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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This is NOT a DIY project.

Dealing with Death is never easy. Making sure you have the proper instructions, legally done, is so important. I believe that a lot of succession problems can be avoided by proper titling of accounts. Most insurance policies and retirement accounts have places for you to designate primary and contingent beneficiaries. Bank and brokerage accounts allow for adding a Transfer on death designation, these will all help to avoid probate. You still need a proper Will, Living Will, and to designate someone as power of attorney. Here are some of the things that can go wrong when you try to put together estate planning paperwork by yourself:
Even if you don’t think you have enough assets to warrant it, a will can clear up confusion and costs, and make sure small things of sentimental value go where you want. I have seen more family fights over small trinkets than anything else.
The online services are cheap upfront, and that is by far the biggest appeal, but it is really a question of whether you want to pay now or have your heirs pay because you left a mess behind.
Another common problem with online services, or when a person tries to create a will on their own: failure to sign a will or have it properly witnessed following the laws of your state.
Hire a qualified Estate Planning Attorney. Don’t leave a mess for your family, leave loving memories instead.

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Did you retire or turn 65 last year? Here are a few tax breaks just for you.

Lifecycle events bring about change. Generally when a lifecycle event brings change associated with the IRS, we take a step back. These two changes are nice ones.
When you turn 65, the IRS offers you a gift in the form of a bigger standard deduction. For 2020 returns, for example, a single 64-year-old gets a standard deduction of $12,400 (it will be $12,550 for 2021). A single 65-year-old gets $14,050 in 2020 (and $14,250 in 2021).
Generally, you must have earned income to contribute to an IRA. However, if you’re married and your spouse is still working, he or she can contribute up to $7,000 a year to an IRA that you own. (We’re assuming that since you’re reading about breaks for retirees, you’re at least 50 years old.) As long as your spouse has enough earned income to fund the contribution to your account (and any deposits to his or her own), this tax shelter’s doors remain open to you.
Don’t let these breaks go to waste.

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Why won’t you listen to me?

I cannot tell you how many people come to my office, pull out their cell phone and just log on to their financial accounts without a second thought. I know that many people do this anywhere in public. Do you remember when you could sit in a coffee shop and work? I know that many times people sitting there would do the same thing. Log in to their bank and investment accounts just to look at something. 90% of the people doing this have no protection on their devices to protect from a random passerby collecting their data. Download a VPN! Do it now! Not sure what a VPN is? It is a Virtual Private Network. It can provide a safe mode for surfing the web as it gives you privacy and data security. When used correctly, a VPN helps keep your connections secure and protects your device from prying eyes. … Even your own internet service provider (ISP) can’t access your data or track your activities.
Do it!

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Spenders vs. savers in retirement.

One of the first questions I ask my clients as they approach retirement is, “What will you do with your time?” Often, if they do not know who they will spend their time, they will overeat and over spend, both of which may lead to an unhappy retirement, especially if your partner does not behave the same way.
How do you bridge the gap if one partner is a spender and the other is a saver? Try to attack the problem and not the person. A conversation may go as follows: “I’ve seen these credit card bills and I’m getting really scared. I’m concerned about our future together and I want to make sure that we are doing everything to make sure our financial future is safe.”
Focus on the big items such as your mortgage and house hold bills first, then agree that there will be a certain amount each partner can spend monthly without any explanation. Neither partner will feel as if every dollar must be accounted for.
Discussing your habits in a calm and rational manner can bring spenders and savers together for a happy retirement.

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Talk to me like I am a 5yr. old – Sharing is good.

Do you remember sitting outside in the summer with a double Popsicle? They had a groove down the center to break it in half. Picture yourself sitting on the porch, snapping that Popsicle in half, and giving the other half to your best friend. Didn’t it feel great to “share your wealth?” That is what gifting is all about.
Charitable gifting is a wonderful thing. You can help your community and yourself at the same time. If you gift directly from your IRA, and do this properly, it can also count toward your Required Minimum Distribution. If you make a gift with non-retirement assets you may or may not be able to take a deduction under current tax law due to the current Standard Deductions.
Gifting, in my opinion, should not be done primarily for that tax benefit. Gifting should be done because you can share your wealth. Just remember that great feeling of the sunshine on your face and your besties next to you eating that Popsicle.

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