Ah, mid-February- that time of year when my postman provides a daily barrage of tax documents, and scolds me for not retrieving them quickly enough. When it finally becomes apparent that he can no longer jam another rumpled envelope into my overflowing mail slot I know it’s time to file my taxes. While this annual ritual often yields a financial reward in the form of a tax refund, there is clearly a higher purpose for the enormous pile of paper. Note to self: my inner guilt will be quelled; this year I will make better use of tax time, and so can you. Continue reading
The end of the year is quickly approaching and it goes without saying that most of us are starved for time. December may be a hectic month, but it is also a great time to get your financial house in order before the New Year. Here are some quick and easy year-end financial fixes that will help you start 2017 off right.
It’s true: Original Medicare does cover most health care expenses, but it comes with significant deductibles and coinsurance payments that can quickly add up. As a result, many American seniors will opt to defray these costs with a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) or Medicare Advantage Policy.
In our most recent blog post- 2015 Medicare Open Enrollment Checklist– we discussed the services provided by Original Medicare and some important considerations for augmenting this coverage for the upcoming year. This week, we’ll compare Medigap and Medicare Advantage plans and review some important considerations that could make deciding between the plan types easier.
The purchase of a home is an important decision and often represents the single largest financial transaction that Americans enter into. To protect that investment, homeowners insurance is recommended, and is generally mandated by a mortgage lender.
In addition to protecting your home from a catastrophic loss, and satisfying your lender’s requirements, homeowner policies protect you in other ways that you may not have considered.
Retirement planning is a topic that is often addressed in a strictly numerical context. A certain amount of assets must be accumulated and these assets are then turned into income that, hopefully, will last through the remainder of your lifetime. Sound familiar? While this can be a useful framework for conceptual purposes, it fails to address many of the non-financial intricacies, human emotions and behaviors that can have a huge impact on retirement readiness.
Determining the ideal time to begin collecting Social Security retirement benefits is challenging enough, but combining this decision with when to begin drawing from your retirement assets can be positively daunting. In our most recent blog post, we presented several claiming strategies that, by and large, favored waiting to collect benefits. This week we’ll discuss whether waiting always makes sense and how to pay for it.
In our most recent blog post, we discussed the import role that Social Security benefits play in the retirement income plan of most Americans, and provided a framework for understanding the various types of benefits. While sometimes dismissed as inconsequential, Social Security benefits provide a critical source of guaranteed income for most retirees. To wit, Social Security benefits comprise over fifty percent of the retirement income for two-thirds of current retirees and, critically, allow many seniors to live independently. In this blog post, we review how Social Security benefits are taxed and provide guidance on how and when to claim benefits. We encourage readers to review our previous blog post, A Primer on Social Security Benefits, as it provides important information that will aid in your understanding of the strategies outlined below. You can find that blog entry by clicking here.
To begin, an understanding of Social Security retirement benefits requires reviewing a few common terms that are key to making informed claiming decisions.
Social Security benefits represent an important, but often overlooked, component of retirement income planning. As a source of guaranteed income that cannot be liquidated, it is not often thought of as an asset. In fact, it is the single largest financial asset for many retirees, providing benefits for approximately nine in ten individuals age sixty-five and older and covering ninety-six percent of working-age adults.
Aging gracefully is a nearly universal goal. Continuing to enjoy life, having a low risk of disease or disability, and maintaining a high level of physical activity and mental acuity are the hallmarks of successful aging. The process of aging, however, impacts people differently, and leaves a significant portion of older adults vulnerable to deteriorating physical or mental health, rendering some unable to continue to manage their personal and financial affairs. In some unfortunate cases, this can lead to elder abuse. While unpleasant to contemplate, one-third of those age sixty five or older suffer some degree of frailty and these risks increase with age. The good news is that many of the risks associated with aging can be addressed with good planning.
The age at which we retire has traditionally been linked to cultural norms and external factors such as the availability of a company pension, health care and Social Security retirement benefits. Pensions were designed to incentivize long-service with a single employer while also establishing formulas that would provide reliable incentives for employees to eventually retire. While there has been a dramatic shift from a manufacturing economy to one based on the delivery of goods and services, the decision to retire based on attaining a set age remains stubbornly persistent. As the self-funded and self-managed retirement replaces traditional lifetime pensions, fresh thinking has emerged on how to manage the risk of outliving one’s assets. Rethinking retirement as a ratio of working years to leisure years is beginning to gain acceptance as a more thoughtful way of addressing this and other retirement risks.