Tips for Working Beyond Retirement Age

Tips for Working Beyond Retirement Age

You may be one of many Americans who plan to work into retirement. Some report they need to work because their savings declined over the past several years, while others say they choose to work because of the greater sense of purpose and engagement that working provides.

Whatever your reason for continuing to work into retirement, here are some tips to get the greatest benefit from your efforts.

  • Consider delaying Social Security. You can start receiving Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62, but if you continue to work it may make sense to delay taking it until as late as age 70. This is because your Social Security benefit may be reduced or be subject to income tax due to your other income. In addition, your Social Security monthly benefit increases when you delay starting the retirement benefit. These increases in monthly benefits stop when you reach age 70.
  • Pay attention to bracket-bumping. Keep in mind that you may have multiple income streams during retirement that can bump you into a higher tax bracket and make other income taxable if you’re not careful. For example, Social Security benefits are only tax-free if you have less than a certain amount of adjusted gross income ($25,000 for individuals and $32,000 for married filing jointly in 2022), otherwise as much as 85 percent of your benefits can be taxable.

    Required distributions from pensions and retirement accounts can also add to your taxable income. Be aware of how close you are to the next tax bracket and adjust your plans accordingly.
  • Be smart about health care. When you reach age 65, you’ll have the option of making Medicare your primary health insurance. If you continue to work, you may be able to stay on your employer’s health care plan, switch to Medicare, or adopt a two-plan hybrid option that includes Medicare and a supplemental employer care plan.
  • Look over each option closely. You may find that you’re giving up important coverage if you switch to Medicare prematurely while you still have the option of sticking with your employer plan.
  • Consider your expenses. If you’re reducing your working hours or taking a part-time job, also consider the cost of your extra income stream. Calculate how much it costs to commute and park every day, as well as any other work-related expenses. Now consider how much all those expenses amount to in pre-tax income. Be aware whether the benefits you get from working a little extra are worth the extra financial cost.
  • Time to downsize or relocate? Where and how you live can be an important factor determining the kind of work you can do while you’re retired. Downsizing to a smaller residence or moving to a new locale may be a good strategy to pursue a new kind of work and a different lifestyle.
  • Focus on your deeper purpose. Use your retirement as an opportunity to find work you enjoy and that adds value to your life. Choose a job that expresses your talents and interests, and that provides a place where your experiences are valued by others.
Getting the Most Out of Homeowners Insurance

Getting the Most Out of Homeowners Insurance

Looking for a way to tackle insomnia? Read your homeowners insurance policy. Kidding aside, it’s worth the effort. This is especially important as insurance costs are going through the roof and too many surprises occur when you need your insurance after an event requires you to file a claim.

Here are some areas that may require a review.

  • Setting the correct amount. Just like the three bears fairy tale, you can have too much OR too little insurance. Replacement cost is the key, so review if your policy covers only the mortgage or real-estate value, and not the replacement cost. Construction prices have skyrocketed, so the cost of rebuilding a new home on the same lot could shock you. On the other hand, most claims do not require replacing your entire home.
  • Understanding what is NOT covered. Is your home covered for exterior flooding, or only interior water damage? Does the policy include coverage for mold, sewer backup, earthquakes and hurricanes? Nail down the details and pay close attention to local risks. This is where a great insurance agent can help you understand what surprises they have seen with claims. Get an agent that is transparent with this knowledge, as they see both success and horror stories every day.
  • Get the right deductibles. You may find that, unlike an auto policy, your homeowner’s insurance doesn’t include a flat-rate deductible for every type of claim. Some policies charge a percentage rate under certain circumstances. Say your house is insured for $300,000 and an earthquake strikes. If the insurer stipulates a deductible of five percent of the policy amount, you may be saddled with $15,000 in out-of-pocket costs before the insurance covers the rest. So explore the correct deductible for your financial situation and understand the policy savings by moving your deductible up or down from its current level.
  • Understand liability insurance coverage. A standard homeowners insurance policy usually has some level of liability insurance, albeit often at a minimal level. Ask several professionals what level of liability insurance would make sense for your particular situation and be willing to bump up your coverage to protect you and your family in the event that someone is injured while on your property. Many companies offer umbrella insurance to provide additional coverage for claims against you. Review if this is a good addition for your situation.

With homeowners insurance premiums skyrocketing, now is the time to really understand your coverage and the underlying risks you are absorbing. Remember, our natural tendency is to avoid the small print, but by understanding the natural tendencies of insurance companies to shift more of the burden from them to you, this knowledge can be used to motivate yourself to spend some time reviewing the details.

Tips to Get Your Finances in Tip-Top Shape

Tips to Get Your Finances in Tip-Top Shape

Here are some tips to get your finances in tip-top shape for 2023.

  • Know your net worth. The first step to improving your finances in 2023 is to create a snapshot of your current financial situation. So note all your assets, then subtract all your liabilities (what you owe others) to calculate your net worth. When done on a regular basis, you will be able to evaluate changes to your financial status and identify steps to reach your financial goals.
  • Plan for hardships. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to plan for the unexpected. Now is the time to prepare by building an emergency fund that covers six or more months of expenses.
  • Prepare for a lower refund. The 2021 tax year saw increases to the child tax credit and the dependent care credit, resulting in a big jump in tax refunds for many taxpayers. These changes, however, were not extended to 2022. If you plan to take advantage of either of these two credits on your 2022 tax return, be prepared for a possible decrease in your refund.
  • Create a debt repayment plan. Design a plan to pay off your existing debts and try to avoid taking on any new debt. Pay special attention to credit card debt, as inflation is vastly increasing the cost of this debt every month! Also consider whether consolidating your debt is a good option for you.
  • Save for retirement. Plan for your future self by building your retirement fund. In 2023 you can contribute up to $22,500 in your 401(k), plus another $7,500 if you’re 50 or older. Keep in mind your company may provide matching contributions up to a stated percentage of compensation. And you may be able to supplement this account with contributions to IRAs and/or other qualified plans.
  • Review and re-balance your portfolio. Review your investments periodically and reallocate funds to reflect your main objectives, risk tolerance, and other personal preferences. This will put you in a better position to handle the ups and downs of the markets.
  • Set a date to review your estate. Review your estate and legal documents at least once a year, in addition to whenever you experience a significant change in your life. Now is a good time to review your will, trust documents, beneficiary designations, powers of attorney, healthcare directives, and other estate- and legal-related documents.
Plan Your Retirement Savings Goals for 2023

Plan Your Retirement Savings Goals for 2023

A big jump in cost-of-living calculations means a big jump in how much you can contribute to retirement accounts in 2023! Now is the time to plan your retirement contributions to take full advantage of this tax benefit. Here are annual contribution limits for several of the more popular retirement plans:

Plan20232022Change
SIMPLE
IRA
Annual Contribution
50 or over catch-up
$15,500
Add $3,500
$14,000
Add $3,000
+ $1,500
+ $500
401(k), 403(b),
457 and
SARSEP
Annual Contribution
50 or over catch-up
$22,500
Add $7,500
$20,500
Add $6,500
+ $2,000
+ $1,000
Traditional
IRA
Annual Contribution
50 or over catch-up
$6,500
Add $1,000
$6,000
Add $1,000
+ $500
No Change
AGI Deduction Phaseouts:Single; Head of Household
Joint nonparticipating spouse
Joint participating spouse
Married Filing Separately
(any spouse participating)
73,000 – 83,000
218,000 – 228,000
116,000 – 136,000
0 – 10,000
68,000 – 78,000
204,000 – 214,000
109,000 – 129,000
0 – 10,000
+ $5,000
+ $14,000
+ $7,000
No Change
Roth
IRA
Annual Contribution
50 or over catch-up
$6,500
Add $1,000
$6,000
Add $1,000
+ $500
No Change
Contribution
Eligibility
Single; Head of Household
Married Filing Jointly
Married Filing Separately
138,000 – 153,000
218,000 – 228,000
0 – 10,000
129,000 – 144,000
204,000 – 206,000
0 – 10,000
+ $9,000
+ $14,000
No Change
Rollover to Roth EligibilityJoint, Single, or Head of Household
Married Filing Separately
No AGI Limit
Allowed / No AGI Limit
No AGI Limit
Allowed / No AGI Limit
No AGI Limit
Allowed / No AGI Limit

What you can do

  • Look for your retirement savings plan from the table and note the annual savings limit of the plan. If you are 50 years or older, add the catch-up amount to your potential savings total.
  • Then make adjustments to your employer-provided retirement savings plan as soon as possible in 2023 to adjust your contribution amount.
  • Double check to ensure you are taking full advantage of any employee matching contributions into your account.
  • Use this time to review and re-balance your investment choices as appropriate for your situation.
  • Set up new accounts for a spouse and/or dependents. Enable them to take advantage of the higher limits, too.
  • Consider IRAs. Many employees maintain employer-provided plans without realizing they could also establish a traditional or Roth IRA. Use this time to review your situation and see if these additional accounts might benefit you or someone else in your family.
  • Review contributions to other tax-advantaged plans, including flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs).

The best way to take advantage of increases in annual contribution limits is to start early in the year. The sooner, the better.

6 Ways to Cut Your Everyday Expenses

6 Ways to Cut Your Everyday Expenses

Many people dream of making more money, but cutting expenses can have the same effect. Identify unnecessary expenses with these six money-saving ideas and help free up some cash:

  1. Eliminate late fees. Most late fees are the result of being too busy, traveling or simply forgetting. Fortunately, late fees are almost entirely avoidable if you have a plan. A lot of people only think of credit card late fees, but they can also show up in many places including utility bills, subscriptions and registration fees. Take a look at your bills and identify the kinds of charges you’re getting. Scheduling automatic payments should help you avoid late fees going forward. And if you get one, call and try to get it canceled. It just might work!
  2. Cancel unnecessary subscriptions. Subscriptions are popping up everywhere. They include everything from weekly shaving products to video and music streaming services. With so many options, it’s easy to double up on services or forget to cancel one that you were planning to use for just a short time. Review all your monthly subscriptions and cancel the ones that are no longer providing value.
  3. Minimize interest expense. Paying for day-to-day expenses with a credit card to rack up points to use for airfare or other perks is a great cash management tool, but the interest that builds up if you don’t pay it off every month negates the perks and creates an extra expense. If you find yourself in a situation with multiple credit card balances, consider a consolidation loan with a lower interest rate.
  4. Be selective with protection plans. With virtually every purchase, the store or website offers to sell you insurance in the form of a protection plan. And for good reason — they’re profitable to them and not you! Insurance should be reserved for things you can’t live without like your health and your home. Pass on the protection plan for your toaster.
  5. Review your deductibles. A deductible is a set amount you pay before your insurance kicks in to cover the cost of a claim. The higher the deductible, the lower your monthly premium. If you have enough in savings to cover a higher deductible when disaster strikes, raising the deductible may save you some money on a month-to-month basis.
  6. Try a little DIY. If you own a house, you know it’s just a matter of time before something breaks or stops working. When this happens, don’t instantly reach for the phone to call a repairman. Repair videos are in endless supply online. An easy fix will often do the job. Simple fixes can lead to big savings, especially since repair services charge minimums and fuel surcharges.

While some ideas take a little more analysis to understand the true benefits, many are just the result of paying attention. Taking a proactive approach can provide a big boost to your budget.

Raising a Financially Savvy Child

Raising a Financially Savvy Child

If you have children or grandchildren, you have an opportunity to give them a jump-start on their journey to becoming financially responsible adults. While teaching your child about money and finances is easier when you start early, it’s never too late to impart your wisdom. Here are some age-relevant suggestions to help develop a financially savvy young adult:

  • Preschool – Start by using dollar bills and coins to teach them what the value of each is worth. Even if you don’t get into the exact values, explain that a quarter is worth more than a dime and a dollar is worth more than a quarter. From there, explain that buying things at the store comes down to a choice based on how much money you have (you can’t buy every toy you see!). Also, get them a piggy bank to start saving coins and small bills.
  • Grade school – Consider starting an allowance and developing a simple spending plan. Teach them how to read price tags and do comparison shopping. Open a savings account to replace the piggy bank and teach them about interest and the importance of regular saving. Have them participate in family financial discussions about major purchases, vacations and other simple money decisions.
  • Middle school – Start connecting work with earning money. Start with activities such as babysitting, mowing lawns or walking dogs. Open a checking account and transition the simple spending plan into a budget to save funds for larger purchases. If you have not already done so, now is a good time to introduce the importance of donating money to a charitable organization or church.
  • High school – Introduce the concept of net worth. Help them build their own by identifying their assets and their current and potential liabilities. Work with them to get a part-time job to start building work experience, or to continue growing a business by marketing for more clients. Add additional expense responsibility by transferring direct accountability for things like gas, lunches and the cost of going out with friends. Introduce investing by explaining stocks, mutual funds, CDs and IRAs. Talk about financial mistakes and how to deal with them when they happen by using some of your real-life examples. If college is the goal after high school, include them in the financial planning decisions. Tie each of these discussions into how it impacts their net worth.
  • College – Teach them about borrowing money and all its future implications. Explain how credit cards can be a good companion to a budget, but warn them about the dangers of mismanagement or not paying the bill in full each month. Discuss the importance of their credit score and how it affects future plans like renting or buying a house. Talk about retirement savings and the importance of building their retirement account.

Knowing about money — how to earn it, use it, invest it and share it — is a valuable life skill. Simply talking with your children about its importance is often not enough. Find simple, age-specific ways to build their financial IQ. A financially savvy child will hopefully lead to a financially wise adult.