Life can change quickly. Emergencies and unexpected costs can happen at any time. You could lose your job and suffer through a stretch of unemployment. You could suffer an injury or illness that results in substantial medical costs. You may experience home damage or costly car repairs. These things and more are all common challenges for many households. That’s why an emergency fund is such a critical component of any financial plan.
Unfortunately, many Americans have little or no savings. A new study found that 66 million Americans have zero emergency savings. Another study found that 47 percent of Americans wouldn’t be able to cover a $400 emergency expense without borrowing money or selling something.1
Why do so many Americans lack savings? They may struggle with debt and be unable to meet their standards. They may have a standard of living that’s well beyond their means. Or they may simply think that an emergency won’t happen to them.
It’s a dilemma for anyone approaching retirement. When should you file for Social Security benefits? The general wisdom is that it’s better to delay your filing as long as possible. The longer you wait, the higher your benefit is likely to be.
Despite the fact that waiting leads to increased benefits, most people do not wait to file their claim. In fact, nearly 90 percent of all eligible Americans file a claim for Social Security at or before their full retirement age. The most common filing age is 62, which is the earliest point at which one can claim benefits.1
Do you have a significant portion of your retirement assets in a 401(k) plan or traditional IRA? If so, you’re not alone. Many Americans use these tax-deferred vehicles to accumulate retirement assets.
Traditional IRAs and 401(k) plans provide tax benefits in several ways. First, your contributions may reduce your taxable income. Traditional IRA contributions may be tax-deductible, and 401(k) contributions are taken from pretax earnings. As long as the funds stay inside the account, you don’t pay taxes on your growth.
However, you can’t defer your taxes forever. Distributions from these accounts are usually taxable. The IRS requires you to take distributions from a traditional IRA or 401(k) by age 70½. The amount of these required minimum distributions (RMDs) is based on your account balance and your age. The withdrawal usually increases as you get older.
Is retirement quickly approaching? If so, you may be in the final stages of wrapping up your career and planning your income strategy. You might be assessing your investments, considering when to file for Social Security or even reviewing your Medicare options.
One critical step is the creation of your retirement budget. A budget is always helpful, but it’s especially important in retirement. You can use it to analyze your spending and make informed buying decisions. It can also help you stay on track so you meet your long-term saving and spending goals.
Carstens Financial Group focuses on providing comprehensive asset management, estate planning and life insurance solutions. Allow us to help you secure your financial future.