November-December Newsletter

Click here for ⇒November-December Newsletter

Timely articles on:

  • Tax refund fraud and how to keep it from happening to you.
  • Helping your child choose the right college.
  • Keeping your holiday spending in check.
  • Why automatic payroll deductions are a must for your retirement plan.
  • Coordinating retirement accounts when both spouses have one.
  • When was the last time you rebalanced your investments.
  • Is life insurance needed after you retire?
  • Business owners….what’s your exit strategy?
  • FAQ’s for: investing; life insurance; retirement; small business owners

Let’s Talk Money, May Edition

On the move?

If you’re planning on buying and/or selling a home this summer, you want your move to be as smooth as possible. Since a house may be your largest financial investment, you’ll want to make the best decisions possible for you and your family.

Working for a living this summer

A summer job for your teen may offer more benefits than just earning money. A working teen may learn responsibility, build self-confidence and gain real world experience.

By the numbers: this new house

Here’s a snapshot of the housing market during the second quarter of 2016 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Travel tips

These suggestions may help you enjoy your vacation without busting your budget this summer.

Up we go

Even a relatively low rate of inflation could affect your future buying power. Your financial professional can help you factor inflation into your financial strategy and retirement budget.


Make it easy on your beneficiaries

You can help ensure that your life insurance benefits go to the people you want to receive them by updating contact information, keeping beneficiaries informed and providing detailed information to the insurance company.

Let’s talk insurance Q&A

• What are the differences between term life and whole life insurance?

Retirement Planning:

Converting from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA

You can convert a traditional individual retirement account (IRA) to a Roth IRA regardless of income or tax-filing status. While you may have to pay income taxes on the amount you convert, this can be a good strategy. Your financial professional can help you determine if a Roth conversion is right for your situation.

Let’s talk retirement Q&A

• Which accounts should I tap first for retirement income after I stop working?

Small Business:

Retirement plans for small businesses

If your small business doesn’t have a retirement plan in place, consider establishing one. A retirement plan can be a key part of your business’s ability to attract and retain talent. And offering tax-favored retirement benefits can provide greater retirement security for you and your employees.

Let’s talk business Q&A

• Can I fund a supplemental retirement plan with cash value life insurance? • What are some inexpensive but meaningful fringe benefits I can offer employees?


Investing for the years ahead

Setting aside money for goals that are far in the future often takes a back seat to spending on current needs. However, investing for retirement should be one of your financial priorities. Talk to your financial professional about strategies that can help you pursue your long-term goals.

Let’s talk investing Q&A

• What are target date funds and how do they work?

Newsletter for May-June

Check out our latest newsletter here:
Helpful information on all these subjects:
Estate Planning:
Let’s Talk Estate Strategy Q&A
 • What tax-efficient strategies can individuals use to pass assets to adult children?
 • How can individuals let family members know where to access important documents in case of disability or death?
Protecting your child:
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day give us the opportunity to show Mom and Dad how much we appreciate them. But could moms and dads be doing more to protect their children? If you’re the parent of a minor child, you can help ensure your child’s future by naming a legal guardian and having sufficient life insurance.
General Interest:
A moving experience
 • Moving to a new home can be both physically and financially draining. We offer some tips to help make the move less stressful.
Lost and found
 • If a loved one dies and no life insurance policy is found, how can you determine if one exists? We list some strategies legal representatives can use to find the answer.
By the numbers: total annual college charges
How much does it cost to go to college? Here’s a look at some 2014 statistics from the   College Board.
 • The smart way to pay for college
Borrowing to pay for college is sometimes unavoidable. But a smarter and less expensive way to pay for your child`s education is to build a college fund through investing.
 • Thoroughly modern money
Technology has made managing finances a lot easier. There are now many options that can help you budget, deposit checks and pay bills more efficiently.
Good health = lower premiums
Looking for a way to lower your life insurance premiums? By making a few healthy lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, exercising and quitting smoking, you may be able to qualify for lower insurance rates.
Let’s Talk Insurance Q&A
• Should first-time homeowners buy life insurance?
• Why are life insurance premiums generally higher for men than for women?
Retirement Planning:
Get your retirement account in shape
Is your retirement account as healthy as you’d like it to be? To help you get your investments in shape, we list some common mistakes to avoid.
Let’s Talk Retirement Q&A
• How much do retirement plan contributions reduce an individual’s income taxes?

Let’s Talk Retirement Q&A
• What is the difference between an assisted living facility and a nursing home?
• Why is the term” activities of daily living” important to understand when searching for a long-term care facility?
When what you leave behind matters
May is Older Americans Month. It’s the time we celebrate the accomplishments of individuals ages 65 and older. As a member of that generation, what’s important to you? Is it leaving your loved ones a financial legacy? You may not be able to if you haven’t factored medical and long-term care expenses into your retirement strategy.
Small Business:
Let’s Talk Business Q&A
• Are individual retirement accounts still protected by federal bankruptcy laws?
• How can employers increase participation in their retirement plans?
Spring into May with a healthy outlook
If it’s been a while since you reviewed your finances, now would be a good time for a checkup. We discuss some items that can get both your business and personal finances on the right track.
Is your investing strategy fiscally fit?
May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. You know exercise and a healthy lifestyle can help keep you physically fit. But what can you do to ensure you’re fiscally fit? A review of your investments can help you determine if your current investing strategy is still in line with your goals.
Let’s Talk Investments Q&A
 • What is a target date retirement fund’s glide path?
Pamper yourself with a secure retirement
 • Mother’s Day is the day your children recognize you for all you do. But sometimes the things you do, such as taking time out of the work force to care for children or an elderly parent, can affect your ability to invest for retirement. By starting early, maxing out your contributions and opening a spousal IRA, you can help build a financially secure retirement.

Let’s Talk Money Online

The November issue of our newsletter is now available for viewing here:

Subjects include:

Estate Planning:

More than taxes

When you first developed your estate strategy, your primary goal may have been to mitigate taxes. But there’s more to an effective estate strategy than taxes alone. An updated strategy can help provide financial protection for you and your loved ones and management for your assets when you can’t or don’t want to manage them yourself.

General Interest:

Keep the happy in your holidays

Shopping during the holidays doesn’t have to be stressful. Sticking to a budget, looking for bargains and watching out for scams can help you save money and reduce stress.

Secrets of successful investors

To be financially successful, you need to invest money on a regular basis. We offer some tips to help you invest more.

Give yourself the gift of lower taxes

Even though the year is quickly coming to a close, you still have time to reduce your income-tax liability for 2013. We list some ways you may be able to lower your tax bill.

Keep or toss?

You finally cleaned out your filing cabinet and have a pile of old tax documents ready for the shredder. Not so fast. If the documents support items shown on your return and the period of limitations for that return hasn’t run out, the IRS requires that you keep them.

By the numbers: average monthly spending

In which month do you think Americans spend the most on average? Here’s a look at the highest and lowest months for spending according to a Gallup poll.


Talking term insurance

With various options to choose from, buying the right type of life insurance can seem like a daunting task. If you want an affordable option that provides coverage for a set period of time, term life insurance may be what you’re looking for.

Tips for year-end charitable giving

With the holiday season upon us, you may be thinking about sharing your good fortune with others by giving to charity. We offer some tips to help you maximize the tax benefits from your donations.

Retirement Planning:

Retirement hopes versus reality

Like most Americans, you probably hope you’ll have enough money to live on in retirement. But your hopes for your future may be very different than reality. There are several steps you can take to help make your retirement more secure.

Spousal IRA one-two punch

Investing for retirement can be hard for a stay-at-home spouse. But even when one spouse does not have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, there is another investing option worth considering: a spousal individual retirement account.


Prioritize your protection

Are you one of those people who thinks only the elderly need long-term care protection? Think again. Anyone can suffer a disability that could require long-term care services. Taking the time now to assess your possible long-term care needs, along with your disability income and life insurance needs, can help ensure your family’s financial security is protected.

Small Business:

A year-end checkup for small businesses

An annual financial review can help keep your business healthy and growing. As part of your review, make sure your business has the insurance coverage it needs.

Put your plan on autopilot

Setting money aside for retirement is important. Unfortunately, not all your employees may think so. To raise your company retirement plan’s participation rate, you might want to consider introducing an automatic enrollment feature.


Find out if you’re still in the zone

Have your investing goals changed over the past year? If they have, then now is a good time to review your investment strategy to determine whether it’s still appropriate for your other goals and time frame.


Got money for retirement?

Women have a harder time accumulating money for retirement than men. Why? They tend to live longer, typically earn less and may take time out from the work force for caregiving. But don’t let those factors fool you into thinking you can’t have a financially secure future. We list some steps women can take to improve their finances in retirement.

Supreme Court Decision on DOMA & Retirement Plans

Transamerica, one of our retirement plan providers issued this narrative we’d like to pass on:



What does it mean for Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans?

Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) enacted in 1996 was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court on Tuesday. Under that section of DOMA, the term “marriage” is defined as the legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.

The federal definitions of “spouse” and “marriage” under DOMA affect the availability of numerous retirement benefits and rights to same sex spouses under the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (“ERISA”). In the retirement plan area, same sex spouses have not been legally recognized as married because of DOMA. A few examples of these retirement plan provisions include:

• Survivor benefits in the form of a Qualified Joint and Survivor Annuity;

• Qualified Domestic Relations Orders;

• Application of benefit limitations under IRC Section 415;

• Spousal consent;

• Qualified Optional Survivor Annuity;

• Qualified Pre-Retirement Survivor Annuity;

• Timing of death benefit payments and required distribution rules;

• Rollover rules as applicable to eligible rollover distributions;

• Beneficiary status; and

• Hardship withdrawal provisions.

While some plans may have chosen to extend certain retirement benefits to non-spouse beneficiaries (e.g., survivor annuities), under DOMA plans were not required to do so.

Transamerica Retirement Solutions will be reviewing the DOMA decision in the coming days to determine the implications for our employer-sponsored retirement plans now that federal law recognizes same sex marriages that are entered into pursuant to state law. Currently 12 states (Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington) plus the District of Columbia recognize same sex marriages. In light of the Supreme Court decision in Hollingsworth v. Perry, this list will soon likely include California.

As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision on DOMA, some immediate questions that employers will have include the following:

• Is the DOMA decision retroactive?

o Will employers be required to provide survivor benefits to same sex spouses for prior periods?

o Will plans be disqualified for not providing survivor benefits to same sex spouses in the past?

• How will plans be administered differently?

o How is a person’s marital status determined?

o Will plan administrators need to track the participant’s residence?

• What benefits would now be required to be provided to same sex spouses?

• What additional notices will be required to be given to same sex spouses?

• What are the implications for nonqualified plans?

• Will any forms such as beneficiary designation forms need to be revised?

• How will this decision impact non-ERISA plans?

• What changes, if any, will be needed to plan documents and Summary Plan Descriptions?

Jan/Feb Let’s Talk Money Newsletter

View the newsletter here:

Estate Planning:

What your children should know about your finances

It may not be easy talking to your adult children about your finances and estate strategy. But discussing your finances with your grown children now can better prepare your whole family for the future.

General Interest:

Great way to start the new year

If you spent more than you wanted to this holiday season, you need to take a closer look at where your money is going. A spending plan can help you track your money and get your finances in order.

I resolve to . . .

Instead of making the same resolutions you have in the past, resolve this year to improve your financial health. We offer several ways to become more financially fit.

By the numbers: spending patterns

The Employee Benefit Research Institute has released some statistics on the spending patterns of Americans ages 50-64.

The minimum payment trap

Paying the minimum amount on your credit card may seem like a good idea, but it’s not. Not only will it take you longer to pay off the balance, but you’ll also end up paying more for the item than what it originally cost.


Single? You need life insurance, too

Just because you’re single doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider life insurance. Incorporating a life insurance policy into your financial strategy can be a smart move.

The gift of a better financial future

If you’d like to help a family member get the year off to a better financial start, consider making a gift that can make a real difference in your loved one’s financial future. Your generosity also may help save estate taxes later.

Retirement Planning:

Take charge of your retirement

With pensions becoming far less common than in the past, it’s up to you to figure out how to fund your retirement. We discuss several recommendations from the IRS for preparing for retirement.

Put a realistic price tag on your retirement

When it comes to funding retirement, not everyone needs to save the same amount. Figuring out how much income you’re going to need ahead of time can put you on the path toward an enjoyable retirement.


Have you had the talk?

The beginning of a new year is a good time to talk to your loved ones about your possible long-term care needs. Discussing your wishes and possible solutions for long-term care can help alleviate any future stress and indecision.

Small Business:

Does your business have a contingency plan?

Financial issues can cause considerable stress between business partners. Setting up a buy-sell agreement can alleviate some of that potential stress.

The life insurance crisis

Many American households don’t have individual life insurance, even though they need the protections it provides. If you’re looking for a way to help your business attract and retain valuable employees, consider making life insurance part of your employee benefit package.


Are you an abstract or a concrete thinker?

If you have trouble saving money, it could be because your strategy doesn’t match the way you think. Figuring out what kind of thinker you are can help you create a successful strategy for reaching your goals.


Protect your income with disability insurance

Illness or injury can happen to anyone. Would you be prepared if it happened to you? Having long-term disability insurance coverage could help keep you financially afloat if you were prevented from working due to disability.

Retirement Income…you’re probably in trouble.

I’m noticing a disturbing trend when talking to people about saving for retirement and what their expectations are for their own retirement. Most people have no idea how much income they’ll need when they retire. Even worse, hardly anyone has a specific plan describing how much they need to save NOW to enable them to have enough money when it comes time TO RETIRE.

If you’re under 50, you are in luck…you still have time. If you’re over 50, and haven’t been saving at least 20% of your income, you might be in trouble.

So, unless you have:

• a large trust fund

• are already independently wealthy

• have a big inheritance coming your way soon

• lucky enough to have a large pension

You need to follow this advice, as appropriate to your age:

Over 50, but not retired

Within the next few weeks, write down your ideal plan for retirement. Include everything that could affect your income or spending. For example, will you downsize your home; will you want to spend winters in a warm climate; will you take up a new hobby or activity (golf or travel can be expensive); will you earn money doing part time work; what will groceries, telephone, gas, insurance, cable, etc, etc, cost.


Once you have your list, assign a dollar value (in annual terms using today’s values) to each. Then, add all those amounts up to see what you’ll be spending each year. Next is the step that’s a little complicated: you’ll need to calculate your annual retirement income using projected Social Security benefits, pension benefits, retirement savings you’ll have accumulated and income property you may own. Your spending amount is now subtracted from your income amount and if the result is a negative number you’ll need to spend less or retire later

Under 50

Good news, you still have time to build a decent retirement income. You need to save enough so that your retirement savings are equal to this multiple of your annual income at these ages:

     Age 40, 1.61 x annual income

     Age 45, 3.53 x annual income

     Age 50, 5.82 x annual income

     Age 55, 8.56 x annual income

     Age 65 15.7 x annual income

If you have any questions about how to make sure you’ll be able to retire with enough income, get advice from an Investment Advisor, they aren’t paid commission so they have no incentive to sell you anything.

Jerry Siver