Don’t Let Medical Costs Destroy Your Retirement

Medical CostsToday I wanted to tackle a topic that is often a question and concern for many of my clients, “how can I continue to pay for all of my expenses once I retire?” The answer is less complex than you think…layout a financial plan, execute that plan and continue with more planning.

A New York Times article released earlier this year stated that “a 65-year-old couple retiring this year without any employer-based health coverage would need an estimated $240,000 to cover medical costs through retirement, according to Fidelity’s latest estimate.”  Medical costs are just one of the realities of retirement and something you can’t always plan for, but you can plan for financial freedom with a good retirement strategy.  An employer providing no help with health benefits to their employees is a burden many retirees face, and that’s where I can help!

One in six individuals considered to be “older Americans” live below the poverty line according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Once your working days are over, you deserve to relax and enjoy retirement not stress over financial burdens.  Avoid the stress and plan for your retirement.

We can help you find the money falling through the cracks to help pay for the high cost of medical care or insurance premiums now and in the future. For a free, no obligation, 3 Step Review; call me today at 1-877-476-5051.

Make sure you have all the facts necessary to make the right decision with your financial future by calling us today! Speak with us now at 877-476-5051, email Warren at warren@warrenelkin.com, or go to www.warrenelkin.com to learn more about Warren Elkin and his unique process to make sure your financial decisions are made in your best interest.

Have a great day,
Warren Elkin

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Don’t Let Retirement Kill Your Relationship

imagesWith Valentine’s day only a week away, there is a certain buzz in the air of couples looking forward to a date night away from daily responsibilities.  The holiday forces busy people to carve out alone time to go to that new restaurant, to try a new recipe, or just to have time away from the kids.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard clients look forward to retirement for much the same reasons, a time to finally be together.  Quality of life in retirement will improve significantly once routine stresses have been eliminated, right?

Unfortunately, according to NPR, one third of new retirees say their finances are worse than before they retired.  That doesn’t make for a blissful second honeymoon phase, does it?  Money troubles can start to wear on a couple in retirement, which is why meeting with a financial planner is so crucial.  Set up a time to meet with me today to keep your finances, and maybe even your romance, alive.

It makes sense that retirement would be an adjustment for couples who have spent decades having their own separate space.  Here are a few common reasons for domestic friction during retirement:

  • Men and women alike might define themselves by their career, so ending the job routine can be hard on someone’s sense of self.  With one or more parties feeling lost, the relationship can endure a rift.
  • Let’s say a man has worked outside of the house for as long as he can remember while he his wife has carved out her own daily routine.  Now that the husband is home, it can disrupt his wife’s schedule and cause some resentment.
  • Everyone has their own vision of retirement life, and if you don’t discuss and plan that dream together then you’ll both be left disgruntled when the reality isn’t what you had imagined.

Most, if not all, of these common spousal retirement arguments can be solved with good communication.  Recognize that while planning retirement should be a joint effort, you do not need to spend every waking moment together once you reach it.  Still be sure have your own activities, friends and space so that those special moments together continue to feel special.  Spending so many Valentine’s Days together is a monumental achievement, but be sure to save your romance by giving yourself a strong financial foundation for your retirement; meet with me early on to nip these money troubles in the bud.

Make sure you have all the facts necessary to make the right decision with your financial future by calling us today! Speak with us now at 877-476-5051, email Warren at warren@warrenelkin.com, or go to www.warrenelkin.com to learn more about Warren Elkin and his unique process to make sure your financial decisions are made in your best interest.

Have a great day,
Warren Elkin

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Dream Big for Retirement

elkin_dreamretirementLast week I discussed how misinformation keeps many retirees from getting the most out of retirement.  This week, I want you to stop thinking negative thoughts about your future and start designing the retirement of your dreams.  Don’t buy into the myth that you’re sure to outlive your money: start thinking positively and take the necessary measures to place yourself in an ideal position once retirement arrives.  Being proactive about your future is important and can even be downright fun; to start planning, set up a consultation with me by calling 877-476-5051.

Meeting with me, Warren Elkin, is the right place to begin the journey but it shouldn’t end there.  Money may be at the root of retirement, but the monetary aspects are hollow without spending it wisely.  First, think about surrounding yourself with friends and family that will keep you physically and mentally healthy.  Retirement is not a solitary existence, so if you’d like to be closer to loved ones start looking for real estate developments as soon as possible.

When you were younger, your dreams may have been put on hold due to a mortgage or children’s college tuition; take retirement as your time to finally spend the way you’d like!   You’ve worked hard, so feel free to spoil yourself and get on the list for that fancy car, or sign up for a membership at that golf club you never thought you could afford.  If you’ve always wanted to travel, start looking into trip options and narrow down where you’ll go and who you will be taking with you.

Your ideal retirement is out there, so plan wisely and get creative!  Don’t get bogged down in the nitty gritty pessimistic thoughts about the future, let these years be the best of your life!

Our unique review process may help you find the money falling through the cracks in your tax and investment planning to pay for some of those dreams. Make sure you have all the facts necessary to make the right decision with your financial future by calling us today! Speak with us now at 877-476-5051, email Warren at warren@warrenelkin.com, or go to www.warrenelkin.com to learn more about Warren Elkin and his unique process to make sure your financial decisions are made in your best interest.

Have a great day,
Warren Elkin

Retirement Rumors

SecretsI’ve recently been privy to conversations with friends and colleagues over the ramifications of having revealed the heartbreaking truth about Santa Claus to their children or grandchildren over the holidays.  The myth that a jolly old man in a red suit shimmies his way down the chimney bearing gifts for those who have behaved well all year was instantly shattered by parental confessions.  However, those who think only children believe in fictitious legends are very much mistaken.  In fact, I have many clients who believe in rumors about retirement with equal vigor; it’s my job to debunk these financial untruths, as there’s much more at stake here than a couple of reindeer and a bountiful sleigh.

While you can choose what age you’d like to retire, those who believe they can claim their Social Security early and still get all of their benefits later are mistaken.  When you claim early, your benefits will be 25 percent less than if you had waited until retirement age and even up to 80 percent less than if you held off until age 70.  Of course, unforeseen events such as an illness can cause families to take this course of action, but the decision should not be taken lightly.

Don’t rely on being able to work longer or part-time during retirement, you will regret it later.  We all have the optimistic hope that we’ll work as long as we please, but the reality is you cannot predict your own health and work circumstances.  Taking big risks with your investments as you age can hurt your savings, and a backup plan to just keep working is not a sure safety net.

Just because your kids are grown does not mean your expenses will decrease, and thinking that you will need less income during retirement is a common misconception.  You want retirement to be a happy time of life, and failing to accurately budget can result in very stressful decisions for both you and your loved ones.

The key to retirement is planning for your own future and ignoring the popular myths perpetuated by rumors.  It’s important to meet with me, Warren Elkin, in order to sift through the gossip and find out the truth.  Have you bought into the myth that you can withdraw 4-5% of your portfolio because you are going to make 8-9% and, if so, would you like to know how long the amount you are withdrawing is sustainable?  Just like not believing in Santa Claus doesn’t make the holidays any less joyous, knowing the realities about retirement will make that time of life a special and happy one.

Make sure you have all the facts necessary to make the right decision with your financial future by calling us today! Speak with us now at 877-476-5051, email Warren at warren@warrenelkin.com, or go to www.warrenelkin.com to learn more about Warren Elkin and his unique process to make sure your financial decisions are made in your best interest.

Have a great day,
Warren Elkin

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Planning for Your Future NOW

www.ehstoday.comAs another year gets off to a fast start, I have many clients and friends alike who have become nostalgic for the past and tend to reminisce about where the time has gone. Their once full houses are either devoid of children, brimming with new grandchildren, or still house a few adult children transitioning into their own independent lives. In all of these cases, I understand the tendency to look backward and reflect; but I also try to relate the importance of looking toward the future. I want the Baby Boomer generation to be sure to focus on their present financial habits in order to plan for the best retirement they can.

I’ve listed some helpful tips to get the conversation started, but for more information and insight don’t hesitate to set up a time to speak with me by calling 877-476-5051. For the moment, let these act as some guiding principles of retirement planning:

Decide what age you want to retire at. Many clients picture their first day of retirement as a time far down the road that is not worth the time and effort to even start thinking about now. Simply put, retirement can start early if you plan accordingly. Not only would you be able to travel or pursue lifelong dreams, you’d also be safeguarding yourself against unplanned health concerns or unforeseen job troubles down the line. Be aware, according to a report by The NTAR Leadership Center, over 50% of those job seekers aged 55 and up have spent 27 or more weeks looking for work; their younger counterparts in that same duration only total 40%.

Update your portfolio if need be. When it comes to your retirement, don’t just stick with the plan you made ages ago. The market is forever in flux, and it takes constant attention and care to make rsure you’re getting the most out of your portfolio. As time goes on, you need to reassess the risks within your portfolio since you increasingly have less potential recovery time. It’s imperative to find the right balance between aggressive and conservative risk taking, and you want your money to grow at a steady pace.

Despite being a potentially difficult task, get your estate planning in order. Often when clients consider planning their will, it causes an emotional challenge that they would rather just avoid. Remember that caring for your loved ones does not mean you are leaving them tomorrow, just that you are being a responsible planner. While the Fiscal Cliff deal left the estate tax exemption at $5 million, those underneath that threshold should still make the proper preparations. Your beneficiaries are important to you, so make sure to get the support of your family and friends to accomplish the estate planning.

These pieces of advice are simply to get you thinking about your future with as much fondness as you look toward your past. I assure you, breaking out those old photo albums will be much more pleasant when you have the peace of mind that you and your family are taken care of for years to come. Do you have a process to filter out all the myths, misconceptions and even incorrect information that you may have received to make sure any major financial decision is made in your best interest?

Make sure you have all the facts necessary to make the right decision with your financial future by calling us today! Speak with us now at 877-476-5051, email Warren at warren@warrenelkin.com, or go to www.warrenelkin.com to learn more about Warren Elkin and his unique process to make sure your financial decisions are made in your best interest.

Have a great day,
Warren Elkin

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Financial Hide and Seek: Finding the Stealth Taxes that Congress Missed

Good afternoon!

The financial sector greeted 2013 with a collective sigh after spending a nail-biting few weeks unsure of how the potential Fiscal Cliff would affect us all in the new year.  I received many emails and phone calls during this tenuous time; most clients wanted reassurance that their investments were safe.  Keep in mind, the Fiscal Cliff sounds confusing because it is.  While the most obvious premises of the deal are more easily researched, there are stealth taxes that could be costing you money at this very moment.

As a Retirement Income Specialist, it’s my job to seek out these hidden taxes that could potentially hurt my clients.  I want to provide you with a brief synopsis of these stealth taxes, but to learn more you can set up an appointment to discuss current financial trends and how they affect your personal finances.  Set up an appointment by visiting us at www.warrenelkin.com.

There are two provisions that were previously dormant from the 1990 tax increase that, as of this week, are re-enacted.  The Pease and PEP will now limit deductions and exemptions for taxpayers in a higher income bracket.  Those who make above $250,000 will potentially suffer the steepest tax increases under this new law.

Of that bracket, married couples with two kids could see a 4.4 percentage point rise in their marginal tax rate.  Americans with incomes topping $1 million could lose up to 80% of itemized deductions, which includes mortgage payments, healthcare, local and state taxes, and charities.

While missing from the main coverage of the Fiscal Cliff deal, Congress has allowed the Social Security Payroll Tax Cut to expire.  Over the past two years, wage earners have enjoyed a 2-percentage-point-cut in the payroll tax.  By allowing this to lapse, that percent now returns to 6.2%, earning the government about $115 billion a year in revenue.  This means the average taxpayer now loses approximately $740 a year.

There are also other stealth taxes that are not covered by the Fiscal Cliff deal.  Things like Phantom Income Taxation, Social Security Taxation, and IRA losses you can’t deduct.  Have you ever heard of Phantom Income Tax before?  Are you paying taxes on your Social Security?  Do you have losses in your IRA?  These are great indicators that you could benefit from a simple review process.

All of these stealth taxes have variances, depending on income bracket, etc.  Don’t start 2013 in the dark about tax policies.  Meet with Warren before going to see your CPA or completing your tax return to learn what questions to ask your CPA to cut your taxes now and avoid tax problems in your future.

Make sure you have all the facts necessary to make the right decision with your financial future by calling us today! Speak with us now at 877-476-5051, email Warren at warren@warrenelkin.com, or go to www.warrenelkin.com to learn more about Warren Elkin and his unique process to make sure your financial decisions are made in your best interest.

Have a great day,
Warren Elkin

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Are All Annuities Created Equal?

During the holiday season, I was a part of many celebratory meals where family, friends and food were the main attraction.  One evening at a potluck, we were surveying a particularly full dessert table that boasted five different kinds of cookies.  While most of us paused in indecision, one guest remarked, “they’re all cookies, they’re all the same so there’s no bad choice to make!” But is that really the case?

It’s hard for me to ever turn off my analytical nature, even in the face of sugar and carbohydrates, so to me this observation was far from the truth.  My mind immediately leapt to the idea of annuities, and how many of my clients feel all annuities are created equally.

The truth is, they’re not.  Just like each of those cookies had a unique aesthetic, caloric content and taste, each annuity has a varying return for particular clients.  Admittedly I’m no help with decisions about sweets, but I do know that in finance many investments may look equally appealing to my clients. Annuities are one of the most misunderstood products in the industry today. Do you know how to separate all the myths, misconceptions, and opinions about annuities from facts that would help you make a sound financial decision?  Consider setting up an appointment with me before you make an important choice by calling 877-476-5051.

In particular, Fixed Index Annuities stand out among the platters of investments shown to investors.  That’s because they offer a minimum rate of return called an “income floor” that grows for purposes of income.  The result ranges from 4% as a minimum rate of return to as high as 8% per year compounding.

With a fixed index annuity, your income could be even higher if the market outperforms that 8% per year.  When you or your spouse finally decides to turn on the income, you will receive lifetime income; in addition, you can still maintain control and access to your money when you decide you need it.

The income from a Fixed Index Annuity also does not cease once you pass away (in most cases), so your spouse can keep building on the contract and better take care of your heirs in the future.  While there are still fees, they are considered very minimal in comparison to other plans.

Now that the holiday feasting is behind us, make sure you’re filling your wallet as much as you filled your belly!

There are some variances in the contracts for different Fixed Index Annuities, so make sure you have all the facts necessary to make the right decision with your financial future by calling us today! Speak with us now at 877-476-5051, email Warren at warren@warrenelkin.com, or go to www.warrenelkin.com to learn more about Warren Elkin and his unique process to make sure your financial decisions are made in your best interest.

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Is Your Money Slipping Through the Cracks?

Around the holidays, money is one of the largest topics on anyone’s mind.  Whether you’re lamenting the sum total of your holiday gift expenses or outlining your budget for 2013, end of the year finances are an important subject.  I’m no stranger to these money concerns, as I’ve built a business on helping clients conquer their money fears and learn to get the most out of their investments.

As a Financial Advisor, I’m responsible for a lot of big-ticket financial worries.  People come into my office looking for long term investing solutions, but the long term is only part of retirement planning.  It’s important to look at the places in your life where money could be slipping through the cracks.  Money that could help boost your retirement. Here are a just a few things that might be slowing stealing your hard earned income:

  • Mutual funds can seem like a great investment to aid your retirement, but the fees associated with managing mutual funds can eat away a great deal of your returns. Investment advisory fees, 12b-1 distribution fees, and administrative costs can really add up. So check your expense ratios on Morningstar or use the FINRA Fund Analyzer. If they’re pushing 1.5% or 2%, it may be time to reevaluate your investment.
  • Planning for retirement can take so much thought and effort that people often overlook the biggest place they can save money every year: taxes. I’m not talking about the big income tax fight going on right now, but rather the “stealth taxes” that are sneaking by while the focus is directed elsewhere. Medicare payroll tax and the taxation of Social Security are bad enough, but the biggest hit will come from the new 3.8% Medicare tax on investment income. With all these changes happening, it’s time to take a good hard look at your taxes and investments to make sure you’re not losing out on thousands of dollars because of these silent money killers.
  • If you have cash in your money-market fund then you’re probably only earning a measly 0.01%.  This means for every $10,000 you have in savings, you’re only getting $100 in returns.  Savings accounts aren’t much better with the best rates not even reaching 1%. With inflation increasing at an average of 2.42% a year over the last decade, leaving money in these accounts is a recipe for money loss.

Staying aware of where your money is and how you’re spending it can shield you from these costs.  Don’t be complacent with your savings, and always make sure you’re staying on top of what is the best option instead of what is most convenient.  Let me help advise you in all of your investment decisions. The biggest gift I can give my clients is the financial knowledge necessary to be the most savvy consumer and investor in the marketplace.  Happy Holidays!

Make sure you have all the facts necessary to make the right decision with your financial future by calling us today! Speak with us now at 877-476-5051, email Warren at warren@warrenelkin.com, or go to www.warrenelkin.com to learn more about Warren Elkin and his unique process to make sure your financial decisions are made in your best interest.

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5 Life Insurance Myths to Free Yourself of Now

Life insurance may not sound all that exciting, but when you do stop to think about life insurance and you, it’s not uncommon to assume that since the concept of life insurance is simple enough, so too are the products. It’s also fairly easy to rationalize the things you really don’t understand about life insurance, and before you know it, you’re harboring potentially damaging life insurance myths.

In addition to your own edification, and frankly, for the safety of your loved ones’ financial futures, it’s important to understand exactly what life insurance is, what it does, and how — not to mention if — you should make a move either to purchase or upgrade your coverage. Read the myths below to see if you need to adjust your thinking when it comes to life insurance.

The coverage you get at work is enough.

While this may, in fact, be the case if you’re single, in good financial standing, have no dependents and aren’t worried about estate taxes, for most people, the term policy offered through their employer just won’t be enough to sustain their families’ needs. After all, your insurance payout must not only support your family financially, it must also pay off any debts, such as the mortgage or even the MasterCard, as well as settle up with Uncle Sam.

Only the working spouse needs life insurance.

This is a curious — and wildly inaccurate — belief, yet it somehow persists. Life insurance on the breadwinner is intended to fill in the gap left by the loss of a paycheck, but that discounts all the valuable work a stay-at-home partner contributes to the relationship. If you’re used to this arrangement, how would you pay for child care or the cleaning, or even manage the household without a little financial help in the event of such a loss? It can be easy to overlook the many contributions of the non-breadwinner, but to do so would be remiss.

The value of your life insurance coverage should equal two years’ salary.

Everyone’s financial circumstances are different, and so are their life insurance needs. You might require more coverage than two years’ salary if you incur medical bills or other debts, have a young family, a mortgage to pay, or any number of life obligations to meet. If your lifestyle is more modest and you’re not financially responsible for anyone, on the other hand, then two years’ salary may even be excessive.

Single people without dependents don’t need to own life insurance.

While it’s true you might not have a family to provide for, odds are you’ll still have to cover the cost of your funeral, pay off a few debts, and maybe leave a little bit behind for your parents. And as one MSNBC article on the topic suggests, using a life insurance policy to fund a gift to a favorite charity can be a wonderful legacy for a single person to leave behind.

You don’t need professional services to buy life insurance.

While this is, in fact true, as any consumer can go online and shop for, and even buy, term and permanent life policies, electing to go it on your own can be detrimental to your financial future. A professional life insurance agent advisor can help you identify the needs you have, what you must protect and how best to protect it. With the knowledge of myriad different policies, if you’re honest about your financial and life circumstances, a professional can not only help you determine how much coverage you need, but also help decide whether a term or permanent policy is right for you. They can even customize a plan to meet your unique needs.

The most powerful benefit of life insurance is transferring wealth to your heirs, so if you have substantial tax deferred wealth like annuities and qualified plan dollars then life insurance can be a wonderful gift to transfer your wealth to your heirs in a tax efficient manner.

To learn how Warren can help you make sound financial decisions based on facts and not emotions, misconceptions, or opinions, please call 877-476-5051 or email Warren at warren@arrenelkin.com today.

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How to Keep the Housing Crisis from Bursting Your Retirement Bubble

Everyone dreams of that perfect little retirement home in the relaxing tranquility of some quaint town on the shores of something beautiful.  Ahh, yes.  We can picture it now. The feel of a cold drink in our hand and the sun beaming down on our face.  The birds are singing and the waves are lapping at the shore.   Then suddenly, “Pop!” What was that, you say. That was the sound of that dream bubble bursting for the 1.5 million older and retired Americans that have lost their homes to foreclosure along with much of the financial security that came with them.

The reality is that, for many older Americans, their dream scenario has turned into a living nightmare.  Instead of visions of beach houses or lakeside homes, many retirees find themselves clinging for dear life to the homes they have inhabited for years.  The housing crisis knows no boundaries, and it has certainly proved that by inhabiting the lives of many retired and soon-to-be retired individuals.  Unfortunately, the tidal wave of foreclosures continues to splash through the 50+ age group.

The AARP released a report outlining the foreclosure climate in the lives of older Americans and the results were a little frightening.  Over 1.5 million of them have already lost their homes.  Currently, about 600,000 people in the 50+ age group are in foreclosure, while another 625,000 are over 3 months behind on their mortgage payments.  16% of all 50+ Americans currently owe more than their homes are worth.

These numbers are not what many Americans are accustomed to.  The proportion of seriously delinquent loans held by older Americans has risen over 450 percent over the last five years.  Many of these people have gone their whole lives with nearly perfect credit, but have now hit a solid wall of debt that doesn’t seem to be budging.  Things aren’t getting any easier with age.  Among Americans 75 and older, one in every 30 homeowners are in foreclosure.  Five years ago, that proportion was just one out of every 300.  The numbers are hurtling downward at an alarmingly fast rate, and they don’t seem to be slowing.

These statistics are more than just ink on paper.  They are seriously altering the lives of many retirees, forcing some to re-enter the workforce or drastically change the budgets they had planned out years earlier.   Their retirement dreams have disappeared and they are simply trying to stay afloat.

The report showed that younger Americans are struggling as well, but the number of older Americans entering the dreaded foreclosure zone is increasing at a much faster rate.  One of the main questions is simply, “Why?”  Why are so many older Americans falling into trouble?   What’s the problem?

The problem is that many of these people set their budgets and their retirement plans before the economy, well, you know.   Most of them are living on a fixed income and quickly find themselves plowing through their retirement savings.  The income from their investments has been drastically cut, but their house payments have not.  Picture this: the faucet of their main source of income has slowed to a drizzle, but the drain of payments remains wide open.  It doesn’t take a financial expert to realize that it’s only a matter of time before the pool of funds will be completely dried up.

That can be a pretty disheartening image, but the bursting of the housing bubble doesn’t have to burst your bubble of retirement dreams, you simply might have to alter your path to get there.  Planning for these difficulties ahead of time can drastically reduce the struggles you could face.  Many people approaching retirement can analyze their investments based on earnings and interest rates of the current market and forecast their plans more accurately.  It might not be as pretty, but it’s a more realistic picture of what things will look like.

The most important thing is to not be blinded by your dreams, but use them as your vision to create a plan that works for you and your future.  With some planning and a little creativity, you could find yourself livin’ the dream in no time!

http://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/research/public_policy_institute/cons_prot/2012/nightmare-on-main-street-AARP-ppi-cons-prot.pdf

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