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Pension Plans & De-risking

Pension and De-Risking

Corporations are transferring pension liabilities to third parties. Where does this leave retirees? Provided by Stan Evans, CFP A new term has made its way into today’s financial jargon: de-risking. Anyone with assets in an old-school pension plan should know what it signifies. De-risking is when a large employer hands over its established pension liabilities to a third party (typically, a major insurer). By doing this, the employer takes a sizable financial obligation off its hands. Companies that opt for de-risking usually ask pension plan participants if they want their pension money all at once rather than incrementally in an ongoing income stream. The de-risking trend began in 2012. In that year, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors gave their retirees and ex-employees a new option: they could take their pensions as lump sums rather than periodic payments. Other corporations took notice of this and began offering their pension plan participants the same choice.1 Three years later, the Department of the Treasury released guidance effectively prohibiting lump-sum offers to retirees already getting their pensions; lump-sum offers were still allowed for employees about to retire. In March 2019, though, the Department of the Treasury reversed course and issued a notice that permitted these offers to retirees again.1 So, whether you formerly worked or currently work for a company offering a pension plan, a lump-sum-versus-periodic-payments choice might be ahead for you. This will not be an easy decision. You will need to look at many variables first. Whatever choice you make will likely be irrevocable.2    What is the case for rejecting a lump-sum offer? It can be expressed in three words: lifetime income stream. Do you really want to turn down scheduled pension payments that could go on for decades? You could certainly plan to create an income stream from the […]

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Three Key Questions to Answer Before Taking Social Security

Taking Social Security

When to start? Should I continue to work? How can I maximize my benefit? Provided by Stan Evans, CFP Social Security will be a critical component of your financial strategy in retirement, so before you begin taking it, you should consider three important questions. The answers may affect whether you make the most of this retirement income source. When to Start? The Social Security Administration gives citizens a choice on when they decide to start to receive their Social Security benefit. You can: * Start benefits at age 62. * Claim them at your full retirement age. * Delay payments until age 70. If you claim early, you can expect to receive a monthly benefit that will be lower than what you would have earned at full retirement. If you wait until age 70, you can expect to receive an even higher monthly benefit than you would have received if you had begun taking payments at your full retirement age. When researching what timing is best for you, it’s important to remember that many of the calculations the Social Security Administration uses are based on average life expectancy. If you live to the average life expectancy, you’ll eventually receive your full lifetime benefits. In actual practice, it’s not quite that straightforward. If you happen to live beyond the average life expectancy, and you delay taking benefits, you could end up receiving more money. The decision of when to begin taking benefits may hinge on whether you need the income now or if you can wait, and additionally, whether you think your lifespan will be shorter or longer than the average American.1,2 Should I Continue to Work? Besides providing you with income and personal satisfaction, spending a few more years in the workforce may help you to increase your retirement benefits. […]

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Stan Evans Recognized as Top Financial Adviser in the U.S. by HTK

Capital Financial Benefit Solutions a Hunt Valley, Maryland based financial services firm, is pleased to announce that Stan Evans has been recognized by broker-dealer and registered investment adviser, Hornor, Townsend & Kent, LLC (HTK), as one of the top financial advisers in the U.S. for 2018.1 Each year, HTK releases a ranking of its 900 financial advisers2 who have qualified for the firm’s Summit and Peak Top Financial Adviser Program. Stan is recognized as a Peak adviser, joining the firm’s prestigious group of leading financial advisers in the U.S. “Our Summit and Peak advisers represent those leading the pack at HTK. They have a demonstrated history of excellence and a strong commitment to delivering robust financial solutions to their clients,” says Timothy Donahue, president and CEO, HTK. “We’re proud to have these advisers represent our firm, both to their clients and within the financial services industry at large.” For more than 50 years, HTK has been the trusted partner supporting financial advisers on their path to success. HTK is committed to offering advisers the independence to build their practice their way through the delivery of a flexible platform, leading solutions and personalized service. Learn more at www.htk.com.

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IRA Withdrawals That Escape the 10% Penalty

IRA

The list of these options has grown. Provided by Stan Evans, CFP An IRA, or Individual Retirement Account, is a tax-advantaged savings account that is subject to special rules regarding contributions and withdrawals. One of the central rules of IRAs is that withdrawals prior to age 59½ are generally subject to a tax penalty because policymakers sought to create a disincentive to use these savings for anything other than retirement.1 Yet, policymakers acknowledged that extenuating circumstances might require access to these savings prior to one’s second act. In appreciation of this, the list of exceptions for waiving this penalty has grown over the years. Penalty-Free Withdrawals. Outlined below are the circumstances under which individuals may withdraw from an IRA prior to age 59½, without a tax penalty. Ordinary income tax, however, is generally due on such distributions.1 Death – If you die prior to age 59½, the beneficiary(ies) of your IRA may withdraw the assets without penalty. However, if your beneficiary decides to roll it over into their IRA, they will forfeit this exception. Disability – Disability is defined as being unable to engage in any gainful employment because of a mental or physical disability, as determined by a physician. Substantially Equal Periodic Payments – You are permitted to take a series of substantially equal periodic payments and avoid the tax penalty, provided they continue until you turn 59½ or for five years, whichever is later. The calculation of such payments is complicated, and individuals should consider speaking with a qualified tax professional. Home Purchase – You may withdraw up to $10,000 toward the purchase of your first home ($20,000 for a married couple). You cannot have owned a home within the last two years. Unreimbursed Medical Expenses – This exception covers medical expenses in excess of 10% of your […]

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Earnings for All Seasons

all seasons

What is it and why is it important? Provided by Stan Evans, CFP While nature offers four seasons, Wall Street offers only one – four times a year. It’s called “earnings season,” and it can move the markets. So, what is earnings season, and why is it important? Earnings season is the month of the year that follows each calendar quarter-end month (January, April, July, and October). It is the time during which many public companies release quarterly earnings reports. Some public companies report earnings at other times during the year, but many are on the calendar year that ends December 31.1 Reported Earnings. To understand the importance of earnings, we need to remember that the value of a company can be tied to the amount of money it earns. Some companies don’t have earnings, and they are valued based on their potential rather than their current earnings. Wall Street analysts maintain a close pulse on a company’s quarterly report to help estimate future earnings. For example, these estimates may guide investors in determining an appropriate price for a company’s stock. Remember, a company is not permitted to discuss interim earnings with select individuals; earnings reports must be disseminated publicly to level the playing field for all investors.1,2 An Inside Look. When an earnings report is released, it tells the market two things. First, it offers an insight into how the company is performing and what its prospects may look like over the near term.1 And second, the report can serve as a bellwether for similar companies that still have not reported. For instance, if the earnings of a leading retailer are strong, it may offer an insight into the earnings of other retailers, as well as other companies that similarly benefit from higher consumer spending. What Time? Earnings reports […]

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Your Emergency Fund: How Much is Enough?

emergency fund

An emergency fund may help alleviate the stress associated with a financial crisis. Provided by Stan Evans, CFP Have you ever had one of those months? The water heater stops heating, the dishwasher stops washing, and your family ends up on a first-name basis with the nurse at urgent care. Then, as you’re driving to work, giving yourself your best, “You can make it!” pep talk, you see smoke seeping out from under your hood. Bad things happen to the best of us, and instead of conveniently spacing themselves out, they almost always come in waves. The important thing is to have a financial life preserver, in the form of an emergency cash fund, at the ready. Although many people agree that an emergency fund is an important resource, they’re not sure how much to save or where to keep the money. Others wonder how they can find any extra cash to sock away. One recent survey found that 29% of Americans lack any emergency savings whatsoever.1 How Much Money? When starting an emergency fund, you’ll want to set a target amount. But how much is enough? Unfortunately, there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer. The ideal amount for your emergency fund may depend on your financial situation and lifestyle. For example, if you own your home or provide for a number of dependents, you may be more likely to face financial emergencies. And if the crisis you face is a job loss or injury that affects your income, you may need to depend on your emergency fund for an extended period of time. Coming Up with Cash. If saving several months of income seems an unreasonable goal, don’t despair. Start with a more modest target, such as saving $1,000. Build your savings at regular intervals, a bit at a time. It […]

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Is America Prepared to Retire?

prepared to retire

A look at some ways to get ready. Provided by Stan Evans, CFP Are Americans saving enough? Only 19% of U.S. adults describe themselves as “very confident” when asked about their savings. Worry spots include retiring without enough money saved (16%) and anxiety about having a “rainy day” emergency fund (14%). These findings come from the 2018 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. (The survey collected data from 2,017 U.S. adults.)1  Only 41% of us keep a regular budget. If you are one of those roughly two-out-of-five Americans, you’re on the right track. While this percentage is on par with findings going back to 2007, the study also finds that while 65% of Americans are saving part of their annual income towards retirement, 29% indicate they are “not at all confident” that their savings will be enough to sustain them.1  Relatively few seek the help of a financial professional. When asked “Considering what I already know about personal finance, I could still benefit from some advice and answers to everyday financial questions from a professional,” 79% of respondents agreed with the statement. Yet only 13% indicated that they would seek out the help of some sort of financial professional if they had “financial problems related to debt.” While it isn’t surprising to think that 24% of respondents would turn to friends and family, it may be alarming to learn that 18% would choose to turn to no one at all.1  Why don’t more people seek help? After all, Americans of all incomes and savings levels certainly are free to set financial goals. They may feel embarrassed about speaking to a stranger about personal financial issues. It may also be the case that they feel like they don’t make enough money to speak to a […]

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Strategic vs. Tactical Investing

Investing

How do these investment approaches differ?  Provided by Stan Evans, CFP   Ever heard the term “strategic investing”? How about “tactical investing”? At a glance, you might assume that both these phrases describe the same investment approach. While both approaches involve the periodic adjustment of a portfolio and holding portfolio assets in varied investment classes, they differ in one key respect. Strategic investing is fundamentally passive; tactical investing is fundamentally active. An old saying expresses the opinion that strategic investing is about time in the market, while tactical investing is about timing the market. There is some truth to that.1 Strategic investing focuses on an investor’s long-range goals. This philosophy is sometimes characterized as “set it and forget it,” but that is inaccurate. The idea is to maintain the way the invested assets are held over time, so that through the years, they are assigned to investment classes in approximately the percentages established when the portfolio is created.1 Picture a hypothetical investor. Assume that she starts investing and saving for retirement with 60% of her invested assets held in equities and 40% in fixed-income vehicles. Now, assume that soon after she starts investing, a long bull market begins. The value of the equity investments within her portfolio increases. Years pass, and she checks up on the portfolio and learns that much more than 60% of the value of her portfolio is now held in equities. A greater percentage of her portfolio is now subject to the ups and downs of Wall Street. As she is investing strategically, this is undesirable. Rebalancing is in order. By the tenets of strategic investing, the assets in the portfolio need to be shifted, so that they are held in that 60/40 mix again. If the assets are not rebalanced, her portfolio could expose her […]

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Bad Money Habits to Break

bad money habits

Behaviors worth changing.  Provided by Stan Evans, CFP   Do bad money habits constrain your financial progress? Many people fall into the same financial behavior patterns, year after year. If you sometimes succumb to these financial tendencies, now is as good a time as any to alter your behavior. #1: Lending money to family & friends. You may know someone who has lent a few thousand to a sister or brother, a few hundred to an old buddy, and so on. Generosity is a virtue, but personal loans can easily transform into personal financial losses for the lender. If you must loan money to a friend or family member, mention that you will charge interest and set a repayment plan with deadlines. Better yet, don’t do it at all. If your friends or relatives can’t learn to budget, why should you bail them out? #2: Spending more than you make. Living beyond your means, living on margin, or whatever you wish to call it – it is a path toward significant debt. Wealth is seldom made by buying possessions; today’s flashy material items may become the garage sale junk of the future. #3: Saving little or nothing. Good savers build emergency funds, have money to invest and compound, and leave the stress of living paycheck to paycheck behind. If you are not able to put extra money away, there is another way to get some: a second job. Even working 15-20 hours more per week could make a big difference. #4: Living without a budget. You may make enough money that you don’t feel you need to budget. In truth, few of us are really that wealthy. In calculating a budget, you may find opportunities for savings and detect wasteful spending. #5: Frivolous spending. Advertisers can make us feel as […]

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A Look at HSAs

hsa plans

Health Savings Accounts may provide you with remarkable tax advantages.  Provided by Stan Evans, CFP   Why do higher-income households inquire about Health Savings Accounts? They have heard about what an HSA can potentially offer them: a pool of tax-exempt dollars for health care, a path to tax savings, even a possible source of retirement income after age 65. You may want to look at this option yourself. About 26 million Americans now have HSAs. You must enroll in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) to have one, a health insurance option that is not ideal for everybody. In 2018, this deductible must be $1,350 or higher for individuals or $2,650 or higher for a family. In exchange for accepting the high deductible, you may pay relatively low premiums for the coverage.1,2 You fund an HSA with tax-free contributions. This year, an individual can direct as much as $3,450 into an HSA, while a family can contribute up to $6,900. (These contribution caps are $1,000 higher if you are 55 or older in 2018.) Some employers will even provide a matching contribution on your behalf.1,2 HSAs offer you three potential opportunities for tax savings. Your account contributions are tax free (that is, tax deductible), the earnings in your account grow tax free, and you can withdraw funds from your HSA, tax free, so long as they are used to pay for qualified health care expenses, such as deductibles, co-payments, and hospitalization costs. (HSA funds may not be used to pay health insurance premiums.)1,3   At age 65, you can even turn to your HSA for retirement income. Current federal tax law allow an HSA owner 65 and older to withdraw HSA funds for any purpose, penalty free. You can use an HSA to pay Medicare premiums (other than premiums for a Medicare […]

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