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Winter 1998/1999

Wink Tax Services

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IN THIS ISSUE . . .

Click on the Topics Below to Jump to That Section.

AVOID THESE RETIREMENT PLANNING MISTAKES

Funding a retirement that could span 25% to 30% of your life is a huge undertaking. To help increase your chances for success, avoid these retirement planning mistakes:

           
bulletNot calculating how much you should have saved by retirement age. Many people avoid calculating this amount for fear that the amount will be overwhelming or because retirement seems so far away. Yet without a clearly defined goal, it will be difficult to ensure that you have adequate savings or that you are making adequate progress.
bulletNot estimating your retirement living expenses. Many rules of thumb exist, but it is difficult to estimate how much you'll need without looking at your actual expenses. Some expenses, such as clothing and commuting, may decrease after retirement, while others, such as health care and travel, are likely to increase. A detailed analysis of your expected expenses will help you determine whether your plans are realistic.
bulletUnderestimating how long you may live. Life expectancies have increased dramatically and are expected to increase even more in the future. This reality will significantly impact both the amount you need to save and how you invest those savings.
bulletIgnoring the effects of inflation. Even with current inflation rates under 2%, inflation can dramatically impact your purchasing power over the long term. After 25 years of 2% inflation, purchasing power is reduced by 39%. Most company pension plans do not make adjustments for inflation. Thus, over time, your personal savings may have to contribute a larger portion of your retirement income.
bulletCounting on Social Security benefits and company pension benefits to fund your retirement. You can no longer count on these two sources to fund the majority of your retirement expenses. A significant portion of your retirement income will probably come from personal savings and investments.
bulletPostponing your retirement savings program. To aid in reaching your financial goals, make investing a habit and start that habit as soon as you can. Start saving what you can now, making a commitment to increase that amount every year.
bulletNot contributing to tax-advantaged retirement plans. Be sure to invest in your company's 401(k), 403(b), or other defined contribution plan as soon as you are eligible. Also consider contributing to traditional deductible and Roth individual retirement accounts.
bulletInvesting too conservatively. Utilize investment options that appropriate for the long-term nature of your retirement savings. Even small differences in rates of return can significantly impact the ultimate size of your nest egg.
bulletRaiding your nest egg for other than retirement purposes. Don't be tempted to borrow from your 401(k) plan or to spend part of a lump-sum distribution. Raiding your nest egg now will only make it more difficult to meet your future retirement needs.
bulletHanging on to traditional views about retirement. Although retirement is typically viewed as a time for rest and leisure, many years of this can be a bit overwhelming, as well as expensive to finance. Instead, you may want to ease into retirement by working part time.
bulletNot seeking professional help. Accumulating a nest egg sufficient to fund a long retirement is an ambitious undertaking. Please call if you'd like help with the process.

FOLLOWING ECONOMIC TRENDS

Who wouldn't like to predict precisely where the economy is headed? You could then make financial decisions with confidence, including when and which products to invest in, when to lock in mortgage rates, when to look for a new job, and when to purchase major durable goods.

Watching key economic indicators over time should help you understand the signals the economy is sending. While you may not make financial decisions with certainty, it should help you make those decisions with more confidence. Some of the more important statistics to track include:

INTEREST RATES. At a minimum, follow the prime rate, Treasury bill rates, and Treasury bond rates.

  
bulletThe prime rate is the rate banks charge their best business customers. Since many consumer loans are tied to the prime rate, following this rate will indicate whether your personal cost of borrowing is likely to increase or decrease.
bulletFollowing Treasury bills and bonds will give you an indication of the general trend of short-and long- term interest rates. Check these rates at least monthly.
bulletStudy the yield curve, which is a graph that plots interest rates for the same type of security for a series of maturities, usually ranging from three months to 30 years. Changes in the shape of the yield curve can indicate that the economy is changing direction. In general, a normal, upward-sloping curve indicates a healthy economy, a steep, upward-sloping curve often occurs at the beginning of an economic expansion, a flat yield curve may indicate an economic slowdown, and an inverted curve typically precedes a recession.

INFLATION. The most common measure of inflation is the consumer price index (CPI), which is announced the fourth week of every month for the preceding month. The CPI is a measure of the average change in prices paid by urban consumers for a fixed basket of goods and services. An annual inflation rate below 2% is considered low, 2% to 4% is moderate, and above 4% is high. Expectations regarding inflation have a significant impact on interest rates. Look at the annual rate and whether inflation is increasing or decreasing over time.

GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT (GDP). GDP is a measure of the goods and services produced by the nation, and includes consumer spending, business investment, government spending, and net exports. Approximately three weeks after the end of a quarter, the government announces the annual growth rate of GDP. Under 2% is considered low growth, 2% to 5% is considered moderate growth, and over 5% is a boom that is difficult to sustain.

UNEMPLOYMENT. While low unemployment rates generally indicate a good economy, rates that are too low can cause inflationary pressure. A short supply of workers makes it necessary for companies to increase wages to attract employees. Companies then have to increase product prices to pay those wages, resulting in increased inflation. Increasing unemployment rates, on the other hand, can indicate that we are headed toward recession.

CORPORATE PROFITS. How well businesses are performing is an important indicator of the overall health of the economy. A common measure of corporate profits is earnings per share for the Standard & Poor's 500. Comparing this figure to year-ago numbers indicates whether profits are increasing or decreasing.

While you may not be able to predict with certainty where the economy is headed, following key statistics will provide some direction. If you'd like to discuss this topic in more detail, please call 1-800-878-4036.

WHEN SHOULD YOU RECEIVE SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS?

Approximately 50% of men and 60% of women receive Social Security benefits at age 62, even though those benefits are permanently reduced by 20% (Source: Planning for Retirement, 1998).* Does it make sense for you to receive permanently reduced benefits in order to get benefits for an additional three years? Ask yourself these questions to decide:

Does your family have a history of longevity? From a mathematical standpoint, it takes 12 years for someone who elects benefits at age 65 to receive the same total benefits as someone who elects benefits at age 62, assuming the two individuals have the same earnings. Thus, if you are healthy and expect to live a long life, it may be worthwhile to wait until age 65 to start benefits. Also, waiting until age 65 means that an additional three years of earnings will be included in your benefit calculations. Since your later earning years are typically your higher earning years, this should boost your average earnings and thus your benefit amount.

Do you plan to work after retirement? Individuals under age 70 who work and receive Social Security benefits lose some of those benefits if their earned income exceeds certain limits. In 1998, you lose $1 in benefits for every $2 earned over the amount of $9,120 if you are under age 65. Recipients between the ages of 65 and 69 lose $1 in benefits for every $3 earned over $14,500 (Source: Social Security Administration, 1998). Thus, if you expect to earn wages significantly over these limits, you may want to delay your Social Security benefits.

Will you need to withdraw money from tax-advantaged accounts to supplement your income? One of the primary benefits of tax-advantaged accounts such as 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts is that your money grows on a tax-deferred basis. It is typically best to allow that money to grow untouched for as long as possible. Thus, you may want to take Social Security benefits at age 62 if it will prevent you from withdrawing funds from your tax-advantaged accounts.

Is your spouse much younger than you? If you are the primary wage earner in your family and your spouse is much younger than you are, you may want to delay benefits. Electing to receive benefits early not only reduces your benefits, but will also reduce your spouse's survivor benefits after your death.

Several factors need to be weighed before deciding whether to take Social Security benefits at age 62 or 65. Please call if you'd like help with the decision. 1-800-878-4036

* Normal retirement age is scheduled to gradually increase from age 65 to age 67. Individuals born after 1937 will be affected by this change. Anyone born in 1960 or later will have a normal retirement age of 67. Although you can still retire at age 62, benefits will be reduced by more than the current 20% (Source: Social Security Administration, 1998).

SOME DO'S FOR BOND INVESTING

         
bulletDetermine your objectives before investing. Decide how much of your portfolio should be invested in fixed-income securities.
bulletFollow interest rate trends. At a minimum, follow the prime rate, Treasury bill rates, and Treasury bond rates. Understand the significance of the yield curve and follow its pattern over time. Monitoring current interest rate levels will help you evaluate the appropriateness of the interest rate for a specific security.
bulletUnderstand the risks that bonds are subject to. In addition to interest rate risk, bonds are also subject to default risk, credit risk, call risk, inflation risk, and reinvestment risk. Devise strategies to help minimize the impact of these risks.
bulletCarefully choose maturity dates for bonds. When you will need your principal is a significant factor, but the current interest rate environment may also affect your decision. Rather than investing in one maturity, you may want to stagger or ladder the maturity dates in your portfolio.
bulletDiversify your bond holdings among different types of bonds. You should consider government, corporate, and municipal bonds, as well as different industries, credit ratings, and maturities.
bulletResearch the bond before purchase. Make sure to review the credit quality, coupon rate, call provisions, and other significant factors. Determine that the bond is appropriate for you in terms of risk, return, and maturity date.
bulletCompare interest rates for specific bonds before investing. Interest rates can vary significantly between different types of bonds and between bonds with different maturities.
bulletConsider the tax aspects. By carefully comparing the after-tax rate of return for various types of bonds, you may be able to increase your real return. Depending on the bond, the interest income may be fully taxable or exempt from federal and/or state income taxes.
bulletReview your bond holdings periodically. Be sure to review the credit ratings of all your bonds at least annually to ensure that the quality hasn't deteriorated. Also, ensure that your holdings are still consistent with your overall investment objectives and asset allocation plan.
bulletCall for assistance with your bond holdings. It is important to use carefully designed strategies for your bond decisions. Please call anytime if you need help with your bond portfolio 1-800-878-4036.

A GLIMPSE OF THE FUTURE

Would you like to see into the future? How about finding out how you'll be doing financially in 20 or 30 years? We can provide you with a glimpse into your future by completing a complimentary personal retirement analysis for you.

All you have to do is fill out a questionnaire that I will provide. It will ask you basic questions about your financial situation. The completed analysis will provide a wealth of information for you. Whether you are two years or 20 years from retirement - or even if you're already retired - this analysis is a useful tool for you to have.

Your personal retirement planning analysis will provide you with information such as:

  • An estimate of the Social Security payments you can expect
  • Your estimated income during each year of your retirement
  • How much you may have to pay in taxes, based on the current tax schedule
  • Where your income will come from
  • An estimate of the value of your portfolio in today's dollars and future dollars
  • If you will need more income in retirement or if you will have a surplus

By doing this analysis, I will be able to help you project what your financial situation will be during your retirement. If we discover that your portfolio needs to be allocated differently to help you meet your needs, I can help you with that as well. Our goal is to help you seek the resources you need to live comfortably in retirement and the personal retirement analysis is extremely helpful in discovering that.

If you would like to find out about your future, please call us now 1-800-878-4036. Don't delay in planning your future - it's essential that you do it now.

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Disclaimer
We do not offer legal advice. All information provided on this website is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for proper legal advice. If you have legal questions, we recommend that you seek the advice of legal professionals.

Tax Disclaimer: To ensure compliance with IRS Rules, any U.S. federal tax advice provided in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient or any other taxpayer (i) for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on the recipient or any other taxpayer under the Internal Revenue Code, or (ii) in promoting, marketing or recommending to another party a partnership or other entity, investment plan, arrangement or other transaction addressed herein.

Copyright 2017 Wink Tax Services / Wink Inc.
Last modified: January 30, 2017