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Converting Your Retirement Nest Egg to Income

The moment you realize you don’t actually know how to make your savings last.

Let’s assume that you’re completing a solid career, have earned a good income and through thrift and discipline, accumulated a significant nest egg for retirement.  Sounds good so far, right?  But as you approach retirement, the thought may occur to you: “I don’t really know how to convert this nest egg into retirement income when I stop working”. Well, you’re not alone.  In our experience, there is a fair amount of angst that accompanies this much anticipated life event, and for good reason.  Compared to the working years, there are many unique moving parts and complexities to consider in retirement that most individuals have never had to think about.  Building wealth while earning a healthy income is pretty one dimensional. For most individuals, it’s about setting aside regular long term savings and investments in the most tax effective manner possible.  With relatively high marginal tax brackets, individuals tend to build their retirement nest eggs with pretax contributions first; usually through contributions...

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Social Security Timing: Choosing the Right Strategy

For most retirees, Social Security is an essential component of financial security.  It is estimated that Social Security benefits account for one-third of all retirement income each year.  Despite its significance, it appears that many retirees are not optimizing their benefits and losing out on substantial income over their lifetimes.  The Social Security claiming options are complex and there is no one strategy that is the right fit for everyone; however, one of the common errors is claiming too early.  Only 4% of retirees wait until age 70 to claim the maximum retirement benefit.  A recent study estimates that US retirees would generate an additional $111,000 of income on average over their retirement years if they optimized their Social Security benefit selection.   Many factors may influence the decision to claim early, with poor health and a reduced life expectancy being the most common. There is a break-even life expectancy calculation that is important to consider: how long must I live before the maximized age 70 Social...

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What is an inverted yield curve and why does it matter?

If you have been tuned-in to the financial press recently, you will have noticed a great deal of attention surrounding the concept of an inverted yield curve.  Why all the excitement and alarm?  While the topic can be quite complex, here is a quick primer. The Yield Curve:  This is an important metric to economists.  It is a simple graph that plots the yields of U.S. Treasury obligations of all different maturities.  Remember, Treasuries (bills, notes and bonds) are debt instruments issued by the US Government; it’s how they borrow money.  The Treasury’s “maturity” describes how long before the bond is repaid and ranges from 1 month to 30 years.  The vertical axis of the graph measures the % yield paid by the bond.  The horizontal axis measures the length of all the maturities. Normal Yield Curve:  Under normal conditions, the curve created by plotting the points on the graph is upward sloping.  It indicates that interest rates increase with each longer maturity.  At the most basic...

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Investing Is Like Poker, Not Chess

Investing is like Chess, not Poker.

The former World Series of Poker champion, and now corporate consultant, Annie Duke, has written a wonderful book on decision making titled “Thinking in Bets, Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All The Facts.” The book opens with a story that many football fans have said is the worst play call in Super Bowl history. For those that may not remember, the Seattle Seahawks were down by 4 points with 26 seconds left in the game with the ball on the one-yard line. The head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, Pete Carroll, called a pass play instead of handing off the ball to one of the best running backs in the NFL. The pass was intercepted and the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl. When the details of the situation are clearly discussed in the book -- the number of downs and time outs left, along with the fact that not one of the sixty-six passes attempted from the one-yard line...

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Secure Act: What You Need to Know

It appears that concern over the retirement readiness of American workers has reached a point where both Houses of Congress are poised to pass new legislation with broad bipartisan support.  The House version of the legislation is called the SECURE Act and has twenty-six individual components impacting either an employer’s ability to offer retirement benefits to its employees or an employee’s ability to save more easily and effectively for retirement.  Here is a quick summary of the more impactful provisions: Employer related: Multiple-Employer Plans (MEP’s)- Small employers are often discouraged from offering retirement plans due to the corresponding cost and administrative burden.  The SECURE Act expands on previous efforts to allow small employers to band together to form Multiple-Employer Plans thereby sharing costs and admin duties.  The act broadens and liberalizes the rules allowing small firms that do not share a common geographic area, trade, industry, or profession to join the...

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Trade War Worries Strike Again

The trade war with China reared its ugly head again this month as the President announced a tariff increase from 10% to 25% on $200 billion of goods while also threatening 25% tariffs on an additional $325 billion of Chinese imports.  Beijing retaliated with a threat to raise tariffs from 10% to 25% on $60 billion of U.S. goods on June 1st. Unsurprisingly, the stock market did not like this new development. The global stock market has dropped approximately 4.5% since the announcement of increased tariffs. Throughout the first quarter, the stock market rallied on news of progress towards an agreement, with an estimate at one point of a trade deal structure that was 90% done.  The U.S. claims China is trying to renegotiate aspects of the deal they previously agreed to. The bond market has subsequently rallied as the U.S. 10-year treasury yield dropped from 2.54% down to 2.32% (bond values...

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