It’s graduation season. Do you have a graduate who finishing up on college? If so, this is a time to celebrate your child’s accomplishment and their entrance into adulthood.
It also may be a time to celebrate your new freedom. You have one less dependent in the house and one less tuition bill to pay. You might see a healthy boost in your bank account and budget in the near future, especially if you’re now an empty-nester.
Before you start spending all that extra cash, this could be a good time to review your retirement strategy. If you’re behind on your savings, you’re not alone. Many people wait until after their kids graduate and leave the home before they get serious about saving for retirement.
The good news is there’s still time to get back on track. Below are three steps you can take today to boost your savings and take back control of your retirement strategy. If you’ve waited until your kids were grown to get serious about retirement, now is the time to take action.
Use a budget.
Do you use a budget? If the answer is no, you have company. According to a recent survey, 60% of Americans don’t use one. ¹ That’s an unfortunate statistic because a budget is one of the most powerful financial tools at your disposal.
A budget is especially important if you now have a boost in cash flow because you’re no longer supporting a child or making tuition payments. You can use your budget to plan and analyze your spending so that additional cash flow goes toward retirement instead of unnecessary purchases.
There are a variety of online tools you can use to create your budget. A spreadsheet can also be effective. The key is to set spending goals for each type of purchase and then regularly review your budget to make sure you hit your targets.
Boost your contributions.
The most effective way to boost your retirement assets is to simply contribute more money to your retirement accounts each year. Once you turn 50, you have an opportunity to increase your savings rate through something called “catch-up contributions.” A catch-up contribution is simply an extra allowable contribution amount for those approaching retirement.
In 2019, you can make a regular contribution of up to $19,000 to a 401(k). However, if you are 50 or older, you can contribute an additional $6,000, giving you a total allowable amount of $25,000. You can contribute up to $6,000 to an IRA, plus an additional $1,000 if you are 50 or older. ² Catch-up contributions can help you boost your savings and get your retirement back on track.
Potential Growth and Income
As you approach retirement, you may find that you have less tolerance for risk. That’s natural. After all, you don’t have as much time as you once did to recover from a substantial market loss. Of course, you also need to keep growing your assets, so you can’t avoid risk completely.
How do you balance your need for growth with your aversion to risk? One way to do it is with an annuity. Many annuities offer potential growth opportunities without downside market risk. For instance, a fixed indexed annuity allows you to earn interest that is linked to the performance of an external market index. Based on the performance of the index you may earn more interest however if the index performs poorly, your principal is protected.
Annuities also offer ways to create guaranteed* lifetime income streams. You can convert a portion of your assets into a cash flow that will last for life, no matter how long you live. That could provide some certainty and predictability as you head into retirement.
Ready to get your retirement on track? Let’s talk about it. Contact us today at Quest Financial. We can help you analyze your needs and goals and implement a strategy. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.
*Guarantees, including optional benefits, are backed by the claims-paying ability of the issuer, and may contain limitations, including surrender charges, which may affect policy values. Guaranteed lifetime income is through annuitization or an optional rider which may include fees.
Licensed Insurance Professional. This information is designed to provide a general overview with regard to the subject matter covered and is not state specific. The authors, publisher and host are not providing legal, accounting or specific advice for your situation. By providing your information, you give consent to be contacted about the possible sale of an insurance or annuity product. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting insurance professional. The statements and opinions expressed are those of the author and are subject to change at any time. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, presenting insurance professional makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax or investment advice. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and is not sponsored or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any government agency.
Another school year is nearly over. If you have kids, you know how fast time flies. One day you’re dropping them off at daycare or sending them to kindergarten. The next thing you know, they’re preparing for college. Blink and you might miss it.
If your child is in middle school or even college, you may feel like you’re behind on their college savings. Of course, at the same time, you may also feel like you’re behind on your retirement savings. Both are big financial goals, and both are important, but there’s also only so much money available to contribute to savings. How do you balance the two goals?
Savings for college is much different than saving for retirement. There are different variables and factors involved. Below are a few things to consider.
Time horizon is the amount of time you have before you actually need to use your savings. The longer your time horizon, the more risk you can afford to take. If you suffer a loss, you have time to recover, but as your time horizon shortens, you may want to become more conservative since you don’t have as much time to recover losses.
Depending on your age, your time horizon for college may be much shorter than your time horizon for retirement. You could have decades until retirement. On the other hand, if you have a child already in elementary or middle school, you may have 10 years or less until they’re ready for college.
Your time horizon should influence your saving strategy for both retirement and college savings. Don’t apply the same allocation to both goals. Rather, look at your time horizon and determine how much risk you can afford. Unless your kids are very young, you likely don’t have time in your college strategy to recover from a sizable loss, so you may want to take a more risk-averse position.
According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees in the 2017-18 school year at an in-state public college was $9,970. For an out-of-state public school, the cost was $25,620 and a private school was $34,740.¹ If your child attends college for four or five years, it’s possible the cost could be over six figures.
That’s a sizable amount, but it’s still not close to what you’ll need for retirement. Consider that you may live in retirement for several decades. You’ll need enough assets to cover your bills, your discretionary spending and more. Consider that Fidelity estimates the average retired couple will need $285,000 just to cover medical expenses. ²
While college is big financial goal, it’s usually not as sizable as your retirement need. Don’t delay saving for retirement. It’s too big of a goal to fund at the last minute. Even if you have to start small, it pays to start saving early.
It’s also important to remember that your child has other funding options available for college. They could earn a scholarship or a grant. They may qualify for financial aid. Student loans aren’t popular, but they are an effective funding tool.
You may not have similar options available for retirement. You’ll likely receive Social Security benefits, but those payments usually aren’t enough to fund a full retirement. You’ll likely need to rely on your savings to make up the difference. While saving for college is important, don’t let it interfere with your retirement savings.
Ready to plan your college and retirement strategies? Let’s talk about it. Contact us today at Quest Financial. We can help you analyze your needs and develop a plan. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.
Licensed Insurance Professional. This information is designed to provide a general overview with regard to the subject matter covered and is not state specific. The authors, publisher and host are not providing legal, accounting or specific advice for your situation. By providing your information, you give consent to be contacted about the possible sale of an insurance or annuity product. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting insurance professional. The statements and opinions expressed are those of the author and are subject to change at any time. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, presenting insurance professional makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax or investment advice. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and is not sponsored or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any government agency. 18786 - 2019/4/18
Everyone is familiar with the popular saying “April showers bring May flowers.” The arrival of spring also means the arrival of rainy weather. While rainy days are never fun, they signal the end of winter and the coming arrival of blossoming flowers and warmer weather. In retirement you might be able to avoid rainy weather by moving to a tropical climate.
Of course, you may not be able to avoid rainy days with regard to your financial strategy. Emergencies happen at all stages of life, including after you retire. Taxes could be a challenge and may stretch your budget. Medical expenses and long-term care costs could pose a financial threat. Market risk is always a concern.
One way to protect yourself from emergencies and unexpected costs is to boost your income in retirement. The more predictable, guaranteed sources of income you have, the less vulnerable you’ll be to unplanned costs.
Not sure whether you have enough income in retirement? Below is a three-step process you can use to evaluate your income and take action. If you haven’t projected your retirement income, now may be the time to do so.
Step 1: Establish your income floor.
Your income floor is the minimum amount of income you need to cover your most important expenses. The best way to determine your income floor is to develop a retirement budget. Granted, you can’t predict every cost you’ll face in retirement. However, you can probably make a reasonable projection based on your current expenses and your desired standard of living.
Highlight the expenses that are most important. These will include all your fixed expenses, which are the bills that have to be paid every month no matter what. You also may include a few discretionary costs, which are expenses that could fluctuate from month to month. For example, your most important expenses may include:
Debt and credit card payments
Total up your most important expenses and see how much they will cost on a monthly basis. Also, don’t forget inflation. It’s likely that prices will rise slightly between now and your retirement date. The sum of your most important expenses is your income floor. That’s the minimum amount of income you need each month to live in retirement.
Step 2: Project your income.
The next step is to project your income in retirement and determine how much of that projected income is from guaranteed or predictable sources. Income from guaranteed* sources is cash flow that will last no matter how long you live and that isn’t affected by market performance or other economic factors.
Social Security and pension benefits are good examples of guaranteed income sources. The amounts don’t fluctuate from month to month, and the income can last for life. Distributions from 401(k) plans, some other IRAs or investment vehicles may not provide income that will last for your entire lifetime and the amounts are subject to market volatility, so you don’t want to include them in this calculation.
Add up your projected income from guaranteed and non-guaranteed sources. Does it exceed your income floor? If so, you have enough income from guaranteed sources to meet your bare minimum expenses. If it doesn’t, you may want to look for strategies to increase your guaranteed sources of retirement income.
Steps 3: Fill in the gaps.
Ideally, you don’t just want your income to match your income floor. You want it to exceed your income floor by a substantial amount. That way you have the ability to increase your liquid assets for life’s unexpected costs. Extra income could help you pay for medical bills, home repairs or other emergency costs.
One of the most effective ways to boost your guaranteed* income is to include an annuity in your retirement strategy. Many annuities offer optional riders known as guaranteed minimum withdrawal benefits. These benefits allow you to withdraw up to a certain amount each year. As long as your withdrawal stays within the limits, the distribution is guaranteed for life. It doesn’t matter how long you live or how the market performs. Your income remains consistent and predictable.
Talk to a financial professional about how to use an annuity to boost your guaranteed* retirement income. They can help you determine your income floor, project your retirement income and take action to protect yourself from financial rainy days.
Ready to boost your retirement strategy? Let’s talk about it. Contact us today at Quest Financial. We can help you analyze your needs and implement a plan. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.
*Guarantees provided by annuities are subject to the financial strength of the issuing insurance company; not guaranteed by any bank or the FDIC. Guaranteed lifetime income available through annuitization or the purchase of an optional lifetime income rider, a benefit for which an annual premium is charged. Annuities are long-term products of the insurance industry designed for retirement income. They contain some limitations, including possible withdrawal charges and a market value adjustment that could affect contract values.
Licensed Insurance Professional. We are an independent financial services firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of investment and insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. Investing involves risk, including the loss of principal. No Investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in a period of declining values. Any references to protection benefits or lifetime income generally refer to fixed insurance products, never securities or investment products. Insurance and annuity products are backed by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company. The information is not intended to be investment, legal or tax advice. The agent can provide information, but not advice related to social security benefits. The agent may be able to identify potential retirement income gaps and may introduce insurance products, such as an annuity, as a potential solution. For more information, contact the Social Security Administration office, or visit www.ssa.gov.