What Accounts Should I Consider If I Want to Save More?

During January and February, we like to help clients identify proactive ways to start the year off right and save more. Perhaps you… Received a bonus or a raise and need guidance on how to save or invest the additional cash; Have a tax refund coming to you; or Want to consider ways to save more this year.   Whatever the case, the beginning of the year is a great time to set your intentions and establish good habits to ensure you save for your financial goals. Identifying available savings opportunities and prioritizing across accounts can be complex and overwhelming. For example, do you know whether you are eligible for and taking full advantage of pre-tax health care savings accounts, such as HSAs and FSAs? Are you optimizing your retirement savings, choosing between traditional and Roth options, obtaining the total amount of any employer match, and maximizing your contributions? To help you spot ways to save more this year, we have a our Checklist: What Accounts Should I Consider If I Want to Save More? that outlines more than 15 strategies to consider when you have surplus cash or savings on hand.   Download Our Savings Checklist     While the checklist can help you identify different opportunities, we are always available to meet with you to discuss your finances and goals and determine what options best suit your unique circumstances. Don’t hesitate to contact us and schedule a time to discuss this further.     The opinions voiced in article are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which strategies or investments may be suitable for you, consult

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What Issues Should I Consider At The Start Of The Year?

The beginning of the new year is the perfect time to discuss the various factors influencing your planning. For example, we can: Look at your progress toward your goals and consider any new goals you’ve set for yourself. Evaluate your insurance coverages to make sure your risks are minimized. Revisit your assets and debt and evaluate whether your risk tolerance continues to be appropriate. Take a look at the Checklist: What Issues Should I Consider At The Start Of The Year 2023 I’ve included for you. In addition to the ideas above, we can organize you for tax season, so you have a smooth experience. There are many reasons why having a good conversation now can set you up for success later.   Download Our Beginning of the Year Checklist   Sometimes the incremental changes that occur year-to-year may not seem like a big deal. In reality, though, they can add up. The planning that we’ve done together can evolve to benefit and strengthen the people and organizations that are important to you. If the checklist I’ve included has helped you identify topics we should plan for, please get in touch to schedule a time for us to discuss them further.

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Your Financial Fresh Start: 12 Resolutions in 12 Months

Change may be difficult, especially when you try to change your financial habits. The process might be easier if you take an incremental approach. Do you want to get on top of your finances this year? Are you looking for ways to improve your fiscal health? Here are 12 financial resolutions to consider. Work on a resolution each month in whatever order works for you, and by the end of the year, you may feel a lot happier about your relationship with money. 1. Create a Budget Sit down and create a budget. It should outline how much money you have coming in and going out. If your expenses exceed your income, look for areas where you may make changes. 2. Pay All Bills on Time Paying your bills late may be stressful and it costs you money. Utility companies generally charge a fee for late payments, while credit card companies tend to charge penalties and may increase your interest rates. Paying your bills on time may require you to tighten your belt for a month or two until you get ahead. 3. Review Your Subscriptions Many people end up with subscriptions that they do not use, which wastes money. Look through your bank and credit card accounts to find subscriptions you do not use and cancel them. 4. Pay Down Credit Card Debt Find some extra money in your budget and devote it to paying down your credit card debt. Start with the cards with the highest interest rates and when paid off, go to the cards with the next highest rates. 5. Track Your Credit Score A high credit score may make borrowing money at lower interest rates

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A Retirement Countdown Checklist: 5 Steps to Consider Before Retirement

Whether you’re hoping to retire soon or are just beginning to explore the idea of stepping back from your job, you’re probably wondering how to make it happen. Will you have enough money? How will you spend your time? What will you do for health insurance? Here, you’ll find a useful countdown of the five biggest steps to developing a solid retirement plan. 5. Assess Your Retirement Goals What does retirement look like for you? Do you plan to or want to continue working part-time? Will you travel? Do you want to sell your home and hit the road in an RV? At what age will you claim Social Security? When will you qualify for Medicare? Everyone’s retirement goals are different, which means your financial plan for retirement will also be different. 4. Decide How to Draw Down Savings Depending on whether your assets are held in a pre-tax account, a post-tax account, or a taxable account, your savings drawdown strategy can vary widely. Your age can also dictate when, how, and how much you withdraw from your retirement accounts. For example, if you plan to retire before age 59.5, you may want to first begin withdrawing funds from a taxable account to provide flexibility until you’re able to take penalty-free withdrawals from a 401(k) or a traditional IRA. 3. Enlist a Financial Professional If you don’t yet have a dedicated financial professional, now may be the time to assess your retirement readiness and work to optimize your income and assets as you enter retirement. You don’t want to find yourself in a position where your retirement needs exceed your income or assets and you’re forced to scale down—or even

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3 Ways to Tackle Your Financial Goals

Though the New Year may bring with it a new opportunity to set and achieve financial goals, the thought of making sweeping changes to your budget and lifestyle may be overwhelming. What can you do to improve your odds of success in reaching the goals you’ve set? Below, we discuss three concrete steps to take to potentially make tackling your financial goals easier and more enjoyable. Prioritize Your Goals Not all goals are created equal. For example, paying off $10,000 in high-interest debt may have a far greater impact on your finances than setting aside $5 per pay period for holiday gifts. If you’re hoping to reach several financial goals this year, it may be worth spending some time deciding which of these goals is most important to you and how achieving it fits into your overall plan. On the other hand, if one goal is relatively easy to achieve when compared to the others, you may want to prioritize this goal. The satisfaction of checking it off your list may give you more motivation to tackle the tougher ones while also freeing up some extra cash to throw at these goals. Break Goals Down into Smaller Chunks As the saying goes, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. The same holds true for achieving your financial goals. When setting a lofty goal like “save $20,000 this year” or “pay off my student loans,” it may be useful to schedule weekly, biweekly, or monthly smaller goals along the way. You may want to schedule periodic increases in your retirement contribution rate, make an extra loan payment each month, or even refinance your loans or

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A Look at Tax Planning for Retirement

After years of saving and planning for their golden years, many people nearing retirement fail to consider the tax burden they may face on income they receive after they stop working. While you will likely see a reduction in the amount of taxes you owe after the age of 65, you still need to plan ahead if you want to minimize your tax bill from the IRS. Social Security Benefits Depending upon your total income and marital status, a portion of your Social Security benefits may be taxable. For a rough estimate of your potential tax liability, add half of your Social Security benefits to your projected income from all other sources. This figure is your adjusted gross income (AGI), plus any tax-free interest income from municipal bonds or foreign-earned income. Up to half of Social Security benefits are taxable if this sum, which is called your provisional income, exceeds $25,000 for singles or $32,000 for married couples filing jointly. However, up to 85% of Social Security benefits are taxable if your provisional income is above $34,000 for single filers or $44,000 for married couples filing jointly. Use the Social Security Benefits Worksheet in the instructions for IRS Form 1040 to calculate the exact amount of taxes owed. Rather than writing a large check once a year, you can arrange to have taxes withheld from your Social Security benefits checks by completing Form W-4V and filing it with the Social Security Administration. Other Income Sources In addition to collecting Social Security benefits, most retirees receive their income from a variety of sources, including distributions from 401(k) accounts and individual retirement accounts (IRAs); payouts from company pensions and annuities; and earnings

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LPL Research’s Outlook 2023: Finding Balance

Through all the challenges, newfound opportunities, and every high and low we’ve experienced during the last couple of years, it’s no surprise why we might be striving for more balance. Whether it’s about the markets and global economy or what’s happening in our local communities, the news we’re hearing on a daily basis has the potential to disrupt the balance of our lives. But with resilience, perspective, and the support of close connections, we can navigate through it all and regain our sense of equilibrium. Even after another dizzying year, as 2022 proved to be. LPL Research’s Outlook 2023: Finding Balance is our guide to how the readjustments in the economy and markets may impact you in the coming year. The disruptions may not be fully resolved and there may be more challenges to come, but progress toward finding balance is well underway. And when those disruptions hit the market, it can be hard to find our footing and stay the course. Those are the times when sound financial advice is more valuable than ever, as it helps us find our center, remember our plan, and stay focused on our goals. View the digital version: https://view.ceros.com/lpl/outlook2023/p/1     This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. The economic forecasts may not develop as predicted. Please read the full OUTLOOK 2023: Finding Balance publication for additional description and disclosure. This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC. Tracking # 1-05345338 (Exp. 12/23)

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Cheers to a New Year of Investing

For many investors, 2022 was a wild ride—with interest rate increases, a crypto implosion, and whipsawing values in the major market indices. It might be tough to catch one’s breath and look ahead to next year. But the beginning of the year is the perfect time to take stock of your investments, evaluating what worked, what didn’t, and what you might do better next year. Here are four key opportunities to consider that may recharge and reset your finances as you enter the new year. Review and Refresh Your Financial Plan If you set goals for the past year, evaluate your progress. Did you spend more than expected? Save less than expected? Or did you manage your goals easily—suggesting a bigger challenge may be appropriate for next year? While setting financial goals for next year, you might also consider the long-term. When do you plan to retire? What do you need to see before getting there—a specific number in your 401(k), a paid-off balance sheet, or something else? Should you stay in your home or downsize? The answers to these questions may help you formulate a more solid plan. Assess Your Retirement Readiness Are you on schedule to retire? Are you contributing enough to your 401(k) or IRA? Though the answers to those questions depend on each person’s circumstances, some patterns are emerging in savings habits among those in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond. Check these numbers to see whether you are on track.1 Age 20 to 29 Average 401(k) balance of $10,500 while contributing 7% of income Age 30 to 39 Average 401(k) balance of $38,400 while contributing 8% of income Age 40 to 49 Average 401(k) balance of $93,400 while contributing

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Stock Market Stocking Stuffers: How To Give Stock as a Gift

If you struggle to find a gift for the person who has everything—or want to do your holiday shopping without having to leave the house—consider giving stock as a gift. Doing so is easier than you think, and it may offer a few benefits for you as well. Here is some information on giving stock as gifts and the benefits of doing so. What Are the Benefits of Gifting Stock? When it comes to giving stock as gifts, there is one key benefit for both the giver and the recipient. 1.     Stepped-Up Cost Basis If you held a stock until it increased in value, selling it could mean paying capital gains taxes. But giving the stock to someone else means transferring these gains to the recipient, allowing them to take possession of the stock at its appreciated price.1 For example, if you purchased 100 shares of a stock and each share is now trading for more than the purchase price, cashing the stock might mean paying capital gains taxes on the amount the investment increased. If you give this stock to someone else, this person begins with a stepped-up-per-share cost basis. If they later sell the stock once it goes up more, they may only owe taxes on the profits-per-share difference. 2.     Transfer of Wealth Giving stock as gifts may also be a good way to begin passing down wealth to the next generation while minimizing your tax obligation. Cashing out stock and passing along the cash may mean paying capital gains taxes. The proceeds may also be subject to income taxes. This tax may depend on the type of account holding the stock and how long the investment was in the account.

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Like Ugly Christmas Sweaters, Retirement Planning Is Not ‘One Size Fits All’ 

Just as every snowflake is unique, so is every person’s retirement plan. Though there are some general strategies that can be helpful—contribute at least 10% of your salary; have at least one year’s salary saved for retirement by age 30; split contributions between pre-tax and post-tax accounts—they don’t apply equally to everyone. For many, it’s important to periodically seek advice from a financial professional to work toward being on track. With this in mind, here we discuss a few broad rules that can help you forge your own path toward retirement security. Consider Retirement Expenses If you’ve ever used an online calculator to try to assess your retirement readiness, you may wonder how these calculators can determine how much monthly or annual income you’ll need. Most of these calculators operate on a “replacement-of-income” basis—assuming you’ll need a certain percentage of your current income (usually 80%). But depending on your current income, current spending, and long-term plans, you may need substantially more (or less) income than these calculators suggest. Expenses Eliminated Leaving the workforce can mean leaving many of the following expenses behind (or significantly reducing them): Dry cleaning Commuting costs Professional or union dues Business clothing or uniforms A second vehicle Office space You may also be able to downsize your home or move to a lower cost of living area in retirement, further padding your retirement accounts. Expenses Gained Leaving the workforce can also add expenses that were previously covered by your employer. The biggest of these is health insurance. If you don’t yet qualify for Medicare when you retire, you’ll either take on your employer-paid medical premiums under COBRA (for up to 18 months) or purchase private health

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