Tag: financial plan

financial plan

Majority of Americans Think Retirement Benefits Savings are Important

A recent study has revealed that majority of Americans think retirement benefits savings are important. The same study highlights that Americans want to have a plan for meeting the financial goals but many of them don’t have any at the moment. People are also very worried about their financial future. The study categorized the people based on their financial confidence and listed the behavioral patterns of the people who were more financially confident. Experts believe that Americans need to develop their financial literacy in order to be more confident about their financial future.

Retirement Benefits

Study says Majority of Americans Think Retirement Benefits Savings are Important

The study that says a majority of Americans think retirement benefits savings are important was conducted by the Guardian Life Insurance Company of America. It mentions that about 60 percent of Americans think that having at least one source of guaranteed income in retirement except social security is vital. The aim of the study was to map the emotional and financial confidence of Americans.

A Shocking Fact

The study that says a majority of Americans think retirement benefits savings are important also highlighted that less than one in four respondents were feeling very confident in any aspect of their finances related to retirement. It also uncovered the fact that 52 percent of respondents believe that building savings is a big priority for them but more than one-thirds respondents also said that they were not living within their means.

Need for a Solid Plan

About 47 percent of the respondents admitted that having a solid and long term plan for achievement of all the financial goals was vital in the study that says a majority of Americans think retirement benefits savings are important. But unfortunately, 81 percent felt that they did not have such a solid plan.

The Worry

The study that reveals a majority of Americans think retirement benefits savings are important also highlighted that 78 percent of the American families are worried or even stressed about their financial future. This result was common for all respondents regardless of age, income, gender or other demographics.

The Quiz

On the basis of the aforesaid and some other findings, Guardian crafted a Financial Confidence Quiz. The assessment placed the participants into pre-defined financial confidence segments on the basis of their answers to all the finance related questions. Some tips on how to change behaviors in order to improve their future and take hold of the financial lives were also offered.

The Segments

The segments created as the result of the survey that exposes a majority of Americans think retirement benefits savings are important mentioned here. The first segment was of the day-to-day decision makers. It included a lot of women and people of Gen X. People in this segment were stressed and often struggled with their finances. Another segment was of the ambitious spenders. It mostly included small business owners who were stressed but coping.

Next comes the segment of retirement realists. In this segment, people who were fearful about their future and had an above-average emphasis on savings as well as had adequate retirement income were categorized. The final segment was of the confident planners who had a highly positive work and life balance. People in this segment placed an above-average emphasis on making wise investment decisions and retiring with a secure income which often leads to a high degree of overall satisfaction in life as compared to people in the other segments.

The Behavioral Traits of Confident Planners

Post the categorization of people into various segments, Guardian obtained a pattern exhibited by the Confident Planners who comprised of about 21 percent of all the respondents. The people in this category credited their success to four specific behavioral traits. The first one is education as they are highly educated and financially competent. Another is planning as these people mostly live within their means and have a written financial plan with clearly mentioned objectives and specific details.

The confident planners also own products that are in line with their financial goals that include protection and growth solutions. The final trait of the confident planners is that they either use a financial planning tool or work closely with an adviser.

Expert Opinion

Matthew Bryan, who serves as the Assistant Vice President at Guardian shared his opinion on the results of the survey that discovered a majority of Americans think retirement benefits savings are important. He thinks that Americans need to be more financially literate, have a detailed plan and they need to own the right financial products in order to offer financial protection to their families. He also added that advisors can assist by identifying the gaps between the current behaviors of the clients and creating plans that address those gaps.

The Respondents

The respondents of the survey that says a majority of Americans think retirement benefits savings are important were about 5,000 Americans who were more than 18 years of age and were employed part-time or full-time. They were not retired and had household incomes of at least $50,000. The survey was conducted online.

Philadelphia Residents Contributing Least Towards Retirement Benefits

A new research has proven that Philadelphia residents contribute the least amount of money towards their retirement benefits. They are hence less prepared for the retirement and may struggle financially in their senior years. The major reason behind the fewer contributions is that most employers don’t provide a provision of retirement savings to the employees. Officials agree that this issue needs to be solved as soon as possible.

Retirement Benefits

The Need to contribute more to Retirement Benefits

The research that says that most Philadelphia residents are less prepared for retirement as compared to the Americans living in other states was done for a city council committee. The committee aims to know how to improve retirement savings. The study was conducted and released by the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis on Wednesday. It was divulged during a hearing conducted by Council’s Committee. The hearing was on Labor and Civil Service.

The Current Situation

During the hearing, several witnesses testified to the fact that there is a retirement crisis in the U.S. The witnesses also stressed that the retirement crisis in Philadelphia is particularly troublesome. The study exposed that about 20 percent of retirees in Philadelphia are poor and about 30 percent have incomes between 100 & 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

The Reason

Anthony Webb who works at the Schwartz Center for Policy Analysis stated that the reason behind the Philadelphia’s people saving less for retirement is that the employers who offer retirement plans are very few. Even those who offer a plan don’t always participate in the plans. He also added that a high proportion of seniors are nearing closer to poverty and the people who are working right now are also at a high risk of retiring in poverty.

Need For Action

Webb also stressed on the need to offering a retirement plan to people who don’t have any yet. He stated that offering a retirement plan may not help them to have a retirement of their dreams but it will definitely help them to get away from the poverty and near poverty situation they are facing right now. He insisted that the sooner an action is taken in this regard, the higher would be the number of households that get help. When a swift action is taken, they will be able to save a bit more money towards retirement benefits.

Start Planning your Finances for 2016

The New Year with all its might is finally here. You need to start planning your finances now more than ever. Here are a few tips for you to benefit from:

How to manage your finances in 2016:

A financial plan:

The question “Where did all the money go” is always roaming around in our brains and we can’t ever figure out the answer no matter what. We try hard but we just can’t make all the numbers add up. You can change this though; make 2016 a different year for yourself. Be proactive and try setting our priorities based on where you want to spend this year.

There could be all sorts of options; maybe you want to buy a new car or maybe you just want to get the credit card debt off the table. Try to lay it all out and decide accordingly.

Savings:

You need to save; if you are edging your retirement, you need to save more. There must be a magic formula out there pertaining to your income, your needs and your future responsibilities that would allow you to know how much you can spend and how much you can save. Figure it out.

Invest with care and comfort:

Don’t go around investing without giving it many second thoughts. If you are going to go with TSP or myRA make sure that you know the intricacies of these plans. Your money needs to only go into places where it will be worth the investment so this wisely and always take your time.

Tax planning:

Taxes are going to go up this year and this shouldn’t be news to you if you work in the government sector. Plan your investments and savings accordingly.

 

These are only some of the things that you could benefit from, going in to the New Year; the trick is to never make impulsive decisions and always think things through.

Do You Have a Federal Retirement Individual Action Plan

Retirement Individual Action Plan

Building your Federal Retirement Individual Action Plan (IAP) starts first with building your Financial Plan – the key element to your retirement future.  In order to achieve our collective goal of retiring with comfort and security, we must underscore the inescapable urgency of identifying and setting goals.  Without setting SMART goals we cannot develop a workable financial plan, a sensible budget or an Individual Action Plan (IAP).

Federal Employee Retirement Priorities 

We all philosophically know the difference between ‘WANT’ and ‘NEED’.  Prioritizing need over want is the age old challenge.  There is nothing wrong with ‘wants’.  As a matter of fact, wants often push us to succeeding.  The challenge is being able to know the difference between want and need and utilizing that knowledge to choose options and decision-making strategies that are critical to the SMART goals we set in our lives.

The Federal Employee Financial Plan

One of the most important components of financial planning is the decision-making process.  As we think about retirement, it is imperative that we make choices that maximize our capacity to accomplish SMART goals with perhaps a different level of income.  Decision-making, like goal setting may need to be modified depending on changing circumstances and other factors.  However, there is a process of effective decision-making used by most of us without ever consciously thinking about it.  We are constantly setting goals consciously or subconsciously.  We must analyze data when determining what we can afford and what we cannot.  We create plans to turn thoughts into action, the implementation process. Lastly, we monitor how things are working which often calls for modifying the original plan we put in place.  Are you ready to put your retirement plan in action.

P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Recommended Articles

For Postal Employees – LiteBlue and the TSP

Federal Retirement Benefit Analysis

The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)

Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Withdrawal Options

Federal and Postal Employees – Choosing a Financial Professional

The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)

Is All ‘Your’ TSP Money Actually Yours?

Federal Retirement Benefit Analysis

How To Best Fund Your TSP

 

Federal Employees – Building Your Financial Plan

Building Your Financial PlanAs a Federal Employee you may seek the advice of a Financial Planner, you need to do some homework towards building your financial plan.  The Financial Plan is a key component of your overall Retirement Planning strategy, so you can retire well and live in comfort and security.

Some key items of what your Financial Plan should consist of:

  • – One SMART Short Term Goal (0 – 3 months)
  • – One SMART Intermediate Term Goal (3 months – 1 year)
  • – One SMART Long Term Goal (1 year plus)
  • – A quarterly record of how you get and use your money (you may choose to use a weekly or monthly record)
  • – A process of allocating your money by using the decision-making process
  • – Identification of at least 3 factors that might potentially impact your financial plan (factors may change from time to time)
  • – At least four strategies that will keep you firmly on your plan
  • – Process by which you can easily and clearly articulate how you will monitor and modify your plan.

Building your retirement plan in your mind is the first step to getting started, commiting it to paper (electronic or otherwise) is the first step to implementation.  Your plan does not need to be anything technical, but a plan that you can work with; a plan that is not tossed outside but becomes the roadmap to securing your financial future in retirement.

 

Federal Employee Retirement

TSP (Thrift Savings Plan)

FEGLI (Federal Employees Life Insurance)

FEHB

‘High-3’ Income

Retirement Annuity Calculations

 

P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

 

 

Recommended Articles

For Postal Employees – LiteBlue and the TSP

Federal Retirement Benefit Analysis

The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)

Is The Pension Survivor Benefit Best For You?  by Todd Carmack

A Little-Known Opportunity Can Increase Your Retirement Income.  by Mark Sprague

FEGLI …. If What You Thought To Be True.  by Marty Duggan

Determining If A Trust Is Right For You

TrustIt seems to be the general concensus that a Last Will and Testament is an essential part of a good estate plan but Living Trusts are not as widely used nor understood.  Although many may think that probate is a negative of the Last Will and Testament, a great many individuals remain comfortable with it.  There are a number of ways to pass your wealth onto family members.  But whatever method or tool you choose, taking action is pivotal.  Don’t spend so much time thinking about what to do that you simply do nothing.

Planning a strategy to pass on your wealth to family members, charities or friends must be a highly personal and individual decision.  It is good to consult with individuals skilled in a number of arenas concerning making plans to secure the integrity of your estate.  In the final analysis, you must make the decision as to how your assets will be handled.  This requires researching and educating yourself so that you can participate intelligently in the conversation and oftentimes requires working with a knowledgeable financial professional.

It is never a good idea to be in a position to listen and listen without the benefit of having some knowledge under your belt.  You don’t have to be an expert, but you surely need to have enough information so you can determine which direction you want to take.  Summarily, you don’t want anyone making critically important decisions for you.  You want to make those decisions yourself.

More and more individuals are turning to Trusts in managing the transfer of their wealth to their loved-ones.  As the grantor or the trustor of the trust, you may make changes, additions or transfer assets.   You may even terminate the trust altogether.  A trust can be changed and so can a will.  Both instruments require being informed.  By comparing Wills and Trusts side-by-side and of course having a decision with someone you trust will help you decide if a Trust is right for you.

P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Recommended Articles

For Postal Employees – LiteBlue and the TSP

Federal Retirement Benefit Analysis

The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)

Is The Pension Survivor Benefit Best For You?  by Todd Carmack

A Little-Known Opportunity Can Increase Your Retirement Income.  by Mark Sprague

FEGLI …. If What You Thought To Be True.  by Marty Duggan

How To Choose a Financial Professional to Handle Your Affairs

Financial Professional There is no fool-proof way of finding the right professional to help you handle your financial affairs.  Retirement planning which includes estate planning can get very complicated.  Most of us do our own retirement planning, but if you prefer to seek the advice and counsel of a financial professional consider the following tips:

Financial Advisors and Federal Employees

 

Seek a financial planner who has demonstrated skills in their field of expertise.  Look for advisors who have been published or interviewed on topics that relate to your concerns.

If you find a financial planner via a company find out how they are compensated.

Use the Financial Planning Association’s online interview tool to assist you in asking the right questions.

If you are going to use an attorney for your estate planning needs choose one that has at least 10 years of experience in estate planning.  This is a very complex field with different probate and wealth laws in every state.  The attorney you choose must be keenly aware of these laws and how they apply to your personal circumstances.

Make sure that the attorney you choose is licensed to practice law in your state of legal residence.

Ask for references, preferably current and past clients, before you begin any legal work.

Check organizations and licensing boards for background information.  Also check with continuing education associations focused on estate attorneys.  These associations generally draw well qualified attorneys to their ranks.

Evaluate the listening skills and communication style of any advisor or attorney you are considering.  If the professional is short and impatient and does all the talking without giving you the opportunity to chat and ask questions, no matter how talented, it is not a good idea to choose that person.  Keep on searching.

Always do your homework when you are looking to hire someone to take care of what could be the most important business you will ever have.

P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

 

 

Recommended Articles

Understanding The Thrift Savings Plan, By Todd Carmack

Social Security for FERS Employees by Todd Carmack

A Little-Know Opportunity Can Increase Your Retirement Income – By Mark Sprague

FEGLI…If What You Thought To Be True. by Marty Duggan

The Federal Employee Financial Plan

Federal Employee Financial Plan

federal employeeAre you a Federal Employee?  Do you realize how important a financial plan really is at every stage of your life?  

Having a financial plan is probably the most important part of managing your financial life.  Having a sound, flexible financial plan today is more important than it has ever been.  Resources are limited and the needs of families are increasing without the financial resources to support them.

More and more Americans are unemployed or underemployed than ever before in recent times.  Military service personnel have returned from two wars and unfortunately for many there are no jobs waiting to welcome them home and to thank them for their service to the nation.   A student of mine told me that financial plans are like ether if you don’t have a job.  He said what is the need to discuss plans if you don’t have money?

His assertion was about half and half.  You don’t need money to plan, but you do need a plan if you expect to acquire anything whether it is money or building a spaceship.  Neither endeavor just sort of happens for most individuals.  Some individuals are born into financial stability and even with that they must have a plan to keep the financial stability that is a part of their birth.  For those of use who aren’t as lucky, the planning is even more important.

Plans are needed for every aspect of our lives to be successful.  Not everybody will actually put pen to paper and actualize formal plans.  In order to see where you are going and where you need to go to make your plans a reality, I would suggest putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard to chart your path, layout your plans.  Plans are made to change that is why good plans have a degree of flexibility.  Just as life changes, the best laid plans also change.

There are so many things we have to keep up with today and although automation makes it easier, we still need to organize our goals and objectives.  We need to set goals that are specific.  We need to determine exactly what it is we wish to achieve.  We also need to set goals that we can both measure and manage.  Don’t worry about the kind of goals someone else is setting.  Your goal setting should be unique and tailor-made for you.  Check to make sure you can reach the goals you set by ensuring they are realistic with sensible time horizons.  Make sure your goals are SMART.

If you have to change and/or amend your goals as circumstances change, go right ahead.  After all, they are your goals.  They are your goals for the future.  Thinking about and actualizing a financial plan or just a plan for your life that includes all aspects of your life is the best investment you can make in yourself.

To my student, I applaud him because he was thinking and he is very concerned about securing a stable financial future for himself.  I know that because he is a student who has now secured a rather handsome internship with the Federal Government.  He now has a job and he is discussing plans for his future because he now also has some MONEY.

P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

 

To begin your financial plan you should consider the Thrift Savings Plan.

What does you Estate Plan look like and how early should you start?

Estate Plan: Living Trusts

Living Trusts in an Estate Plan

Estate planUntil about 20-30 years ago Living Trusts were thought of as planning tool strictly for the wealthy.  Today that is no longer true as the Living Trust is becoming more popular with the because of the tax and privacy advantages offered.

Living Trusts are generally set up by an Estate Plan Attorney while you are alive.  Testamentary trusts are created after death.  The choices you make in your financial planning and life planning decisions are highly personal and you are in charge of the course you decide to take.

• Living trusts involve the individual (or a couple if you are married) who secures the Trust and is designated the Grantor or Trustor.
• The Trustee is the individual named by the Trust as the manager or the Trust’s assets and property.  The Trustee and Grantor may be the same individual or individuals.
• The third party is the Beneficiary(s).  The beneficiaries are the heirs that will receive the fruits of the Trust once the Grantors are deceased.
• Living Trusts are not subject to the laws and regulations of probate.  Therefore your wishes can be kept completely private and away from public scrutiny.
• A Trust is defined as a separate legal entity where distributions can be made from the Trustee without any involvement from the courts.
• With a Living Trust, the lengthy wait and cost of probate are avoided.
• As long as the assets have been placed in the Trust, distributions can be made to beneficiaries.
• There are few limitations, if any, once a Trust has been established as to what can become a part of the trust. i.e. stocks and bonds, savings accounts, real estate, personal property, life insurance.  Once the assets are placed In Trust, they are changed from your name to the name of the Trust.

It is important to invest some of your time in finding out more about Living Trusts and any other tools that might become a part of your planning process.  Doing your homework and learning as much about any tools and strategies you might be considering in the planning process are the best practices to see how they fit into your plan to Retire and Live Well.

P.S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

 

There are tax implications to your loved ones if you name your Trust as your beneficiary on your TSP.gov account.  Check on your beneficiary designations through TSP.gov or Liteblue.

 

 

Wills: Other Tips

More Information on Wills

Wills• If you have a surviving spouse, he or she has a right under most circumstances to inherit a part of your property, even if you don’t name them in the Will.

• If you own property jointly with someone else, upon your death, the property will automatically revert to the other joint holder; irrespective of what you might say in your Will.

• Wills are not irrevocable; they may be changed, amended or modified by the testator (you) at any time deemed necessary.

• Children under 18 must have a guardian named for their care until they reach the age of maturity.  This is really important because you do not want anyone else deciding where your children will go in the event of your death.  If the children are very young, name an alternate guardian in the event the primary guardian becomes ill, disabled or passes away.

• You might want to create a trust if you have minor children that will inherit your estate.  The law prohibits minors from inheriting directly from you.  Therefore, you must appoint a trustee to handle their affairs until they reach the age of maturity.  You may specify the age at which the child can receive his or her inheritance.

• If you choose an executor:  Make sure that this person is willing and capable of handling your estate.  You may select a friend, a family member or anyone of your choosing.  However, depending on the size of your estate, you might want to choose someone who has the financial and legal acumen to properly handle your estate and in accordance with the rules, laws and regulations of the state where you lived.  Sometimes in such cases, you might want to pair a family member or friend with an estate attorney or other professionally trained individual to handle such situations.

• As a Federal Employee, your benefits taken into retirement or otherwise are not bound by your Will.  The Federal Government structured itself in such cases to distribute your assets by an established Order of Precedence.  The government does not think it prudent to have your assets that are often needed by your family to carry out the final business of your life, tied up in probate for lengthy periods of time.

Every estate, whether small, medium or large, wants to avoid long drawn out probate when possible.  The person or persons named as your executors or administrators must appear before a court and:

• Catalog all of your property with full identification.

• Have the property appraised for its value and pay any outstanding debts and taxes.

• Verify that your Wills is a legal and valid document.

• Follow your instructions in the distribution of your property and assets to your heirs.

Again, probate can be costly and time consuming.  Remember when choosing an Estate Attorney, it is suggested that you choose one that has at least 10 years of experience in estate planning and that he or she is licensed to practice law in your state of legal residence.  By the same token if you need the services of a Financial Advisor choose an advisor that is an expert in federal employee retirement benefits.

 

P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

 

 

 

Will: (Last Will and Testament)

The Will

WillThe Will is the nucleus of the estate plan.  From the Will, everything else emanates.  Your Last Will and Testament spells out all of your wishes.  It details how you want your assets and resources distributed and how your loved ones who depend on you will be taken care of.

Some Basic Elements of Your Will include:

• Identification of yourself and a description of your right to distribute said property and assets.
• A full and complete description of the property and assets you wish to distribute.
• A very clear detailed itemization of who you want your property and assets to go to.

Wills are instructions to a court of law and can be contested.  It is suggested that you take your time to make certain everything is in place and in accordance with the laws of your state.  When the Will is registered in the court, it is then a matter of public record and the privacy surrounding it is gone.  When naming your heirs, it is also a good rule of thumb to identify them and make a brief statement as to why they are included.

Often Wills become very contentious by family members and other in court.  Your loved ones in many cases will not only have the emotion of dealing with your death, but could become involved in a court battle over the validity as well.  There are some things that may cause your Will to be invalid in a Court of Law:

• The deceased was not mentally competent and able to comprehend what was happening when the Will was executed.
• The execution was handled improperly, making it improper.
• The writing was done under force and undue influence from another party.

If the court finds the Will to be invalid, circumstances will be treated as if you died intestate (without a Will).  At that time, depending on the state you live in, it will be decided in accordance with the law as to how your property and assets will be distributed.  In a case where there are no living relatives, your assets will become the property of the state.

P. S.   Always Remember to Share What You Know.

 

 

Planning Your Retirement

Getting Help Planning Your Retirement

PlanningGetting involved early in planning will allow federal and postal workers the opportunity to create additional financial resources to increase their retirement comfort.  We always hear the phrase, “Know Your Number” – the amount of money you will need to retire with financial security.  This is especially important when you consider your Thrift Savings Plan and also your CSRS or FERS annuity.
There are many on-line calculators that can be used for that purpose to evaluate estimates.  There is really no guaranteed formula for calculating exactly how much money you will need in retirement.  There are strategies and planning, however, that will give you a fairly good estimate and ways to get there.  Although every situation and circumstance is unique to the individual it is still a good plan to gather all of your financial information and to engage a financial planner or adviser who has been trained in your federal retirement benefits.
Finding a financial adviser is not one-stop shopping.  Finding the right fit for you requires some research, some investigation, perhaps a referral and just trusting your gut.  Putting all of your plans in place to retire well is one of the best gifts you will ever give to yourself.
P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

 

To check your TSP balance click HERE