Retirement Answer Man

There comes a time when retirement planning becomes retirement doing. Many people get stuck in that gap between knowing vs. doing. While it is important to learn what you can so that you can make educated decisions, you’ll want to build a foundation to give you the confidence to act. My goal is not only to teach you information but also to help you build the structure you need to go out and rock retirement.

On this episode, we’ll discuss how to close the knowing vs. doing gap, answer listener questions, and check out what Kevin has to say in the Coach’s Corner. Listen in to hear a clarification on Social Security and COLA, a new perspective on whether to purchase long-term care insurance and how to find a financial advisor who will simply answer questions. Stick around until the end to hear the Coach’s Corner segment with Kevin Lyles. 

David is still in the wealth accumulation phase

David sounds like a younger listener since he has young children. He’s still in the wealth accumulation stage of life and has a healthy $120,000 emergency fund. He is considering whether he should use that emergency fund to go ahead and pay off his mortgage. The extra money each month could then be used to purchase a rental property or to invest. 

Consider the big picture

Since David still has a long financial journey ahead, it is important to step away from focusing on the financial aspect of this picture for a moment and envision what he wants his life to look like. What is he trying to accomplish? Does he want more financial flexibility? Does he want more time with his young children? Any financial question should be framed with your goals in mind. You want your goals to shape the outcome of your decision rather than the other way around. 

How important is financial flexibility?

By dipping into the emergency fund he takes away the financial flexibility. Having an emergency fund in place limits the number of choices a person has. Another option could be to pay the mortgage off by adding a bit extra each month to the mortgage payment over time. Paying off the mortgage early will improve the monthly cash flow, but at what cost? David needs to assess how he will pay off the mortgage and whether that increased cash flow is important enough to justify the decreased financial flexibility.

Once David pays off the mortgage, then he can decide whether rentals or traditional investments would be the best option based on the financial goals he has for the future. Framing these choices within the context of the bigger picture is so important when making these types of decisions. 

Ask your own question

If you would like to have your questions answered go on over to the Ask Roger tab on RogerWhitney.com where you can either submit a written question or an audio question. We love to play audio questions on the show, so if you would like your question answered sooner press record to submit.

OUTLINE OF THIS EPISODE OF THE RETIREMENT ANSWER MAN

PRACTICAL PLANNING SEGMENT

  • [5:38] Be wary of suspicious text messages and emails

LISTENER QUESTIONS

  • [7:34] Should David pay off his mortgage?
  • [15:00] How does Social Security COLA work?
  • [19:52] Beth’s perspective on long-term care insurance
  • [23:31] How to find a financial advisor who will simply answer questions

COACH’S CORNER

  • [26:22] On categorizing retirement plans

TODAY’S SMART SPRINT SEGMENT

  • [33:50] Set a benchmark for things you want to accomplish in 2023

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

NAPFA.org

Episode 444 - Will My Social Security Benefit Be Impacted By My Divorce? 

CozyEarth.com - use the code RAM to get 35% off!

Rock Retirement Club

Roger’s YouTube Channel - Roger That

BOOK - Rock Retirement  by Roger Whitney

Roger’s Retirement Learning Center

Direct download: RAM463.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am CST

Curiosity is an important quality to nurture as you get older; it can even help you find your purpose in retirement. Today, I’ll help you explore how to use your curiosity to discover your purpose as you embark on the next phase of your life. 

This episode is packed with questions that could help you rock retirement. Listen in to learn how to know if an annuity is right for you in retirement, how to apply for social security, whether you can contribute to a Roth IRA if you are an independent contractor, how to choose healthcare alternatives before Medicare, and 401K alternatives for the highly compensated employee. 

Curiosity can help lead you to your purpose in retirement

Finding your purpose in retirement can be one of the most daunting tasks that you undertake in your retirement planning. Going from a career and a life that is essentially planned out for you to one that is completely open-ended can even bring on a bit of anxiety.

However, if you let it, your purpose will come to you. It simply takes a bit of curiosity. Pulling on the threads of curiosity will lead you down the rabbit hole to the crux of what is essential to you. Listen in to hear how you can use your curiosity to ignite your passions.

There is no way to completely remove the uncertainty of retirement

Annuities are guaranteed income sources that can remove some of the uncertainty that comes with retirement planning. However, they are not without their downfalls. 

Using an annuity as a guaranteed income source early on in retirement will help to smooth out sequence of return risk, but it will enhance your inflation risk later on.

Buying an annuity to turn on later in life will help with longevity protection, but what if you don’t need it? 

There is no way to completely remove the uncertainty that comes with retirement–there will always be the element of the unknown.

How to know if an annuity is right for you in retirement

There are two ways to consider an annuity to help fund retirement: qualitative or quantitative. On the quantitative side, it is easy to use calculators like the Schwab Annuity Calculator. While this can help you predict the math, it is important to remember that the best way to maximize guaranteed inflation-proof income is to fully delay claiming Social Security.

To ensure that you are making a decision that is right for you, you’ll want to build a feasible, resilient plan of record that does not include an annuity. Then build out a what-if scenario and compare the two plans side by side. This will give you the context to make the judgment call. Although you will never have a crystal clear answer, this is the best way to work through this kind of question. By using an organized process, you’ll understand what it takes to build a base great life and have the confidence to spend your money and rock retirement. 

Consider when to turn on the annuity

Next, comes the question of when you want to turn on the annuity. Will you want it today or later in life? Giving yourself optionality is important. As you age your priorities will change. It is important to do the research. First consider the quantitative aspects by using calculators and considering the rules, then consider the qualitative side of this decision. Then consider how much you want to go with a safety-first approach. 

OUTLINE OF THIS EPISODE OF THE RETIREMENT ANSWER MAN

LISTENER QUESTIONS

  • [6:10] How to know if an annuity is right for you in retirement
  • [13:50] How to apply for social security
  • [14:55] Can you contribute to a Roth IRA if you are an independent contractor?
  • [16:17] A backdoor Roth contribution clarification
  • [18:11] Healthcare before Medicare
  • [23:15] 401K alternatives for the highly compensated employee

TODAY’S SMART SPRINT SEGMENT

  • [26:37] Pull the thread and follow your curiosity

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

SSA.gov

Schwab Annuity Calculator

Rock Retirement Club

Roger’s YouTube Channel - Roger That

BOOK - Rock Retirement  by Roger Whitney

Roger’s Retirement Learning Center

Direct download: RAM462.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am CST

The good life is a direction, not a destination. This is why we are so focused on the process of retirement planning. Rocking retirement is all about having an adaptable process to work through. 

On this episode of Retirement Answer Man, I answer a few process-based questions. You’ll learn how to work through the steps to rebalance a bond ladder and how to analyze whether you have enough to create a sound retirement.

How retirement planning is like meditation

Retirement planning has a lot in common with meditation. With meditation, the idea is to sit quietly and focus on one particular mantra or the breath. While this seems like an easy thing to do, the mind constantly wanders to other places, so the meditator has to bring the mind back to the primary focus. 

Just like with meditation, retirement planning has its own primary focus. The focus of process-based retirement planning is your goals. When you get distracted by the latest problem that you heard on the news, poor market returns, or whichever new, shiny thing comes along it is important to bring your attention back to the plan. We all want to optimize our retirement to achieve the best possible outcome, but we must first see how it all fits within our process.

What is a bond ladder?

A bond ladder is a great way to prefund consumption over the years. It is created by purchasing a bond portfolio with individual bonds that come to maturity over a period of time. There may be bonds that mature each year over several years. This creates an income floor in a type of stair-step fashion. As each bond comes due then you build out the next step of the bond ladder. 

How to rebalance a bond ladder

As each bond in the ladder comes due you may wonder how and when to reallocate your portfolio. The bond portion of the portfolio is there to help you weather poor markets, so should you sell stocks while they are down to build your bond ladder back up? That kind of defeats the point of building up the bond safety net.

Creating an income floor with a bond ladder ensures that you have time to allow your stock portfolio to be successful. There are several ways that you can make this happen. 

You can moderate your spending so that you lengthen the time period of the bond ladder so that it burns down more slowly or you can choose to only partly replenish it. 

There is no right or wrong way to work through this. By using a process-based strategy you can create several scenarios to navigate the situation. The benefit of having a structured process is that you can test it to see what works best for you. 

Think about your own retirement planning process. Do you return back to it when faced with a question or problem? Consider how you can use your planning process to help you reframe questions. You may find that answering those questions gets easier when you use your process. 

OUTLINE OF THIS EPISODE OF THE RETIREMENT ANSWER MAN

LISTENER QUESTIONS

  • [6:33] How bond ladders work
  • [12:29] Should Rich live on dividends and interest or sell?
  • [14:17] How to systematically analyze variables
  • [18:40] Is there a specific set of tests to determine whether a retirement plan is sound?

TODAY’S SMART SPRINT SEGMENT

  • [23:46] What is your mantra?

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

New Retirement Planning

Cozy Earth use code RAM to get 35% off anything on the site!

Rock Retirement Club

Roger’s YouTube Channel - Roger That

BOOK - Rock Retirement  by Roger Whitney

Roger’s Retirement Learning Center

Direct download: RAM461.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:31pm CST

When planning your retirement journey it is imperative that you fully explore and understand the options available. On this episode of Retirement Answer Man, Shane asks about the best ways to access his retirement accounts early.

Taylor Schulte from Define Financial joins me in the listener questions segment to discuss Shane’s question by clarifying the rule of 55 and 72(t), the ups and downs of using his fiduciary to prepare Jay’s taxes, and how to fund the first 5 years of retirement.

Don’t miss out on the answers to questions from listeners like you. Tune in to hear if Taylor’s response matches my own. 

Accept where you are now

“We must be willing to give up the life that we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”--Joseph Campbell

It is easy to look back with wonder at the plans you had for your life. Even if everything is going well, we’ve all had life plans that were interrupted by curveballs. While those curveballs can throw us off course, it’s important to understand and acknowledge where we are now. Rather than ignoring or avoiding your present situation, accept your situation the way it is. 

Radical acceptance is fully accepting things as they are now. Only when you fully accept what your current reality is can you look forward to creating a fantastic life ahead. Recognize where you are starting from so that you can plan to rock retirement. 

What is the rule of 55?

Shane is currently planning to work until age 55. He would like to use the rule of 55 to access his 401K. The rule of 55 is an IRS provision that allows workers who leave their current job to start taking penalty-free distributions from their current employer's retirement plan upon reaching age 55. 

Note that the rule of 55 does not apply to IRA accounts. It is only to be used for 401Ks. So if you think you may want to use the rule of 55, then you’ll want to make sure that you don’t roll this account over to a Roth IRA. 

Although this provision seems cut and dry, there are a couple of things to look out for. First, you’ll want to be clear about whether your employer will allow you to use the rule of 55 for your 401K. 

Next, you’ll need to see whether the employer will allow you to withdraw the funds on a partial basis so that you don’t have to entirely deplete the account.

Lastly, you should note that the current tax filing rate for the rule of 55 is at 20%.

The ins and outs of using 72(t) for qualified accounts

Shane’s backup plan in case he gets laid off is to use 72(t). Similar to the rule of 55, 72(t) allows workers to gain early access to their 401K or 403B without penalty.

Typically 401K contributors cannot access their retirement savings before age 59.5 without penalty. However, the rule of 72(t) allows for 5 equally periodic penalty-free payments. These payments must be made according to the schedule laid out by the IRS. It is essential that the account holder not add or withdraw anything more during this time period. 

Using the 72(t) rule is tricky and it is critical that you carefully abide by the IRS’s rules. Listen in to hear a tip on what you could do if you only want to access part of the funds in your 401K using rule 72(t).

OUTLINE OF THIS EPISODE OF THE RETIREMENT ANSWER MAN

PRACTICAL PLANNING SEGMENT

  • [2:01] On radical acceptance in retirement planning

LISTENER QUESTIONS WITH TAYLOR SCHULTE

  • [6:40] What should I know before using 72T to fund retirement?
  • [13:25] Jay wonders if there are pitfalls to having his family office fiduciary prepare his taxes
  • [23:49] How to fund the first 5 years of retirement
  • [30:18] Belinda’s question on whether to keep term life insurance in retirement

TODAY’S SMART SPRINT SEGMENT

  • [37:42] Radically accept one aspect of where you are now

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Taylor Schulte - Define Financial

Taylor Schulte’s Stay Wealthy podcast

Rock Retirement Club

Roger’s YouTube Channel - Roger That

BOOK - Rock Retirement  by Roger Whitney

Roger’s Retirement Learning Center

 

Direct download: RAM460_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am CST

When planning your retirement journey it is imperative that you fully explore and understand the options available. On this episode of Retirement Answer Man, Shane asks about the best ways to access his retirement accounts early.

Taylor Schulte from Define Financial joins me in the listener questions segment to discuss Shane’s question by clarifying the rule of 55 and 72(t), the ups and downs of using his fiduciary to prepare Jay’s taxes, and how to fund the first 5 years of retirement.

Don’t miss out on the answers to questions from listeners like you. Tune in to hear if Taylor’s response matches my own. 

Accept where you are now

“We must be willing to give up the life that we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”--Joseph Campbell

It is easy to look back with wonder at the plans you had for your life. Even if everything is going well, we’ve all had life plans that were interrupted by curveballs. While those curveballs can throw us off course, it’s important to understand and acknowledge where we are now. Rather than ignoring or avoiding your present situation, accept your situation the way it is. 

Radical acceptance is fully accepting things as they are now. Only when you fully accept what your current reality is can you look forward to creating a fantastic life ahead. Recognize where you are starting from so that you can plan to rock retirement. 

What is the rule of 55?

Shane is currently planning to work until age 55. He would like to use the rule of 55 to access his 401K. The rule of 55 is an IRS provision that allows workers who leave their current job to start taking penalty-free distributions from their current employer's retirement plan upon reaching age 55. 

Note that the rule of 55 does not apply to IRA accounts. It is only to be used for 401Ks. So if you think you may want to use the rule of 55, then you’ll want to make sure that you don’t roll this account over to a Roth IRA. 

Although this provision seems cut and dry, there are a couple of things to look out for. First, you’ll want to be clear about whether your employer will allow you to use the rule of 55 for your 401K. 

Next, you’ll need to see whether the employer will allow you to withdraw the funds on a partial basis so that you don’t have to entirely deplete the account.

Lastly, you should note that the current tax filing rate for the rule of 55 is at 20%.

The ins and outs of using 72(t) for qualified accounts

Shane’s backup plan in case he gets laid off is to use 72(t). Similar to the rule of 55, 72(t) allows workers to gain early access to their 401K or 403B without penalty.

Typically 401K contributors cannot access their retirement savings before age 59.5 without penalty. However, the rule of 72(t) allows for 5 equally periodic penalty-free payments. These payments must be made according to the schedule laid out by the IRS. It is essential that the account holder not add or withdraw anything more during this time period. 

Using the 72(t) rule is tricky and it is critical that you carefully abide by the IRS’s rules. Listen in to hear a tip on what you could do if you only want to access part of the funds in your 401K using rule 72(t).

OUTLINE OF THIS EPISODE OF THE RETIREMENT ANSWER MAN

PRACTICAL PLANNING SEGMENT

  • [2:01] On radical acceptance in retirement planning

LISTENER QUESTIONS WITH TAYLOR SCHULTE

  • [6:40] What should I know before using 72T to fund retirement?
  • [13:25] Jay wonders if there are pitfalls to having his family office fiduciary prepare his taxes
  • [23:49] How to fund the first 5 years of retirement
  • [30:18] Belinda’s question on whether to keep term life insurance in retirement

TODAY’S SMART SPRINT SEGMENT

  • [37:42] Radically accept one aspect of where you are now

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Taylor Schulte - Define Financial

Taylor Schulte’s Stay Wealthy podcast

Rock Retirement Club

Roger’s YouTube Channel - Roger That

BOOK - Rock Retirement  by Roger Whitney

Roger’s Retirement Learning Center

 

Direct download: RAM460_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am CST

If the bear market and inflation may have you worried, a bit of productive paranoia with a tinge of optimism may see you through. On this episode of Retirement Answer Man, we’ll discuss upcoming monthly themes, the next Retirement Plan Live case study, and ideas for new segments for the show. You’ll also hear answers to several listener questions. Today we’re putting our geek hats on to discuss commodity ETFs, perpetual withdrawal rates, single-pay annuities, and how to mix compounding with growth. Press play to get started. 

What is a commodity?

During this bear market, people are becoming curious about different types of investments. Keith would like to know more about investing in commodity ETFs that follow the indices as a way to hedge against inflation. His big question is, should he invest in commodity ETFs to fight inflation? Before we can answer that question, we need to define what commodities are. 

A commodity is a hard good with economic value that is used to create products. Commodities are a capital gain type of investment that don’t produce any dividends and therefore don’t have a compounding effect. 

One of the attractions of commodities is that they aren’t correlated with other types of assets. Since interest rates and inflation are rising, commodities have become more appealing. They have the added benefit of not behaving in the way that stocks behave. 

How to invest in commodities

There are a few ways that people can invest in commodities. They can buy the commodity directly and hold on to it. However, this creates the issue of how to store it. 

Another way to invest in commodities is to buy shares in companies that manage commodities. One example is Exxon, but since Exxon is an equity as well, that means that shares of Exxon are not pure commodities. 

To get more purity, people look for ways to follow the commodities’ indices. Since we can’t actually buy an index, we could buy an ETF that replicates the index to gain exposure in that market. Popular ETFs use financial instruments like futures contracts and swaps to simulate ownership

Do commodities have a place in a retirement portfolio?

While I’m not opposed to having commodities as a part of a diversified portfolio, it is important to first ask yourself a few questions.

Which vehicle will you use? Which commodities will you track? Make sure that you don’t just choose one. You’ll want to ensure that you have a basket of commodities even though it will add a bit more complexity. 

How much do you plan to allocate? What is the right percentage? You’ll want to purchase enough so that it makes a dent in your portfolio, but it is important to recognize that commodities are volatile compared to other asset classes. Commodities can move drastically in one direction or another based on many factors. Allocating 5-10% in a growth-oriented portfolio might work, but will it really make a difference? 

Understand that adding commodities to your portfolio is a long-term decision. If you do add them then stick to your decision. If you don’t, then you negate the idea of asset allocation. 

It is important to find a process that is right for you and stick to it consistently. Adding commodities into your portfolio can be a useful hedge against inflation, as long as they are used as part of your long-term investment process.

OUTLINE OF THIS EPISODE OF THE RETIREMENT ANSWER MAN

LISTENER QUESTIONS

  • [4:40] Should I invest in commodity ETFs to fight inflation?
  • [16:06] Can using a perpetual withdrawal rate increase portfolio security?
  • [21:57] Would a single-pay annuity help David’s situation?
  • [29:20] Barry’s suggestion for a monthlong theme
  • [30:03] Ryan’s correction on NUAs
  • [30:30] Jim’s question on compounding and growth

TODAY’S SMART SPRINT SEGMENT

  • [37:15] Grab the checklist from the 6-Shot Saturday newsletter and take action

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Cozy Earth - Enter RAM as a discount code to receive 35% off

BOOK - Good to Great by Jim Collins

BOOK - Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Rock Retirement Club

Roger’s YouTube Channel - Roger That

BOOK - Rock Retirement  by Roger Whitney

Roger’s Retirement Learning Center

 

Direct download: RAM459.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am CST

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