Working Past 70 and a Half

If you have ever sat through a retirement planning workshop then you probably know that 401(k) plans and traditional IRAs are subject to required minimum distributions (RMDs) starting in the year you turn 70 ½, but what you might not realize is that RMDs from 401(k) plans are NOT required as long as you continue to work.  Recently I received an email from a webcast participant who wanted to know when he would be required to take a distribution from his 401(k) plan, and how the distribution would be calculated. Read more

Wellness Programs Actually Do Protect Both Health AND Wealth

Last Sunday started out as a typical fall weekend morning.  My husband, Dave, had gotten up early in the morning, donned his camouflage pants and mud boots, and was getting ready to go out beyond our backyard to scope out a good hunting spot for the upcoming deer season.  We live in a very rural area of southern Pennsylvania, with lots of woods, wildlife, and even a few Amish neighborhood farms.  Many of us in the community don’t even lock our doors, not thinking crime would find us here.  As Dave was getting ready to head outside, I happened to look out the front window and saw two tall, skinny teenage guys walking down our long driveway.  I said to Dave, “Oh uh, I think someone else has found your secret hunting spot!” so he went out the back door to see who they were. Read more

The Most Important Lessons in Life are the Unspoken Ones

My mother-in-law, Stella Anderson, passed away in her sleep last month with her family at her side at the age of 97.  She was dearly loved and will surely be missed.  At her memorial service, her granddaughter (my niece) Britt Anderson spoke lovingly about lessons she learned from her grandmother which made me reflect on some of my own – financial lessons I picked up from her over the years.  Some of the lessons Stella taught her grandchildren were intentional, of course, but other lessons were learned from observing how Stella lived her life.  Britt shared the “intentional” ones first: Read more

The Truth About Target Date Funds

I read this article on about investors’ belief that target date funds come with a guarantee of a sufficient retirement income. The statistics are a little bit startling (51 percent — of people investing their retirement savings in target-date funds see them as a retirement planning panacea and think that putting their money in them guarantees their retirement income needs will be met), frightening even, from the perspective of a financial planner. The conclusion of the article is: Read more

The Biggest Myths About Social Security

In talking to people all over the country about their retirement, there are two big myths I’ve noticed when it comes to Social Security. The first one (which I hear less and less) is that there’s an account set up somewhere for you that you’ve been contributing to with your tax dollars. Unfortunately, Social Security doesn’t work that way. Instead, your tax dollars are immediately paid out to current beneficiaries with the expectation that future taxpayers will pay for your benefits when you retire. Read more

GUEST BLOG POST: The Course to Financial Success: A Marathon, Not a Sprint

On Sunday, October 30th, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC.

Call it a “runner’s high,” or chalk it up to trying to distract myself from my painful feet, but I spent much of those five-plus hours in deep philosophical thought.  I thought about the courage of our military, as I studied the faces and dates of too-short lives emblazoned on the backs of so many runners.  I thought about the dedication of the spectators, who not only waited for several chilly hours to catch a 10-second view of their runner, but also propelled 19,999 other runners to the finish with their motivating and humorous signs.  My favorite:  “26.2 miles?  Because 26.3 would just be crazy!!” Read more

3 Ways to Save when Holiday Shopping for Kids

There are 46 shopping days left until Christmas, and if you’re anything like me, nothing squashes your holiday spirit faster than being at the mall standing in line to purchase overpriced merchandise on Christmas eve with a thousand other people, and I refuse to get up at 3 AM on black Friday to go out and get the best “deals” when I could be home eating Thanksgiving leftovers with the family.  That said, the Christmas shopping will eventually have to get done, and in tough economic times such as these, we have to come up with ways to shop smarter.  Here are some ideas we at the Ward family have adopted to help make the holidays a time of joy, and not a recipe for financial woe: Read more

Thumbs Up to the Rules of Thumb

When ordering take-out last night for my family, I used a rule of thumb that when you order Chinese food, you should ask for one entree less than the number of people in the group to avoid unwanted leftovers.  Between the four of us, we split Chicken and Broccoli, Hunan Beef, and Sesame Chicken.  Even with only 3 entrees, we each got a second helping and our dessert of fortune cookies, and there were NO leftovers.

So how can employees consider rules of thumb during open enrollment season?   Read more

A Bear Market is Your Friend

A friend of mine posted this comment on Facebook last week “Yeah!  The market is up 345 points! Finally it is going in the right direction.”  Well, I was NOT happy at all to hear this news.  You see, that day (Thursday October 27th) was the day our company made its annual contribution for all of our employees – the employer matching contributions to everyone’s 401(k). I was certainly happy to receive a company contribution but not so happy about the timing. Because mutual funds pick up the end of day pricing, that means everyone in our company received a contribution to their 401(k) AFTER the market went up that day.  If the contribution had been made a day earlier, all of us who invest in stock funds would have been over three percent richer. Read more

3 Smart (and Not So Smart) Tax Decisions by Retirees

In my blog last week, I talked about how looking at the future of tax policy may be an interesting hobby (especially if you’re a geek like me!), but that it really isn’t all that useful in the present.  But, there are things that are important to look at when it comes to today’s income tax situation.  I don’t want to minimize the impact of paying attention to taxes; it’s just a matter of learning which situations are high impact situations. Read more

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