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.