Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft

identity-theft-fraudWhile certainly not a new problem, identity theft is a growing concern and has gained the dubious distinction of being the number one consumer complaint addressed to the Federal Trade Commission.

As our lives become increasingly busy and complex, and more information than ever is stored and transmitted on line, it is more important than ever to protect our personal information. Here are some simple and effective ways for you to do that. Continue reading

The Yearly Journey of 1,000 Steps: It’s Tax Season and I Can Do Better

journeyAh, 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

Social Security: Delayed Claiming & Portfolio Longevity

1398969203000-social-security-29Determining 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.

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Retirement Planning: Claiming Social Security Benefits

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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.

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Retirement Planning: A Primer on Social Security Benefits

social_security_626Social 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.

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Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft

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While certainly not a new problem, identity theft is a growing concern and has gained the dubious distinction of being the number one consumer complaint addressed to the Federal Trade Commission.

As our lives become increasingly busy and complex, and more information than ever is stored and transmitted on line, it is more important than ever to protect our personal information. Here are some simple and effective ways for you to do that.

Continue reading

Understanding Frailty Risk & Its Impact On Retirement Planning

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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.

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Rethinking Retirement Age

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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.

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How To Rescue Your Retirement Plan From A Shortfall

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Americans are facing a retirement crisis. And they know it. The story is not a new one, but as larger numbers of the baby-boom generation approach retirement age the extent of the problem is becoming more clear. The 2014 Employee Benefit Research Institute’s Retirement Confidence Survey reports that a mere 13% of workers feel very confident that they have enough money saved for a comfortable retirement. What’s more, these respondents came almost exclusively from higher income households- defined as having an annual income of $75,000 or more. Moving further down the income scale, the results are far worse- 36% of survey respondents with earning under $35,000 per year reported having less than $1,000 saved. Social Security, which makes up the sole source of income for approximately 1 in 5 retirees, and more than 50% of income for 2 in 3 retirees, will become an increasingly important component in the retirement plan of many Americans.

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Buckets, Flooring And Structured Withdrawals: Creating A Dynamic Income Plan

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Turning accumulated assets into a reliable income stream is THE critical issue facing retirees. A growing body of research, and memorable terminology, has provided financial planners with the ability to help our clients create a dynamic income plan that best suits their needs.

While each client has a unique set of circumstances, having adequate income to maintain a given lifestyle in retirement is a near universally shared goal. Likewise, many clients will face similar obstacles and challenges throughout retirement. Our job as advisors is to assist clients in identifying their retirement goals, risks, income sources and expenses, and to combine these to help create an income plan that can be revised and adapted over time. In this blog, we will outline three distinct approaches to retirement income planning.

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