Gauging Your Financial Well-Being. Six signs that you are in good shape.

Gauging Your Financial Well-Being

Six signs that you are in good shape.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

    

Citations.

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

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

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

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

 

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

This material was prepared by Peter Montoya Inc, and does not necessarily represent the views of Linda Bullwinkle, 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.


Linda Bullwinkle is a Representative with FSC Securities and may be reached at http://www.theretirementgroup.com.

 

Certain misconceptions ignore the realities of retirement.

Debunking a Few Popular Retirement Myths
Certain misconceptions ignore the realities of retirement.

Generalizations about money & retirement linger. Some have been around for decades, and some new clichés have recently joined their ranks. Let’s examine a few.

“When I’m retired, I won’t really have to invest anymore.” Many people see retirement as an end instead of a beginning – a finish line for a career. In reality, retirement can be the start of a new and promising phase of life that could last a few decades. If you stop investing entirely, you can risk losing purchasing power; even moderate inflation can devalue the dollars you’ve saved.1

“My taxes will be lower when I retire.” You may earn less, and that could put you in a lower tax bracket. On the other hand, you may end up waving goodbye to some of the deductions and exemptions you enjoyed while working, and state and local taxes will almost certainly rise with time. So while your earned income may decrease, you may end up losing a comparatively larger percentage of it to taxes after you retire.1

“I started saving too late, I have no hope of retiring – I’ll have to work until I’m 85.” If your nest egg is less than six figures, working longer may be the best thing you can do. You will have X fewer years of retirement to plan for, so you can keep earning a salary, and your savings can compound longer. Don’t lose hope: remember that you can make larger, catch-up contributions to IRAs after 50. If you are 50 or older this year, you can put as much as $23,000 into a 401(k) plan. Some participants in 403(b) or 457(b) plans are also allowed that privilege. You can downsize and reduce debts and expenses to effectively give you more retirement money. You can also stay invested (see above).1,2

“I should help my kids with college costs before I retire.” That’s a nice thought, but you don’t have to follow through on it. Remember, there is no retiree “financial aid.” Your student can work, save or borrow to pay for the cost of college, with decades ahead to pay back any loans. You can’t go to the bank and get a “retirement loan.” Moreover, if you outlive your money your kids may end up taking you in and you will be a financial burden to them. So putting your financial needs above theirs is fair and smart as you approach retirement.

“I’ll live on less when I’m retired.” We all have the cliché in our minds of a retired couple in their seventies or eighties living modestly, hardly eating out and asking about senior discounts. In the later phase of retirement, couples often choose to live on less, sometimes out of necessity. The initial phase of retirement may be a different story. For many, the first few years of retirement mean traveling, new adventures, and “living it up” a little – all of which may mean new retirees may actually “live on more” out of the retirement gate.

“No one really retires anymore.” Well, it is true than many baby boomers will probably keep working to some degree. Some people love to work and want to work as long as they can. What if you can’t, though? What if your employer shocks you and suddenly lets you go? What if your health won’t let you work 40 hours or even 10 hours a week? You could retire more abruptly than you believe you will. This is why even workaholics need a solid retirement plan.

There is no “generic” retirement experience, and therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all retirement plan. Each individual, couple or family needs a strategy tailored to their particular money situation and life and financial objectives.

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 – tiaa-cref.org/public/advice-guidance/education/financial-ed/empowering_women/retirement-myths [8/29/14]
2 – 401k.fidelity.com/public/content/401k/Home/HowmuchcanIcontrib [8/29/14]

This material was prepared by Peter Montoya Inc, and does not necessarily represent the views of Linda Bullwinkle, 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, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Northrop Grumman, 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.
Linda Bullwinkle is a Representative with FSC Securities and may be reached at http://www.theretirementgroup.com.

A look at the fundamentals affirms the hunch.

The Economy Heads for Normal

A look at the fundamentals affirms the hunch. 

 

The stock market may be up and down this year, but America’s economic recovery seems to be proceeding at a decent pace. Anyone who wants some evidence of that can find it in some key fundamental indicators.

 

Pessimists may counter: didn’t the economy grow just 0.1% in the first quarter? Indeed, that was the federal government’s initial estimate – but the initial estimate of quarterly GDP is twice revised, and often drastically so. Other key indicators point to a healthier economy, and some suggest that March and April were better than presumed.1

Jobless claims reached a 7-year low this month. They decreased to pre-recession levels at last, with a seasonally-adjusted 297,000 applications received in the week of May 3-10, the fewest in any week since May 2007. Economists Reuters polled thought 320,000 claims would appear.2

Hiring has picked up. April saw employers hire 288,000 people with gains in the manufacturing, construction, and professional/technical sectors. Even state and local governments hired.1

 

From November to April, non-farm payrolls grew by an average of 203,000 jobs per month. From January through April, the gain averaged 214,000 jobs per month. That is the kind of steady growth that pulls an economy out of the doldrums.1,3

 

Yes, the jobless rate hit a 5½-year low in April partly due to fewer jobseekers – but when fewer people look for work, it often translates to an indirect benefit for those in the hunt. That benefit is higher pay. Analysts think noticeable wage growth might be the next step in the labor market recovery.1

So has consumer spending. With a 0.9% increase (0.7% in inflation-adjusted terms), March was the strongest month for personal spending since August 2009. While the gain on April retail sales was just 0.1%, the March advance was just revised up to 1.5%, representing the best month for retail purchases in four years.3,4

 

The sequester is in the rear-view mirror. Major federal spending cuts probably exerted a significant drag on the economy in 2013. In 2014, they are gone.

The manufacturing & service sectors keep growing. The Institute for Supply Management’s globally respected monthly PMIs monitor these sectors. ISM recorded economic activity in the U.S. manufacturing sector expanding for an eleventh straight month in April; its service sector index has recorded growth for 51 straight months.5,6

 

Inflation is normalizing. In the big picture, inflation is not necessarily a negative. At the turn of the decade, our economy faced notable deflation risk. The euro area is still facing it today – as of April, consumer prices there had risen just 0.7% in a year. A return to moderate inflation is expected as the economy recovers. Interest rates should move higher, and in the long run, higher interest rates should lend a helping hand to the savings efforts of many households and the incomes of many retirees.7

Pending home sales went positive again in March. Before the 3.4% gain in that month, this leading indicator of housing market demand had been negative since last June. An increase in contracts to buy homes speaks to a pickup in residential real estate. The gain brought the National Association of Realtors’ pending home sales index to a reading of 97.4 in March, close to its origination (or “normal”) mark of 100.8

Some analysts think Q2 should bring solid expansion. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expect GDP to hit 3.5% this quarter, and in the Wall Street Journal’s May poll of 48 economists, the consensus was for 3.3% growth in Q2.3,9

More inflation pressure, tightening by the Federal Reserve … how can that be good? In the short term, it will likely hamper the stock market and the housing market. In fact, the Mortgage Bankers Association has been tracking a reduction in demand for home loans, and that and any wavering in consumer spending may lead the Fed to ease a little longer or less gradually than planned (news Wall Street might welcome).7

   

Normal is good. Over the past several years,we have witnessed some extreme and aberrational times with regard to market behavior and monetary policy.A littleequilibrium may not be so bad.

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.

1 – mercurynews.com/business/ci_25684116/u-s-has-best-month-job-gains-two [5/2/14]

2 – reuters.com/article/2014/05/15/idUSLNSFGEAGK20140515 [5/15/14]

3 – marketwatch.com/story/sales-at-us-retailers-barely-rise-in-april-2014-05-13 [5/13/14]

4 – tinyurl.com/q88a338 [5/1/14]

5 – ism.ws/ISMReport/MfgROB.cfm [5/1/14]

6 – ism.ws/ISMReport/NonMfgROB.cfm [5/5/14]

7 – blogs.wsj.com/moneybeat/2014/04/30/macro-horizons-all-eyes-on-fed-but-central-banks-overseas-more-interesting/ [4/30/14]

8 – usnews.com/news/business/articles/2014/04/28/contracts-to-buy-us-homes-up-1st-time-since-june [4/28/14]

9 –  projects.wsj.com/econforecast/#ind=gdp&r=20 [5/14]

 

This material was prepared by Peter Montoya Inc, and does not necessarily represent the views of Linda Bullwinkle, and The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. 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.  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,  Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, ExxonMobil, 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.

Linda Bullwinkle is a Representative with FSC Securities and may be reached at http://www.theretirementgroup.com.

 

 

 

 

Stop Having Money Paralysis

Stop Having Money Paralysis

Not making a move may not be the best move to make.      

A decision not made may have financial consequences. There is an old belief that women are more cautious about money than men, and whether you believe that or not, both women and men may fall prey to a kind of money paralysis as they age – in which financial indecision is regarded as a form of “safety.”

Retirement seems to heighten this tendency. If you are single, retired, and female, you may be extremely fearful of drawing down your retirement savings too soon; or investing in a way that would mean any kind of risk.

This is understandable: if you are over 80, you likely have memories of the Great Depression, and baby boomers have memories of the severe economic downturn of the late 2000s.

“Paralysis by analysis,” or simple hesitation, may cost you in the long run. Your retirement may last much longer than you presume it will – perhaps 30 or 40 years – and maintaining your standard of living will undeniably take some growth investing. As much as you may want to stay out of stocks and funds, they offer you a chance to out-earn inflation – a chance you forfeit at your financial peril.

Even minor inflation can subtly reduce your purchasing power over time. Of all the risks to quality of life in retirement, this is often the least noticed. Doing nothing about it – or investing in a way that avoids all or nearly all risk – may put you at greater and greater financial disadvantage as your retirement proceeds.

Keeping a foot in the stock market – in whatever major or minor way you choose – allows your invested assets the potential to keep pace with or outpace inflation.

Retirement is the time to withdraw retirement assets. Some women (and men) are extremely reluctant to tap into their retirement nest eggs, even when the money has been set aside for years for a specific dream. Even though they have saved or dedicated, say, $20,000 for world travel, when retirement comes they may be skittish about actually using the money for that purpose. Buying a car to replace one that has been driven for 15 years, or remodeling part of the house to make it more livable after 70 or 80 may be viewed as extravagances.

We cannot control how long we will live, how much money we will need in the future, or how well the economy will perform next year or ten years on. There comes a point where you must live for today. Pinching pennies in retirement with the idea that the great bulk of your savings is for “someday” can weigh on your psyche. What does your retirement dream amount to if you don’t start living it once you retire?

If you fear outliving your money, remember that growth investing offers you the potential to generate a larger retirement fund for yourself. If you seek more retirement income, ask a financial professional about ways to arrange it – there are multiple ways to plan for it, and some that involve little risk to principal.

Don’t forget America’s built-in retirement insurance: Social Security. For every year you wait to claim Social Security benefits after your full retirement age (either 66 and 67 for most people) and age 70, your monthly payments grow by 8%. In contrast, if you start taking Social Security before your full retirement age, it will mean less SSI per month than if you had waited.1

The 4% rule may provide you with a guideline. For many years, some retirement planners have recommended that a retiree withdraw between 4-4.5% annually from savings. (This percentage is gradually adjusted north for inflation over the years.)2

The 4% rule is a worthwhile rule for many retirees, but it is hardly the only yardstick for retirement income withdrawals. At its Squared Away blog, the influential Center for Retirement Research at Boston College notes a study from one of its economists on this topic. It suggests an alternative – termed the RMD strategy – that mimics the Required Minimum Distributions the federal government requires from a traditional IRA after the original IRA owner enters his or her seventies. In this withdrawal strategy, you start withdrawing only 3.1% of your retirement assets at age 65, which climbs to 4.4% at 75 and then 6.8% by 85. (That is just withdrawal off of principal; interest and dividends can be added to that to give you more income.)2

Are you wondering just how much money to live on in retirement? Are you also wondering how your retirement savings and income may grow? Talk with a financial professional about your options – you may have many more than you initially assume. A practical outlook on investing and decisions to work longer or claim Social Security later can also potentially help you amass or receive more money for the years ahead.

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

1 – forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2013/08/22/5-cures-for-womens-retirement-spending-paralysis/ [8/22/13]

2 – squaredawayblog.bc.edu/squared-away/retiree-paralysis-can-i-spend-my-money/ [7/11/13]

This material was prepared by Peter Montoya Inc, and does not necessarily represent the views of Linda Bullwinkle and The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. 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.

Linda Bullwinkle is a Representative with FSC Securities and may be reached at http://www.theretirementgroup.com.

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, Qwest, Verizon, Hughes, Glaxosmithkline, ExxonMobil, AT&T, Merck, Bank of America, Chevron, Raytheon, Pfizer, ING Retirement, Northrop Grumman, 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.

 

 

]The Economy Heads for Normal: A quick look at the fundamentals affirms the hunch.

The Economy Heads for Normal

A look at the fundamentals affirms the hunch. 

 

    

The stock market may be up and down this year, but America’s economic recovery seems to be proceeding at a decent pace. Anyone who wants some evidence of that can find it in some key fundamental indicators.

 

Pessimists may counter: didn’t the economy grow just 0.1% in the first quarter? Indeed, that was the federal government’s initial estimate – but the initial estimate of quarterly GDP is twice revised, and often drastically so. Other key indicators point to a healthier economy, and some suggest that March and April were better than presumed.1

Jobless claims reached a 7-year low this month. They decreased to pre-recession levels at last, with a seasonally-adjusted 297,000 applications received in the week of May 3-10, the fewest in any week since May 2007. Economists Reuters polled thought 320,000 claims would appear.2

Hiring has picked up. April saw employers hire 288,000 people with gains in the manufacturing, construction, and professional/technical sectors. Even state and local governments hired.1

 

From November to April, non-farm payrolls grew by an average of 203,000 jobs per month. From January through April, the gain averaged 214,000 jobs per month. That is the kind of steady growth that pulls an economy out of the doldrums.1,3

 

Yes, the jobless rate hit a 5½-year low in April partly due to fewer jobseekers – but when fewer people look for work, it often translates to an indirect benefit for those in the hunt. That benefit is higher pay. Analysts think noticeable wage growth might be the next step in the labor market recovery.1

So has consumer spending. With a 0.9% increase (0.7% in inflation-adjusted terms), March was the strongest month for personal spending since August 2009. While the gain on April retail sales was just 0.1%, the March advance was just revised up to 1.5%, representing the best month for retail purchases in four years.3,4

 

The sequester is in the rear-view mirror. Major federal spending cuts probably exerted a significant drag on the economy in 2013. In 2014, they are gone.

The manufacturing & service sectors keep growing. The Institute for Supply Management’s globally respected monthly PMIs monitor these sectors. ISM recorded economic activity in the U.S. manufacturing sector expanding for an eleventh straight month in April; its service sector index has recorded growth for 51 straight months.5,6

 

Inflation is normalizing. In the big picture, inflation is not necessarily a negative. At the turn of the decade, our economy faced notable deflation risk. The euro area is still facing it today – as of April, consumer prices there had risen just 0.7% in a year. A return to moderate inflation is expected as the economy recovers. Interest rates should move higher, and in the long run, higher interest rates should lend a helping hand to the savings efforts of many households and the incomes of many retirees.7

Pending home sales went positive again in March. Before the 3.4% gain in that month, this leading indicator of housing market demand had been negative since last June. An increase in contracts to buy homes speaks to a pickup in residential real estate. The gain brought the National Association of Realtors’ pending home sales index to a reading of 97.4 in March, close to its origination (or “normal”) mark of 100.8

Some analysts think Q2 should bring solid expansion. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expect GDP to hit 3.5% this quarter, and in the Wall Street Journal’s May poll of 48 economists, the consensus was for 3.3% growth in Q2.3,9

More inflation pressure, tightening by the Federal Reserve … how can that be good? In the short term, it will likely hamper the stock market and the housing market. In fact, the Mortgage Bankers Association has been tracking a reduction in demand for home loans, and that and any wavering in consumer spending may lead the Fed to ease a little longer or less gradually than planned (news Wall Street might welcome).7

   

Normal is good. Over the past several years, we have witnessed some extreme and aberrational times with regard to market behavior and monetary policy. A little equilibrium may not be so bad.

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.

1 – mercurynews.com/business/ci_25684116/u-s-has-best-month-job-gains-two [5/2/14]

2 – reuters.com/article/2014/05/15/idUSLNSFGEAGK20140515 [5/15/14]

3 – marketwatch.com/story/sales-at-us-retailers-barely-rise-in-april-2014-05-13 [5/13/14]

4 – tinyurl.com/q88a338 [5/1/14]

5 – ism.ws/ISMReport/MfgROB.cfm [5/1/14]

6 – ism.ws/ISMReport/NonMfgROB.cfm [5/5/14]

7 – blogs.wsj.com/moneybeat/2014/04/30/macro-horizons-all-eyes-on-fed-but-central-banks-overseas-more-interesting/ [4/30/14]

8 – usnews.com/news/business/articles/2014/04/28/contracts-to-buy-us-homes-up-1st-time-since-june [4/28/14]

9 –  projects.wsj.com/econforecast/#ind=gdp&r=20 [5/14]

 

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

This material was prepared by Peter Montoya Inc, and does not necessarily represent the views of Linda Bullwinkle, and The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. 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. 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.

Linda Bullwinkle is a Representative with FSC Securities and maybe reached at http://www.theretirementgroup.com.

 

 

Should You Put Your Home Into a Trust?

 Uncommon, or uncommonly wise? Occasionally, a couple or a family will elect to put their home into a revocable living trust, a charitable remainder trust (CRT) or a qualified personal residence trust (QPRT). There are advantages and disadvantages to doing this.

People make this move for a variety of reasons. They may want to save money on probate and reduce estate taxes. They may want a little more protection against “creditors and predators”. They may be looking for a way to gift real property to their adult children. They may want an orderly transfer of such property to a particular heir, free of interfamilial squabbles. By putting a house into a trust, they may accomplish some or all of these objectives.1,2

If much of your net worth is linked to the value of your home, you may be considering this. As the federal estate tax exemption is higher than it once was, placing your house into a trust may have slightly less merit today than it once did. There are significant potential benefits, however.

Putting your home into a revocable living trust. In this arrangement, the title to your house is transferred to the living trust during your lifetime. Besides being the grantor of the revocable living trust, you may also name yourself trustee and beneficiary. This gives you the power to a) add other real estate to the trust, b) gift or sell the real estate held within it while you are alive, c) unwind the trust and put the real property back in your estate within your lifetime.1,3

At your death, the trust becomes irrevocable. Control of the real property is then transferred to a named successor trustee, presumably one of your adult children.1

A revocable living trust may spare your home from probate and facilitate the transfer of title to your heirs. There may be some estate tax savings, and if you become incapacitated, another trustee can be chosen to manage the trust.1

Putting your home into an irrevocable living trust. The irrevocable variation offers you similar benefits, but the difference here is that you are giving up control – once you transfer real property into an irrevocable trust, it is out of your taxable estate and no longer yours. An independent third party trustee manages the trust on behalf of its beneficiaries. In this case, the transfer of real property is subject to gift tax because it is defined as a gift to the trust beneficiaries. Crummey withdrawal right letters may help in this regard – if they are sent to the beneficiaries, some of the amount of the gift may be shielded from such tax.4

Putting your home into a CRT. A charitable remainder trust is an irrevocable trust that helps an owner of a highly appreciated asset defer capital gains and income taxes and help a qualified charity. You make a gift of the real property to the CRT, which then sells it and arranges recurring income payments to you out of the managed sale proceeds. These payments last either for life or for a 20-year period. After you or your surviving spouse die, the charity receives the remainder of those sale proceeds.4,5

By donating real estate to a charity via a CRT, you accomplish four things: you take the real property out of your taxable estate, you get an income stream, you avoid recognition of capital gains on what is presumably a highly appreciated asset, and you can take an immediate income tax charitable deduction based on a portion of the property’s value.5

At first glance, it may seem like the charity is the “winner” here – not your heirs. To counter that, life insurance policies are frequently used. Trust assets may be used to purchase “cash value” life insurance, so that your heirs may one day receive tax-free insurance proceeds of equivalent or greater value than the donated asset.4,5

Putting your home into a QPRT. Qualified personal residence trusts allow you to gift your home to your children while you retain control of it for the term of the trust (typically 10 years). If your home seems poised to rise in value, the QPRT may lead to major estate and gift tax savings – it helps you transfer the home out of your taxable estate, thereby reducing its size. The value of the gift is the fair market value of the home minus “retained interest” (i.e., your right to keep living in it for X number of years, the value of which is derived from IRS calculations).2,6,7

You have to outlive the term of the QPRT and then either a) move out of your house or b) pay your heirs fair market rent to keep living in it. If that doesn’t happen, the trust will be rendered invalid and when you die, the full market value of your home will be counted in your taxable estate. QPRTs were introduced in 1990, when the federal estate tax exemption was only $600,000. As it is currently above $5 million, some estate planners feel these trusts are less necessary today.2,6,8

A last word. Even simple trusts invite complexity into your financial life. You must weigh whether the cost of trust creation and administration will be worth it. After you pass, the trust has to file tax returns and value assets, and the resulting expenses may compare to the money saved by keeping the home out of probate. A transfer-on-death deed (permitted in some states) or other estate planning tools may help you realize your goals more cheaply.

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

1 – homeguides.sfgate.com/advantages-disadvantages-putting-house-trust-42083.html [8/6/13]

2 – money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/money101/lesson21/index6.htm [8/6/13]

3 – nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/free-books/avoid-probate-book/chapter7-7.html [8/6/13]

4 – homeguides.sfgate.com/tax-advantages-creating-trust-real-estate-82243.html [8/6/13]

5 – bnaibrith.org/charitable-remainder-trust-crt.html [8/6/13]

6 – tinyurl.com/ktl8zlj [7/10/13]

7 – foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2013/07/26/shielding-your-assets-from-estate-taxes/ [7/26/13]

8 – irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/89-90estxs.pdf [1990]

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, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Verizon, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Pfizer, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

This material was prepared by Peter Montoya Inc, and does not necessarily represent the views of Linda Bullwinkle, 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. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services.All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. 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.

Linda Bullwinkle is a Representative with FSC Securities and maybe reached at http://www.theretirementgroup.com.

 

THE 2 Biggest retirement misconceptions. While the idea of retirement has changed, certain financial assumptions haven’t.

THE 2 Biggest retirement misconceptions

 

While the idea of retirement has changed, certain financial assumptions haven’t.

 

We’ve all heard about the “new retirement”, the mix of work and play that many of us assume we will have in our lives one day. We do not expect “retirement” to be all leisure. While this is becoming a cultural assumption among baby boomers, it is interesting to see that certain financial assumptions haven’t really changed with the times.

In particular, there are two financial misconceptions that baby boomers can fall prey to – assumptions that could prove financially harmful for their future.

#1) Assuming retirement will last 10-15 years. Previous generations of Americans planned for retirements anticipated to last only 10-15 years. Today, both men and women who reach 65 can anticipate around 20 additional years of life. It’s important to note that this is just an average; a quarter of people reaching 65 will live beyond 90 and ten percent will live another five years or more.1

However, some of us may live much longer. The population of centenarians in the U.S. is growing – the Census Bureau counted 53,364 folks 100 years or older in 2010 and showed a steady 5.8 percent rise in centenarians since the previous count in 2000. It also notes that between 1980 and 2010 centenarians experienced a population boom, with a 65.8% rise in population, in comparison to 36.3% overall.2

If you’re reading this article, chances are you might be wealthy or at least “affluent.” And if you are, you likely have good health insurance and access to excellent health care. You may be poised to live longer because of these two factors. Given the landmark health care reforms of the Obama administration, we could see another boost in overall American longevity in the generation ahead.

Here’s the bottom line: every year, the possibility is increasing that your retirement could last 20 or 30 years … or longer. So assuming you’ll only need 10 or 15 years worth of retirement money could be a big mistake.

Many people don’t realize how much retirement money they may need. There is a relationship between Misconception #1 and Misconception #2 …

#2) Assuming too little risk. Our appetite for risk declines as we get older, and rightfully so. Yet there may be a danger in becoming too risk-averse.

Holding onto your retirement money is certainly important; so is your retirement income and quality of life. There are three financial issues that can affect your quality of life and/or income over time: taxes, health care costs and inflation. Over time, even 3-4% inflation gradually saps your purchasing power. Your dollar buys less and less.

Here’s a hypothetical challenge for you: for the rest of this year, you have to live on the income you earned in 1999. Could you manage that?

This is an extreme example, but that’s what can happen if your income doesn’t keep up with inflation – essentially, you end up living on yesterday’s money.

Taxes may be higher in the years ahead. So tax reduction and tax-advantaged investing have taken on even more importance whether you are 20, 40 or 60. Health care costs are climbing – we need to be prepared financially for the cost of acute, chronic and long-term care.

As you retire, you may assume that an extremely conservative approach to investing is mandatory. But given how long we may live – and how long retirement may last – growth investing is extremely important.

No one wants the “Rip Van Winkle” experience in retirement. No one should “wake up” 20 years from now only to find that the comfort of yesterday is gone. Retirees who retreat from growth investing may risk having this experience.

How are you envisioning retirement right now? Has your vision of retirement changed? Is retiring becoming more and more of a priority? Are you retired and looking to improve your finances? Regardless of where you’re at, it is vital to avoid the common misconceptions and proceed with clarity.

 

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

1 – http://www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/lifeexpectancy.htm [8/23/13]

2 –  http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/reports/c2010sr-03.pdf [12/12]

 

 

This material was prepared by Peter Montoya Inc, and does not necessarily represent the views of Linda Bullwinkle, 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.  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. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. 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, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, ExxonMobil, Hughes, 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.

Linda Bullwinkle is a Representative with FSC Securities and may
be reached at http://www.theretirementgroup.com.