Archive For The “Finance” Category

Financial resolutions for 2020: The year for goal setting and secure planning

Financial resolutions for 2020: The year for goal setting and secure planning

By J. Kimberly Cantwell, Modern Woodmen of America

Most individuals establish resolutions for each New Year on the first day of January. While others are making promises to lose weight or fulfill bucket list wishes, let 2020 be the year you make a resolution to look at your retirement planning and set the goals necessary to make sure your future is financially secure.

Have you insured your life and hard-earned assets?

You don’t know if you’ll have a fender bender in the car or if there will be hail damage to the roof of your home, yet you probably have insurance for both. You have no idea if you’ll drop the cell phone and shatter the screen or accidentally drop it in a puddle of water, but you probably insure the cell phone.

To read more, pick up a copy of the January/February issue of LiveIt magazine.

It’s not too late for a  comfortable retirement

It’s not too late for a comfortable retirement

BY J. KIMBERLY CANTWELL, MODERN WOODMEN OF AMERICA

John and Linda didn’t have a lot of money to set aside while paying the mortgage and raising a family. Now that their kids are grown and the house is paid off, they’re concerned they may not have saved enough to retire in 10 years. Estimating how much money you’ll need in retirement – and figuring out how to save it – can be complex and confusing. Fewer than half of Americans know how much they should be saving, according to the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute. Most workers are saving too little or nothing at all.

Though LIMRA recommends saving a minimum of 10 percent of your income annually, four out of five workers are saving less. The average rate of saving is only six percent, LIMRA reports, leaving almost a third of pre-retirees (workers ages 55-70) with less than $100,000 for retirement. More than a third have less than $25,000. If you’ve fallen behind, catch-up contributions may help get your retirement savings back on track. Provisions in the IRS tax code allow people over age 50 to set aside extra money each year in certain savings plans, including 401(k) accounts, on top of normal contribution limits.

To read more, pick up a copy of the November/December issue of LiveIt magazine.

Protect your final wishes and your family’s peace of mind

Protect your final wishes and your family’s peace of mind

By J. Kimberly Cantwell, Modern Woodmen of America

Each of Laura’s siblings thought they knew their mother’s final wishes. However, when she became ill they couldn’t agree on her care. When she passed away, they struggled to divide what she left behind.

Like her mother, Laura doesn’t consider herself wealthy. Creating an estate plan seemed unnecessary. After being at odds with her siblings and paying a large portion of her inheritance in taxes, however, Laura’s reconsidering.

Your estate includes your car, home, bank accounts, investments, life insurance and personal belongings. Your estate plan determines how, when and to whom your assets will be distributed after your death.
To read more, pick up a copy of the September/October issue of LiveIt magazine.

Strategies for Your Investment Garden

Strategies for Your Investment Garden

If you’re a gardener, your busy season is at hand. Could the skills you deploy at gardening be transferred to other areas of your life – such as investing?

Here are a few ideas for doing just that:

Establish a timeline. As a gardener, you typically follow a well-defined timeline. You need to get the soil ready a few months before you want to plant, and you need to plant at different times, depending on what plants you choose. You even need to set up a schedule for watering, feeding, weeding and other garden care. As an investor, you may also need to observe a timeline.

During the early and middle stages of your career, you probably need to invest primarily for growth, so you can build resources for a comfortable retirement.

To read more, pick up a copy of the May/June issue of LiveIt magazine.

401K Roth vs. Traditional – Which is Right for You?

401K Roth vs. Traditional – Which is Right for You?

For many years, employees of companies that offered 401(k) plans only faced a couple of key decisions – how much to contribute and how to allocate their dollars among the various investment options in their plan. In recent years, a third choice has emerged: the traditional versus Roth 401(k). Which is right for you?

To begin with, you need to understand the key difference between the two types of 401(k) plans. When you invest in a traditional 401(k), you put in pre-tax dollars, so the more you contribute, the lower your taxable income.

Your contributions and earnings grow tax-deferred until you begin taking withdrawals, which will be taxed at your ordinary tax rate. With a Roth 401(k), the situation is essentially reversed. You contribute after-tax dollars, so you won’t lower your taxable income, but withdrawals of contributions and earnings are tax-free at age 59-1/2, as long as you’ve held the account at least five years.

To read more, pick up a copy of the March/April issue of LiveIt magazine.

Help protect vulnerable family members from scam artists

If you have older family members whose cognitive functions or decision-making abilities have declined, or who are lonely or recently widowed, you might need to help protect them against financial scams. What steps should you take?

First of all, try to gain a good sense of their overall financial activity. Look for red flags, such as a reluctance to discuss money matters, consistently unpaid bills, unexplained withdrawals, mysterious wire transfers or a sudden need to purchase large quantities of gift cards. And watch out for new “best friends” or caretakers who show an unusual interest in your loved one’s finances.

Whether or not you’ve observed any of these activities, you can help your elderly family members by making these moves:

Have checks (such as Social Security payments) directly deposited. You can help your family members avoid a lot of potential trouble by having their checks deposited directly into their bank accounts.
Seek permission to become a joint account owner. By becoming a joint account owner on your elderly family members’ checking and savings accounts, you can review statements for suspicious activity. Of course, your loved ones may be initially reluctant to add your name, but if you have a good relationship with them, you should be able to explain the benefits.

Shred bank statements, credit card offers and notices of lottery or sweepstakes winnings. One of the most useful gifts you can give to your elderly family members may be a shredder. Encourage them to use it to shred old bank statements, credit card offers and other financial documents.

Get on a “do not call” list. Telephone scammers are persistent and devious. By registering your family members’ house and cell phones at www.donotcall.gov, you may be able to reduce their exposure to unwanted calls.

Obtain power of attorney. By creating a power of attorney, your loved ones can designate you or another trusted relative or friend to assist with their finances now – for day-to-day assistance and protection from scammers – and later, should they become incapacitated. Again, you will need to employ some sensitivity when discussing this issue.

Check references of caretakers. As mentioned above, some caretakers are, unfortunately, dishonest. Before you hire one, check out this person’s references. And even when you do, be careful – scam artists have been known to use accomplices as references, so you will need to be thorough in your research and questions.

Get to know your family members’ financial advisors. If possible, become acquainted with your older family members’ financial advisors. Any reputable advisor will welcome a connection with their clients’ loved ones. And if you are involved in any estate plans, this multi-generational relationship will prove beneficial for everyone.

Ask to meet any new “friends” they have met online. When someone is lonely, they become vulnerable to online friendships. Sometimes, these new friends make promises of meeting, but never show – and then they suddenly need money for one reason or another.

It can be challenging to guard against all threats posed by the scammers of the world. But by staying alert and taking the appropriate preventive actions, you may be able to help safeguard your loved ones’ financial security.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

 

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