Retirement Article

Tip: Still Selling Strong. In 2017, investors purchased $192.1 billion in annuity contracts. Most of this capital— $108 billion—went into fixed annuities. Source: LIMRA, 2018

Individuals hold about $2.2 trillion in annuity contracts; a tidy sum considering an estimated $9.2 trillion is held in all types of IRAs.1

Annuity contracts are purchased from an insurance company. In exchange, the insurance company makes regular payments to the buyer — either immediately or at some date in the future. These payments can be made monthly, quarterly, annually, or as a single lump-sum. Annuity contract holders can opt to receive payments for the rest of their lives or for a set number of years.

The money invested in an annuity grows tax-deferred. When the money is withdrawn, the amount contributed to the annuity will not be taxed, but earnings will be taxed as regular income. There is no contribution limit for an annuity.

There are two main types of annuities.

Fixed annuities offer a guaranteed payout, usually a set dollar amount or a set percentage of the assets in the annuity.

Variable annuities offer the possibility to allocate premiums between various subaccounts. This gives annuity owners the ability to participate in the potentially higher returns these subaccounts have to offer. It also means that the annuity account may fluctuate in value.

Indexed annuities are specialized variable annuities. During the accumulation period, the rate of return is based on an index.

Fast Fact: Fine Print. Since variable annuities give you the option to allocate your premium between various subaccounts, it’s important to read the prospectus before you invest.

Annuities have contract limitations, fees, and charges, including account and administrative fees, underlying investment management fees, mortality and expense fees, and charges for optional benefits. Most annuities have surrender fees that are usually highest if you take out the money in the initial years of the annuity contact. Withdrawals and income payments are taxed as ordinary income. If a withdrawal is made prior to age 59½, a 10% federal income tax penalty may apply (unless an exception applies). The guarantees of an annuity contract depend on the issuing company’s claims-paying ability. Annuities are not guaranteed by the FDIC or any other government agency.Variable annuities are sold by prospectus, which contains detailed information about investment objectives and risks, as well as charges and expenses. You are encouraged to read the prospectus carefully before you invest or send money to buy a variable annuity contract. The prospectus is available from the insurance company or from your financial professional. Variable annuity subaccounts will fluctuate in value based on market conditions, and may be worth more or less than the original amount invested when the annuity expires.

Case Study: Robert’s Fixed Annuity

Robert is a 52-year-old business owner. He uses $100,000 to purchase a deferred fixed annuity contract with a 4% guaranteed return.

Over the next 15 years, the contract will accumulate tax deferred. By the time Robert is ready to retire, the contract should be worth just over $180,000.

At that point the contract will begin making annual payments of $13,250. Only $7,358 of each payment will be taxable; the rest will be considered a return of principal.

These payments will last the rest of Robert’s life. Assuming he lives to age 85, he’ll eventually receive over $265,000 in payments.

Robert’s annuity may have contract limitations, fees, and charges, including account and administrative fees, underlying investment management fees, mortality and expense fees, and charges for optional benefits. His annuity also may have surrender fees that would be highest if Robert took out the money in the initial years of the annuity contact. Robert’s withdrawals and income payments are taxed as ordinary income. If he makes a withdrawal prior to age 59½, a 10% federal income tax penalty may apply (unless an exception applies).

Tip: Don’t Put it Off. Putting off an easy thing makes it hard. Putting off a hard thing makes it impossible. -George Claude Lorimer

The Cost of Procrastination

Some of us share a common experience. You’re driving along when a police cruiser pulls up behind you with its lights flashing. You pull over, the officer gets out, and your heart drops.

“Are you aware the registration on your car has expired?”

You’ve experienced one of the costs of procrastination. Procrastination can cause missed deadlines, missed opportunities, and just plain missing out. Procrastination is avoiding a task that needs to be done—postponing until tomorrow what could be done today. Procrastinators can sabotage themselves. They often put obstacles in their own path. They may choose paths that hurt their performance.

Though Mark Twain famously quipped, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” We know that procrastination can be detrimental, both in our personal and professional lives. Problems with procrastination in the business world have led to a sizable industry in books, articles, workshops, videos, and other products created to deal with the issue. There are a number of theories about why people procrastinate, but whatever the psychology behind it, procrastination potentially may cost money—particularly when investments and financial decisions are put off.

As the illustration below shows, putting off investing may put off potential returns.

If you have been meaning to get around to addressing some part of your financial future, maybe it’s time to develop a strategy. Don’t let procrastination keep you from pursuing your financial goals.

Early Bird

Fast Fact: Chronic Problem. According to psychology researchers, 20% of people are chronic procrastinators.

Source: The New York Times, July 21, 2017

Let’s look at the case of Cindy and Charlie, who each invest $100,000.

Charlie immediately begins depositing $10,000 a year in an account that earns a 6% rate of return. Then, after 10 years, he stops making deposits.

Cindy waits 10 years before getting started. She then starts to invest $10,000 a year for 10 years into an account that also earns a 6% rate of return.

Cindy and Charlie have both invested the same $100,000. However, Charlie’s balance is higher at the end of 20 years because his account has more time for the investment returns to compound.

This is a hypothetical example of mathematical compounding. It’s used for comparison purposes only and is not intended to represent the past or future performance of any investment. Taxes and investment costs were not considered in this example. The results are not a guarantee of performance or specific investment advice. The rate of return on investments will vary over time, particularly for longerterm investments. Investments that offer the potential for high returns also carry a high degree of risk. Actual returns will fluctuate. The types of securities and strategies illustrated may not be suitable for everyone.

 

About 70% of American workers are confident they will have enough money to pay for medical expenses in retirement.

In a 2018 survey, 30% of all workers reported they were “not too” or “not at all” confident they would have enough money to pay for their medical expenses in retirement.¹

Regardless of whether you’re confident or not, it’s important to have an idea about how much healthcare may cost in retirement. By putting the costs in better perspective, you might be able to better understand what you can pay for and what you can’t.

Health-Care Breakdown

A retired household faces three types of health-care expenses.

1. A household may have the expense of premiums for Medicare Part B (which covers physician and outpatient services) and Part D (which covers drug-related expenses). Typically, Part B and Part D are taken out of a person’s Social Security check before it is mailed, so the premium cost is often overlooked by retirement-minded individuals.

2. The household should expect to pay for co-payments related to Medicare-covered services that are not paid by Medigap or other health insurance.

3. The retired household should expect to pay for dental care, eyeglasses, and hearing aids, which are typically not covered by Medicare or other insurance programs.

It All Adds Up

Fast Fact: Nursing Home Costs. The national average rate for a private room in a nursing home is $92,376 a year. The national average rate for a semi-private room in a nursing home is $82,128. Source: Genworth 2017 Cost of Care Survey

According to a HealthView Services study using 70 million actual cases, a healthy married couple, age 65, can expect healthcare premiums to add up to $321,994 over their lifetime. If you include dental, vision, co-pays, and out-of-pocket costs, the total rises to $404,253.²

For a healthy 55-year-old couple who plans to retire in a decade, the number jumps to $498,962. ³

Should you expect to pay this amount? Possibly. Seeing the results of one study may help you make some critical decisions when creating a strategy for retirement. Without a solid approach, healthcare expenses may add up quickly and alter your retirement spending.

Out-of-Pocket Healthcare Cost

The cost of healthcare for a 65-year-old couple is projected to increase with age.

Source: HealthView Services: 2017 Retirement Health Care Costs Data Report (Costs shown are in future dollars.)

Prepared for the Future?

Workers were asked how much they have saved and invested for retirement — excluding their residence and defined benefit plans.

Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2018 Retirement Confidence Survey.

1. Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2018 Retirement Confidence Survey.

2,3. HealthView Services: 2017 Retirement Health Care Costs Data Report (Costs shown are in current dollars.)

The Social Security program allows you to start receiving benefits as soon as you reach age 62. The question is, should you?

Monthly payments differ substantially depending on when you start receiving benefits. The longer you wait (up to age 70), the larger each monthly check will be. The sooner you start receiving benefits, the smaller the check.

From the Social Security Administration’s point of view, it’s simple: If a person lives to the average life expectancy, the person will eventually receive roughly the same amount in lifetime benefits no matter when he or she chooses to start receiving them. In actual practice, it’s not quite that straightforward, but the principle holds.

The key phrase is “if the person lives to average life expectancy.” If a person exceeds the average life expectancy, and has opted to wait to receive benefits, he or she will start to accumulate more from Social Security.

The chart shows how Social Security benefits accumulate for individuals who started to receive at ages 62, 67, and 70. The person who started to receive benefits at age 62 would accumulate $620,064 by the age of 85. Conversely, the person who started to receive benefits at age 70 would accumulate $679,296 by the age of 85.

The example assumes the maximum retirement benefit of $2,687 at age 66. It does not assume COLA.

Source: Social Security Administration, 2017

There is no single “right” answer to the question of when to start benefits. Many base their decision on family considerations, economic circumstances, and personal preferences.

If you have a spouse, the decision about when to start benefits gets more complicated— particularly if one person’s earnings were considerably higher than the other’s. The timing of spousal benefits should be factored into a decision.

When considering at what age to start Social Security benefits, it may be a good idea to review all the assets you have gathered for retirement. Some may want the money sooner based on how assets are positioned, while others may benefit by waiting. So as you near a decision point, it may be best to consider all your options before moving forward.

Tip: Not Quite Anything. IRAs are free to invest in just about anything, except collectibles such as artwork, rugs, antiques, gems, stamps, and coins, for example.

Traditional IRAs, which were created in 1974, are owned by roughly 35.1 million U.S. households. And Roth IRAs, created as part of the Taxpayer Relief Act in 1997, are owned by nearly 24.9 million households.1

Both are IRAs. And yet each is quite different.

Up to certain limits, traditional IRAs allow individuals to make tax-deductible contributions into the account. Distributions from traditional IRAs are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty.2

For individuals covered by a retirement plan at work the deduction for a traditional IRA in 2018 is phased out for incomes between $101,000 and $121,000 for married couples filing jointly, and between $63,000 and $73,000 for single filers

Also within certain limits, individuals can make contributions to a Roth IRA with after-tax dollars. To qualify for a tax-free and penalty-free withdrawal of earnings, Roth IRA distributions must meet a five-year holding requirement and occur after age 59½.3

Like a traditional IRA, contributions to a Roth IRA are limited based on income. For 2018, contributions to a Roth IRA are phased out between $189,000 and $199,000 for married couples filing jointly and between $120,000 and $135,000 for single filers.

In addition to contribution and distribution rules, there are limits on how much can be contributed to either IRA. In fact, these limits apply to any combination of IRAs; that is, workers cannot put more than $5,500 per year into their Roth and traditional IRAs combined. So, if a worker contributed $3,500 in a given year into a traditional IRA, contributions to a Roth IRA would be limited to $2,000 in that same year.4

Fast Fact: Wealthy Owners. The higher your income is, the more likely you are to have an IRA. Of households with incomes of $50,000 or more—39% own traditional IRAs and 30% own Roth IRAs. Of households with $50,000 or less in income, 13% own traditional IRAs and 6% own Roth IRAs. Source: Investment Company Institute, 2018

Individuals who reach age 50 or older by the end of the tax year can qualify for “catch-up” contributions. The combined limit for these is $6,500.5

If you meet the income requirements, both traditional and Roth IRAs can play a part in your retirement plans. And once you’ve figured out which will work better for you, only one task remains: open an account.

Features of Traditional and Roth IRAs

1. Investment Company Institute, 2018

2. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions from a traditional IRA.

3,4,5. Internal Revenue Service, 2018. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 eliminated the ability to “undo” a Roth conversion.

 

Tip: What’s in a Name? If you fail to name a beneficiary on your IRA, it may be much more difficult for your beneficiaries to ‘stretch’ the inherited IRA over their lifetimes.

The Investment Company Institute reports that there is roughly $7.9 trillion in Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA).1 To help put that in perspective, that’s nearly half the annual gross domestic product of the U.S.2

If you have a traditional IRA, you may have the opportunity to stretch it out, meaning the account may be structured to extend its tax-deferred status across multiple generations.3

With a traditional IRA, the account holder must begin taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) by April 1 of the year after he or she turns 70½. These payments are based on the IRS’ tables for life expectancy. To calculate an RMD, divide the account balance by the account holder’s anticipated lifespan.

Case Study

Let’s assume, for example, a 73-year-old has an IRA with a balance of $250,000. According to the Internal Revenue Service’s 2017 lifespan table, the person’s life expectancy is 14.8 years, so the RMD is:

$250,000 ÷ 14.8 = $16,891.89

At that rate, it may take several years to deplete the account — in some cases, longer than the account owner is likely to be alive. So what are your options?

First, you can name your spouse as beneficiary of the traditional IRA, and he or she can roll the balance into a new account. If your spouse is over age 70½ when you die, he or she must begin taking RMDs based on his or her life expectancy. When your spouse dies, the second-generation beneficiary may transfer the balance into an inherited IRA. Then, the owner of the inherited IRA must begin taking RMDs based on his or her life expectancy. (See illustration.)

This gives the money in the inherited IRA a longer time to remain tax deferred. Keep in mind, however, that there is no guarantee that the person who inherited the IRA will continue the taxdeferred treatment of the account.

How About a Roth IRA?

Fast Fact: Inheritance. The IRS rules that allow a stretch IRA are the rules under which one inherits an IRA. This is why stretch IRAs are sometimes referred to as “inherited IRAs.” Source: Internal Revenue Service, 2017

Stretching a Roth IRA follows similar rules to a traditional IRA. But remember, a Roth IRA does not require any RMDs. If you name your spouse as a beneficiary, he or she can roll the balance into a new Roth account. Since it remains a Roth IRA, your spouse is not required to take RMDs either. When your spouse passes, the beneficiary must begin taking distributions. The distributions will be tax free since it’s a Roth IRA.4

Stretching an IRA can be a powerful strategy. But it’s critical to understand the limitations and benefits before following the approach.

How Does it Work?

A single father, age 55, rolls over $250,000 from his employer’s retirement plan into a traditional IRA and names his son, age 25, as beneficiary. At age 70½, the account owner starts taking RMDs.

When he dies at age 80, his son moves the assets into an inherited IRA and starts taking RMDs based on his life expectancy.

By the time it’s exhausted, the IRA will have lasted 85 years and paid out over $2 million in benefits — all from a $250,000 rollover.

This is a hypothetical example used for illustrative purposes only. It is not representative of any specific investment or combination of investments. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Actual results will vary.

1. Investment Company Institute, 2017

2. CIA World Factbook, 2017

3. Contributions to a traditional IRA may be fully or partially deductible, depending on your individual circumstance. Distributions from traditional IRAs and most other employer–sponsored retirement plans are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions.

4. To qualify for the tax-free and penalty-free withdrawal of earnings, Roth IRA distributions must meet a five-year holding requirement and occur after age 59½. Tax-free and penalty-free withdrawals also can be taken under certain other circumstances, such as a result of the owner’s death. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 eliminated the ability to “undo” a Roth conversion

Tip: Annuity sales reached nearly $192 billion in 2017, which is roughly equal to the GDP of New Zealand. Source: Insured Retirement Institute, April 17, 2018; The World Bank, 2017

When financial markets turn volatile, some investors show their frustration by fleeing the markets in search of alternatives that are designed to offer stability.

For example, in the first quarter of 2018, investors pulled $63 billion from U.S. stock funds based on uncertainty over market direction.1

For those looking for a way off Wall Street’s roller-coaster ride, annuities may offer an attractive alternative.

Annuities are contracts with insurance companies. The contracts, which can be funded with either a lump sum or through regular payments, are designed as financial vehicles for retirement purposes. In exchange for premiums, the insurance company agrees to make regular payments — either immediately or at some date in the future.

Meanwhile, the money used to fund the contract grows tax deferred. Unlike other tax advantaged retirement programs, there are no contribution limits on annuities. And annuities can be used in very creative and effective ways.

The Split

One strategy combines two different annuities to generate income and rebuild principal. Here’s how it works:

An investor simultaneously purchases a fixed–period immediate annuity and a single premium tax-deferred annuity, dividing capital between the two annuities in such a way that the combination is expected to produce tax-advantaged income for a set period of time and restore the original principal at the end of that time period.

Keep in mind that any withdrawals from the deferred annuity would be taxed as ordinary income. When the immediate annuity contract ends, the process can be repeated using the funds from the deferred annuity (see example). Remember, the guarantees of an annuity contract depend on the issuing company’s claims–paying ability.

Diane Divides

Diane divides $300,000 between two annuities: a deferred annuity with a 10-year term and a hypothetical 5% return, and an immediate annuity with a 10-year term and a hypothetical 3% return. She places $182,148 in the deferred annuity and the remaining $117,852 in the immediate annuity. Over the next 10 years, the immediate annuity is expected to generate $1,138 per month in income. During the same period, the deferred annuity is projected to grow to $300,000 — effectively replacing her principal.

Fast Fact: Fixed or Variable. Of all annuity contracts purchased in 2017, about 47% were for variable annuities, and 53% were for fixed annuities. Source: Financial-Planning.com, February 2, 2018

Annuities have contract limitations, fees, and charges, including account and administrative fees, underlying investment management fees, mortality and expense fees, and charges for optional benefits. Most annuities have surrender fees that are usually highest if you take out the money in the initial years of the annuity contract. Withdrawals and income payments are taxed as ordinary income. If a withdrawal is made prior to age 59½, a 10% federal income tax penalty may apply (unless an exception applies). Annuities are not guaranteed by the FDIC or any other government agency. With variable annuities, the investment return and principal value of the investment option are not guaranteed. Variable annuity subaccounts will fluctuate with the market. Keep in mind that the return and principal will fluctuate as market conditions change. The principal may be worth more or less than its original cost when the annuity is surrendered.

Variable annuities are sold by prospectus, which contains detailed information about investment objectives and risks, as well as charges and expenses. You are encouraged to read the prospectus carefully before you invest or send money to buy a variable annuity contract. The prospectus is available from the insurance company or from your financial professional. Variable annuity subaccounts will fluctuate in value based on market conditions and may be worth more or less than the original amount invested if the annuity is surrendered.

1. CNBC.com April 3, 2018

Tip: Retiring Older. One survey found 22% of baby boomers have found it difficult to pay mortgages or rent and have postponed plans to retire. Source: Insured Retirement Institute, 2018

For many people, retirement income may come from a variety of sources. Here’s a quick review of the six main sources:

Social Security

Social Security is the government-administered retirement income program. Workers become eligible after paying Social Security taxes for 10 years. Benefits are based on each worker’s 35 highest earning years. If there are fewer than 35 years of earnings, non-earning years are averaged in as zero. In 2017, the average monthly benefit was estimated at $1,360.¹

Personal Savings and Investments

Personal savings and investments outside of retirement plans can provide income during retirement. Retirees tend to go for investments that offer monthly guaranteed income over potential returns.²

Individual Retirement Accounts

Traditional IRAs have been around since 1974. Contributions you make to a traditional IRA may be fully or partially deductible, depending on your individual circumstances. Distributions from a traditional IRA are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions.

Roth IRAs were created in 1997. Roth IRA contributions cannot be made by taxpayers with high incomes. To qualify for the tax-free and penalty-free withdrawal of earnings, Roth IRA distributions must meet a five-year holding requirement and occur after age 59½. Tax-free and penalty-free withdrawal also can be taken under certain other circumstances, such as a result of the owner’s death. The original Roth IRA owner is not required to take minimum annual withdrawals.

Defined Contribution Plans

Many workers are eligible to participate in a defined–contribution plan such as a 401(k), 403(b), or 457 plan. Eligible workers can set aside a portion of their pre-tax income into an account, which then accumulates tax deferred.

Distributions from defined contribution plans are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions.

Defined Benefit Plans

Defined benefit plans are “traditional” pensions—employer–sponsored plans under which benefits, rather than contributions, are defined. Benefits are normally based on factors such as salary history and duration of employment. The number of traditional pension plans has dropped dramatically during the past 30 years.

Continued Employment

In a recent survey, 68% of workers stated that they planned to keep working in retirement. In contrast, only 26% of retirees reported that continued employment was a major or minor source of retirement income.³

Expected Vs. Actual Sources of Income in Retirement

What workers anticipate in terms of retirement income sources may differ considerably from what retirees actually experience.

Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2018 Retirement Confidence Survey

1. Social Security Administration, 2017

2. Insured Retirement Institute, April 2018

3. Employee Benefits Research Institute, 2018

Tip: Rules, Rules, Rules. Different rules apply for those receiving Social Security disability benefits vs. Supplemental Security income payments. Different rules also apply for those working outside the U.S. Source: Social Security Administration, 2017

In a recent survey, 79% of current workers stated they plan to work for pay after retiring.¹

And that possibility raises an interesting question: How will working affect Social Security benefits?

To answer that question requires an understanding of three key concepts: full-retirement age, the earnings test, and taxable benefits.

Full Retirement Age

Most workers don’t face an “official” retirement date, according to the Social Security Administration. The Social Security program allows workers to start receiving benefits as soon as they reach age 62—or to put off receiving benefits until age 70.

“Full retirement age” is the age at which individuals become eligible to receive 100% of their Social Security benefits. For example, individuals born in 1955 can receive 100% of their benefits at age 66 years and 2 months.²

Earnings Test

Starting Social Security benefits before reaching full retirement age brings into play the earnings test.

If a working individual starts receiving Social Security payments before full retirement age, the Social Security Administration will deduct $1 in benefits for each $2 that person earns above an annual limit. In 2018, the income limit is $17,040.³

During the year in which a worker reaches full retirement age, Social Security benefit reduction falls to $1 in benefits for every $3 in earnings. For 2018, the limit is $45,360 before the month the worker reaches full retirement age.⁴

For example, let’s assume a worker begins receiving Social Security benefits during the year he or she reaches full retirement age. In that year, before the month the worker reaches full retirement age, the worker earns $65,000. The Social Security benefit would be reduced as follows:

Earnings above annual limit $65,000 – $45,360 = $19,640

One-third excess $19,640 ÷ 3 = $6,547

In this case, the worker’s annual Social Security benefit would have been reduced by $6,547 because he or she is continuing to work.

Taxable Benefits

Fast Fact: Earnings Test. The Senior Citizens’ Freedom to Work Act of 2000 eliminated the annual earnings test after the month a person attains his or her full retirement age.

Once you reach full retirement age, Social Security benefits will not be reduced no matter how much you earn. However, Social Security benefits are taxable.

For example, say you file a joint return and you and your spouse are past the full retirement age. In the joint return, you report a combined income of between $32,000 and $44,000. You may have to pay income tax on as much as 50% of your benefits. If your combined income is more than $44,000, as much as 85% of your benefits may be subject to income taxes.

There are many factors to consider when evaluating Social Security benefits. Understanding how working may affect total benefits can help you put together a program that allows you to make the most of all your retirement income sources—including Social Security.

What’s Your Full Retirement Age?

Those born in 1942 or before were already eligible for full Social Security benefits at age 65. For those born between 1943 and 1960, full retirement age increases incrementally until it reaches 67.

Source: Social Security Administration, 2017

1. Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2017

2,3,4. Social Security Administration, 2018

Tip: No Doubling. Investing in an annuity through a tax-advantaged retirement plan such as a 401(k) plan or an IRA will not provide additional tax advantages. Source: CNN Money, 2017

Despite not being as well known as some other retirement tools, annuities account for 8% of all assets earmarked for retirement. With about $2.2 trillion in assets, annuities hold more funds than Roth IRAs.¹

An annuity is a contract with an insurance company. In exchange for a premium or a series of premiums, the insurance company agrees to make regular payments to the contract holder. The funds held in an annuity contract accumulate tax deferred.

For individuals interested in accumulating retirement assets, annuities can be attractive because they are not subject to contribution limits, unlike most other tax-deferred vehicles. In other words, retirement-minded individuals can set aside as much money as they would like into an annuity.

Two Phases

Annuity contracts pass through two distinct phases: accumulation and payout. During the accumulation phase, the funds accumulate until the annuity contract reaches its payout date. At that time, the total will either be paid out as a lump sum or as a series of payments over a period that can stretch as long as the account holder’s life.

The funds attributed to the initial premium will not be taxed, but any earnings on those funds will be taxed as regular income.

Immediate Annuity

As its name implies, an immediate annuity is structured to provide current income. After paying the initial premium, an individual receives regular income, which can be deferred up to 12 months. The funds remaining in the contract accumulate on a tax-deferred basis. And only that portion of each payment attributable to interest is subject to taxes; the rest is treated as a return of principal.

Deferred Annuity

Fast Fact: Well Prepared. Almost 7 in 10 baby boomers who own annuities have saved at least $100,000 for retirement, compared to less than 6 in 10 of those who don’t own any. Source: Insured Retirement Institute, 2017

It is also possible to purchase an annuity contract that defers payout until a specific date in the future. The premiums you pay to a deferred annuity accumulate and earn interest during the accumulation phase. The annuity holder determines the amount of payments and when the payouts begin, which is usually in retirement. With a deferred annuity, the earnings credited to your contract are taxed when they are withdrawn.

Annuities have contract limitations, fees, and charges, including account and administrative fees, underlying investment management fees, mortality and expense fees, and charges for optional benefits. Most annuities have surrender fees that are usually highest if you take out the money in the initial years of the annuity contact. Withdrawals and income payments are taxed as ordinary income. If a withdrawal is made prior to age 59½, a 10% federal income tax penalty may apply (unless an exception applies). The guarantees of an annuity contract depend on the issuing company’s claims-paying ability. Annuities are not guaranteed by the FDIC or any other government agency.

Variable annuities are sold by prospectus, which contains detailed information about investment objectives and risks, as well as charges and expenses. You are encouraged to read the prospectus carefully before you invest or send money to buy a variable annuity contract. The prospectus is available from the insurance company or from your financial professional.

Variable annuity subaccounts will fluctuate in value based on market conditions and may be worth more or less than the original amount invested if the annuity is surrendered.

For retirement-minded investors, annuities have some attractive features that may be worth exploring. Annuities also have certain limitations and expenses that need to be considered before committing to a contract.

1. Investment Company Institute, 2018

Forty-four percent of American women are the primary breadwinner in their house.1 Yet only 10% of women feel very confident in their ability to fully retire with a comfortable lifestyle.2

Although more women are providing for their families, when it comes to preparing for retirement, they may be leaving their future to chance.

Women and College

The reason behind this disparity doesn’t seem to be a lack of education or independence. Today, women are more likely to go to college and graduate than men.3 So what keeps them from taking charge of their long-term financial picture?

One reason may be a lack of confidence. In one recent study, less than half of the more than 2,000 women surveyed said they felt satisfied with their knowledge of finances.4 Women may shy away from discussing money because they don’t want to appear uneducated or naive and hesitate to ask questions as a result.

Insider language

Since Wall Street traditionally has been a male-dominated field, women whose expertise lies in other areas may feel uneasy amidst complex calculations and long-term financial projections. Just the jargon of personal finance can be intimidating: 401(k), 403(b), fixed, variable.5 To someone inexperienced in the field of personal finance, it may seem like an entirely different language.

But women need to keep one eye looking toward retirement since they may live longer and could potentially face higher health-care expenses than men.

If you have left your long-term financial strategy to chance, now is the time to pick up the reins and retake control. Consider talking with a financial professional about your goals and ambitions for retirement. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if the conversation turns to something unfamiliar. No one was born knowing the ins-and-outs of compound interest, but it’s important to understand in order to make informed decisions.

Compound Interest: What’s the Hype?

Compound interest may be one of the greatest secrets of smart investing. And time is the key to making the most of it. If you invested $250,000 in an account earning 6%, at the end of 20 years your account would be worth $801,784. However, if you waited 10 years, then started your investment program, you would end up with only $447,712.

This is a hypothetical example used for illustrative purposes only. It does not represent any specific investment or combination of investments

1. CNBC.com, January 19, 2017

2. TransAmericaCenter.org, 2017

3. The Atlantic, August 8, 2017

4. Time.com, February 12, 2018

5. Distributions from 401(k), 403(b), and most other employer-sponsored retirement plans are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions.

Thanks to healthier lifestyles and advances in modern medicine, the worldwide population over age 60 is growing. The United Nations estimates that by 2050 the number of people aged 60 and older will have more than doubled.¹ As our nation ages, many Americans are turning their attention to caring for aging parents.

For many people, one of the most difficult conversations to have involves talking with an aging parent about extended medical care. The shifting of roles can be challenging, and emotions often prevent important information from being exchanged and critical decisions from being made.

When talking to a parent about future care, it’s best to have a strategy for structuring the conversation. Here are some key concepts to consider.

Cover the Basics

Knowing ahead of time what information you need to find out may help keep the conversation on track. Here is a checklist that can be a good starting point:

  • Primary physician
  • Specialists
  • Medications and supplements
  • Allergies to medication

It is also important to know the location of medical and estate management paperwork, including:

  • Medicare card
  • Insurance information
  • Durable power of attorney for healthcare²
  • Will, living will, trusts and other documents²

Be Thorough

Remember that if you can collect all the critical information, you may be able to save your family time and avoid future emotional discussions. While checklists and scripts may help prepare you, remember that this conversation could signal a major change in your parent’s life. The transition from provider to dependent can be difficult for any parent and has the potential to unearth old issues. Be prepared for emotions and the unexpected. Be kind, but do your best to get all the information you need.

Keep the Lines of Communication Open

This conversation is probably not the only one you will have with your parent about their future healthcare needs. It may be the beginning of an ongoing dialogue. Consider involving other siblings in the discussions. Often one sibling takes a lead role when caring for parents, but all family members should be honest about their feelings, situations, and needs.

Fast Fact: The state with the oldest population is Florida, with 19.06% of its population over the age of 65. Maine is second, with 18.24%. Source: WorldAtlas.com, March 8, 2018

Don’t Procrastinate

The earlier you can begin to communicate about important issues, the more likely you will be to have all the information you need when a crisis arises. How will you know when a parent needs your help? Look for indicators like fluctuations in weight, failure to take medication, new health concerns, and diminished social interaction. These can all be warning signs that additional care may soon become necessary. Don’t avoid the topic of care just because you are uncomfortable. Chances are that waiting will only make you more so.

Remember, whatever your relationship with your parent has been, this new phase of life will present challenges for both parties. By treating your parent with love and respect—and taking the necessary steps toward open communication—you will be able to provide the help needed during this new phase of life.

1. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2017

2. Note: Power of attorney laws can vary from state to state. An estate strategy that includes trusts may involve a complex web of tax rules and regulations. Consider working with a knowledgeable estate management professional before implementing such strategies.

Changing jobs can be a tumultuous experience. Even under the best of circumstances, making a career move requires a series of tough decisions, not the least of which is what to do with the funds in your old employer-sponsored retirement plan.

Some people choose to roll over these funds into an Individual Retirement Account, and for good reason. About 42% of all retirement assets in the U.S. are held in IRAs, and 85% of traditional IRA owners funded all or part of their IRAs with a rollover.¹, ²

Generally, you have three choices when it comes to handling the money in a former employer’s retirement account.

First, you can cash out of the account. However, if you choose to cash out, you will be required to pay ordinary income tax on the balance plus a 10% early withdrawal penalty if you are under age 59½.

Second, you may be able to leave the funds in your old plan. But some plans have rules and restrictions regarding the money in the account.

Fast Fact: 61% of U.S. households have some type of tax-advantaged retirement account. 2017 Investment Company Factbook

Or third, you can roll the money into an IRA. Why do so many people choose an IRA rollover? Here are a few of the major benefits:

Rollovers may preserve the tax-favored status of your retirement money. As long as your money is moved through a direct “trustee-to trustee” transfer, you can avoid a taxable event.³ In a traditional IRA, your retirement savings will have the opportunity to grow tax-deferred until you begin taking distributions in retirement.

An IRA rollover may open up your investment choices. When you stick with your former employer’s retirement plan, you are typically limited to the investments offered by the plan. With an IRA, you may have a much broader range of choices, giving you greater control over how your assets are allocated.

Rollovers can make it easier to stay organized and maintain control. Some people change jobs several times during the course of their careers, leaving a trail of employer-sponsored retirement plans in their wake. By rolling these various accounts into a single IRA, you might make the process of managing the funds, rebalancing your portfolio, and adjusting your asset allocation easier.

An IRA rollover may make sense whether you’re leaving one job for another or retiring altogether. But how your assets should be allocated within the IRA will depend on your time horizon, risk tolerance and financial goals.

1. 2017 Investment Company Factbook

2. Distributions from traditional IRAs and most other employer-sponsored retirement plans are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions. If the account owner switches jobs or gets laid off, any outstanding 401(k) loan balance becomes due by the time the person files his or her federal tax return. Prior to the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, employees typically had to repay loans within 60 days of departure or face potential tax consequences.

3. The information in this material is not intended as tax advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult a tax professional for specific information regarding your individual situation.

While many people are familiar with the benefits of traditional 401(k) plans, others are not as acquainted with Roth 401(k)s.

Since January 1, 2006, employers have been allowed to offer workers access to Roth 401(k) plans.¹ And some have rolled out offerings as part of their retirement programs.

As the name implies, Roth 401(k) plans combine features of traditional 401(k) plans with those of a Roth IRA.2,3

With a Roth 401(k),contributions are made with after-tax dollars—there is no tax deduction on the front end—but qualifying withdrawals are not subject to income taxes. Any capital appreciation in the Roth 401(k) also is not subject to income taxes.

What to Choose?

Fast Fact: Roth 401(k) plans were made permanent by the Pension Protection Act of 2006. Source: IRS, 2018

The choice between a Roth 401(k) and a traditional 401(k) comes down to determining whether the upfront tax break on the traditional 401(k) is likely to outweigh the back-end benefit of tax-free withdrawals from the Roth 401(k).

Considerations

One subtle but key consideration is that Roth 401(k) plans aren’t subject to income restrictions like Roth IRAs. This can offer advantages to high-income individuals whose Roth IRA has been limited by these restrictions. (See accompanying table.)

Source: IRS, 2018

Roth 401(k) plans are subject to the same annual contribution limits as regular 401(k) plans— $18,500 for 2018, ($24,500 for those over age 50). These are cumulative limits that apply to all accounts with a single employer; an individual couldn’t save $18,500 in a traditional 401(k) and another $18,500 in a Roth 401(k).

Another factor to consider is that employer matches are made with pretax dollars, just as they are with a traditional 401(k) plan. In a Roth 401(k), however, these matching funds accumulate in a separate account that will be taxed as ordinary income at withdrawal.

Setting money aside for retirement is part of a sound personal financial strategy. Deciding whether to use a traditional 401(k) or a Roth 401(k) often involves reviewing a wide-range of factors. If you are uncertain about what is the best choice for your situation, you should consider working with a qualified tax or financial professional.

1. To qualify for the tax-free and penalty-free withdrawal of earnings, Roth 401(k) distributions must meet a five-year holding requirement and occur after age 59½. Tax-free and penalty-free withdrawal also can be taken under certain other circumstances, such as a result of the owner’s death or disability. Employer match is pretax and not distributed tax-free during retirement. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions.

2. Distributions from 401(k) plans and most other employer-sponsored retirement plans are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions.

3. Roth IRA contributions cannot be made by taxpayers with high incomes. To qualify for the tax- free and penalty-free withdrawal of earnings, Roth IRA distributions must meet a five-year holding requirement and occur after age 59½. Tax-free and penalty-free withdrawal also can be taken under certain other circumstances, such as a result of the owner’s death or disability. The original Roth IRA owner is not required to take minimum annual withdrawals.

4. The information in this material is not intended as tax advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult a tax professional for specific information regarding your individual situation.

A recent survey found that 17% of people were very confident about having enough money to live comfortably through their retirement years. At the same time, 36% were not confident.¹

Congress in 2001 passed a law that can help older workers make up for lost time. But few may understand how this generous offer can add up over time.²

The “catch-up” provision allows workers who are over age 50 to make contributions to their qualified retirement plans in excess of the limits imposed on younger workers.

How It Works

Contributions to a traditional 401(k) plan are limited to $18,500 in 2018. Those who are over age 50—or who reach age 50 before the end of the year—may be eligible to set aside up to $24,500 in 2018.³

Setting aside an extra $6,000 each year into a tax-deferred retirement account has the potential to make a big difference in the eventual balance of the account. And, by extension, in the eventual income the account may generate. (See accompanying illustration.)

Catch-Up Contributions and the Bottom Line

This chart traces the hypothetical balances of two 401(k) plans. The blue line traces a 401(k) account into which the maximum regular annual contributions are made each year, but no catchup contributions. The green line traces a 401(k) account into which the maximum regular and full catch-up contributions are made each year.

Upon reaching retirement at age 67, both accounts begin making payments of $4,000 a month.

The hypothetical account without catch-up contributions will be exhausted by the time its beneficiary reaches age 83.

This hypothetical example is used for comparison purposes and is not intended to represent the past or future performance of any investment. Fees and other expenses were not considered in the illustration. Actual returns will fluctuate.

Both accounts assume an annual rate of return of 5%. The rate of return on investments will vary over time, particularly for longer-term investments.Contributions to and withdrawals from both accounts have been increased 2% each year to account for potential 2% inflation.

Distributions from 401(k) plans and most other employer-sponsored retirement plans are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions.

1. EBRI, 2018 Retirement Confidence Survey

2. Economic Growth and Tax Relief Act of 2001

3. IRS, 2018. Catch-up contributions also are allowed for 403(b) and 457 plans. Distributions from 401(k) plans and most other employer-sponsored retirement plans are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions.

Many of us grew up with the concept that making regular, periodic contributions to our retirement account was a sound investment strategy. The idea was that, in a fluctuating market, regularly investing a set amount would enable an individual to buy more shares when prices were low and fewer shares when prices were high.¹

Does this mean that taking regular, periodic withdrawals during retirement makes similar good sense?

Actually, it can be quite problematic.

Systematic withdrawals do the precise opposite of systematic investments by selling fewer shares when the price is high and more shares when the price is low. This, in effect, reduces the number of shares that may be able to participate in any subsequent market recovery.

Here’s an example.

In the accumulation phase, if a portfolio falls by 25%, it will require approximately a 33% return to get back to its pre-decline value.²

In the distribution phase, if you withdraw 5% of your portfolio for income and suffer the same 25% market decline, you would need to see a 43% market rebound to get back to pre-decline value.²

Sequence of Returns

In the accumulation phase, investors tend to focus on average annual rates of return, less on the sequence of the returns. If you’re a buy-and-hold investor, ignoring short-term fluctuations may be a sound long-term approach.

If you are in retirement, however, you absolutely care about the sequence of the annual returns.

For instance, comparable portfolios might deliver the same average annual return over a 20- or 30-year period, but they could have radically different outcomes in terms of account balance and income production. Generally speaking, negative returns in the early years of your retirement can potentially reduce how long your assets can be expected to last.

American writer H.L. Mencken once remarked that, “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”³

Anticipating a lifetime of withdrawals from a defined asset pool over an indefinite period of time is a complex challenge for which there is no simple solution. Pursuing this challenge can require creative approaches and persistent vigilance.

1. Dollar-cost averaging does not protect against a loss in a declining market or guarantee a profit in a rising market. Dollar-cost averaging is the process of investing a fixed amount of money in an investment vehicle at regular intervals, usually monthly, for an extended period of time regardless of price. Investors should evaluate their financial ability to continue making purchases through periods of declining and rising prices. The return and principal value of stock prices will fluctuate as market conditions change. Shares, when sold, may be worth more or less than their original cost.

2. This is a hypothetical example used for illustrative purposes only. It is not representative of any specific investment or combination of investments.

3. BrainyQuote, June 2017

Taking withdrawals from a traditional portfolio exposes fixed-income investors to “sequence of returns” danger. In other words, experiencing negative returns early in retirement can deplete your portfolio more quickly than you planned and potentially undermine the sustainability of your assets. So you may want to consider a couple of strategies to help mitigate this concern.

Liquid Assets

The first is to have a pool of very liquid assets to fund two-to-three years of retirement spending; this may keep you from selling longer-term assets at an inopportune time. Through time, and depending upon market conditions, you may have the opportunity to replenish this cash reserve using gains from your retirement portfolio.

Annuities

Another complementary strategy is to integrate annuities. This can help shift the risk of market volatility off your shoulders and onto the issuing insurance company.

The guarantees of an annuity contract depend on the issuing company’s claims-paying ability. Annuities have contract limitations, fees, and charges, including account and administrative fees, underlying investment management fees, mortality and expense fees, and charges for optional benefits. Most annuities have surrender fees that are usually highest if you take out the money in the initial years of the annuity contact. Withdrawals and income payments are taxed as ordinary income. If a withdrawal is made prior to age 59½, a 10% federal income tax penalty may apply (unless an exception applies).

Until retirement, portfolio optimization largely focuses on the blending of different asset classes in the appropriate measure to create optimal portfolios. But in retirement, investors must integrate different retirement investment vehicles to enhance income and manage risk.

One of the industry’s leading thinkers, Ibbotson Associates, has done a great deal of research around this very idea.

In a landmark study, “Retirement Portfolio and Variable Annuity with Guaranteed Minimum Withdrawal Benefit,” Ibottson’s research came to several key conclusions that hold important ramifications for meeting the retirement-income challenge.

One of the study’s conclusions was that the addition of a variable annuity with a guaranteed minimum withdrawal benefits retirement portfolios—replacing cash or fixed-income allocations. It increases total income while it decreases risk.”¹

A successful retirement is so much more than undertaking sound investment strategies. It also requires understanding “sequence of returns” danger and taking measures to mitigate the risk.

1. The Ibbotson study assumed the investor had a retirement income period of 25 years or longer. For an investor with a shorter horizon, the strategy may not be as beneficial. The guarantees of an annuity contract depend on the issuing company’s claims-paying ability. Annuities are not guaranteed by the FDIC or any other government agency. Variable annuities are sold by prospectus, which contains detailed information about investment objectives and risks, as well as charges and expenses. You are encouraged to read the prospectus carefully before you invest or send money to buy a variable annuity contract. The prospectus is available from the insurance company or from your financial professional. Variable annuity subaccounts will fluctuate in value based on market conditions, and may be worth more or less than the original amount invested if the annuity is surrendered.

During your accumulation years, you may have categorized your risk as “conservative,” “moderate,” or “aggressive” and that guided how your portfolio was built. Maybe you concerned yourself with finding the “best-performing funds,” even though you knew past performance does not guarantee future results.

What occurs with many retirees is a change in mindset—it’s less about finding the “bestperforming fund” and more about consistent performance. It may be less about a risk continuum—that stretches from conservative to aggressive—and more about balancing the objectives of maximizing your income and sustaining it for a lifetime.

You may even find yourself willing to forego return potential for steady income.

A change in your mindset may drive changes in how you shape your portfolio and the investments you choose to fill it.

Let’s examine how this might look at an individual level.

Still Believe

During your working years, you understood the short-term volatility of the stock market but accepted it for its growth potential over longer time periods. You’re now in retirement and still believe in that concept. In fact, you know stocks remain important to your financial strategy over a 30-year or more retirement period.¹

But you’ve also come to understand that withdrawals from your investment portfolio have the potential to accelerate the depletion of your assets when investment values are declining. How you define your risk tolerance may not have changed, but you understand the new risks introduced by retirement. Consequently, it’s not so much about managing your exposure to stocks, but considering new strategies that adapt to this new landscape.¹

Shift the Risk

For instance, it may mean that you hold more cash than you ever did when you were earning a paycheck. It also may mean that you consider investments that shift the risk of market uncertainty to another party, such as an insurance company. Many retirees choose annuities for just that reason.

The guarantees of an annuity contract depend on the issuing company’s claims-paying ability. Annuities have contract limitations, fees, and charges, including account and administrative fees, underlying investment management fees, mortality and expense fees, and charges for optional benefits. Most annuities have surrender fees that are usually highest if you take out the money in the initial years of the annuity contract. Withdrawals and income payments are taxed as ordinary income. If a withdrawal is made prior to age 59½, a 10% federal income tax penalty may apply (unless an exception applies).

The march of time affords us ever-changing perspectives on life, and that is never more true than during retirement.

1. Keep in mind that the return and principal value of stock prices will fluctuate as market conditions change. And shares, when sold, may be worth more or less than their original cost.This is a hypothetical example used for illustrative purposes only.

The baby boomers have re-defined everything they’ve touched, from music to marriage to parenting and, more lately, to what “old” means—60 is the new 50! Longer, healthier living, however, can put greater stress on the sustainability of retirement assets.

There is no easy answer to this challenge, but let’s begin by discussing one idea—a bucket approach to building your retirement income plan.

The Bucket Strategy can take two forms.

The Expenses Bucket Strategy: With this approach, you segment your retirement expenses into three buckets:

  • Basic Living Expenses—food, rent, utilities, etc.
  • Discretionary Expenses—vacations, dining out, etc.
  • Legacy Expenses—assets for heirs and charities

This strategy pairs appropriate investments to each bucket. For instance, Social Security might be assigned to the Basic Living Expenses bucket. If this source of income falls short, you might consider whether a fixed annuity can help fill the gap. With this approach, you are attempting to match income sources to essential expenses.

The guarantees of an annuity contract depend on the issuing company’s claims-paying ability. Annuities have contract limitations, fees, and charges, including account and administrative fees, underlying investment management fees, mortality and expense fees, and charges for optional benefits. Most annuities have surrender fees that are usually highest if you take out the money in the initial years of the annuity contact. Withdrawals and income payments are taxed as ordinary income. If a withdrawal is made prior to age 59½, a 10% federal income tax penalty may apply (unless an exception applies).

For the Discretionary Expenses bucket, you might consider investing in top-rated bonds and large-cap stocks that offer the potential for growth and have a long-term history of paying a steady dividend.¹, ² Finally, if you have assets you expect to pass on, you might position some of them in more aggressive investments, such as small-cap stocks and international equity.³

International investments carry additional risks, which include differences in financial reporting standards, currency exchange rates, political risk unique to a specific country, foreign taxes and regulations, and the potential for illiquid markets. These factors may result in greater share price volatility.

The Timeframe Bucket Strategy: This approach creates buckets based on different timeframes and assigns investments to each. For example:

  • 1-5 Years: This bucket funds your near-term expenses. It may be filled with cash and cash alternatives, such as money market accounts. Money market funds are considered low-risk securities but they are not backed by any government institution, so it’s possible to lose money. Money held in money market funds is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Money market funds seek to preserve the value of your investment at $1.00 a share. However, it is possible to lose money by investing in a money market fund. Money market mutual funds are sold by prospectus. Please consider the charges, risks, expenses, and investment objectives carefully before investing. A prospectus containing this and other information about the investment company can be obtained from your financial professional. Read it carefully before you invest or send money.
  • 6-10 Years: This bucket is designed to help replenish the funds in the 1-5 Years bucket. Investments might include a diversified, intermediate, top-rated bond portfolio. Diversification is an approach to help manage investment risk. It does not eliminate the risk of loss if security prices decline.
  • 11-20 Years: This bucket may be filled with investments such as large-cap stocks that offer the potential for growth.²
  • 21+ Years: This bucket might include longer-term investments such as small-cap and international stocks.²

Each bucket is set up to be replenished by the next longer-term bucket. This approach can offer flexibility to provide replenishment at more opportune times. For example, if stock prices move higher, you might consider replenishing the 6-10 Years bucket even though it’s not quite time.

A bucket approach to pursue your income needs is not the only way to build an income strategy. But it’s one strategy to consider as you prepare for retirement.

1. The market value of a bond will fluctuate with changes in interest rates. As rates rise, the value of existing bonds typically falls. If an investor sells a bond before maturity, it may be worth more or less that the initial purchase price. By holding a bond to maturity an investor will receive the interest payments due plus his or her original principal, barring default by the issuer. Investments seeking to achieve higher yields also involve a higher degree of risk.

2. Keep in mind that the return and principal value of stock prices will fluctuate as market conditions change. And shares, when sold, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Dividends on common stock are not fixed and can be decreased or eliminated on short notice.

3. Asset allocation is an approach to help manage investment risk. Asset allocation does not guarantee against investment loss.

One survey found that 79% of small business owners expect at least some of their retirement income to come from tax-advantaged retirement savings accounts.¹ If you have yet to develop a retirement plan for your business, or if you’re not sure the plan you’ve chosen is the right one, here are some things to consider.

How much can my business afford to contribute?

The cost of contributions may be managed by the plan type.

A simplified employee pension plan (SEP) is funded by employer contributions only. SEP contributions are made to separate IRAs for eligible employees.²

Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees of Small Employers (SIMPLE) IRAs blend employee and employer contributions.³ Employers either match employee contributions up to 100% of the first 3% of compensation, or contribute 2% of each eligible employee’s compensation.

A 401(k) is primarily funded by the employee; the employer can choose to make additional contributions, including matching contributions.⁴

A defined benefit plan is entirely funded by employer contributions.⁵

What plan accommodates high employee turnover?

The cost of covering short-tenured employees may be reduced by eligibility requirements and vesting.

With the SEP-IRA, only employees who are at least 21 years old and have been employed in three of the last five years must be covered.

The SIMPLE IRA must cover employees who have earned at least $5,000 in any prior two years and are reasonably expected to earn $5,000 in the current year.

The 401(k) and defined benefit plan must cover all employees who are at least 21 years of age and who worked at least 1,000 hours in a previous year.

Vesting is immediate on all contributions to the SEP-IRA, SIMPLE IRA and 401(k) employee deferrals, while a vesting schedule may apply to 401(k) employer contributions and defined benefits.

Do I want to maximize contributions for myself (and my spouse)?

The SEP-IRA and 401(k) offer higher contribution maximums than the SIMPLE IRA. For those business owners who are starting late, a defined benefit plan may offer even higher levels of allowable contributions.

My priority is to keep administration easy and inexpensive.

The SEP-IRA and SIMPLE IRA are straightforward to establish and maintain. The 401(k) can be more onerous, but complicated testing may be eliminated by using a Safe Harbor 401(k). Generally, the defined benefit plan is the most complicated and expensive to establish and maintain of all plan choices.

1. Gallup, March 16, 2017

2. Like a traditional IRA, withdrawals from a SEP-IRA are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions (RMDs).

3. Like a traditional IRA, withdrawals from SIMPLE IRAs are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions (RMDs).

4. Distributions from 401(k) plans are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, you must begin taking required minimum distributions no later than April 1 of the year after you reach age 70½.

5. Distributions from defined benefit plans are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions.

If you’re like many small business owners, running your own business is an all-consuming endeavor.

In the face of everyday demands, choosing a retirement plan for your business can become a casualty. The idea of establishing a plan could evoke worries about complicated reporting and administration.

If this sounds familiar, then you may want to consider whether a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) may be right for you.

A SEP can be established by sole proprietors, partnerships, and corporations, including S corporations.

The advantages of the SEP begin with the flexibility to vary employer contributions each year from 0% up to a maximum of 25% of compensation, with a maximum dollar contribution of $55,000 in 2018.

Employees Vested

The percentage you contribute must be the same for all eligible employees. Eligible employees are those age 21 or older who have worked for you in three of the last five years and have earned at least $600 (in 2018). Employees are immediately 100% vested in all contributions.

There are no plan filings with the IRS, making administration simple and low cost. You only need to complete Form 5305 SEP and retain it for your own records. This form should be provided to all employees as they become eligible for participation.

Unlike other plans, a SEP may be established as late as the due date (including extensions) of your business’ tax filing (generally April 15th) for making contributions for the prior year.

A Menu of Options

Each eligible employee will be asked to establish his or her own SEP-IRA account and selfdirect the investments within the account, relieving you of choosing a menu of investment options for the plan.The rules for accessing these funds are the same as those governing regular IRAs.

Distributions from SEP-IRA and traditional IRAs are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions.¹

Unlike the self-employed 401(k), which is only available to business owners with no employees, you cannot take a loan from your SEP assets. Distributions from 401(k) plans are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions.¹

The SEP earns the “simplified” in its name and stands as an attractive choice for business owners looking to maximize contributions while minimizing their administrative responsibilities.

1. IRAs have exceptions to avoid the 10% withdrawal penalty, including death and disability.

Inflation sometimes seems like one of those afflictions of an era long since passed into the history books. While it’s true that double-digit inflation has been absent for the last 30 years or more, you may remember the high inflation years of the 1970s.¹

Will the levels of U.S. public debt and loose monetary policy revive the inflation rates of yesteryear? No one really knows. However one thing is certain—even low inflation rates over an extended period of time can impact your finances in retirement.

A simple example will illustrate.

An income of $50,000 today at an inflation rate of 3% would have a purchasing power of just over $32,000 in year 15—a 35% erosion. Said differently, to maintain the desired lifestyle that a $50,000 income would provide requires $77,900 of income after 15 years of 3% inflation.²

Here’s something else to consider. Retirees may be subject to a higher rate of inflation than “the headline” Consumer Price Index. Why might this be the case

Healthcare inflation has outstripped CPI inflation by as much as 3% in recent years.³ And retirees may expect to spend more on medical expenses than most Americans.

Inflation is a thief; it steals the purchasing power of your retirement savings. But, as with your other possessions, there are strategies that may help you from being robbed of your purchasing power.

1. InflationData.com, 2017

2. This is a hypothetical example used for illustrative purposes only. It is not representative of any specific investment or combination of investments.

3. YCharts.com, 2018; USInflationCalculator.com, 2018

The uncertainties we face in retirement can erode our sense of confidence, potentially undermining our outlook during those years.

Indeed, according to the 2017 Retirement Confidence Survey by the Employee Benefits Research Institute, only 18% of retirees say they are “very confident” about having enough assets to live comfortably in retirement. Almost 40% were either “not too confident” or “not at all confident.“

Today’s retirees face two overarching uncertainties. While each on their own can lead even the best-laid strategies to go awry, it’s important to remember that remaining flexible and responsive to changes in the landscape may help you meet the challenges of uncertainty in the years ahead.

An Uncertain Tax Structure

A mounting national debt and the growing liabilities of Social Security and Medicare are straining federal finances. How these challenges will be resolved remains unknown, but higher taxes—along with means-testing for Social Security and Medicare—are obvious possibilities for policymakers.

Whatever tax rates may be in the future, taxes can be a drag on your savings and may adversely impact your retirement security.¹ Moreover, any reduction of Social Security or Medicare benefits has the potential to place a further strain on your retirement.

Consequently, you’ll need to be ever mindful of a changing tax landscape and strategies to manage the impact.

Market Uncertainty

If you know someone who retired, or looked to retire in 2008, you know what market uncertainty can do to a retirement blueprint.

The uncertainties haven’t gone away. Are we at the cusp of a bond market bubble bursting? Will the Euro Zone find its footing? Will U.S. debt be a drag on our economic vitality?

Over a 30-year period, uncertainties may evaporate or resolve themselves, but new ones historically have emerged. This means understanding that the solutions for one set of economic circumstances may not be appropriate for a new set of circumstances.

Scottish Philosopher Thomas Carlyle said “He who could foresee affairs three days in advance would be rich for thousands of years.”² Preparing for uncertainties is less about knowing what the future holds as it is about being able to respond to changes as they unfold.

1. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation.

2. Brainy Quote, 2017

According to a 2017 report from International Living Magazine, Mexico tops the list of places to retire abroad. Panama ranks second, followed by Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Colombia.¹

Many retirees consider moving out of the country in search of greater affordability, adventure, and a change in lifestyle. However exciting retiring abroad may sound, it deserves considerable planning.

Things to consider

1. Where do you want to retire?

There are many starting points for this search, but primary considerations may include cost of living, stability of the country, access to healthcare, the type of experience you desire, and the climate.

Engage your spouse in the conversation since both of you need to be happy and excited in order for a move to work long term.

2. Visit prospective candidates

Test drive the country you are considering. No amount of research from your living room can replace being on the ground experiencing the people and actual living conditions.

3. Check visa and residency requirements

Each country has different requirements for permanent residency. Some have programs designed to welcome retirees. In any case, you’ll need to know what is required of you before putting down roots.

4. Make an appointment with a tax advisor

While visiting prospective countries, spend time with a local tax advisor to understand the country’s taxation of U.S. retirees. You don’t want any surprises.²

5. Nirvana doesn’t exist

As you go through this process, appreciate that each country will have its pluses and minuses. You will need to balance them based on your personal priorities. Also, try to remember that most countries will not offer a U.S.-style living.

6. Consider health insurance

Since Medicare generally does not cover health care expenses incurred overseas, as is the case for private U.S.-based health insurance, you should research health insurance that will cover you in the country of your choice.

7. Consider renting first

Moving into an unknown area makes intelligent real estate decisions difficult. Consider renting to learn the area, understand the neighborhood, and learn whether it offers the range of activities you want.

8. Beware of scams

A retiree working on a dream is fertile territory for people looking to separate you from your money. Work with only reputable businesses that you’ve identified from research and referrals.

1. International Living, January 1, 2017

2. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation.

The average household with credit card debt had a balance of $15,983 in 2017, nearly eclipsing the peak of $16,900 in 2008.¹ With the average credit card annual percentage rate sitting at 14.9%, it represents an expensive way to fund spending.²

Which leads many individuals to ask, “Does it make sense to borrow from my 401(k) to pay off debt or to make a major purchase?”³

Borrowing from Your 401(k)

  • No Credit Check—If you have trouble getting credit, borrowing from a 401(k) requires no credit check; so as long as your 401(k) permits loans, you should be able to borrow.
  • More Convenient—Borrowing from your 401(k) usually requires less paperwork and is quicker than the alternative.
  • Competitive Interest Rates—While the rate you pay depends upon the terms your 401(k) sets out, the rate is typically lower than the rate you will pay on personal loans or through a credit card. Plus, the interest you pay will be to yourself rather than to a finance company.

Disadvantages of 401(k) Loans

  • Opportunity Cost—The money you borrow will not benefit from the potentially higher returns of your 401(k) investments. Additionally, many people who take loans also stop contributing. This means the further loss of potential earnings and any matching contributions.
  • Risk of Job Loss—A 401(k) loan not paid is deemed a distribution, subject to income taxes and a 10% penalty tax if you are under age 59½. Should you switch jobs or get laid off, your 401(k) loan becomes immediately due. If you do not have the cash to pay the balance, it will have tax consequences.
  • Red Flag Alert—Borrowing from retirement savings to fund current expenditures could be a red flag. It may be a sign of overspending. You may save money by paying off your high-interest credit-card balances, but if these balances get run up again, you will have done yourself more harm.

Most financial experts caution against borrowing from your 401(k), but they also concede that a loan may be a more appropriate alternative to an outright distribution, if the funds are absolutely needed.

1. NerdWallet, 2017 American Household Credit Card Debt Study

2. NerdWallet, 2017 American Household Credit Card Debt Study

3. Distributions from 401(k) plans and most other employer-sponsored retirement plans are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions.

Next to “When should I claim Social Security benefits?” one of the more common questions people have is “How much will I receive?”

Calculating your potential Social Security benefit is a three-step process:

  1. Calculate Your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME): The highest 35 years of indexed earnings is added together. It is then divided by the number of months in 35 years to arrive at your AIME. (“Indexed earnings” is an adjustment made to historical earnings so that they reflect a current standard of living.)
  2. Determine Your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA): AIME is subjected to a formula based on the year of first eligibility (age 62).
  3. Application Age: The final calculation will be based on the age you apply for Social Security retirement benefits. For instance, if you apply at full retirement age, you will receive 100% of your PIA. If you apply for early benefits, your benefit will be less, and if you wait until after full retirement age your retirement benefit will exceed your PIA.

If this all sounds complicated, that’s because it is. However, the Social Security Administration calculates your personal benefits without you having to do any of the math.

When to take Social Security is a complex retirement decision that requires careful thought in order to maximize the benefit to you and your spouse. You should consider working with your financial advisor and accessing the resources at the Social Security Administration to help you make the decision that best meets your needs.

Most understand that waiting to claim Social Security benefits can result in higher monthly payments. However, many don’t know that there are other ways to maximize their benefits, some of which depend on their marital status.

Understanding the strategies for maximizing your Social Security retirement income benefits should be prefaced with a review of the three basic forms of retirement benefits:

  1. The Worker Benefit: This is the benefit you receive based on your own personal earnings history, and for which you become eligible after 40 quarters of work.
  2. The Spousal Benefit: This is the benefit paid to your spouse. For non-working spouses, this is 50% of the working spouse’s benefit. For working spouses, it is the greater of the benefit earned from his or her earnings or 50% of the worker’s benefit.
  3. The Survivor Benefit: This is the benefit paid to the surviving spouse, which is paid at a rate equal to the greater of his or her own current benefit, or the deceased spouse’s current benefit.

The first and most obvious strategy for maximizing your Social Security benefit is to simply wait to reach age 70 before beginning to take benefits. By waiting until age 70 to receive benefits, your monthly payments may increase by 32%, not including any cost of living increases that may be added to this amount.

Benefit Maximization Strategies for Widows and Widowers

Remember, there is no spousal benefit for a widow/widower, but he or she does qualify for a survivor benefit that is equal to 100% of the deceased spouse’s benefit (versus the 50% spousal benefit if the working spouse is still alive). This survivor benefit is available at age 60.1

If you are widowed and also have worked for 40 quarters, you will have a worker benefit and a survivor benefit. This presents you with several choices. One choice is to file for the benefit that provides you the greatest monthly benefit amount.

Another choice may be to start your worker benefit at age 62 and then switch to the survivor benefit once you reach full retirement age. This option is advantageous in instances where the widowed spouse did not accumulate the same level of benefits as the deceased spouse. Choosing this option allows the surviving spouse to take the higher survivor benefit amount. Because there are no delayed retirement credits earned on survivor benefits, there is no advantage to waiting past full retirement age to apply for survivor benefits.

A final choice is to consider starting the survivor benefit at age 60 and then switching to your own worker benefit at age 70. This strategy allows you to begin receiving income based on the survivor benefit as early as possible and provides you time to build up the maximum worker benefit.

As you can see, there are ways you can potentially raise your Social Security benefits. These strategies can help you maximize your benefits beyond what is available to those who simply delay retirement to age 70.

1. Social Security Administration, September 2017

One of the common threads of a mobile workforce is that many individuals who leave their job are faced with a decision about what to do with their 401(k) account.¹

Individuals have three basic choices with the 401(k) account they accrued at a previous employer.

Choice 1: Leave It with Your Previous Employer

You may choose to do nothing and leave your account in your previous employer’s 401(k) plan. However, if your account balance is under a certain amount, be aware that your ex-employer may elect to distribute the funds to you.

While inertia is one of the primary reasons for not moving a 401(k), there may be reasons to keep it there—such as investments that are low cost or have limited availability outside of the plan. Other reasons are to maintain certain creditor protections that are unique to qualified retirement plans, or to retain the ability to borrow from it, if the plan allows for such loans to exemployees.²

The primary downside is that individuals can become disconnected from the old account and pay less attention to the ongoing management of its investments.

Choice 2: Transfer to Your New Employer’s 401(k) Plan

Provided your current employer’s 401(k) accepts the transfer of assets from a pre-existing 401(k), you may want to consider moving these assets to your new plan.

The primary benefits to transferring are the convenience of consolidating your assets, retaining their strong creditor protections, and keeping them accessible via the plan’s loan feature.

Provided their new plan has a competitive investment menu, many individuals prefer to transfer their account and make a full break with their former employer.

Choice 3: Roll Over Assets to a Traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA)

The last choice is to roll assets over into a new or existing traditional IRA.³ A traditional IRA may provide a wider range of investment choices than what may exist in your new 401(k) plan.

The drawback to this approach may be less creditor protection and the loss of access to these funds via a 401(k) loan feature.

Remember, don’t feel rushed into making a decision. You have time to consider your choices and may want to seek professional guidance to answer any questions you may have.

1. Distributions from 401(k) plans and most other employer-sponsored retirement plans are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions.

2. A 401(k) loan not paid is deemed a distribution, subject to income taxes and a 10% tax penalty if the account owner is under 59½. If the account owner switches jobs or gets laid off, any outstanding 401(k) loan balance becomes due by the time the person files his or her federal tax return. Prior to the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, employees typically had to repay loans within 60 days of departure or face potential tax consequences.

3. Withdrawals from traditional IRAs are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions.

The reason withdrawals from an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) prior to age 59½ are generally subject to a 10% tax penalty is that policymakers wanted to create a disincentive to use these savings for anything other than retirement.¹

Yet, policymakers also recognize that life can present more pressing circumstances that require access to these savings. In appreciation of this, the list of withdrawals that may be taken from an IRA without incurring a 10% early withdrawal penalty has grown over the years.

Penalty-Free Withdrawals

Outlined below are the circumstances under which individuals may withdraw from an IRA prior to age 59½, without a tax penalty. Ordinary income tax, however, generally is due on such distributions.

  1. Death — If you die prior to age 59½, the beneficiary(ies) of your IRA may withdraw the assets without penalty. However, if your beneficiary decides to roll it over into his or her IRA, he or she will forfeit this exception.²
  2. Disability — Disability is defined as being unable to engage in any gainful employment because of a mental or physical disability, as determined by a physician.³
  3. Substantially Equal Periodic Payments — You are permitted to take a series of substantially equal periodic payments and avoid the tax penalty, provided they continue until you turn 59½ or for five years, whichever is later. The calculation of such payments is complicated, and individuals should consider speaking with a qualified tax professional.⁴
  4. Home Purchase — You may take up to $10,000 toward the purchase of your first home. (According to the Internal Revenue Service, you also qualify if you have not owned a home in the last two years). This is a lifetime limit.
  5. Un-reimbursed Medical Expenses — This exception covers medical expenses in excess of 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.
  6. Medical Insurance — This permits the unemployed to pay for medical insurance if they meet specific criteria.
  7. Higher Education Expenses — Funds may be used to cover higher education expenses for you, your spouse, children or grandchildren. Only certain institutions and associated expenses are permitted.
  8. IRS Levy — Funds may be used to pay an IRS levy.
  9. Active Duty Call-Up — Funds may be used by reservists called up after 9/11/01, and whose withdrawals meet the definition of qualified reservist distributions.

1. With an IRA, once you reach age 70½, generally you are obligated to begin taking required minimum distributions.

2. Your required minimum distribution (RMD) may be based on your age or the deceased’s age at the time of death. Penalties may occur for missed RMDs. Most are required to begin by December 31 of the year following the date of death. Any RMDs due for the original owner must be taken by their deadlines to avoid penalties. You will pay taxes on any distributions you take. Consider speaking with a financial professional who can help you evaluate the potential impact an inheritance might have on your overall tax situations.

3. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Federal and state laws and regulations are subject to change, which may have an impact on after-tax investment returns. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation.

4. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties.

For the casual observer, it sometimes seems that variable annuities are either “terrible” or “wonderful.”

Commentators in the financial media seem to occupy a polarity of opinions we might see in politics. What gets lost when these commentators collide is “the individual.” Unfortunately, the discussion is rarely centered on whether a variable annuity is relevant and useful to you and your set of needs.

Before considering investing in a variable annuity, you may want to make sure that you are exhausting the contribution limits of your 401(k), IRA, or other qualified retirement plan.

Variable annuities are sold by prospectus, which contains detailed information about investment objectives and risks, as well as charges and expenses. You are encouraged to read the prospectus carefully before you invest or send money to buy a variable annuity contract. The prospectus is available from the insurance company or from your financial professional. Variable annuity subaccounts will fluctuate in value based on market conditions, and may be worth more or less than the original amount invested if the annuity is surrendered.

At the end of the day, however, variable annuities are really a value judgment.

Do you value the guarantees and predictable income that annuities can provide?

Are the fees charged worth the price of mitigating the risk fluctuating markets can have on your financial security in retirement?

Only you can be the judge of what constitutes value to you. Leave the punditry on variable annuities to others and focus on whether they make sense for you.

The guarantees of an annuity contract depend on the issuing company’s claims-paying ability. Remember variable annuities have contract limitations, fees, and charges, including account and administrative fees, underlying investment management fees, mortality and expense fees, and charges for optional benefits.

Most annuities have surrender fees that are usually highest if you take out the money in the initial years of the annuity contact. Withdrawals and income payments are taxed as ordinary income. If a withdrawal is made prior to age 59½, a 10% federal income tax penalty may apply (unless an exception applies). Annuities are not guaranteed by the FDIC or any other government agency.

Pursuing your retirement dreams is challenging enough without making some common, and very avoidable, mistakes. Here are eight big mistakes to steer clear of, if possible.

  1. No Strategy: Yes, the biggest mistake is having no strategy at all. Without a strategy, you may have no goals, leaving you no way of knowing how you’ll get there—and if you’ve even arrived. Creating a strategy may increase your potential for success, both before and after retirement.
  2. Frequent Trading: Chasing “hot” investments often leads to despair. Create an asset allocation strategy that is properly diversified to reflect your objectives, risk tolerance, and time horizon; then make adjustments based on changes in your personal situation, not due to market ups and downs.¹
  3. Not Maximizing Tax-Deferred Savings: Workers have tax-advantaged ways to save for retirement. Not participating in your employer’s 401(k) may be a mistake, especially when you’re passing up free money in the form of employer-matching contributions.²
  4. Prioritizing College Funding over Retirement: Your kids’ college education is important, but you may not want to sacrifice your retirement for it. Remember, you can get loans and grants for college, but you can’t for your retirement.
  5. Overlooking Healthcare Costs: Extended care may be an expense that can undermine your financial strategy for retirement if you don’t prepare for it.
  6. Not Adjusting Your Investment Approach Well Before Retirement: The last thing your retirement portfolio can afford is a sharp fall in stock prices and a sustained bear market at the moment you’re ready to stop working. Consider adjusting your asset allocation in advance of tapping your savings so you’re not selling stocks when prices are depressed.³
  7. Retiring with Too Much Debt: If too much debt is bad when you’re making money, it can be deadly when you’re living in retirement. Consider managing or reducing your debt level before you retire.
  8. It’s Not Only About Money: Above all, a rewarding retirement requires good health, so maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, stay socially involved, and remain intellectually active.

1. The return and principal value of stock prices will fluctuate as market conditions change. And shares, when sold, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Asset allocation and diversification are approaches to help manage investment risk. Asset allocation and diversification do not guarantee against investment loss. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

2. Distributions from 401(k) plans and most other employer-sponsored retirement plans are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions.

3. The return and principal value of stock prices will fluctuate as market conditions change. And shares, when sold, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Asset allocation is an approach to help manage investment risk. Asset allocation does not guarantee against investment loss. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2018 FMG Suite.

Most portfolios are constructed based on an individual’s investment objective, risk tolerance, and time horizon.

Using these inputs and sophisticated portfolio-optimization calculations, most investors can feel confident that they own a well-diversified portfolio, appropriately positioned to pursue their long-term goals.¹

However, as a retiree, how you choose to live in retirement may be an additional factor to consider when building your portfolio.

Starting a Business?

Using retirement funds to start a business entails significant risk. If you choose this path, you may want to consider reducing the risk level of your investment portfolio to help compensate for the risk you’re assuming with a new business venture.

Since a new business is unlikely to generate income right away, you may want to construct your portfolio with an income orientation in order to provide you with current income until the business can begin turning a profit.

Traveling for Extended Periods of Time?

There are a number of good reasons to consider using a professional money manager for your retirement savings. Add a new one. If you plan on extended travel that may keep you disconnected from current events (even modern communication), investing in a portfolio of individual securities that requires constant attention may not be an ideal approach.² For this lifestyle, professional management may suit your retirement best.

Rethink Retirement Income?

Market volatility can undermine your retirement-income strategy. While it may come at the expense of some opportunity cost, there are products and strategies that may protect you from drawing down on savings when your portfolio’s value is falling—a major cause of failed income approaches.

1. Diversification and portfolio optimization calculations are approaches to help manage investment risk. They do not eliminate the risk of loss if security prices decline.

2. Keep in mind that the return and principal value of security prices will fluctuate as market conditions change. And securities, when sold, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Individuals cannot invest directly in an index.

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2018 FMG Suite.

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The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. Some of this material was developed and produced by Advisor Launchpad to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. Advisor Launchpad is not affiliated with the named representative, broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.

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