approach retirement. The problem with this approach is that you’ll effectively lose purchasing power if the return on your investments doesn’t keep up with inflation. While generally it makes sense for your portfolio to become progressively more conservative as you grow older, it may be wise to consider maintaining at least a portion of your portfolio in growth investments.

Spend wisely

Don’t assume that you’ll be able to live on the earnings generated by your investment portfolio and retirement accounts for the rest of your life. At some point, you’ll probably have to start drawing on the principal. But you’ll want to be careful not to spend too much too soon. This can be a great temptation, particularly early in retirement.

A good guideline is to make sure your annual withdrawal rate isn’t greater than 4% to 6% of your portfolio. (The appropriate percentage for you will depend on a number of factors, including the length of your payout period and your portfolio’s asset allocation.) Remember that if you whittle away your principal too quickly, you may not be able to earn enough on the remaining principal to carry you through the later years.

Understand your retirement plan distribution options

Most pension plans pay benefits in the form of an annuity. If you’re married you generally must choose between a higher retirement benefit paid over your lifetime, or a smaller benefit that continues to your spouse after your death. A financial professional can help you with this difficult, but important, decision.

Other employer retirement plans like 401(k)s typically don’t pay benefits as annuities; the distribution (and investment) options available to you may be limited. This may be important because if you’re trying to stretch your savings, you’ll want to withdraw money from your retirement accounts as slowly as possible. Doing so will conserve the principal balance, and will also give those funds the chance to continue growing tax deferred during your retirement years.

Consider whether it makes sense to roll your employer retirement account into a traditional IRA, which typically has very flexible withdrawal options.1 If you decide to work for another employer, you might also be able to transfer assets you’ve accumulated to your new employer’s plan, if the new employer offers a retirement plan and allows a rollover.

Plan for required distributions

Keep in mind that you must generally begin taking minimum distributions from employer retirement plans and traditional IRAs when you reach age 70½, whether you need them or not. Plan to spend these dollars first in retirement.

If you own a Roth IRA, you aren’t required to take any distributions during your lifetime. Your funds can continue to grow tax deferred, and qualified distributions will be tax free.2 Because of these unique tax benefits, it generally makes sense to withdraw funds from a Roth IRA last.

Know your Social Security options

You’ll need to decide when to start receiving your Social Security retirement benefits. At normal retirement age (which varies from 66 to 67, depending on the year you were born), you can receive your full Social Security retirement benefit. You can elect to receive your Social Security retirement benefit as early as age 62, but if you begin receiving your benefit before your normal retirement age, your benefit will be reduced. Conversely, if you delay retirement, you can increase your Social Security retirement benefit.

Consider phasing

For many workers, the sudden change from employee to retiree can be a difficult one. Some employers, especially those in the public sector, have begun offering “phased retirement” plans to address this problem. Phased retirement generally allows you to continue working on a part-time basis–you benefit by having a smoother transition from full-time employment to retirement, and your employer benefits by retaining the services of a talented employee. Some phased retirement plans even allow you to access all or part of your pension benefit while you work part time.

Of course, to the extent you are able to support yourself with a salary, the less you’ll need to dip into your retirement savings. Another advantage of delaying full retirement is that you can continue to build tax-deferred funds in your IRA or employer-sponsored retirement plan. Keep in mind, though, that you may be required to start taking minimum distributions from your qualified retirement plan or traditional IRA once you reach age 70½, if you want to avoid substantial penalties.

If you do continue to work, make sure you understand the consequences. Some pension plans base your retirement benefit on your final average pay. If you work part time, your pension benefit may be reduced because your pay has gone down. Remember, too, that income from a job may affect the amount of Social Security retirement benefit you receive if you are under normal retirement age. But once you reach normal retirement age, you can earn as much as you want without affecting your Social Security retirement benefit.

Facing a shortfall

What if you’re nearing retirement and you determine that your retirement income may not be adequate to meet your retirement expenses? If retirement is just around the corner, you may need to drastically change your spending and saving habits. Saving even a little money can really add up if you do it consistently and earn a reasonable rate of return. And by making permanent changes to your spending habits, you’ll find that your savings will last even longer. Start by preparing a budget to see where your money is going. Here are some suggested ways to stretch your retirement dollars:

• Refinance your home mortgage if interest rates have dropped since you obtained your loan, or reduce your housing expenses by moving to a less expensive home or apartment.

• Access the equity in your home. Use the proceeds from a second mortgage or home equity line of credit to pay off higher-interest-rate debts, or consider a reverse mortgage.

• Sell one of your cars if you have two. When your remaining car needs to be replaced, consider buying a used one.

• Transfer credit card balances from higher-interest cards to a low- or no-interest card, and then cancel the old accounts.

• Ask about insurance discounts and review your insurance needs (e.g., your need for life insurance may have lessened).

• Reduce discretionary expenses such as lunches and dinners out.

By planning carefully, investing wisely, and spending thoughtfully, you can increase the likelihood that your retirement will be a financially comfortable one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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, 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.

Posted in 401K.com, Estate Planning, PPA, The Retirement Group John Jastremski, Verizon, Why Investment | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Couples Retiring on the Same Page. By John Jastremski

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, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Pfizer, Verizon, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, 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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Money & Taxes After Marriage. By John Jastremski

Some not-so-small matters to think about.

When you tie the knot, your financial lives will change. Marriage is one of those life events that can really affect your money and tax situation. If you are about to wed, here are a couple of things you’ll want to consider when it comes to taxes and household cash flow.

You can now elect to file jointly. Marriage allows you to file your income taxes together, and that can really benefit your financial picture. Joint filers may deduct two exemption amounts from their income, which amounts to one of the biggest standard deductions in the federal tax code. For 2014, a single filer can take a standard deduction of $6,200 but a married couple filing jointly can take one of $12,400.1

In addition, joint filers are eligible for key tax breaks at comparatively higher income thresholds than single filers, and filing jointly opens the door to eligibility for the American Opportunity and Lifetime Learning Credits, the Child and Dependent Care Credit, the adoption credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit.2

So why would any married couple file separately? Good question. In most cases, filing separately invites higher taxes for a married couple, and when marrieds forego joint filing, they become ineligible for the tuition and fees deduction, the student loan deduction and most of the deductions mentioned in the preceding paragraph.2

The deduction for traditional IRA contributions really shrinks if you reject joint filing status. Want an example? Look at the difference if you contribute to a traditional IRA in 2014 while covered by a retirement plan at work. Marrieds who file jointly may take a full deduction up to the amount of their contribution limit if their 2014 modified AGI is $96,000 or less. Marrieds who file separately can’t take any deduction for traditional IRA contributions once their 2014 income hits $10,000. (Only a partial deduction is available underneath that threshold.)2,3

In rare circumstances, filing separately may offer particular tax advantages. Take the case of a couple with a high adjusted gross income and major out-of-pocket medical expenses. Under the federal tax code, you can only deduct the amount of those costs that exceeds 10% of AGI. If the hypothetical couple has an AGI of $220,000 when filing jointly, 10% of that is $22,000. If they file separately, the 10% threshold can apply to only one of the couple’s incomes. If the afflicted person has an AGI of $40,000, the 10% threshold becomes $4,000. (One note here: until December 31, 2016, taxpayers who are age 65 and older and their spouses may deduct out-of-pocket medical care expenses that exceed 7.5% of AGI. That also applies for individuals who turn 65 during the tax year.)2

Run the numbers to see which filing status gives you the lowest taxes. That may sound arduous, but software and/or a professional tax preparer will make it less so for you. You will probably elect to file jointly, but compare the projections to inform your decision.

Your household budget will likely need adjusting. Maybe you were only budgeting for one before this; now you need to budget for two, or maybe two plus kids. If you are newlyweds without kids, you still need to watch income, debts and assets. Find a screen or a piece of paper and list your combined monthly income sources and your essential and discretionary expenses each month. Aim to save some money per month for your emergency fund, even just a little.

A conversation about how you each see money will be informative. How much should you spend each month? How should you attack debts? What accounts should you consolidate, and what legal and financial paperwork do you need to update? Will you own certain assets jointly, or individually? Beyond the budget, pursuing long-term money goals with a shared investment outlook is important. Life insurance and a will also go on your to-do list.  

All this is relevant for blended families too, of course, and they have other concerns as well. Existing trusts and beneficiary designations may need to be modified with the marriage. College aid may be harder to come by: if a “custodial” parent goes from single to married, the stepdad or stepmom’s income goes into the FAFSA calculation. Child support from past spouses may be inadequate or absent. In late 2013, a Census Bureau report looking at the years 1994-2012 found that in cases where the child had no contact with the other parent, child support was paid less than 31% of the time. In 2011, less than 50% of eligible parents actually got 100% of the child support payments awarded to them. About a quarter of eligible parents received nothing. Blended families need to be vigilant about these possible predicaments.4,5

Set aside some time for a conversation. Turn to a financial professional for input, if you wish. When you address these issues proactively, you do yourselves a financial favor. Discussing these kinds of matters and planning for them as a couple can help “marry” your financial lives and put them on the same page.

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 – taxfoundation.org/article/2014-tax-brackets [11/27/13]

2 – turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/IRS-Tax-Return/Should-You-and-Your-Spouse-File-Taxes-Jointly-or-Separately-/INF20137.html [8/21/14]

3 – tinyurl.com/k3omgyk [2/19/14]

4 – money.msn.com/family-money/4-money-traps-of-blended-families [2/15/13]

5 – articles.latimes.com/2013/nov/20/nation/la-na-1121-child-support-20131121 [11/20/13]

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, Qwest, Chevron, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, 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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Retirement Plans for Small Businesses -by John Jastremski

If you’re self-employed or own a small business and you haven’t established a retirement savings plan, what are you waiting for? A retirement plan can help you and your employees save for the future.

Tax advantages

A retirement plan can have significant tax advantages:

• Your contributions are deductible when made

• Your contributions aren’t taxed to an employee until distributed from the plan

• Money in the retirement program grows tax deferred (or, in the case of Roth accounts, potentially tax free)

Types of plans

Retirement plans are usually either IRA-based (like SEPs and SIMPLE IRAs) or “qualified” (like 401(k)s, profit-sharing plans, and defined benefit plans). Qualified plans are generally more complicated and expensive to maintain than IRA-based plans because they have to comply with specific Internal Revenue Code and ERISA (the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) requirements in order to qualify for their tax benefits. Also, qualified plan assets must be held either in trust or by an insurance company. With IRA-based plans, your employees own (i.e., “vest” in) your contributions immediately. With qualified plans, you can generally require that your employees work a certain numbers of years before they vest.

Which plan is right for you?

With a dizzying array of retirement plans to choose from, each with unique advantages and disadvantages, you’ll need to clearly define your goals before attempting to choose a plan. For example, do you want:

• To maximize the amount you can save for your own retirement?

• A plan funded by employer contributions? By employee contributions? Both?

• A plan that allows you and your employees to make pretax and/or Roth contributions?

• The flexibility to skip employer contributions in some years?

• A plan with lowest costs? Easiest administration?

The answers to these questions can help guide you and your retirement professional to the plan (or combination of plans) most appropriate for you.

SEPs

A SEP allows you to set up an IRA (a “SEP-IRA”) for yourself and each of your eligible employees. You contribute a uniform percentage of pay for each employee, although you don’t have to make contributions every year, offering you some flexibility when business conditions vary. For 2015, your contributions for each employee are limited to the lesser of 25% of pay or $53,000. Most employers, including those who are self-employed, can establish a SEP.

SEPs have low start-up and operating costs and can be established using an easy two-page form. The plan must cover any employee aged 21 or older who has worked for you for three of the last five years and who earns $600 or more.

SIMPLE IRA plan

The SIMPLE IRA plan is available if you have 100 or fewer employees. Employees can elect to make pretax contributions in 2015 of up to $12,500 ($15,500 if age 50 or older). You must either match your employees’ contributions dollar for dollar–up to 3% of each employee’s compensation–or make a fixed contribution of 2% of compensation for each eligible employee. (The 3% match can be reduced to 1% in any two of five years.) Each employee who earned $5,000 or more in any two prior years, and who is expected to earn at least $5,000 in the current year, must be allowed to participate in the plan. SIMPLE IRA plans are easy to set up. You fill out a short form to establish a plan and ensure that SIMPLE IRAs are set up for each employee. A financial institution can do much of the paperwork. Additionally, administrative costs are low.

Profit-sharing plan

Typically, only you, not your employees, contribute to a qualified profit-sharing plan. Your contributions are discretionary–there’s usually no set amount you need to contribute each year, and you have the flexibility to contribute nothing at all in a given year if you so choose (although your contributions must be nondiscriminatory, and “substantial and recurring,” for your plan to remain qualified). The plan must contain a formula for determining how your contributions are allocated among plan participants. A separate account is established for each participant that holds your contributions and any investment gains or losses. Generally, each employee with a year of service is eligible to participate (although you can require two years of service if your contributions are immediately vested). Contributions for any employee in 2015 can’t exceed the lesser of $53,000 or 100% of the employee’s compensation.

401(k) plan

The 401(k) plan (technically, a qualified profit-sharing plan with a cash or deferred feature) has become a hugely popular retirement savings vehicle for small businesses. According to the Investment Company Institute, 401(k) plans held $4.3 trillion of assets as of March 2014, and covered 52 million active participants. (Source: www.ici.org/401(k), accessed February 5, 2015.) With a 401(k) plan, employees can make pretax and/or Roth contributions in 2015 of up to $18,000 of pay ($24,000 if age 50 or older). These deferrals go into a separate account for each employee and aren’t taxed until distributed. Generally, each employee with a year of service must be allowed to contribute to the plan.

You can also make employer contributions to your 401(k) plan–either matching contributions or discretionary profit-sharing contributions. Combined employer and employee contributions for any employee in 2015 can’t exceed the lesser of $53,000 (plus catch-up contributions of up to $6,000 if your employee is age 50 or older) or 100% of the employee’s compensation. In general, each employee with a year of service is eligible to receive employer contributions, but you can require two years of service if your contributions are immediately vested.

401(k) plans are required to perform somewhat complicated testing each year to make sure benefits aren’t disproportionately weighted toward higher paid employees. However, you don’t have to perform discrimination testing if you adopt a “safe harbor” 401(k) plan. With a safe harbor 401(k) plan, you generally have to either match your employees’ contributions (100% of employee deferrals up to 3% of compensation, and 50% of deferrals between 3 and 5% of compensation), or make a fixed contribution of 3% of compensation for all eligible employees, regardless of whether they contribute to the plan. Your contributions must be fully vested.

Another way to avoid discrimination testing is by adopting a SIMPLE 401(k) plan. These plans are similar to SIMPLE IRAs, but can also allow loans and Roth contributions. Because they’re still qualified plans (and therefore more complicated than SIMPLE IRAs), and allow less deferrals than traditional 401(k)s, SIMPLE 401(k)s haven’t become popular.

Defined benefit plan

A defined benefit plan is a qualified retirement plan that guarantees your employees a specified level of benefits at retirement (for example, an annual benefit equal to 30% of final average pay). As the name suggests, it’s the retirement benefit that’s defined, not the level of contributions to the plan. In 2015, a defined benefit plan can provide an annual benefit of up to $210,000 (or 100% of pay if less). The services of an actuary are generally needed to determine the annual contributions that you must make to the plan to fund the promised benefit. Your contributions may vary from year to year, depending on the performance of plan investments and other factors.

In general, defined benefit plans are too costly and too complex for most small businesses. However, because they can provide the largest benefit of any retirement plan, and therefore allow the largest deductible employer contribution, defined benefit plans can be attractive to businesses that have a small group of highly compensated owners who are seeking to contribute as much money as possible on a tax-deferred basis.

As an employer, you have an important role to play in helping America’s workers save. Now is the time to look into retirement plan programs for you and your employees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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, 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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Changing Jobs? Take Your 401(k) and Roll It -by John Jastremski

If you’ve lost your job, or are changing jobs, you may be wondering what to do with your 401(k) plan account. It’s important to understand your options.

What will I be entitled to?

If you leave your job (voluntarily or involuntarily), you’ll be entitled to a distribution of your vested balance. Your vested balance always includes your own contributions (pretax, after-tax, and Roth) and typically any investment earnings on those amounts. It also includes employer contributions (and earnings) that have satisfied your plan’s vesting schedule.

In general, you must be 100% vested in your employer’s contributions after 3 years of service (“cliff vesting”), or you must vest gradually, 20% per year until you’re fully vested after 6 years (“graded vesting”). Plans can have faster vesting schedules, and some even have 100% immediate vesting. You’ll also be 100% vested once you’ve reached your plan’s normal retirement age.

It’s important for you to understand how your particular plan’s vesting schedule works, because you’ll forfeit any employer contributions that haven’t vested by the time you leave your job. Your summary plan description (SPD) will spell out how the vesting schedule for your particular plan works. If you don’t have one, ask your plan administrator for it. If you’re on the cusp of vesting, it may make sense to wait a bit before leaving, if you have that luxury.

Don’t spend it, roll it!

While this pool of dollars may look attractive, don’t spend it unless you absolutely need to. If you take a distribution you’ll be taxed, at ordinary income tax rates, on the entire value of your account except for any after-tax or Roth 401(k) contributions you’ve made. And, if you’re not yet age 55, an additional 10% penalty may apply to the taxable portion of your payout. (Special rules may apply if you receive a lump-sum distribution and you were born before 1936, or if the lump-sum includes employer stock.)

If your vested balance is more than $5,000, you can leave your money in your employer’s plan until you reach normal retirement age. But your employer must also allow you to make a direct rollover to an IRA or to another employer’s 401(k) plan. As the name suggests, in a direct rollover the money passes directly from your 401(k) plan account to the IRA or other plan. This is preferable to a “60-day rollover,” where you get the check and then roll the money over yourself, because your employer has to withhold 20% of the taxable portion of a 60-day rollover. You can still roll over the entire amount of your distribution, but you’ll need to come up with the 20% that’s been withheld until you recapture that amount when you file your income tax return.

Should I roll over to my new employer’s 401(k) plan or to an IRA?

Assuming both options are available to you, there’s no right or wrong answer to this question. There are strong arguments to be made on both sides. You need to weigh all of the factors, and make a decision based on your own needs and priorities. It’s best to have a professional assist you with this, since the decision you make may have significant consequences–both now and in the future.

Reasons to roll over to an IRA:

• You generally have more investment choices with an IRA than with an employer’s 401(k) plan. You typically may freely move your money around to the various investments offered by your IRA trustee, and you may divide up your balance among as many of those investments as you want. By contrast, employer-sponsored plans typically give you a limited menu of investments (usually mutual funds) from which to choose.

• You can freely allocate your IRA dollars among different IRA trustees/custodians. There’s no limit on how many direct, trustee-to-trustee IRA transfers you can do in a year. This gives you flexibility to change trustees often if you are dissatisfied with investment performance or customer service. It can also allow you to have IRA accounts with more than one institution for added diversification. With an employer’s plan, you can’t move the funds to a different trustee unless you leave your job and roll over the funds.

• An IRA may give you more flexibility with distributions. Your distribution options in a 401(k) plan depend on the terms of that particular plan, and your options may be limited. However, with an IRA, the timing and amount of distributions is generally at your discretion (until you reach age 70½ and must start taking required minimum distributions in the case of a traditional IRA).

• You can roll over (essentially “convert”) your 401(k) plan distribution to a Roth IRA. You’ll generally have to pay taxes on the amount you roll over (minus any after-tax contributions you’ve made), but any qualified distributions from the Roth IRA in the future will be tax free.

Reasons to roll over to your new employer’s 401(k) plan:

• Many employer-sponsored plans have loan provisions. If you roll over your retirement funds to a new employer’s plan that permits loans, you may be able to borrow up to 50% of the amount you roll over if you need the money. You can’t borrow from an IRA–you can only access the money in an IRA by taking a distribution, which may be subject to income tax and penalties. (You can, however, give yourself a short-term loan from an IRA by taking a distribution, and then rolling the dollars back to an IRA within 60 days.)

• A rollover to your new employer’s 401(k) plan may provide greater creditor protection than a rollover to an IRA. Most 401(k) plans receive unlimited protection from your creditors under federal law. Your creditors (with certain exceptions) cannot attach your plan funds to satisfy any of your debts and obligations, regardless of whether you’ve declared bankruptcy. In contrast, any amounts you roll over to a traditional or Roth IRA are generally protected under federal law only if you declare bankruptcy. Any creditor protection your IRA may receive in cases outside of bankruptcy will generally depend on the laws of your particular state. If you are concerned about asset protection, be sure to seek the assistance of a qualified professional.

• You may be able to postpone required minimum distributions. For traditional IRAs, these distributions must begin by April 1 following the year you reach age 70½. However, if you work past that age and are still participating in your employer’s 401(k) plan, you can delay your first distribution from that plan until April 1 following the year of your retirement. (You also must own no more than 5% of the company.)

• If your distribution includes Roth 401(k) contributions and earnings, you can roll those amounts over to either a Roth IRA or your new employer’s Roth 401(k) plan (if it accepts rollovers). If you roll the funds over to a Roth IRA, the Roth IRA holding period will determine when you can begin receiving tax-free qualified distributions from the IRA. So if you’re establishing a Roth IRA for the first time, your Roth 401(k) dollars will be subject to a brand new 5-year holding period. On the other hand, if you roll the dollars over to your new employer’s Roth 401 (k) plan, your existing 5-year holding period will carry over to the new plan. This may enable you to receive tax-free qualified distributions sooner.

When evaluating whether to initiate a rollover always be sure to (1) ask about possible surrender charges that may be imposed by your employer plan, or new surrender charges that your IRA may impose, (2) compare investment fees and expenses charged by your IRA (and investment funds) with those charged by your employer plan (if any), and (3) understand any accumulated rights or guarantees that you may be giving up by transferring funds out of your employer plan.

What about outstanding plan loans?

In general, if you have an outstanding plan loan, you’ll need to pay it back, or the outstanding balance will be taxed as if it had been distributed to you in cash. If you can’t pay the loan back before you leave, you’ll still have 60 days to roll over the amount that’s been treated as a distribution to your IRA. Of course, you’ll need to come up with the dollars from other sources.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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, 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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Trusteed IRAs -by John Jastremski

The tax code allows IRAs to be created as trust accounts, custodial accounts, and annuity contracts. Regardless of the form, the federal tax rules are generally the same for all IRAs. But the structure of the IRA agreement can have a significant impact on how your IRA is administered. This article will focus on a type of trust account commonly called a “trusteed IRA,” or an “individual retirement trust.”

 

Why might you need a trusteed IRA?

 

In a typical IRA, your beneficiary takes control of the IRA assets upon your death. There’s nothing to stop your beneficiary from withdrawing all or part of the IRA funds at any time. This ability to withdraw assets at will may be troublesome to you for several reasons. For example, you may simply be concerned that your beneficiary will squander the IRA funds.

 

Or it may be your wish that your IRA “stretch” after your death–that is, continue to accumulate on a tax-deferred (or in the case of Roth IRAs, potentially tax-free) basis–for as long as possible. IRA owners sometimes select much younger IRA beneficiaries because their young age means a longer life expectancy, and this in turn requires smaller required minimum distributions (RMDs) from the IRA each year after your death–allowing more of your IRA to continue to grow on a tax-favored basis for a longer period of time. Your intent to stretch out the IRA payments may be defeated if your beneficiary has total control over the IRA assets upon your death.

 

Even if your beneficiary doesn’t deplete the IRA assets, in a typical IRA you normally have no say about where the funds go when your beneficiary dies. Your beneficiary, or the IRA agreement, usually specifies who gets the funds at that point. And in a typical IRA, particularly a custodial IRA, your beneficiary is responsible for investing the IRA assets after your death, regardless of his or her inclination, skill, or experience.

 

A trusteed IRA can help solve all of these problems. With a trusteed IRA, you can’t stop the payment of RMDs to your beneficiary but you can restrict any additional payments from this IRA. For example, you could maximize the period your IRA will stretch by directing the trustee to pay only RMDs to your beneficiary. Or you can ensure that your beneficiary’s needs are taken care of by providing the trustee with the discretion to make payments to your beneficiary in addition to RMDs as needed for your beneficiary’s health, welfare, or education.

 

Another option is to impose restrictions on distributions only until you’re comfortable your beneficiary has reached an age where he or she will be mature enough to handle the IRA assets.

 

In each case, the balance of the IRA (if any) passing, upon your beneficiary’s death, can be paid to a contingent beneficiary of your choosing (the contingent beneficiary will continue to receive RMDs based on your primary beneficiary’s remaining life expectancy). For example, if you’ve remarried, you may want to be sure your current spouse is provided for upon your death, but also that any IRA funds remaining on your spouse’s death pass to the children of your first marriage. Or you may want to ensure that if your spouse remarries, his or her new spouse won’t be the ultimate recipient of your IRA assets.

 

A trusteed IRA can also be structured to qualify, for example, as a marital, QTIP, or credit shelter (bypass) trust, potentially simplifying your estate planning.

 

Finally, a trusteed IRA can even be a valuable tool during your lifetime. For example, the IRA can provide that if you become incapacitated the trustee will step in and take over (or continue) the investment of assets, and distribute benefits on your behalf as needed or required, ensuring that your IRA won’t be in limbo until a guardian is appointed.

 

How do you establish a trusteed IRA?

 

First, you’ll need to find a trustee that offers IRA planning services. Not all do, and the ones that do don’t all provide the same amount of flexibility. So you may need to shop around to find a trustee that can meet your particular needs. As with a typical IRA, you’ll name the beneficiary of the IRA. You and your attorney will work with the trustee to draft a beneficiary designation form and trust agreement that contain any custom language that you need.

 

Is a trusteed IRA right for you?

 

While trusteed IRAs can be as flexible as a particular trustee will allow, they’re not right for everyone. The minimum balance required to establish a trusteed IRA, and the fees charged, are usually significantly higher than for typical custodial IRAs, making trusteed IRAs most appropriate for large IRA accounts. You may also incur significant attorney fees and other costs. And in some cases, another approach might be more appropriate. For example, you may be able to achieve the same results as a trusteed IRA by instead naming a trust as the beneficiary of your IRA.

 

The “see-through” trust

 

Unlike a trusteed IRA, where the trust is the IRA funding vehicle and you select the beneficiary of the IRA, with a see-through trust you name the trust itself as the IRA beneficiary, and you also select the beneficiary of the trust.

 

Normally, when you name an IRA beneficiary that isn’t an individual (i.e., a trust, charity, or your estate), that beneficiary must receive the entire balance of your IRA within five years after your death. However, special rules apply to trusts. If specific IRS rules are followed, then the trust beneficiary, and not the trust itself, will be deemed the beneficiary of the IRA, allowing RMDs to be calculated using the trust beneficiary’s life expectancy and avoiding the five-year payout rule. Because the IRS looks beyond the trust to find the IRA beneficiary, this is commonly referred to as a “see-through trust.”

 

To qualify as a see-through trust, the following four requirements must be met in a timely manner:

 

• The trust beneficiaries must be individuals clearly identifiable (from the trust document) as

designated beneficiaries as of September 30 following the year of your death.

 

• The trust must be valid under state law. A trust that would be valid under state law, except for the fact that the trust lacks a trust “corpus” or principal, will qualify.

 

• The trust must be irrevocable, or (by its terms) become irrevocable upon the death of the IRA

owner or plan participant.

 

• The trust document, all amendments, and the list of trust beneficiaries (including contingent and remainder beneficiaries) must generally be provided to the IRA custodian or plan administrator by the October 31 following the year of your death.

 

If you have multiple trust beneficiaries, then the life expectancy of the oldest beneficiary will be used to calculate RMDs. IRS regulations provide that trust beneficiaries can’t use the “separate account” rule that might otherwise allow each IRA beneficiary to use his or her own life expectancy. If you want each beneficiary to be able to use his or her own life expectancy to calculate RMDs, then you’ll generally need to establish separate trusts for each beneficiary to accomplish that goal.

 

Generally, see-through trusts are structured as “conduit trusts,” where all distributions received by the trustee from the IRA must be passed on to your beneficiary. While an accumulation trust (where the trustee can accumulate distributions, even RMDs, received from the IRA instead of paying them out) might also qualify as a see-through trust, the IRS’s rules governing these trusts are not as clear.

 

Trusteed IRA or see-through trust?

 

Trusteed IRAs are generally less expensive, less complicated, and have less uncertainty than see-through trusts. However, it’s important that you make your decision with an eye toward your total estate plan. You should consult an estate planning professional who can explain your options and help you choose the right vehicle for your particular situation.

 

And a word about spouses …

 

In most cases, if your primary goal is that your IRA stretch for the longest period of time, this can be best accomplished by simply naming your spouse as the sole IRA beneficiary, with no withdrawal restrictions. Upon your death your spouse can roll the IRA assets over to his or her own IRA, or simply treat your IRA as his or her own. Your spouse can then name a beneficiary who’ll receive RMDs over the beneficiary’s life expectancy upon your spouse’s death. But while this may provide the longest potential RMD payout period, it doesn’t solve the problem of your spouse using the funds sooner than you’d like, or naming a contingent beneficiary that’s unacceptable to you. With a trusteed IRA, even if your spouse is the sole beneficiary, your spouse can’t treat the IRA as his or her own if his or her withdrawal rights are limited.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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, 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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Don’t Let Your Retirement Savings Goal Get You Down -by John Jastremski

As a retirement savings plan participant, you know that setting an accumulation goal is an important part of your overall strategy. In fact, each year in its annual Retirement Confidence Survey, the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) reiterates that goal setting is a key factor influencing overall retirement confidence. But for many, a retirement savings goal that could reach as high as $1 million or more may seem like a daunting, even impossible mountain to climb. What if you’re contributing as much as you can to your retirement savings plan, and investing as aggressively as possible within your risk comfort zone, but still feel that you’ll never reach the summit? As with many of life’s toughest challenges, it may help to focus a little less on the end result and more on the details that help refine your plan.*

Retirement goals are based on assumptions

Whether you use a simple online calculator or run a detailed analysis, remember that your retirement savings goal is based on certain assumptions that will, in all likelihood, change over time. Assumptions may include:

Inflation: Many goal-setting calculators and worksheets use an assumed inflation rate to account for the rising cost of living both during your saving years and after you retire. Although inflation has averaged about 2.5% over the last 20 years, there have been years (e.g., 1979 and 1980) when inflation has spiked into double digits. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics) No one can say for sure where prices are headed in the future.

Rates of return: Perhaps even more unpredictable is the rate of return you will earn on your investments over time. Although most calculators use estimated rates of return for pre- and post-retirement years, returns will fluctuate, and there can be no guarantee that you will consistently earn the rate that is used to calculate your savings goal.

Life expectancy: Retirement savings estimates also

usually use an assumed life expectancy, or other time frame that you designate, to determine how long you will need your money to last. Without a crystal ball or time travel machine, however, no one can make exact predictions in this arena.

Salary adjustments: Calculators and worksheets may also include assumptions for pay increases you might receive through the years, which could impact both the lifestyle you desire in retirement and the amount you save in your employer-sponsored plan. As in other areas, salary adjustments are just estimates.

Retirement expenses: Can you say for certain how much you will need each month to live comfortably in retirement? If you’re five years away, the answer to this question may be much easier than if you’re 10, 20, or 30 years away. In order to give you a targeted savings goal, retirement calculators must make assumptions for how much you will need in income during retirement.

Social Security, pension, and other benefits: To be as accurate as possible, a retirement savings goal should also account for additional benefits you may receive. However, these types of benefits typically depend on your earning history, which cannot be accurately assessed until you approach retirement.

All of these assumptions point to why it’s so important to review your retirement savings goal regularly–at least once per year and when major life events (e.g., marriage, divorce, having children) occur. This will help ensure that your goal continues to reflect your life circumstances as well as changing market and economic conditions.

Break it down

Instead of viewing your goal as ONE BIG NUMBER, try to break it down into a monthly amount–i.e., try to figure out how much income you may need on a monthly basis in retirement. That way you can view this monthly need alongside your estimated monthly Social Security benefit, anticipated income from your current level of retirement savings, and any pension or other income you expect. This can help the planning process seem less daunting, more realistic, and most important, more manageable. It can be far less overwhelming to brainstorm ways to close a gap of, say, a few hundred dollars a month than a few hundred thousand dollars over the duration of your retirement.

Make your future self a priority, whenever possible

While every stage of life brings financial challenges, each stage also brings opportunities. Whenever possible, put a little extra toward your retirement.

For example, when you pay off a credit card or school loan, receive a tax refund, get a raise or promotion, celebrate your child’s college graduation (and the end of tuition payments), or receive an unexpected windfall, consider putting some of that extra money toward retirement. Even small amounts can potentially add up over time through the power of compounding.

Another habit to try to get into is increasing your retirement savings plan contribution by 1% a year until you hit the maximum allowable contribution. Increasing your contribution by this small amount may barely be noticeable in the short run–particularly if you do it when you receive a raise–but it can go a long way toward helping you achieve your goal in the long run.

Retirement may be different than you imagine

When people dream about retirement, they often picture images of exotic travel, endless rounds of golf, and fancy restaurants. Yet a recent study found that the older people get, the more they derive happiness from ordinary, everyday experiences such as socializing with friends, reading a good book, taking a scenic drive, or playing board games with grandchildren. (Source: “Happiness from Ordinary and Extraordinary Experiences,” Journal of Consumer Research, June 2014) While your dream may include days filled with extravagant leisure activities, your retirement reality may turn out much different–and that actually may be a matter of choice.

In addition, some retirees are deciding that they don’t want to give up work entirely, choosing instead to cut back their hours or pursue other work-related interests.

You may want to turn a hobby into an income-producing endeavor, or perhaps try out a new occupation–something you’ve always dreamed of doing but never had the time. Such part-time work or additional income can help you meet your retirement income needs for as long as you remain healthy enough and interested.

Plan ahead and think creatively

Chances are, there have been times in your life when you’ve had to put on your thinking cap and find ways to cut costs and adjust your budget. Those skills may come in handy during retirement. But you don’t have to wait to begin thinking about ideas. Consider ways you might trim your expenses or enhance your retirement income now, before the need arises.

Might you downsize to a smaller home or relocate to an area with lower taxes or a lower overall cost of living? Will you and your spouse actually need two vehicles, or might you simply own one and rent another on the occasional days when you need two? Could you put that extra bedroom to use by taking in a boarder, who might also help out with household chores, such as mowing the lawn or shoveling the sidewalks? Or maybe you can cancel that expensive gym membership and turn the spare bedroom into a home workout room.

Jot down any ideas that come to mind and file them away with your retirement financial information. Then when the time comes, you can refer to your list to help refine your retirement budgeting strategy.

The bottom line

As EBRI finds in its research every year, setting a goal is indeed a very important first step in putting together your strategy for retirement. However, you shouldn’t let that number scare you.

As long as you have an estimate in mind, understand all the various assumptions that go into it, break down that goal into a monthly income need, review your goal once a year and as major life events occur, increase your retirement savings whenever possible, and remember to think creatively both now and in retirement–you can take heart knowing that you’re doing your best to prepare for whatever the future may bring.

*All investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal, and there can be no assurance that any investment strategy will be successful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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, 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.

Posted in 401(k), Access.ATT, CAM Annuity, ESRO, Option 1 Withdrawal, Rate Cut | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off