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Brandon Renfro, CFP®, RICP, EA

Brandon is a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®), Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP) and Enrolled Agent (EA) with more than 10 years of experience as a financial professional. He runs his own independent financial planning firm called Belonging Wealth Management, where he helps clients plan out their retirement distributions, minimize taxes, build financial plans and more. He also holds a PhD in Finance from Hampton University, and spent years as an Assistant Professor of Finance at both Louisiana College and East Texas Baptist University. Brandon's areas of expertise include financial planning, retirement planning, taxes, Social Security, investing, annuities, general personal finance and more. His quotes have appeared in publications like Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, Business Insider and more.

Posts by Brandon Renfro, CFP®, RICP, EA

Financial advisor and columnist Brandon Renfro
Financial Advisor

Which Investments Are Better Off in My IRA vs. Roth IRA vs. Brokerage Account?

How do I know which of my investments are better off in my IRA, Roth IRA or brokerage account? -Peter It’s great that you’re considering this – many people overlook the importance of where to hold different investments. Often, this is due to a lack of awareness about how significantly it can impact overall returns.… read more…

Financial advisor and columnist Brandon Renfro
Financial Advisor

I Expect to Live to 100. Should I Convert Some of My $1.4 Million into a Roth at Age 63?

I’m a single woman with no children, turning 63 years old this year but my family has longevity so I’m using 100 years old as my life expectancy mark for retirement planning. I have a combined portfolio of $200,000 in a 5% money market, and $1.4 million in stocks in a 401(k) (mostly dividend stocks)… read more…

Financial advisor and columnist Brandon Renfro
Financial Advisor

How Can I Do a Roth Conversion in Retirement If I Don’t Have Earned Income?

In a previous article about Roth conversions, an advisor wrote: “For many folks, a prime time for Roth conversions takes place during the years after retirement but before Social Security and RMDs kick in. Those can be relatively low-income years during which initiating a conversion can result in a triple benefit. Those benefits are: lower… read more…

Financial advisor and columnist Brandon Renfro
Financial Advisor

Should I Invest in Real Estate or the Stock Market? I’m 68 and Selling a $750k Property

I’m 68 and selling vacant real estate that is worth about $750,000. Is it better to reinvest the money by doing a 1031 exchange for income producing real estate or invest in the stock market? I’m already taking Social Security and only have about $100,000 in other liquid assets. I don’t have much other income, maybe… read more…

Financial Advisor

I’m Selling Inherited Artwork to Pay for Graduate School for My Grandchild. How Can I Limit the Taxes?

Decades ago, I inherited a valuable piece of art, and I’m now considering selling it to finance a grandchild’s graduate degree that will cost $80,000. What do I need to consider in regard to taxes? Do I sell the piece and pay taxes? Then I could give the money to my grandchild over two years… read more…

Financial Advisor

I Make $310k and Have $550k in My 401(k). Should I Get Variable Universal Life Insurance?

Is contributing to a variable universal life insurance policy a good idea? I’m 39 with a $310,000 annual income. I have $550,000 in a 401(k), $13,000 in an HSA, $25,000 in cash savings and a $42,000 investment account balance. I don’t have any student loans or credit card debt I maxed out my annual 401(k) contributions last… read more…

Financial Advisor

Will Doing $7k in Annual Roth Conversions Lead to Higher Social Security Benefits?

If we roll over $7,000 per yr from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA for the next four years (which is when we will receive full Social Security), could it bump up the amount that we receive in Social Security? I realize that we would pay taxes on that rollover, but I was wondering… read more…

Financial advisor and columnist Brandon Renfro
Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: My Advisor Wants Me to Put 50% of My Money in Annuities. Is That Too Much?

My advisor is recommending I put over 50% of my portfolio in annuities. What say you? – Georgia As with most personal finance decisions, a lot hinges on the specific details of your situation. Fifty percent would likely be on the high side for most people, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be the right… read more…

Financial advisor and columnist Brandon Renfro
Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: Should I Cash Out My $200k in Annuities and Buy a Rental Property That Will Bring in $1,500 Per Month?

I’ve already retired and I’ve got $200,000 in annuities and I’m 60 years old. Should I get a monthly income from my annuities (which will be about $1,000 or withdraw all of the annuities, pay the 30% tax and invest in a rental property and use that money — approximately $1,500 — for an income?… read more…

Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: I Plan to Retire Abroad But Need Another $300k-$400k. How Can I Get There?

I’m divorced three times, retired from the military and plan to retire from civil service in about four years at 64 years old. I have $150,000 in a thrift savings plan. I’m saving $900 monthly in this account and would be happy if it grew to $300,000 to $400,000. I’m also starting to put $600… read more…

Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: I’m 60 With $65k in Pension Income and $100k in My IRA. Is a Roth Conversion Worth It?

I’m 60 and I would like to convert some money from my regular IRA to a Roth. I’m aware that the earnings are subject to penalty before five years but I won’t need that money until at least age 70. Is it advisable to do so? My annual income from a pension is $65,000 and… read more…

Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: Can I Tell My Advisor to Mimic His Portfolio? We’ll Both ‘Smell Like a Rose or Go Down Like the Titanic’

While I can understand that a financial advisor’s life is private, is there a “proper way” to ask your advisor to invest your money in the same things he or she invests in? My feeling is that either both you and the advisor will come out smelling like a rose … or both of you are… read more…

Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: My RMDs Start Soon So I’m Converting $700k to a Roth, But I’m Getting Conflicting Info About Having to Wait Five Years

I’m 68 and recently retired and have about $1.4 million in accounts intended for retirement ($1.2 million in a Traditional IRA and $110K in a Roth). I also am receiving about $47,000 annually in Social Security benefits. My RMDs are scheduled to start in 2027, and as a result, my financial advisor and I are… read more…

Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: Will $25k in Annuity Payments Cut My $50k RMD in Half?

I’m in my mid-70s and I’m considering purchasing an immediate single premium lifetime annuity for myself using a portion of my regular IRA account as the source of the premium I would be paying. Having been notified of my 2024 RMD based on the Dec. 31, 2023, balance (assume the RMD is $50,000), do the… read more…

Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: If I Delay My First RMD, Can I Count It as Income for the Previous Year?

If I turn 73 in 2025 and take out my first RMD before Dec. 31, 2025, it would be 2025 income. If I wait until the April 1, 2026 deadline for RMDs, would the withdrawal still count as 2025 income? I still have to take another RMD before Dec. 31, 2026, which would be 2026… read more…

Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: If I Move From New York City to Florida, Can I Afford to Retire?

I’m 54 and would like to retire next year. I intend on moving out of expensive New York City to Florida where I will purchase a home outright with cash for $600,000 to $650,000 (financed from the sale of my home last year). Additionally, I have a 457(b) plan with a $1.4 million balance and… read more…

Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: I’m 68 With $1.4 Million in Savings and Another $1 Million in Stocks. Can I Retire at 70?

I‘m a 68-year-old single man in good health and I plan to work until I am 70. As of now, I have $400,000 in CDs, about $1 million in stocks, and about $1 million in my 401(k) and IRA combined. When I retire, I will get about $4,200 in Social Security and I have $4,000… read more…

Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: We’re in Our 70s With Nearly $3.5 Million Invested ‘Solely in Stocks.’ Should We Switch to a 60/40 Portfolio?

I am 73 and my wife is 70 with one son. We have $235,000 in a savings account and we each have $250,000 in Roth IRAs. We also have $1.675 million in a brokerage account and $1.55 million in a 401(k). Everything other than the two Roths are invested solely in stocks and the two… read more…

Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: We Have $1.2 Million in IRAs and Only $10k in Cash. Should We Use IRA Withdrawals to Build Our Emergency Fund?

I am 64 ½ and have been retired for just over a year. I am receiving Social Security benefits, a bit early, but have not touched my nest egg except to withdraw $10,000, which I placed in a high-interest savings account as an emergency fund. Would it be wise to use part of that cash… read more…

Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: Can My Partner Collect Spousal Benefits From Social Security? We’re in a Common Law Marriage

Does Social Security recognize common law or do you have to be legally married? My potential life partner is currently on disability collecting Social Security in a neighboring state. If the spousal rate is higher, can he then collect that and also continue to claim his disability? – Penny Yes, the Social Security Administration (SSA) does… read more…

Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: Do IRA Withdrawals Before I Turn 73 Count Toward My RMDs?

Do withdrawals from my pre-tax IRA and/or 401(k) accounts made before I turn 73 count toward my RMDs? Or do RMDs start at 73 without regard to prior withdrawals? I’m 70 now and still working and collecting Social Security, but plan to retire in 2024. – Luis Unfortunately, withdrawals from an IRA or 401(k) before… read more…

Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: We’re in Our 70s With $120k in Savings and Social Security. How Do We Make It Last?

I’m 72 years old and my wife is 70. Over the years, some of our financial decisions were not the best, but we have enjoyed 45 years together so far, having two sons and now two daughter-in-laws and five grandchildren. Our problem is that because we wanted to give our sons the best of everything… read more…

Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: Can I Avoid Taxes on an IRA I Inherited From My Sister? I Don’t Need or Want Her Distributions Yet

I have an inherited IRA from a 90-year-old sister who had begun distributions before her death. I don’t need or want her distributions yet. Is there a more practical way I can currently avoid the distribution taxes on these funds without adding her distributions to mine until later? I am 86 and currently taking my… read more…

Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: I Have $800k in a 401(k) and $5,270 in Monthly Income From Social Security and My Pension. How Much Will I Pay in Taxes in Retirement?

My monthly Social Security is $3,178, my pension will be $2,090 per month and my 401(k) has $800,000. If I use the 4% rule, where do I stand tax-wise? – Reggie This is a great question. I hope it goes without saying, but without having all of your information and completing a full tax return… read more…

Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: My Dad Left Me $200k in an IRA, but I’m in the 35% Tax Bracket. How Should I Structure My Withdrawals?

I was left $200,000 in an IRA Beneficiary Distribution Account (BDA) when my father passed. I have 10 years to withdraw this money. I’m at the 35% federal tax rate currently and plan to make a similar annual income over the next 10 years. Taking the money out in one lump sum would not change… read more…