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March 28th, 2017 by

Most homeowners make their regular mortgage payments every month for the duration of the loan term, and never think of doing otherwise. But prepaying your mortgage or making biweekly payments can reduce the amount of interest you’ll pay over time.

Biweekly Mortgage

Under a biweekly mortgage, instead of making the payments once a month, you make half your normal monthly payment every two weeks. For example, if your mortgage is $1,000 per month, under a biweekly system it would be $500 every two weeks.

If you maintain the biweekly payment schedule you’ll make an extra month’s payment over the course of each year (26 payments per year, which is the equivalent of 13 full monthly payments rather than 12). You’ll also pay less interest because your payments are applied to your principal balance more frequently.

The effect of biweekly mortgage payments can be dramatic. For example, if you currently have a $150,000 loan at 8 % fixed interest, you will have paid approximately $396,233 at the end of 30 years. However, if you use a biweekly payment system, you would pay $331,859 and have it completely paid off in 21.6 years. You would save $64,374 and pay the loan off 8.4 years earlier!

Freeman Owen, Jr -Retirement Specialist

Be smart about your money EARLY to get the most from it. Retirement planning doesn’t begin in your 50’s. The earlier you plan for retirement, the easier it will be & the more you will have in your golden years.  Let’s talk.

Meet me for a FREE retirement strategy consultation at my office at 1-833-313-7233. 

 

March 22nd, 2017 by

College graduates gain a serious edge in earning potential. Workers with a bachelor’s degree typically earn 77% more over their lifetimes than those with only a high school diploma.

While it may be true that new grads are rich in “human capital,” they are often low on funds when first entering the workforce. Here are two ways to start off on the right foot financially.

First Financial Steps for New Grads

Hold down your living expenses.

Housing, transportation, and food comprise the majority of spending for most people, so committing to high rent or car payments could kick off a constant struggle to make ends meet. Finding a cheaper place to live (possibly with roommates), settling for an older-model vehicle, or cooking more meals at home could free up money for fun activities that are important to you.

Plump up your cash cushion.

It’s important to build an emergency fund that would cover three to six months of living expenses. Begin by determining how much income you can afford to set aside and transfer that amount automatically from your paycheck to a separate account. Having access to a healthy savings account makes it less likely that you will resort to borrowing, and it also gives you the financial freedom to switch jobs or change your living situation if you so decide.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, May 7, 2015

Freeman Owen, Jr -Retirement Specialist

Retirement planning seems so far away when you’re a recent college graduate. But, the earlier you begin, the more you’ll save and the easier it will be! Let’s talk.

Meet me for a FREE retirement strategy consultation at my office at 1-833-313-7233. 

 

March 21st, 2017 by

retirement distributions

When it comes to receiving the fruits of your employer-sponsored retirement plan, you have a few broad options. Should you take the payout as systematic payments, a lifetime annuity, or a lump sum?

1. Systematic withdrawals

Some retirement plans may allow you to take systematic withdrawals: either a fixed dollar amount on a regular schedule, a specific percentage of the retirement money value on a regular schedule, or the total value of the retirement monies in equal distributions over a specified period of time.

2. The lifetime annuity option

Your retirement plan may allow you to take payouts as a lifetime annuity, which converts your balance into guaranteed monthly payments based on your life expectancy. If you live longer than expected, the payments continue anyway.*

There are several advantages with this payout method. It helps you avoid the temptation to spend a significant amount of your assets at one time and the pressure use a large sum of money that might not last for the rest of your life. Also, there is no large initial tax bill on your entire nest egg; each monthly payment is subject to income tax at your current rate.

If you are married, you may have the option to elect a joint and survivor annuity. This would result in a lower monthly retirement payment than the single annuity option. However, your spouse would continue to receive a portion of your retirement income after your death. If you do not elect an annuity with a survivor option, your monthly payments end with your death.

The main disadvantage of the annuity option lies in the potential reduction of spending power over time. Annuity payments are not indexed for inflation. If we experience a 4% annual inflation rate, the purchasing power of the fixed monthly payment would be half in 18 years.

3. Lump-sum distribution

If you elect to take the money from your employer-sponsored retirement plan as a single lump sum, you would receive the entire balance in one payment. You can invest and use it as you see fit. You would retain control of the principal and could use it whenever and however you wish.

Of course, if you choose a lump sum, you will have to pay ordinary income taxes on the total amount of the distribution (except for any after-tax contributions you’ve made) in one year. A large distribution could easily move you into a higher tax bracket. Another consideration is the 20% withholding rule. If an employer issues a check for a lump-sum distribution, they must withhold 20% toward federal income taxes. Thus, you would receive only 80% of your nest egg balance, not 100%. Distributions taken prior to age 59½ (or in some cases age 55 or 50) may also be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty.

To avoid some of these problems, you might choose to take a partial lump-sum distribution. Then, roll the balance of the funds directly to an IRA or other qualified retirement plan in order to maintain the tax-deferred status of the funds. An IRA rollover might provide you with more options, not only in how you choose to invest the funds but also in how you access the funds over time.

After you reach age 70½, you generally must begin taking required minimum distributions from traditional IRAs and most employer-sponsored retirement plans. The tax on these distributions will be as ordinary income.

Note: Special rules apply to Roth accounts.

Before you take any action on retirement plan distributions, it would be wise to consult with a tax professional. Choose carefully, because your decision and the consequences will remain with you for life.

*Annuity guarantees are subject to the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the insurer.

My business is to help you manage your money BETTER so you can enjoy a golden retirement.

I can help you start the process today!  Let’s talk. Meet me for a FREE retirement strategy consultation at my office by calling  1-833-313-7233.

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March 21st, 2017 by

Required min distributions

A required minimum distribution (RMD) is the annual amount that must be withdrawn from a traditional IRA or a qualified retirement plan (such as a 401(k), 403(b), and self-employed plans) after the owner reaches the age of 70½. The last date allowed for the first withdrawal is April 1 following the year in which the owner reaches age 70½. Some employer plans may allow still-employed owners to delay distributions until they stop working, even if they are older than 70½.

RMDs are designed to ensure that owners of tax-deferred retirement monies do not defer taxes on their retirement dollars indefinitely. You are allowed to begin taking penalty-free distributions from your tax-deferred retirement nest egg after age 59½, but you must begin taking them after reaching age 70½. If you delay your first distribution to April 1 following the year in which you turn 70½, you must take another distribution for that year. Annual RMDs must be taken each subsequent year no later than December 31.

The RMD amount depends on your age, the value of the nest egg dollars, and your life expectancy. You can use the IRS Uniform Lifetime Table (or the Joint and Last Survivor Table, in certain circumstances) to determine your life expectancy. To calculate your RMD, divide the value of your balance at the end of the previous year by the number of years you’re expected to live, based on the numbers in the IRS table. You must calculate RMDs for each set of monies that you own. If you do not take RMDs, then you may be subject to a 50% federal income tax penalty on the amount that should have been withdrawn.

Remember that distributions from tax-deferred retirement plans are subject to ordinary income tax. Waiting until the April 1 deadline in the year after reaching age 70½ is a one-time option and requires that you take two RMDs in the same tax year. If these distributions are large, this method could push you into a higher tax bracket. It may be wise to plan ahead for RMDs to determine the best time to begin taking them.

My business is to help you manage your money BETTER so you can enjoy a golden retirement.

I can help you get the process started today!  Let’s talk. Meet me for a FREE retirement strategy consultation at my office by calling 1-833-313-7233.

Freeman2017-blog2

 

March 10th, 2017 by

In 2015, prices for food eaten at home rose just 1.2%, less than half the 20-year average of 2.5%. Even so, an average family of four now spends as much as $1,300 a month on nutritious meals and snacks prepared at home.

Outsmart the supermarket

Fortunately, some extra effort and planning could help lower your family’s grocery costs.

  1. Stock up on nonperishable food such as rice and pasta, canned goods, and frozen fruits and vegetables when they are on sale.
  2. Grocery stores often rotate advertised specials for beef, chicken, and pork, so you may want to buy extra meat when prices are lower than normal and freeze most of it, and/or plan meals around sale-priced cuts.
  3. Select fresh produce in season and forego more expensive pre-cut and pre-washed options.
  4. Keep in mind that store brands may offer similar quality at a significant discount from national brands.
  5. You may need to join a store’s loyalty program to benefit from some weekly promotions and personalized deals. In some cases, a membership card may be linked to a smartphone app that tracks your shopping history and adds electronic coupons to your account.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2016

Freeman Owen, Jr -Retirement Specialist

Keeping your money safe starts with small changes everyday. Your retirement plans works in the same way. Let’s talk about how to get you started putting dollars away for your nest egg.

Meet me for a FREE retirement strategy consultation at my office at 1-833-313-7233. 

 

March 6th, 2017 by

Credit scores were a well-kept secret for many years. That has changed as a result of recent initiatives by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO), which provides the most commonly used credit scores based on its proprietary software.

By April 2016, more than 150 million consumer credit-card and loan accounts included free access to the FICO® scores used to manage those accounts.1 This is an important benefit. Your score can influence loan approval and terms for a variety of financial transactions, not only for major purchases such as a home or an auto loan but also for the interest rate and limits on a credit card, the cost of insurance premiums, and approval on a home rental. It might even affect a job application.

Know Your Credit Score

Three Key Digits

The FICO score is a three-digit number ranging from 300 to 850. The score is derived from a formula using five weighted components (see chart). Different versions of this score are available to lenders, and the score you see on your account may not be the same score that another lender would use. But it should be a good guideline.

Here are some tips that might be helpful if you want to improve your score or maintain a current high score:

  • Use at least one major credit card regularly and pay your accounts on time. Setting up automatic payments could help avoid missed payments.
  • If you miss a payment, contact the lender and bring the account up-to-date as soon as possible.
  • Keep balances low on credit cards and other revolving debt. Don’t “max out” your available credit.
  • Don’t open or close multiple accounts within a short period of time. Use older credit cards occasionally to keep them active. Only open accounts you need.
  • Monitor your credit report regularly.

You can order a free credit report annually from each of the three major consumer reporting agencies at annualcreditreport.com or by calling (877) 322-8228. If you find incorrect information, contact the reporting agency in writing, provide copies of any corroborating documents, and ask for an investigation. For more information, visit consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports.

Source:
1) Fair Isaac Corporation, 2016

Freeman Owen, Jr -Retirement Specialist

My business is to help you manage your money BETTER so you can enjoy a golden retirement. I can help you get the process started today!  Let’s talk.

Meet me for a FREE retirement strategy consultation at my office at 1-833-313-7233.