While retirement may seem very far off for your children as they begin their careers, getting a jump on their savings may mean the difference between a comfortable retirement and a stressful one.

Rather than depending on a pension to help support themselves during retirement, most millennials will need to solely depend on their personal savings.

To help ensure your loved ones are on the right path for future success, call us today to schedule a family appointment.

 

While experts are divided on the existence of a retirement savings crisis in America, the average household headed by someone age 55-64 has saved around $100,000 for retirement. Is your household one of them? Call us to schedule an appointment to ensure you have the best saving strategy for your needs.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/is-there-really-a-retirement-savings-crisis-1492999861

Many people routinely add $100 or $200 to their mortgage payment each month. It’s a good feeling to know they are closer to paying off their home or apartment. For some of them, however, it may not be the best move, financially speaking.

Those whose mortgage interest is tax-deductible, could make another choice. Their interest payments are actually reduced by the income tax deduction. For them, funding retirement accounts is a better idea, especially if the funding is tax-free and/or tax deferred. (Such as your 401(K), or IRA, or tax deferred insurance vehicles, etc. It’s likely you may be able to get yields that are greater from these alternatives than making extra mortgage payments would offer.

Paying down a mortgage loan IS a good idea if your mortgage interest is not tax deductible.

If you are taking the standard deduction rather than itemizing, you receive no tax break for your mortgage interest. You might also want to make extra principal payments if you have an adjustable-rate mortgage. If the interest rate rises by two points or more, your monthly payments will be much higher. To offset that, you may want to reduce the balance with higher payments.

If you lack the self-discipline required to invest elsewhere, you could also benefit from extra principal payments. It’s easy to procrastinate when you should be investing. But you have to write that mortgage check every month anyway, so you might as well make it a little bigger, and place the difference somewhere that it might be more profitable for your future! Please talk to us about how we can help you “force yourself” to save…so you can be as sure as possible you’ll have the dough you need when you need it!

Last year 10 million Americans were victims of the fastest-growing crime in the country. The number of identity thefts have been doubling every year since 2000. Sometimes people don’t know what happened until they find big charges they didn’t make on credit cards, begin getting calls from debt collectors, or get a summons to go to court for crimes they didn’t commit. To reduce your chances of being victimized: * Never give your Social Security number or personal information over the telephone unless you initiate the call yourself! * Shred or burn bank and credit card statements, cancelled checks, pre-approved credit card offers, and bills with account information! * Don’t put checks and bills into the mailbox and put the flag up. It’s easy to steal from a mailbox! * Check your credit reports. Look for a change of address or a new account you didn’t open. Cancel accounts you don’t use or rarely use. Thieves love open credit! * Check your bank accounts frequently for suspicious activity! * Be careful at ATMs. Someone could be looking over your shoulder to get your account and PIN numbers! * If you use a computer at home, install firewall software! * Memorize your PIN numbers and passwords. Never write them down! Thieves can get information in many places. Information is stored in computer databases that are a gold mine for thieves. Criminals can use the Internet to make purchases, robbing the victim without face-to-face contact.

It is no secret that Millennials, men and women ages 25-34, are very different from their parents and grandparents. But many of those differences stem from the fact that Millennials are facing challenges, specifically financial challenges, that previous generations didn’t have to face, such as crushing student loan debt.

At a time when the largest generation in history is starving for financial guidance, only 29% of them have sought out professional financial advice, according to an IQuantifi survey. Help empower your child to face his or her current and future financial situations by helping them find financial guidance at a young age. It can make an impact.

A 2016 study from the Stanford Center on Longevity found that Millennials are in the “most troubling” financial situation. For those with student debt, the current average is around $47,000. For many just starting their professional careers, making these monthly payments means indefinitely putting off buying a home or saving for retirement. The Stanford study found that less than one third of Millennials live in their own homes, a 20% decline since 2000. This inability to make investments for the future can potentially wreak havoc on your child’s assets later in life, not to mention their overall happiness.

But by taking action now, your child can find the right solutions to help them reach their goals and thrive in today’s world. Please call my office at 814-536-1040 to schedule an appointment with your child. Together, we can make sure your child is on the right financial path.

Between unexpected expenses like home repairs or car trouble and milestone expenses like college tuition or retirement, it can be difficult to know if you are using the best savings strategies. When it comes to saving wisely, a lot can be said for employing methods that help you retain more of your money and allocate it in tax-smart ways.

To help you save more wisely this year, consider trying one of the following strategies:

  • Contribute the maximum to your workplace savings plan.

Consider gradually increasing your annual contributions, and therefore those of your employer, to your 401(k), 403(b), or governmental 457(b) plan until you reach the maximum annual amount.

  • Open a health savings account.

A health savings account (HSA) can be a tax-efficient way to pay for medical expenses now and when you retire. Your elected contributions are made pre-tax, and many employers will offer a regular contribution to allow you to build your savings year after year.

  • Pay down high-interest debt.

When managing multiple debts, try using extra savings to first pay down the one with the highest interest rate while continuing to make the minimum payments on your other debts. Once the debt is paid, focus on the one with the second-highest interest rate, and so on.

  • Contribute to an IRA.

Whether a traditional IRA (earnings grow tax-deferred, but income taxes are charged on withdrawals) or a Roth IRA (earnings grow tax-free and qualified withdrawals can be taken tax free), opening one of these accounts can be a tax-smart way to save for retirement.

  • Open a 529 college savings account for a loved one.

If helping a child, grandchild, or other loved one pay for college, a tax-advantaged 529 savings account may be the best option.

Call our office at 814-536-1040 to schedule an appointment to discuss these and other saving strategies to ensure you’re on the best path for you and your family!

It’s never been more important to save for retirement. Baby boomers are set to strain the Social Security system in the years ahead. Studies repeatedly show that we fail to save enough on our own for retirement. The earlier you start and the more you save, the more comfortable your later years can be.  Fortunately, it’s never been easier to save in tax-advantaged accounts such as 401(k) and similar plans.

These plans offer a flexible way to cut your current taxes while you accumulate savings. Recently Congress made changes to encourage participation and to make these plans more attractive.  One change is that you could find yourself automatically enrolled in your company’s 401(k) plan as soon as you become eligible. You’ll have the chance to opt out, of course, but you should think twice before you do. Here are some reasons why.

  • Automatic savings can become painless. It’s much easier to save if part of your paycheck goes into the plan before it goes into your pocket.
  • If your employer matches your plan contributions, it’s like receiving “free” money. A 50% match means you receive a 50% first-year return on your contribution – and that’s before any investment earnings.
  • Features such as today’s higher contribution limits and catch-up contributions for older workers were due to expire at the end of 2010. Now they’ve been made permanent, and they’ll generally be indexed for inflation in future years.
  • If you name a non-spouse as beneficiary, that individual can make hardship withdrawals from the plan or preserve the tax benefits if they inherit the plan proceeds.

You’ll also see more employers offering a Roth 401(k) option. This option trades off the upfront tax benefit in return for tax-free distributions when you retire.

So if you find yourself automatically enrolled, don’t rush to opt out. At least try it for a few months before deciding not to save.

In fact, you should consider increasing your contributions if you can afford it.

Please keep in mind that this tip is designed to be of help for you, but is not to be relied upon as advice. It is merely a reminder that there are many choices you have available to you, and that planning is the only way to find the right answers for your situation!  As with any financial issues, make sure you get the right information before making a decision!  If you have any questions, we’ll be glad to help you!

While the dawning of 2017 brings with it many significant changes, there are some that may impact you and your family’s financial standing more than others. Most notably, there are several new rules surrounding retirement accounts taking effect in 2017, including:

  • Higher IRA income limits. Employees who are covered by a retirement plan at work who earn $62,000 or less annually ($99,000 or less for couples) can take a full deduction up to the maximum contribution limit of $5,500 ($6,500 for ages 50 and older). The tax deduction is phased out for those earning between $62,000 and $72,000 ($99,000 and $119,000 for couples) this year.
  • Longer Roth IRA income cutoffs. Those who earn less than $118,000 annually ($186,000 for couples) can make contributions to a Roth IRA that may position them to receive tax-free retirement income. Roth IRA eligibility will be phased out for those who earn between $118,000 and $133,000 ($186,000 and $196,000 for couples).
  • Higher income threshold for the saver’s credit. Those who earn less than $31,000 annually ($62,000 for couples) might qualify for a credit worth 50%, 20%, or 10% of 401(k), Roth IRA, or IRA contributions up to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for couples, depending on adjusted gross income.
  • Special rules for those impacted by Hurricane Matthew. Those who live or work in FEMA-designated counties in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, or Florida affected by the hurricane will be allowed to access hardship distributions and loans from 401(k)s, 403(b)s, and certain types of retirement accounts without the typical restrictions in order to cope with storm-related costs, including food and shelter. Distributions taken between October 4, 2016 (October 3, 2016 in Florida) and March 15, 2017 will qualify for this policy.

 

Please call our office at 814-536-1040 to learn more about these changes and what they might mean for you.

Between unexpected expenses like home repairs or car trouble and milestone expenses like college tuition or retirement, it can be difficult to know if you are using the best savings strategies. When it comes to saving wisely, a lot can be said for employing methods that help you retain more of your money and allocate it in tax-smart ways.

To help you save more wisely this year, consider trying one of the following strategies:

  • Contribute the maximum to your workplace savings plan.

Consider gradually increasing your annual contributions, and therefore those of your employer, to your 401(k), 403(b), or governmental 457(b) plan until you reach the maximum annual amount.

  • Open a health savings account.

A health savings account (HSA) can be a tax-efficient way to pay for medical expenses now and when you retire. Your elected contributions are made pre-tax, and many employers will offer a regular contribution to allow you to build your savings year after year.

  • Pay down high-interest debt.

When managing multiple debts, try using extra savings to first pay down the one with the highest interest rate while continuing to make the minimum payments on your other debts. Once the debt is paid, focus on the one with the second-highest interest rate, and so on.

  • Contribute to an IRA.

Whether a traditional IRA (earnings grow tax-deferred, but income taxes are charged on withdrawals) or a Roth IRA (earnings grow tax-free and qualified withdrawals can be taken tax free), opening one of these accounts can be a tax-smart way to save for retirement.

  • Open a 529 college savings account for a loved one.

If helping a child, grandchild, or other loved one pay for college, a tax-advantaged 529 savings account may be the best option.

 

Call our office at 814-536-1040 to schedule an appointment to discuss these and other saving strategies to ensure you’re on the best path for you and your family!

With the new economy, and the fact that many children are never going to reach the same kind of financial success their parents have, one way to help families work together to on buying a home is to have a thing called “shared equity”.

A shared equity arrangement means that you actually own part of the equity in your home with another person. That could be with another partner, your child or grandchild, or nice, or cousin, or whomever.

You help them with their down payment, and their monthly mortgage payment and other expenses.

Basically, the arrangement can be structured many different ways. One way is when you put up the down payment, and then you own half the home. Your child is responsible for paying the monthly mortgage, taxes, insurance etc. And. At some point down the road, they will buy you out when the property has appreciated, or they’ve saved up more money so they can pay you back.

We won’t go into all the tax aspects of this right now, but it can be a very beneficial situation for you and your family members.

Your children can get home ownership tax benefits, help with a loan approval because of you being involved in the home, and they can get in with a low down payment or no down payment and also share in the appreciation.

You can get a real estate investment with no vacancies, possible lower down payment that you’d have on an investment property, a good tenant, and all the tax savings benefits that are available to you with any investment property.

If you’d like more information about shared equity, we’d be glad to discuss it with you, because there are many different ways that a situation like that can be arranged.