I have been asked this question three times this week.

Q: Why should I move my 401(k) from my former employer to a Rollover IRA?

A: First, I am never a fan of leaving money where you no longer are. There can be material changes to the plan or investments and you will potentially not find out about those changes in a timely manner.

Second, if you need funds from your retirement account, a withdrawal from a 401(k) will have a mandatory 20% withholding for Federal income Tax, you may not be in a 20% tax bracket.

Third, the internal expenses in a corporate 401(k) are generally higher than the fees a Certified Financial Planner™ would charge.

Fourth, you will have more investment choices outside of the 401(k).

Take you hard earned retirement savings with you, do not leave it to chance.

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This is bad advice – don’t take it!

As part of our practice we rebalance our client’s portfolios regularly. Everyone, even my clients with a conservative risk tolerance, has some portion of their portfolio in stock mutual funds. Recently I read an article that stated “You shouldn’t own any stocks as a retiree”. This is the wrong advice. If you plan on living any length of time in retirement, you need equities to stay ahead of inflation. We have not had to deal with much inflation over the past 10 years, but we all know it is here now. Everything is costing more. Retirement money shouldn’t just sit in cash. Rather, it should stay invested so it continues to grow. Now you’ll often hear that owning stocks in retirement is a risky move you should avoid. But actually, not only is it OK to hold stocks in your portfolio as a senior, but you should hold stock mutual funds so your IRA or 401(k) can keep gaining value even as you take withdrawals.

But dumping your stock mutual funds completely could cause your nest egg to dwindle faster than you’d like it to.

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Did you get this letter? You may.

We have been hearing how short staffed the IRS is and I now have first-hand experience with this situation. We received a letter the other day stating that they are holding a credit balance for us, but we need to file, or re-file our 2020 tax return.

When it comes to our taxes I always pay our quarterlies early, and file our return before the end of March. I have made copies of our original signatures, the full return, and the priority mail receipt returned to us by the IRS confirming receipt of your 2020 tax return.

It is all very frustrating, but nothing to play around with. One interesting note, the credit they state they are holding for us is a bit more than we paid in tax – did it earn interest?

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Are we getting ready for a market crash? What should I do?

Many investors are concerned that we are going to have another 2008 market style crash this year. There is a lot of uncertainty in many areas of our Country right now, so maybe we will, maybe we won’t. If the markets do mirror 2008, there are opportunities to be aware of.

Make sure you are investing during periods of volatility.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, market downturns are some of the best opportunities to buy more. I love buying on the dips, but I never invest everything at once, today’s dip may not but the lowest one.

Don’t pull your money out of the market
Unless you need some cash, stay invested. You never want to sell in a down market if you do not have to. You want to buy low and sell high.

Don’t chase fads.
We have seen GameStop, the crypto currencies, and companies like Peloton run up on rumors and hype. Quality will always prevail.

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What will you do differently this year?

This is the time of year when we reflect and make resolutions. We are motivated, excited to make positive changes, then life starts taking over and the changes don’t always happen. So what will you do differently this year to break that pattern? I have a few easy tips to help you be successful.

What is your why?
Come up with a “why” for each financial resolution you make. Once you’ve written down a “why” for each financial resolution you’ve made, revisit them each month to make sure they still hold.

Improve your credit score.
If you can get to the point where you’re regularly using your credit card and paying it off every month, your credit score will grow by leaps and bounds, plus you can rack up points you can use toward purchases.

Make a realistic budget & stick to it.
I know, everyone hates making a budget, but they really help. Look at all of the areas that you regularly spend money to see if you can make small changes to save more.

Pay yourself first.
How much are you contributing to your 401(k)? Many people will only contribute to the company match. Every additional dollar you contribute to your 401(k), is a dollar that will not be going to Federal Income Tax. Pay yourself, not the Federal Government.

Make this year different, and successful.

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You have (most of) a week left!

I have spent the better part of this year talking about taxes and inflation. Since the second week of January 2020, there have been a huge number or tax proposals thrown at us, I am sure some of them will be written into law next year. Anyone who has spent money on anything of late knows the impact of inflation. We have this final week of the year to make sure we don’t get bitten by either of these points.

Have you taken your full RMD? The required minimum distribution form your retirement accounts is mandatory, the amount you have to withdraw changes every year, and the penalty for under withdrawing is a 50% tax.

Have you made all of the Charitable Contributions you wish to? For many taxpayers, Charitable Contributions are deductible, check the tax code to see if this applies to you.

Are there any big ticket items you planned on buying? Make big purchase now, or at least try to lock in 2021 pricing with deposits. The Fed has stated that rates will be raised at least three times next year.

Use this short week wisely so you do not miss an opportunity to save.

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There is still time to save on your taxes this year.

2021 is winding down fast, but you still have time to make some moves that will cut your tax bill and leave more money in your pocket.

Capital loss harvesting
If you have some investments that have gone down in value since you bought them, you might consider selling them and taking a loss. You’re allowed to offset any capital gains you’ve taken this year with the losses, as well as up to $3,000 in personal income.

Retirement plan contributions
If you have extra savings you can live on right now, you may consider increasing your 401(k) salary deferral. The contribution limit for 2021 is $19,500 for those under age 50, or $26,000 for those 50 or older. These are pre-tax contributions. The money will go into your pocket vs. the IRS.

Charitable donations
Even if you’re not itemizing your deductions in 2021, you can still get a tax benefit for your charitable giving. For 2021, you’re able to make a deduction up to $300 for single filers or $600 for a married couple filing jointly without itemizing. If you do itemize, you can deduct the full amount of charitable donations made in 2021.

Use your time wisely, the more you can save in taxes – the more you can save for yourself.

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Good advice from someone walking the walk.

I have a client that has been a widow for a number of years. Recently she shared with me an acronym she put together to help herself find people necessary for her to move on to her next steps, and help her to keep moving in the proper direction. I thought this was wonderful and want to share it with you.

Here’s suggested expertise list for advisors:
F – financial advisor
L – lawyer
I – insurance specialist
R – realtor
T – tax(es) specialist

Please feel free to add these to your list of resources.

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Common sense make the most sense!

There are a lot of sources we can turn to for financial advice, tons of websites, articles, even a blog or two. Taking time to learn is important, but don’t ignore your common sense. Here are a few common sense tips for successful investing:
Start with your first paycheck, and continue through your last one.
Begin investing as soon as you can, be patient, and let time shower your investments with compound growth.
Cut Uncle Sam out of your picture.
Invest as much as you can in tax-deferred retirement plans, such as 401(k) plans. Your money will grow faster and you can afford to invest more now because you won’t have to pay taxes on the money until you retire.
Investing is a process, there are no miracles.
Your investment decisions won’t be right all the time, and some of your funds will underperform your expectations. But as you rebalance and weed out consistent underperformers over the years, you will generally achieve a reasonable overall investment return.
I am here to help you.
Seek professional help if you need it. As the fees on mutual funds shrink, professional advice is no longer expensive. Even if you are a do-it-yourselfer, consider a periodic checkup with a financial adviser to hone your portfolio’s performance.

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