Why Do We Save Money?

As we persevere through the coronavirus pandemic, consider the following message from the 2019 Archives of TGIF 2 Minutes….

What is your reason for saving money? Is it retirement? Or are there “mini-goals” that would feel really great to achieve today?

Of course, retirement is often a primary long-term savings goal, but not always. “Retirement” encompasses more than simply stopping work and being on a “permanent vacation.” In fact, research published in the Journal of Financial Planning* reports that quitting work cold turkey often is not reality – for a number of reasons.

green typewriter on brown wooden table
What is your reason for saving money? Is it retirement? Or are there “mini-goals” that would feel really great to achieve today?

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Is This Time Different?

Originally titled, “Practical Suggestions, part 2” this edition of TGIF 2 Minutes covers a topic more related to “Is This Time Different?”

Related to a specific situation or event, most everyone has heard the bold acclamation, “This time is different!” Then, there are those who firmly believe that times are NEVER different… and that time simply repeats itself but with different nuances.

Looking at today, who is correct? The past 12 years are evidence of BOTH.

pexels-photo-3564390.jpeg
In saving for or in retirement, it has never been more important to have a mix of a comfortable amount of safe cash plus a well-designed portfolio.

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A Warm Up For Retirement

Retirement? What do you mean, Retirement?! That is in the waaay distant future, you may say.

Well the lock down, shelter in place, husbands and wives/girlfriends and boyfriends/parents and kids working from home TOGETHER is just that: a warm-up for retirement. Or a forced “retirement together” for those already retired.

competition dispute goats
Retirement – or being one-on-one 24/7 with the same person or people – is not as easy as it looks!

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Not-So-Fat Tuesday

Originally titled, “Gut Check in Rocky Markets” but with a new twist the following excerpted edition from the archives of TGIF 2 Minutes is timely on (Not So) Fat Tuesday. Please keep in mind three new factors:

  • The political divide currently in the US is adding to market tensions and even politicizing the Coronavirus,
  • Primary Elections and Debates and the policy issues being brought forth are next-to-center stage in the media,
  • A still very recent UP 29% equity market in 2019,

and there exist the makings of a potential market correction. A market correction is defined as a decline of 10% from a recent high; the US equity markets are down over 6% in two days and are nearing an official “market correction” in 2020.

Coronavirus Stock Market
A “Not-So-Fat Tuesday” as the Dow sank 879 points after worrisome forecasts about the coronavirus.

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Achieving Financial Goals

At February 21st, while the year is still young… the time is perfect for reviewing or setting goals for this year and the years and months to come. No pressure. The holidays are in the past and the deadline for filing 2019 taxes is still a bit in the distance – for now!

At this somewhat perfect time of the year, goal setting can pay off in a big way toward achieving those goals. Often goal setting is difficult to start with a blank sheet of paper so here are a few tidbits to create momentum:

green palm trees and white gazebo
Setting financial goals is difficult, so start by thinking in terms of categories: Work, Fun, Family.

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Tax Law Changes That Matter For You

As the year turned from 2019 to 2020, there stealthily rolled in several of the most sweeping reforms to retirement and tax legislation in a decade or so (outside of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or TCJA). The recent changes apply to IRA, 401k and other retirement savings accounts. If any of these apply to you then please read on:

  • Inherited IRA
  • Turning 70½ this or next year
  • Own a business with or proposing a 401k plan
  • Working for a small company and do not have access to a 401k plan
  • Need an early distribution for reasons of qualified birth or adoption
US Capitol
The SECURE Act is the most sweeping reform to retirement and tax legislation in a decade. As with most pieces of Congressional legislation there are positives and negatives.

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What am I Saving For?

Most people would define their primary savings goal as “retirement.” …Or would they?

Of course, retirement is often a primary long-term savings goal, but not always. The definition of retirement itself has morphed over the recent decade with people living longer lives. “Retirement” encompasses more than simply stopping work and being on a “permanent vacation.”  In fact, recent research published in the Journal of Financial Planning* reports that quitting work cold turkey often is not reality – for a number of reasons.

selective focus photography of person holding the adventure begins mug
There is more to the long-term savings equation that a simple line from Point A (today) to Point B (retirement).

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Year-End Tax Planning Tips

Excerpts from the TGIF 2 Minutes Archives:

The beginning of October means we are in the 4th Quarter… and the countdown begins to year-end. The following are excerpts from the Year-End Tax Planning Checklist.* Several of these items, if addressed now, could make a big difference to your 2019 tax filing AND add to your savings.

variety of pumpkins
The beginning of October means we are in the 4th Quarter… and the countdown begins to year-end.

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The Cable Bill

Here is a “fun fact” in the form of a question to ponder over the Labor Day holiday weekend: How much do you think you will need to have saved to pay your cable bill over the course of your retirement?  (Answer is below*)

First, some context. I do get questions like this one often from my smarter clients who are truly goal-oriented and who realize how breaking down various retirement (or other) goals into bite-sized pieces makes the whole “affording retirement thing” much easier. Questions like:

  • How much should we be saving monthly in order to retire or slow down someday?
  • What kind of annual income can we expect from our portfolio someday?
  • How much will we need to have saved to afford future healthcare costs? (You can substitute other costs such as cable, vacations, kids’ costs, etc.)
photo of cup near flat screen television
Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

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Is There an Optimal 401k Balance?

More on the topic of 401k saving: Can there be an “optimal amount” to have in a traditional 401k? At the very least, adjustments can be made to get close-to-optimal. And timing wise with the calendar approaching mid-year there is ample time (unless you have already maxed out your 401k) to make meaningful adjustments to your 2019 401k elections and start the optimizing process.

bank banknotes bill cash
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This topic is especially important for those who take saving seriously and who have at least $400,000 TODAY in a 401k or IRA Rollover accounts combined with a 401k account. (For those with less, these concepts still matter but with less urgency.)

First: How old are you?

  • Age matters because TIME is one of the biggest determinants of how much a 401k balance can potentially grow.
  • If you are younger than 40, these concepts could affect you A LOT as the power of compounding can kick in over multiple decades (this does not mean trading; rather saving, allocating and allowing compounding to do its work).
  • If you are older than 60 and nearer to retirement or selling a business, these concepts matter greatly but the solutions will be slightly different.
  • If you are in your 50’s, a combination of strategies can work – and keep in mind the “catch up” that allows you to save more.

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