Financial Wellness @ Work

Five Myths About Social Security: Myth #2 – Social Security Is Based on Your Last Five Years of Earnings

Last week, I addressed the first myth about Social Security benefits, namely that they won’t be there by the time you’re eligible to receive them. For this week’s post, I’d like to address another common myth related to how benefits are calculated: Benefits are based on your last five years of earnings. Read more

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Things You Need to Know About Social Security: Will It Be There?

When I facilitate a workshop or webcast on retirement planning, I like to poll my audience to see which areas of retirement planning they would prefer to spend more time talking about. The audience generally ranks saving and investing for retirement as their top two choices but depending on who is in the audience, Social Security may rank as third. Even when it doesn’t, I find it amusing that a government benefit that some are skeptical will even be there by the time they retire ends up being the topic that generates the most questions. I guess it’s because it’s a source of retirement income that many are familiar with yet so few truly understand. Read more

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Retirement: You Might Need to Visualize It to Realize It

As a financial planner, I feel that it is important to encourage people to realistically think about what their retirement will look like. No matter how young or old, now is always a good time to plan for the future. It is not uncommon for some of these popular questions to come up during a typical conversation: Read more

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Should You Split Up With Your Spouse In Retirement?

Some couples could benefit from a split strategy in retirement but I don’t mean breaking up with your loved one.  The Wall Street Journal‘s MarketWatch blog recently highlighted a split strategy for couples when deciding on the best time to take Social Security benefits. One spouse (the lower income earner) takes benefits as early as possible, which is at age 62.  The other spouse would wait until age 70 to take their own benefit but at their full retirement age (66 to 67 – depending on your year of birth) would claim the spousal benefit based on the lower income earning spouse.  Read more

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In Defense of the Traditional 401(k)

Should you make pre-tax or Roth 401(k) contributions? I recently read this article by Penelope Wang called “The Great Retirement Account You’re Not Using” that argues for Roth contributions. However,  I still think pre-tax contributions make more sense for most people. Here is my response to each of her main arguments:  Read more

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Ask-A-Planner Mailbag

Many friends of Financial Finesse and readers of our daily blogs send us direct questions and various inquiries through our social media sites. Occasionally we will highlight some of the more frequently asked questions and provide you with a summary response.  In this version of the Ask-A-Planner mailbag, we will examine a couple of questions regarding Individual Retirement Accounts.  To help examine these questions, I thought I’d turn to Paul Wannemacher, one of our resident financial planners and a recent addition to the Think Tank at Financial Finesse, for some guidance.  Read more

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What to Do When Your Pension is Terminated

As traditional pension funds continue to go the way of the typewriter all across America, you may find yourself in the position of having to decide what to do with a pension plan that’s being terminated by your employer. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean the money disappears. It just won’t be added to anymore and you have to choose what to do with the money. While this may sound like the kind of thing you’d rather not deal with, these come with an expiration date and a default option that may not be your best choice. So let’s look at the pros and cons of some common options.  Read more

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Why Your Social Security Projection is Probably Wrong

When doing retirement planning sessions with people, we often talk about their retirement resources in order to help them plan for the future.  We look at any pension incomes that will come their way.  We look at their savings and investment accounts, their contribution levels and the potential growth of those accounts.   Read more

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Be an Owner Rather Than a Loaner in Retirement

One of the most common pieces of investment wisdom is that you should invest more in conservative “loan” investments like cash and bonds and less in more aggressive “own” investments like stocks and real estate as you get closer to retirement. This may have made sense when bonds were paying 6% or more but with long term bonds rates now closer to 3%, this could actually make it harder to retire comfortably or more likely you could run out of money in retirement. Cash is paying less than inflation. Rather than to low-interest bonds and cash, why not shift towards high-yielding dividend stocks and real estate? Here are some advantages of this approach: Read more

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Those Were the Days

1979 – Happy Days was a popular TV show, disco clothes were in, and a top tune was Y.M.C.A. by the Village People. My husband recently relived all these memories at his 35th high school reunion for the Class of ’79.  I got dragged along, but at least the classic rock and disco tunes were fun to listen to.   Read more

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