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Brandon Renfro, CFP®

Brandon is a Certified Financial Planner, Retirement Income Certified Professional and Enrolled Agent 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®

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…

Financial advisor and columnist Brandon Renfro
Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: How Do We Reduce Our Tax Bill When We Sell Our Second Home? We Bought It 6 Years Ago for $295k and Now It’s Worth $500k

We have a second home – a condo in the mountains – that was bought with cash for $295,000 approximately six years ago. It’s now worth at least $500,000. We are considering selling as our use is declining and maintenance costs and special assessments of the three-building complex are increasing. What are the options to… read more…

Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: If I Apply for Spousal Benefits From My Ex-Husband, Do I Forfeit Max Social Security at Age 70?

I was born in 1957 and so was my ex-husband. He remarried, but I didn’t. Our full retirement age (FRA) is 66.5, but he started collecting Social Security at 65.5, one year early. For my own Social Security, I plan to wait until age 70 to maximize my benefits. If I apply for spousal benefits… read more…

Retirement

Ask an Advisor: I’m a Retired Teacher With a State Pension, Social Security and $550k in Savings. Should I Pay Off My $120k Mortgage?

I am trying to decide if I should pay off my house worth about $750,000. I owe around $120,000 on an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). On the other hand, my 4.5% interest rate just ended and I know the interest will continue to rise in this economy. My mortgage is $1,450 per month, having risen $400… read more…

Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: I’m 60 and ‘Feeling Hopeless’ With Just $15k Saved. What Can I Do Now to Increase My Retirement Savings?

I am feeling hopeless. I am 60 years old and have only $15,000 saved. I will get a 80% pension from the state of Massachusetts and be able to retire in three years. What can I possibly do to increase my savings now? – Joy There’s no question that $15,000 is a small amount of… read more…

Retirement

Ask an Advisor: I’m 70 With $1.4 Million in IRAs. Should I Convert $160k Per Year into a Roth to Save on RMDs Later?

I am 70 and I have $1.4 million in traditional IRAs. Is it best to do $160,000 in Roth conversions for the next 1-3 years to reduce my high RMDs in about 5-10 years? That would put me in the 24% tax bracket and $330 Medicare premium rate. Please give me advice. – Dennis I do… read more…

Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: We’re in Our 60s and Have $2.4 Million in an IRA. ‘Do We Really Need a Financial Advisor?’

My wife (62) and I (60) have $2.4 million in our Edward Jones IRA account and have no mortgage payment and our children are out of the house. Do we really need a financial advisor (at 1%) or could we go with a less expensive option like Vanguard? We don’t see any adjustment with our… read more…

Financial advisor and columnist Brandon Renfro
Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: What’s the Benefit of Having a Trust vs. Will? We Own 2 Homes, Have IRAs and Another $600k in Assets

What is the benefit of having a trust versus a will? We own our home, have a rental property and we have no debt.  My husband and I are retired and both have IRAs, over $500,000 in the stock market and approximately $100,000 in CDs. We have three grown children – one is a stepchild.… read more…

Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: I’m 55 With a $3 Million Net Worth and $5k in Monthly Expenses. Can I Retire Now?

I’m 55 and would like to retire now with a $3 million total net worth. I’m assuming my net worth will grow, on average, 5% until I’m eligible for Social Security. My house is paid off and my lifestyle is simple. I can live with $5,000 per month. Am I making the right decisions? –… read more…

Financial advisor and columnist Brandon Renfro
Retirement

Ask an Advisor: We Have $1.45M Saved, Plus $1M in Rental Properties That Make Us $5K Per Month. Can We Retire in 5 Years?

I’m 50 and my husband is 57. We paid off all debts and have $1 million in our 401(k) and IRA. We also own $1 million in rental properties that give us a $5,000 net profit monthly. We hope to keep the rental homes for another 15 years for income. We have $200,000 in savings… read more…

Financial advisor and columnist Brandon Renfro
Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: Our Long-Term Care Insurance Now Costs $500 Per Month. We’re in Our Mid-70s and Have Paid $72k in Total. Should We Cancel Our Policies?

My wife and I bought long-term care policies 25 years ago when they were relatively cheap. Now, our premiums have increased for the third time to over $500 per month and will rise again in six years. I figure I’ve already paid about $72,000 in premiums. Now, in our late 70s, I’m trying to decide… read more…

Financial advisor and columnist Brandon Renfro
Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: I’m 5 Years Away From RMDs But Recently Lost 30% of My 401(k). Should I Stay Aggressive to Regain My Losses or Rebalance?

When I retired in September 2022, my 401(k) was invested aggressively (90/10 split between stocks to bonds) and lost approximately 30%. I left the 401(k) invested in mutual funds in hopes it would gain back some of the losses. A year later it has gained back approximately 20%. I’m not required to take RMDs for… read more…

Financial advisor and columnist Brandon Renfro
Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: What Should I Do With the Annuity I’m Inheriting? Take a Lump Sum, Roll it Over or Defer Payments?

I recently learned that I am the beneficiary of an annuity in the amount of $54,845 from a friend. I was given choices on how to receive the money: lump sum, roll it over or defer the payments over a certain number of years. I don’t have anything saved for retirement and I don’t know… read more…

Financial advisor and columnist Brandon Renfro
Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: Is it Better to Work With an Independent Advisor or One From a Large Firm?

Is it best to work with an advisor who’s independent or part of a large firm? I am not investment savvy and I’m entering retirement. I need to make sure I hire someone or a firm that is going to help and maybe is somehow insured. -Sharon That’s a great question, Sharon. I’ll provide some… read more…

Financial advisor and columnist Brandon Renfro
Financial Advisor

Which Professional Do I Need for the Tax Calculation of a Roth Conversion? A CFP, Financial Advisor or Tax Preparer?

Which professional do I need for the tax calculation of a Roth conversion? A CFP, financial advisor or tax preparer? I’ve reached out to tax preparers before but they seemed to have no idea what I was talking about. My income right now is very low so I would like to take advantage of this… read more…

Financial advisor and columnist Brandon Renfro
Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: I Have $1.15 Million Saved and Will Collect $3,500 Per Month in Social Security. Can I Retire at 62?

I am 57 and have $1.1 million in my 401(k) and $50,000 in a high-yield savings account. I earn $300,000 per year and put $30,000 in my 401(k) each year plus a match on the first 6%. I have a $220,000 mortgage on a home valued at $550,000. I would like to retire at 62… read more…