“Some things do not make me happy to say, but there is a lottery aspect to all of this: when you were born, when you retire, and when your children go to college. And you have no control over that.” John Bogle
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference” Robert Frost
Our lives are shaped by the everyday choices we make. The quality of our retirement is shaped by our choices, even more than at any other time of our lives.
You’ve done it. You’ve set up a retirement account and watched the money accumulate over time. When it’s time to retire, you can let those funds continue to grow if you don’t need them, right? Not quite, especially if you’ve invested in traditional, SEP, simple and rollover IRAs as well as 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, 457(b) plans or most small business accounts.
Our look back into history will touch on the origin of retirement savings accounts which enjoy income tax advantages over ordinary savings vehicles such as savings accounts and taxable brokerage accounts. We’ll cover traditional IRA’s (individual retirement arrangements in IRS parlance) as well as SEP, SIMPLE and Roth IRA’s. Prior to the introduction of these tax-preferenced vehicles, retirement savers looking for a tax break were basically limited to insurance products. Permanent insurance, such as whole life has been around for centuries as well as various insurance annuity products. These vehicles have long enjoyed the postponement of income taxes on the buildup of cash value within the policy. However, their use was hampered by high internal expenses and the compromises associated with trying to use the same product to accomplish two goals (death benefit + retirement savings).
Our next four postings will cover some of the historical developments that have shaped the financial world in which we live. It has been said that it is difficult to understand the present without a good understanding of the past. We hope these postings will give our readers a greater contextual understanding of some of the elements of our modern financial mix.
This fourth posting on pre-retirement considerations will depart from the realm of finance and discuss the emotional side of leaving the workforce. Many people believe that adequate financial preparation automatically equals a successful retirement but still others would disagree. The psychological aspects of modern retirement are being studied in greater depth and financial planning firms are increasingly aware of the need for more than just financial advice.
Our two most recent postings highlighted savings and spending benchmarks that readers might incorporate into their retirement decision-making process. This article examines an important element of the spending side of the equation—health care coverage in retirement.
Our previous posting emphasized the need for those contemplating an upcoming retirement to get a good handle on the amounts they typically spend. Doing so provides a “burn rate” to compare against potential retirement income sources like Social Security, annuity payouts, and portfolio withdrawals. Obviously, the goal should be to assure that the retiree household does not consume all of its resources during the remainder of its existence. This posting will look at the resource side of the ledger.
As financial planners, we are often asked, “Do I have enough money to retire?” Unfortunately, like many things in life, simple answers rarely exist and we often have to respond with yet another question. One of the most basic, yet crucial questions is, “How much are you planning to spend in retirement?” Not surprisingly, many clients have a difficult time providing an answer with any detail and in most cases, that leads us to direct the client to gather additional information about their current spending levels.
Long Term Care. When those three words are spoken, what comes to mind? Many make the common association with a nursing home. Others may mistakenly think that they are already covered for related long term care matters through their health insurance or disability income policy or policies, or they think that the Government will pay for this issue.