Skip to content

Asset Allocation

September 20, 2019

Asset allocation is a common strategy that you can use to construct an investment portfolio. Asset allocation isn’t about picking individual securities. Instead, you focus on broad categories of investments, mixing them together in the right proportion to match your financial goals, the amount of time you have to invest, and your tolerance for risk.

The basics of asset allocation

The idea behind asset allocation is that because not all investments are alike, you can balance risk and return in your portfolio by spreading your investment dollars among different types of assets, such as stocks, bonds, and cash alternatives. It doesn’t guarantee a profit or ensure against a loss, of course, but it can help you manage the level and type of risk you face.

Different types of assets carry different levels of risk and potential for return, and typically don’t respond to market forces in the same way at the same time. For instance, when the return of one asset type is declining, the return of another may be growing (though there are no guarantees). If you diversify by owning a variety of assets, a downturn in a single holding won’t necessarily spell disaster for your entire portfolio.

Using asset allocation, you identify the asset classes that are appropriate for you and decide the percentage of your investment dollars that should be allocated to each class (e.g., 70 percent to stocks, 20 percent to bonds, 10 percent to cash alternatives).

The three major classes of assets

Here’s a look at the three major classes of assets you’ll generally be considering when you use asset allocation.

Stocks: Although past performance is no guarantee of future results, stocks have historically provided a higher average annual rate of return than other investments, including bonds and cash alternatives. However, stocks are generally more volatile than bonds or cash alternatives. Investing in stocks may be appropriate if your investment goals are long-term.

Bonds: Historically less volatile than stocks, bonds do not provide as much opportunity for growth as stocks do. They are sensitive to interest rate changes; when interest rates rise, bond values tend to fall, and when interest rates fall, bond values tend to rise. As a result, bonds redeemed prior to maturity may be worth more or less than their original cost. Because bonds typically offer fixed interest payments at regular intervals, they may be appropriate if you want regular income from your investments.

Cash alternatives: Cash alternatives (or short-term instruments) offer a lower potential for growth than other types of assets but are the least volatile. They are subject to inflation risk, the chance that returns won’t outpace rising prices. They provide easier access to funds than longer-term investments, and may be appropriate for investment goals that are short-term.

Not only can you diversify across asset classes by purchasing stocks, bonds, and cash alternatives, you can also diversify within a single asset class. For example, when investing in stocks, you can choose to invest in large companies that tend to be less risky than small companies. Or, you could choose to divide your investment dollars according to investment style, investing for growth or for value. Though the investment possibilities are limitless, your objective is always the same: to diversify by choosing complementary investments that balance risk and reward within your portfolio.

Decide how to divide your assets

Your objective in using asset allocation is to construct a portfolio that can provide you with the return on your investment you want without exposing you to more risk than you feel comfortable with. How long you have to invest is important, too, because the longer you have to invest, the more time you have to ride out market ups and downs.

When you’re trying to construct a portfolio, you can use worksheets or interactive tools that help identify your investment objectives, your risk tolerance level, and your investment time horizon. These tools may also suggest model or sample allocations that strike a balance between risk and return, based on the information you provide.

For instance, if your investment goal is to save for your retirement over the next 20 years and you can tolerate a relatively high degree of market volatility, a model allocation might suggest that you put a large percentage of your investment dollars in stocks, and allocate a smaller percentage to bonds and cash alternatives. Of course, models are intended to serve only as general guides; determining the right allocation for your individual circumstances may require more sophisticated analysis.

Build your portfolio

The next step is to choose specific investments for your portfolio that match your asset allocation strategy. Investors who are investing through a workplace retirement savings plan typically invest through mutual funds; a diversified portfolio of individual securities is easier to assemble in a separate account.

Mutual funds offer instant diversification within an asset class, and in many cases, the benefits of professional money management. Investments in each fund are chosen according to a specific objective, making it easier to identify a fund or a group of funds that meet your needs. For instance, some of the common terms you’ll see used to describe fund objectives are capital preservation, income (or current income), income and growth (or balanced), growth, and aggressive growth. As with any investment in a mutual fund, you should consider your time frame, risk tolerance, and investing objectives.

Note: Before investing in a mutual fund, carefully consider its investment objectives, risks, fees, and expenses, which can be found in the prospectus available from the fund. Read the prospectus carefully before investing.

Pay attention to your portfolio

Once you’ve chosen your initial allocation, revisit your portfolio at least once a year (or more often if markets are experiencing greater short-term fluctuations). One reason to do this is to rebalance your portfolio. Because of market fluctuations, your portfolio may no longer reflect the initial allocation balance you chose. For instance, if the stock market has been performing well, eventually you’ll end up with a higher percentage of your investment dollars in stocks than you initially intended. To rebalance, you may want to shift funds from one asset class to another.

In some cases you may want to rethink your entire allocation strategy. If you’re no longer comfortable with the same level of risk, your financial goals have changed, or you’re getting close to the time when you’ll need the money, you may need to change your asset mix.

This material was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of  The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

The Retirement Group is a Registered Investment Advisor not affiliated with FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

Dollar Cost Averaging

September 20, 2019

If you haven’t started investing towards a long-term goal because you’re worried about short-term market volatility, consider using a popular investment strategy called dollar cost averaging. Dollar cost averaging takes some of the guesswork out of investing in the stock market. Instead of waiting to invest a single lump sum until you feel prices are at their lowest point, you invest smaller amounts of money at regular intervals — the same amount each time — no matter how the market is performing. Your goal is to reduce the overall cost of investing by purchasing more shares when the price is low and fewer shares when the price is high. Although dollar cost averaging can’t guarantee a profit or protect against a loss in a declining market, over time your average cost per share is likely to be less than the average market share price.

How does dollar cost averaging work?

To illustrate how dollar cost averaging works, let’s say that you want to save $3,000 each year. To reduce the risk of buying when the market is high, you decide to invest $250 in a mutual fund each month. As the following chart shows, this approach can help you take advantage of fluctuating markets because your $250 automatically buys fewer shares when prices are higher and more shares when prices are lower.

If you calculate the average market price per share over the 12-month period ($141 divided by 12), the result is $11.75. However, if you calculate your average cost per share over the same period ($3,000 divided by 259 shares), you’ll see that on average, you’ve paid only $11.58 per share.

Putting dollar cost averaging to work for you

You may not realize it, but if you’re investing a regular amount in a 401(k) or another employer-sponsored retirement plan via payroll deduction, you’re already using dollar cost averaging. In fact, you can use dollar cost averaging to invest for any long-term goal. It’s easy to get started, too. Many mutual funds, 529 plans and other investment accounts allow you to begin investing with a minimal amount as long as you have future contributions deducted regularly from your paycheck or bank account and invested automatically.

If you’re interested in dollar cost averaging, here are a few tips to help you put this strategy to work for you:

  • Get started as soon as possible. Once you’ve decided that dollar cost averaging is right for you, start investing right away. The longer you have to ride out the ups and downs of the market, the more opportunity you have to build a sizeable investment account over time.
  • Stick with it. Dollar cost averaging is a long-term investment strategy. Make sure that you have the financial resources and the discipline to invest continuously through all types of markets, regardless of price fluctuations.
  • Take advantage of automatic deductions. Having your investment contributions deducted and invested automatically makes the process easy and convenient.

This material was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of  The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

The Retirement Group is a Registered Investment Advisor not affiliated with FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

Investing for Major Financial Goals

September 20, 2019

Go out into your yard and dig a big hole. Every month, throw $50 into it, but don’t take any money out until you’re ready to buy a house, send your child to college, or retire. It sounds a little crazy, doesn’t it? But that’s what investing without setting clear-cut goals is like. If you’re lucky, you may end up with enough money to meet your needs, but you have no way to know for sure.

How do you set goals?

The first step in investing is defining your dreams for the future. If you are married or in a long-term relationship, spend some time together discussing your joint and individual goals. It’s best to be as specific as possible. For instance, you may know you want to retire, but when? If you want to send your child to college, does that mean an Ivy League school or the community college down the street?

You’ll end up with a list of goals. Some of these goals will be long term (you have more than 15 years to plan), some will be short term (5 years or less to plan), and some will be intermediate (between 5 and 15 years to plan). You can then decide how much money you’ll need to accumulate and which investments can best help you meet your goals. Remember that there can be no guarantee that any investment strategy will be successful and that all investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal.

Looking forward to retirement

After a hard day at the office, do you ask, “Is it time to retire yet?” Retirement may seem a long way off, but it’s never too early to start planning — especially if you want your retirement to be a secure one. The sooner you start, the more ability you have to let time do some of the work of making your money grow.

Let’s say that your goal is to retire at age 65 with $500,000 in your retirement fund. At age 25 you decide to begin contributing $250 per month to your company’s 401(k) plan. If your investment earns 6 percent per year, compounded monthly, you would have more than $500,000 in your 401(k) account when you retire. (This is a hypothetical example, of course, and does not represent the results of any specific investment.)

But what would happen if you left things to chance instead? Let’s say you wait until you’re 35 to begin investing. Assuming you contributed the same amount to your 401(k) and the rate of return on your investment dollars was the same, you would end up with only about half the amount in the first example. Though it’s never too late to start working toward your goals, as you can see, early decisions can have enormous consequences later on.

Some other points to keep in mind as you’re planning your retirement saving and investing strategy:

  • Plan for a long life. Average life expectancies in this country have been increasing for years and many people live even longer than those averages.
  • Think about how much time you have until retirement, then invest accordingly. For instance, if retirement is a long way off and you can handle some risk, you might choose to put a larger percentage of your money in stock (equity) investments that, though more volatile, offer a higher potential for long-term return than do more conservative investments. Conversely, if you’re nearing retirement, a greater portion of your nest egg might be devoted to investments focused on income and preservation of your capital.
  • Consider how inflation will affect your retirement savings. When determining how much you’ll need to save for retirement, don’t forget that the higher the cost of living, the lower your real rate of return on your investment dollars.

Facing the truth about college savings

Whether you’re saving for a child’s education or planning to return to school yourself, paying tuition costs definitely requires forethought — and the sooner the better. With college costs typically rising faster than the rate of inflation, getting an early start and understanding how to use tax advantages and investment strategy to make the most of your savings can make an enormous difference in reducing or eliminating any post-graduation debt burden. The more time you have before you need the money, the more you’re able to take advantage of compounding to build a substantial college fund. With a longer investment time frame and a tolerance for some risk, you might also be willing to put some of your money into investments that offer the potential for growth.

Consider these tips as well:

  • Estimate how much it will cost to send your child to college and plan accordingly. Estimates of the average future cost of tuition at two-year and four-year public and private colleges and universities are widely available.
  • Research financial aid packages that can help offset part of the cost of college. Although there’s no guarantee your child will receive financial aid, at least you’ll know what kind of help is available should you need it.
  • Look into state-sponsored tuition plans that put your money into investments tailored to your financial needs and time frame. For instance, most of your dollars may be allocated to growth investments initially; later, as your child approaches college, more conservative investments can help conserve principal.
  • Think about how you might resolve conflicts between goals. For instance, if you need to save for your child’s education and your own retirement at the same time, how will you do it?

Investing for something big

At some point, you’ll probably want to buy a home, a car, maybe even that yacht that you’ve always wanted. Although they’re hardly impulse items, large purchases often have a shorter time frame than other financial goals; one to five years is common.

Because you don’t have much time to invest, you’ll have to budget your investment dollars wisely. Rather than choosing growth investments, you may want to put your money into less volatile, highly liquid investments that have some potential for growth, but that offer you quick and easy access to your money should you need it.

This material was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of  The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

The Retirement Group is a Registered Investment Advisor not affiliated with FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

Market Week: September 16th 2019

September 17, 2019
stock market

The Markets (as of market close September 13, 2019)

Stocks continue to rebound from their August declines, posting gains for the third week in a row. Each of the benchmark indexes listed here increased in value, led by the small caps of the Russell 2000, which climbed close to 5.0%. Trade tensions appeared to wane, at least for now, after China said that it wouldn’t impose tariffs on imports of certain U.S. agricultural goods. The European Central Bank initiated several stimulus measures, including an interest rate cut. Buoyed by these events, investors moved to stocks. Long-term bond yields soared as prices plummeted. The yield on 10-year Treasuries closed the week up 35 basis points. Year-to-date, the benchmark indexes are all well above their 2018 closing values.

Oil prices fell last week, closing at $54.82 per barrel by late Friday afternoon, down from the prior week’s price of $56.60. The price of gold (COMEX) fell for the third consecutive week, closing at $1,495.70 by late Friday afternoon, down from the prior week’s price of $1,514.70. The national average retail regular gasoline price was $2.550 per gallon on September 9, 2019, $0.013 lower than the prior week’s price and $0.283 less than a year ago.

Chart reflects price changes, not total return. Because it does not include dividends or splits, it should not be used to benchmark performance of specific investments.

Chart reflects price changes, not total return. Because it does not include dividends or splits, it should not be used to benchmark performance of specific investments.

Last Week’s Economic News

  • Inflationary pressures remain muted as the Consumer Price Index inched up 0.1% in August following a 0.3% bump in July. Over the last 12 months ended in August, the CPI has increased 1.7%. Energy prices fell 1.9%, pulled down by gasoline prices, which dropped 3.5%. The index less food and energy rose 0.3% in August, the same increase as in the previous two months. The index less food and energy rose 2.4% over the last 12 months, its largest 12-month increase since July 2018. Two of the biggest movers last month were prices for used cars and trucks, which increased 1.1%, and prices for medical care services, which jumped 0.9%.
  • Producers of goods and services saw prices creep up 0.1% in August, following a 0.2% increase in July and a 0.1% advance in June. For the 12 months ended in August, producer prices have risen 1.8%. Last month, goods prices actually fell 0.5%, the largest decrease since falling 0.6% in January. Falling energy prices accounted for over 80% of the drop. Prices for services climbed 0.3% last month, due in large part to a broad-based increase in prices for services less trade, transportation, and warehousing, which climbed 0.5%.
  • The August federal government budget deficit was $200 billion, up from the July deficit of $120 billion. Year-to-date, the deficit sits at $1,067 billion — $170 billion ahead of the deficit over the same period last year. Comparatively, total receipts ($3.088 billion) are ahead of total receipts last year ($2.985 billion). Total outlays ($4.155 billion) are above last year’s outlays ($3.883 billion).
  • Consumers upped their purchases of goods and services in August, according to the Census Bureau’s report on retail sales. A big increase in auto sales helped drive overall retail sales up 0.4% in August from the previous month, and 4.1% above August 2018. Retail sales excluding motor vehicles and parts showed no gain in August from July. Online retailers’ sales increased by 1.6% in August and are up 16% over a year ago.
  • A drop in fuel prices (-4.3%) sent import prices down 0.5% in August, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In a sign of global inflationary weakness, import prices declined 2.0% from August 2018. Prices for exports decreased 0.6% last month after increasing 0.2% in July. The August decline was driven by price decreases in both agricultural (foods, feeds, and beverages) and nonagricultural exports (industrial supplies and materials).
  • According to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary, there were 7.2 million job openings at the end of July, little changed from June’s figures. The number of hires edged up to 6.0 million (5.7 million in June), and separations also increased to 5.8 million (5.5 million in June). The job openings level decreased in wholesale trade (-55,000) and in federal government (-11,000). The job openings level increased in information (+42,000) and in mining and logging (+11,000). Over the 12 months ended in July, hires totaled 69.6 million and separations totaled 67.0 million, yielding a net employment gain of 2.6 million.
  • For the week ended September 7, there were 204,000 claims for unemployment insurance, a decrease of 15,000 from the previous week’s level, which was revised up by 2,000. According to the Department of Labor, the advance rate for insured unemployment claims remained at 1.2% for the week ended August 31. The advance number of those receiving unemployment insurance benefits during the week ended August 31 was 1,670,000, a decrease of 4,000 from the prior week’s level, which was revised up by 12,000.

Eye on the Week Ahead

All eyes will be on the midweek meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee. Following its last meeting in July, interest rates were lowered 25 basis points. Economic conditions haven’t changed much over the summer. President Trump is demanding that the Committee lower rates again. With the stock market rebounding over the last two weeks, it’s possible the Committee holds course until it meets again at the end of October.

Data sources: News items are based on reports from multiple commonly available international news sources (i.e. wire services) and are independently verified when necessary with secondary sources such as government agencies, corporate press releases, or trade organizations. Market data: Based on data reported in WSJ Market Data Center (indexes); U.S. Treasury (Treasury yields); U.S. Energy Information Administration/Bloomberg.com Market Data (oil spot price, WTI Cushing, OK); www.goldprice.org (spot gold/silver); Oanda/FX Street (currency exchange rates). All information is based on sources deemed reliable, but no warranty or guarantee is made as to its accuracy or completeness. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed herein constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any securities, and should not be relied on as financial advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. All investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal, and there can be no guarantee that any investing strategy will be successful.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is a price-weighted index composed of 30 widely traded blue-chip U.S. common stocks. The S&P 500 is a market-cap weighted index composed of the common stocks of 500 leading companies in leading industries of the U.S. economy. The NASDAQ Composite Index is a market-value weighted index of all common stocks listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The Russell 2000 is a market-cap weighted index composed of 2,000 U.S. small-cap common stocks. The Global Dow is an equally weighted index of 150 widely traded blue-chip common stocks worldwide. Market indices listed are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment.

This material was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of  The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

The Retirement Group is a Registered Investment Advisor not affiliated with  FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

401(k) Plans: The Basics

September 10, 2019

Retirement plans established under Section 401(k) of the Internal Revenue Code, commonly referred to as “401(k) plans,” have become one of the most popular types of employer-sponsored retirement plans.

What is a 401(k) plan?

A 401(k) plan is an employer-sponsored retirement savings plan that offers significant tax benefits while helping you plan for the future. You contribute to the plan via payroll deduction, which can make it easier for you to save for retirement. One important feature of a 401(k) plan is your ability to make pre-tax contributions to the plan. Pre-tax means that your contributions are deducted from your pay and transferred to the 401(k) plan before federal (and most state) income taxes are calculated. This reduces your current taxable income — you don’t pay income taxes on the amount your contribute, or any investment gains on your contributions, until you receive payments from the plan. 

For example, Melissa earns $50,000 annually. She contributes $5,000 of her pay to her employer’s 401(k) plan on a pre-tax basis. As a result, Melissa’s taxable income is now $45,000. She isn’t taxed on her contributions ($5,000), or any investments earnings, until she receives a distribution from the plan. 

You may also be able to make Roth contributions to your 401(k) plan. Roth contributions to your 401(k) plan. Roth 401(k) contributions are made on an after-tax basis, just like Roth IRA contributions. Unlike pre-tax contributions to a 401(k) plan, there’s no up-front tax benefit — your contributions are deducted from your pay and transferred to the plan after taxes are calculated. But a distribution from your Roth 401(k) account is entirely free from federal income tax if the distribution is qualified. (See the section below on income tax consequences for more detail). 

How much can I contribute?

Generally, you can contribute up to $19,000 ($25,000 if you’re age 50 or older) to a 401(k) plan in 2019 (unless your plan imposes lower limits). If your plan allows Roth 401(k) contributions, you can split your contribution between pre-tax and Roth contributions any way you wish.

Keep in mind that if you also contribute to another employer’s 401(k), 403(b), SIMPLE, or SAR-SEP plan, your total contributions to all of these plans — both pre-tax and Roth — can’t exceed $19,000 in 2019 ($25,000 if you’re age 50 or older). It’s up to you to make sure you don’t exceed these limits if you contribute to plans of more than one employer.

When can I contribute?

While a 401(k) plan can make you wait up to a year to participate, many plans let you to begin contributing with your first paycheck. Some plans also provide for automatic enrollment. If you’ve been automatically enrolled, make sure to check that your default contribution rate and investments are appropriate for your circumstances.

Can I also contribute to an IRA?

Yes. Your participation in a 401(k) plan has no impact on your ability to contribute to an IRA (Roth or traditional). You can contribute up to $6,000 to an IRA in 2019 ($7,000 if you’re age 50 or older) if you have at least that much in earned income. Your ability to make deductible contributions to a traditional IRA may be limited if you participate in a 401(k) plan, depending on your salary level.

What are the income tax consequences of contributing to a 401(k) plan?

When you make pre-tax 401(k) contributions, you don’t pay current income taxes on those dollars. But your contributions and investment earnings are fully taxable when you receive a distribution from the plan. In contrast, Roth 401(k) contributions are subject to income taxes up front, but qualified distributions of your contributions and earnings are entirely free from federal income tax. A distribution is qualified if it meets the following requirements:

  • It is made after the end of a five-year waiting period
  • It is made after you turn 59½, become disabled, or die

The five-year waiting period for qualified distributions starts on January 1 of the year you make your first Roth contribution to the 401(k) plan. For example, if you make your first Roth contribution to your employer’s 401(k) plan in December 2019, your five-year waiting period begins January 1, 2019, and ends on December 31, 2023.

Withdrawals from pre-tax accounts prior to age 59½ and non-qualified withdrawals from Roth accounts will be subject to regular income taxes and a 10% penalty tax, unless an exception applies.

What about employer contributions?

Employers don’t have to contribute to 401(k) plans, but many will match all or part of your contributions. Your employer can match your Roth contributions, your pre-tax contributions, or both. But your employer’s contributions are always made on a pre-tax basis, even if they match your Roth contributions. That is, your employer’s contributions, and investment earnings on those contributions, are always taxable to you when you receive a distribution from the plan.

Try to contribute as much as necessary to get the maximum matching contribution from your employer. This is essentially free money that can help you pursue your retirement goals.

Should I make pre-tax or Roth contributions (if allowed)?

If you think you’ll be in a higher tax bracket when you retire, Roth 401(k) contributions may be more appealing, since future withdrawals, assuming they’re qualified, will generally be tax free. However, if you think you’ll be in a lower tax bracket when you retire, pre-tax 401(k) contributions may be more appropriate because your contributions reduce your taxable income now. Your investment horizon and projected investment results are also important factors.

What happens when I terminate employment?

When you terminate employment, you generally forfeit all contributions that haven’t vested. (Vesting means that you own the contributions.) Your contributions and the earnings on them are always 100% vested. But your 401(k) plan may require up to six years of service before you fully vest in employer matching contributions and associated earnings (although some plans have a much faster vesting schedule).

When you terminate employment, you can generally leave your money in your 401(k) plan, although some plans require that you withdraw your funds once you reach the plan’s normal retirement age (typically age 65). Your plan may also “cash you out” if your vested balance is $5,000 or less, but if your payment is more than $1,000, the plan generally must roll your funds into an IRA established on your behalf, unless you elect to receive your payment in cash. (This $1,000 limit is determined separately for your Roth 401(k) account and the rest of your funds in the 401(k) plan.)

You can also roll all or part of your Roth 401(k) dollars over to a Roth IRA, and your non-Roth dollars to a traditional IRA. You may also be able to roll your funds into another employer’s plans that accepts rollovers.

What else do I need to know?

  • If your plan allows loans, you may be eligible to borrow up to one half of your vested 401(k) account (to a maximum of $50,000) if you need the money.
  • You may also be able to make a hardship withdrawal if you have an immediate and heavy financial need. But this should be a last resort — hardship distributions may be taxable to you, and you may be suspended from plan participation for six months or more if the withdrawal takes place in 2019. (Beginning in 2020, suspension of participation will not be permitted, per IRS rules proposed in November 2018.)
  • Distributions from your plan before you turn 59½ (55 in some cases) may be subject to a 10% early distribution penalty unless an exception applies.
  • You may be eligible for an income tax credit of up to $1,000 for amounts you contribute, depending on your income.
  • Your assets are generally fully protected in the event of your, or your employer’s, bankruptcy.
  • Most 401(k) plans let you direct the investment of your account. Your employer provides a menu of investment options (for example, a family of mutual funds). But it’s your responsibility to choose the investments most suitable for your retirement objectives.

This material was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of  The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

The Retirement Group is a Registered Investment Advisor not affiliated with  FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

What to Do after You’ve Been Automatically Enrolled in Your Company’s Retirement Plan

September 10, 2019

At one time, the only way you could join your company’s 401(k) plan, 403(b) plan, or 457(b) plan was to put pen to paper and sign yourself up by filling out the appropriate forms. Now, though, in an effort to help participants increase their retirement savings, some employers have begun enrolling their employees automatically. With automatic enrollment, you don’t fill out a form to opt into your company’s retirement plan; you only fill out a form to opt out of it.

At first glance, automatic enrollment sounds like a no-brainer–without doing anything, you’re on your way to saving for retirement. But don’t just assume that the investment decisions your employer has made on your behalf are right for you. Instead, take charge of your own retirement savings right now by following these four steps.

Step 1: Get the facts

If you work for a company that offers automatic enrollment, your employer will typically enroll you once you meet the retirement plan’s eligibility requirements, and will begin to direct a certain percentage of your paycheck (your contribution rate) into the investment fund the company has chosen as its default.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you have to stick with the default elections your employer has chosen for you. Once you’ve been automatically enrolled, you can increase (or decrease) your contribution rate, move money from one investment option to another, or even opt out of the plan altogether. You may even have the right in some cases to request a refund of amounts automatically withheld from your pay.

Your employer is required to send you information about the plan provisions and your investment options, along with specific instructions on how to opt out if you choose not to participate in the plan. Read the documents you receive (including your plan statements), and ask questions about anything you don’t understand before making any investment decisions.

Step 2: Consider your contribution rate

Like many people, you may be tempted to stick with the contribution rate your employer has chosen for you. But this contribution rate (typically 3 percent) may be less than you need to contribute to target your retirement savings goal. Find out, too, if your company offers matching funds (employers who offer matching funds to traditionally-enrolled plan participants must offer the same match to automatically-enrolled participants). If so, try to contribute at least enough to receive the full match. (401(k) plans with qualified automatic contribution arrangements (QACAs) are required to make a contribution on your behalf.)

Step 3: Review your investment options

When you’re automatically enrolled, your contributions are invested in the plan’s default investment option (typically a fund that includes a balanced mix of investments). But investing in the default option may not be the best choice for you. Depending on how much you need to save for retirement, how far away you are from retirement, and your tolerance for risk, you may want to redirect some of your contributions into more aggressive options that, although more volatile, offer greater potential for long-term growth.

Note: Before investing in any mutual fund, carefully consider its investment objectives, risks, fees, and expenses, which can be found in the prospectus available from the fund. Read the prospectus carefully before investing. There is no guarantee that any investment strategy will be successful; all investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. Investments seeking to achieve higher returns also involve a higher degree of risk.

Step 4: Check up on your plan at least once a year

Even if you’ve decided to stick with your company’s default options for now, review your investment options at least once a year, keeping in mind the following questions:

  • Are you saving enough?
  • Can you afford to contribute more?
  • Are the investments you’ve chosen still appropriate for your age and risk tolerance?
  • Do you need to redirect all or some of your contributions to better target your retirement savings goal?

As you make decisions, think about your overall retirement plan, including where your retirement money will come (e.g., Social Security, 401(k) plan, pension plan), the major expenses you might have (e.g., housing, medical care), and the lifestyle you hope to lead (e.g., traveling frequently, owning a second home).

This material was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of  The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

The Retirement Group is a Registered Investment Advisor not affiliated with  FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

Setting a Retirement Savings Goal

September 10, 2019

Many Americans realize the importance of saving for retirement, but knowing exactly how much they need to save is another issue altogether. With all the information available about retirement, it is sometimes difficult to decipher what is appropriate for your specific situation.

How much do you need to save?

One commonly cited guideline is that retirees will need approximately 80% of their pre-retirement salaries to maintain their lifestyles in retirement. However, depending on your own situation and the type of retirement you hope to have, that number may be higher or lower.

Here are some factors to consider when determining a retirement savings goal.

Retirement age: The first factor to consider is the age at which you expect to retire. In reality, many people anticipate that they will retire later than they actually do; unexpected issues, such as health problems or workplace changes (downsizing, etc.), tend to stand in their way. Of course, the earlier you retire, the more money you will need to last throughout retirement. It’s important to prepare for unanticipated occurrences that could force you into an early retirement.

Life expectancy: Although you can’t know what the duration of your life will be, a few factors may give you a hint. You should take into account your family history – how long your relatives have lived and diseases that are common in your family – as well as your own past and present health issues. Also consider that life spans are increasing with recent medical developments. More people will be living to age 100, or perhaps even longer. When calculating how much you need to save, you should factor in the number of years you expect to spend in retirement.

Future health-care needs: Another factor to consider is the cost of health care.

Health-care costs have been rising much faster than general inflation, and fewer employers are offering health benefits to retirees. Long-term care is another consideration. These costs could severely dip into your savings and even result in your filing for bankruptcy if the need for care is prolonged.

Lifestyle: Another important consideration is your desired retirement lifestyle. Do you want to travel? Are you planning to be involved in philanthropic endeavors? Will you have an expensive country club membership? Are there any hobbies you would like to pursue? The answers to these questions can help you decide what additional costs your ideal retirement will require.

Many baby boomers expect that they will work part-time in retirement. However, if this is your intention and you find that working longer becomes impossible, you will still need the appropriate funds to support your retirement lifestyle.

Inflation: If you think you have accounted for every possibility when constructing a savings goal but forget this vital component, your savings could be far from sufficient. Inflation has the potential to lower the value of your savings from year to year, significantly reducing your purchasing power over time. It is important for your savings to keep pace with or exceed inflation.

Social Security: Many retirees believe that they can rely on their future Social Security benefits. However, this may not be true for you. The Social Security system is under increasing strain as more baby boomers are retiring and fewer workers are available to pay their benefits. And the reality is that Social Security replaces about 40% of a medium wage earner’s income, and a little over a quarter of a high wage earner’s. 1 That leaves approximately 60% to 75% to be covered in other ways.

And the total is…

After considering all these factors, you should have a much better idea of how much you need to save for retirement.

For example, let’s assume you will retire next year at Social Security’s full retirement age of 66 and spend a total of 20 years in retirement. Your annual income is currently $80,000, and you think that 75% of your pre-retirement income ($60,000) will be enough to cover the costs of your ideal retirement, including some travel you intend to do and potential health-care expenses. After factoring in the approximately $23,000 annual Social Security benefit you expect to receive, a $10,000 annual pension from your employer, a 3% potential inflation rate, and a 6% expected rate of return in retirement, you end up with a total retirement savings amount of about $400,000. (For your own situation, you can use a retirement savings calculator from your retirement plan provider or from a financial site on the Internet.) This hypothetical example is used for illustrative purposes only and does not represent the performance of any specific investment. Investment returns cannot be guaranteed.2

The estimated total for this hypothetical example may seem daunting. But after determining your retirement savings goal and factoring in how much you have saved already, you may be able to determine how much you need to save each year to reach your destination. The important thing is to come up with a goal and then develop a strategy to pursue it. You don’t want to spend your retirement years wishing you had planned ahead when you had the time. The sooner you start saving and investing to reach your goal, the closer you will be to realizing your retirement dreams.

1) SSA Publication No. 05-10024, January 2019;

2)Social Security benefit was calculated using the SSA’s Quick Calculator (www.ssa.gov), based on a current annual salary of $80,000. All calculations have been rounded for simplification purposes.

This material was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of  The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

The Retirement Group is a Registered Investment Advisor not affiliated with  FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

Understanding Individual 401(k) Plans

September 10, 2019

If you’re self-employed or own a small business, you’ve probably considered establishing a retirement plan. If you’ve done your homework, you likely know about simplified employee pensions (SEPs) and savings incentive match plans for employees (SIMPLE) IRA plans. These plans typically appeal to small business owners because they’re relatively straightforward and inexpensive to administer. What you may not know is that in many cases an individual 401(k) plan [which is also known by other names such as a solo 401(k) plan, an employer-only 401(k) plan, a single participant 401(k) plan, or a mini 401(k) plan] may offer a better combination of benefits. An individual 401(k) plan is worth considering if you’re looking to set up your first retirement plan or want to switch to a different plan.

What is an individual 401(k) plan?

An individual 401(k) plan is a regular 401(k) plan combined with a profit-sharing plan. However, unlike a regular 401(k) plan, an individual 401(k) plan can be implemented only by self-employed individuals or small business owners who have no other full-time employees (an exception applies if your full-time employee is your spouse). If you have full-time employees age 21 or older (other than your spouse) or part-time employees who work more than 1,000 hours a year, you will typically have to include them in any plan you set up, so adopting an individual 401(k) plan will not be a viable option.

Note: An individual 401(k) plan isn’t really a different kind of 401(k) plan. Rather, it simply takes advantage of the fact that relaxed rules apply when the only individuals who participate in the plan are the owner and the owner’s spouse.

What makes an individual 401(k) plan attractive?

One feature that makes an individual 401(k) plan an attractive retirement savings vehicle is that in most cases your allowable contribution to an individual 401(k) plan will be as large or larger than you could make under another type of retirement plan.

With an individual 401(k) plan you can elect to defer up to $19,000 of your compensation to the plan for 2019 (up from $18,500 in 2018), just as you could with any 401(k) plan. If you reach age 50 or older by the end of 2019, you can make an additional catch-up contribution of $6,000. In addition, as with a traditional profit-sharing plan, your business can make a maximum tax-deductible contribution to the plan of up to 25% of your compensation (slightly less than that if you are a sole proprietor or unincorporated).

Because the amount of compensation deferred as part of a 401(k) plan does not count toward the 25% limit, you, as an owner-employee, can defer the maximum amount of compensation under the 401(k) plan, and still contribute up to 25% of total compensation to the profit-sharing plan on your own behalf. Total plan contributions for 2019 cannot, however, exceed the lesser of $56,000 or 100% of your compensation ($55,000 for 2018), plus any catch-up contributions if you’re 50 or older.

For example, Dan is 35 years old and is the sole owner of an incorporated business. His compensation in 2019 is $80,000. Dan sets up an individual 401(k) plan for his retirement. Under current tax law, Dan’s plan account can accept a tax-deductible business contribution of $20,000 (25% of $80,000), plus a 401(k) elective deferral contribution of $19,000. As a result, total plan contributions on Dan’s behalf equal $39,000, which falls within Dan’s contribution limit of $56,000 (the lesser of $56,000 or 100% of his compensation).

These contribution possibilities aren’t unique to individual 401(k) plans; any business establishing a regular 401(k) plan and a profit-sharing plan could make similar contributions. But individual 401(k) plans are simpler to administer than other types of retirement plans. Since they cover only a self-employed individual or business owner and his or her spouse, individual 401(k) plans are not subject to the often burdensome and complicated administrative rules and discrimination testing that are generally required for regular 401(k) and profit-sharing plans.

Note: You can design your individual 401(k) plan to let you designate all or part of your elective deferrals as Roth 401(k) contributions. Roth 401(k) contributions are made on an after-tax basis, just like Roth IRA contributions. Unlike pre-tax contributions to a 401(k) plan, there’s no up-front tax benefit — contributions are transferred to the plan after taxes are calculated. Because taxes have already been paid on these amounts, a distribution of your Roth 401(k) contributions is always free from federal income tax. And all earnings on your Roth 401(k) contributions are free from federal income tax if your distribution is “qualified.”

Other advantages of an individual 401(k) plan

Large potential annual contributions and straightforward administrative requirements are appealing, but individual 401(k) plans have other advantages, which are shared by many other types of retirement plans:

  • An individual 401(k) is a tax-deferred retirement plan, so you pay no income tax on plan contributions or earnings (if any) until you withdraw money from the plan [qualified distributions from Roth 401(k) accounts are entirely free from federal income taxes]. And, your business’s contribution to the plan is tax deductible.
  • Contributions to an individual 401(k) plan are completely discretionary. You should always try to contribute as much as possible, but you always have the option of reducing or even suspending plan contributions if necessary.
  • An individual 401(k) plan can allow loans and may allow hardship withdrawals if necessary.
  • An individual 401(k) plan can accept rollovers of funds from another retirement savings vehicle, such as an IRA, a SEP, or a previous employer’s 401(k) plan.

Disadvantages of an individual 401(k) plan

Despite its attractive features, an individual 401(k) plan is not the right option for everyone. Here are a few potential drawbacks:

  • An individual 401(k) plan, like a regular 401(k) plan, must follow certain requirements under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). Although these requirements are much simpler than they would be for a regular 401(k) plan with multiple participants, there is still a cost associated with establishing and administering an individual 401(k) plan.
  • Institutions offering individual 401(k) plans often provide limited investment choices. However, investment options are likely to increase in the future as demand for the individual 401(k) increases among small business owners.
  • Self-employed individuals and small business owners with significant compensation can already contribute a maximum of $56,000 (for 2019; $55,000 in 2018) by using a traditional profit-sharing plan or SEP plan. An individual 401(k) plan will not allow contributions to be made above this limit (an exception exists for catch-up contributions that can be made by individuals age 50 or older).
  • An individual 401(k) may not meet your future needs. If your business grows and you hire a full-time employee who is not your spouse, that employee will generally need to be included in your plan. If that happens, you no longer have an individual 401(k) plan; you have a regular 401(k) plan and profit-sharing plan, and you lose the benefit of the individual 401(k) plan’s simplified administration rules.
  • In general, individual 401(k) plans are not subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). While this means there are less administrative requirements, it also means that these plans may have less creditor protection than 401(k) plans that are covered by ERISA. If creditor protection is important to you, consult a qualified professional. 

This material was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of  The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

The Retirement Group is a Registered Investment Advisor not affiliated with  FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

Funding a Buy-Sell Agreement with Disability Insurance

September 6, 2019

You may have a great buy-sell agreement in place at the company where you are a partner or co-owner–one that clearly stipulates how much your family will be paid for your share of the business interest in the event of your death. It may also cover early retirement and the buyout terms under those circumstances. But what if you become disabled long before you are likely to die or retire? Insurance industry statistics show that the chance of you or one of your co-owners sustaining a long-term illness or injury (over one year) before age 65 is much greater than the odds of any one of you dying prematurely. Disability income insurance may provide a solution. 

How disability income insurance works

If you were to suffer a severe injury or develop some type of long-term illness, you would probably be unable to earn a payback during that time. Disability income insurance is a salary-continuation agreement that replaces a portion of your income while you are injured or ill. Disability insurance with your buy-sell agreement provides the funds to allow your company to continue paying your salary or to completely buy your share of the business if your disability is permanent. 

Keep in mind that disability insurance is designed to protect you in the event of a long-term illness or injury. So, a disability insurance policy includes an elimination period (ie., a waiting period between the time you become sick or injured and the time any benefits are paid). Some policies call for waiting periods as long as one or two years, so you will need to depend on your savings and other investments for a considerable period of time. Depending on the type of policy, you can receive benefit payments in either a lump sum, installment payments, or a combination of the two. Disability insurance should generally be used in addition to the funding method you have chosen for the purchase of your business interest at your death or retirement. 

Coordinate the disability policy with your buy-sell agreement

You should make sure that any conflict between the provisions of your disability income insurance policy and your buy-sell agreement is eliminated at the outset. The buy-sell agreement should contain the same definition of disability policy. Determine when the agreement requires a complete buyout after you become sick or injured. Also, coordinate the waiting period, how benefits are paid, and how you may be able to buy your shares back if you recover from your illness or injury. 

Different types of buy-sell agreeements 

If your buy-sell agreement is an entity purchase (stock redemption) plan, the company itself buys disability policies for each of the shareholders or partners. The company is the owner, premium payer, and beneficiary of the policies. With a cross purchase (crisscross) agreement, you and your co-owners agree as individuals to purchase the business interest of any co-owner who becomes disabled. Under the terms of the agreement, you buy a separate disability policy on each of the other co-owners; in turn, each co-owner buys a policy on you. Each of you is the owner, premium payer, and beneficiary of the policies you have purchased. Be aware that tax consequences may arise if the company pays the premiums on policies under a cross purchase agreement. A wait and see (hybrid) buy-sell agreement allows you to combine features of both an entity purchase and cross purchase agreement. 

Disability income funding can ensure you a fair price

The greatest advantage offered by using disability insurance with your buy-sell agreement is that you can receive the full value of your business interest if you become disabled before your death or normal retirement. For example, say you become permanently disabled in an auto accident. You are unable to work and want to sell your interest in the business you helped establish, but the company doesn’t have the cash to pay you right now. Without disability coverage in this circumstance, you might be forced to go outside the company to sell your business interest. You could end up selling the interest for less than it is worth.

Funding your buy-sell agreement with disability insurance assures that the other co-owners will buy your interest, names the conditions under which they will purchase your interest, and provides the money to pay you a fair price. If your injury is not permanent, disability insurance will provide income protection for your family while you are recovering.

What are the drawbacks of using disability insurance?

  • Insurance premiums are not tax deductible. It makes no difference if the payments are made by the business itself or the individual owners.
  • Insurance companies may consider you uninsurable–ineligible for disability insurance–due to factors such as your age, health problems, high-risk hobbies, or employment in certain occupations.
  • Disability insurance can be used only if you’re sick or injured. There is no policy benefit available if you die or retire from the business when you’re healthy.

What happens if you recover from your disability?

It’s possible that you could recover from your illness or injury after you’ve already sold your business interest under your buy-sell agreement’s disability clause. If this happens, you could find yourself without a business, career, or income. Make sure that your buy-sell agreement addresses whether you’ll be eligible to buy your shares back if you recover after the waiting period. The agreement should contain a schedule specifying how your interest will be transferred back to you. Because it is possible that you’ll recover from your disability, it is generally advisable to set up a long waiting period before the policy pays salary continuation benefits or triggers the purchase of your share of the company. This reduces the chance that you may recover from your disability after having sold your business interest. In addition, longer waiting periods reduce the policy premiums.

Monitoring your buy-sell agreement

Remember that the disability insurance with your buy-sell agreement will provide you with no benefit if the policy is allowed to lapse. Make sure that all required premiums are regularly paid. You don’t want to leave yourself and your family unprotected at a time when you’re sick or injured. While you’re at it, check up on the other funding components of your buy-sell agreement. And if the agreement is not fully funded, push to have this done as soon as it is financially feasible for the company. Finally, as the company grows, it’s important to periodically review the buy-sell document and the funding vehicles to ensure that they’re keeping pace with the current value of your business.

This material was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of  The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

The Retirement Group is a Registered Investment Advisor not affiliated with  FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

Closing a Retirement Income Gap

September 6, 2019

When you determine how much income you’ll need in retirement, you may base your projection on the type of lifestyle you plan to have and when you want to retire. However, as you grow closer to retirement, you may discover that your income won’t be enough to meet your needs. If you find yourself in this situation, you’ll need to adopt a plan to bridge this projected income gap.

Delay retirement: 65 is just a number

One way of dealing with a projected income shortfall is to stay in the workforce longer than you had planned. This will allow you to continue supporting yourself with a salary rather than dipping into your retirement savings. Depending on your income, this could also increase your Social Security retirement benefit. You’ll also be able to delay taking your Social Security benefit or distributions from retirement accounts.

At normal retirement age (which varies, depending on the year you were born), you will receive your full Social Security retirement benefit. You can elect to receive your Social Security retirement benefit as early as age 62, but if you begin receiving your benefit before your normal retirement age, your benefit will be reduced. Conversely, if you delay retirement, you can increase your Social Security benefit.

Remember, too, that income from a job may affect the amount of Social Security retirement benefit you receive if you are under normal retirement age. Your benefit will be reduced by $1 for every $2 you earn over a certain earnings limit ($17,640 in 2019, up from $17,040 in 2018). But once you reach normal retirement age, you can earn as much as you want without affecting your Social Security retirement benefit.

Another advantage of delaying retirement is that you can continue to build tax-deferred (or in the case of Roth accounts, tax-free) funds in your IRA or employer-sponsored retirement plan. Keep in mind, though, that you may be required to start taking minimum distributions from your qualified retirement plan or traditional IRA once you reach age 70½, if you want to avoid harsh penalties.

And if you’re covered by a pension plan at work, you could also consider retiring and then seeking employment elsewhere. This way you can receive a salary and your pension benefit at the same time. Some employers, to avoid losing talented employees this way, are beginning to offer “phased retirement” programs that allow you to receive all or part of your pension benefit while you’re still working. Make sure you understand your pension plan options.

Spend less, save more

You may be able to deal with an income shortfall by adjusting your spending habits. If you’re still years away from retirement, you may be able to get by with a few minor changes. However, if retirement is just around the corner, you may need to drastically change your spending and saving habits. Saving even a little money can really add up if you do it consistently and earn a reasonable rate of return. Make permanent changes to your spending habits and you’ll find that your savings will last even longer. Start by preparing a budget to see where your money is going. Here are some suggested ways to stretch your retirement dollars:

  • Refinance your home mortgage if interest rates have dropped since you took the loan
  • Reduce your housing expenses by moving to a less expensive home or apartment.
  • Sell one of your cars if you have two. When your remaining car needs to be replaced, consider buying a used one.
  • Access the equity in your home. Use the proceeds from a second mortgage or home equity line of credit to pay off higher-interest-rate debts.
  • Transfer credit card balances from higher-interest cards to a low- or no-interest card, and then cancel the old accounts.
  • Ask about insurance discounts and review your insurance needs (e.g., your need for life insurance may have lessened).
  • Reduce discretionary expenses such as lunches and dinners out

Earmark the money you save for retirement and invest it immediately. If you can take advantage of an IRA, 401(k), or other tax-deferred retirement plan, you should do so. Funds invested in a tax-deferred account may grow more rapidly than funds invested in a non-tax-deferred account.

Reallocate your assets: consider investing more aggressively

Some people make the mistake of investing too conservatively to achieve their retirement goals. That’s not surprising, because as you take on more risk, your potential for loss grows as well. But greater risk also generally entails potentially greater reward. And with life expectancies rising and people retiring earlier, retirement funds need to last a long time.

That’s why if you are facing a projected income shortfall, you may want to consider shifting some of your assets to investments that have the potential to substantially outpace inflation. The amount of investment dollars you might consider keeping in growth-oriented investments depends on your time horizon (how long you have to save) and your tolerance for risk. In general, the longer you have until retirement, the more aggressive you can typically afford to be. Still, if you are at or near retirement, you may want to keep some of your funds in growth-oriented investments, even if you decide to keep the bulk of your funds in more conservative, fixed-income investments. Get advice from a financial professional if you need help deciding how your assets should be allocated.

And remember, no matter how you decide to allocate your money, rebalance your portfolio periodically. Your needs will change over time, and so should your investment strategy. Note: Rebalancing may carry tax consequences. Asset allocation and diversification cannot guarantee a profit or insure against a loss. There is no guarantee that any investment strategy will be successful; all investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal.

Accept reality: lower your standard of living

If your projected income shortfall is severe enough or if you’re already close to retirement, you may realize that no matter what measures you take, you will not be able to afford the retirement lifestyle you’ve dreamed of. In other words, you will have to lower your expectations and accept a lower standard of living.

Fortunately, this may be easier to do than when you were younger. Although some expenses, like health care, generally increase in retirement, other expenses, like housing costs and automobile expenses, tend to decrease. And it’s likely that your days of paying college bills and growing-family expenses are over.

Once you are within a few years of retirement, you can prepare a realistic budget that will help you manage your money in retirement. Think long term: Retirees frequently get into budget trouble in the early years of retirement, when they are adjusting to their new lifestyles. Remember that when you are retired, every day is Saturday, so it’s easy to start overspending.

This material was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of  The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

The Retirement Group is a Registered Investment Advisor not affiliated with  FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.