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November 2022

Considering a QCD in 2022? Act Now!


As the winter holidays approach, many people are thinking about ways to satisfy their annual charitable giving goals. For those who meet certain requirements, a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) is one of the most tax-efficient methods for accomplishing these goals. QCDs may be even more attractive this year since two charitable tax breaks for making cash donations under the SECURE Act are no longer available. That includes the elimination of the $300 charitable deduction for individuals who do not itemize and the change in the limit for deductions for charitable contributions which reverted back to 60% of adjusted gross income (AGI) in 2022, from 100% for tax years 2020 and 2021.

What is a QCD and how does it work?

Often referred to as an “IRA to charity,” a QCD allows anyone aged 70 ½ or older (on the date of transfer) to donate up to $100,000 as a tax-free gift to a qualified charitable organization. However, to qualify for the tax deduction, the funds must be directly transferred by the custodian of your traditional IRA to the qualified charitable organization on your behalf. For those subject to required minimum distributions (RMDs), distributions paid directly from an IRA to a charity are not taxable and will count toward satisfying your RMD. All or a part of the RMD (up to $100,000 per tax year) can be directed to one or more qualified charitable organizations and you will only be taxed on any remaining portion of the distribution that you receive. For example, if your RMD for the year is $10,000 and you direct $6,000 to your favorite charity, that $6,000 will count toward satisfying your RMD, and you will only be taxed on the remaining $4,000.1

It’s important to note that while the SECURE Act raised the age for RMDs to 72, the minimum age for a QCD remains at 70 ½. That means QCDs can be used for charitable giving even before RMDs begin. However, if you’re still contributing to an IRA, that may result in a reduction in the amount you can deduct for your QCD.

In addition to meeting the age requirement, your QCD must be completed by December 31st for it to count for the current tax year. Distributions can only come from your IRA, not an employer plan, and distributions must go directly to the qualified charity, not a donor advised fund, private foundation or to you. So, if you take a plan distribution and later decide to gift all or a portion of it to charity, it won’t count as a QCD, and you won’t receive the tax deduction. If you don’t have an IRA already, you’ll need to set one up so the amount earmarked for the charitable gift can be rolled over and the QCD can be completed before year end. That means you need to start now.

A QCD can be an attractive strategy for anyone subject to RMDs who does not need the income for current living expenses and is seeking to lower their AGI while satisfying important charitable giving goals. To get started or to discuss whether a QCD is right for you, call the office to schedule time to talk.

1 “IRA FAQs - Distributions (Withdrawals).” IRS.gov, https://www.irs.gov/ retirement-plans/retirement- plans-faqs-regarding-iras- distributions-withdrawals. Accessed 28 Oct. 2022.

 

Will Inflation Deflate Your 2023 Social Security Increase?


There’s good news for retirees facing the challenges posed by today’s high inflation and rising interest rates: Social Security benefits are going up and Medicare premiums are going down.

In October, the Social Security Administration announced an 8.7% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), the highest increase in 40 years, which is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2023. That means the average Social Security retirement benefit amount will increase $146 per month, to $1,827 in 2023, from $1,681 in 2022.1  At the same time, the standard monthly premium for Medicare Part B enrollees will decrease by $5.20 a month to $164.90 from $170.10 in 2022.2

Social Security COLA increases are tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and calculated annually using the average rate of inflation in the third quarter of the year. They are meant to provide inflation protection so people can maintain their standard of living in retirement. However, even next year’s healthy increase could lead to benefits falling short for many retirees. That’s because retirees’ buying power can be disproportionately impacted when price increases in areas including healthcare, food, housing, utilities, and transportation exceed the average rate of inflation.

For example, while the CPI all items index increased 8.2% percent for the 12 months ending September 2022, the energy index increased 19.8% and the food index increased 11.2%. Even small increases in healthcare, which remains one of the largest expenses people face in retirement, can take a toll, since increases tend to have a compounding effect over time. For instance, when Medicare Part B premiums rose to $170.10 per month in 2022, from $148.50 in 2021, that increased the cost basis for future adjustments. Even though Part B premiums will decrease by $5.20 per month next year, beneficiaries will still pay $16.40 more per month than they did in 2021.

How can you protect your income from the ravages of inflation?

A comprehensive financial strategy aligned with your goals and risk tolerance can provide a framework to help manage the challenges posed by inflation and other risk factors in retirement. Meet with your financial professional at least annually to review your strategy to determine if any adjustments are needed to help you remain on track. That may include evaluating trade-offs or reprioritizing goals as market and economic conditions, or your personal circumstance change.

If you have questions about managing income in retirement, call the office today to schedule time to talk about your concerns.

1 “Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) Information for 2023.” SSA.gov. https://www.ssa.gov/cola/ Accessed 31 Oct. 2022.
2 “Costs.” Medicare.gov. https://www.medicare.gov/ basics/costs/medicare-costs. Accessed 31 Oct 2022.
3 “Consumer Price Index – September 2022.” BLS.gov. https://www.bls.gov/news. release/pdf/cpi.pdf 13 Oct. 2022

 

This information was written by KRW Creative Concepts, a non-affiliate of the broker-dealer.

oCTOBER 2022

What Does Today’s Rapidly Changing Housing Market Mean for Retirees?


Following its September 2022 meeting, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 0.75%, pushing the federal funds rate to a target range of 3.0% to 3.25%. That news drove the average rate for a 30-year mortgage to 6.7% by month end, the highest since 2007, and more than double the 3.01% average from a year ago.1 Below, we look at what this may mean for retirees seeking to buy or sell a home in the current market.

What does this mean for buyers? 

Higher rates have pushed monthly payments above what many buyers—especially first-time homeowners—can afford. This has resulted in a drop in demand for mortgages and, subsequently, a smaller pool of buyers who have more leverage to negotiate deals.
That’s good news for cash buyers—many of whom are in or near retirement—who may be looking to move or downsize.
However, buyers of all ages and at all price points may face low inventory due to a reluctance on the part of existing homeowners to give up historically low rates on their current mortgages.

Sellers can expect the following as the overheated real estate market begins to cool: 3

  • Rising rates over the past few months have ushered in a sharp drop in housing activity, with home prices falling in 98 regional housing markets across the United States. That means that sellers in many markets can expect to receive less for their properties than in previous months.
  • Rather than take less, some sellers are simply waiting out the housing downturn.
    Sellers looking to move, who are not cash buyers, would give up historically low mortgage rates, potentially paying the same or a higher monthly payment, even when downsizing.
  • While sellers may see fewer all-cash and above-asking price offers, and fewer bidding wars, this shift points to a more stable, less chaotic housing market.

Housing is one of the biggest expenses you can expect in retirement. Even those who have paid off a mortgage and own their homes outright can expect to pay annual costs that can add up quickly. This includes property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and maintenance costs.

To learn more strategies for managing housing and other expenses in retirement, call the office to schedule time to talk.

1 Siegel, Rachel and Orton, Kathy. “Mortgage rates hit 6.7 percent as housing market keeps cooling.” The Washington Post, 29 September 2022, https://www.washingtonpost. com/business/2022/09/29/ mortgage-rates-fed/
2 Ibid.
3 Lambert, Lance. “These 2 maps show the U.S home price correction is sharper—and more widespread—than previously thought.” Fortune, 28 September 2022, https://fortune.com/2022/09/ 28/housing-market-home-price- correction-2022/

Should You Prepay Your Final Expenses?

Funeral expenses for Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest serving monarch, are estimated to exceed $7.5 million.1 That’s an unfathomable amount for those of us who were not born into royalty or don’t anticipate a state funeral upon our departure. Nonetheless, there’s no question that paying for final costs can be royally expensive—no matter who you may be. As a result, there’s a lot to be said for advanced planning, especially if your goal is to spare loved ones from financial stress as they are grieving your loss. One way to ensure that family members or other loved ones are not saddled with unplanned expenses upon your departure is to plan for those expenses now. There are several ways to accomplish that, as discussed below.

Many funeral homes offer prepaid plans. Prepaid plans are arranged with a funeral home ahead of time and typically range from $10,000 to $25,000. Most plans allow you to choose from a range of options, such as the services of a funeral director and funeral home staff, a venue for the funeral or memorial service, the type of burial, flowers, stationery and more. Plans may be paid in full or in monthly installments directly to the funeral home. However, if you move out of state, change your mind about the options or preferences selected—or if the funeral home goes out of business or engages in fraudulent practices—you could lose what you’ve already paid. There are several alternatives to pre-paying your funeral expenses that may offer greater protection, such as:2

  • Burial insurance policies, which are intended to pay a predetermined amount for funeral costs and other final expenses. Policies are regulated by state and federal authorities and offer more flexibility than pre-paid funeral plans.
  • Life insurance policies will pay a lump sum when you die to the beneficiary of your choice. A policy can be purchased to pay for your funeral or any other general financial needs of your survivors. The payment is made soon after you die and doesn’t have to go through probate.
  • Payable upon death (POD) accounts are specially titled bank accounts that enable you to set aside funds and name a beneficiary who can gain immediate access to the money when you die since these accounts do not go through probate. While the beneficiary cannot access the funds while you are alive, POD accounts do not place restrictions on how the money can be used after your death. So it’s important to carefully consider who you name as the beneficiary.
  • Trusts can also be used to pay for funeral expenses. Revocable and irrevocable trusts have different rules so make sure you consult with an estate planning professional before establishing a trust to pay final expenses for yourself or a loved one.

If you have questions about planning your final expenses, call the office to schedule time to talk.

1 Kesslen, Ben. “Queen Elizabeth’s $7.5 million funeral security cost will be priciest in UK history, officer predicts.” New York Post, 19 September 2022, https://nypost.com/2022/09/15/ queen-elizabeths-7-5-million- funeral-security-cost-is- priciest-in-uk-history/
2 Potts, Leanna. “Smart Ways to Cover the Costs of a Funeral.” AARP, 22 October 2021, https://www.aarp.org/home- family/friends-family/info- 2020/paying-for-cost-of funeral.html#:~:text=Payable% 2Don%2Ddeath%20(POD,doesn't% 20go%20through%20probate

 

This information was written by KRW Creative Concepts, a non-affiliate of the broker-dealer.

September 2022

4 Medicare Deadlines You Can’t Afford to Miss

Many Americans in or nearing retirement are familiar with Medicare, the federal health insurance program primarily for people age 65 or older. However, many people may not realize that missing key deadlines can result in paying more for these important healthcare benefits over time. To help avoid penalties and higher premiums, keep the following deadlines in mind:1

  1. Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) - Your initial enrollment period lasts for 7 months, starting 3 months before you turn 65, and ending 3 months after the month you turn 65. Most people who are already collecting Social Security disability or retirement benefits are automatically enrolled into Medicare Part A and Part B when they’re first eligible. If you’re not receiving Social Security benefits, you can sign up for Part A any time after you turn 65. Most people do not pay for Part A. However, if you miss your IEP, you may have to wait to sign up for Part B and pay a monthly late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part B coverage. In addition, the penalty increases the longer you wait. You may also have to pay a penalty if you are subject to paying a Part A premium.

  2. General Enrollment Period (GEP)- The Medicare GEP occurs each year between January 1 and March 31. It’s generally the only time that people who did not sign up during their initial enrollment period and are eligible for Medicare Parts A and/or B can enroll. Coverage starts July 1 for anyone enrolling during the GEP.

  3. Special Enrollment Period (SEP) – Participants who elected Medicare Advantage and/or a Part D prescription drug plans may be eligible to make changes to their coverage under a SEP if they experience a qualifying life event, such as a move or the loss of other health insurance coverage. Visit Medicare.gov to review a full list of special circumstances and applicable rules for each SEP.

  4. Open Enrollment Period (OEP) - Medicare’s open enrollment period is October 15 - December 7 each year. During the OEP, anyone with Medicare can make changes to their health plans and prescription drug coverage for the following calendar year. So, if you’re not happy with your current coverage or costs, the OEP provides an opportunity to make changes to better meet your needs.

What if you’re still working after age 65?
Depending on the size of your employer, if you have job-based health insurance through your (or your spouse’s) current job, you don’t have to sign up for Medicare while you or your spouse are still working. You can wait to sign up until you or your spouse stop working or you lose your health insurance, whichever comes first. There are many important considerations to weigh here, so be sure to visit Medicare.gov to understand your options. To learn about paying for healthcare expenses in retirement, call the office to schedule time to talk.

1 https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Find-Your-Provider-Type/Employers-and-Unions/Top-5-things-you-need-to-know-about-Medicare-Enrollment

Depression Is Not a Normal Part of Aging

September is National Suicide Prevention Month when community leaders, educators, healthcare advocates, survivors and members of the public seek to bring greater awareness to this topic and the underlying mental health issues often associated with it. While suicide impacts individuals and families across all age groups, many people are surprised to learn that those over age 65 account for about 18% of deaths due to suicide, despite making up only 12% of the population. An estimate 90% of these deaths in seniors are thought to be due to untreated or undertreated depression.1

While it’s natural to occasionally feel down or “blue,” when these feelings persist for weeks or months, it may be time to consult with a healthcare provider. According to the Centers for Disease Control, depression is a treatable medical condition and not a normal part of growing older.2 However, as people age, depression can become more difficult to diagnose. That’s because for many older adults, feelings of sadness may not be a primary symptom. Instead, they may experience a loss of motivation when it comes to tasks of daily living or a lack of interest in activities they previously enjoyed. For others, conditions or circumstances, such as chronic pain, grief, loneliness, anxiety, loss of mobility, or diminished hearing and vision may mask traditional signs of depression. Risk factors for depression among seniors include: 3

  • Loss of loved ones
  • Isolation/being homebound
  • Chronic illness and/or pain
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Alcoholism/addiction
  • Food insecurity
  • Financial concerns
  • Caregiver stress

Where to find help
If you or someone close to you is experiencing symptoms of depression, contact a health care provider to be diagnosed and treated. While there are different types of depression, many effective treatments are available, including prescription medications and therapy.

If you or a loved are experiencing mental health-related distress or are in need of crisis support, don’t delay. Contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Available nationwide, 988 is the new, easy-to-remember number for people seeking help for mental health, substance use and suicide crises. The number will connect you with a trained crisis counselor via phone or text. You can also visit 988lifeline.org to chat with a crisis counselor online. The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24/7, including holidays.

1 https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/features/suicide-rates-older-adults
https://www.cdc.gov/aging/depression/index.html#:~:text=Depression%20is%20a%20true%20and,to%20be%20diagnosed%20and%20treated.

3 https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/depression-and-older-adults

This information was written by KRW Creative Concepts, a non-affiliate of the broker-dealer.


August 2022

Is Inflation Shrinking Your Retirement?

According to a recent retirement confidence survey, 8 in 10 retirees say they are confident they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout retirement. Among those who are less confident, half cited inflation as a top concern—and for good reason.1 Inflation diminishes purchasing power, which can make it harder to live on a fixed income or adhere to your budget or spending plan. That’s why an income that keeps up with inflation is critical for accomplishing all of your lifestyle goals in retirement.

So, how can you keep your retirement goals on track despite high inflation?

First, review your spending over the past 6-12 months to identify areas where spending has increased the most. This is easy to do if you already follow a budget or use an app to track spending. If you don’t have a budget in place, gather bank, credit card and other financial statements that reflect your spending over the same period. Look for areas where spending can be reduced without substantially altering your lifestyle. If you’re thinking about making a large purchase, such as a new car, furniture or major appliance, consider if it makes sense to delay it until supply chain disruptions ease and prices begin to trend downward. Leisure travel is another area where retirees may have more flexibility than business travelers or families with school-age children. The ability to travel off-peak can result in significant savings.

For some retirees, rising prices for essential expenses like food, housing or prescription drugs may require an increase in the amount they withdraw from their retirement accounts to subsidize what they already receive from Social Security, a pension or other guaranteed income sources. That can get tricky, especially during periods of increased market volatility. For example, when stock prices are falling, investors may have to sell more shares to generate the same amount of income. Not only does that leave fewer assets in the portfolio to help generate new growth—potentially depleting the portfolio earlier than planned—it can also have significant tax consequences. Remember, for most retirement accounts, taxes are owed when distributions are taken. Also, capital gains and losses are also realized at the time assets are sold. Therefore, it’s important to have a strategy in place for how you will manage taxes in retirement. To avoid cementing losses in long-term assets during turbulent periods, consider taking income from cash sources, such as money market funds or savings accounts that are not impacted by fluctuating prices.

A comprehensive financial strategy is one of the better ways to help protect against inflation and other retirement risk factors. It can address ways your money can continue to grow in retirement to accommodate transitory events, such as high inflation, market volatility or an economic recession. That can help ensure you remain on track toward meeting your goals throughout your lifetime.

To learn more about protecting your income from the eroding effects of inflation, taxes and market volatility, call the office to schedule time to talk

1 https://www.ebri.org/docs/default-source/rcs/2022-rcs/2022-rcs-summary-report.pdf?sfvrsn=a7cb3b2f_12

When It Comes to Well-Being, Small Steps Lead to Big Gains

August is National Wellness Month, which focuses on self-care, stress management and promoting healthy routines. If you’ve been thinking about increasing your activity level, adding more healthy foods to your diet, or taking up yoga or meditation—this month may be a good time to start.

According to health experts, the earlier you adopt healthy habits, the better you may be able to protect against developing certain chronic conditions later in life. Incorporating healthy habits can also help you feel more energized, so you can do more of the things you enjoy. To get started, consider incorporating a few small changes into your day or week. Over time, small adjustments like those listed below can add up to big gains over time for your physical, mental and emotional well-being.1

  • Increase your water intake. Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. Water helps give you energy, flushes toxins from your body, improves concentration and can even help with weight loss by replacing high calorie beverages.
  • Add more fruits and veggies to your meals. Think about eating the rainbow. Dark, leafy greens, oranges, blueberries, tomatoes, peppers, sweet potatoes and fresh herbs are all loaded with vitamins, fiber and minerals. The more color on your plate, the more nutrients you consume. Since many of these foods are high in fiber, they can also help you feel full longer and reduce cravings for less nutrient-dense sugary or salty foods.
  • Monitor your sleep. Not everyone needs a full eight hours of sleep nightly. However, we all need quality sleep on a regular basis to function at our best. Wearing a fitness tracker while you sleep is a great way to help analyze your sleep patterns so you can make any necessary changes, such as adopting a regular bedtime routine or sleep schedule.
  • Move more. Physical activity is critical for remaining independent as you age. Movement helps to strengthen the muscles that enable you to maintain and improve your stability, balance and coordination. It can also help lower the risk of developing certain chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, depression and anxiety. If you’re just getting started, consider lower impact activities like walking, stretching, swimming, yoga or Tai Chi. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any exercise program.

  • Try something new. Whether it’s exploring a different walking path, volunteering, taking up a new hobby or learning to meditate, doing something new triggers the brain to release dopamine, which elicits a pleasure response. Reaching outside of your comfort zone can also lead to positive feelings of accomplishment and help promote brain health by stimulating the creation of new brain cells and pathways.

1 https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/index.html

This information was written by KRW Creative Concepts, a non-affiliate of the broker-dealer.


July 2022

How to Retire With Confidence in Any Market Environment

Whether you recently retired or are planning to in the months ahead, you may be wondering how current financial and economic conditions may impact your plans. Do you need to adjust your spending to accommodate inflation or rising interest rates? How would a market correction impact your ability to meet your long-term goals? Should you wait to retire until inflation abates, or the markets become less volatile? These are all good questions as you approach one of life’s most impactful milestones—the transition from work to retirement.

In a recent study, 60% of working Americans say inflation has adversely affected their personal finances, leading many to consider delaying retirement. According to the survey:1

  • 25% have felt a major impact
  • 36% have reduced their savings
  • 21% have reduced their retirement savings
  • 25% say they will need to delay their retirement 

Before changing or delaying your plans for retirement, sit down with your financial professional to:

  • Understand your income sources—Cash flow is at the very heart of financial security. For most people, paid work provides the income needed to support your lifestyle until you retire. Once you retire, your paycheck is replaced by one or more sources, such as Social Security benefits, a pension, retirement plan assets, personal savings and/or real estate income. However, you need a plan for how you will take income in retirement to help ensure it lasts as long as you need it.
  • Develop an income strategy—A structured approach to drawing income in retirement begins with understanding the purpose of each account you own. That enables you to draw down on your assets in the most tax-efficient manner while helping to preserve and grow any long-term assets used to generate additional income throughout your life in retirement. 
  • Review or update your financial plan—If you don’t have a plan, now is the time to put one in place. A comprehensive plan will not only help you determine if you’re ready to retire but whether you need to update your current strategy based on your goals or prevailing market and economic conditions. If you have questions about how long your money may last, the planning process can instill confidence that you’re on track to meet your goals, or help you evaluate potential tradeoffs, such as working a year or two longer than planned or reprioritizing certain goals, so you can retire on your schedule.

To learn more about making confident decisions about when to retire, let’s schedule time to talk. 

1 BMO Real Financial Progress Index, May 2022

Are Membership-Based Retail Services Still Worth It?

Membership and subscription-based services offered by retailers such as Costco, Amazon, Walmart and Target can provide consumers with attractive benefits in exchange for an annual fee. Depending on the company, benefits may include competitive pricing, discounts on products and services, the opportunity to buy in bulk, and free or discounted shipping costs. Yet, soaring prices and inflation have left many consumers wondering if the annual fees are still worth it.

That depends. Retailers like Amazon, Walmart and Target that offer same-day, scheduled and next-day shipping for select items in many regions of the country can still be cost-effective for those who are unable or unwilling to travel to local stores for merchandise they may need quickly. Shopping at  wholesale warehouses, such as Costco, B.J.s and Sam’s Club, can also provide significant savings, especially for those seeking to purchase items in bulk.

While most of these companies have refrained from raising annual membership fees to-date, the annual fee for Amazon Prime membership jumped from $119 to $139 this year, marking the first increase since 2018. Costco, on the other hand, scrapped plans to raise its annual membership fee this summer, announcing that its Gold Star membership would remain at $60 and Executive membership at $120 for now.1

Walmart, which also owns Sam’s Club, introduced Walmart Plus in 2020 in response to Amazon surpassing it as the country’s largest retailer. Walmart Plus charges $98 per year for free shipping and includes a number of other member benefits, including free online and local store delivery, savings on fuel at more than 14,000 gas stations nationwide, as well as members-only deals and promotions.2

Target debuted its Shipt same-day delivery service in a limited number of areas in 2019 and has since expanded the program’s footprint. For $99 per year, Shipt members get an unlimited number of free deliveries on orders of $35 or more or pay $9.99 per delivery.

Ideally, you want to make sure that any programs you sign up for generate enough savings to offset the cost of the annual subscription fee. This could be savings realized through shipping costs, pricing discounts, rebates and even gas. However, it’s important to manage your spending. Overspending—often due to impulse purchases—can quickly eat up any potential savings, especially if it results in high interest credit card debt.

If you have questions about creating an income and spending plan in retirement, call the office to schedule time to talk.

1 https://www.axios.com/2022/05/26/costco-membership-cost-2022
2 https://www.walmart.com/plus

This information was written by KRW Creative Concepts, a non-affiliate of the broker-dealer.

June 2022

Should You Consider Paid Work to Generate Additional Income in Retirement?

There are many reasons to pursue paid work in retirement beyond generating additional income. Work can provide a social outlet, create structure in your day, and provide a sense of accomplishment. However, in recent months, rising inflation has been the catalyst behind many retirees considering paid work to help offset the loss in purchasing power they’re experiencing at the gas pump, grocery store, local pharmacy and more.

While paid work can be rewarding, keep in mind that working in retirement could impact both your Social Security benefits and the amount you owe in taxes.

For example, if you’re working and taking Social Security retirement benefits before you reach the normal retirement age (NRA), which is 67 for anyone born in 1960 or later, you may receive a temporarily reduced benefit. That’s because for every dollar you earn above a certain income limit, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will withhold some of your benefits. Here’s how it works. If you’re under your NRA, the SSA will hold back $1 in benefits for every $2 you earn from working, above $19,560. However, if you reach your NRA in 2022, the earnings limit jumps to $51,960, and $1 is held back for every $3 you earn until the month you reach your NRA. After that, the earnings limit no longer applies, the SSA stops holding money back due to work, and your monthly benefit will be permanently increased to account for the months in which benefits were withheld.1

Even if you’ve reached your NRA, and the earnings limit no longer applies to you, work in retirement could result in a higher tax bill. That’s because your earnings may push your income to a level where your Social Security benefits become taxable. However, no one pays taxes on more than 85% percent of their Social Security benefits.2 To learn how Social Security benefits are taxed, visit SSA.gov.

If you’re still working after age 72, your tax bill may go up again, when you’re subject to taking requirement minimum distributions from a traditional IRA or 401(k) plan.

Keep in mind that taxes are one of the primary risk factors impacting income in retirement, along with market volatility, inflation and longevity. That makes taxes an important consideration when weighing the benefits of continuing to work, or returning to the workplace, during your retirement years.

If you have concerns about the impact of taxes or inflation on your income in retirement, let’s schedule time to talk.

1 https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/rtea.html
2 https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/planner/taxes.html

Upcoming Travel Plans? Be Sure to Pack These 5 Health Documents

A recent survey reveals that 46% of Americans intend to travel this summer—a level that would have been high before the COVID-19 pandemic.1 While younger Americans are traveling the most, those over age 55 are also returning to the roads and skies in greater numbers. The survey notes that while worries about the virus have declined as a factor in deciding whether to travel, many travelers still embrace measures intended to mitigate the spread of the virus—from masking on airplanes to choosing destinations and attractions that allow for social distancing.

The last thing most people want to think about when traveling is an illness or injury, yet unexpected events can happen at any time. While you can’t always prevent these circumstances, you can take steps to be as prepared as possible. To help ensure you and the medical personnel treating you have the information they need, gather the following before you go:

Health insurance cards for any Medicare, employer-based and/or supplemental healthcare plans that you are covered under
List of medications, including prescriptions and any over-the-counter medications and supplements you take, including the dosages. Be sure to note any drug, food, insect, or environmental allergies, etc.
Proof of any vaccines required for your destination, which may include the COVID-19 vaccine
Medical ID card or bracelet, indicating medical conditions and/or allergies, if applicable
Medical implant and prosthetic device ID cards for stents, artificial joints, pins, plates and other hardware, and devices, such as a pacemaker. Having this information handy can also help facilitate the TSA screening process at the airport.
Be sure to check your insurance coverage with your carrier to determine what is and isn’t covered outside of your local network. Keep in mind, traditional Medicare does not provide coverage for hospital or medical costs outside the United States. However, some Medicare supplement plans provide limited coverage. Certain private insurers also offer short-term health insurance policies designed to cover travel.

Don’t forget to keep emergency contact details handy. If you’re traveling inside the United States, you might add a card in your wallet or your phone’s lock screen with the name, address and telephone number of someone to contact in case of an emergency. If you’re traveling outside the United States, be sure to complete the information page on the inside of your passport with these details.

1 Deloitte Summer Travel Survey 2022

This information was written by KRW Creative Concepts, a non-affiliate of the broker-dealer.

May 2022

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Interest Rates Hikes

The primary tool the Federal Reserve (the Fed) uses to conduct monetary policy is the federal funds rate. Changes in this rate influence other interest rates as well as broader financial and economic conditions.1 When inflation is too high, the Fed typically raises rates to slow the economy and help push inflation down. We saw that in March when the Fed approved a 0.25% rate hike— the first increase since December 2018—and again in May with a 0.50% increase. As inflation surges at the highest levels seen in more than 40 years,2 many economists expect rate increase to total 3%-3.25% by year end.3 That makes it likely that rising interest rates will impact your wallet in the coming months. Whether that’s good, bad or ugly depends on a number of factors.

  • The good. You may begin to see higher returns on short-term savings, such as bank savings accounts, certificates of deposit or certain fixed income investments. That reduces the need to take on added risk by investing money earmarked for short-term expenses in assets that fluctuate in value over time.
  • The bad. As interest rates rise, the cost of borrowing becomes more expensive as we saw earlier this year when 30-year mortgage rates soared past 5% for the first time in more than a decade.4 Homeowners who took the opportunity to lock in lower fixed rates on home loans in recent years will see no impact from rising mortgage rates. However, those with variable rate mortgages or home equity loans should expect an increase in their interest payments going forward. As financing costs increase, homeownership becomes less affordable for buyers. While housing prices typically decline to attract more buyers when mortgage rates rise, it’s unclear if that trend will hold in today’s hot housing market where demand exceeds supply.
  • The ugly. When borrowing money, you want the lowest rate possible, especially when financing assets that will depreciate over time, such as a car, boat, furniture or appliances. Even a slight increase could translate to hundreds of dollars more in interest over the life of the loan. Revolving credit card debt is another area where rising rates can get ugly. The higher the annual percentage rate (APR), the longer it can take to pay off credit card debt. While you can’t directly control the rates that lenders charge, you can take steps to ensure you get the best rate available, based on your credit history. Lenders consider your credit score when evaluating borrower risk. Ideally, you want yours to remain in the “very good” to “excellent” range. To learn more about managing credit, visit myfico.com.

If you have concerns about the impact of rising interest rates and inflation on your income in retirement, let’s schedule time to talk.

1 https://www.frbsf.org/education/teacher-resources/what-is-the-fed/monetary-policy/
2 https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/inflation-cpi
3 https://www.reuters.com/business/big-fed-rate-hikes-ahead-amid-early-signs-hot-inflation-is-peaking-2022-04-29/
4 https://www.freddiemac.com/pmms

Weighing the Pros and Cons of the RV Lifestyle

Summer is just around the corner and millions of Americans are hitting the road—many for the first time in more than two years. According to AAA, travel to certain destinations this spring is up a whopping 211% over last year and 10% over 2019.1 Due to the increased demand for flights, lodging and rental cars, many people are finding it difficult to book travel for their preferred dates and destinations. That has led to a growing interest in recreational motor vehicles and campers with self-contained lodging, commonly called RVs.

Is the RV lifestyle right for you?
Whether you’re considering a weekend expedition, cross-country road trip or “full-timing,” as it’s referred to in the RV community, it pays to weigh the pros and cons first.

  • Pros – RVs come in all shapes, sizes and price ranges, from affordable “pop-up” campers to million-dollar luxury motorhomes. They offer the freedom to travel where and when you want without having to repack or haul luggage when making multiple stops. In many cases, you can bring all the comforts of home with you from groceries, kitchenware, and linens, to lawn chairs, outdoor grills and more. Many also provide the option to tow a car, boat or trailer. RVs can provide a cost-effective way to visit one or many destinations in a single trip. On average, it costs $20 to $40 to park overnight at an RV park, which is significantly less than most hotel rooms.2 RVs allow you to swap airport hassles, delays and crowded flights for a slower but more scenic approach to travel. Another bonus—generally, you can alter your plans on a whim without expensive cancellation or change fees.
  • Cons – The initial and ongoing maintenance costs associated with owning an RV can be high, depending on the size, model and year of the vehicle purchased. Many dealers offer refurbished RVs, which can be more cost effective, especially for first time buyers who may not be ready to fully commit to the lifestyle. While it’s true that rising fuel prices have made RV travel more expensive but as airfare and hotel rates also climb, RV travel remains a comparatively cost-effective option. However, due to high demand, some popular destinations, including certain U.S. national parks, require advanced reservations and overnight rates can be high. For example, Zion and Grand Teton national parks charge over $100 a night during peak season.3 Don‘t forget, if you have to pay to park or garage your RV when you’re not traveling, you’ll need to factor that expense into your budget. Finally, if you haven‘t owned, operated or traveled in an RV before, consider renting one first to see if it’s right for you.

    1 https://www.cruiseamerica.com/rv-adventures/rv-lifestyle/average-rv-park-cost
    2 Ibid.

    3 Ibid.

    This information was written by KRW Creative Concepts, a non-affiliate of the broker-dealer.

.

April 2022

6 Things That Are Making Retirement More Expensive and What You Can Do About It

As inflation trends at the highest levels seen in more than 40 years,1 it’s wreaking havoc on the budgets and spending power of consumers in the United States and across the globe. Inflation refers to the decrease in the purchasing power of money, which is reflected in an increase in the prices of goods and services. The resulting squeeze on consumers’ wallets is often felt more acutely by retirees drawing down on retirement savings or living on fixed incomes. The good news is that inflation is cyclical, meaning that it’s not likely to be permanent. While that may offer little comfort for those struggling to make ends meet in the current environment, there are ways to help ease the pain in six areas that are making retirement more expensive today.

  1. Groceries are expected to rise another 3% to 4% this year,2 making it even more important to find ways to cut costs. Clipping coupons, buying generic brands, and shopping BOGO deals and promotions can help reduce your weekly grocery bill. To save even more, look for stores near you that offer senior discount days and similar promotions.
  2. Gas prices have spiked significantly. Consider using apps that track gas prices where you live and travel. Try to bunch errands and appointments whenever possible.
  3. Utility costs for natural gas, oil, propane, water and electricity are rising across the country. Visit your local utility services’ websites for tips on reducing household consumption and home improvements that can help lower utility costs.
  4. Healthcare expenses, including Medicare premiums, continue to rise. Take the time to compare plan costs and benefits during Medicare’s annual open enrollment periods to ensure you’re getting the coverage you need at the best possible price. Learn more at Medicare.gov.
  5. Housing prices rose 14.6% in 2021.3 That’s good for sellers, but can be costly for buyers, even those seeking to downsize. While rising mortgage rates may help temper home prices in the months ahead, cash buyers or those willing to rent for a period of time until home prices stabilize, may fare better.
  6. Travel costs continue to rise with increased demand, as pandemic-related restrictions are lifted. When it comes to making travel arrangements, the more flexible you are, the more you stand to save. Consumers can save hundreds by booking last minute deals for airfare, cruises, hotels, car rentals and more. Traveling off-season or visiting less popular destinations can also translate to significant savings, along with fewer crowds.

If you have questions about managing income in retirement, let’s schedule time to talk.

1 https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/inflation-cpi
2 https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-price-outlook/summary-findings/
3 https://www.kiplinger.com/real-estate/buying-a-home/604280/home-sale-prices-in-the-50-largest-metro-areas

5 Ways to Save More at the Pump Now

Gas prices have hit record highs in recent weeks. According to the American Automotive Association (AAA), the national average for a gallon of gas during the first week of April was $4.153 a gallon, up from $2.872 a year ago.1 That can put a real dent in your budget, whether you’re working or retired. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help reduce pain at the pump.

  1. Track prices - Mobile apps from Gas Buddy, Gas Guru and AAA can help identify the cheapest gas prices near you, whether you’re at home or traveling. Most apps are available for Android and iOS devices and track gas prices across the country.
  2. Shop and save - A growing number of grocery stores and wholesale clubs offer discounts on gas through member and/or rewards programs. These include Costco, BJs, Winn Dixie, Kroger, Harris Teeter, Safeway and more.
  3. Keep up with regular maintenance - Regular oil changes, clean fuel filters and properly inflated tires all contribute to greater vehicle fuel efficiency, which means more miles per gallon. There are other steps you can take as well to reduce gas consumption, including maintaining the speed limit when driving and running your car’s air conditioning less.
  4. Consider credit card rewards - Many credit card providers offer rewards programs that can help you save on gas. Cards issued by gas companies may provide immediate savings at the pump or allow you to accumulate rewards each time you fill up. Savings realized from credit card programs that offer travel, dining, cash-back or similar rewards can help offset higher gas prices by helping you save money in other areas.
  5. Buy the right fuel - According to AAA, people needlessly pay hundreds more each year for higher grade fuel. If your vehicle manufacturer recommends regular gasoline, AAA says there’s no need to pay more for premium. Recent testing found no increase in power or fuel economy, and no reduction in exhaust emissions, when premium gasoline was used in cars designed for regular. The bottom line? Unless your cars’ manufacturer says premium gasoline is "required," regular grade will not only do the job but could save you thousands over the life of the vehicle.2

1https://gasprices.aaa.com/
2https://www.aaa.com/autorepair/articles/don't-confuse-gasoline-octane-and-quality

This information was written by KRW Creative Concepts, a non-affiliate of the broker-dealer.

March 2022

Why COVID-19 Will Continue to Drive Higher Costs for Long-Term Care

Public health experts believe that the COVID-19 pandemic is transitioning to the endemic stage, throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere. Epidemiologists call a disease endemic when its presence becomes steady in a particular region, or at least predictable, as with seasonal influenza.1 However, even as case counts and hospitalizations recede, COVID-19 will continue to have broad implications for long-term care in the United States, especially when it comes to costs.

As the country’s aging population continues to grow, the demand for long-term care services and supports increases in kind. In fact, every day until 2030, 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65,2 and 70% are expected to require long-term care services at some point.3 At the same time, the national labor shortage is making it increasingly difficult to hire and retain long-term care professionals, and the competition for qualified candidates is driving higher wages. COVID-19 has also contributed to higher costs through the increased use of personal protective equipment, enhanced safety training and additional management of regulatory compliance, especially at care facilities. Some of these costs will dissipate over time, while others will continue as part of a best-practices approach to caregiving.

These and other factors driving healthcare costs are addressed in a leading industry survey released in February 2022. According to the annual survey, the cost of long-term care services increased across all provider types last year and increased more substantially for certain settings, such as home health aides and homemaker services. The survey reports the median annual costs for the following long-term care services in the United States in 2021:4

  • Home health aide: $61,776
  • Homemaker services: $59,488 
  • Assisted living facility: $54,000
  • Semi-private room in nursing home: $94,900
  • Private room in a nursing home: $108,405

Over the last five years, the average annual increase for these services has been in the 2% to 6% range. Keep in mind, these are the average costs nationwide. Actual costs can vary greatly by state or region. More importantly, Medicare does not pay for long-term care. That makes it critical to talk to your financial professional about the tools and resources that may be available to help you cover significant costs that Medicare doesn’t, such as long-term care insurance or health savings plans (HSAs). If you have questions about how you will pay for healthcare costs in retirement, contact the office to schedule time to talk.

1 https://www.cfr.org/in-brief/when-will-covid-19-become-endemic
2 https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2019/12/by-2030-all-baby-boomers-will-be-age-65-or-older.html
3 https://acl.gov/ltc/basic-needs/how-much-care-will-you-need
4 Genworth Cost of Care Survey, conducted by CareScout®, June through October 2021.

5 Surprising Ways Hobbies Help Promote Good Health

Did you know that engaging in a hobby can have a positive impact on both your physical and mental health? Research shows that people who regularly engage in activities they enjoy are more likely to have lower stress levels, a lower heart rate and improved mood. They also report feeling more productive and less bored due to spending less time reflecting on the stressors in their lives.1

A hobby is defined as anything you do regularly for pleasure or entertainment. That could be reading, cooking, gardening, yoga, hiking, fishing, restoring antique cars, volunteer work, and so on. Whatever you choose to do, the benefits to your health and well-being can be substantial. That’s because as people age, health can decline, making activities you may have formerly enjoyed, such as running or cycling, more difficult or too hard on your joints. Other life changes, like no longer driving, can leave people feeling cut off from friends, family, social, religious or community groups and activities. For many, the inability to engage in activities they previously enjoyed can lead to mental and emotional withdrawal, which can precipitate an overall decline in health. That’s where a hobby can help by inspiring joy, purpose and creativity at any age.

Below are five ways a hobby can benefit your health and well-being by:

  1. Introducing new experiences: A hobby can challenge you to open yourself up to new people and experiences, as you create new memories. Don’t be afraid to get a little outside your comfort zone.
  2. Stimulating intellectual growth: Any activity that requires focus and concentration promotes brain health. However, if you’re looking to push the envelope, consider joining a local trivia team, learning a new language, tutoring or mentoring.
  3. Counteracting boredom: The transition from work to retirement can leave many people wondering how they will fill their days. Large amounts of unstructured time following decades of overscheduling can feel daunting. A hobby can help provide structure to your day or week, and you get to decide how much time you devote to it.
  4. Connecting with enthusiasts: Hobbies can help you stay connected to others who share your interests. Seek out local groups, online forums or national organizations associated with your chosen hobby or pastime.
  5. Having more fun: No matter what you choose to pursue, make sure you’re having fun. There’s a reason why laughter is considered the best medicine.

1https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12160-015-9694-3

This information was written by KRW Creative Concepts, a non-affiliate of the broker-dealer


February 2022

How to Avoid Tax Filing Headaches in 2022

Taxpayers have a few extra days to prepare and file their returns this year. The deadline to submit 2021 tax returns or an extension to file and pay tax owed is Monday, April 18, 2022. However, you may want to think twice about waiting until the last minute. That’s because a significant backlog of work at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), coupled with a number of new tax law provisions, is expected to result in delays and complications for some filers. To reduce the chance that you will be among them, the IRS urges taxpayers to file their 2021 returns as early as possible.

According to the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent organization within the IRS, the COVID-19 pandemic has created ongoing challenges for the agency, beginning with office closures during the early days of the pandemic. COVID relief legislation signed into law in late 2020 and early 2021 also provided the agency little time to gets its arms around new tax laws and provisions before the 2021 tax filing deadline, creating a significant backlog in processing returns In addition, budget cuts have resulted in fewer employees available to handle the growing workload.1

5 steps you can take now to avoid tax filing headaches
According to the IRS, there are several ways to help ensure timely processing of your returns this tax season:2 

  1. Gather your records in advance, including W-2s and 1099s. Don’t forget to save a copy for your files.
  2. Get the right forms. Tax forms are available at IRS.gov under “Forms and Publications.”
  3. File electronically versus mailing returns.
  4. Provide the IRS with your bank routing information so any refund can be directly deposited to your account.
  5. Check your numbers. Mistakes are a leading cause of delays in processing taxpayer returns.

If you have questions about your taxes or preparing your returns, schedule time to meet with a professional tax advisor who can provide advice specific to your needs and circumstances. If you or someone you know cannot afford to work with a tax professional, free assistance is available through the IRS’s Interactive Tax Assistant tool, or to qualified taxpayers through its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs. Visit IRS.gov to learn more about these resources.

If you have questions about tax-smart savings, investment or retirement income strategies, contact the office to schedule time to talk. 

1 https://www.npr.org/2022/01/17/1073566411/backlog-of-2020-returns-interferes-with-this-years-tax-filing-season
2 https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tips-to-help-taxpayers-reduce-tax-time-stress

Please note that neither Cetera nor any of its agents or representatives give legal or tax advice. For complete details, consult with your tax advisor or attorney.

Rising Inflation Got You Down? Try These 5 Tips to Save More on Everyday Expenses

Consumer prices continue to climb at the fastest pace in decades. As noted in Cetera Investment Management’s 2022 Outlook, supply chain disruptions are a leading cause of rising inflation, along with disruptions in the labor markets, which is creating competition for employers to hire candidates and driving up salaries and wages. Rising labor costs factor into production costs and ultimately result in higher prices for consumers.1 While inflation impacts everyone, it’s most acutely felt by those living on a fixed income, including many retirees. Below are five tips to help you close the gap between rising prices and your budget.

  1. Order online: Online shopping can help you avoid in-store impulse purchases, such as “buy one, get one free” deals on items you may not need. Also, avoid shopping when you’re hungry. One study found that department store shoppers who reported being hungry spent 64% more money than less hungry customers, even after accounting for factors such as mood and length of time spent in the store.2
  2. Buy generic: Whether it’s prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, food, personal hygiene or cleaning products, you’re likely to pay far more for major brands. Often, the generic version is actually the same product at a lower cost. That’s because many store brands are manufactured by big brand companies under a “private label,” specifically for that retailer.
  3. Reduce home energy costs: Taking steps to close off unused rooms, clean or replace furnace filters, address gaps around windows and doors, and repair leaky faucets can all help to cut high energy costs at home. In addition, many service providers, including gas and electric companies, will conduct a free energy audit of your home to help identify ways to use energy more efficiently and reduce costs over time.
  4. Plan to drive less: High gas prices can put a real dent in your budget. Fortunately, planning ahead can help minimize the damage. Using an app like GasBuddy can help you find the lowest prices at the pump, locally or when traveling. Consider “bunching” errands and appointments to avoid unnecessary trips. Shopping online or having groceries delivered can also reduce gas consumption, but make sure delivery fees don’t eat up any potential savings.
  5. Take advantage of senior and member discounts: If you’re age 62 or over, you may qualify for special offers or discounts at a number of stores and restaurants, as well as travel, cultural and entertainment venues. Don’t forget about membership organizations and rewards programs, such as AARP, AAA, credit card providers, hotels, airlines, etc. Many offer substantial savings on goods and services, regardless of your age.

1https://www.cetera.com/sites/default/files/2021-/Cetera_CIM_Outlook2022_FINAL_0.pdf
2 https://news.usc.edu/78755/are-you-hungry-best-to-eat-first-and-shop-later-study-finds/#:~:text=The%20results%20showed%20that%20the,time%20spent%20in%20the%20store

This information was written by KRW Creative Concepts, a non-affiliate of the broker-dealer

January 2022

3 Investing Behaviors That Could Put Your Retirement in Jeopardy

Behavioral finance is a field of study that looks at how psychological influences and biases affect the financial behaviors of investors. Research on investor behavioral biases suggests that when people face complex decisions, they often rely on basic judgments and preferences to simplify the situation rather than acting completely rationally.1 In other words, they allow emotions to drive decision making.  Keep in mind, when financial decisions are at odds with your long-term strategy that can have negative consequences, such as delaying the time it takes to accomplish certain objectives.

Below are three of the most common behaviors that lead investors to veer off course and steps you can take to help remain on track toward your important financial goals. 

  1. Overconfidence bias: This often occurs when investors overestimate their understanding of specific investments or financial principles, or disregard data or professional advice. As a result, investors may take on undue risk by chasing investment returns or trying to time a specific market’s ups and downs. To keep overconfidence bias in check, take steps to educate yourself on how the financial markets and individual investments work. Then reach out to a financial professional with any questions and for advice to help you remain on track toward your goals.
  2. Following the herd: Making investment decisions based on what others are doing generally doesn’t pay off and can even derail your strategy. That’s because following the crowd often results in owning investments that are the wrong fit for you or buying when prices are rising and selling when prices are falling. That’s the exact opposite of what you want to do. Instead, make sure you have a personalized plan in place that is fully aligned with your specific needs, goals, and risk tolerance. That not only inspires confidence but eliminates the need to worry about what everybody else is doing.
     
  3. Second-guessing your strategy: While it can be hard to stay the course during periods of economic uncertainty or increased financial market volatility, this is generally the worst time to abandon your strategy. That’s because a disciplined, long-term approach that is aligned with your needs and goals is designed to help you weather any storms that come your way. A well-diversified portfolio, combined with a disciplined process for managing risk is widely viewed as a strong defense against volatility. Remember, diversification does not protect against loss or guarantee that an investor’s goals will be met.

If you have questions about how planning can help you stay on course in any market climate, contact the office to schedule time to talk.

1 https://www.cfainstitute.org/en/membership/professional-development/refresher-readings/behavioral-biases-individuals

Do You Need an Executor for Your Online Presence?

From e-commerce to online banking, streaming services, and social media sites, Americans are spending more time than ever online. In fact, a recent Pew Research study reports that 85% of U.S. adults spend time online daily and 31% use the internet “almost constantly.”1 Over the past two years the pandemic has also played a role in driving the development, adoption, and popularity of many online and digital applications, such as video conferencing and telehealth services. As a result, the average user’s digital footprint has expanded significantly in recent years, creating the need for a “digital will” of sorts.

If you’re familiar with the estate planning process, you may have named an executor for your will, to handle the distribution of your property after you are gone and appointed someone to make legal and healthcare decisions on your behalf during your lifetime through a durable power of attorney. However, most people have given little thought to whom will be responsible for closing down their online presence in the event of permanent incapacity or death. This is important because the longer unmonitored accounts sit idle in cyberspace, the higher the likelihood that they could be forgotten or subject to fraud that goes undetected. Keep in mind, each website or online service will have its own legal requirements and/or process for closing accounts. For example, Facebook allows users to memorialize accounts by naming a “legacy contact” to care for your account after you pass away. If you prefer to have the account deleted, you can stipulate that at any time in your account settings.

Creating your digital road map
To help ensure all aspects of your digital footprint are fully accounted for, begin by creating a list of all of your accounts and login credentials. This list should be updated as new accounts are created or closed, or as passwords are changed. Keep your list in a secure location along with your other estate planning documents. Providing a road map to your digital presence will make it much easier for your spouse or a trusted loved one to navigate your digital footprint and take actions aligned with your wishes, should the need arise. The following list will help you get started:

  • Email, web hosting, blog, photo and file-sharing accounts
  • Mobile apps
  • Banking, credit card, investment, tax preparation and other financial management accounts
  • Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and medical insurance plans
  • Healthcare providers (healthcare networks, prescription programs and delivery services)
  • Automated payment plans for phone, utilities, mortgage, installment plans, etc.
  • Social networking (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Media services (streaming services, audio/video/podcast, online magazines and publications)
  • eCommerce accounts (department stores, Amazon, Uber, Grubhub, Instacart, etc.)
  • Memberships and dues (gyms, clubs, organizations and member-only stores, like Costco)

To learn more about the important role estate planning can play in pursuing your long-term financial objectives, contact the office to schedule time to talk about your needs.

1 https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/03/26/about-three-in-ten-u-s-adults-say-they-are-almost-constantly-online/

This information was written by KRW Creative Concepts, a non-affiliate of the broker-dealer.

All investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. There is no assurance that any investment strategy will be successful.

This communication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information on the subjects covered. It is not however, intended to provide specific legal, tax, or other professional advice. For specific professional assistance, the services of an appropriate professional should be sought

December 2021

Don’t Miss Your Last Chance to Maximize Cash Contributions Under the CARES ACT

As the end of the year approaches, you may be thinking about tax-smart ways to meet your charitable giving goals. This year, cash donations may offer one of the best tax-savings opportunities, thanks to certain provisions under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020, which were extended for 2021.1  However, you’ll have to act fast since these provisions expire at year end. 

  • Taxpayers may deduct up to 100% of AGI in 2021. Individual taxpayers who plan to itemize on their tax returns may deduct qualified contributions of up to 100% of their adjusted gross income (AGI) this year. The limit for cash gifts will revert to 60% of AGI next year. While this may offer a significant opportunity for certain taxpayers to close the gap on taxes while maximizing their charitable giving goals, remember, taxes alone should never drive your financial decisions. That’s one of many reasons why ongoing tax planning is an important part of a comprehensive approach to wealth planning.
  • Those who don’t itemize are still eligible for a deduction. Typically, if you don’t itemize, you can’t deduct charitable donations. However, the CARES Act allowed taxpayers who claimed the standard deduction to deduct up to $300 of cash donations made to qualified charities in 2020. That provision was extended for 2021. An additional deduction of up to $600 for married couples filing jointly was added this year.

To qualify under these special provisions, cash donations must be made by December 31. According to the IRS, cash contributions include those made by check, credit card, or debit card as well as unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses incurred in connection with volunteer services to a qualifying charitable organization. Cash contributions don't include the value of volunteer services, securities, household items, or other property.

Keep in mind, to qualify for a tax deduction, charitable donations can only be made to tax-exempt organizations, as defined by section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Since many nonprofits are not qualified tax-exempt organizations, it’s important to check an organization’s status before you donate. To determine if a charity is eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions under the IRS guidelines, access the IRS search tool here.

Always consult a tax professional before making decisions that could impact your tax exposure. To learn more about strategies that can help you pursue your tax planning and charitable giving goals, contact the office to schedule time to talk.

1 https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/year-end-giving-reminder-special-tax-deduction-helps-most-people-give-up-to-600-to-charity-even-if-they-dont-itemize

How Exercise Can Help Ease the Holiday Blues

While the holidays can be a time of joy and excitement, they can also trigger feelings of sadness, anxiety, loneliness, and depression. These feelings are commonly referred to as the “holiday blues.”

Feeling blue? You’re not alone.
The added stress and fatigue from juggling too many tasks and responsibilities during the holidays, as well as seasonal factors, such as shorter days and reduced sunlight, can contribute to feeling blue. The COVID-19 healthcare crisis has made the holidays even more challenging for many. Throughout the pandemic, healthcare providers have seen a major uptick in the number of U.S. adults reporting symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia.1 There are many reasons for this from the way the pandemic has altered daily routines, to financial pressures, social isolation, and concerns about the health of family members and loved ones.

No matter the underlying reason why you (or a loved one) may be experiencing the blues, it’s important to focus on self-care and getting the help you need to cope. Many people have found that adding exercise to their daily routines can help lessen or alleviate many of these symptoms. One reason is that physical activity is known to increase the brain’s endorphins or “feel good” hormones.

Exercise packs important short- and long-term benefits
Over the short term, exercise can reduce feelings of anxiety. That’s why even a short walk around the block or shopping mall can often help you feel less stressed or anxious. Regular exercise has been found to improve thinking and cognition and can help sharpen judgment skills as you age. Emerging research also suggests that physical activity can also boost immune function over time. According to the CDC, even a single session of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity provides immediate benefits for your health, including improved sleep quality, reduced feelings of anxiety, and reduced blood pressure.2

Fortunately, working physical activity into your busy schedule doesn’t require a significant time commitment. For example, if you want to walk 30 minutes a day, combine that with time spent holiday shopping or running errands—or break it into three 10-minute walks on days when you’re really pressed for time. Remember, whether you choose to spend time walking, swimming, dancing, or weightlifting, exercise of any kind provides significant benefits for your body, mind, and mood.

Know where to get help
If you or someone you know is struggling emotionally, has concerns about their mental health, or is experiencing thoughts of suicide, don’t wait to reach out for help. Contact your doctor, a mental health professional, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255, which is one of many organizations that can provide immediate emotional support and helpful resources.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/mental-health-covid-19/art-20482731
2 https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm#brain-health

This information was written by KRW Creative Concepts, a non-affiliate of the broker-dealer.

Don’t Miss Your Last Chance to Maximize Cash Contributions Under the CARES ACT

As the end of the year approaches, you may be thinking about tax-smart ways to meet your charitable giving goals. This year, cash donations may offer one of the best tax-savings opportunities, thanks to certain provisions under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020, which were extended for 2021.1  However, you’ll have to act fast since these provisions expire at year end. 

  • Taxpayers may deduct up to 100% of AGI in 2021. Individual taxpayers who plan to itemize on their tax returns may deduct qualified contributions of up to 100% of their adjusted gross income (AGI) this year. The limit for cash gifts will revert to 60% of AGI next year. While this may offer a significant opportunity for certain taxpayers to close the gap on taxes while maximizing their charitable giving goals, remember, taxes alone should never drive your financial decisions. That’s one of many reasons why ongoing tax planning is an important part of a comprehensive approach to wealth planning.
  • Those who don’t itemize are still eligible for a deduction. Typically, if you don’t itemize, you can’t deduct charitable donations. However, the CARES Act allowed taxpayers who claimed the standard deduction to deduct up to $300 of cash donations made to qualified charities in 2020. That provision was extended for 2021. An additional deduction of up to $600 for married couples filing jointly was added this year.

To qualify under these special provisions, cash donations must be made by December 31. According to the IRS, cash contributions include those made by check, credit card, or debit card as well as unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses incurred in connection with volunteer services to a qualifying charitable organization. Cash contributions don't include the value of volunteer services, securities, household items, or other property.

Keep in mind, to qualify for a tax deduction, charitable donations can only be made to tax-exempt organizations, as defined by section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Since many nonprofits are not qualified tax-exempt organizations, it’s important to check an organization’s status before you donate. To determine if a charity is eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions under the IRS guidelines, access the IRS search tool here.

Always consult a tax professional before making decisions that could impact your tax exposure. To learn more about strategies that can help you pursue your tax planning and charitable giving goals, contact the office to schedule time to talk.

1 https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/year-end-giving-reminder-special-tax-deduction-helps-most-people-give-up-to-600-to-charity-even-if-they-dont-itemize

How Exercise Can Help Ease the Holiday Blues

While the holidays can be a time of joy and excitement, they can also trigger feelings of sadness, anxiety, loneliness, and depression. These feelings are commonly referred to as the “holiday blues.”

Feeling blue? You’re not alone.
The added stress and fatigue from juggling too many tasks and responsibilities during the holidays, as well as seasonal factors, such as shorter days and reduced sunlight, can contribute to feeling blue. The COVID-19 healthcare crisis has made the holidays even more challenging for many. Throughout the pandemic, healthcare providers have seen a major uptick in the number of U.S. adults reporting symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia.1 There are many reasons for this from the way the pandemic has altered daily routines, to financial pressures, social isolation, and concerns about the health of family members and loved ones.

No matter the underlying reason why you (or a loved one) may be experiencing the blues, it’s important to focus on self-care and getting the help you need to cope. Many people have found that adding exercise to their daily routines can help lessen or alleviate many of these symptoms. One reason is that physical activity is known to increase the brain’s endorphins or “feel good” hormones.

Exercise packs important short- and long-term benefits
Over the short term, exercise can reduce feelings of anxiety. That’s why even a short walk around the block or shopping mall can often help you feel less stressed or anxious. Regular exercise has been found to improve thinking and cognition and can help sharpen judgment skills as you age. Emerging research also suggests that physical activity can also boost immune function over time. According to the CDC, even a single session of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity provides immediate benefits for your health, including improved sleep quality, reduced feelings of anxiety, and reduced blood pressure.2

Fortunately, working physical activity into your busy schedule doesn’t require a significant time commitment. For example, if you want to walk 30 minutes a day, combine that with time spent holiday shopping or running errands—or break it into three 10-minute walks on days when you’re really pressed for time. Remember, whether you choose to spend time walking, swimming, dancing, or weightlifting, exercise of any kind provides significant benefits for your body, mind, and mood.

Know where to get help
If you or someone you know is struggling emotionally, has concerns about their mental health, or is experiencing thoughts of suicide, don’t wait to reach out for help. Contact your doctor, a mental health professional, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255, which is one of many organizations that can provide immediate emotional support and helpful resources.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/mental-health-covid-19/art-20482731
2 https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm#brain-health

This information was written by KRW Creative Concepts, a non-affiliate of the broker-dealer.

Don’t Miss Your Last Chance to Maximize Cash Contributions Under the CARES ACT

As the end of the year approaches, you may be thinking about tax-smart ways to meet your charitable giving goals. This year, cash donations may offer one of the best tax-savings opportunities, thanks to certain provisions under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020, which were extended for 2021.1  However, you’ll have to act fast since these provisions expire at year end. 

  • Taxpayers may deduct up to 100% of AGI in 2021. Individual taxpayers who plan to itemize on their tax returns may deduct qualified contributions of up to 100% of their adjusted gross income (AGI) this year. The limit for cash gifts will revert to 60% of AGI next year. While this may offer a significant opportunity for certain taxpayers to close the gap on taxes while maximizing their charitable giving goals, remember, taxes alone should never drive your financial decisions. That’s one of many reasons why ongoing tax planning is an important part of a comprehensive approach to wealth planning.
  • Those who don’t itemize are still eligible for a deduction. Typically, if you don’t itemize, you can’t deduct charitable donations. However, the CARES Act allowed taxpayers who claimed the standard deduction to deduct up to $300 of cash donations made to qualified charities in 2020. That provision was extended for 2021. An additional deduction of up to $600 for married couples filing jointly was added this year.

To qualify under these special provisions, cash donations must be made by December 31. According to the IRS, cash contributions include those made by check, credit card, or debit card as well as unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses incurred in connection with volunteer services to a qualifying charitable organization. Cash contributions don't include the value of volunteer services, securities, household items, or other property.

Keep in mind, to qualify for a tax deduction, charitable donations can only be made to tax-exempt organizations, as defined by section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Since many nonprofits are not qualified tax-exempt organizations, it’s important to check an organization’s status before you donate. To determine if a charity is eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions under the IRS guidelines, access the IRS search tool here.

Always consult a tax professional before making decisions that could impact your tax exposure. To learn more about strategies that can help you pursue your tax planning and charitable giving goals, contact the office to schedule time to talk.

1 https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/year-end-giving-reminder-special-tax-deduction-helps-most-people-give-up-to-600-to-charity-even-if-they-dont-itemize

How Exercise Can Help Ease the Holiday Blues

While the holidays can be a time of joy and excitement, they can also trigger feelings of sadness, anxiety, loneliness, and depression. These feelings are commonly referred to as the “holiday blues.”

Feeling blue? You’re not alone.
The added stress and fatigue from juggling too many tasks and responsibilities during the holidays, as well as seasonal factors, such as shorter days and reduced sunlight, can contribute to feeling blue. The COVID-19 healthcare crisis has made the holidays even more challenging for many. Throughout the pandemic, healthcare providers have seen a major uptick in the number of U.S. adults reporting symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia.1 There are many reasons for this from the way the pandemic has altered daily routines, to financial pressures, social isolation, and concerns about the health of family members and loved ones.

No matter the underlying reason why you (or a loved one) may be experiencing the blues, it’s important to focus on self-care and getting the help you need to cope. Many people have found that adding exercise to their daily routines can help lessen or alleviate many of these symptoms. One reason is that physical activity is known to increase the brain’s endorphins or “feel good” hormones.

Exercise packs important short- and long-term benefits
Over the short term, exercise can reduce feelings of anxiety. That’s why even a short walk around the block or shopping mall can often help you feel less stressed or anxious. Regular exercise has been found to improve thinking and cognition and can help sharpen judgment skills as you age. Emerging research also suggests that physical activity can also boost immune function over time. According to the CDC, even a single session of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity provides immediate benefits for your health, including improved sleep quality, reduced feelings of anxiety, and reduced blood pressure.2

Fortunately, working physical activity into your busy schedule doesn’t require a significant time commitment. For example, if you want to walk 30 minutes a day, combine that with time spent holiday shopping or running errands—or break it into three 10-minute walks on days when you’re really pressed for time. Remember, whether you choose to spend time walking, swimming, dancing, or weightlifting, exercise of any kind provides significant benefits for your body, mind, and mood.

Know where to get help
If you or someone you know is struggling emotionally, has concerns about their mental health, or is experiencing thoughts of suicide, don’t wait to reach out for help. Contact your doctor, a mental health professional, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255, which is one of many organizations that can provide immediate emotional support and helpful resources.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/mental-health-covid-19/art-20482731
2 https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm#brain-health

This information was written by KRW Creative Concepts, a non-affiliate of the broker-dealer.

November 2021

Social Security Announces the Largest COLA Increase in 40 Years

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently announced the largest cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in four decades. For Americans receiving Social Security benefits, the 5.9% increase, which is effective January 1, 2022, is expected to add $92 to the average monthly benefit, bringing that estimated amount to $1,657.1

While this is good news for retirees, it’s driven by the steep rise in inflation over the past 12 months, which reduces consumer buying power, especially for those living on fixed incomes in retirement. In September, the Consumer Price Index, a broad measure of inflation, rose 5.4% over the previous year, marking the largest annual gain since 2008.2 As a result, much of the Social Security COLA increase is expected to be absorbed by the rising cost of goods and services, along with the projected $10 rise in Medicare Part B premiums, from $148.50 in 2021, to $158.50 in 2022. For comparison, last year’s Part B increase was only $3.90 per month.3 For most retirees, Medicare Part B premiums are automatically deducted from their monthly Social Security benefit payments.

2022 marks the final incremental annual increase in FRA
Next year also marks the 12th and final annual increase for the full retirement age (FRA). That’s the age when you are entitled to your full Social Security benefits. In 2022, the FRA will increase from 66 years and 10 months for persons born in 1959, to age 67 for anyone born in 1960 or later. While you can start receiving retirement benefits as early as age 62, the amount you receive is permanently reduced. However, if you delay taking benefits until after your FRA, up to age 70, your benefit amount will increase.4 That makes it important to have a plan in place for when you will claim your benefits.

What if you’re still working and receiving benefits?
If you’re working and taking Social Security benefits before your FRA, you may receive a temporarily reduced benefit, due to the earnings test. However, because the earnings threshold increases each year, beneficiaries can earn more income from work next year, before benefits are reduced. In 2022, if you’re under your FRA, the SSA will hold back $1 in benefits for every $2 you earn from working, above $19,560 ($18,960 for 2021). If you reach your FRA in 2022, the earnings limit jumps to $51,960, from $50,520 in 2021, and $1 is held back for every $3 you earn until the month you reach your FRA. After that, the earnings limit no longer applies, the SSA stops holding money back due to work, and your monthly benefit will be permanently increased to account for the months in which benefits were withheld.5 For more information on Social Security changes for 2022, visit SSA.gov.

If you have questions about optimizing your benefits, contact the office to schedule time to talk.

1 https://www.ssa.gov/news/press/factsheets/colafacts2022.pdf
2 https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/cpi.pdf
3 https://www.helpadvisor.com/medicare/medicare-rate-increase
4 https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/planner/agereduction.html
5 https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/rtea.html

4 Ways to Keep Online Spending in Check This Holiday Season

Despite supply chain bottlenecks, inventory challenges, and rising prices, this holiday season is expected to break records for online shopping and spending. According to Adobe Analytics, online holiday sales are expected to hit $207 billion for the Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, 2021 period, a 10% increase over 2020.1 The ease and convenience of online shopping gradually pushed ecommerce adoption rates upward in recent years. However, the pandemic sealed the deal by exponentially driving adoption rates as ecommerce became an essential service.

While 43% of Americans plan to do all or a part of their shopping at brick-and-mortar retail stores this year, 57% say most of their holiday shopping will take place online.2 However, one potential drawback to ecommerce sites it that they are available 24/7, which can lead to impulse purchases or spending more than you intended. While it can be easy to overspend when shopping online, consider the following tips to help keep your budget in check this holiday season:

  1. Create a budget: Putting a holiday spending budget in place is an important first step. Begin by making a list of your intended gift recipients and how much you plan to spend on each. Compare that with what you actually spent last year to determine if your budget is realistic.
  1. Use cash: Using cash can help you stay disciplined and out of debt. While you can’t use actual dollar bills to transact online, you can make purchases with a bank debit card or prepaid gift cards. Prepaid gift cards can be purchased in different amounts, and many can be reloaded as you draw down on them. Just make sure the card you select is free of activation and other potential fees.
  1. Start early: This year’s holiday shopping is expected to be marked by inventory shortages, shipping delays, and rising prices. That makes it critical to start early to ensure the items you want are available and that you’re not paying a premium for high-demand items or expedited shipping, due to inventory backlogs.
  1. Get the best deals: Deal finder apps and extensions can help save time and money when shopping online by automatically searching for promo codes, coupons, and deals on the items you add to your online shopping cart. Most provide price comparisons across online merchants, and many will alert you to price drops on items saved to a cart or wish list.

If you have questions about ways to stay on track toward your important spending and savings goals, contact the office to schedule time to talk.

1 https://blog.adobe.com/en/publish/2021/10/20/adobe-forecasts-record-billion-holiday-season-online-us-billion-globally.html#gs.ebjzvm
2 https://footwearnews.com/2021/business/retail/more-proof-the-consumer-is-back-survey-suggests-increases-in-early-in-person-holiday-shopping-1203167334/ 

This information was written by KRW Creative Concepts, a non-affiliate of the broker-dealer.