The Biggest Winners

It is only fair that if there was an edition two weeks ago titled “Biggest Losers” there be an accompanying edition, “Biggest Winners.” Because there are A LOT of winners out there. But the financial and news media do not sell advertising talking about winners.

Here are the most obvious Winners, especially financially speaking:

Several of my clients and I painfully combed through their spending as part of the financial planning process. In most cases, these people came out with a greater awareness of who and what is most important to them.

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The Elephant in the Room

“Elephant in the room,” “ticking time bomb”…whatever you wish to call it, there is an issue currently present but not talked about nearly enough. The issue hits a nerve with nearly everyone – investor/saver or not. The issue is taxes – more specifically future taxes on retirement savings. Unfortunately, the issue has become so politicized that its true impact has almost been forgotten.

 Tax rates and total taxes paid may be higher or the same as today for lots of savers in retirement.

Back in 2016, I discussed part of this topic in TGIF 2 Minutes. (Click Death & Taxes to read.) At that time, the focus was soaring healthcare costs.

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Goals Gut Check

From the TGIF 2 Minutes Archives earlier this year PRE-coronavirus…

Earlier this year in February things were GOOD! The economy was cranking, unemployment was low, wages were up, and it was a somewhat perfect time of the year to set goals. Think: it was pre-tax filing time and after the holidays.

Fast forward to today… the world has changed. Our savings have been tapped in the pandemic — and new savings and other goals need to be reset! While the kids may now be going back to school (followed by maybe not??) using this precious time to set just a handful of goals can pay off toward achieving those goals.

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Give yourself a “Goals Gut Check” with this precious time before things potentially go a little haywire.

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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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“Hanging In There” in Tough Markets

How many times in the past going on 10 weeks has someone said to you, “Hang in there”? How many times have YOU perhaps said to someone you care about, “Hang in there”?

Hanging in there is often all we can do – and a brave thing to do at that. When it comes to tough markets like the ones we are currently experiencing, “hanging in there” translates to discipline in the midst of bravery. Discipline and bravery are two of the ultimate challenges in life.

KWD Chart

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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.

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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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Weekend Edition – Markets’ Response to Crisis

As we all “shelter in place” and our kids are in “cyber school” we take in news both of the day and of the bigger picture. Here are several personal financial-related cautionary thoughts and a quick graphic (see below). People way smarter than I say that data is key to decision-making and the ability to stick with a plan in crisis situations.

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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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Potential Danger to Your IRA

In the heart of this already HOT summer of 2019, the heat may only be beginning for your IRA. Under the seemingly friendly title of the “SECURE Act” Congress is considering plans to over-reach in the form of future taxes on IRA accounts.

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There are several positive and constructive elements of the bill recently passed by the House of Representatives and currently in review in the Senate. These include provisions to lower the threshold for small employers to offer 401k plans to their employees. However, a key part of the bill would do away with one of the most popular and widely used aspects of current IRA rules: the “Stretch IRA” for beneficiaries.

Currently, and dating back to the 1990’s, the Stretch IRA favors longevity by allowing a beneficiary to stretch inherited IRA monies over a lifetime, or until the IRA (or rolled over 401k) monies are depleted. This feature has come to be a popular and inexpensive long-term planning tool. The “Stretch” also aids in managing the tax consequences of becoming an inheritor of IRA monies. Continue reading “Potential Danger to Your IRA”

Cars: Costs & Decisions

How much is the “right” amount to spend on BUYING or MAINTAINING a car?? A loaded question. For insight on the answer, know that experts in financial planning cite the “Big 2” expenses of life that must be addressed: Shelter and Transportation. These are the “Big 2” no matter a person’s economic situation. (Note that the experts also say that when analyzing monthly spending, to start with these “Big 2” items, then pay yourself savings monthly, then figure out the rest with Food another “big” and obvious item.)

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Regarding personal transportation, consider the ever-changing world of cars. Cars remain a sizable chunk of our lives in terms of expense, enjoyment …and frustration! It occurred to me to talk a bit about this major expense item when a certain car’s (whose owner will remain nameless) odometer passed the 163,000 mile mark this past weekend. Continue reading “Cars: Costs & Decisions”