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Retirement

Apr 16, 2019 Around half of American households have no retirement savings at all. No 401(k)s, no IRAs, nothing. Perhaps, you think, they're expecting pension income to support them in retirement? In fact, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), around 29% of households age 55 and older have neither retirement savings nor a pension. It doesn't paint a pretty picture. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 A lot of people spend their adult lives working and saving to prepare for  retirement. But once you hang up your hat, you shouldn't necessarily stop thinking about saving and investing. The question of what should retirees invest in, though, isn’t necessarily simple to answer. There are a number of possible investments and strategies that retirees can use to help extend their savings and allow them to enjoy their retirement and maintain their lifestyle. A financial advisor can help you ensure you're optimizing your investment strategy, and SmartAsset can help you find one with our Read More...

Jul 25, 2019 Choosing the right way to save for retirement based on your personal needs is easier said than done. There is a plethora of options available, with annuities and 401(k) plans being some of the most prominent. While these two popular retirement savings vehicles are similar in some ways, they also have important differences, as well as times you can best utilize them. Below, we detail what should make or break your  annuity vs. 401(k) decision. Read More...

May 15, 2019 Saving for retirement is one of the most important things you can do when it comes to financial planning. At top of mind for those saving for retirement, of course, is the question of how much you’ll actually need when you retire. For many American workers, a 401(k) plan is the vessel used to save for retirement. Figuring out how much you should have in your 401(k) at any point in your career -- not to mention when you actually retire -- can be challenging. You’ll have to take into account a number of things, including where you want to live, what you expect your lifestyle to be and when you plan you retire. Read More...

Aug 22, 2019 Medicare is a government-run health insurance program. It's available to people age 65 and older, people with certain disabilities and people with End Stage Renal Disease (the last stage of chronic kidney disease). There are two parts that makeup Medicare: Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance). As you head into retirement, it’s important to understand what each component of Medicare entails. Read on to discover what Medicare Part A coverage includes and how much it may cost. Read More...

Aug 22, 2019 If you're interested in retiring abroad, New Zealand could be a great option for you. Geographically, the country offers a wide selection of landscapes. Whether you're into swimming, hiking or exploring, chances are you'll never run out of leisure activities. And if your native language is English, you won't have to learn another language to retire there. But while the country offers some notable perks, it has a higher cost of living than the U.S. and limited visa options for retirees. Here's what you need to know about retiring in New Zealand. Read More...

Aug 22, 2019 With rising retirement costs in the U.S., many Americans are looking for alternatives to living out the post-employment life they'd always dreamed of. Retirees are turning to other countries that offer low-cost retirement options. Ecuador is just one of the many countries that offer economically competitive conditions for U.S. retirees. With ideal weather conditions and favorable economic circumstances, an Ecuadorian retirement could be right for you. Below, we discuss the process of retiring in Ecuador. Read More...

Aug 22, 2019 Retiring from the 9 to 5 can open up new possibilities, but it may take some time to get used to. When heading to work isn't the primary focus of your days anymore, you may feel a little adrift and at a loss for how to spend your time. A post-retirement depression could set in that could leave you questioning your decision to retire. If retiring has you in a funk, there are some things you can do to combat it. These 10 tips can help you cope with -- and conquer -- post-retirement depression. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 If you’re on the cusp of retirement or just looking for extra income, annuitization could help you. Annuitization converts an annuity investment into a stream of regular payments. With an annuity, a financial product that makes regular payouts after a specified amount of time, your investment can pay off quickly.  We explain the math behind it and can help you decide if it might work for you. Read More...

Aug 16, 2019 If Social Security benefits figure into your retirement income plan, then reading your Social Security Statement is a must. This statement can help you estimate how much you'll receive from Social Security once you retire. That can be useful when setting investing and savings goals. Knowing how to find your statement and decode it is a must for retirement planning. Read More...

Aug 15, 2019 Individual retirement accounts can offer a tax-advantaged way to save and grow your money for your later years. A  traditional IRA offers the benefit of tax-deductible contributions, while a Roth IRA allows for tax-free withdrawals in retirement. When deciding which type of IRA to contribute to, one question you might have is: how many IRAs should I open? Technically, it's possible to have multiple IRAs, but there are a few rules to know about using this strategy to save for retirement. If you think you might need more hands-on guidance as you navigate your IRA decisions, consider enlisting the help of a Read More...

Aug 06, 2019 The Social Security Administration (SSA) makes changes to Social Security programs every October that go into effect the following January. The biggest changes tend to concern Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA), which ensure that retirement, disability and survivors benefits keep pace with increases in the cost of living. Calculating your benefits amidst these regular changes can sometimes be challenging. To give you a better sense of how they’ll affect your situation, we’ve taken a closer look at the changes that took effect in January 2019.   Read More...

Aug 01, 2019 A "nest egg" generally refers to retirement accounts. It's the money you save for the future so that you have something to fall back on when you retire. Oftentimes, growing your nest egg is the stated goal of a financial plan. But what do we mean when we talk about a nest egg, and how do you grow it? Read More...

Jul 31, 2019 The Pension Protection Act (PPA) of 2006 was signed by President George W. Bush on August 17, 2006. The PPA is the most significant legislation having to do with pension plans since the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). The PPA looks to strengthen the traditional private pension system by offering incentives to employers, as well as providing to employees a more stable path to retirement. As you examine more details about the PPA and how it might fit into your overall financial picture, consider a financial advisor who can provide hands-on guidance. Read More...

Jul 30, 2019 Planning for retirement is largely a numbers game. Many experts recommend  saving at least $1 million for retirement, but that doesn't take your individual goals, needs or spending habits into account. It may also seem intimidating considering that nearly half of all American households don't have any retirement savings at all. Though it's different for everyone, you could probably live comfortably through your golden years with less. Find out whether you could retire on $500,000 and how to make it happen below. Read More...

Jul 26, 2019 A retirement plan is a savings account you set up during your working years that helps you support yourself once you reach retirement. These savings plans come in many forms, including the  401(k), IRA and more. Usually, a retirement plan is set up to take advantage of an area of the tax code that grants special tax benefits for retirement savers. Using at least one retirement plan to build a nest egg is crucial element to saving for retirement. The type of retirement plan you want depends on what you're looking for. Do you want a plan that you can get through an employer, like a pension or 401(k)? If you are self-employed, you can look into the Solo 401(k), SEP IRA, or Simple IRA, each with its own pros and… Read More...

Jul 25, 2019 Variable annuities are commonly used to save for retirement, as they combine investing and long-term income payments into one product. They also operate on a tax-deferred basis, meaning you won't have to pay income taxes until you begin withdrawing money in retirement. Insurance companies typically offer variable annuity contracts, so there are many different options available. Read More...

Jul 25, 2019 Roth IRAs are one of the many ways you can save for retirement. Their key benefit - you can withdraw funds in retirement without paying taxes on the distributions - has made them very popular among tax-savvy investors. Still, there are rules surrounding Roth IRA withdrawals that you need to know in order to avoid costly penalties. How your distributions are treated by the IRS depends on your age, how long you've held the account, and a number of other factors. Here's what you need to know. Read More...

Jul 23, 2019 Applying for Disability benefits has a reputation as a time-consuming and inefficient process. Consequently, many people entering their 60s who could potentially qualify for disability benefits may opt to just elect for Social Security a couple of years early to avoid the hassle. However, this strategy has the potential to cost you a lot of money in the long run. Whether opting for disability would be the more remunerative strategy will depend on your age. Read More...

Jul 22, 2019 So you've got a pension coming your way... and a divorce, too. These days, the divorce might be more common than the pension. According to a 2002 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the probability of a marriage ending in the first 5 years is 20%, and 33% of marriages end within 10 years. Meanwhile, only 18% of private sector workers have a pension, compared to 35% in the 1990s, information from the Economic Policy Institute shows. Read More...

Jul 19, 2019 Retiring at 45 might sound impossible, but it could be a realistic goal so long as you have the right plan in place. An early retirement means more time to pursue hobbies or passion projects, travel the world, volunteer or simply connect with friends and family. It's what the Financial Independence / Retire Early movement is all about. But what does it actually take to retire at 45? This step-by-step guide can help you retire early without  planning for an early retirement. Read More...

Jul 17, 2019 Saving for your golden years may not seem like a priority compared to daily expenses, debt repayment and short-term savings goals. Yet the sooner you start, the better you can leverage compounding interest and the more your money will grow. Getting an early start on retirement planning also provides some flexibility if you decide to tweak your strategy. If it seems overwhelming, remember that you don't have to plan your retirement all on your own. A retirement advisor can help you navigate the course. Discover whether you need a retirement advisor and how to choose the right one for you below. Read More...

Jul 30, 2019 Puerto Rico is famous for its tropical climate and sunny beaches, which make it a particularly attractive vacation destination. But the island also boasts a number of financial perks for retirees looking for a place to settle down. Retiring here is an especially attainable dream for U.S. residents, as they won't have to go through the hassle of getting a visa. While it's smart to consult a  financial advisor on your retirement plans, we'll walk through the basics of retiring in Puerto Rico. Read More...

Jul 17, 2019 A supplemental retirement plan may be offered to a broad range of employees. But supplemental executive retirement plans (SERPs) are reserved for the company's elite. A SERP is a non-qualified deferred compensation plan offered to a company's key employees, including CEOs, CFOs and high-ranking officials. They are typically used to retain talent, but are tied to both employee and company performance. When taking a job, it's important to understand the complete compensation package and may even be a good idea to discuss with your financial advisor. Read More...

Jul 15, 2019 One of the most popular ways to save for retirement is an individual retirement account (IRA). While the money is there to fund retirement, there's always the chance you'll pass away before all the money is taken out, meaning you have to plan for what happens to that money after you are gone. Designating a trust as your IRA beneficiary is one option. This strategy gives you maximum control over the distribution of your assets after you die, but it requires careful planning. Read More...

Jul 15, 2019 Planning for retirement can be a lifelong process and the sooner you begin, the longer your savings and investments have to grow. But retirement is more than just a numbers game. While it's important to have a clear financial goal to work towards, it's just as important to define what retirement means to you. The government has one standard for retirement, but your vision may look differently. Understanding what kind of lifestyle you'd like to enjoy in your later years can help you create a solid plan for reaching it. Read More...

Jul 26, 2019 There are many different ways to save for retirement. Roth IRAs and 403(b)s are among the more popular account types; the former has strong after-tax perks and is available to most savers below certain income limits, while the latter is reserved for public and nonprofit workers. So if you have both available to you, where should you put your money? Read More...

Jul 25, 2019 When you need money to pay for college expenses, tapping your Roth IRA is one option you might consider. While a Roth IRA is designed to help you save for retirement on a tax-advantaged basis, it's possible to use money in your account to fund college costs for yourself, your spouse or your children. Before pulling money from your Roth IRA for college tuition or other education expenses, get to know the pros and cons.  Read More...

Jul 11, 2019 Age may be just a number, but it's pretty important when it comes to retirement savings. Depending on which account you have, your age may define both when you can access your funds and how much money you can contribute each year. Since different IRAs have different rules, we've outlined the IRA contribution age limit for each of the most common accounts below.  Read More...

Jul 09, 2019 Medicare is one of the most popular health care programs in America. Part of what sells the program is its simplicity: You turn 65, you get healthcare. But in reality, Medicare is a patchwork of several different programs, and figuring out what is and isn’t covered at any given time can be a challenge. For current and future enrollees looking to understand their health insurance, we go over what the various sections of Medicare cover. Read More...

Jul 08, 2019 Medicare coverage, specifically Part D, is rather complex. For years, the potential benefits of this program were overshadowed by the "donut hole." This refers to a large gap in Medicare drug coverage that would force enrollees to pay out-of-pocket for prescription drugs for some time. In 2019, federal law removed the donut hole. Read More...

Aug 05, 2019 When choosing investments for your retirement plan, you'll have a lot of options, including annuities and mutual funds. While both can play an important role in your retirement income plan, they are very different assets with unique characteristics. If you’re choosing between the two options, know the key characteristics and their pros and cons. Read More...

Jul 17, 2019 Individual retirement account (IRA) contributions are not unlimited. The IRS puts a cap on both how much you can contribute to your account each year and when that annual cutoff ends. For everyone who puts money into an IRA, it's important to know the contribution cutoffs and deadlines that have just passed (for 2018) and those coming up in 2019. If you want more hands-on advice, consider enlisting the help of a financial advisor who can help determine how an IRA fits into your overall financial picture. Read More...

Jul 25, 2019 Unexpected expenses may compel you to tap your individual retirement account ahead of schedule. And with most plans, the government will impose a 10% penalty if you withdraw funds before you reach age 59 1/2. There are, however, a few instances where you can make a penalty-free IRA withdrawal before retiring. Read More...

Jul 09, 2019 If you're lucky enough to win the lottery or have a pension plan, you may need to decide whether you want to take your earnings in a lump sum or an annuity. And if your goal is to maximize your earnings, you may want to take into consideration your projected lifespan, inflation rates, and your own spending and investing habits. We break down the difference between a lump sum and an annuity, plus offer examples to help you decide which one you should take. Read More...

Jul 02, 2019 A 401(k) is the most common type of employer-sponsored retirement plan but certain employees may have access to a 414(h) plan instead. A 414(h) plan, also called a pick-up plan, offers people who hold government jobs a tax-advantaged way to grow savings for retirement. If you work for a local, state or federal government agency, you may be offered one of these plans as part of your benefits package. Read More...

Aug 15, 2019 A Roth IRA affords some key tax benefits for savers, chiefly the ability to make 100% tax-free withdrawals in retirement. Typically, the scope of investments available through an IRA is determined by the company that holds your accounts. A self-directed Roth IRA, however, can offer more choices for building a portfolio. Investing in a self-directed Roth IRA isn't right for everyone and there are some important things to know before getting started. Specifically, investors need to be aware of the contribution limits for self-directed Roth IRAs, who can contribute, what you can invest in and what rules govern your choice of investments. Read More...

Jun 28, 2019 We all know that having an ample emergency fund is important to ensure solvency should you encounter unexpected expenses. And most people know that taking money out of a 401(k) is not ideal. But what happens when financial hardship arises and an emergency fund isn't enough? That's where 401(k) hardship distributions can come in. Before you borrow from your retirement savings, you should understand the risks. And if you need hands-on guidance while exploring 401(k) hardship distributions, consider enlisting the help of a financial advisor in your area best suited to your needs. Read More...

Aug 06, 2019 We all know that saving for retirement is a good thing. We often think of retirement savings in terms of a percentage of our paychecks, but what about when someone doesn’t work? The IRS has a solution that allows a non-working member of a married couple to save for retirement in an IRA. It’s called, appropriately enough, a spousal IRA. Here’s how it works. Read More...

Jul 26, 2019 Being fully vested in your retirement plan means you own 100% of funds in the account, including any employer contributions. Most retirement plans such as 401(k)s and pensions have vesting schedules. This tells you when you become fully vested in your plan. For example, your plan may let you become 20% vested in your plan after two years of service and 100% vested after seven years. This article explains all you need to know about vesting. We can also help you find a financial advisor who can guide you through making the best Read More...

Jun 27, 2019 Tax benefits and automatic deductions make a  401(k) plan one of the most powerful tools for retirement savings. Between your regular contributions, matching contributions from your employer and the power of compound interest, you have a prime opportunity to accumulate wealth for your golden years. Retirement planning may take a backseat if you're carrying a significant amount of student loans or credit card debt though. In fact, you may find yourself considering taking money out of your 401k to pay debt. While that could reduce your financial… Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 A self-directed IRA can give workers more control over their retirement plans, but they'll still need a custodian. For the self-employed or the financially savvy, a self-directed IRA offers more investment options than a standard IRA. Since the IRS requires a self-directed IRA to have a custodian, investors may want to know what that task involves and who to trust. Read More...

Jun 25, 2019 There is a wide variety of of retirement account types available to savers. This can make it difficult to know which plans are best suited for you and your business. A 401(k) plan is one of the most flexible options available, while a SIMPLE IRA plan is less flexible but also less complex to use and administer. Each of these have their own distinct pros and cons, but which is best suited for you is dependent on your personal needs. Read More...

Jun 17, 2019 For members of the U.S. military, housing assistance is one of the most significant benefits they can receive. Life on a base might not be for everyone. For servicemen and women who prefer it, though, this can offer a stable way of life surrounded by colleagues. When a base offers housing in remote stations, like the windswept missile bases of North Dakota, military housing provides the kind of stable community that civilian housing may not. In crowded regions like California, on the other hand, on-base housing can offer military personnel options that they otherwise couldn’t afford. But eventually the years of service end. For military retirees, does the Pentagon offer any housing options? The answer is a qualified yes. Here’s how it works. Read More...

Jul 09, 2019 Social Security benefits, when combined with savings from a 401(k) and  individual retirement account, can help you retire the way you want. Of course, not everyone earns the same amount from Uncle Sam. A Social Security calculator can help you estimate the payments you'll receive, but how do you ensure that you're not shortchanging your future self? Whether you have a few months or a few decades until retirement, here are 10 tips for maximizing your Social Security benefits. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 SEP IRAs and solo 401(k)s are tax-deferred retirement savings vehicles for small business owners. They're similar to each other but with one big difference. With a solo 401(k), a self-employed business owner can make contributions as both the employee and the employer.  We’ll explain everything you need to know to make the call between a SEP IRA and solo 401(k). If you don't know where to begin to set up the plan the best fits your needs, a  financial advisor can help. Read More...

Jun 12, 2019 If you want to move your individual retirement account (IRA) balance from one provider to another, simply call the current provider and request a “trustee-to-trustee” transfer. This moves money directly from one financial institution to another, and it won’t trigger taxes. However, you must follow some rules in order to do it right. We’ll walk you through the direct IRA transfer process. To make sure you're moving your savings to the right place, consult a  financial advisor who can carefully analyze your individual situation. Read More...

Jul 25, 2019 The IRS allows you to withdraw contributions from your Roth IRA penalty-free to buy your first home, plus up to $10,000 of earnings. But most financial advisors would recommend tapping into your retirement savings only as a last resort. Luckily, you have plenty of alternatives. Here's what you need to know to determine whether using your Roth IRA as a first-time homebuyer is the right move for you. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 You can have a 401(k) plan and an individual retirement account (IRA) at the same time. In fact, you can contribute up to the annual limit to each account, thereby maximizing your retirement savings. However, your ability to take a tax deduction for your IRA may be limited, depending on factors like your income and whether your spouse is covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan. But we’ll cover all the rules, so you can make the most out of investing in both plans. A financial advisor can also help you make the right retirement planning decisions utilizing both types of accounts. Read More...

Aug 01, 2019 For an interest-only retirement, you’ll need to have a large nest egg. How big a nest egg depends on your target income and the interest rate. For example, an annual income of $48,000 would require a nest egg of $1.6 million, assuming a 3% interest rate. And that’s not even accounting for inflation. To make sure you have enough income when you retire, consider consulting a  financial advisor. In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about living off interest during retirement. Read More...

Jun 12, 2019 For most, the advantages of 401(k) plans outweigh the disadvantages. But there are some people who would benefit from steering their retirement savings to other investment vehicles. Could you be one of them? This roundup of 401(k) disadvantages will help you decide. If you want more hands-on guidance while examining how a 401(k) could fit into your whole financial profile, this financial advisor finder tool can help you get professional advice. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 A Roth 403(b) plan is one type of tax-advantaged, employer-sponsored retirement savings account that combines elements of a Roth IRA and a traditional 403(b). While these plans share some similarities with 401(k) plans, they have certain characteristics that set them apart. If you have the option to save for retirement in a Roth 403(b) through your employer, this guide can help you understand how they work and what tax benefits they offer. For more hands-on guidance as you navigate the ins and outs of a Roth 403(b) plan, consider finding a Read More...

Jul 17, 2019 For the most part, the money you place in your retirement accounts is untouchable during your working years. If you follow these rules, the IRS affords you various tax benefits for  saving for retirement. However, there may come a time when you need money and have no choice but to pull funds from your 401(k). Two viable options include 401(k) loans and hardship withdrawals. A 401(k) loan is generally more attainable than a hardship withdrawal, but the latter can come in handy during times of financial strife. Read More...

May 28, 2019 Deferred retirement option plans (DROPs) are of benefit to both employees and employers. In exchange for continuing to work past your eligible retirement age, an employer will set aside annual lump sum payments into an interest-bearing account. Upon retirement, the money that has grown in this account will be paid to you, on top of the rest of your accrued earnings. If you have more questions or want some help getting your retirement plans together, consider talking with a financial advisor. Read More...

May 20, 2019 From a retiree’s perspective, the biggest risk with defined benefit retirement is that you are at the mercy of your former employer. That could put your retirement at risk if the employer or its pension fund runs into trouble. The solution: The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), which was founded in 1974 and protects retirees if a pension plan becomes insolvent. As of 2019, the PBGC covers more than 26,000 individual pension plans. In turn, around 40 million American workers have insurance protection for their pension earnings. Read More...

May 16, 2019 Pension plans are becoming less and less common in the private sector. But if you have a pension, you’ll likely have to make a decision whether to opt for monthly pension payouts or one lump sum payment. Both options have their pros and cons, and there are several important factors to consider before making your choice. These considerations include your financial situation, other retirement savings, expected retirement costs and more. Read More...

May 15, 2019 If you work for a small business (one with 100 or fewer employees) you may not think much of your retirement savings options. In fact, a recent study from LIMRA found that only 42% of small businesses offered retirement benefits. There are, however, a few retirement savings vehicles intended just for small businesses: SIMPLE IRAs and SIMPLE 401(k)s. These were born out of the Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE) program, and they are both tax-advantaged. While the two plan choices are similar, there are a few subtle differences worth noting. Read More...

May 14, 2019 If you're ready to start taking income from your retirement accounts or investment portfolio, you might consider setting up a Systematic Withdrawal Plan (SWP). SWPs are a way to set up regular payouts from your investments, either monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.  They are commonly used during retirement but can also be utilized at other points throughout your life. Most brokerages allow you to set up an SWP yourself, though you may also wish to find a financial advisor who can walk you through the process. Read More...

Jul 24, 2019 Medicare and Medicaid are two health insurance programs run by the government. Despite their similar names, they differ in some key respects. Medicare is available to most Americans over the age of 65, whereas Medicaid is exclusive to lower-income individuals and some disabled people. Another big difference is that the specifics of Medicaid vary from state-to-state, whereas Medicare is the same nationwide. Your usage of both, one or neither of these programs could have a big impact on your retirement budget, so it pays to know how each works. Read More...

Jul 17, 2019 Getting the timing right for retirement matters for your financial well-being. While many people relish the idea of starting their retirement ahead of schedule, retiring too early could leave you without enough savings to maintain your lifestyle over the long-term. Retiring early can also heavily impact your Social Security benefits. But what constitutes early retirement? Read More...

Jul 23, 2019 Most retirement experts recommend you contribute 10% to 15% of your income toward your 401(k) each year. The most you can contribute in 2019 is $19,000. If you’re age 50 or older, you can contribute an extra $5,000. However, you can use our 401(k) calculator to figure out how much you can expect to earn based on any contribution amount you choose. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 The sole proprietor 401(k) is a retirement plan designed for small-business owners who don’t have any employees or only a spouse as their sole employee. It allows participants to invest more money than they could through a traditional 401(k). As you explore the benefits of the sole proprietor 401(k) to see if it’s the right choice for you. We can also help you find a financial advisor who can guide you through making the right retirement planning decisions. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 Catch-up contributions allow people age 50 or older to make additional deferrals to their 401(k)s and IRAs after they reach annual contribution limits set by the IRS. Catch-up contribution amounts vary across different plan types. As you explore whether it makes sense to make catch-up contributions to your retirement accounts, you might also want to  find a financial advisor who can provide you with hands-on guidance throughout the process. Read More...

Jul 23, 2019 Separating from your spouse can mean suffering a heavy emotional and financial toll. You may be wondering how to protect your 401(k) in a divorce. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can protect your retirement savings during a divorce. As you explore your options, you might also want to  find a financial advisor who can guide you through protecting your assets a divorce. Read More...

Apr 25, 2019 A nonqualified deferred compensation (NQDC) plan is an arrangement that an employer and employee agree to where the employer accepts to pay the employee sometime in the future. Executives often utilize NQDC plans to defer income taxes on their earnings. They differ drastically from qualified plans, like 401(k)s. As you explore how NQDC plans work and how they compare to qualified ones, you may also consider finding a financial advisor who can give you hands-on attention throughout the process. Read More...

Jul 26, 2019 A 457(b) plan (also referred to as a 457 plan) is a retirement savings vehicle available to some state and local government employees. It works like a 401(k) in that employees can divert a portion of their pay to the retirement account. This provides an immediate tax break by reducing participants' taxable income. We go over what 457(b) plans are, the contribution limits associated with them, how to roll them over into other retirement accounts and more. Read More...

Apr 24, 2019 The best IRAs offer robust investment menus, low fees and a wealth of tools to help you save for retirement. SmartAsset gathered data on the best IRA providers to help you find the one that’s right for you. We also broke down our list based on which providers would be best for do-it-yourself investors or those who want some guidance. But first, we’ll give you a quick overview of IRAs and their benefits. A financial advisor can also help you invest in one like a pro. Read More...

Apr 22, 2019 The first step in planning for retirement involves forming a clear vision of the lifestyle you want to enjoy in retirement. Often that means pulling up stakes and moving to another location in the United States or abroad - choosing your new home based on tax-friendliness and other factors. But other retirees choose a very different lifestyle: traveling around the world permanently aboard a cruise ship. If you're considering this option for retirement, there are some important financial implications to keep in mind. Read More...

Jul 25, 2019 When you're ready to take withdrawals from your IRA, you'll find there are plenty of rules to follow. Failure to stick to these guidelines could have serious ramifications. The most notable among these is a 10% penalty tax on IRA withdrawals made before age 59.5. Beware, though, as traditional and Roth IRAs have two distinct sets of requirements. As always when making nuanced financial decisions, it can be helpful to consult a financial advisor. Read More...

Aug 15, 2019 There are many different routes you can take when you're trying to  save for retirement. Some of the most popular options include 401(k)s, traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs. A lesser-known choice is the gold IRA, which allows you to invest in gold and other metals, like platinum and silver, in the form of bars, coins and bullion. By contrast, a regular IRA would consist of stocks, bonds and other investments. Gold IRAs come in both Roth and traditional variations. Read More...

Apr 12, 2019 The idea behind a 401(k) is to provide tax-deferred retirement savings that can grow, untouched by you or the government, until you reach old age. As a result, if you can wait until age 59.5 to take withdrawals from your 401(k), every dollar will be yours. But though your money grows tax free, you will need to pay taxes on your distributions. When it comes time to pull from your 401(k), be sure you know all the rules surrounding withdrawals. If you don't, you run the risk of incurring large penalties levied by the IRS. Read More...

Apr 11, 2019 A non-deductible IRA is a retirement plan you fund with after-tax dollars. So you can’t deduct contributions from your income taxes as you would with a traditional IRA. However, your non-deductible contributions grow tax free. Many people turn to these options because their income is too high for the IRS to let them make tax-deductible contributions to a regular IRA. This article will explain all you need to know about a non-deductible IRA and whether one is right for you. We can also help you find a financial advisor who would guide you through making the retirement planning decisions that are right for you. Read More...

Apr 10, 2019 Retirement planning is a lifelong process that takes ample organization, forethought and effort to do successfully. The easiest way to manage this sometimes overwhelming venture is to split your retirement planning into different sections. Lucky for you, there are already five main stages to retirement that you can reference if you're unsure of where you stand or what you should be doing. Read More...

May 13, 2019 Life insurance is a fairly simple concept: In exchange for paying premiums, your family may receive money upon your death. It's a way to financially protect your family after you pass, especially if that happens when they still depend on you financially. But there are many varieties of insurance, some of which are considerably more complex. One popular option is indexed universal life (IUL) insurance, which allows the cash value of your policy to grow when certain market indexes are doing well. Read More...

Jul 23, 2019 A qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) is a court order, judgment or decree that splits the contents of a retirement fund among divorcing couples. A QDRO can address three significant claims that a former spouse can have in a divorce: marital property rights, alimony and child support. In a QDRO, a spouse might lay claim to a retirement account in order to pay such claims. Establishing a Qualified Domestic Relations Order When a couple divorces they split up the marital assets. That includes any and all retirement funds. But unlike cash on hand or salable assets such as a house or car, retirement funds have certain protections by law. The court cannot simply order that the parties empty out their 401(k)s and divide the result in half - not least because doing so would end up harming both… Read More...

Jul 25, 2019 When saving for retirement, it's common to have overlapping goals. Most of us want to save enough to generate a comfortable monthly income, avoid outliving our savings and leave something for our heirs. A variable annuity is one product marketed at people balancing these objectives. But do the costs outweigh the benefits? Here's a run-down of the pros and cons of the variable annuity. Read More...

Apr 05, 2019 For many Americans, Social Security benefits represent one of their only sources of retirement income. Established in 1935 thanks to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Social Security works as a forced savings mechanism and provides a basic income for American retirees. Social Security benefits alone aren't enough to provide a luxurious retirement, though. For that, you'll have to save on your own. Though the system is well known, many still may wonder: What is Social Security? We explore the details of this government entitlement program below.  Read More...

Apr 05, 2019 A Roth 401(k) brings many of the benefits of a traditional employer-sponsored 401(k) retirement savings vehicle. But with a traditional 401(k), you save for retirement with pre-tax dollars and write off your contributions from your taxes. With a Roth 401(k), you contribute after-tax dollars. That means you pay taxes now on your contributions but not when you take withdrawals from your account in retirement. Not all employees have access to Roth 401(k) plans, though, but those who do may be well served to enroll in one. Read More...

Apr 10, 2019 There's more than $1 trillion in client assets invested in target-date funds (TDFs), according to a 2018 report from Morningstar. In fact, it’s likely your 401(k) or IRA offers a target-date fund as an investment option. This makes TDFs extremely accessible retirement savings options. The beauty of these funds is that there's a plethora of different investing strategies available, allowing you to pick which one you prefer. But, like anything else in finance, these investments don't come without their pitfalls. Here's a breakdown of what you need to know about target-date funds. Read More...

Apr 02, 2019 Retirement is on many people's minds, whether they are approaching it or still early in their careers and just hoping they won't have to work until they're nearly 100. Those contemplating retirement may envision a recliner or deck chair. A three-legged stool, though, is the preferred seat for retirement metaphors. Read More...

Apr 02, 2019 So you're the proud owner of a retirement account and you're in or approaching your 70s. This is about the time that required minimum distributions, or RMDs, will come into play. But what happens when you miss taking your RMD, and what are the consequences? In this guide, we provide an overview of RMDs, the taxes surrounding them, IRS Form 5329 and more. If you remain unsure of what to do next even after going through this article, perhaps you should talk to a financial advisor. Read More...

Jul 30, 2019 You may have visions of spending your retirement on a sun-soaked vineyard in wine country. But according to a September 2018 report by the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS), more than 100 million working-age Americans (57%) do not have retirement account assets. And even if you do save, the same study found that a whopping 68% of individuals between the ages of 55-64 have only less than one year's worth of their annual income tucked away for retirement. If you find that you're one of these individuals, it might be time to reassess. Here's how you can live a frugal retirement. Read More...

Aug 06, 2019 Most of us are familiar with the  Social Security tax, since we see it right on our paychecks. There is a payroll tax of 6.20% that goes directly toward funding the program; if you're self-employed, you'll pay twice that (though you can deduct half). That money is your way of paying into the system so you can collect Social Security benefits come retirement. There is, however, an income limit beyond which the 6.20% tax does not apply. This threshold is known as the Social Security Wage Base, and it typically goes up every year.  Read More...

Apr 01, 2019 Almost 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day. The famed generation, defined as those born between 1946 and 1964, is causing something of a stir as they reach retirement age in droves. In 2031, the U.S. population over the age of 65 will number 75 million, almost double what it was just 23 years prior in 2008. A generation of this size transitioning out of the workforce will naturally affect the economy in many ways. Read More...

Apr 01, 2019 If you plan correctly, retirement can be one of the great adventures of your life. What is more adventurous than packing your bags, leaving America behind and spending your golden years immersed in a completely new culture? One option to consider is Panama, a central American country with a number of perks for retirees. Just make sure, though, that you know everything you need to know so your retirement in Panama is not only possible, but easy. A financial advisor will help you plan for your retirement wherever it is you want to hang your hat. Find one with SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching… Read More...

Jul 23, 2019 If you've worked in the US for at least a decade, you can probably expect to receive some  Social Security retirement benefits once you retire. The idea is that if you pay into the system throughout your career (in the form of FICA payroll taxes), then you reap the benefits during your golden years. Determining whether you’re eligible for benefits, and specifically when you can begin receiving them, isn’t quite as simple as it was back when the program began. Here's how to know if you're eligible, when you can start receiving benefits, and how to maximize your benefits. Read More...

Mar 28, 2019 Saving for retirement is one of the most important financial decisions you can make. Proper planning can mean the difference between a retirement of travel and time with loved ones and one spent working a new job to make ends meet. If you work someplace that offers a workplace retirement savings option like a 401(k), that’s great. If you’re self-employed, though, you’ll need to be the one to take the steps to set up a plan to save for your retirement. There are a number of options, so make sure to do all the research to make the right choice for you and your situation. Read More...

Jun 28, 2019 Social Security benefits may be an integral part of your financial picture in retirement. In fact, 55% of retirees and pre-retirees aged 50 or older say Social Security will be their main source of retirement income, according to a 2018 survey from the Nationwide Retirement Institute. Read More...

Mar 27, 2019 The federal government founded the Social Security program during the Great Depression. The program provides money to people after they’ve retired. A tax that everyone pays while they are working funds the program. Today's workers fund payments for today's retirees. Tomorrow's workers will eventually pay for the current generation of workers. But will  Social Security run out of money at any point in the future? For years, there have been rumors and questions. The short answer is that it is highly unlikely that the program will ever run out of money. Read More...

Mar 26, 2019 Your employer may allow you to make after-tax 401(k) contributions. These are not tax deductible like your regular 401(k) contributions. But you can make after-tax deferrals beyond the annual 401(k) contribution limit. Plus, the earnings from these extra contributions grow tax-free. The strategy also opens the door for rollover opportunities that will provide you with even more tax breaks. However, making after-tax 401(k) contributions may not be the best decision for everyone. This article explains all you need to know about after-tax 401(k) contributions, so you can decide if it's right for you. We can also help you find a financial advisor who can work with you to… Read More...

Mar 25, 2019 A Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees, or SIMPLE plan, can come in the form of an IRA or a 401(k). While both SIMPLE plans are a lot alike, the 401(k) plan is a little easier to understand and put into place for employers. So if you’re a small business owner, you may want to consider setting up a SIMPLE 401(k) plan for your company and employees. Below, we go over the pros and cons of SIMPLE 401(k) plans, as well as other important characteristics and alternatives. Read More...

Mar 27, 2019 If you picture living in a planned community full of amenities and happy neighbors, you’re probably asking yourself: How much are homeowners association fee (HOA fee)? Some studies suggest that you can expect to pay HOA monthly fees between $200 and $300. But the real answer is: It depends. Some HOA fees can drop to $100 a month and some can climb to more than $3,000. The general rule of thumb is the more amenities you have, the more you have to shell out in HOA fees. But there’s more to it than that. This article will explore how HOA fees work, so you know what to expect. We can also help you find a financial advisor who will work with you to find the most affordable and livable options… Read More...

Mar 21, 2019 If you’re thinking about opening a traditional individual retirement account (IRA) or Roth IRA, you have some major tax benefits to look forward too. However, these aren’t one-size-fits-all accounts. This article will explain the benefits and disadvantages of traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs to help you make the right retirement planning decisions. We can also help you find a financial advisor who can help you create a retirement savings plan based on your individual needs. Read More...

Mar 20, 2019 Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) often get lumped together or confused for each other, despite being two distinct government programs. This is understandable: They are both government disability assistance programs with very similar acronyms. That said, the two programs have some key differences, including the requirements for eligibility. If you’re experiencing a disability (be it temporary or permanent), you’ll want to know how each program functions. Read More...

Mar 18, 2019 Many retirement planners suggest the typical 401(k) portfolio generates an average annual return of 5% to 8% based on market conditions. But your 401(k) return depends on different factors like your contributions, investment selection and fees. This article will explain these points in-depth so you can aim for the best returns from your 401(k). We can also assist you in finding a financial advisor. This professional can help you create a personalized retirement planning strategy. Read More...

Mar 18, 2019 If you’re trapped under a pile of debt, bankruptcy may be your last resort. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most common form. It can wipe out your debt and give you a fresh start. This article will explain how to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy and everything you need to know to go through the process. A financial advisor can also help you stay on track during and after the proceedings. Read More...

Mar 15, 2019 After working hard and saving diligently for retirement, you may find that your nest egg won’t take you far in the U.S. But don’t fret. You may be able to stretch your dollar further outside the country. And it won’t mean retiring in a collapsing country. To assist you in figuring out where you should consider retiring, we compiled a list of the best countries where you can retire cheaply and peacefully. We can also help you find a financial advisor who can guide you to the right destination on the right budget. Read More...

Mar 15, 2019 If your company offers a 401(k) plan, you’re in luck. These savings vehicles help you save for retirement as you enjoy some tax breaks. This article will explain how they work and all you need to know to start investing in your Golden Years. We can also help you find a financial advisor to help you invest on a 401(k) plan the right way. Read More...

Jul 25, 2019 Once you reach age 59.5, you may withdraw money from your 401(k) penalty-free. If you tap into it beforehand, you may face a 10% penalty tax on the withdrawal in addition to income tax that you’d owe on any type of withdrawal from a traditional 401(k). But in some cases, your plan may allow you to take a penalty-free early withdrawal. We’ll cover the 401(k) early withdrawal rules and alternatives to dipping into your retirement savings. We can also help you find a financial advisor who can guide you through your options based on your individual needs. Read More...

Jul 24, 2019 Normally, you can’t withdraw money from your traditional individual retirement account ( IRA) until you reach age 59.5 without facing a penalty tax. But you can avoid this sanction if you make an IRA hardship withdrawal. The IRS typically allows this when you need it to cover expenses like substantial medical bills or higher education debt. We’ll explain IRA hardship withdrawal rules in depth. We can also help you find a financial advisor to guide you through all your options. Read More...

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