A proposed tax law change that may help you!

Many of my clients do not need the funds from their Required Minimum Distribution (RMD), but the consequence of not taking it is not an option.
Under a provision in proposed retirement legislation pending in Congress, required minimum distributions, or RMDs, would start at age 75 by 2032, up from age 72 — which only took effect last year after the 2019 Secure Act raised it from age 70½.
If this provision passes, many retirees can use those extra years of tax deferred accumulation to determine for themselves if they want to pull funds early, make qualified charitable donations, or simply delay to age 75.
I will keep watching for the vote to keep you posted. I’m all for deferring as long as possible.

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It’s that time of year!

I am not talking about graduations or vacations, I am talking about Hurricane season! Here is a question I recently received:
With hurricane season upon us should people have more than a month in emergency funds?
The answer is YES! I talk constantly about having cash reserves, hurricane season is one of those times where you need cash on hand. I believe you should have about $2000 in cash in a safe place in your home. When the power goes out, and it will, as things start opening up on generator power, you will be able to buy food and water if you have cash. If your local gas station is open but they do not have internet access, you cannot use your credit card. Cash will be king.
While you’re thinking about hurricane season, look at your supply of batteries, canned food – make sure you have a can opener, paper products, and make sure all of your important papers are protected from water and easily assessable.
If you are prepared, you will not panic.

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Don’t use the match as a marker.

I have had the occasion to talk to a number of people in their late 20’s – early 30’s lately. All of them are employed and have a number of company benefits. One question I always ask is: “What percentage are your contributing to you 401k?” They 98% of the time tell me what their company match is and say that is the same percentage that they contribute.
What I discuss with them is, they have one benefit that I do not have, and they cannot afford to waste it. That benefit is time. The next thing I tell them is that they should contribute as much as they can possibly afford, generally 10% or more to their payroll deducted plan. I point out the simple fact that if they are not putting the dollars into their plan, they are putting them into the pocket of the Federal Government.
The lightbulb goes off – I can see it in their faces. The match is extra, not a marker.

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This is big!

After several years of tepid cost-of-living increases, seniors are likely to get a significant raise in their Social Security benefits in 2022.
The Kiplinger Letter is forecasting that the annual cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security benefits for 2022 will be 4.5%, the biggest jump since 2008, when benefits rose 5.8%. That would also be higher than the 3% adjustment The Kiplinger Letter predicted earlier this year.
COLAs are calculated using the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. If prices don’t increase or fall, the COLA is zero. That happened in 2010 and 2011, as the economy struggled to recover from the Great Recession, and again in 2016, when plummeting oil prices wiped out the COLA for that year. In 2020, the COLA increased payouts by 1.3%.
Now that’s what I call a raise!

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Why don’t you wait a bit?

Many of my friends are in the early to mid-60”s now and are thinking about retirement. Many have planned for retirement, others don’t even want to think about it. My take on the question is, if you are healthy and enjoy what you are doing, why don’t you wait? Here are some benefits of waiting:
For every additional year (or even month) you work, you’ll shrink the amount of time in retirement you’ll need to finance with your savings. Meanwhile, you’ll be able to continue to contribute to your nest egg while giving that money more time to grow. In addition, working longer will allow you to postpone filing for Social Security benefits, which will increase the amount of your payouts.
For every year past your full retirement age (between 66 and 67 for most baby boomers) that you postpone retiring, Social Security will add 8% in delayed-retirement credits, until you reach age 70. Even if you think you won’t live long enough to benefit from the higher payouts, delaying your benefits could provide larger survivor benefits for your spouse. If you file for Social Security at age 70, your spouse’s survivor benefits will be 60% greater than if you file at age 62, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College
Many retirees believe, sometimes erroneously, that they’ll spend less when they stop working. But even if you succeed in cutting costs, health care expenses can throw you a costly curve. Working longer is one way to prevent those costs from decimating your nest egg.
These are just a few of the reasons waiting can be beneficial.

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When is my full retirement age for Social Security?

A lot of people don’t really know when they reach full retirement for Social Security. Here is an easy reference table to keep:
The chart below shows your FRA based on the year you were born.
Year of Birth/ Full Retirement Age:

1955 66 and 2 months
1956 66 and 4 months
1957 66 and 6 months
1958 66 and 8 months
1959 66 and 10 months
1960 or later 67
It can actually pay to wait until after full retirement age to claim your benefits, because once you reach FRA, you start earning delayed retirement credits. The small monthly increases these credits provide can add up to an 8% bump up in the size of your checks for each year you wait, up until 70.
Make sure you don’t claim Social Security without the knowledge you need. This is a lifelong decision that can impact your family’s retirement.

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Are you single and retired? This is not a dating ad – it is a small list of things you must do for yourself.

Being single in retirement is an issue that is often ignored. Through divorce, death, or never getting married, many retirees are finding themselves alone. Here are a few points you must address to make sure you have a quality retirement.
One of my clients found herself as a young widow, so she began preparing for her own fulfilling retirement by signing up for a thorough physical checkup and medical assessment of any potential chronic diseases based on her family medical history. The only concern that cropped up was high cholesterol and being overweight, so she started eating healthier and eventually lost 50 pounds. Ill health can be the start of the fastest decline, and it’s also the most expensive, she says. “If I’m going to age alone, I’d better get in the best physical shape!”
The same is true of your finances. Like everyone else, you’ll need to figure out how much retirement savings you have and what you most likely will need to enjoy your retirement years.
Financial and legal directives, such as powers of attorney and health care proxies, are the areas most solo retirees worry about the most. Make sure you have these documents in place, that they are current, and you have chosen wisely those who you have named to care for your health and finances.
Single or not, it is very important that you address these issues when you have time and no immediate issues that will force a rash decision about your retirement.

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Things I will not be doing as I turn 62.

62 is a milestone for a lot of people. One big marker is Social Security. If you are turning 62 this year, it means you were born in 1959. In that case, you will not reach FRA (full retirement age) until 66 and 10 months, so if you claim benefits at 62, you will reduce them by nearly 30%. That is a large hit to lock in for the rest of your life. Unless you really need the income, why would you do this?
I can also take advantage of Senior Discounts at many places. Movie tickets, restaurant deals, travel discounts. I make my husband apply for these; he is older than me. He can step up to these discounts.
A number of people I meet with ask if they should transition their investment portfolios to a more conservative one due to turning 62. My answer generally is no. I plan on living for 35 more years, that is a long time for an investment portfolio to work for someone’s benefit, therefore, equities are necessary.
Chronologically, my calendar may say 62, inside t feels more like 12. I will still be wearing the birthday tiara and having cake for breakfast – you should also!

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Who knew that by saving for retirement you could get stimulus money?!?

There is a new round of stimulus funds ready to send out, will you get any?
Increasing your 401(k) contribution could get you more stimulus money because with a traditional 401(k) plan, you’re reducing your income for the current year. You pay the taxes when you withdraw money in retirement. This wouldn’t work for a Roth 401(k) because you contribute post-tax and get tax-free money later on.
Let’s say you’re married filing jointly with two dependents. Your combined income is $160,000, so you didn’t qualify for any stimulus money. If you can lower your combined income by $10,000 through 401(k) deferrals, you’d get a $5,600 stimulus credit next year, since the payment for each dependent is also $1,400.
By putting more money in your pocket now through 401(k) savings for the future, you can benefit now.

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