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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.

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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.

October 2021

Medicare Open Enrollment Is Here. 5 Steps to Prepare Now.

October marks the start of Medicare’s annual open enrollment period, where more than 63 million Americans who receive benefits through the federal health insurance program can make changes to their coverage.1 Any changes made during open enrollment are effective January 1, 2022. In addition, eligible new enrollees, who missed their 2021 enrollment period and didn’t qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, can enroll between October 7 and December 15.

Whether you or a loved one are enrolling for the first time or making changes to next year’s coverage, navigating the Medicare maze can be complicated. Before making important decisions that could impact your health and your wallet for years to come, Medicare encourages new and existing members to take the following steps to learn what’s new and where to get help if you need it.

  1. Watch for important notices. If you’re currently enrolled in a Medicare plan, you should have already received an Annual Notice of Changes (ANOC) in the mail. The ANOC includes any changes in coverage and costs, effective in January 2022.
  2. Review the Medicare & You 2022” handbook, which contains information about plans and coverage options in your area. Carefully review your current Medicare coverage, and note any upcoming changes to your costs or benefits, including coverage for COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, testing, and more. Medicare also offers plan information in multiple languages.
  3. Consider your 2022 coverage needs. Decide if your current coverage will meet your needs for the year ahead. If you like your current coverage, and it’s still available for 2022, you don’t need to take any action to keep it.
  4. Preview and compare plans. Medicare provides an online tool, making it easy to compare coverage options and shop for health and prescription drug plans. Log in or create an account at Medicare.gov to access a list of your prescription medications and compare plans and prices.
  5. Get personalized help. Visit Medicare.gov to access general information about Medicare plans, costs, eligibility, and more. You can also contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) to get help from health insurance counselors in your area by phone.

Importantly, the budget reconciliation bill being debated in Congress includes a proposed expansion of Medicare benefits to include dental, vision and hearing services, which are not currently covered under Medicare, as well as changes impacting prescription drug plans and pricing. If you’re currently enrolled in Medicare or will be eligible to enroll in 2022, you will want to watch for any developments in the weeks and months ahead.

If you have questions about planning for your healthcare costs in retirement, contact the office to schedule time to talk.


1 https://www.cms.gov/research-statistics-data-systems/cms-fast-facts/cms-fast-facts-mobile-site

2 https://www.medicare.gov/sign-up-change-plans/joining-a-health-or-drug-plan

5 Rules of Thumb to Help Protect Yourself and Loved Ones From Medicare Scams

It’s no coincidence that Medicare-related scams increase as the annual fall open enrollment period begins each October. Current Medicare beneficiaries, as well as those who will be eligible in the following calendar year, are inundated with information and advertisements from television commercials to social media ads, and information arriving through the mail. That can make it hard to determine what’s legitimate and what’s not. For example, did you know that unsolicited phone calls from Medicare providers are prohibited?

Insurance companies that are approved to offer Medicare health and prescription drug plans, such as Medicare Advantage or “Medi-gap” plan providers, may send brochures or other marketing materials to you through the mail. However, they are not allowed to call you or come to your home without an invitation from you. If you receive unsolicited calls from parties identifying themselves as Medicare providers, assume it’s a scam and hang up.

One of the fastest growing scams in 2021 involves a robocall from “Becky, a Medicare advocate,” offering “precautionary genetic cancer screening.”1 The caller states that if you don’t act soon, Medicare may label you as ineligible for coverage. It’s important to know that Medicare will never call you to sell or promote any type of services or coverage.

Another popular scam involves fake invoices sent through the mail from an unknown hospital, doctor, or medical provider. The scammers bank on people paying these bills without checking into them first. To avoid this scam, save all medical receipts and statements and keep track of your quarterly Medicare Summary Notices. These notices list any services you received during the previous three months. When in doubt, contact the healthcare provider’s billing department to make sure the charges are valid. If you suspect fraud, call 1-800-MEDICARE.

Below are five rules of thumb to help protect yourself and loved ones from these and other Medicare-related scams. 

  1. Medicare will never contact you for your Medicare identification number or other personal information unless you’ve given them permission in advance.
  2. Medicare will never call you to sell you anything.
  3. You may get calls from people promising you things if you give them a Medicare number. Don’t do it. 
  4. Medicare will never visit you at your home.
  5. Medicare can’t enroll you over the phone unless you called first.

To learn more about avoiding Medicare scams and steps you can take to protect yourself or report suspected fraud, visit CMS.gov.

 

1 https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2021/new-medicare-robocall.html

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

Asset allocation is an investment strategy that will not guarantee a profit or protect you from loss. 

These examples are hypothetical only, and do not represent the actual performance of any particular investments. Investments in securities do not offer a fixed rate of return. Principal, yield and/or share price will fluctuate with changes in market conditions and when sold or redeemed, you may receive more or less than originally invested.

Investors should also consider whether the investor’s or beneficiary’s home state offers any state tax or other benefits available only from that state’s 529 Plan. Any state-based benefit should be one of many appropriately weighted factors in making an investment decision. The investor should consult their financial or tax advisor before investment in any state's 529 Plan.

September 2021

How Technology Is Making It Easier and More Cost Effective for Retirees to Age in Place

According to a recent national survey, 90% of adults, age 50 or older, say they want to remain in their current homes as they age. The survey also notes that the pandemic has led many to give some serious thought to the resources they may need to age in place safely, from assistance with daily living activities to how they will access medical care.

Aging in place can be a cost-effective housing solution—if you plan ahead. However, due largely to a shortage of paid caregivers that began well before the pandemic, the average annual cost of homemaker services ($53,768) and home health aides ($54,912) has risen to a level on par with assisted living facilities ($51,600) in recent years. However, skilled nursing home care still far outpaced all other options at an average annual cost of $93,075 for a semi-private room and $105,850 for a private room in 2020.2

So what can you or someone you care about do to remain at home longer? Consider how technology is helping more retirees age in place safely. For example, wearable emergency alert systems can detect falls and summon help, while certain smart watches, fitness bands, mobile apps and devices can monitor heart rate or detect blood glucose levels. Telehealth services, which are now covered by most insurers, including Medicare, enable virtual visits with healthcare providers. Other smart technology is designed to help safeguard your home and its occupants, such as:

  • Cell phones with emergency response buttons
  • Smart thermostats, as well as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Voice-controlled devices that work with smart speakers to remind you when to take your medication or head out to a medical appointment
  • Cameras, microphones and motion sensors can monitor regular activity or signal a lack of it to your caregiver
  • Home security systems that allow you to lock or unlock doors from a smart phone or speaker

Ecommerce is also helping more retirees to age in place, especially those who may no longer drive or have access to public transportation. In fact, people age 65-plus are the fastest-growing group among online shoppers and increasingly rely on the convenience of home delivery for everything from groceries and clothing to prescription medications, personal care items, pet supplies, and more.These and other technological advances continue to make life safer, easier and more convenient for those who prefer to remain in their homes in retirement.

If you have questions about planning for your lifestyle needs and preferences in retirement, contact the office to schedule time to talk.

1 https://www.capitalcaring.org/nearly-90-of-americans-age-50-and-older-want-to-age-in-place/
2 https://www.genworth.com/aging-and-you/finances/cost-of-care.html
3 https://clarkstonconsulting.com/insights/ecommerce-adoption-by-seniors/

4 Tax-Smart Ways to Help Pay for a Grandchild’s Education

One of the best ways that grandparents can provide a lasting legacy is by helping to fund a grandchild’s education expenses. Below are four ways to help accomplish this goal during your lifetime, or afterward. 

  1. 529 education savings plans: When used to pay for qualified education expenses, 529 account earnings and withdrawals are free from federal and, in many cases, state taxes. They are one of the only assets that account owners can remove from their taxable estates while still maintaining control over the assets. Contributions can be made by anyone, for any beneficiary. Plan assets can be used to pay for most education expenses at colleges, technical, vocational, and graduate schools, or for qualifying adult continuing education programs. Assets can also be used to pay for up to $10,000 per year in K-12 tuition for primary or secondary public, private, and religious schools.1
  2. Annual gifts: In 2021, the annual gift tax exemption amount is $15,000 per recipient. That means that individual taxpayers, regardless of filing status, can give $15,000 to as many different people as they wish. If you’re married, you can combine your gifts and give $30,000 to as many different people as you wish. There is no limit on the number of gifts you can make in a given year or to whom those gifts are directed. For 2021, the lifetime exemption amount is $11.7 million for individuals and $23.4 million for married couples (minus, of course, any prior taxable gifts).2
     
  3. Direct payments to educational institutions: Payments made directly to an educational institution are not considered gifts under the gift tax rules, so they won’t count toward your $15,000 annual exclusion. It’s important to note that if you write the check to a grandchild, even if they endorse it over to the school, you will have made a gift to the grandchild that is subject to gift tax rules.
  4. Trust: A trust can help reduce estate and inheritance taxes as well as avoid probate, the court process for distributing assets upon the death of the owner. Trusts are one of the most flexible tools for carrying out your wishes during your lifetime and afterward, since they provide nearly unlimited freedom in designating how assets may be used. For example, a trust established to pay for a grandchild’s college costs may stipulate that the assets can only be used to pay for tuition, housing, and fees, or it could cover any number of related expenses. It’s entirely up to you. When you set up a trust, you will need to designate a trustee to pay out the funds as directed by the trust and to file annual tax returns on behalf of the trust, following the owner’s death. Meet with your legal professional to discuss the type of trust that meets your needs. 

If you have questions about planning your legacy, contact the office to discuss your specific situation and schedule time to talk. 

1 https://www.finra.org/investors/learn-to-invest/types-investments/saving-for-education/529-savings-plans
2 https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/estate-tax

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

Asset allocation is an investment strategy that will not guarantee a profit or protect you from loss. 

These examples are hypothetical only, and do not represent the actual performance of any particular investments. Investments in securities do not offer a fixed rate of return. Principal, yield and/or share price will fluctuate with changes in market conditions and when sold or redeemed, you may receive more or less than originally invested.

Investors should also consider whether the investor’s or beneficiary’s home state offers any state tax or other benefits available only from that state’s 529 Plan. Any state-based benefit should be one of many appropriately weighted factors in making an investment decision. The investor should consult their financial or tax advisor before investment in any state's 529 Plan

August 2021

4 Things You Can Do About Rising Inflation

In June, the Consumer Price Index, which measures the change in the prices of a broad range of goods and services over time, rose 5.4% from a year earlier, marking the sharpest increase in inflation since 2008.Whether prices are rising at the gas pump or grocery store, inflation decreases your purchasing power, meaning you pay more money for the same things. While experts debate whether recent increases are a signal that we’re entering a period of sustained higher prices—or if inflation will be temporary—there are ways to help manage the impact on your purchasing power.

Why it’s different this time

It’s important to note that the price hikes we’re seeing now are different from those seen at the beginning of the pandemic, which were largely due to shortages and panic buying. In fact, a rise in inflation was expected this year as the economy picked up steam, business restrictions eased, and consumer demand surged. While ongoing supply chain disruptions and pent-up consumer demand may continue to drive prices upward in the coming months, the Federal Reserve (the Fed), which sets U.S. monetary policy, expects steep rises to be transitory and inflation to remain within its 2% target over the long term, into 2022 and 2023.2 However, there is no guarantee that the Fed will be successful in keeping inflation in check. Conditions could change based on direction of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other market, economic, and geopolitical factors. So what can you do to help protect your income from the eroding effects of inflation? Consider the following steps:

  1. Review your budget and spending habits. Cutting back on certain discretionary expenses can free up more money to help pay for essential expenses where prices may be rising for food, healthcare, clothing, or transportation.
  2. Follow a plan. The financial planning process takes inflation and other market and economic factors into account when modeling different strategies and scenarios. Planning can help ensure you have a flexible strategy in place that’s aligned with your income and spending goals that can be adjusted as market and economic conditions change over time.
  3. Put excess cash to work. If you have cash on the sidelines that you don’t need for current expenses or to shore up emergency savings, consider investing it, so it can work harder for you.
  4. Check your portfolio asset allocation. A portfolio allocation that’s too conservative may not generate the income you need. For example, if your portfolio earned 4% over the course of a year when inflation was at 5.4% for the same period, you could no longer afford the same basket of goods. Consider if it makes sense to allocate a larger percentage of portfolio assets to growth-oriented investments, which can provide a hedge against inflation over the long term.

To learn more, call the office to schedule time to talk about ways to help protect your income in retirement.

1 https://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm
2 https://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/files/20210709_mprfullreport.pdf

*for a comprehensive review of your personal situation, always consult with a tax or legal advisor. Neither Cetera Advisor Networks, LLC nor any of its representatives may give legal or tax advice.

 

 

Women Continue to Face Unique Challenges in Retirement

National Women’s Equality Day is celebrated on August 26 to commemorate the certification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, which guarantees women the right to vote. While women’s voices and votes continue to influence social, economic and public policy, as a group, women still face challenges when it comes to financial equality—especially where retirement is concerned.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women only earned 82.3% of what men earned in 2020.1 Lower earnings can have long-term consequences as women prepare for and enter retirement. In fact, the combination of lower lifetime earnings and longer average lifespans is a leading reason why women experience higher rates of poverty in retirement than men.2 Not only do many women start out with less—it also has to last longer. Yet, lower wages alone don’t tell the whole story. On average, women leave the workforce to care for children or relatives at a higher rate than men. That can reduce their Social Security benefits in retirement, which are based on earnings during their working years.3

In addition, the pandemic exacerbated many of these challenges. According to the National Women’s Law Center, more than 2.3 million women have left the workforce since February 2020, bringing their labor force participation rate down to levels not seen in more than three decades.

If you, or the women who are important to you, are concerned about having the income needed to meet important lifestyle goals in retirement, consider the following steps. 

For those saving for retirement:  

  • Contribute the maximum amount to any qualified retirement plans you are eligible to participate in, such as a 401(k), 403(b) or individual retirement account (IRA).
  • Take advantage of catch-up contributions if you’re age 50+ (limits vary by plan type)
  • Talk to a financial professional about how to optimize your Social Security benefits 

If you are in or nearing retirement:

  • Put a comprehensive plan in place for how you will draw income in retirement in a tax-efficient manner
  • Adhere to a budget to help manage spending in retirement
  • Meet with a financial professional at least annually to review your plan and make any necessary adjustments 

If you have questions about your income in retirement, contact the office to schedule time to talk. 

1 https://blog.dol.gov/2021/03/19/5-facts-about-the-state-of-the-gender-pay-gap
2 https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/women/reports/2020/08/03/488536/basic-facts-women-poverty/
3 https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10127.pdf

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

Asset allocation is an investment strategy that will not guarantee a profit or protect you from loss. 

These examples are hypothetical only, and do not represent the actual performance of any particular investments. Investments in securities do not offer a fixed rate of return. Principal, yield and/or share price will fluctuate with changes in market conditions and when sold or redeemed, you may receive more or less than originally invested.

July 2021

Is It Time For a Mid-Year Financial Review?

This summer looks remarkably different than last year. As pandemic-related restrictions are lifted, retail, sports, travel, dining and entertainment venues are welcoming consumers back in droves. It’s likely that you’ve experienced changes in your life and your finances in recent months, as well. These may be subtle changes in your savings and spending habits as you resume travel or social activities, or more pronounced shifts that impact your goals and priorities. When faced with change, ensuring you remain on track toward your goals is critical. That’s where a mid-year financial review can help.

Why Now?

By mid-summer, you’re far enough into the year to gauge progress toward your goals, but still have time to make important adjustments to savings and spending, as well as your tax and investment strategies. A financial checkup can help you optimize your planning by:

  • Reassessing your spending needs
  • Reevaluating your financial priorities and goals
  • Confirming alignment between your investment strategy, time frame and risk tolerance
  • Identifying new opportunities

Consider the following tips to ensure you get the most out of your mid-year financial review:

  1. Gather and review all relevant paperwork and account statements prior to your scheduled review. This may include a list of action steps from your last meeting or review. 

  2. Write down any questions you may have about specific accounts, strategies, or fees.   

  3. Document any changes that have taken place in your life since your last checkup. Have certain goals or priorities changed? What about family dynamics, such as marital status, welcoming a new grandchild, or becoming an empty nester? Did you recently change jobs or receive a promotion? If you’re retired, did you sell a home, experience a change in health status, or make changes to your estate plan? 

  4. Consider your future plans. Maybe you’re thinking about changing careers, retiring earlier than planned, purchasing a vacation home, or moving closer to family members. Be prepared to share any new goals or changes in your priorities. This will provide an opportunity to discuss how your current plan may support these goals, or if adjustments are needed.

The past 18 months have been marked by rapid change, which can take a toll on your physical, emotional and financial health. Taking time now for a mid-year review can provide the confidence that you’re still on track toward the goals you have established for yourself and your family.

To learn more about the benefits of regular account reviews, call the office today to schedule time to meet.

Are You Ready to Fully Retire?

The United States experienced a flood of baby boomer retirements in 2020. According to the Pew Research Center, 1.2 million more Americans born between 1946 and 1964 retired last year than the historical annual average. Rising home prices, a surging stock market, and robust savings account balances have all played a significant role in the uptick in retirements. In addition, a growing number of workers, tiring of web conferencing and remote work, are also reluctant to return to grueling commutes, cramped office spaces, or rigorous business travel schedules.1 If you’re nearing retirement and thinking about joining them, take some time to determine if you’re ready to fully retire—or just need a break.

What’s Your Plan?

Transitioning to life after work is not without challenges. It’s important to understand how you will spend your time and who you will spend it with. Will you become bored or lonely if your spouse, other family members, or friends are still working? Do you plan to pursue a hobby or sport, join a club, or spend time volunteering for an organization? Having a plan for how you will spend your days is important for remaining mentally and physically engaged, which contributes to a sense of overall wellbeing. If you’re not sure if you’re emotionally prepared to retire, consider a trial period, such as a sabbatical or extended vacation. Other opportunities to test the waters may include part-time work or consulting in your field of expertise.

Before pulling the plug on work, you also need to understand how you will replace your paycheck and how long your savings may last, especially if you retire earlier than originally planned. That can be a hard question to answer without a comprehensive plan in place for how you will receive tax-efficient income in retirement.

The planning process provides an opportunity to model various scenarios to determine the probability of meeting different goals and helps to identify any adjustments or tradeoffs that may be required to accomplish your objectives. It can also help provide answers to important questions, such as:

  • How will you cover your healthcare expenses if you are under age 65 and not yet eligible for Medicare?
  • When is the optimal time for you to begin receiving Social Security benefits?
  • What if you have outstanding credit card debt or a mortgage?
  • Can your current strategy withstand one or more financial market or economic downturns, especially if one occurs during the early years of your retirement?

If you have questions about whether now is the right time for you to retire, contact the office to schedule time to talk.

1https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-04-30/more-americans-are-considering-retirement-because-of-covid

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