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The Importance of Financial Literacy

Posted on May 30, 2017 at 8:26 am by Washington Financial Group

If only money came with instructions. If it did, the route toward wealth would be clear and direct. Unfortunately, many people have inadequate financial knowledge, and for them, the path is more obscure.

Are most people clueless about financial matters? That depends on what gauge you want to use to measure financial knowledge. The U.S. ranked fourteenth in Standard & Poor’s 2015 Global Financial Literacy Study, with just 57% of the country’s population estimated as financially literate.1

Obviously, the other 43% of Americans have some degree of financial understanding – but it is mixed with a degree of incomprehension. Witness some examples:

  • A recent LendU survey found that nearly half of college students carrying student loans thought those debts would eventually be forgiven if left unpaid.
  • This year, Fidelity Investments asked Americans the following question in a multiple-choice quiz: “If you were able to set aside $50 each month for retirement, how much could that end up becoming 25 years from now, including interest, if it grew at the historical stock market average?” The correct answer was $40,000, but just 16% of respondents got it right. Another 27% guessed $15,000 (i.e., 50 x 12 x 25, as if interest was not a factor).
  • Only 42% of those quizzed by Fidelity knew that withdrawing 4-5% a year from retirement savings is commonly recommended. Fifteen percent of those older than 55 thought they would be “safe” withdrawing 10-12% per year.
  • The S&P 500 has returned positively in 30 of the last 35 years. Just 8% of those answering Fidelity’s quiz guessed this.2,3

Apart from these examples, consider another one at the macro level. According to the latest National Financial Capability Study from FINRA (the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority), only about a third of Americans younger than 40 understand the basic financial concepts of compounding, inflation, and risk diversification.1

Statistics aside, think about how a lack of financial acumen hurts people’s chances to build or protect wealth. How about the employee who skips retirement plan enrollment at work, mistakenly thinking that a tax-advantaged retirement account is the same as a bank account? Or the small business owner puzzled by cash flow and profit-and-loss statements? Or the young borrower who fails to grasp the long-run consequences of only making interest payments on a credit card or loan?

Financial professionals continually educate themselves. They stay on top of economic, tax law, and market developments. Investors should as well. Ten or twenty years from now, you may find yourself in an entirely different place financially – who knows? The economy, the Wall Street climate, and even the investment opportunities before you could all differ from what you see today. If your financial knowledge is ten or twenty years out of date, you risk being at a disadvantage.

Financial literacy is not about prevention, but instead about empowerment. The more you understand about personal finance, the more potential you give yourself to make smart money decisions.


                

 

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

 

Citations.

1 – marketwatch.com/story/should-colleges-require-a-financial-literacy-class-2017-04-03/ [4/3/17]

2 – investopedia.com/news/3-ways-improve-financial-literacy/ [4/21/17]

3 – marketwatch.com/story/most-americans-failed-this-eight-question-retirement-quiz-2017-03-23 [3/23/17]

Market Watch | April 2017

Posted on April 25, 2017 at 8:22 am by Washington Financial Group

The world’s oldest annual marathon was run on April 17 as amateur athletes from around the world descended on Boston, Massachusetts for the 121st running of the Boston Marathon. While elite athletes grab the headlines, over 25,000 entrants finished the marathon. Training for and running a marathon takes fortitude and patience, and many casual marathon runners aim simply to reassure themselves that they possess those qualities. No less of a test, investing to meet long-term goals can certainly try one’s fortitude and patience, but like a marathon, is achievable with the help of a good plan.

After an extended period of low volatility, markets have been in a bit more challenging environment over the last several weeks. The S&P 500 has retreated modestly since its last high on March 1, and long-term interest rates have declined over the same period, pushing bond prices higher. These kinds of consolidations can be reassuring and health for markets from a longer-term perspective, as what may have initially been overly optimistic expectations of the timing and impact of pro-growth policies in Washington, D.C. adjust to a still likely positive outlook but with a more realistic timeline.

Policy will continue to dominate the headlines, but prospects of better economic and earnings growth will be the foundation of any potential market advances. With improving business and consumer confidence, a more stable U.S. dollar, and a rebounding manufacturing sector, real economic growth in 2017 has the potential to come in near 2.5%, after averaging 2.1% during the current expansion. Earnings for S&P 500 companies could grow in the high-single digits in 2017, helped by steady economic growth, stable profit margins, and rebounding energy sector profits. Policy hopes could be dashed, but we continue to believe corporate American will get a tax cut within the next 9 to 12 months.

In some respects, some policy risks have declined as President Trump has become more focused on his primary legislative agenda. While the president retains his emphasis on fair trade, trade tensions with China have abated some after the president shifted his emphasis from currency manipulation to enlisting China’s cooperation on the North Korean threat. The president’s tone on renegotiating NAFTA has also moderated. A more balanced approach to trade policy may have reduced one potential market concern.

Despite a steady economic and earnings backdrop supporting markets, there are still several risks that need to be carefully monitored. A policy mistake by a major government or central bank, geopolitical threats in the Korean Peninsula and Middle East, and elevated stock valuations are among the challenges markets face that may contribute to bouts of increased volatility. Don’t forget that opportunities can come from volatility. We encourage you to stick to your long-term plan and stay invested. Investing is a marathon, not a sprint.


 

 

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual security. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.

Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted.

Investing in stock includes numerous specific risks including: the fluctuation of dividend, loss of principal and potential illiquidity of the investment in a falling market.

Investing in specialty market and sectors carries additional risks such as economic, political, or regulatory developments that may affect many or all issuers in that sector.

The S&P 500 Index is a capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries.

This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.

Securities offered through LPL Financial LLC. Member FINRA/SIPC.

Tracking # 1-601408 (Exp. 04/18)

WFG Named 2017 PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Adviser Small Team of the Year

Posted on March 31, 2017 at 11:35 am by Washington Financial Group

Washington Financial Group is pleased to announce that we have been named the 2017 PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Adviser of the Year in the Small Team category.

The 2017 PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Adviser of the Year winners have demonstrated leadership and a commitment to excellence for their retirement plan sponsor clients and participants.

To be eligible, advisers had to meet the following minimum criteria: have a significant majority of business revenue derived from employer-sponsored retirement plans; serve as a fiduciary; have regular service delivery and client contact; be committed to fee-based compensation; and use specific outcome-based metrics of plan success with clients, with recognized client progress toward those metrics.

Web:

2017 PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Adviser of the Year Winners

2017 PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Adviser Small Team of the Year – WFG

PDF:

2017 PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Adviser of the Year Winners

2017 PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Adviser Small Team of the Year – WFG

 

WFG Named a Finalist for the 2017 PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Adviser of the Year Award

Posted on March 29, 2017 at 2:49 pm by Washington Financial Group

Washington Financial Group is pleased to announce that we have been named as one of the finalists for the 2017 PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Adviser of the Year award in the Small Team category.

The 2017 PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Adviser of the Year finalists have demonstrated leadership and a commitment to excellence for their retirement plan sponsor clients and participants.

To be eligible to be a finalist, advisers had to meet the following minimum criteria: have a significant majority of business revenue derived from employer-sponsored retirement plans; serve as a fiduciary; have regular service delivery and client contact; be committed to fee-based compensation; and use specific outcome-based metrics of plan success with clients, with recognized client progress toward those metrics.

The 2017 PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Adviser of the Year finalists across all four categories are available online.

The advisers will also be honored at the annual PLANSPONSOR/PLANADVISER Awards for Excellence dinner on March 30 where the winners will be announced. Please visit the event page for more information.

 

March Madness

Posted on March 20, 2017 at 10:45 am by Washington Financial Group

It’s March, and that means one thing: March Madness. All across the country, people are filling out their brackets, studying the teams, and trying to pick that upset that will impress their friends and coworkers with their basketball acumen.

The anticipation of the NCAA college basketball tournament reflects the buzz of the markets thus far in 2017. The stock market has continued to march higher with impressive consistency. The S&P 500 followed January’s 1.9% gain with a 4.0% return in February, delivering the best monthly gain since 6.8% in March 2016 and extending its monthly winning streak to four. Not to be outdone, the Dow had an impressive 12-day win streak that ended on February 28, the longest streak since 13 in January 1987. The major indexes have also gone more than 100 days without a 1% decline, something that hasn’t been done in more than 20 years.

Against this backdrop, the Federal Reserve (Fed) has remained a focus for market participants. In a widely expected move that was fully priced into the bond market for several weeks, the Fed’s policymaking arm, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), raised rates 0.25% (25 basis points). With this move, the FOMC affirmed its strength in the U.S. economy and upgraded its views on business capital spending. The Fed continued to indicate that any future rate hikes would be data dependent and gradual, good news for those concerned that the recent strength in the economy and markets would lead the Fed to take a more aggressive tightening stance. LPL Research continues to expect the Fed to raise rates twice more in 2017, consistent with the Fed’s guidance, and expect Fed policy to be more of a steadying hand than a disruption.

We are encouraged that the Fed recognizes the continued improvement in the U.S. economy that is evident in recent economic data. Importantly, about 60% of February 2017 economic reports exceeded consensus expectations. The improvement has been largely driven by two factors: anticipation of pro-growth policies out of Washington, D.C. (tax reform, deregulation, infrastructure spending, etc.), and the continued rebound from the period of slow growth in late 2015/early 2016 due to oil-related capital spending declines, tightening credit standards, a strong U.S. dollar, and slower growth in China.

Despite the Fed’s recent vote of confidence in the economy, the encouraging economic data, and strong start to 2017 for the stock market, we are still mindful of the risks that could introduce periods of “market madness” as periods of volatility are to be expected. A policy mistake by a government or central bank, uncertainty surrounding the new presidential administration, Brexit, China’s debt problem, and elevated stock valuations all present challenges. That said, we continue to encourage you to stick to your long-term plan and stay invested.


 

 

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual security. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.

Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted.

Investing in stock includes numerous specific risks including: the fluctuation of dividend, loss of principal and potential illiquidity of the investment in a falling market.

Investing in specialty market and sectors carries additional risks such as economic, political, or regulatory developments that may affect many or all issuers in that sector.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is the branch of the Federal Reserve Board that determines the direction of monetary policy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average Index is comprised of U.S.-listed stocks of companies that produce other (non-transportation and non-utility) goods and services. The Dow Jones Industrial Averages are maintained by editors of The Wall Street Journal. While the stock selection process is somewhat subjective, a stock typically is added only if the company has an excellent reputation, demonstrates sustained growth, is of interest to a large number of investors and accurately represents the market sectors covered by the average. The Dow Jones averages are unique in that they are price weighted; therefore their component weightings are affected only by changes in the stocks’ prices.

The S&P 500 Index is a capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries.

This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.

Securities offered through LPL Financial LLC. Member FINRA/SIPC.

Tracking # 1-591262 (Exp. 03/18)

2017 e-Pocket Tax Tables

Posted on February 1, 2017 at 9:43 am by Washington Financial Group

Click to download

Making & Keeping Financial New Year’s Resolutions

Posted on January 24, 2017 at 11:13 am by Washington Financial Group

How will your money habits change in 2017? What decisions or behaviors might help your personal finances, your retirement prospects, or your net worth?

Each year presents a “clean slate,” so as one year ebbs into another, it is natural to think about what you might do (or do differently) in the 12 months ahead.

Financially speaking, what New Year’s resolutions might you want to make for 2017 – and what can you do to stick by such resolutions as 2017 unfolds?

Strive to maximize your 2017 retirement plan contributions. Contribution limits are set at $18,000 for 401(k)s, 403(b)s, most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan; if you will be 50 or older in 2017, you can make an additional catch-up contribution of up to $6,000 to those accounts. The 2017 limit on IRA contributions is $5,500, and $6,500 if you will be 50 or older at some point in the year. (If your household income is in the six-figure range, you may not be able to make a full 2017 contribution to a Roth IRA.)1

Under 40? Set up automatic contributions to retirement & investment accounts. There are two excellent reasons for doing this.

One, time is on your side – in fact, time may be the greatest ally you have when it comes to succeeding as a retirement saver and an investor. An early start means more years of compounding for your invested assets. It also gives you more time to recover from a market downturn – a 60-year-old may not have such a luxury, but a 35-year-old certainly does.

Two, scheduling regular account contributions makes saving for retirement a given in your life – month after month, year after year. You can contribute without having to think about it, and without having to wait months or years to amass a lump sum. Those two factors can become barriers for people who fail to automate their retirement saving and investing.

Can you review & reduce your debt? Look at your debts, one by one. You may be able to renegotiate the terms of loans and interest rates with lenders and credit card firms. See if you can cut down the number of debts you have – either attack the one with the highest interest rate first or the smallest balance first, then repeat with the remaining debts.

Rebalance your portfolio. If you have rebalanced recently, great. Many investors go years without rebalancing, which can be problematic if you own too much in a declining sector.

See if you can solidify some retirement variables. Accumulating assets for retirement is great; doing so with a planned retirement age and an estimated retirement budget is even better. The older you get, the less hazy those variables start to become. See if you can define the “when” of retirement this year – that may make the “how” and “how much” clearer as well.

The same applies to college planning. If your child has now reached his or her teens, see if you can get a ballpark figure on the cost of attending local and out-of-state colleges. Even better, inquire about their financial aid packages and any relevant scholarships and grants. If you have college savings built up, you can work with those numbers and determine how those savings need to grow in the next few years.

How do you keep New Year’s resolutions from faltering? Often, New Year’s resolutions fail because there is only an end in mind – a clear goal, but no concrete steps toward realizing it.

Mapping out the incremental steps can make the goal seem more achievable. So, can visualizing the goal – something as simple as a written or calendared daily or weekly reminder may reinforce your commitment to it. Two New York University psychology professors, Gabriele Oettingen and Peter Gollwitzer, have developed what they call the “WOOP” strategy for achievement. Its four steps: pinpoint a challenging objective that can be met; think about the best result that could come from trying to reach the goal; identify any obstacles in your way; and distinguish the “if-then” positive steps you could take that would help you realize it.2

Financial new year’s resolutions tend to boil down to a common goal – the goal of paying yourself first. That means saving and investing money for your future rather than paying your creditors or buying expensive consumer items bound to depreciate. Think ahead – five, ten, or even twenty or thirty years ahead – and make this the year to plan to accomplish money goals, both big and small.


 

 

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 – kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T047-C001-S003-making-ira-and-401-k-contributions-in-2017.html [11/7/16]

2 – usatoday.com/story/money/2016/12/20/five-doable-strategies-financial-success-2017/95521556/ [12/20/16]

How Will the Fed’s Decision to Raise Interest Rates Impact the Markets?

Posted on December 16, 2016 at 10:31 am by Washington Financial Group

The Federal Reserve’s (Fed) policy-making arm, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), raised its target for the federal funds rate by 0.25% (25 basis points) yesterday as expected at the conclusion of its two-day meeting. By raising this key overnight borrowing rate, the Fed raised interest rates for the first time in 2016, and for just the second time since the Great Recession (the last time the Fed raised rates was December 2015). The Fed raised rates because it believes economic growth has picked up and should continue without the added support of very low interest rates. Although market participants largely expected this outcome, the big story in yesterday’s meeting is that the FOMC now expects to raise rates three times in 2017. At the September 2016 FOMC meeting, the Fed expected just two hikes in 2017, and the market and the Fed were aligned on that assessment before yesterday.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen emphasized, “Our decision to raise rates…[can] certainly be understood as a reflection of the confidence we have in the progress the economy has made and our judgment that that progress will continue and the economy has proven to be remarkably resilient. So it is a vote of confidence in the economy.”

Yesterday’s rate hike was well telegraphed, and the fed funds futures market had been pricing in a nearly 100% chance of a hike for some time. Though the potential for some bond market volatility in the short term exists, we don’t expect another broad-based bond sell-off (or a corresponding quick rise in rates) given that markets have had plenty of time to digest the possibility of a rate hike.

For the stock market, this decision is potentially positive as well. Stocks have historically done well during periods of rising but low interest rates, as higher rates tend to be accompanied by improving expectations for economic growth. We are encouraged by LPL Research’s recent review of 23 periods of rising rates, during which the S&P 500 rose 83% of the time.* Yet, rate hikes also reaffirm that we are in the mid-to-late stage of the economic cycle. In this part of the cycle, we can expect additional equity market volatility.

Now that a rate hike has occurred, many of us have questions about the pace of future rate hikes. The FOMC noted that it expects the pace of rate hikes to be gradual and that any future hikes will be data dependent and not on a preset course. Fed Chair Janet Yellen confirmed this strategy during her post-meeting press conference. And our view remains that the economy, labor market, and inflation will track to—or perhaps just above—the Fed’s forecasts for 2017, suggesting at least two 25 basis point hikes in 2017 are likely and quite possibly three.

Yesterday’s rate hike reaffirms that we are returning to a more typical economic environment, which is a welcome change from the environment we have lived in since the Great Recession. And although we have seen another change in Fed policy, what shouldn’t change is our commitment to the long-term investment goals that may ultimately be our blueprint for success.


 

 

 

*See Weekly Market Commentary: Can’t Stocks and Bond Yields Just Get Along? (December 12, 2016)

The economic forecasts set forth in the presentation may not develop as predicted.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide or be construed as providing specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual security.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is the branch of the Federal Reserve Board that determines the direction of monetary policy. The eleven-person FOMC is composed of the seven-member board of governors, and the five Federal Reserve Bank presidents. The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York serves continuously, while the presidents of the other regional Federal Reserve Banks rotate their service in one-year terms.

This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.

To the extent you are receiving investment advice from a separately registered independent investment advisor, please note that LPL Financial LLC is not an affiliate of and makes no representation with respect to such entity.

Not FDIC/NCUA Insured | Not Bank/Credit Union Guaranteed | May Lose Value | Not Guaranteed by any Government Agency | Not a Bank/Credit Union Deposit

Securities and Advisory services offered through LPL Financial LLC, a Registered Investment Advisor

Member FINRA/SIPC

Tracking #1-564272 (Exp. 12/17)

Characteristics of the Millionaire Next Door

Posted on November 1, 2016 at 12:35 pm by Washington Financial Group

Just how many millionaires does America have? By the latest estimation of Spectrem Group, a research firm studying affluent and high net worth investors, it has more than ever before. In 2015, the U.S. had 10.4 million households with assets of $1 million or greater, aside from their homes. That represents a 3% increase from 2014. Impressively, 1.2 million of those households were worth between $5 million and $25 million.1

picture249

How did these people become rich? Did they come from money? In most cases, the answer is no. The 2016 edition of U.S. Trust’s Insights on Wealth and Worth survey shares characteristics of nearly 700 Americans with $3 million or more in investable assets. Seventy-seven percent of the survey respondents reported growing up in middle class or working class households. A slight majority (52%) said that the bulk of their wealth came from earned income; 32% credited investing.2

It appears most of these individuals benefited not from silver spoons in their mouths, but from taking a particular outlook on life and following sound financial principles. U.S. Trust asked these multi-millionaires to state the three values that were most emphasized to them by their parents. The top answers? Educational achievement, financial discipline, and the importance of working.2

Is education the first step toward wealth? There may be a strong correlation. Ninety percent of those polled in a recent BMO Private Bank millionaire survey said that they had earned college degrees. (The National Center for Education Statistics notes that in 2015, only 36% of Americans aged 25-29 were college graduates.)3

Interestingly, a lasting marriage may also help. Studies from Ohio State University and the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) both conclude that married people end up economically better off by the time they retire than singles who have never married. In fact, NBER finds that, on average, married people will have ten times the assets of single people by the start of retirement. Divorce, on the other hand, often wrecks finances. The OSU study found that the average divorced person loses 77% of the wealth he or she had while married.3

Many of the multi-millionaires in the U.S. Trust study got off to an early start. On average, they began saving money at 14; held their first job at 15; and invested in equities by the time they were 25.2

Many of them have invested conventionally. Eighty-three percent of those polled by U.S. Trust credited buy-and-hold investment strategies for part of their wealth. Eighty-nine percent reported that equities and debt instruments had generated most of their portfolio gains.2

Many of these millionaires keep a close eye on taxes & risk. Fifty-five percent agreed with the statement that it is “more important to minimize the impact of taxes when making investment decisions than it is to pursue the highest possible returns regardless of the tax consequences.” In a similar vein, 60% said that lessening their risk exposure is important, even if they end up with less yield as a consequence.2

Are these people mostly entrepreneurs? No. The aforementioned Spectrem Group survey found that millionaires and multi-millionaires come from all kinds of career fields. The most commonly cited occupations? Manager (16%), professional (15%), and educator (13%).4 

Here is one last detail that is certainly worth noting. According to Spectrem Group, 78% of millionaires turn to financial professionals for help managing their investments.4


 

 

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

 

Citations.

1 – cnbc.com/2016/03/07/record-number-of-millionaires-living-in-the-us.html [3/7/16]

2 – forbes.com/sites/maggiemcgrath/2016/05/23/the-6-most-important-wealth-building-lessons-from-multi-millionaires/ [5/23/16]

3 – businessinsider.com/ap-liz-weston-secrets-of-next-door-millionaires-2016-8 [8/22/16]

4 – cnbc.com/2016/05/05/are-you-a-millionaire-in-the-making.html [5/5/16]

Will Baby Boomers Ever Truly Retire?

Posted on October 18, 2016 at 12:53 pm by Washington Financial Group

Baby boomers realize that their retirements may not unfold like those of their parents. New survey data from The Pew Charitable Trusts highlights how perceptions of retirement have changed for this generation. A majority of boomers expect to work in their sixties and seventies, and that expectation may reflect their desire for engagement rather than any economic desperation.

picture309

Instead of an “endless Saturday,” the future may include some 8-to-5. Pew asked heads of 7,000 U.S. households how they envisioned retirement and also added survey responses from focus groups in Phoenix, Orlando and Boston. Just 26% of respondents felt their retirements would be work-free. A slight majority (53%) told Pew they would probably work in some context in the next act of their lives, possibly at a different type of job; 21% said they had no intention to retire at all.1

Working longer may help boomers settle debts. A study published by the Employee Benefit Research Institute in January (Debt of the Elderly and Near Elderly, 1992-2013) shows a 2.0% increase in the percentage of indebted households in the U.S. headed by breadwinners 55 and older from 2010-13 (reaching 65.4% at the end of that period). EBRI says median indebtedness for such households hit $47,900 in 2013 compared to $17,879 in 1992. It notes that larger mortgage balances have been a major factor in this.1

Debts aside, some people just like to work. Those presently on the job expect to stay in the workforce longer than their parents did. Additional EBRI data affirms this – last year, 33% of U.S. workers believed that they would leave their careers after age 65. That compares to just 11% in 1991.2

How many boomers will manage to work past 65? This is one of the major unknowns in retirement planning today. We are watching a reasonably healthy generation age into seniority, one that can access more knowledge about being healthy than ever before – yet obesity rates have climbed even as advances have been made in treating so many illnesses.

Working past 65 probably means easing into part-time work – and not every employer permits such transitions for full-time employees. The federal government now has a training program in which FTEs can make such a transition while training new workers and some larger companies do allow phased retirements, but this is not exactly the norm.3

Working less than a 40-hour week may also negatively impact a worker’s retirement account and employer-sponsored health care coverage. EBRI finds that only about a third of small firms let part-time employees stay on their health plans; even fewer than half of large employers (200 or more workers) do. The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies says part-time workers get to participate in 401(k) plans at only half of the companies that sponsor them.3

Boomers who work after 65 have to keep an eye on Medicare and Social Security. They will qualify for Medicare Part A (hospital coverage) at 65, but they should sign up for Part B (doctor visits) within the appropriate enrollment window and either a Part C plan or Medigap coverage plus Medicare Part D.3

Believe it or not, company size also influences when Medicare coverage starts for some 65-year-olds. Medicare will become the primary insurance for employees at firms with less than 20 workers when they turn 65, even if that company sponsors a health plan. At firms with 20 or more workers, the workplace health plan takes precedence over Medicare coverage, with 65-year-olds maintaining their eligibility for that employer-sponsored health coverage provided they work sufficient hours. Boomers who work for these larger employers may sign up for Part A and then enroll in Part B and optionally a Part C plan or Part D with Medigap coverage within eight months of retiring – they do not have to wait for the next open enrollment period.3

Prior to age 66, federal retirement benefits may be lessened if retirement income tops certain limits. In 2015, if you are 62-65 and receive Social Security, $1 of your benefits will be withheld for every $2 that you earn above $15,720. If you receive Social Security and turn 66, this year, then $1 of your benefits will be withheld for every $3 that you earn above $41,880.4

Social Security income may also be taxed above the program’s “combined income” threshold. (“Combined income” is defined as adjusted gross income + non-taxable interest + 50% of Social Security benefits.) Single filers with combined incomes from $25,000-34,000 may have to pay federal income tax on up to 50% of their Social Security benefits in 2015, and that also applies to joint filers with combined incomes of $32,000-44,000. Single filers with combined incomes above $34,000 and joint filers whose combined incomes top $44,000 may have to pay federal income tax on up to 85% of their Social Security benefits.5

Are boomers really the retiring type? Given the amazing accomplishments and vitality of the baby boom generation, a wave of boomers working past 65 seems more like a probability than a possibility. Life is still exciting; there is so much more to be done.


 

 

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 – marketwatch.com/story/only-one-quarter-of-americans-plan-to-retire-2015-02-26 [2/26/15]

2 – usatoday.com/story/money/columnist/brooks/2015/02/17/baby-boomer-retire/23168003/ [2/17/15]

3 – tinyurl.com/qdm5ddq [3/4/15]

4 – forbes.com/sites/janetnovack/2014/10/22/social-security-benefits-rising-1-7-for-2015-top-tax-up-just-1-3/ [10/22/14]

5 – ssa.gov/planners/taxes.htm [3/4/15]