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Taking control of your finances and your financial future can help you reach your desired destinations in life. You want to control your finances, not let them control you.  You can do this by creating a strong financial foundation upon which you then build or live a satisfying retirement.

The Managing your Financial Life guide book covers these 8 topics.

  1. Financial Pyramid
  2. Financial Foundation
  3. Lifestyle
  4. Growing Your Money
  5. Managing Your Money: Retirement
  6. Managing Your Money: Estate
  7. Budget Organizer
  8. Document Checklist

Download a free copy of A life guide for Managing Your Financial Life

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People who die without a valid will, die intestate. In this event, the state in which they resided effectively provides a will through the state’s intestacy law. This means that the state dictates who will receive the estate owner’s property and in what proportion.

While state intestacy laws do attempt to provide for a “fair” distribution of property, the state’s “one-size-fits-all” will simply cannot reflect the specific wishes of the estate owner in regard to either property distribution or the unique needs of the estate owner’s heirs.

In addition, state intestacy laws require that the probate court appoint a guardian for any minor children. The court-appointed guardian, who may not even be a relative, may be required to post bond and the guardianship will be supervised by the probate court.

Finally, when a person dies intestate, the probate court appoints an administrator of the estate. This administrator can be anyone of the court’s choosing and is required to post bond, an additional expense that must be paid by the estate.

The choice is yours…
you can draw your own will or the state will do it for you!

The Advantages of Having a Will Include:

  • A will allows property to be transferred according to the estate owner’s wishes, avoiding state intestacy laws.
  • A will permits a parent, instead of the state, to name the guardian for any minor children or other dependents, such as a handicapped adult child.
  • A will enables the estate owner to name an executor to administer the estate which, in some states, minimizes probate and its related expense.
  • A will can lower estate settlement costs by minimizing estate taxes, waiving probate fees and bonds and streamlining the disposition of estate assets.
  • Provisions in a will can defer distribution of a minor child’s remaining share of the estate to a more mature age than 18 or 21.
  • With a will, an estate owner can be certain that bequests of money or personal property to specific individuals or charitable organizations will be carried out.
  • If the estate includes a business, a will can authorize the executor to operate the business until the estate is settled, with no exposure to personal liability on the executor’s part.
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Another Role for Life Insurance…
The Wealth Replacement Trust

The Problem:

There can be significant tax advantages in giving appreciated assets to a charity. Examples include real estate and securities. If you were to sell an appreciated asset, the gain would be subject to capital gains tax. By donating the appreciated asset to a charity, however, you can receive an income tax deduction equal to the fair market value of the asset and pay no capital gains tax on the increased value.

For example, Donor A purchased $25,000 of publicly-traded stock several years ago. That stock is now worth $100,000. If she sells the stock, Donor A must pay capital gains tax on the $75,000 gain. Alternatively, Donor A can donate the stock to a qualified charity and, in turn, rece

ive a $100,000 charitable income tax deduction. When the charity then sells the stock, no capital gains tax is due on the appreciation.

When a donor makes substantial gifts to charity, however, the donor’s family is deprived of those assets that they might otherwise have received.

A Potential Life Insurance Solution:

In order to replace the value of the assets transferred to a charity, the donor establishes a second trust – an irrevocable life insurance trust – and the trustee acquires life insurance on the donor’s life in an amount equal to the value of the charitable gift. Using the charitable deduction income tax savings and any annual cash flow from a charitable trust or charitable gift annuity, the donor makes gifts to the irrevocable life insurance trust that are then used to pay the life insurance policy premiums. At the donor’s death, the life insurance proceeds generally pass to the donor’s heirs free of income tax and estate tax, replacing the value of the assets that were given to the charity.

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Need retirement income you can’t outlive? Have coffee with Meg. Take a video break and learn how Meg uses a single premium immediate annuity (SPIA) to alleviate concerns about outliving her retirement assets and being unable to meet monthly expenses.

Retire with Confidence

People are living longer than ever before, meaning  that unpredictable market performance, higher  healthcare costs and rising inflation could impact  your retirement nest egg. Social Security is in  question, and you may or may not have a pension.
The reality is, many individuals simply may not be  able to maintain their standard of living — or worse  — may run out of money during retirement.

 Live Comfortably with Retirement Income- Consider the risks that can affect your retirement and life:

  • Lifespan - Living longer and outliving your retirement money.
  • Inflation – Cost of living increases that erode your retirement buying power.
  • Fluctuation – Market volatility that impacts your retirement assets.
  • Experience – Life events that require retirement plan flexibility.

At what rate can you safely withdraw from your portfolio to address these risks?

  • According to the Journal of Financial Planning the safe withdrawal is 2.52%.


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You might know that you can move money from your employer’s qualified retirement plan to an IRA when you leave the employer.  But do you know you may be able to take advantage of this opportunity while still employed by the company?  There can be big benefits to this move.

What is an In-Service Withdrawal?

Basically, some companies allow active employees to move funds from an employer-sponsored qualified plan, such as a 401(k) or 403(b), while still contributing to the plan. When handled as a direct rollover, an actively working employee (usually age 59½ or older) then can buy an Individual Retirement Annuity (IRA) without current taxation. Of course, if a withdrawal is not rolled over to a qualified plan or IRA, it is considered taxable income (and may be subject to a 10% federal penalty if less than age 59½). But done right, there can be advantages to making this move.

What are the Benefits of an In-Service Withdrawal?

Using an in-service withdrawal to fund a deferred annuity in an IRA can offer these potential benefits:

  1. You may be able to gain more control over the retirement funds.
  2. You may be able to protect your retirement funds from market volatility.
  3. You may be able to choose options you feel better suit your retirement needs.
  4. You may be able to ensure yourself a guaranteed income stream in retirement.

What are the Next Steps?

  1. Talk to a Pro: Talk to your financial professional and see if taking an in-service withdrawal to fund an individual retirement annuity may benefit you.
  2. Talk to a Plan Administrator: Talk to your employer’s plan administrator about eligibility and requirements. They can tell you if the plan allows in-service withdrawals, and about any rules, such as withdrawal limits, fund types, transfer timing, etc.

Importance of Direct Rollover

As you consider an in-service withdrawal, it’s important to be certain your financial professional and plan administrator handle it properly — as a direct rollover.

With a direct rollover, your funds transfer from the plan trustee directly to another qualified retirement plan or IRA. By doing so they are not subject to tax withholding.

If your funds transfer to you, the plan participant, plan administrators must withhold 20% for federal income tax purposes, even if you intend to roll all the funds over within the 60-day time limit. This is a critical detail; one you don’t want to dismiss.

Added Considerations: Get the Complete Picture

  1. Talk with a tax advisor about potential tax implications before moving money out of your retirement plan.
  2. Use the proper paperwork. Most qualified plans have specific forms for direct rollovers.
  3. Some qualified plans may cease matching contributions for a period after taking an in-service withdrawal.
  4. The tax code allows the following to be rolled over from a qualified plan as an in-service withdrawal: Employer matching and profit-sharing contributions Employee after-tax contributions (non-Roth)
  5. Employee pre-tax and Roth contributions after age 59½
  6. The tax code does not allow rolling over the following before age 59½:
  7. Employer safe harbor match or safe harbor non-elective contributions
  8. Employee pre-tax or Roth contributions
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What Is the Marital Deduction?

The marital deduction (I.R.C. Sections 2056 and 2523) eliminates both the federal estate and gift tax on transfers of property between spouses, in effect treating them as one economic unit.  The amount of property that can be transferred between them is unlimited, meaning that a spouse can transfer all of his or her property to the other spouse, during lifetime or at death, and completely escape any federal estate or gift tax on this first transfer.  However, property transferred in excess of the unified credit equivalent will ultimately be subject to estate tax in the estate of the surviving spouse.

The 2010 Tax Relief Act, however, provided for “portability” of the maximum estate tax unified credit between spouses if death occurred in 2011 or 2012.  The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 subsequently made the portability provision permanent.  This means that a surviving spouse can elect to take advantage of any unused portion of the estate tax unified credit of a deceased spouse (the equivalent of $5,000,000 as adjusted for inflation; $5,340,000 in 2014).  As a result, with this election and careful estate planning, married couples can effectively shield up to at least $10 million (as adjusted for inflation) from the federal estate and gift tax without use of marital deduction planning techniques.  Property transferred to the surviving spouse in excess of the combined unified credit equivalent will be subject to estate tax in the estate of the surviving spouse.

If the surviving spouse is predeceased by more than one spouse, the additional exclusion amount available for use by the surviving spouse is equal to the lesser of $5 million ($5,340,000 in 2014 as adjusted for inflation) or the unused exclusion of the last deceased spouse.

What Requirements Apply to the Marital Deduction?

To qualify for the marital deduction, the decedent must have been married and either a citizen or resident of theU.S. at the time of death.  In addition, the property interest (1) must be included in the decedent’s gross estate, (2) must pass from the decedent to his or her surviving spouse and (3) cannot represent a terminable interest (property ownership that ends upon a specified event or after a predetermined period of time).

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At this point in our lives we’ve raised our own kids and hopefully the values we struggled to impart before they left home have become part of their family lives.  Now they’re raising  our grandchildren and like us, when we were new parents our kids will try to bring all of their life lessons into the mix.  The hard part, at times,  at least for me, is to keep my mouth shut not give unasked for advice.  Anyone else have that problem?

This narrows my options to – just setting the best example I can no matter the subject matter.  When it comes to money and finances.  Money does not grow on trees.

  • Young children can  understand the concept of money.  When I take them out and we’re going to buy a little something like an ice cream I give them the money to pay for it.   This teaches them money is exchanged for things we want.
  • Save all my “change” for grandkids. I split up this money into 3 coin purses for each kid marked 20% for savings,  10% sharing, and all the rest for whatever they want. (with parent’s permission of course)   The savings is used for their bigger desires/wants. The sharing can be used to buy things like ice cream, candy bars and other treats for family on outings or they will deposit it into Salvation Army kettles or other charitable containers found at the checkouts.  Elementary school age is a good time to start.
  • Demonstrate to the grandkids how to reach a savings goal.  Show them how saving X amount of their money each month and in how many months this money will equal an amount needed to buy a computer game, book or whatever.
  • When the grandkids are coming for a barbeque, a couple like to help cook.  We plan a menu, make a list of needed ingredients, figure out the budget (money to purchase listed items) and go to the store.  As we pick things out we discuss pricing,  brand names and how to evaluate the best deal.
  • Needs versus wants concept is very important throughout life for all of us.  As they age and gain understanding there are  things associated with my hobbies that reflect needs versus wants which make  good subject matter for discussion with my grandkids. Particularly an activity they have an interest in, like fishing for example.

These are just few examples of actions and conversation points  I use to demonstrate how to use money with my grandkids.  Actually I did the same things with their parents as they grew up and remember how I appreciated any support from other adults.  As a grandpa I just wait for the “teachable” moment or when the conversation flows that way.  To be effective today’s kids are no different than yesterday’s kids- the brains shut off during “the talk”.

Need more ideas?  Download my PDF booklet

“Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees…  Teaching Kids about Money”


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Is it time to take some risk money off the table?
Not if you believe the market will always go up and that all the risk of future downturns have been made illegal.

This graph certainly looks good.  As of June the Bull market has been around for 64 months that’s the third longest bull market in a half a century. The 1990′s bull lasted 9 years with much higher gains. Are we in the early stages of a new phenomena where the market never goes down?

Cause for concern

Investors still sell low & Buy High

To get an idea of the temperature of financial attitudes we can check the ”Advisor Confidence Index”  It shows financial advisors are strongly optimistic about the economy and markets.  Eerily just like they were in 2007 and more disturbing is the confidence of the small investors who are choosing to invest now.

I do not give investment advice nor can I see into the future, but I do study behavior and in the past the average investor  almost always buys high and sells low.  There is are no indications that has changed.

Perhaps it’s time to consider a lateral transfer of your gains to safety.


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A married couple may file a joint tax return and be treated as one taxpayer, so that taxes are paid on the couple’s total taxable income. While a married couple may file separate returns, this usually results in higher taxes than filing jointly. The so-called “marriage penalty” results when the combined tax liability of a married couple filing jointly is greater than the sum of their tax liabilities calculated as though they were two unmarried filers.

Beginning with the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA 2001), various tax bills took steps to alleviate the marriage penalty through 2012. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 finally made the following marriage penalty relief provisions permanent.

Marriage Penalty Relief – Standard Deduction Increase

The following standard deduction schedule applies to a married couple filing jointly:

Calendar Year 2013 and later:

  • Joint Return Standard Deduction as a % of Single Return Standard Deduction - 200%
  • (in 2014, $12,400 married/$6,200 single)

Marriage Penalty Relief – Expansion of 15% Tax Bracket

The following schedule applies to the size of the 15% tax bracket for joint filers as a percentage of the 15% tax bracket for singles:

Calendar Year 2013 and later:

  • Top of 15% Joint Bracket as a % of Top of 15% Single Bracket – 200%
  • (in 2014, $73,800 married/$36,900 single)
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At retirement, if you have a pension, you have to make a difficult decision that could negatively impact your future financial security and that of your spouse.  Most people with company pension plans give this decision little thought and simply select the first payout option listed on their pension estimate; Joint and Equal Survivor Option.

For example, assume your maximum lifetime pension benefit is $2,000 monthly.

With the joint and equal survivor option, you’ll receive a significantly lower lifetime pension payment. Your surviving spouse, however, will continue to receive 100% of your pension benefit if you die first.

  • For as long as you live, you receive 75% of $2,000 the maximum life income option benefit.  Your benefit is reduced to $1,500 per month, for life.
  • If you die first, your spouse will receive a lifetime monthly pension benefit equal to 100% of your benefit, or $1,500 per month.
  • If your spouse dies first you will continue to receive $1500 per month.  There is generally no going back to the maximum $2,000 benefit. 

Second choice is  – Joint and One-Half Survivor Option:

If you elect the joint and one-half survivor option, you’ll receive a lower lifetime pension payment. On the other hand, if you die first, your surviving spouse will continue to receive a lifetime pension benefit equal to 50% of your pension benefit prior to your death. For example:

  • For as long as you live, you receive a monthly pension benefit of $1,700 or about 85% of the maximum life income option benefit.
  • If you die first, your spouse will receive a lifetime monthly pension benefit equal to 50% of your benefit, or $850 per month.
  • If your spouse dies first, however, your monthly pension benefit remains at $1,700.

Next choice is – Life Income Option:

If you receive your pension benefit under the life income option, you receive the maximum lifetime pension payment. If you die first however, your surviving spouse receives nothing after your death. For example

  • For as long as you live, you receive a monthly pension benefit of $2,000.
  • If you die first, however, your spouse will receive a monthly pension benefit of $0.
  • If your spouse dies first, your monthly pension benefit remains unchanged at $2,000.

At retirement, you will have to decide how your pension benefit will be paid out for the rest of your life:

  • If you elect to receive the maximum retirement check each month for as long as you live, with the condition that upon your death, your spouse gets nothing.
  • If you elect to receive a reduced retirement check each month, with the condition that upon your death, your spouse will continue to receive an income.
  • This pension decision is permanent.
  • The decision you make will determine the amount of pension income you receive for the rest of your life.
  • The decision is generally irreversible.
  • In making this decision, many people unknowingly purchase the largest death benefit (life insurance) they will ever buy and one over which they have no control.

How Can Retirement Income Protection Help Solve the Pension Benefit Dilemma?

Federal law allows a pension plan participant to waive the “joint and survivor” annuity payout requirement, with the written consent of his or her spouse.  This means that, with your spouse’s consent, you can elect to receive the MAXIMUM life income annuity payout at your retirement.

  • However, what happens to your surviving spouse’s income and lifestyle if you should die first?

The solution, you maintain sufficient life insurance to replace the pension income lost at your death, assuring that your spouse will have an adequate source of income after your death.  This is a death benefit you control and if your spouse predeceases you the life insurance can be surrendered paying you back part or all of your premiums;  Depending on when death occurred.

In making this important decision, you should evaluate the risks associated with retirement income protection funded with life insurance:

  • Your income after retirement must be sufficient to ensure that the life insurance policy premiums can be paid and coverage stay in force for your lifetime. Otherwise, your spouse may be without sufficient income after your death.
  • If your pension plan provides cost-of-living adjustments, will upward adjustments in the amount of life insurance be needed to replace lost cost-of-living adjustments after your death?
  • Does your company pension plan continue health insurance benefits to a surviving spouse and, if so, will it do so if you elect the life income option?
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How Can an Income Annuity Protect Against the
Risk of Living Too Long?

The purpose of an annuity is to protect against the financial risk of living too long…the risk of outliving retirement income…by providing an income guaranteed* for life.

In fact, an annuity is the ONLY financial vehicle that can systematically liquidate a sum of money in such a way that income can be guaranteed for as long as you live!

Here’s How an Income Annuity Works:

The annuity owner pays a single premium to an insurance company.

  • Beginning immediately or shortly after the single premium is paid, the insurance company pays the owner/ annuitant an income guaranteed to continue for as long as the annuitant is alive. There are other payout options also available.
  • With a cash refund provision the insurance company pays any remaining funds to the designated beneficiary after the annuitant’s death.

Seeking a secure life long retirement income?  Click the video box to left of this post.


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What Is the Retirement Savings Tax Credit?

This is often an overlooked tax credit. Remember you have until April 15, 2014 to make your 2013 IRA contribution.

 The Retirement Savings Tax Credit dates back to the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA 2001)which  introduced a new temporary tax credit for IRA contributions and elective deferrals to qualified plans made by certain lower income taxpayers. The availability of this “saver’s credit” was made permanent by the Pension Protection Act of 2006.

The credit is applied against the total of regular income tax and the alternative minimum tax and is allowed in addition to any other deduction or exclusion that would otherwise apply to the contribution/elective deferral.

Calculating the Credit

The credit is determined by multiplying “qualified retirement savings contributions” up to $2,000 times the “applicable percentage,” which is determined by the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI):

Adjusted Gross Income (2014) *

Married, filing jointly                Single                     Applicable Percentage

More than      Not over               More than Not over

$ 0                    $36,000                   $ 0        $18,000                              50%

$36,000           $39,000                $18,000   $19,500                               20%

$39,000           $60,000                 $19,500   $30,000                             10%

$60,000                                             $30,000                                              0%

* As adjusted for inflation

“Qualified retirement savings contributions” are equal to the total of IRA contributions and elective deferrals to a 401(k), 403(b), 457 or SIMPLE plan, a SAR-SEP and voluntary employee contributions to deemed IRAs for the tax year, reduced by distributions from such plans that are included in income (or not rolled over in the case of Roth IRAs).

An Example

A single taxpayer, who does not participate in an employer-provided retirement plan and has $18,000 in adjusted gross income, contributes $2,000 to a regular IRA in 2013. In addition to deducting the $2,000 IRA contribution, this taxpayer can also claim a $400 ($2,000 x 20%) retirement tax credit for 2013.


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This could be some money saving good news for Wisconsin residents who have or would have received nonrenewal notices from their health insurance company.   On November 21, 2013 Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance issued a bulletin to the state’s health insurance companies-

Consistent with state requirements and the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance’s (OCI) enforcement power of state and federal law, OCI will allow carriers to renew at their option non-ACA compliant individual and small group coverage that was in effect on October 1, 2013, for a policy year starting between January 1, 2014, and October 1, 2014.

It is important to note that coverage must have been in force on October 1, 2013, and that this OCI guidance does not apply to “newly obtained coverage.” “Newly obtained coverage” does NOT include normal enrollment changes (i.e., adding dependents or new employees) nor does it include coverage that has merely received a price change before OR after October 1, 2013. Consistent with Wisconsin Statutes related to plan changes, the small business or individual may change their plan options from one non-ACA compliant plan to another and renew that coverage in 2014 provided:

  1. Coverage was in force for the individual or small employer before October 1, 2013; and
  2. The new plan was available for purchase prior to October 1, 2013.

Carriers opting to renew non-ACA compliant plans must provide disclosure to their enrollees including notice that an enrollee’s premium may be affected either on the date of renewal or the date on which the premium will be affected. Since the letter was sent too late for some carriers to comply with notice provisions under Wisconsin law, the 60-day notice provision under s. 631.36 (5), Wis. Stat., will not be enforced for affected products from the date of this bulletin until March 1, 2014.

Many Wisconsin carriers have already offered their enrollees an early renewal option. OCI will continue to allow carriers to offer an early renewal for non-ACA compliant individual and small group coverage in 2014. As required under state law, renewals must be treated uniformly and without regard to health status.

For carriers that are transitioning individuals from an existing plan to a new plan, it is the position of OCI that nothing in the Wisconsin Statutes or regulations prohibits carriers from offering their enrollees auto-enrollment into a similar new plan. Auto-enrollment allows for minimal disruption to consumers as a result of changes required by the ACA. In communicating with enrollees regarding plan change options and auto-enrollment, insurers must inform them of their guaranteed issue right to choose any plan. While consumers have the right to choose any plan, the auto-enrollment feature helps ensure they are provided with the right to guaranteed renewable coverage afforded under Wisconsin law.

The above is an excerpt from the November 21st OCI bulletin.

Tim Barton, ChFC

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Stock market indexes have been for the most part rising this year;  high enough that some portfolios have made up for their losses from the last market decline.  Some investors and their advisors are starting to think of themselves as Albert Einstein’s of the market investing.   Although over the last 40 years I have yet to meet one who feels that way over the long term.  The equity markets have a way of equalizing financial pain or causing one to eat humble pie.

The question on everyone’s mind:  How high and how long will stocks go?  TV experts fill air time day after day with theories, usually a new one each day.  Same with some advisors; you know those who when asked will lean back in their desk chair and begin to expound on Monte Carlo Simulations, withdrawal rates, market direction, historical signs and graphs…

My answer is always simply – “I do not know, my crystal ball is just as foggy as the next guys.”  To which the reply is something along lines “Yeah but you are paid to know.”   I’ll let you in on a financial planning secret – no knows which direction the markets will turn next.  Markets will go up and markets will go down, that is what markets do.  Oh sure sometimes if a guy guesses enough he or she will be correct at some time causing them to look “smart.”  As for me I’ll admit I don’t know and work with my clients to transfer market risk from them to an insurance company.  After 9/11 that is what I did with my own personal retirement funds using fixed index annuities and they have paid off with good returns, no declines and peace of mind.

The first fixed index annuities were developed in 1996 and at first I like many others thought they were too good to be true. However, the last 17 years have demonstrated index annuities are in fact very good secure retirement products.   When you purchase an index annuity none of your funds are invested in any equity market.

Rather the annuity owner selects a market index like the S&P in order to determine the interest rate the insurance company pays them for the previous 12 months.  If the index has increased in value a portion of that increase is paid as interest to the annuity, if the index has gone down no interest is paid.  However, the annuity does not decrease in value while it resets the index value to the lower level so that when the index regains its loss part of the regain is interest paid to the annuity after the next 12 months.  Annuity principal and any interest credited are guaranteed to not go down.

An old investment cliché: “You don’t suffer a loss until you sell a stock- Until then it’s just a paper loss.”   Well, then the reverse would be true regarding gains:  Until you sell stock gains are just unrealized paper gains.

Is it time to turn your paper gains into real dollars?

For help you may ask questions in the comments  Or contact me privately: Tim Barton Chartered Financial Consultant


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Government regulations dictate senior’s retirement income plans.  The question; Is this government “retirement plan” the best option?

If they have a traditional IRA, 401(k) and/or any other qualified retirement plan they must take Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) upon reaching age 70- 1/2.  If they do not take RMD as required the penalty is a harsh 50%.  Most seniors follow the RMD plan so it must be the optimal way to receive retirement income… Right?

The new reality is nothing could be further from the truth.  Expected longevity continues to increase well past the I.R.S. life tables used to calculate RMD withdrawals.  This could  set up a dangerous financial situation later in life.

The alternative solution and one most seniors have not considered  is a Life Income Annuity.  Rollovers from IRAs and 401(k)s are easy and there are no taxes due or 10% penalty even if income is started before age 59.

Advantages of Life Income Annuities are significant and perform better than RMD plans:

  1. After enduring a decade of sub economic performance, low interest rates,  disappearing pensions and a decreasing Social Security trust fund seniors need protection from steep market swings. Income annuities eliminate market risk by providing a steady monthly pay check.
  2. Saves the golden decade of retirement; the 10 years from age 70 – 80.  RMDs are scheduled to be lower during this time and increase later.  The lifetime annuity has on average a 60% higher payout  during the golden decade and guarantees these payments for life with any remaining principal paid to beneficiaries.
  3. Prevents the RMD crash.   A typical life income annuity starts payments at age 70 about 60% higher than RMD withdrawals.  It is true RMDs increase with age but assuming a 3% growth rate at their peak they  will provide an income 15% lower than the annuity.  After the RMD’s peak withdrawal years the  annual income begins decreasing until the money runs out.

Lifetime annuities take the RMD drop off  and longevity risk away while offering a higher payout.

For help you may ask questions in the comments

Or contact me privately: Tim Barton Chartered Financial Consultant


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Smart retirement planning has become all about the income, as in how much and for how long.  Last year the Journal of Financial Planning conducted extensive research into retirement portfolio withdrawal rates. They concluded the traditional 4% rule was too risky because it leaves a retiree with an 18% chance of portfolio failure; that’s about a one in five failure rate.

Retirement income failure (running out of money before you die) is disastrous. In the financial planning business they call it “portfolio failure”

Portfolio failure is another way saying “sorry your money is all gone”.  Very bad news to someone in their 70’s potentially looking at many more years of life by surviving only on Social Security each month.

What is the problem with money in a 401 (k)?

It must be withdrawn and a safe withdrawal rate must be determined.

What is the new safe withdrawal rate?

  • 2.52% According to the Journal of Financial Planning.

Retirement income  money that is invested in equities; stock market, mutual funds, ETF, variable annuity etc. has an 18% chance of failure if the retiree withdraws more than 2.52% per year.

What is the solution?

With interest rates hovering around 1% certainly not bonds or certificates of deposit.

That leaves fixed annuities because they can insure a retirement income for life.  But their rates are also low and the income is sometimes level with no chance of increase.

Enter the time tested fixed index annuity with income options.  An indexed annuity can offer a guaranteed withdrawal percentage increase, meaning each year you own an indexed annuity the percentage you can withdraw goes up; some as high as 7%.

Let’s compare the recommended 2.52% equity withdrawal and 7% index annuity withdrawal using a nice round figure like $100,000.

2.52% of $100,000  provides a safe income of $2520 per year.

Whereas the annuity’s 7% withdrawal is $7000 per year guaranteed for life  and this $7000 could go up each year if there is an index interest credit and once it goes up, it is guaranteed to stay up.

3 choices are:

  • Unsafe withdrawal using the antiquated 4% rule and risk running out of money 1 out of 5 times. ($4000 per year)
  • The new “safe” 2.52% rule ($2520 per year)
  • The insured, guaranteed 7% index annuity ($7000 per year)

Which choice do you prefer?

For help you may ask questions in the comments

Or contact me privately: Tim Barton Chartered Financial Consultant

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Roth IRA Enhancement

March 17, 2013 by

The Roth IRA may be one of the most under used retirement income strategies.  Due to the deductibility of other retirement saving plans like Traditional IRAs and the 401(k); Roth IRAs are usually just an afterthought. After all who does not want to pay as little income tax as possible?  It seems a very simple rational decision. Initially a Roth has no effect on the amount of income tax due because the taxpayer receives no immediate tax deduction.   

Today one of the most relevant retirement/tax planning question is –

Do you think tax rates are headed down, stay the same or will they go up in the future? 

Clearly if you feel tax rates are going rise at some point then the decision is to pay a smaller tax now or a bigger tax on a larger sum later.  A Roth IRA is worth serious consideration, especially if you consider an enhancement by utilizing available lifetime income options.  

The new generations of annuities offered today either have income options built in or offer the option to purchase a guaranteed lifetime income rider. Using either of these options the annuity owner has the ability to start lifetime income at a specified age. 

If retirement planning is being done correctly income points are identified.  These are points in time when a retiree needs to start an income stream.  

To help understand the magnitude of the enhanced Roth advantage let’s use a simple example.  A future retiree is currently 49, they start contributing to a Roth annuity with lifetime income available as early as age 59 ½. The Roth’s income benefit base has grown to $100,000 with an annual tax free lifetime payout of 5% available ($5,000).  Whether or not they actually plan to retire at this early date they should start the lifetime income payout.  Why?  Because the income is for life, the earlier it is started the greater chance they will live long enough to get into company money.  In other words they would receive all of their money, interest earned and then they receive company money for as long as they live.  If cost of living increases are built onto our $5,000 yearly income example so much the better.   

Besides, even if still working, who wouldn’t appreciate some additional tax free income every year after age 59 ½?

For help you may ask questions in the comments

Or click here to contact me privately: Tim Barton Chartered Financial Consultant


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Throughout history many of the greatest discoveries and inventions happened by accident, someone trying to solve an unrelated problem.

Imagine if we had a battery in all of our devices that charged in seconds rather than hours or days. Well actually its a capacitor not a battery but I’ll let the video explain the difference.


Think of the freedom you’d have to travel and explore if a car powered by a capacitor could be charged back up within a couple minutes.

If this graphene capacitor can be developed for a broad spectrum of applications we are looking at a real lifestyle changer.

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Outliving one’s assets is a major concern for today’s retirees. One common approach to address this concern has been the “4% rule,” which is a generally accepted rule of thumb in financial planning for retirement income. It says to withdraw no more than 4% of an asset in retirement annually, and then increase the withdrawn amount by 3% each year to help offset the effects of inflation. Many believe the 4% rule provides a strong likelihood for retirement assets to last 30 or more years.

One problem with the 4% rule is that it does NOT GUARANTEE you won’t run out of money. In fact, with today’s historic market volatility and longer life expectancies, it’s predicted that up to 18 out of 100 people WILL RUN OUT OF MONEY in retirement using the 4% rule.

What if there was a different strategy that could provide the same amount of retirement income as the 4% rule and might even require fewer assets to do so? Additionally, this strategy would protect your income from market loss and GUARANTEE that income would last throughout your lifetime.

This strategy exists today and can be implemented using a fixed index annuity with a guaranteed lifetime income benefit or a secure lifetime retirement income annuity.

For help you may ask questions in the comments

Or contact me privately here: Tim Barton Chartered Financial Consultant

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What to do with your money in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k) plan. Since these funds were originally intended to help provide financial security during retirement, you need to carefully evaluate which of the following options will best ensure that these assets remain available to contribute to a financially-secure retirement.

Take the Funds: You can withdraw the funds in a lump sum and do what you please with them. This is, however, rarely a good idea unless you need the funds for an emergency.

•A mandatory 20% federal income tax withholding will be subtracted from the lump sum you receive.
•You may have to pay additional federal (and possibly state) income tax on the lump sum distribution, depending on your tax bracket (and the distribution may put you in a higher bracket).
•Unless one of the exceptions is met, you may also have to pay a 10% premature distribution tax in addition to regular income tax.
•The funds will no longer benefit from the tax-deferred growth of a qualified retirement plan.

Leave the Funds:

You can leave the funds in your previous employer’s retirement plan, where they will continue to grow on a tax-deferred basis. If you’re satisfied with the investment performance/options available, this may be a good alternative. Leaving the funds temporarily while you explore the various options open to you may also be a good alternative. (Note: If your vested balance in the retirement plan is $5,000 or less, you may be required to take a lump-sum distribution.)

Roll the Funds Over:

You can take the funds from the plan and roll them over, either to your new employer’s retirement plan (assuming the plan accepts rollovers) or to a traditional IRA, where you have more control over investment decisions. This approach offers the advantages of preserving the funds for use in retirement, while enabling them to continue to grow on a tax-deferred basis.

Why Taking a Lump-Sum Distribution May Be a Bad Idea:

While a lump-sum distribution can be tempting, it can also cost you thousands of dollars in taxes, penalties and lost growth opportunities…money that will not be available for future use in retirement.

For help you may ask questions in the comments or contact me privately here: Tim Barton Chartered Financial Consultant

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