For many of us, federal and state income taxes are one of our largest annual expenses. But there's no reason to give away so much of your hard-earned money, when investing in your future could reduce your overall tax bill.
Be on the lookout for capital losses. For many investors, gains are a significant part of their total income. Every December, your tax accountant probably tells you to look for losses to offset your capital gains. This is often a wise strategy, since it will reduce the taxes you owe on those gains. But waiting until the end of the year to perform complicated tax maneuvers could trigger suspicion at the IRS. Rather than waiting until December, look for alternative investments to offset gains throughout the year.
Consider long-term performance of assets. Many investors choose to adopt a safer, low-risk investment strategy as retirement looms. But you might be worried about immediate impact of capital gains taxes if you sell high-performing assets. But since some funds see so much turnover, it might be worth it to pay the taxes one time rather than hold onto them. Have your financial planner or tax accountant run the numbers for both scenarios. You might choose pay more taxes during one year, in exchange for lower taxes in future years.
Watch for opportunities. If you've ever talked to someone who retired early, they probably told you that they were always on the lookout for ways to save money. Keep yourself informed by following a few investment blogs, meeting regularly with your financial advisor, and scheduling regular consultations with your accountant. Staying informed on tax savings opportunities will help you to recognize valuable options when they become available to you.
14626 - 2015/6/30
How is your retirement savings strategy working for you? You might be on track toward your goals, or maybe you know you need to save more. No matter how healthy your retirement account may be, it can be easy to grow complacent about your plan.
If you saw your parents retire comfortably, seemingly without too much effort, you may be under the impression that you will be able to follow in their footsteps. But today's retirees face very different circumstances from those faced by the previous generation. As you're planning for retirement, keep the following four trends in mind.
1. You will live longer than your parents. If you were born in the 1950s, it was common to see people live to about 68 years old. That was the average life expectancy in those days. But today, the life expectancy of the average retiree is 79 years and growing. The good news is that you'll enjoy a longer retirement. The bad news is that you also have to fund that longer retirement!
2. Most people don't have a pension. Your parents' generation of workers often enjoyed retirement pensions, in which their employers offered them a guaranteed income for the rest of their lives. But pensions are becoming less popular nowadays, and even companies that still offer them are beginning to phase out the option. Pensions are being replaced by 401(k) funds, which means the responsibility of saving for retirement falls more heavily on employees.
3. The cost of health care is rising. The cost of health care has increased at two to three times the inflation rate over the past two decades. The inflation rate is near zero right now, and yet the cost of health care is still increasing by 2 to 4 percent each year! Medicare will not cover all of your medical bills and prescriptions, and supplemental insurance will only relieve some of your burden. The bottom line is that you will pay more for health care than the previous generation of retirees.
4. Social Security regulations have changed. Your parents probably didn't have to pay taxes on their Social Security benefits, but there is a good chance that you will. Full retirement age has also been redefined, so you will wait a year or two longer to start receiving your benefits. In the event that you need to stop working before you reach full retirement age, you will need a consistent form of income in the meantime.
Since the overall picture of retirement has changed rapidly in recent years, you will have to plan more carefully for retirement than your parents did. Remember to schedule regular meetings with your financial advisor to discuss your savings strategy.
14625 - 2015/6/30
You probably thought about retirement for most of your working years, and now you've finally made it to the finish line. But at some point during your retirement, you may begin to feel dissatisfied with your lifestyle. Don't waste one of the best times of your life doing things you don't truly love! Instead, take these steps to reinvent your retirement.
Question your goals. Get ready to be completely honest with yourself. Are the goals you set long ago still working for you? Maybe you have moved to the location you decided upon years ago, or you have bought that boat you always wanted. But now that boat requires too much maintenance, or you don't use it all that much. Perhaps your retirement location isn't what you had expected. Examine whether you're really happy with the decisions you made. They aren't set in stone!
Open yourself up to new experiences. Maybe that hobby you dreamed of pursuing just isn't all that much fun anymore. It's okay to drop it, and find something new to pass your time. In fact, retirement is the ideal time to experiment and discover what truly makes you happy.
Don't watch. Participate! It could be that you're simply tired of being a spectator. Rather than visiting art museums, sign up for a painting class. Don't read about foreign countries; go and visit one! Engage yourself in your interests rather than participating vicariously, and you will discover a whole new enjoyment of life.
Stop viewing life as a race to the finish line. You worked hard all your life to make it to this point, but that doesn't mean that life is over! Retirement should be about enjoying freedom, not accomplishing specific goals that you set 30 years ago. Allow yourself to grow and change, and pursue the life that appeals to you right now.
14624 - 2015/6/30
Have you ever considered what would happen to you, in the event that you become unable to care for yourself? A car accident, illness, stroke, or dementia – we are all subject to these risks, and the fallout can be costly in both an emotional and physical sense. Then, of course, is the financial aspect. Who will care for you when you need help? Perhaps you are already caring for a loved one yourself.
A new study by the National Alliance for Caregiving sheds some light on the reality of care giving in the United States. The vast majority of care givers report difficulty with all aspects of their task, such as:
These statistics point to a greater need for long-term care services in our country. Many elderly, sick, or disabled individuals want to remain in their own homes for as long as possible, while others simply cannot afford to move to a nursing home.
Part of retirement planning means we must plan for all possible circumstances as we age. Therefore, it's important to factor in the high cost of health care when planning for your retirement years. You will be living on a fixed income during retirement, whereas the cost of health care is steadily rising.
Also, consider what might happen in the event that you need long-term nursing care. Can you afford a nursing home? Would a loved one provide your care? How would they afford it? You may wish to purchase long-term care insurance, or make provisions in your financial plan to assist this friend, relative, or spouse in providing you with the care you need.
14623 - 2015/6/30
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