Retirement Plans

Should I set up a Traditional 401(k) for my Business?

There are several different 401(k) and IRA retirement plan options that allow for the same tax treatment as a 401(k), but each has different contribution limits and costs. The different options a business owner should consider include several different 401(k) types, the SIMPLE and SEP IRA, and defined benefit (pension) plans.

Does your business have employees?

If your business has employees, you will want to consider either a 401(k) plan or a SIMPLE IRA.  The type of 401(k) plan you choose will be determined by several factors, including cost and if you want to make employee contributions.  If you do not want to contribute towards a retirement plan for your employees, you should consider a traditional 401(k), which allows for discretionary employer contributions, subject to testing.  Businesses with more than 100 employees making over $5,000 should consider a SIMPLE 401(k) or SIMPLE IRA, because they are easier to set up than traditional 401(k)s.  Employers with less than 100 employees should consider a Safe Harbor 401(k).  If your business has no employees, move on.

Do you want to contribute more than $56,000 in a retirement account?

If you answered yes and you are an older business owner, you should consider a defined benefit pension plan, which would allow much higher contribution amounts than any 401(k).  If you plan on contributing less than $56,000 annually, move on.

Are you looking to contribute more than 25% of your net compensation?

If you are, you should consider a Solo 401(k).  This allows you to contribute up to 100% of compensation or $56,000 (plus catch-up contributions).  If you will be contributing less than 25% of your net compensation, a SEP IRA would allow the same benefits as a Solo 401(k) but with less administration costs.

To learn more about the best retirement plan options for your business, check out this flowchart.

If you would like to schedule a call see what retirement plan would be optimal for you as a business owner, please give us a call at 303-440-2906 or click here to schedule a time to speak with us.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Should I Rollover my Dormant 401(k)?

401(k)’s make up a large percentage of many people’s retirement savings. These days, it’s not uncommon to change jobs several times over ones career, which can potentially mean having 401(k)’s scattered across different companies, in danger of being forgotten or invested improperly.  Read below to see if rolling over your old 401(k) will benefit you.

Is the plan well-managed and meeting your needs?

Many clients answer this question with “I don’t know”.  If that’s your answer as well, you should consider referencing your “Plan Summary Document” and your 401(k) statements to see what it is currently invested in, the fees associated with it, and the quality of your investment choices.  Often times, clients believe old 401(k)’s to be have low or no costs, while in reality they can be very, very expensive. 

Regardless of your answer above, it would be beneficial to check your 401(k)’s plan documents to see if it might be cost effective to rollover your old plan into an IRA.  Even if the 401(k) meets your investment objectives and is low cost, it may be better to roll it over.  Having separate 401(k)’s means you have to make sure to take Required Minimum Distributions, which clients overlook.  If these aren’t taken, it can mean a large tax penalty.  Check out this flowchart to learn more.

If you would like to schedule a call with us to talk about a potential 401(k) rollover or other planning needs, please give us a call at 303-440-2906 or click here to schedule a time to speak with us.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Can I make a Mega Backdoor Roth IRA Contribution?

The Roth IRA is an excellent retirement savings vehicle because it allows for tax-free earnings.  Unfortunately, there is one disadvantage over the Traditional IRA: it requires you to have a MAGI of $203,000 or lower in order to contribute to a Roth IRA.  For those ineligible to make a Roth IRA contribution but want to put away more for retirement, a mega backdoor contribution is a viable option.  Read below to see if you are eligible to make one.

Have you made a maximum contribution of $19,000 ($25,000 if you are over age 50) to your 401(k) this year?

If you have not yet maxed out your 401(k), it is generally beneficial to do this first before considering a backdoor contribution.  If you have already maxed out your 401(k) contribution, read on.

Will the 401(k) plan allow you to make non-Roth, after-tax contributions?

To answer this question, you will have to read your 401(k)’s Plan Summary Document.  If the plan does not allow for these contributions, you will be ineligible to make a Mega Backdoor Roth IRA contribution.  If your plan allows it, read on.

Is there room in the ACP test for you to make a contribution?                          

This question is complicated, and you will have to consult the plan sponsor to see if there is room for additional non-Roth contributions.  If there is not, you will not be eligible for a backdoor contribution.  If there is, you will be eligible, although there can be some loss of tax benefits.

Mega Backdoor Roth IRA Contributions are extremely complicated and take collaboration with the plan sponsor to complete.  Check out this flowchart to learn more.

If you would like to schedule a call to talk about the best strategies for Mega Backdoor Roth IRA contributions or retirement planning in general, please give us a call at 303-440-2906 or click here to schedule a time to speak with us.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Can I make a Deductible IRA Contribution?

Contributing to a Traditional IRA can allow you to not only put away tax-deferred savings into retirement, but you could also be eligible for a tax deduction in the year of contribution.  Read on to see if you can deduct your Traditional IRA contribution this year.

Do you or your spouse have earned income?                                                           

Earned income means income from wages, salaries, or bonuses.  Examples of unearned income include investment income and inheritances.  If you do not have any earned income for 2018, you will not be able to make an IRA contribution, deductible or not.  If you do have earned income, move on to the next question.

At the end of this year, will you be age 70.5 or older?

If you answered “yes”, you will be ineligible to make a contribution to a Traditional IRA.  However, you may still be able to contribute to a Roth IRA.  Check out our “Can I make a Roth IRA Contribution?” flowchart. If you will be younger than 70.5 at the end of the year, continue reading.

Did you make a full contribution to a Roth IRA?

If you answered “yes”, you will be able to pick the ex-spouse that provides the greatest benefit.  If not, your benefits will be based off the ex-spouse you were married to for longer than 10 years.  Either way, move on to the next question.

Did the divorce occur at least two years ago?

If your divorce was less than two years ago and your ex-spouse has not filed for benefits, you will have to wait until they file for Social Security before you are eligible for benefits.  If the divorce was greater than two years ago and you do not have plans to remarry (remember you must not remarry to be eligible for ex-spouse benefits), then you can claim benefits if you are at least 62 years of age.

Collecting Social Security benefits from an ex-spouse is complicated, and there are a lot of different requirements.  Check out this flowchart to learn more.

If you would like to schedule a call to talk about the best strategies for Social Security, please give us a call at 303-440-2906 or click here to schedule a time to speak with us.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Retirement Math: Save Early and Often

Plus sensible catchup strategies if you’re behind

By Robert Pyle

Key Takeaways

  • The money you sock away during the early years of your career will likely grow the most.

  • Do you know your income replacement rate?

  • Don’t get bogged down in the math—keep it simple.

  • Don’t panic if you’re behind in your retirement savings—there are plenty of ways to catch up.

 

A recent Transamerica study found that “running out of money” was the chief retirement concern for almost half of Americans. What’s more, only one-third of American workers (36%) said they were “very confident” about the ability to retire comfortably. Today’s workers change will jobs more often than their parents and grandparents did—and have more temporary disruptions to their retirement savings. But an even bigger hurdle for achieving a worry-free retirement is that people are simply living a lot longer than they used to. It’s not uncommon to have a retirement lasting three decades or longer. That’s a long time to support yourself after leaving the workforce--even before you factor in the ever-rising cost of healthcare and eldercare.


Keep it simple
You’ve had a successful career. You’re very good at making money. But, you’re probably not an expert in financial planning. Just don’t think you need to do it alone.

When clients ask me how much they should budget for retirement I always tell them to keep it simple. You don’t need to calculate how much your spending on cable TV, cars, groceries and dining out. It’s nice to know that information—and I’m sure you could economize--but all you really need to know is what your (net) paycheck is—i.e. how much are you putting in your bank account every month and then subtract any additional savings from that amount. Example: If your net paycheck is $5,000 per month after 401(k) contributions, that means you’re spending $60,000 per year. If you were saving $400 per month in a taxable account from your net deposit, your spending would be $55,200 per year.    

Example: I recently started working with a new 401(k) plan enrollee. He had a nice military pension and wanted to have $7,000 per month in retirement (i.e. $84,000 per year). I told him he’d need to accumulate 25-times that $84,000 a year in retirement -- $2.1 million—if he expected to have $7,000 per month in his golden years. How did we come up with 25x?  That the reciprocal of 4 percent (.04), the recommended annual drawdown rate for many people.


Just don’t let retirement math overwhelm you. Again, the simpler you keep it, the easier it is to follow. For instance, this back-of-the-napkin estimate can get you pretty far down the road:

      How much do you need in retirement? $7,000

      How much do you expect from Social Security? $3,000

ANSWER: You’ll need $4,000 per month (i.e. $48,000 per year) from sources other than a paycheck and Social Security. Multiply that $48K by 25 and you get $1.2 million. That’s how much you’ll need to accumulate in retirement savings before taxes. This took less than a minute to calculate.

How do I know if I’m saving enough?

A good rule of thumb is to try to save one-sixth of your gross pay (16%) for retirement. I realize that’s tough when you might be savings for your first house and/or still paying off student loans. But look at ways to save. Do you really need the newest iPhone or other tech gadget every year? Could you eat at home more instead of dining out three or four times per week?

Do what you can. Your goal is to replace at least 40 percent of your pre-retirement income. Here are some recommended savings benchmarks:

Source: Dimensional Fund Advisors, How Much Should I Save for Retirement? By Massi De Santis, PhD and Marlena Lee, PhD, June 2013

Source: Dimensional Fund Advisors, How Much Should I Save for Retirement? By Massi De Santis, PhD and Marlena Lee, PhD, June 2013

For example, if you’re 65 and making $100,000 per year, you should have accumulated $1 million in your retirement accounts by now (10x $100K). If so, then you’d realistically be able to withdraw 4 percent of that nest egg every year (i.e. $40,000). The targets above are designed to replace 40 percent of your pre-retirement salary. Hopefully, your Social Security benefits will make up the rest, along with your spouse’s retirement savings and Social Security benefits. If not, you’ll need to set a higher income replacement rate.

See short video for more on income replacement rate https://videos.dimensional.com/share/v/0_r2tsjqhg or click on the video below:

 

According to Dimensional Fund Advisors, if you want to have a 90-percent probability of reaching your retirement goal (say 40 percent replacement of income) you would need to save 19.2% of your income every year if you start saving for retirement at age 35. If can start saving earlier in life--say age 30--you only need to save 15.4% of your income. If you can start at age 25, you only need to save 13.2% of your income.

I realize even 13 percent is a big chunk of your paycheck, especially when you are young. But, the data above shows how powerful compounding can be when it’s working in your favor.

 

Importance of saving early
I can’t stress enough the importance of saving early. Let’s look at three different savings scenarios: 

  1. Start saving $4,500 per year from age 18 - 25 and then no savings afterward.

  2. Start saving $6,000 per year from age 25 - 35 and then no savings afterward.

  3. Start saving $6,000 per year from age 36 – 65 without interruption.

    Assume an 8 percent annual rate of return under each scenario

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Clearly there is a big difference between in accumulated savings between Scenario 2 and Scenario 3. Under Scenario 3, you have $322,000 less in retirement savings with the same $6,000 annual contribution than you did under Scenario 2--even though you saved $120,000 more over your working life. This illustrates the power of compounding. Scenario #1 may not be realistic, but it further emphasizes the power of starting early.


Retirement savings catchup strategies

There are a wide variety of reasons that people don’t start saving for retirement until later in life. The reasons are too complex to go into in this article, but it’s never too late to play catchup. The simplest way to catch up is to max out your 401(k) by socking away $19,000 a year ($25,000 annually if you’re over age 50). Then set up an an IRA or Roth IRA for yourself (and your spouse) and make the maximum $6,000 annual contribution to each IRA ($7,000 each if you are over 50).

Your IRA contribution may not be deductible. But a non-deductible IRA will still grow tax deferred and you will pay tax on the gain only when you take it out of the IRA. Just note that with a nondeductible IRA, you aren’t allowed to deduct your contribution from your income taxes like you can with a traditional IRA.

Maxing out your 401(k) and contributing to an IRA could give you $31,000 to $39,000 per year. And, you can still contribute to a taxable account as well. The taxable account will grow partially tax deferred. You pay tax on the dividends and capital gains each year, but not on the price appreciation of the securities. Only when you sell the assets do you pay gains on the price appreciation of the securities.

The key to making any retirement strategy work is having an “automatic savings” plan in place. I can’t stress the importance of automating your retirement savings – i.e. automatic paycheck deduction—so you don’t have to think about it and so you can’t procrastinate.

Just make sure you don’t over-save. The risk with over-savings is that you don’t have enough ready cash available for your rainy-day emergency fund. We recommend having three to six months’ worth of living expenses on hand for your emergency fund—six to twelve months’ worth if you’re self-employed.

“Retirement age” likely to get pushed out

As record numbers of Boomers reach retirement age every day—and strain the Social Security system--policymakers continue to suggest raising the minimum age to receive full benefits. The minimum age is currently 66 years and 2 months for people born in 1955, and it will gradually rise to 67 for those born in 1960 or later. There’s a strong likelihood that the minimum age to draw full benefits will be pushed out to 70 by the time today’s young people reach retirement age. These changes are based on both increasing life expectancy and the government’s chronic mismanagement of the Social Security program. 

Bottom line: if you’re going to retire early, (say age 60), you’re going to be responsible for funding your own retirement longer--until your Social Security benefits kick in. By the way, the longer you can delay taking Social Security benefits the better. Did you know your benefit amount goes up by 8 percent a year for every year you wait between age 62 and age 70?


You don’t always get to decide when to stop working
Clients who are behind in their retirement savings tell me they’ll just keep working until they’re 70. Great, but you don’t always control that decision. Health complications can come out of left field at any time as you get older and sometimes your employer has the final say on when you stop working—not you. One of my clients who was intent on working till age 70 was forced into retirement at 67. Another who planned to work until 70-plus got an early buyout package at age 60. You need to be prepared for these scenarios. If you haven’t saved enough for retirement you have to keep your skills current and be prepared to switch careers late in life.

Conclusion

When it comes to saving for retirement, the variables are many and the math can be complex. If you take nothing else away from this article, start saving as early as you can and make your savings plan as simple and automatic as possible. If you or someone close to you has concerns about your retirement savings plan, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.


Can I make a Backdoor Roth IRA Contribution?

The Roth IRA has one big advantage over the Traditional IRA: earnings are tax-free.  Unfortunately, there is one disadvantage over the Traditional IRA: it requires you to have a MAGI of $203,000 or lower in order to contribute to a Roth IRA.  There are some situations in which it makes sense to contribute to a Traditional IRA, and then immediately roll it over to a Roth IRA.  This is called a Backdoor Roth IRA Contribution.

Is your MAGI greater than $203,000 (married) or $137,000 (single)?

If your MAGI is lower than the amounts detailed above, you are able to contribute directly to a Roth IRA.  See the “Can I Contribute to my Roth IRA?” flowchart. If you are over the income limit, move on.

At the end of this year, will you be age 70.5 or older?

If you answered “yes”, you will be ineligible to make a contribution to a Backdoor Roth IRA Contribution.  If you are younger than 70.5 at the end of this year, move on to the next question.

Do you have an existing pre-tax Traditional, SEP, or Simple IRA?

If you answered “no”, you will be able to do a Backdoor Roth IRA Contribution.  If you do already have an existing pre-tax account, you will still be able to do a Backdoor Contribution, but you may be subject to aggregation and pro-rata rules.

Backdoor Roth IRA Contributions can have severe tax and penalty implications if they are not done correctly. Check out this flowchart to learn more.

If you would like to schedule a call to talk about the best strategies for Roth IRA contributions or retirement planning in general, please give us a call at 303-440-2906 or click here to schedule a time to speak with us.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Charitable Gift Annuities

It’s worth the time and effort to get up to speed on CGAs

Key Takeaways:

  • A CGA enables individuals or married couples to make a gift to a charity in exchange for an income stream that will last for the lifetime of the last survivor.

  • A CGA is a tax-advantaged way to give to worthy causes and retain predictable income. Most CGAs are in the form of cash or marketable securities, but there are many other variations.

  • The deduction is available in the year of the gift and can be carried forward for five additional years if you can’t utilize it currently.

A Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA) is a split-interest gift in which the donor makes a gift, but retains a right to an income stream. Most CGAs are very straightforward; individuals or married couples make a gift to a charity in exchange for an income stream that will last for the lifetime of the last survivor. Most gifts are made in cash or marketable securities and provide immediate income to the donor.

CGA basics

First, every state has regulations regarding CGAs issued by in-state nonprofits and often in the state of nonresident donors. The CGA is a contract between the charity and the donor, and that contract, much like a commercial annuity issued by an insurance company, becomes a general obligation of the charity. This means that all the assets of the charity are available to pay the annuity income to the donor. This alone has kept many smaller charities from offering gift annuities to their donors. However, there are now organizations such as the Charitable Giving Resource Center (CGRC) that provide turnkey gift annuity programs for small organizations. Assistance includes calculation, administration, financial stability and money management resources for organizations that are too small to handle all those responsibilities themselves.

There is a nonprofit association of organizations called the American Council on Gift Annuities (ACGA) that provides guidance on gift annuities and gift annuity rates. While charities may establish their own gift annuity rates, those that don’t utilize the ACGA rates will be required by their state to hire an independent actuary to perform the necessary calculations. The ACGA rates are meant to provide a remainder balance of 50 percent of the original gift to the charity at the death of the last survivor. This means that the charities have immediate access to some amount of the donated property that they can use for their charitable purposes.

For the donor, perhaps the greatest benefit of a CGA is the ability to make a gift to a favored organization. This should always be the first part of any conversation you have with your advisors.

Tax benefits

There are a number of economic and financial benefits as well. First, there is an income tax charitable deduction for the calculated benefit to charity. The deduction is based on the net present value of the future gift. The deduction is available in the year of the gift and can be carried forward for five additional years if the donor is not able to utilize it currently. In addition to the income tax deduction, there is a possible deferral of capital gains tax. Donors who choose to give appreciated property in exchange for their annuity will not realize the immediate gain on disposition that would normally be due upon sale. The capital gains tax will be stretched out over the lives of the income beneficiaries and paid as they receive income. In fact, one of the attractive benefits of the CGA is the nature of the income. Effectively, there is the possibility of three different tiers of income with each annuity payment:

  1. Ordinary income, which is the presumed interest rate applied to the gift.

  2. Capital gains tax based on the appreciation of the property over its cost at the time of the gift.

  3. Return of capital that is free of tax.

These factors can create a very attractive “after tax” income for some donors.

Further benefits come in the area of estate planning. Assets given to charity are normally out of the estate for estate tax purposes. And though there is a retained income, since that income ceases at death it essentially removes the gifted asset from the taxable estate. While most estates won’t face federal estate tax because of the current exemption being so high, it is important to remember that many states impose their own estate tax and impose it on far smaller estates.

Other applications and considerations

While we’ve covered the very basics of CGAs, there are many other things to know from the perspective of income flexibility and asset transfer. Most CGAs provide income that begins immediately upon the completion of the transfer of the asset to charity. However, it is possible to establish an annuity or series of annuities that will be deferred for a period of time. It is also possible to structure annuities that increase the payment amount over time. There are many reasons why you might consider these options. Planning for retirement is the first thing that comes to mind, but providing income to pay for a grandchild’s college tuition is also a common reason. The possibilities seem endless.

Although we have discussed gifts only of cash and marketable securities because they are the most common assets used, almost any other asset can be utilized. With only 10 percent of American wealth held in liquid assets, freeing up illiquid resources might make the best approach. CGAs can be created with gifts of artwork, real estate, cash-value insurance policies, distributions from qualified plans such as IRAs, closely held stock and almost any other asset you can think of. The rules that govern each of these assets vary, and advisors must become familiar with them in order to provide the most appropriate recommendations to their clients.

Conclusion

While CGAs can be remarkably simple on the surface, they encompass many disciplines and have many variations. Contact me any time to see how this powerful planning tool-and its many nuances--can help you better serve your charitable desires, as well as your estate and income planning needs.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

7 Financial Tips for Recent Grads

Key Takeaways

  • Monthly cash flow is king. Developing both short-term and long-term strategies within that balance will develop money habits that can lead to long-term success in life.

  • Budgeting software can be very helpful. But as with retirement calculators, budgeting tools are only as accurate as the inputs and assumptions you plug in.

  • It’s never too early to start saving for retirement.


As the old saying goes: “Give a hungry person a fish and you’ll feed them for a day. Teach them how to fish and you’ll feed them for a lifetime.”

 

Recent grads are transitioning from student life to the workforce, from being focused on their education to focusing on their careers. Every student’s financial situation is different. Here are some tips that young people can use to get their financial lives off to a great start.

 

The facts are frightening:

  •  For today’s college grads, average student debt is almost $40,000.

  • Too many people are on the path to running out of money well before they die.

  • More than half of U.S. adults (including the wealthy) don’t have up-to-date financial, estate and gift plans to protect themselves and their families.

 

This lack of financial knowledge places a HUGE amount of pressure on the individual, their families and friends, employers, nonprofits; as well as on the ultimate safety net of the state and federal government.

 

Don't let you or your loved ones become one of these alarming statistics! Here are seven fundamental financial tips to help the recent grads in your life get off to a good start:

 

1. Create a “grown up” budget. One of the most important transitions for most new college graduates is taking responsibility for their finances—all their finances. With the financial freedom of a new job, it may seem they don’t need to manage their money. But with new expenses, such as rent, utilities and car payments, plus your student loan bills, it can be easy to overspend. A good budget not only gives them a snapshot of income versus regular bills--it provides peace of mind knowing when they can afford a night out or an impulse buy. Software programs such as Mint or You Need a Budget can be a big help.

NOTE: Like the retirement calculators you see online—budgeting tools are only as good as the information and assumptions plugged into them. Encourage the young adults in your life to consult with a qualified financial advisor to help them plug in the right inputs and assumptions.

2. Deal with your debt.  Whether it is from student loans or credit cards, it is important to focus on reducing your debt. Graduating with debt can be debilitating, but having a plan to pay off debt can help grads get back in control of their finances. Focus on paying off debt with higher interest rates first, like credit cards. When possible, make extra payments. Paying off debt early will lower interest charges and can save money over the life of the loan.

3. Retirement planning starts now.  It may seem odd to think about retirement when you are just starting out in the workforce, but in many ways, the first contributions are the most important. Encourage new grads to take advantage of their employer’s 401(k) as soon as they are eligible. Waiting just one year to contribute to your 401(k) could lower the retirement nest egg by up to $100,000. Waiting 10 years could drop their 401(k) by half.

4. Save for emergencies. While often neglected, planning for emergencies should be a priority. Having an emergency fund can help with anything from an unexpected car repair to high medical bills to major household repair to job loss. Always keep three to six months’ worth of normal living expenses on hand. Creating an emergency fund is as simple as setting up a direct deposit from one’s paycheck to a savings account.

5. Upgrade your accounts. Graduation is a good time to reevaluate your bank and credit card accounts. As young adults join the workforce and become responsible renters or homeowners, financial needs will change—A LOT! The checking account they were eligible for as a student may not provide the flexibility or benefits they need now. Check what other account options the bank offers. Be sure to shop around to make sure they have the right accounts, and the right bank, for their new financial situation.

6. Upgrade credit cards. Used correctly, credit cards are an essential tool to establish good credit history. Good credit can lower the interest rate on auto loans and home loans. The credit cards that students are eligible for are generally entry-level cards that have a higher interest rate and fewer rewards and benefits. New grads should look for credit cards that give the most rewards for their normal spending habits and financial goals. If they think they may occasionally carry a balance, they should look for a card with a low interest rate. If their goal is to travel, look for a card that offers plenty of mileage rewards.


7. Hire a financial planner/mentor. New grads might not think they have enough income or assets to use a professional financial advisor, but they’d be surprised to see what they own, what they owe and what they’ll need going forward. Among other things, a planner can help them decide whether to consolidate student loans, whether to save for retirement using a Roth 401(k) or traditional 401(k), how to invest their money, how much life insurance to buy, and so much more.


Note to parents and grandparents:
A great graduation gift would be a one or two-hour consultation with a qualified and competent financial planner.

Conclusion

Life is full of transitions.
Some will be good, others will be a challenge. Having a network of family, friends and financial advisors in your corner will make it substantially easier for new grads to roll with the punches and adjust to their ever-changing life circumstances. As always, I’m here to help if you have concerns about your tuition financial plans.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Get a Home Equity Line of Credit Before You Really Need It

Get a Home Equity Line of Credit Before You Really Need It

It’s especially important to establish your line before you retire

By Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA, AEP®

Key Takeaways

  • When used intelligently, home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) can be excellent cash flow management tools.

  • Contrary to what you might have heard, the interest on HELOCs remains tax deductible when used to pay for home improvements.

  • Don’t wait until you’ve left the workforce to establish a HELOC. Even high net worth individuals can have trouble qualifying when they no longer show employment income.

We’ve been trained most of our lives to treat debt as evil and interest rates as the devil’s work. But, sometimes well-managed debt can provide substantial flexibility and leverage as you pursue your financial and life goals. Demonstrating that you can handle debt responsibly can also boost your credit rating.

If you are a homeowner in good standing, a HELOC can be a very powerful tool for consolidating credit card debt, paying for home renovations, a wedding, a new car purchase, unexpected medical expenses, auto or home repair, even college tuition. Despite the Fed’s recent hikes in interest rates, the rate you are likely to pay on a HELOC will be far lower than what you’ll pay on credit cards, auto loans, student loans, etc.


The key is to finance your big-ticket expenses without depleting your rainy day funds or cashing out stocks or other assets and incurring capital gains taxes—and possibly pushing yourself into a higher tax bracket, especially if you’re retired. HELOCs check all the boxes.

Many folks hope to have all their debt paid off before retirement. But a HELOC can be a very effective tool for managing your cash flow and account withdrawals in retirement.


Just make sure you obtain a HELOC before retiring

Many retirees are shocked to learn they don’t have enough monthly income to meet their bank’s debt ratio (debt/income requirements) when applying for a HELOC or home equity loan. Also, underwriting criteria for these so-called second mortgages has tightened up considerably since the last recession. Most lenders don't look at your assets; they only look at income and credit scores. In addition to retirement benefits (e.g., social security), you may have to provide proof of other income -- enough to make the loan payments. 

 
Don’t believe me? We once had a self-employed client with a $4 million net worth and he and his wife still couldn’t qualify for a HELOC or other type of second mortgage.

Why shouldn’t I just get a home equity loan?

As mentioned earlier, HELOCs and home equity loans are types of “second mortgages” secured by the equity you have built up in your primary residence. Generally, the choice between the two types of credit depends on your intended use for the money and your time frame for repayment. For instance, if you have a set amount in mind for a specific expense such as a wedding, a new septic system or new roof--and you have no further foreseeable expenses--then a fixed rate home equity loan makes sense. However, if your needs are more open-ended—say, a major home renovation that will span a year or two, or to supplement a child's college tuition each year for the next four years--then the more flexible HELOC could be the better option.

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Unlike a convention loan with a fixed payment schedule, a HELOC allows you to pay down as much of the outstanding principal as you want when your cash flow is good, but only requires you to pay the minimum amount of interest when and no principal when cash is tight. Further, you can pay down the entire outstanding balance (draw) at any time during the duration of the loan term (typically 5-10 years)—and later tap into your line again as life circumstances change.

I’m sure those of you who are business owners understand this concept well.

Why should I pay “all that interest”?


That’s a refrain I often hear from clients and prospects. For example, say you have $300,000 in a taxable account, and you are debating whether to use $60,000 of this money for a major house remodel or get a HELOC. If you use the money from the taxable account, you could potentially have capital gains. If you get a HELOC, you could pay off that expense gradually and keep a lot more of your money fully invested—while deducting the HELOC interest from their taxable income if you can itemize. The typical answer for not choosing a HELOC is because most people don’t want to be paying “all that interest.”

We take a different approach when looking at interest. First, we look to see if you can write the interest off. Then we look at the average rate of return on your portfolio. If your portfolio has been averaging the same or more than the after-tax cost of the loan, then we recommend you go with the loan.

EXAMPLE: Let’s take a $60,000 loan at a 5 percent interest rate. If you can earn a 7-percent return on your portfolio, that 2-percent spread in your favor translates into $1,200 more in your pocket every year that you have the loan.

 

I know what you’re thinking: “I thought the interest on HELOCs isn’t deductible anymore (post Tax Reform).” Actually, it is as long as the funds are being used for home improvements.
(See Example 1 below).

put in article 4.JPG

Conclusion

If you or someone close to you has concerns about their cash flow and expense management needs, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d be happy to help.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail
info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Am I Eligible for Social Security as a Surviving Spouse?

Many clients think of Social Security only as a retirement benefit, but there are many ways one can qualify for other benefits that are available via the program.  If a spouse passes away, the surviving spouse may be eligible to receive a benefit.  This benefit helps alleviate the financial burden of losing an income earner or the home duties that the deceased spouse was responsible for previously.

Has your spouse (ex-spouse) passed away?

If you answered “yes”, move on to the next question.  If your spouse (ex-spouse) is not deceased, you may still be eligible for other benefits.  See the “Am I Eligible for Social Security Benefits as a Spouse?” flowchart here.

Did a divorced spouse pass away?

If your ex-spouse passed away and you have a child collecting dependent care benefits, or you did not remarry, you may be eligible for survivor benefits or an amount of your ex-spouse’s Social Security retirement benefit.  If you were not divorced, move on to the next question.

Were you married at least 9 months?

If you answered “yes,” move on to the next question.  If you were not married for 9 months or more, you would not be eligible for spousal survivor benefits.

Did you remarry?

If you did not remarry, you are eligible for Social Security benefits based on your deceased spouse’s earnings record.  If you did remarry before 60, you will not be eligible for benefits from your deceased spouse, but rather will likely be eligible for benefits from your current spouse’s record.

Collecting Social Security benefits as a surviving spouse can be crucial to alleviating your financial burden, and there are a lot of different requirements.  Check out this flowchart to learn more.

If you would like to schedule a call to talk about the best strategies for Social Security, please give us a call at 303-440-2906 or click here to schedule a time to speak with us.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Will I Avoid the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision?

The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) applies to Social Security recipients who have their own retirement savings as well as a pension from an employer who did not pay into Social Security.  The purpose of WEP is to disallow for the collection of full Social Security benefits when a retiree has retirement savings and a pension from employers who opted out of Social Security (commonly local government).  Read on to see if you could have your Social Security benefits reduced by the Windfall Elimination Provision.

Have you worked for an employer that did not withhold for Social Security (such as a govt. agency)?

If you have not, then the WEP does not apply to you and will be eligible for full Social Security benefits.  If “yes,” then move on to the next question.

Do you qualify for Social Security benefits from work you did in previous jobs?

If not, then you will not be subject to the WEP.  If you have, move on.

Are you a federal worker in the FERS retirement system and first hired after 12/31/1983?

If you are a federal worker who meets the conditions outlined above, you will not be subject to WEP.  If you are not a federal worker or are a federal worker and do not meet the above conditions, you may be subject to the Windfall Elimination Provision.

The Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision is complicated and has a large influence on your retirement situation should it affect you.  Check out this flowchart to learn more.

If you would like to schedule a call to talk the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision to see if it affects you, please give us a call at 303-440-2906 or click here here to schedule a time to speak with us.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Will My Roth IRA Conversion be Penalty-Free?

There are several situations in which a Roth Conversion could benefit your future tax situation.  Whether you have lower income this year or want to take advantage of low tax rates, you will want to make sure you avoid any penalties.  Let’s take a look:

Are you converting a Traditional IRA?

If your answer is “yes”, move on to the next question.  If you are converting a SIMPLE IRA, the answer is a bit more complicated depending on how long you have had the Simple IRA.  Check out our chart to learn more.

Are you expecting to take a distribution within 5 years of your conversion?

If you are far from retirement, then your answer to this will likely be “no”, then you can convert any amount.  Remember that any conversion amount is taxed as ordinary income and could increase your Medicare Part B & D premiums.  If you plan to take distributions within 5 years and are under 59.5, you may be subject to a penalty. If you are taking Required Minimum Distributions then you will have to take your RMD before any conversion.

Advantages of a Roth IRA

Roth IRA’s are particularly advantageous if there are changes (increases) in tax rates. Here are ways you could be subject to higher taxes in the future.

1.      The Government raises tax rates.

2.      One spouse passes away and now you are subject to single rates instead of married rates. When a spouse passes away, your expenses are not cut in half but the brackets are cut in half.

3.      Your expenses dramatically increase because you are in an assisted living facility or a nursing home.

If you’ve made it this far, there is a good chance you can make a Roth IRA conversion penalty-free.  Check out this flowchart to learn more.

If you would like to schedule a call to talk about the best strategy for converting a IRA to a Roth IRA, give us a call at 303-440-2906 or click here to schedule a time to speak with us.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Should I Inherited My Deceased Spouse’s IRA?

When a spouse is the beneficiary of the IRA of their deceased spouse’s IRA, there are several options available. Each option has its own advantages, depending on the needs of the surviving spouse.  Read below to see which option benefits you best.

Are you the sole beneficiary to your spouse’s Traditional IRA?

If you are not the sole beneficiary, your situation is a bit more complicated.  Check out our “Can I Delay the RMD from the Traditional IRA I Inherited?” flowchart here If you are the sole beneficiary, move on to the next question.

What best describes your situation:

You plan to use all the assets in five years

Consider electing the 5 year rule if you expect significant expenses over the next five years that will deplete the account.  This allows you to take distributions at any time over the next five years of any amount, provided the account is depleted at the end of five years.  Keep in mind you will need to pay ordinary income tax on all distributions in the year they are taken.

You want income and are younger than 59.5 years old

Consider inheriting the IRA, which will allow you to take distributions from the IRA penalty-free.  You will be required to take RMDs based on the IRS Single Life Expectancy table.  Of course, you can take any amount of distributions that you need as long as the distribution is greater than or equal to the RMD.

You don’t want income and/or are younger than your deceased spouse

Consider rolling over the IRA into your own IRA.  This will allow you to avoid taking RMDs until the year after you turn 70.5.  If needed, you can take distributions as soon as you hit 59.5.

 

There are a lot of factors to consider when deciding which option is best for you.  Check out this flowchart to learn more.

If you would like to schedule a call to talk about the best strategy for an IRA you have inherited, give us a call at 303-440-2906 or click here to schedule a time to speak with us.

 

 Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

 

Buy-Sell Agreements

20-plus issues for every closely held business owner to consider


Key Takeaways:

  • Buy-sell agreements come in three basic forms but must be individually tailored to suit the specific needs of your business.

  • Make sure the agreement meets your ongoing needs, including tax, retirement, insurance and funding issues.

  • Without appropriate “exit” plans in place, ownership changes can be worse than Hollywood divorces—bitter, expensive and devastating to all involved.



Almost all owners of closely held businesses put all of their time, effort and money into launching and growing their businesses. Tragically, they put little effort into protecting what they have built from devastation caused by one or more of the owners leaving the business. Without an appropriate “exit” plan in place, changes in business ownership can be worse than a Hollywood divorce—bitter, expensive and devastating to all involved.

Don’t be fooled! Changes in ownership happen every day in all types of businesses for a multitude of reasons: death, retirement, disability, divorce, voluntary and involuntary termination of employment, lawsuits, financial and economic setbacks, bankruptcy, and selling and gifting interests, just to name a few. The disruptions caused by these events usually result in severe financial consequences for everyone involved, including collateral damage to customer, supplier, banking and employee relationships as well as to long-term company goodwill.

Consider a buy-sell agreement from Day One


Perhaps the biggest tragedy is that most, if not all, of the aforementioned problems can be avoided by putting a well-drafted buy-sell agreement in place right from the start. That’s when all the owners are still in the “honeymoon” stage of the business and relations are most amicable. However, it is never too late to put a buy-sell agreement in place, and some honest thought and open communication will strengthen and protect the business and bring peace of mind to everyone involved. Remember, ownership changes are bound to happen, but having a plan in place to deal with those changes will always smooth out the road ahead.

Next steps


Now that you are convinced that a buy-sell plan is critical for the health and well-being of both the business and the individual business owners, where do you go from here? First, consult with an experienced business lawyer who can walk you through the process and help craft a plan that fits the specific needs of both the business and the individual owners. Second, understand that no two agreements are ever the same, although they generally fall into one of three categories:

1.      Cross-Purchase Agreements, which can be ideal for a business with a small number of owners. When a triggering event occurs, the remaining owners directly purchase the departing owner’s interests in the business.

2.      Stock Redemption Agreements, which can be simpler and easier to structure. Generally they can be better-suited for entities with more owners. With these types of agreements the entity purchases the ownership interests of the departing owner. The remaining owners receive an increase in the value of their interests, not in the number of interests they own.

3.      Hybrid Agreements, which are a combination of cross-purchase agreements and redemption agreements. Generally the entity has the obligation to redeem the interest of the departing owner, but the remaining owners have the option of directly purchasing the departing owner’s interests if the entity is unwilling or unable to do so.

In order to determine which type of agreement will best suit your needs, consider the following issues:

  1. How many owners does the business have today and will have in the future?

  2. Is the business family-owned or are third parties involved?

  3. What type of business is involved, and are there specific issues that need to be addressed relating to the entity’s business, such as professional licensing or trade issues?

  4. What is the legal structure of the business: corporation, S corporation, partnership, limited liability company?

  5. What is the age and health status of each business owner?

  6. Is each of the owners insurable?

  7. What percentage of the business does each owner hold?

  8. What is the value of the business, and how is that value determined?

  9. What are the tax implications of each type of agreement?

  10. What are the transfer implications of each type of agreement?

  11. What restrictions will be put on the transfer of interests?

  12. Will the interests be subject to rights of first refusal?

  13. How will the business be valued and the purchase price determined? How often will the business be revalued? Will the interests be valued differently depending on the specific transfer event?

  14. Will there be penalty provisions for violating the terms of the agreements and/or conduct damaging the business?

  15. How will the transfer of interests be funded? Will insurance such as life insurance and disability insurance be mandated, and if so, how will premiums be paid?

  16. How will the transfers be paid, all upfront or over time? If the payments are over time, what are the terms and the arrangements to secure payment?

  17. Is the agreement aligned with other important legal documents such as the entity organizational documents, employment agreements, business agreements and contracts, banking agreements, and the estate planning documents of the individual owners?

  18. Coordinate the agreement with related property that may be owned by each of the business owners. Examples include affiliated businesses, insurance policies, land and personal property, intellectual property, and leases.

  19. How will termination of the business be handled?

  20. How often will the agreement be reviewed? Doing so annually is a good idea.

  21. How will disputes related to the agreement be handled—litigation, mediation or arbitration?

The foregoing is not a complete checklist of every issue that needs to be considered, but it will give you a good platform to begin discussions between you and your legal counsel.

Conclusion


First, properly structured buy-sell agreements are critical to the survival of any closely held business; they are not an option. Second, these agreements must be tailored to the specific needs of the business. One size doesn’t fit all. Finally, businesses and relationships constantly change; consequently, buy-sell agreements must be reviewed and updated regularly. An out-of-date agreement is next to worthless.

 

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.



Life Never Stops Changing

Neither do your giving and financial decisions


Key Takeaways

  • The most impactful gifts are often the result of personal tragedy or triumph.

  • We spend so much of our lives in the wealth accumulation phase that it’s easy to forget the positive impact that our money can have on others.

  • An astute advisor not only helps you optimize your investments, cash flow and wealth protection, but your legacy as well.

Meetings with your financial advisors bring to mind thoughts of balance sheets, net worth statements, stock options, investments, insurance policies and employee benefits. While these documents tell your various advisors what you have, they don’t tell them who you are, what you want or what truly motivates you.

I’ve learned over the years that after gaining a client’s trust, and after carefully opening the door to their personal side, we find out what truly makes them tick and what shapes the lens from which they see the world.

Often we come across tremendous stories of tragedy and triumph (or both). These are pivotal moments in an individual’s background – typically turning into a focus for future action. And sometimes that action is philanthropic – one that highlights the triumph or attempts to solve the problem that caused the tragedy.

For instance, a daughter’s death at the hands of a drunk driver left a family with such a need for a voice that Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.) was brought into existence. Today, M.A.D.D. is the largest advocacy group in the country focused on preventing individuals from driving while intoxicated – its existence motivated by a heartbreaking loss.

Everyone deals and reacts to adversity in their own way – we must understand and accept that.

While tragedy is one side of the equation, there are also triumphs to celebrate – easier to discuss and just as big a motivation. Many years ago I worked with an extremely wealthy individual who kept telling me that he wasn’t charitable and that he didn’t really care about much of anything. He went on at length about how he was “self-made” and had come from nothing.

It wasn’t until when he revealed that he’d been raised in an orphanage that I realized how critical the orphanage had been to his upbringing and success. Today, that orphanage is endowed by a large gift by my client. It not only represents his personal victory, but an acknowledgment to the people who helped him triumph over his circumstances.

For some, it may be a coach, teacher or program that launches a successful athletic or academic career. It may be the person who helped you discover that you were good at math or the person who took the time to elicit your musical genius when no one else could see it. By doing so, we may discover a desire to make a gift, to return the favor, to pay it forward.

Life Never Stops Changing

Change is an inevitable part of life. We start new jobs, we send kids off to college, we lose a parent or gain a grandchild. Change can be daunting – but viewed through a different lens, it presents opportunity to raise the important questions about philanthropy.

In many circumstances, philanthropy can be the best solution to the change that’s taking place – if only we think to ask our advisors how.

Let’s look at some major life changes and see where you and your advisor might discuss gift opportunities at the appropriate time.

Suppose you are approaching retirement. Let’s assume you are the major breadwinner of your household and you are also hoping to downsize. As ordinary income (your paycheck) ceases, the desire to convert dormant or low yielding assets into supplemental income normally increases. This may be an opportunity to reposition low-basis assets into a pooled income fund (PIF), a charitable remainder trust (CRT) or even a gift annuity. Furthermore, the downsizing might free up additional capital with which to consider similar split interest gifts.

The birth of a grandchild may inspire a fund for college education. You can go the traditional 529 route or consider certain types of CRTs that turn into income in 18 years.

Widowhood is another significant life change that triggers emotional and financial upheaval, and often changes to family dynamics. If your late spouse was the main financial decision maker in your relationship, you may feel lost and frightened about the future. Perhaps the best solution is simplification and consolidation – taking multiple accounts and creating one large gift annuity, charitable trust or pooled income fund that delivers quarterly income. You should also examine gifts such as life estate agreements – which relieve the children of dealing with a house they usually don’t want anyway.

A serious illness is another major life change that brings a host of emotional and financial worries. But as you and your family delve into researching your loved one’s illness and treatment options, it can also motivate giving to support further research into curing or ameliorating that illness or disease.

Change is everywhere and change is constant. While some changes go unnoticed, others represent a prime turning point in our lives. We spend so much of our lives in the wealth accumulation phase that we sometimes forget the power our wealth can have to make lives better for others.

Conclusion

Just as an astute advisor can help you optimize your investments, cash flow and wealth protection strategies, he or she can also help you optimize the power of your giving.

All you have to do is email us or give us a call.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

 

 

Will My Roth IRA Conversion be Penalty-Free?

There are several situations in which a Roth Conversion could benefit your future tax situation.  Whether you have lower income this year or want to take advantage of low tax rates, you will want to make sure you avoid any penalties.  Let’s take a look:

Are you converting a Traditional IRA?

If your answer is “yes”, move on to the next question.  If you are converting a SIMPLE IRA, the answer is a bit more complicated depending on how long you have had the Simple IRA.  Check out our chart to learn more.

Are you expecting to take a distribution within 5 years of your conversion?

If you are far from retirement, then your answer to this will likely be “no”, then you can convert any amount.  Remember that any conversion amount is taxed as ordinary income and could increase your Medicare Part B & D premiums.  If you plan to take distributions within 5 years and are under 59.5, you may be subject to a penalty. If you are taking Required Minimum Distributions then you will have to take your RMD before any conversion.

Advantages of a Roth IRA

Roth IRA’s are particularly advantageous if there are changes (increases) in tax rates. Here are ways you could be subject to higher taxes in the future.

1.      The Government raises tax rates.

2.      One spouse passes away and now you are subject to single rates instead of married rates. When a spouse passes away, your expenses are not cut in half but the brackets are cut in half.

3.      Your expenses dramatically increase because you are in an assisted living facility or a nursing home.

If you’ve made it this far, there is a good chance you can make a Roth IRA conversion penalty-free.  Check out this flowchart to learn more.

If you would like to schedule a call to talk about the best strategy for converting a IRA to a Roth IRA, give us a call at 303-440-2906 or click here to schedule a time to speak with us.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Will My Social Security Benefit be Reduced?

Social Security has been undergoing changes due to funding concerns, and it looks like there may well be more in the future.  This leads to many of our clients asking us “Will I receive the Social Security benefits we planned for?”  Let’s take a look:

At what age can you collect Social Security?

For anyone born in 1960 or after, your Full Retirement Age (FRA) is 67.  If you were born before 1960, you will be eligible for a full Social Security benefit between 66-67 years old, depending on your birth year. 

Can you collect benefits on your own work history?

The answer for most people is yes, but it depends on how long you have been in the workforce.  If you haven’t paid into Social Security for at least 10 years, your benefits will be reduced. 

Special Situations

If you are married and don’t have a work history see the “Am I Eligible for Social Security Benefits as a Spouse?” flowchart.

If you are widowed see the “Am I Eligible for Social Security Benefits as a Surviving Spouse?” flowchart.

If you are divorced see the “Am I Eligible for Social Security Benefits as a Divorced Individual?” flowchart.

At what age will you start taking Social Security?

As discussed above, the Full Retirement Age is typically around 67 years old.  You can, however, elect to start Social Security as early as 62 or as late as 70.  The later you postpone your benefits, the larger your monthly check will be going forward.  To learn more about how much benefits you can expect to receive, and how you can increase your Social Security payout during retirement, check out our chart here.

If you would like to schedule a call to talk about the best strategy for taking Social Security, give us a call at 303-440-2906 or click here to schedule a time to speak with us.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Is a Cash Balance Plan Right for You? Part 1

Key questions to consider before pulling the trigger

By Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA


You’ve worked incredibly hard to build your business, medical practice or law practice. But, despite enjoying a robust income and the material trappings of success, many business owners and professional are surprised to learn that their retirement savings are way behind where they need to be if they want to continue living the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed.

In response, many self-employed high earners are increasingly turning to Cash Balance Plans (CBPs) in the latter stages of their careers to dramatically supplement their 401(k)s—and their staffs’ 401(k)s as well. Think of a CBP as a supercharged (and tax advantaged) retirement catchup program. For a 55-year-old, the CBP contribution limit is around $265,000, while for a 65-year-old, the CBP limit is $333,000—more than five times the ($62,000) limit they could contribute to a 401(k) this year.

Boomers who are sole proprietors or partners in medical, legal and other professional groups account for much of the growth in CBPs. For many older business owners, the tax advantages that come with plowing six-figure annual contributions into the CBPs far outweigh the costs.


As I wrote in my earlier article: CBPs: Offering a Break to Successful Doctors, Dentists and Small Business Owners, CBPs can offer tremendous benefits for business owners and professionals who own their own practices….especially if they’re in the latter stages of their careers. There are just some important caveats to consider before taking this aggressive retirement catchup plunge.


CBPs benefit your employees as well


Business owners should expect to make profit sharing contributions for rank-and-file employees amounting to roughly 5 percent to 8 percent of pay in a CBP. Compare that to the 3 percent contribution that's typical in a 401(k) plan. Participant accounts also receive an annual "interest credit," which may be a fixed rate, such as 3-5 percent, or a variable rate, such as the 30-year Treasury rate. At retirement, participants can take an annuity based on their account balance. Many plans also offer a lump sum that can be rolled into an IRA or another employer's plan.

Common retirement planning mistakes among successful doctors


Three things are pretty common:

1) They’re not saving enough for retirement.

2) They’re overconfident. Because of their wealth and intellect, doctors get invited to participate in many “special investment opportunities.” They tend to investment in private placements, real estate and other complex, high-risk opportunities without doing their homework.
3) They feel pressure to live the successful doctor’s lifestyle. After years of schooling and residency, they often feel pressure to spend lavishly on high-end cars, homes, private schools, country clubs and vacations to keep up with other doctors. There’s also pressure to keep a spouse happy who has patiently waited and sometimes supported them, for years and years of medical school, residency and further training before the high income years began.

Common retirement planning mistakes among successful dentists


Dentists are similar to doctors when it comes to their money (see above), although dentists tend to be a bit more conservative in their investments. They’re not as likely to invest in private placements and real estate ventures for instance. Like doctors, dentists are often unaware of how nicely CBPs can set them up in their post-practicing years. They’re often not aware that they have retirement savings options beyond their 401(k)…$19,000 ($25,000 if age 50 and over). For instance, many dentists don’t realize that with a CBP they could potentially contribute $200,000 or more. It’s very important for high earning business owners and medical professionals to coordinate with their CPA who really understands how CBPs work and can sign off on them.

Common objections to setting up a CBP

First, the high earning professional or business owner must commit to saving a large chunk of their earnings for three to five years—that means having the discipline not to spend all of their disposable income on other things such as expensive toys, memberships, vacations and other luxuries.

Another barrier they face is a reluctance to switch from the old way of doing things to the new way. Just like many struggle to adapt to a new billing system or new technology for their businesses or practices, the same goes for their retirement savings. Because they’re essentially playing retirement catchup, they’re committing to stashing away a significant portion of their salary for their golden years. It can “pinch” a little at first. By contrast, a 401(k) or Simple IRA  contribution is a paycheck “deduction” that they barely notice.

A CBP certainly has huge benefits, but it requires a different mindset about savings and it requires more administration and discipline, etc. However, if you have a good, trustworthy office administrator or if you have a 401(k) plan that’s integrated with your payroll, then that can make things much easier. It’s very important to have a system that integrates payroll, 401(k) and CBP. That can simplify things tremendously. For example, 401(k) contributions can be taken directly out of payroll and CBP contributions can be taken directly out of the owner/employer’s bank account.

Before jumping headfirst into the world of CBPs, I recommend that high earning business owners and professional rolling it out in stages over time.

1. Start with a SIMPLE IRA.
2. Then move to 401(k) plan that you can max out--and make employee contributions.

3. Add a profit sharing component for employees which typically is in the 2% range and this will usually allow you to max out at $56,000 (under 50) or $62,000 (age 50 and over)
4.  Once comfortable with the mechanics of a 401(k) and profit sharing, then introduce a CBP.


Conclusion

If you’re behind in your retirement savings, CBPs are an excellent tool for supercharging the value of your nest egg and can possibly allow you to retire even sooner than you thought. CBPs take a little more set-up and discipline to execute, but once those supercharged retirement account statements start rolling in, I rarely find a successful owner or professional who doesn’t think the extra effort was worth it.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

 


Am I eligible for a Qualified Business Income (QBI) Deduction?

Due to recent tax law changes effective 2018, many are left in a state of confusion about what tax credits or deductions their business may qualify for.  For business owners, the Qualified Business Income deduction is one of the most advantageous new deductions available to them.  It allows for qualified businesses to deduct up to 20% of their income, reducing their tax bill by a considerable margin.  What makes a business a “Qualified Business?”

There are a several requirements to qualify for the QBI deduction.  Could your business be qualified for these tax deductions?  Read on to find out:

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Staying Organized and Financial Planning Are Keys to Success

11 tactics to make this your best year ever

Key Takeaways:

  • The beginning of a new year is a particularly good time for you and your family to review finances and to update financial plans.

  • Staying organized and planning finances are lifelong processes, and the keys to reaching and maintaining financial success.

  • Sensible financial management is more than budgeting and saving for retirement. It’s about being ready to handle a lifetime of financial challenges, needs and changes.

Happy New Year to you and your family!

The beginning of a new year is a good time to review your finances and update financial strategies and plans. This year is especially important as financially challenging times continue for many individuals and businesses, rich and poor, big and small.

Even if the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA) had not been passed, most would say that managing their personal finances is more complicated and more important than ever before. We’re living longer, but saving proportionately less. Many of us feel less secure in our jobs and homes than we did in the past. We see our money being drained by the high cost of housing, taxes, education and health care. We worry about the future, or unfortunately, in too many cases, we simply try not to think about it.

More than simply budgeting and saving

Sensible financial management means much more than budgeting and putting money away for retirement. It means being equipped to handle a lifetime of financial challenges, needs and changes; figuring out how to build assets and staying ahead of inflation; taking advantage of deflation; and choosing wisely from a constantly widening field of savings, investment and insurance options. When it comes to finances, you are faced with more pressures and more possibilities than ever before.

The good news is that as complex as today’s financial world is, there’s no real mystery to sound personal money management. What you need is a solid foundation of organization and decision-making, plus the willingness to put those two things into action. I’ll talk about those core principles in just a minute.

Effective financial management involves certain procedures that you don’t usually learn from your parents or friends—and unfortunately they aren’t currently taught in our schools. It’s more than just a matter of gathering enough information and then making a logical decision. In fact, for many people, the constant barrage of economic news, fragmented financial information and investment product advertisements is part of the problem. Information overload can be a major obstacle to sorting out choices and making wise decisions.

The Financial Awareness Foundation, a California-based not-for-profit organization developed a simple personal financial management system that’s designed to help you save time and money, while providing a systematic approach to help you better manage finances. The key is to stay organized, remain aware of money issues, and make deliberate choices about ways to spend, save, insure and invest your assets. That’s so much smarter than simply following your emotions or “going with the flow.”

Getting organized

1. Paperwork. Everyone has primary financial documents—birth certificates, marriage certificates, current year net-worth statement, retirement plan beneficiary statements, deeds of trust, certificates of vehicle title, last three tax returns, gift tax returns, insurance policies, wills, trusts, powers of attorney, passwords, digital paperwork, etc. Organize this information and keep it in a safe central location that ties into your paper and digital filing systems.

2. Net Worth. Know where you stand by inventorying what you own and what you owe. The beginning of a new year is an excellent time to do this, but you can do it any time. Just be sure to do this personal inventory at least once a year.

3. Cash Flow. Gain control of cash flow by spending according to a plan, not spending impulsively.

4. Employment Benefits. Make sure you fully understand employee benefits (the “hidden paycheck”) at your company. Maximize any dollar amounts that your employer contributes toward health insurance, life insurance, retirement plans and other benefits.

Financial planning

5. Goal Setting. Before you begin the financial planning process, ask yourself what’s really important to you financially and personally. These are key elements of planning for your future; they affect your options, strategies and implementation decisions.

6. Financial Independence and Retirement Planning. A comfortable retirement, perhaps at an early age, is one of the most common reasons people become interested in financial planning. Determine how much money is a reasonable nest egg to reach and maintain your financial independence. Then work with your advisors to determine the right strategy to make that goal a reality.

7. Major Expenditures Planning. A home, a car, and a child’s or grandchild’s college education—these are all big-ticket items that are best planned for in advance. Develop sound financial strategies early on for effectively achieving the funding you need for those big bills down the road.

8. Investments Planning. For most of us, wise investing is the key to achieving and maintaining our financial independence as well as our other financial goals. Establish and refresh investment goals, risk tolerance and asset allocation models that best fit your situation.

9. Tax Planning. Your financial planning should include tax considerations, regardless of your level of wealth. Proactively take advantage of opportunities for minimizing tax obligations.

10. Insurance Planning. Decide what to self-insure and which risks to pass off to insurance companies—and at what price you’re willing to do so.

11. Estate Planning. Develop or update your estate plan. If you get sick or die without an up-to-date estate plan, the management and distribution of assets can become a time-consuming and costly financial challenge for loved ones and survivors.

It is estimated that over 120 million Americans do not have up-to-date estate plans to protect themselves and their families. This makes estate planning one of the most overlooked areas of personal financial management. Estate and financial planning is not just for the wealthy; it is an important process for everyone. With advance planning, issues such as guardianship of children, management of bill-paying and assets—including businesses and practices—care of a child with special needs or a parent, long-term care needs, wealth preservation, and distribution of retirement assets can all be handled with sensitivity and care and at a reasonable cost.

Conclusion

Staying organized and planning wisely are the keys to financial success. Short of winning the lottery or inheriting millions, few people can attain and maintain financial security without some forethought, strategy and ongoing management. The beginning of a new year is an excellent time for you and your family to review finances and update financial plans.


Let’s have a great 2019!

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.