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.
Remember hunting for Easter eggs as a child? There were few thrills more exciting than racing around the yard or a park to find as many eggs as possible. Your eggs may have contained candy, money or other prizes.
As an adult, you may be too old to participate in a traditional Easter egg hunt. However, there may be another egg hunt that could be far more lucrative. It’s a hunt for hidden retirement assets. Many people fail to inventory their available retirement assets. In doing so, they fail to identify assets that could play an important role in their retirement strategy.
Below are four often-overlooked retirement assets. Some of these eggs may be hiding in plain sight. If you haven’t created an inventory of your retirement assets, now may be the time to do so. You could have some valuable eggs waiting to be found.
Old 401(k) Plans
There was a time when workers stayed with one company for most of their career. Those days are long gone. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, wage and salaried workers have been with their current employer for a median of only 4.6 years. In fact, the average worker changes jobs 11 times from age 18 to 48.1
When you leave a job, you also may leave behind a 401(k) balance. It’s possible that you still have balances held in former employers’ plans. Make a list of old employers and identify the ones where you may have participated in a 401(k) plan, profit-sharing plan or other qualified retirement plan. If you have an old balance, you could roll it over into an IRA and invest it according to your strategy.
Life Insurance Cash Value
Do you own permanent life insurance policies? If so, those policies may have a cash value that you can use in retirement. Permanent life insurance policies have a death benefit, but they also have what’s called a cash value account. When you make a premium payment, a portion of that payment is allocated toward the cash value.
Your cash value account grows on a tax-deferred basis. The method of potential growth depends on the type of policy. Whole life insurance pays dividends, while universal life policies pay interest. Variable universal life policies allow you to invest in the financial markets. Depending on your type of policy and how long you’ve owned the insurance, you could have a significant amount of cash value.
You can use that cash value to provide supplemental income in retirement. For instance, you can withdraw your premiums tax-free. You can also take tax-free loans from the policy, though the loans do have to be repaid. Review your life insurance policies and see whether you’ve accumulated cash value that you can use in retirement.
Thinking of downsizing in retirement? That could be a smart move. When you downsize to a smaller home, you may be able to reduce your costs for housing, taxes, maintenance, insurance and more.
Delaying Social Security
Technically, this strategy doesn’t represent an asset, but it is a simple way to increase your retirement income. You can file for full Social Security benefits once you reach full retirement age (FRA). Most people’s FRA lands between their 66th and 67th birthdays.2
However, you don’t have to file at your FRA. If you choose to delay your filing, Social Security will increase your benefit by 8 percent for each year that you wait up to age 70. That 8 percent increase is a permanent credit, so it could represent a significant pay raise, especially if you delay your benefit filing for several years.3
Ready to find the hidden eggs in 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.
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.