Martes, Oktubre 11, 2016

Guaranteed Income Important to Americans | AGT The Safe Money People

In the past, employer-sponsored pensions were much more common, and employees were encouraged to save more thanks to contribution matches. Now, 401(k)s are the leading retirement savings vehicle in the workplace, and self-directed savings, with varying degrees of employer matches, leave retirees’ financial futures all over the board.
As a result, more people lack the savings to last a lifetime when they leave the workforce. According to John Huff, the 2016 President of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, four out of 10 baby boomers have no retirement savings. None at all.

As you can imagine, this poses a challenge for financial professionals working with clients who have little to no assets but still need retirement income solutions. And it’s not just an issue for people who didn’t save. Others may have experienced losses in the securities markets or had to make substantial withdrawals during the recession.
To find a retirement income strategy that may be successful, financial professionals have gotten resourceful. Some financial professionals who once eschewed annuities are now taking a second look.

Just because people don’t have a lot of money saved for retirement doesn’t necessarily mean they have no assets. For example, some boomers may be out of cash but living in an oversized house they no longer need. In this scenario, homeowners who downsize before retirement could use some of the proceeds to purchase an annuity that will provide a guaranteed stream of income during retirement.

Others may have either received, or expect to receive, a modest inheritance and can use an annuity to convert that fixed amount into a lifetime of retirement income.
While it’s becoming more common for financial professionals to recommend annuities, employers are still warming up to the idea. Eight in 10 U.S. employees say they’d like to have a guaranteed income option in their defined contribution plan, but only 50 percent of employers understand this — and less than 1 percent offer it.

The appeal of pensions was that they did more for retirees than just provide retirement income; they provided peace of mind. The same can be said of annuities. In fact, nine out of 10 affluent households with annuities say they’re confident in their retirement.

Martes, Setyembre 27, 2016

8 Tips to Help Seniors Conquer Stress - AGT The Safe Money People

As boomers retire from their jobs at unprecedented rates in the U.S., you’d think they’d be spending their free time with friends, lingering over the morning newspaper and coffee or taking January vacations in a warm place. But many seniors are finding themselves in a predicament that few anticipate in retirement: parenting for a second time. Census reports indicate that 2.7 million grandparents are responsible for their grandchildren. Their added duties may be fulfilling, but they may be stressful, too.
In fact, many things can trigger stress among retired adults — paying bills on a fixed income, failing health, caring for ill parents or spouses, or even grandparenting. Excessive stress can lead to serious health problems.
“When stressed, the body releases substances such as cortisol and adrenaline that affect every organ and can cause muscle tension, insulin secretion and increased heart rate,” said Arthur Hayward, M.D., a geriatrician and the clinical lead physician for elder care with Kaiser Permanente’s Care Management Institute.
“You can’t avoid stress, but managing it can help preserve your health and well-being,” Dr. Hayward added. He recommends identifying and understanding the cause of your stress and finding ways to relieve it, such as these eight tips:
  1. Pace yourself. Don’t take on too much. Be aware of your limitations.
  2. Set realistic goals and expectations, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  3. Plan time for yourself. Recharge your batteries.
  4. Exercise and eat a balanced diet. Get plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  5. Try relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga.
  6. Get enough sleep. If you have problems sleeping, talk to your doctor. Drinking caffeinated beverages and alcohol can affect your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
  7. Talk with a loved one or write in a journal.
  8. Stay positive. Positive thoughts can make a difference, such as “I am hopeful” or “Things will be better.”
For more information, go For questions or advice about a specific condition, talk to your physician.

Huwebes, Setyembre 22, 2016

5 After Tax Balance Rules for Retirement Accounts - AGT The Safe Money People

Most retirement plan participants use pretax assets to fund their employer-sponsored plans such as 401(k) and 403(b) accounts, or they claim a tax deduction for amounts contributed to their Traditional IRAs. In both cases, these contributions can help to reduce the individual’s taxable income for the year to which the contribution applies. However, it is also possible to contribute amounts to employer-sponsored plans on an after-tax basis, and for IRAs, contributions can be non-deductible. The advantage of accumulating after-tax assets in a retirement account is that when they are distributed, the amounts will be tax- and penalty-free. However, this benefit is realized only if the necessary steps are taken.

Keeping Track of Your After-Tax Assets


Reaping the benefits of this strategy starts with good record-keeping and clear communication with your plan administrator and the IRS.

Your Qualified Plan Account

The administrator for your qualified plan is responsible for keeping track of which portion of your balance is attributed to after-tax assets and pretax assets. However, it helps if you check your statements periodically to ensure that the tabulations match what you think they should be. This will allow you to clarify possible discrepancies with the plan administrator.

Your IRA

Your IRA custodian is not required to keep track of the after-tax balance in your IRA, and most, if not all, do not. As the owner of the IRA, you are responsible for keeping track of such balances, and this can be accomplished by filing IRS Form 8606.

If you make a non-deductible contribution to your Traditional IRA, or roll over after-tax assets from your qualified plan account to your IRA, you must file IRS Form 8606 for the year the amount is contributed to the IRA. While the IRS does not currently require Form 8606 to be filed for rollover of after-tax amounts, it may be a good idea to record such amounts for your records. Form 8606 lets the IRS know that the amount represents after-tax assets, and it helps you keep track of the balance of your IRA that should be tax-free when distributed. Form 8606 must also be filed for any year in which distributions occur from any of your Traditional, SEP or SIMPLE IRAs and you have accumulated after-tax amounts in any of these accounts. Make sure you read the important filing instructions that accompany Form 8606 – they provide details on the sections of the form that must be completed.

Tax Treatment of After-Tax Assets


Qualified Plans

Generally, your plan administrator will indicate the taxable portion of amounts distributed from your qualified plan account on the Form 1099-R that you receive for the year. If the amount is not properly indicated on the 1099-R, you may want to request written confirmation from the plan administrator of the portion of the distribution that is attributable to after-tax assets. This will help to ensure you include the correct amount in your taxable income for the year.


With the exception of ‘return of excess contributions,’ your IRA custodian is not required to make a distinction between the taxable and non-taxable portion of amounts distributed from your Traditional IRA. You must provide that information on your income tax return by indicating the entire amount of the distribution versus the amount that is taxable. For more information, see the instructions for line 15a of IRS Form 1040. The aforementioned Form 8606 will help you determine the taxable and non-taxable portions of amounts distributed from your Traditional IRA.

Pro-Rata Treatment of Distributions

If your qualified plan or 403(b) account or Traditional IRA includes after-tax amounts, distributions usually include a pro-rata amount of your pretax and after-tax balance. For this purpose, all of your Traditional, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs are treated as one account. For instance, assume that you made an average of $20,000 in after-tax contributions to your Traditional IRA over the years and your Traditional IRA also includes pretax assets of $180,000, attributed to rollover of pretax assets and deductible contributions. Distributions from your IRA will include a pro-rata amount of pretax and after-tax assets. Let’s look at an example using these numbers.


John has several IRAs, which consist of the following balances:
§  Traditional IRA No. 1, which includes his non-deductible (after-tax) contributions of $20,000
§  Traditional IRA No. 2, which includes a rollover from his 401(k) plan in the amount of $150,000
§  Traditional IRA No. 3, which is really a SEP IRA, which includes SEP contributions of $30,000
Total $200,000
In 2013, John withdraws $20,000 from IRA No. 1. John must include $18,000 as taxable income from the $20,000 he withdrew. This is because all of John’s Traditional, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs are treated as one IRA for the purposes of determining the tax treatment of distributions, when John has basis (after-tax assets) in any of his Traditional, SEP or SIMPLE IRAs.

The following formula can be used to determine the amount of a distribution that will be treated as non-taxable:

Basis / Account Balance x Distribution Amount = Amount Not Subject To Tax

Using the figures in the example above, the formula would work as follows:
$20,000 / $200,000 x $20,000 = $2,000

Since IRS Form 8606 includes a built-in formula to determine the taxable amount of distributions from your Traditional IRAs, you may not need to use this formula for distributions from your IRA.
For qualified plan accounts that include a balance of after-tax amounts, distributions are usually pro-rated to include amounts from pretax and after-tax balance. This means that, similar to IRAs, you can’t choose to distribute only your after-tax balance. However, certain exceptions apply. For instance, if your account includes after-tax balances accrued before 1986, these amounts may be distributed in full, resulting in the entire amounts being non-taxable, rather than being pro-rated.

Rollover of After-Tax Balance


If your retirement account balance includes after-tax amounts, whether these amounts can be rolled over depends on the type of plan to which the rollover is being made.

The following is a summary of the rollover rules for these amounts:

§  IRA to IRA: All rollover eligible amounts can be rolled over to an IRA. This includes after-tax amounts.
§  IRA to Qualified Plan/403(b): All rollover eligible amounts can be rolled over to a qualified plan/403(b), provided the plan allows it. However, this does not include after-tax amounts – such amounts cannot be rolled from an IRA to a qualified plan/403(b).
§  Qualified Plan/403(b) to Traditional IRA: All rollover eligible amounts can be rolled over to a Traditional IRA. This includes after-tax amounts.
§  Qualified Plan/403(b) to Qualified Plan/403(b): All rollover eligible amounts can be rolled over to another qualified plan/403(b), provided the plan allows it. This includes after-tax amounts, provided these amounts are transacted as direct rollovers.

The Bottom Line


Bear in mind, this is just an overview of the rules that apply to your after-tax balance in your retirement account. Having a thorough understanding of the rules will ensure that you include the right amount in your taxable income for the year you receive a distribution from your retirement account, thereby not paying taxes on amounts that should be tax-free. As always, be sure to consult your tax professional for assistance to make sure that your after-tax assets are treated correctly on your tax return, and so that you know what tax forms to file each year.

Martes, Setyembre 6, 2016

Consider Going Back-to-School Post-Retirement - AGT The Safe Money Poeple

This fall, young people aren’t the only ones who are going back to school. Many colleges and universities have made it easier for older folks to get a degree, and retirees across the country are taking advantage.
People aged 65 and older currently make up a little more than 13 percent of the U.S. population and as the Baby Boomers age into senior-dom, that number will surely rise. 

While retirement may bring the promise of a warmer climate and all-day golf outings, many seniors are opting to go back to school either for their own personal enrichment or to work towards a degree.
According to an article recently published in the Chicago Tribune, Shimer College, is opening up it’s classrooms to people over the age of 60 for free. A small liberal arts school in Chicago, the hundred or so students at Shimer have the option to participate in a Great Books program that includes the works of Shakespeare, Kafka, Marx, Einstein, and Nietzsche.

“One of the things that is important to make that happen is to have a lot of different perspectives in the classroom,” said Shimer spokeswoman Isabella Winkler. “It is always valuable to have generational differences. We wanted to open the classes to senior residents who might have a desire to get involved in this sort of conversation. It would benefit our students as well.”

Shimer isn’t the only college that sees the benefit in class discussions having generational differences. All of the public universities and colleges in Texas now offer a tuition reduction program for people 55 or older. And the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board provides a tuition exemption for Texas residents who are older than 65 years of age and want to audit classes at a public university. Aside from having to be a Texas resident and enroll at a participating university, this program requires that seniors “enroll in a class that is not already filled with students who are paying full price for their courses. (If the class is too small to accommodate both regular students and senior citizens, the regular students must be given priority.)”

A similar program is offered at on both campuses of Florida Atlantic University (Boca Raton and Jupiter) called the Lifelong Learning Society. The program was created in 1980 in Boca Raton and then extended to the Jupiter campus in 1997. The LLS program is offered from October through June and FAU professors teach all the courses, which range in subjects from foreign policy, music, art, philosophy, current events, and more.

According to the FAU website, “This community of learners with no age threshold enjoys a diverse and creative curriculum, along with concerts and entertainment. In establishing this program, FAU recognized the still unfulfilled demand for educational and intellectual stimulation for adults who are beyond the traditional university years.”

And in the entire state of California, you can attend one of the 23 state universities for free, regardless of income, through their Over 60 Program. Of the roughly 433,000 students who attend a public university in California, only about 1000 of them are participants in the Over 60 Program.

In a blog post on the San Jose State University website, Timothy Fitzgerald, 67, who, while living on Social Security and disability benefits has completed five degrees and three Master’s degrees at SJSU, was quoted as saying:

“I see it as a benefit that the state can offer older citizens, helping us pursue a life of the mind. I never would have had an opportunity to go to school unless there was support for tuition. I do not want to sit on the sidelines.”

And thanks to the many public programs that promote education for older adults, no one has to sit on the sidelines during their post-retirement years.
To see what your state might have to offer check out the Senior Citizen Guide for College blog.


Huwebes, Agosto 18, 2016

Are Baby Boomers too optimistic about retirement? AGT The Safe Money People

If you’re a Baby Boomer within sight of age 65, you’re probably thinking about your next move—and it may well be a career change instead of a traditional kick-back-and-relax retirement. Among 1,005 Boomers who haven’t yet left their full-time careers, 60% expect to keep working at least part-time after they “retire,” says a study from Bankers Life’s Center for a SecureRetirement.

The job market is ready for them. Of the 2,293 Boomers in the study who have already retired but have found other work, 80% reported it was “easy” to find the jobs they have now.

“As the next wave of Boomers retires, the competition is likely to intensify,” says Bankers Life president Scott Goldberg. “But, with part-time and freelance roles becoming more prevalent in the overall job market, there is good evidence to suggest that future retirees will have an even greater number of positions to consider, even if the competition for those roles gets more intense.”

Great, but anyone contemplating what lies ahead might want to consider two of the study’s less cheerful findings. First, it seems that most people overestimate their ability to choose when they retire. Nearly seven in ten (69%) of middle-income retirees would have liked to have stayed longer in their old careers, but had to leave earlier than they planned for “reasons beyond their control,” the report says—most commonly because of health problems (39%), being laid off (19%), or to care for a loved one (9%).

Second, Boomers’ expectations about what they’ll be able to earn in their post-retirement careers seem overly optimistic. Only about one in five (21%) of the people in the survey who are still working in their primary careers say they’d be “willing to take a pay cut” when they move on to another job in retirement. That doesn’t jibe with the experience of current retirees who are working, almost three-quarters (72%) of whom report earning less on an hourly basis now than they did in their old roles. More than half (53%) say they make “much less.”

That doesn’t mean they’re unhappy. About 80% of the people who retired and then found new jobs say they like their current careers better than their old ones. They also report less stress and “better relationships” than the Boomers surveyed who haven’t retired yet.

Even so, the study’s message is clear. Given your druthers, you might stay in your pre-retirement career until you’re 65, 70, or beyond, and then move on to something that pays equally well. But, just in case that doesn’t work out, it’s smart to have a Plan B.
AGT is here to help plan that option B

Linggo, Hulyo 10, 2016

8 Tips to Help Seniors Conquer Stress - AGT The Safe Money People

As boomers retire from their jobs at unprecedented rates in the U.S., you’d think they’d be spending their free time with friends, lingering over the morning newspaper and coffee or taking January vacations in a warm place. But many seniors are finding themselves in a predicament that few anticipate in retirement: parenting for a second time. Census reports indicate that 2.7 million grandparents are responsible for their grandchildren. Their added duties may be fulfilling, but they may be stressful, too.
In fact, many things can trigger stress among retired adults — paying bills on a fixed income, failing health, caring for ill parents or spouses, or even grandparenting. Excessive stress can lead to serious health problems.
“When stressed, the body releases substances such as cortisol and adrenaline that affect every organ and can cause muscle tension, insulin secretion and increased heart rate,” said Arthur Hayward, M.D., a geriatrician and the clinical lead physician for elder care with Kaiser Permanente’s Care Management Institute.
“You can’t avoid stress, but managing it can help preserve your health and well-being,” Dr. Hayward added. He recommends identifying and understanding the cause of your stress and finding ways to relieve it, such as these eight tips:
  1. Pace yourself. Don’t take on too much. Be aware of your limitations.
  2. Set realistic goals and expectations, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  3. Plan time for yourself. Recharge your batteries.
  4. Exercise and eat a balanced diet. Get plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  5. Try relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga.
  6. Get enough sleep. If you have problems sleeping, talk to your doctor. Drinking caffeinated beverages and alcohol can affect your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
  7. Talk with a loved one or write in a journal.
  8. Stay positive. Positive thoughts can make a difference, such as “I am hopeful” or “Things will be better.”
For more information, go For questions or advice about a specific condition, talk to your physician.

How To Secure Income For Retirement | AGT The Safe Money People

Ten thousand Americans a day are turning 65, including a couple we’ll call Stu and Helen. In excellent health, Stu and Helen could be facing a retirement of 30 years — or even longer. One of their biggest fears about their impending retirement is their potential longevity — and running out of money to not only pay their bills, but enjoy their free time.

Stu and Helen participated in their companies’ 401(k) plans. Like many workers, neither has a traditional pension, so they are solely responsible for their own retirement security.

Fortunately, couples like Stu and Helen have options for creating a “personal pension.” By using some of their savings to purchase an annuity, they can guarantee a steady stream of income for life.

With an immediate annuity, they can make a lump-sum payment to a life insurance company, and the company will send them their choice of monthly, quarterly or annual payments. They can choose to receive the income payments over a specified number of years or as a guaranteed stream of income they can never outlive.

They could also consider purchasing a deferred annuity, which allows savings to grow tax-deferred during an accumulation phase until they decide when payouts begin. People who are years away from retirement — or who are retired but don’t need income right away — might choose this type of annuity.
With a deferred annuity they decide how their money grows during the accumulation phase. A fixed annuity earns interest at a guaranteed rate. An index annuity is tied to a market index like the S&P 500 stock price index.

Surveys show that 90 percent of annuity owners think annuities are an effective way to save for retirement. And annuities are among the most regulated financial products in the marketplace. From product development to advertising to sales, life insurers must comply with state and federal laws and rules that help prevent fraud and protect consumers. In addition, most states provide a “free look” period allowing customers to return annuities to the insurance company for a full or partial refund.

Planning for retirement can be stressful. But for retirees like Stu and Helen, the guaranteed income from annuities can provide peace-of-mind for a lifetime.

Biyernes, Hunyo 3, 2016

4 Steps to Building an Emergency Fund - AGT The Safe Money People

Ben Franklin once declared, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Yet, equally enlightening are his thoughts on expenses: “Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.”

And there are plenty of “leaks” that can scuttle an already-tight budget. For instance, a spouse idled by the sour economy, a fender bender with the family car, or an unexpected hospitalization. That’s why financial advisors recommend that you have a rainy-day fund—enough liquid assets to cover three to six months’ worth of emergency living expenses. In case of financial emergency, access to additional money will save you from relying on credit cards or loans that simply compound the problem.

When starting an emergency fund, here are a few tips to abide by:

1.    Determine what amount is best for you. Most experts agree that you should keep between three and six months worth of your living expenses set aside in your emergency fund. Your specific situation – whether you have children, carry substantial debt and types of insurance coverage you have – will determine what amount is best for you. Examine your situation — your income and your needs — to decide how much you should save.

2.    Start small. Starting an emergency fund can be as simple as depositing $100 into your high-interest savings account. But before you begin, be sure that you’re meeting your basic living expenses. And as you build your emergency fund, be sure you’re also reducing your spending and avoiding debt.

3.    Stick to a schedule. Get into the habit of making regular deposits. Whether it is weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, create a schedule and stick to it. Once you make saving automatic, you won’t even have to think about it.

4.    Consider an online savings account. In many cases, an “online” savings account may make more sense than an account at a traditional, bricks-and-mortar bank. That’s because many traditional banks are not currently offering a savings option with interest rates high enough to meaningfully beat inflation. In addition, an online savings account is a reliable way to manage your money.

Linggo, Mayo 15, 2016

A Guide to Enrolling in Medicare When You Become Eligible

You know you’ll be eligible for Medicare when you turn 65, but what does that mean? More than 10,000 people age into Medicare eligibility every day, but many have questions about how to enroll and which plan will best meet their health and budget needs. Medicare provides important benefits for people who qualify, including preventive care, hospital care and even prescription drug coverage. While there are multiple plan choices available, selecting the right Medicare plan may be easier than you think. It’s important to note that people who are recently disabled — and haven’t turned 65 — may also qualify to enroll in Medicare. The disabled segment of the population is growing.

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the disabled now total some 5 million Medicare beneficiaries. To determine if you or a family member may be newly eligible for Medicare, visit or call toll-free 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY: 1-877-486-2048) 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Enrolling in a timely manner is also important in order to avoid potential financial penalties. Equipped with the correct information, people qualifying for Medicare can select the plan that best suits their lifestyle and health care needs. Here’s what you need to know: Anyone who has legally lived in the United States for the past five years qualifies for Medicare at the age of 65. People eligible for Medicare have three options: Original Medicare,

Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage. Original Medicare is broken into two parts — A and B. Medicare Part A helps cover hospital expenses, and Part B helps cover everyday health care costs like doctor visits, outpatient care and some Part B prescription medications. Both Parts A and B have a deductible, as well as coinsurance once the deductible is met. Medicare Supplement insurance plans, sold by private insurers, can help pay some of the health care costs that Original Medicare doesn’t pay, like copayments, coinsurance and deductibles. If you have Original Medicare and you buy a Medicare Supplement plan, Medicare will pay its share of the Medicare-approved amount for covered health care costs. Then, your Medicare Supplement plan pays its share. Medicare Supplement plans, however, do not cover prescription drug costs. Medicare Advantage plans are run by private insurance companies, and all plans cover everything Original Medicare plans pay, as well as extra benefits and services.

Medicare Advantage plans often include coverage for prescription drugs, vision and dental benefits, along with fitness programs and comprehensive preventive care. More than 16 million Americans have signed up for Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Part D provides prescription drug coverage for people with Medicare. These plans are available as standalone plans or as part of an all-in-one Medicare Advantage plan. Some Medicare Advantage plans, however, are sold without Part D included. Enrolling in the right Medicare plan is an important decision, and by understanding the facts, you can navigate the process with ease.

For more information about Medicare plans and their coverage, or call a licensed Humana sales agent toll-free at 1-844-663-8090 (TTY: 711) between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.


Linggo, Abril 17, 2016

Retirement - It Just Might Be Good For Your Health | AGT The Safe Money People

If you’re contemplating retirement, you’ve probably given a lot of thought to its impact on your finances. But have you considered how retiring might affect your health? The latest in the debate over whether retirement improves or worsens health appears in the current issue of The Journal of Human Resources. Its conclusion: “Results indicate that the retirement effect on health is beneficial and significant,” writes Michael Insler, an assistant professor of economics at the U.S. Naval Academy. The boost to your health is comparable to reducing the risk of being diagnosed with diabetes by 25%, for those of retirement age, Insler concludes. Better Health Behaviors In an interview with Next Avenue, Insler acknowledged that his conclusion “in some sense is counterintuitive,” since, he says, a common notion is that “oh, people retire and they kind of lose their will to go on.” If retirement does benefit health, why is that so? “I think the obvious hypothetical answers to that question are health behaviors,” says Insler. Retirees have more time to invest in their health, he writes in the Journal. “It may be easier for them to quit smoking or to be more physically active when not burdened by the work-week grind.” Insler based his findings on an analysis of data from the University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, which surveys a representative sample of 26,000 Americans over age 50 every other year. He found that of the respondents who ever reported smoking, about 69% reported doing so in the survey that took place two to four years before they retired. But only about 56% said they were still smoking two to four years after they retired. Insler also found that people were more likely after retirement to exercise vigorously for at least 30 minutes three or more days a week. Two to four years before retirement, about 48% of survey respondents said they exercised that much; that proportion increased to nearly 52% two to four years into retirement. Same Data, Different Conclusions But what if you really love your work? Might not retirement make you “lose your will to go on,” as Insler put it? “Job satisfaction isn’t really something that I looked closely at,” he says. “It could be part of the story.” But, Insler says, “It’s less about your stress and satisfaction and more about the time you devote to your health upkeep.” Although Inas Rashad Kelly and her co-authors used the same Health and Retirement Study data as Insler did, their analysis reached a different conclusion. In a paper published in 2008, they found that retirement affected health adversely. The fact that their conclusions based on the same data set diverged from Insler’s “points to the complex and multifaceted nature of the issue at hand,” Rashad Kelly, an associate professor of economics at Queens College, part of the City University of New York, told Next Avenue. Social Security Age Retirement’s negative effect on health was especially strong among people who were forced, or encouraged, to retire and those who said they weren’t particularly enjoying their spouse’s company, Rashad Kelly and her co-authors found. But the effect was weaker among retirees who said they voluntarily retired, had stressful jobs, remained physically active and continued to socialize. Economists trying to assess the ramifications of raising the age at which retirees can begin collecting Social Security are especially interested in whether health improves or declines in retirement. If retirement exacerbates common, expensive health problems, then raising the eligibility age for Social Security might make sense. Such a move could help encourage people to work longer, reducing the strain on Social Security and Medicare. If health tends to improve after retirement, however, then getting people to continue working by raising the eligibility age for Social Security might reduce expenditures for that program but shift them to Medicare. “We conclude that raising the retirement age for Social Security purposes may not have been such a bad thing,” Rashad Kelly says. “Yet we certainly do not propose altering the age one begins to receive much-needed health care through Medicare, and our results do not suggest that Medicare costs will go up on average if people work longer.” Insler emphasized that it’s difficult to predict the health effects of retirement on individuals. “I’m trying to calculate an average impact for a population,” he says. “Does it mean it will necessarily happen to them? No.”

Linggo, Abril 10, 2016

Tips To Stay Mentally Healthy | AGT The Safe Money People

Enjoying mental health means having a sense of well-being, being able to function during everyday life and feeling confident to rise to a challenge when the opportunity arises. Just like your physical health, there are actions you can take to increase your mental health. Boost your well-being and stay mentally healthy by following a few simple steps. Connect with others. Develop and maintain strong relationships with people around you who will support and enrich your life. The quality of our personal relationships has a great effect on our well-being. Putting time and effort into building strong relationships can bring great rewards. Take time to enjoy. Set aside time for activities, hobbies and projects you enjoy. Let yourself be spontaneous and creative when the urge takes you. Do a crossword; take a walk in your local park; read a book; sew a quilt; draw pictures with your kids; play with your pets – whatever takes your fancy. Participate and share interests.Join a club or group of people who share your interests. Being part of a group of people with a common interest provides a sense of belonging and is good for your mental health. Join a sports club; a band; an evening walking group; a dance class; a theatre or choir group; a book or car club. Contribute to your community.Volunteer your time for a cause or issue that you care about. Help out a neighbor, work in a community garden or do something nice for a friend. There are many great ways to contribute that can help you feel good about yourself and your place in the world. An effort to improve the lives of others is sure to improve your life too. Take care of yourself. Be active and eat well – these help maintain a healthy body. Physical and mental health are closely linked; it’s easier to feel good about life if your body feels good. You don’t have to go to the gym to exercise – gardening, vacuuming, dancing and bush-walking all count. Combine physical activity with a balanced diet to nourish your body and mind and keep you feeling good, inside and out. Challenge yourself. Learn a new skill or take on a challenge to meet a goal. You could take on something different at work; commit to a fitness goal or learn to cook a new recipe. Learning improves your mental fitness, while striving to meet your own goals builds skills and confidence and gives you a sense of progress and achievement. Deal with stress. Be aware of what triggers your stress and how you react. You may be able to avoid some of the triggers and learn to prepare for or manage others. Stress is a part of life and affects people in different ways. It only becomes a problem when it makes you feel uncomfortable or distressed. A balanced lifestyle can help you manage stress better. If you have trouble winding down, you may find that relaxation breathing, yoga or meditation can help. Rest and refresh. Get plenty of sleep. Go to bed at a regular time each day and practice good habits to get better sleep. Sleep restores both your mind and body. However, feelings of fatigue can still set in if you feel constantly rushed and overwhelmed when you are awake. Allow yourself some unfocused time each day to refresh; for example, let your mind wander, daydream or simply watch the clouds go by for a while. It’s OK to add do nothing’ to your to-do list! Notice the here and now. Take a moment to notice each of your senses each day. Simply ‘be’ in the moment – feel the sun and wind on your face and notice the air you are breathing. It’s easy to be caught up thinking about the past or planning for the future instead of experiencing the present. Practicing mindfulness, by focusing your attention on being in the moment, is a good way to do this. Making a conscious effort to be aware of your inner and outer world is important for your mental health. Ask for help. This can be as simple as asking a friend to babysit while you have some time out or speaking to your doctor (GP) about where to find a counselor or community mental health service. The perfect, worry-free life does not exist. Everyone’s life journey has bumpy bits and the people around you can help. If you don’t get the help you need first off, keep asking until you do.

Linggo, Marso 27, 2016

Take the Leap: How Does a 366-Day Year Affect Payroll?

Is it possible to have two leap years back to back? For HR and payroll professionals, the answer is yes with two anomalous payroll years in a row. With 27 pay periods in 2015 and 366 days in 2016, employers should review their payroll and employment tax practices, and communicate with employees about any potential impact to their paychecks. Most employers have already decided how they’ll address the extra pay period occurring in 2015, but some employees could still have questions. While some employers will divide a salaried employee’s yearly payment total by one extra period (for example: a worker’s typical salary would be divided between 27 bi-weekly payments as opposed to the usual 26), others may elect to pay their employees for an extra pay period at their regular rate of pay. An unchanged yearly payment stretched over an extra pay period will help keep payroll costs stable, but it means that employees will see lower payments each period than they may have expected. On the other hand, one extra paycheck at the usual rate means a plus for employees, but it also increases payroll totals on the year. Just as HR professionals put the irregularity of 2015 behind them, 2016 will bring a calendar leap year and yet another payroll quandary. Employers will need to make sure they’re complying with any payroll tax implications of the unusual payroll year. With leap day falling on Monday, February 29, 2016, many salaried workers may wonder how their compensation will be affected and ask, “Is the company getting an extra day of work for free?” “TODAY” addressed this question during the last leap year in 2012; it turns out the answer depends on your current pay practices. A typical year has 52 weeks plus one day, but a leap year has 52 weeks plus two days. That extra day could mean another paycheck for employees if it falls on a designated payday in your payroll system. For businesses using accrual accounting systems, the extra day could be built in to the yearly total, and for hourly workers, it will mean an additional opportunity to log hours. Discussing how your business will account for the leap year with your workers can help reduce confusion. No matter your payroll structure, be ready to explain the implications of a leap year with any concerned employees and make sure your employment tax processing accounts for any changes your payroll team makes for 2016.

Huwebes, Pebrero 11, 2016

4 Tips for Financially Independent Women | AGT The Safe Money People

Is there a meaningful difference in the way men and women consider money? There is, according to a study published in a recent issue of Social Indicators Research.

Women associate money with love and emotion, according to the research, while men are twice as likely to link finances to independence and power. While the differences are not mutually exclusive, researcher’s hope the general findings will help people better understand their relationship with money, which may lead to better-informed financial decisions.

“Also, it’s helpful to remember that, historically, women haven’t had control of their own financial destiny; and that includes many women who are retired today,” says Leah Miller, a financial and Medicare expert, and CEO of Red Anchor Wealth Management (

“Despite the fact that women control most of the economy today and tend to be the CFO of most households, many continue to get the short end of the stick – especially when it comes to retirement. Women live longer and are often the ones to find out that they’ve outlived their money.”
Speaking directly to women, Miller offers context on how to face emotionally the stress of financial planning for retirement.

Make the most of your time on this Earth. 

A long life shouldn’t be a bad thing. If you’re married with a husband, you’ll likely enjoy many years together sharing Social Security, a pension or IRA income and other sources. However, much of that money won’t be there should you outlive your husband. Many women may be prone to avoiding thoughts of life after their spouse moves on. While that may be romantic in a sense, Miller says, it is highly impractical if you’re trying to live a long and fulfilling life.

Money keeps women up at night.

People don’t like to think about the things that cause them pain. For women, the stress of an uncertain financial future is a huge pain. While there is a way to feel much better about this uncertainty, millions of women avoid troubleshooting this latent and palpable stressor. It’s like someone who is desperate to lose weight but is too afraid to step on the scale.

Anxiety is worse than actually taking care of the problem (getting started). 

If you are the family chief financial officer, then abstracting a future budget is an easy step to start with. The important goal of retirement planning is to craft an income stream that will sustainably support your needs, so start accounting now. Make a balance sheet that includes your savings account, retirement accounts, 401(k) plans, investment real estate, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities, cash value life insurance and other assets. Then break it down further by pre-tax and post tax-accounts.

Don’t take your estate for granted; beware the pre-Medicare timeframe.

Some women have it better than others, but beware of overconfidence, because you can fall ill anytime. For example, the average couple who retires at age 62 will spend $17,000 out-of-pocket on health care each year until they enroll in Medicare. And, that’s basically the cost of the premium, so even in good health the price is very high. A nice nest egg in combination with other assets can be depleted rapidly with insufficient Long Term Care insurance.

“Some of these considerations may be unpleasant, but what’s the alternative?” Miller says. “Don’t bury your stressful feelings. Instead, do something about it. You’ll feel better and you’ll be better off as you move forward.”

Huwebes, Pebrero 4, 2016

Tips for Affordable Traveling in 2016 | AGT The Safe Money People

If travel is a part of your plan for the new year, 2016 looks to be a good time to do it. You don’t have to break the bank, but if you do want to save cash it’s all about where you’re going and how you book getting there.

Planning is key to saving money on travel. NBC Charlotte spoke with Sarah Gavin with Expedia. She says you can save up to 36 percent by booking at least 21 days out.

For domestic travel, you’ll save the most by booking 57 days out. For international flights, you’ll get the best deals by booking 150 to 170 days in advance. You can also save more money by searching for flights on specific days of the week.

Right now, Gavin says the weekend is the best time to get online and book your flights. Gavin says if you are planning international travel, certain destinations will save you more money. She says 2016 will be a good year to fly to Asia because the cost is down about 15 percent from last year. It’s also a good time to go to Europe.
Fuel prices are down, and Gavin says the airlines are passing on the savings.

Another tip for getting the most for your money, Gavin says to bundle your flight and hotel just like you bundle your cable and internet. She says you can save about 20 percent, which is about $570 for the average trip. For resort destinations, the savings are even higher. You can save between $800 and $1100 on a week-long trip.

Lunes, Pebrero 1, 2016

Changes to Social Security – Primarily the file & suspend strategy | AGT The Safe Money People

Congress is putting an end to two Social Security filing strategies that many couples have used to add tens of thousands of dollars to their retirement incomes. But there’s a six-month window in which couples who are at least 66 years old can take advantage of them, as well as a partial reprieve for some others.

The implications of the new Social Security rules became clearer Friday after the Senate passed the budget bill that includes the changes. The measure will become law after President Barack Obama signs it.

The strategies under fire—known as file-and-suspend and a restricted application for spousal benefits—have made it possible for both members of a couple who are 66 or older to delay claiming benefits based on their own earnings records while one pockets a so-called spousal benefit based on the other’s earnings.

To do this, one individual files for benefits and suspends them, while the other files a restricted application to collect only a spousal benefit—not his or her own earned benefit even if it would be higher. That way, both individuals can take advantage of delayed retirement credits, which increase their earned benefits by 6% to 8% for each year in which they defer claiming between the ages of 66 and 70—and one gets some income from Social Security in the meantime.

Combined, the strategies can boost lifetime retirement income by as much as $60,000 or more, says William Meyer, chief executive of, a service that identifies Social Security claiming strategies likely to yield the highest amount over a beneficiary’s life span.

While the new law shuts down the two strategies, some people can still take advantage of them—provided they act fast. For those for whom the strategies will be off limits, meanwhile, claiming decisions may become less complicated but also less lucrative.

Here’s what you need to know:
A six-month window before new rules kick in.

Under the new law, individuals will still have the ability to suspend their benefits. But Social Security will no longer allow relatives to submit a new claim for spousal or dependent child benefits based on the earnings record of a worker who has suspended his or her own benefits. However, that provision won’t go into effect for six months from the date President Obama signs the budget bill.

As a result, if you are 66 or older now—or will turn 66 within the next six months—there might be an advantage in filing and immediately suspending your benefit. That would give a spouse who is also 66 or older the option to file a restricted application for only a spousal benefit and receive that benefit while both of you delay claiming on your own records. But both you and your spouse must act within the six-month window.

There’s a similar window for individuals at full retirement age who have children under age 18 or disabled adult children. Those who are 66 or older—or will turn 66 within the next six months—can file-and-suspend so their children can claim dependent benefits. Again, both parties need to take action within six months.

If you won’t turn 66 until after the six-month window closes, your relatives won’t receive a dime unless you are already receiving your benefits, says Web Phillips, senior legislative representative at the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, a nonprofit advocacy group.
Some people get a break.

Families who are already using these strategies will be grandfathered. Their benefits will not be changed or interrupted due to the legislation, says Mr. Phillips.
Also, if you turned 62 this year or are older, you will still be able to file a restricted application for only a spousal benefit starting at age 66. This will allow you to receive a spousal benefit while you defer claiming your own benefit so that it can grow larger.

After file-and-suspend is phased out in six months, to take advantage of this, your spouse must already be claiming a benefit, said Michael Kitces, director of planning research at Pinnacle Advisory Group Inc. in Columbia, Md.

When married individuals apply for a retirement benefit other than with a restricted application, they are deemed to have filed for both their own earned benefit and a spousal benefit, and will receive whichever is higher, instead of having a choice to get one and switch to the other later.

Flexibility on retirement vs. survivor benefits remains.

Generally, widows and widowers won’t be affected by the new law, says Mr. Meyer. And individuals who are eligible for both earned and survivor benefits will continue to have a couple of claiming strategies open to them, making careful comparison worthwhile.

Starting at age 60, a survivor can take a reduced benefit based on his or her deceased spouse’s benefit—and then switch to his or her own benefit later if it is higher. Alternatively, the survivor can start with his or her own benefit as early as age 62 and then switch to a full survivor benefit at full retirement age.

One of these strategies is often better than simply sticking with one benefit or the other.
If you’re divorced.

The restricted-application changes also apply to people who are divorced.
Under current law, a divorced individual who is 66 or older and was married at least 10 years but is currently unmarried can claim a benefit based on the ex-spouse’s earnings record while allowing his or her own benefit to grow. A former spouse is generally entitled to file such a claim once an ex turns 62, says Mr. Phillips.

But under the new law, only those who turned 62 this year or are older will be able to file to do this when they turn 66. Younger divorced people will receive either their own earned benefit or a spousal benefit—whichever is higher—instead of having a choice to take one and switch to the other later. You must be unmarried to get a divorced spouse benefit.

The fate of one key difference in the rules for those who are divorced is unclear: Under current law, you can collect a benefit based on an ex’s work record even if he or she isn’t yet collecting a benefit, as long as the ex is at least 62. But due to the new rule on file-and-suspend, it’s unclear what would happen to a spousal benefit claim if an ex had suspended his or her benefit.

“This was likely not intended and will hopefully be fixed,” says Mr. Kitces.