It’s RMD Time!

Required minimum distributions are back. Last year due to the pandemic they were suspended, not anymore. Many of my clients are getting unpleasant surprises by the amount they have to withdraw. If you are age 72 or above, you have to withdraw a certain percentage of your Traditional or rollover IRA annually, those who still have funds in a 401(k) or 403(b) and are no longer working will have to take an RMD also.
So why the shock? Not having to withdraw last year along with most of the markets ending 2020 strong have left clients with higher 12/31/20 balances than they expected.
Please do not overlook your RMD, the penalty is large.


Why can’t I get my fence built?

Earlier this year we contracted to have new gates and a complete new fence installed. The gates have been finished since March, one run of the fence was finished in July, and we have no idea when the other two runs of fence will be completed. Why? Here is a bit of what I have found out:
There are a lot of ships sitting at ports waiting to offload their cargo. The cause of the backup, say port officials, is strictly-enforced Covid restrictions at the ports, including those in Asia, as well as unprecedented demand for goods from China, South Korea, and other Asian exporting countries
Another reason is supply. For years, the price of 1,000 board feet of lumber has generally traded in the $200 to $400 range. It’s now well above $1,000. (One board foot is 12x12x1 inches.
The last reason is workers. When the ships were prevented from offloading, dock workers left to find other jobs.
Anyone willing to take bets as to when my fence will be completed?


Resolutions in fall – why not!?!

Most people make their resolutions at the New Year, why wait? As we approach winter, we know there will be a lot you want to spend money on. Why not take the few months before the winter holidays to put some financial resolutions to work. Here are a few tips to get started:

Review Your Spending
I have often said it does not matter what you make, it is how you spend that will bring you financial success. Make a budget and stick to it.

Prepare For Holiday Spending
Take a look at who you want to buy gifts for and set a budget. Think about your holiday entertaining and start looking for deals on food items you can keep frozen until needed as well as paper goods you might need for serving.
Max Out Your 401(k)
If you have not contributed the max, see if your employer will allow you to withhold extra to get there. The fund will go in your pocket vs. that of the IRS.

Take the time you have to plan – you will have a much happier year end.


This is a real question.

It’s Q & A time – this is an interesting one.
Q: Is it possible to get a loan for a wedding? My sister’s wedding is coming up, but we don’t have enough money and would like to help her.
A: Loans are available for almost anything, this would fall under the category of a personal loan and may carry higher interest. My question to you and your sister would be, why not scale down or postpone so you can pay cash for the wedding? We all have our dreams, but sometimes they have to change. My own wedding had to be drastically scaled down because my father passed away. Not going into debt for a wedding might be a wiser way for them, and you, to start this new chapter.


Did you see this!?!

For the 38 years that I have been in business, I have always told my clients to pay themselves first. This means taking advantage of retirement accounts from your first paycheck. Deposit funds into your 401k, 403b, or IRA from the beginning of your career. Now congress wants to penalize those who have done so, invested wisely, and seen large growth in their IRA accounts.
The House Ways and Means committee would “require taxpayers to distribute retirement account balances that exceed certain thresholds,” according to the list, which is a draft of ideas lawmakers assemble before formally pitching them in the House or Senate. This proposal would require accounts at $5 million and over to take distributions prior to age 72 to get their balances down to a more “fair” balance. They account for less than a tenth of 1% of the roughly 70 million taxpayers with a traditional or Roth IRA, according to the most recent IRS statistics.
Some Democrats used the report from the Ways and Means Committee as evidence that the rich are using IRAs as a tax shelter rather than an account to build a nest. I thought the IRA was written as a tax shelter to help build a retirement nest – what am I missing?
There have been a lot of tax proposals put out by the administration since the second week of January 2021, nothing has been passed yet. If we open this door, where does it end? Please pay attention to what is being proposed.


That was then.

Today is my 35 wedding anniversary so I decided to take a look at what prices were in 1986. We complain about how expensive everything has gotten, let’s take a look.
If you wanted to buy a house, your mortgage rate would be 10.19% vs. 2.47% today.
A gallon of gas was .86 vs. $3.72
A Rib eye steak cost $3.89/pound vs. $8.00/pound today.
I drive an Audi, in 1986 I would have paid $17,800 vs. a starting price of $39,000 today.
A lot has changed for the worse in 35 years, what has not is how much I love my Husband – that has grown with the prices!


Is that really an emergency?

I know most of you are sick of me talking about an emergency fund. If that past 20 months have taught us anything, it is that an emergency fund is necessary. Many people have had to deal with unexpected emergencies such as illness, job loss, or accidents. These are the types of things that your emergency fund is for – to cover you when unforeseen circumstances arise. An emergency fund is not for the following:

Lend out to someone. We all want to be able to help our friends and family in need, but do not do this at the risk of your own security. I have learned that often a “loan” becomes a gift due to lack of repayment.

Invest it. Emergency funds are those that you cannot afford to put at risk. It does not matter how hot a tip is or how strong your FOMO is, you do not invest emergency funds.

A vacation is not an emergency. It may be tempting, but you can also start a vacation fund alongside your emergency fund. Buying furniture or a car is not an emergency either. If you have been in an accident, your insurance should cover a loaner so you can take your time to find another car. I don’t care how great the sale on that sofa seems either – these are not emergencies.

I call the emergency fund the “toe of the sock” money. You need to really have to reach in far to get to those dollars. Think twice before you open that sock drawer.


What are you concerned about?

During my regular review appointment I always want to know what issues are keeping my clients up at night in reference to their finances. As the last 18 months have been a bit wacky, many clients are concerned about sudden changes in their employment and the impact on their cash flow.
36% of Americans are worried they won’t do a good enough job saving for near-term goals as well as retirement. But the solution, once again, boils down to smart decisions and more judicious spending, coupled with making sure you have a larger than average emergency fund for this very uncertain time we are in. Furthermore, when you contribute to a traditional retirement savings plan, like an IRA or 401(k), that money of yours goes in tax-free. The result? An instant lowering of your tax bill, which makes saving more feasible.
How you choose to spend is often more important than what you can save.


Don’t want to run out of money before you run out of life?

Since none of us knows how much time we have left on this Earth, I choose to err on the side of longevity. When putting together a retirement cash flow plan for my clients I assume age 95 for life expectancy. With this in mind, put these tips to work now to make sure you have a successful retirement.
1 It’s never too late to start planning. Although it might be impossible to know how long you’ll live or what your health may look like in the future, there are things you can plan for now that can set you up well for retirement. Figure out what at age you plan to retire, how much you are saving, what your estimated expenses are, how much income you will need to live on and how much you already have saved for retirement. Don’t forget that inflation and taxes will have an ever changing impact on your spending.
2. The sooner you start saving, the more time your money has to grow. When I talk to people just starting out in the world, I always tell them to put 10% into their payroll deducted retirement plan. Make sure that you also have enough cash on hand for emergencies. I know saving a bunch into a low interest bearing savings account is not jazzy, but it will save you in case of an emergency.
3. Don’t forget to invest the money you save. Compound interest can work wonders for your money. Just as with saving, the earlier you start investing, the more your money can grow. Look at the options you have available in your retirement plan and put together a diversified portfolio. If you are diversified your investments will not all move in the same direction at the same time. Diversification should provide some protection if you do not have all your dollars invested in the same items.
If you are still working, time is your biggest asset. Don’t waste it.