Congratulations you are closing in on your target retirement date!  While the bulk of your retirement prep work and heavy lifting should be completed by the time you’re still a couple of years from retirement, there’s still a few boxes you’ll want to check off before finally saying adios to the workforce. Let’s go through them.


1. Social Security Decision

You should decide when to collect Social Security benefits. The earliest age is 62. Unless you’re retiring early and need the benefits to help cover expenses like health insurance, it’s advantageous to wait. At 62, your benefits would be reduced by 25% or more. You won’t collect 100% of your benefits until you’re 66 or 67, depending on what year you were born. When you wait to collect, keep in mind that benefits increase by 8 percent/per year up until you’re age 70.

2. Get Your Finances Simplified

Do you have multiple brokerage accounts, savings accounts, checking accounts, 401(k)s, IRAs, and other retirement savings accounts? Perhaps, you’ve lost track of an account?

First, simplifying and consolidating your various small financial accounts into a larger one will make it easier for your heirs to step into control if you had a medical emergency, needed long-term care, or passed away.

Second, you can reduce paperwork, possibly save some cash, and better keep track of your set income to expenses ratio by having everything neatly confined. For example, aggregation with a single provider can offer some economies of scale like cheaper expense ratios.

Lastly, if you’ve lost track of an account, then you’re missing a piece of your financial pie that could make a big change in how retirement tastes. missingmoney.org and unclaimed.org are good places to start tracking lost and unclaimed funds.

3. Give Your Portfolio A Health Checkup

Ideally, your portfolio at this point should be moderate-risk.  If the stock market is causing you any worry, then talk to a Financial Advisor and be sure you are set up to protect your retirement.

4. Make A Plan With HR

Schedule a time to speak with your company’s human resources department about your retirement. Topics you’ll want to ask about include:

• Are unused vacation days paid upon retirement?

• Is receiving profit-sharing payouts, bonuses, 401(k) match, or any other income aspect impacted by your planned retirement date?

• If retiring before Medicare-age, what retiree health benefits are offered?

• If a 401(k) is left as-is verses rolling it over into an IRA, can distributions still be taken? How? Is there a fee?

• If a pension is available, what are the options for payout?

One note on lump-sum pensions to keep in mind is that extending your retirement may not increase your pension. Lump-sum pensions are calculated based on interest rates. The higher the interest rate, the lower the pension. Extending your retirement when interest rates are rising can actually result in your pension going down, not up.

5. Study Medicare Closely

Medicare is a difficult beast to navigate, and the sales pitches you get from supplement insurers only adds to the confusion. So, you’ll want to start studying now, understanding how it works, what coverage gaps exist for you, and what you need verses don’t need in supplements. Here are some highlights you’ll want to consider:

• Upon turning 65, Social Security beneficiaries are automatically enrolled in Medicare parts A (hospital care) & B (doctor and outpatient visits.) If you’re delaying your SS payment, then it’s up to you to enroll on your own.

• If delaying your SS claim and still covered by your employer’s health plan, then you’ll likely find it beneficial to go ahead and sign up for part A at age 65 since there’s usually not a premium.

• You may want to opt out of part B since it charges you a monthly premium for service.
You may also want to opt out of part D, which covers prescriptions. The caveat here is your employer’s offered insurance being as good as what Medicare offers. If not, and you select to opt out, then you’ll face penalties when you sign up in the future.

• To ensure you’re not left without coverage, plan to sign up for part B around six weeks prior to retirement. You have eight months after leaving your job to sign up for part B without penalty.

• Be deciding if you want Medicare Advantage. This is basically a combination of parts B & D with a supplemental medigap plan to cover the copayments, deductibles, and other traditional healthcare costs that Medicare doesn’t include. These plans provide private insurer medical and drug coverage within a network, meaning you’ll need to carefully research your plan options and determine if your preferred health care providers are in the offered network of a plan.

The finish line is just around the corner, but now isn’t the time to slack just yet. You’ll want to make sure these important boxes are checked so that you can retire in peace and confident you’ve worked all these years to afford.  Contact us to discuss your plan.

It’s not so uncommon when you hear someone who retired wanting to pack up their things and move. While it can be an exhilarating time, it can also be rather difficult, especially if their planning on buying a new house altogether.  Did you know that lenders are barred from discriminating against older people who are trying to apply for a loan? Despite having the advantage of not having to worry about discrimination, retirees are still going to face some difficult challenges in obtaining a mortgage.


Read on to learn a few tips about securing a mortgage while in retirement.

Purchasing a New Home Isn’t Always the Best Decision

Purchasing a mortgage is a huge undertaking for anyone, regardless of whether they work or not. Should someone even get approved for one, it’s not always the smartest financial decision to make. A lot of retirees these days have a lower income than they did while they were working. Due to this, many people tend to underestimate how long the money needs to last for them. Adding a mortgage payment can deplete what little money is there even faster, which can make it difficult to live comfortably.

Regardless of age potential home buyers need to do their homework.  Make sure you carefully evaluate your finances before applying for a mortgage. Buying a home involves a lot more than just the monthly payment. You also need to consider property tax and homeowner insurance. In addition, you need to plan for other monthly expenses, which include power, water and even unexpected medical bills.

In addition, remember to evaluate whatever debts you have as well. Having debt not only lowers your credit score, it can significantly hurt your chances of securing a mortgage. Finally, having too much credit can also work against you. It's recommended that you utilize only 20 percent of your total credit. Lenders like to see that you know how to manage your credit responsibly.

Showing the Right Amount of Income

Having a job is not a requirement for applying for a mortgage and here’s why; any income that is received from pensions or a social security account will count. In addition to that, withdrawing from a retirement account is also counted. Aside from showing a stable income, retirees must also show a low debt-to-income ratio. It may not be a challenge for some people as this depends on how much they have to their name and how much income they have during their retirement.

Talk to a few lenders about the requirements they have when it comes to income and debt-to-income ratios before signing a mortgage application.

It’s important to keep in mind lenders look at a number of factors when you apply for a mortgage. They’ll want to look at your credit score, down payments and occupancy status. If you’re retired and looking to purchase a mortgage, make sure you’re prepared for it. 

 2018 was an up-and-down year for many Americans. The stock market boomed, and then it busted. No one knows what is on the horizon for 2019, but it doesn't hurt to set goals. Here are some financial goals that could help you get off to a great start in 2019.

Start an Emergency Fund
Whether you've retired or you're a professional with many years of experience under your belt, you need an emergency fund. This is the first point of emphasis that many financial experts point to. If you have no emergency fund, you'll likely have to go into debt when an unexpected expense pops up. A fund of $1,000 is a good start, but many of the same financial gurus that recommend having an emergency fund recommend building it up to between three and six months worth of expenses.

Get out of Debt
If setting up an emergency fund is the first recommendation from most financial experts, getting out of debt is a close second. Whether you look to pay off debt with the debt snowball that encourages people to pay off debts from the smallest to the largest balance or with the debt avalanche that takes interest rates into consideration, paying off debt can pay some serious dividends. If you're able to retire debt early, you effectively get a rate of return that equals the interest rate that you might have been paying. For credit cards with interest rates of 15 percent or more, paying off the debt can be one of the best investments that you can make.

Read Five Personal Finance Books
This recommendation might be surprising, but those who want to learn about science in college have to read books on science. If you're looking to improve your personal financial literacy, it's a good idea to learn as much as possible about the topic. Much of the heavy lifting has already been done. There are financial experts who have gotten where you want to be, and many of them have written books. It's a good idea to pick up a few and read them. If you have a local library, checking these books out for free would be the smartest option.  Don’t want to read or have the time to dive in to several paperbacks?   Start working with an experienced Financial Advisor to help guide you along the way.  We are here to help you.

Start Side Jobs
Side hustles are all the rage, and there's a great reason why. The labor market has improved over recent years, but many people no longer have jobs that will comfortably pay their bills each month. One of the best ways to improve your financial standing is through a side job that brings in a few hundred dollars each month. A few hundred bucks could mean the difference between living paycheck-to-paycheck and building up a healthy emergency fund and paying off debt. All side job income should go toward improving your balance sheet each month. That means paying off debt or saving for retirement.

Improve Your Health
Surprised?  You shouldn’t be.  Americans are some of the least healthy people in the developed world. Exercise and healthy diets are not really the norm in the USA. This means that the United States has one of the lowest life expectancy levels in the developed world. Healthcare in the US is also more expensive than anywhere else in the world. For those who are looking to save money and build wealth, avoiding costly healthcare bills is an important step to take. Just deciding to incorporate a few minutes of exercise into your day can make a difference and can cut down on your risk of serious diseases that can cost a load of money.

These are just a few of the goals that could help you with your finances in 2019. Getting started with one or more could be the step that could radically change your life for the better in the coming year. There's no time like the present to get started.

 Arm yourself to save more for your retirement in 2019! The Treasury has announced inflation-adjusted numbers for retirement savings for 2019, as well as a lot of changes that will help investors stuff these accounts. 


The amount which you could contribute to an Individual Retirement is being bumped from $5,500 up to $6,000 for 2019.  Also, the amount you can contribute to your 401(k) (or similar workplace) retirement plan goes up from $18,500 in 2018 to $19,000 in 2019.

That means that quite a few high earners and super-savers age 50-plus can sock away $32,000 during these tax-advantaged accounts. If your hiring manager allows after-tax contributions possibly you’re self-employed you can save double. The overall defined contribution product limit moves up to $56,000, from $55,1000. People who are over 50 and working can save up to $7,000 with the new contribution limit in place according to Market Watch.

Do these limits tend to be unreachable?  During 2017, 13% of employees with consideration plans at work saved the maximum of $18,000/$24,000, according to the Vanguard’s Strategies America Saves study. In opportunities offering catch-up contributions, 14% of those age 50 and older took advantage of the savings opportunity. The amount you should set aside will relate to how you want to live after retirement. Survive on the just the basics or play golf every day.  It‘s something each person will need to decide when setting up or making adjustments to their retirement account.

The annual contribution limit for workers who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, as well as federal government’s Thrift Reserves Plan, is $19,000 for 2019, a $500 increase over 2018.   You will need to elect the change to your 401(k) which some employers send you an indication to update your elections for the plan year. You should take that time to evaluate and make necessary changes as needed.

Strengthening the 401(k) contribution is great for savers, but not everyone takes advantage of it. About 10% of participants, according to Vanguard, maxed out their 401(k) in 2016.  

If you need guidance on your retirement plan or to get started, we are here to help.

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