How Retirement Income is Taxed

How Retirement Income is Taxed

How Retirement Income is Taxed

Today we look at how the most common types of retirement income are taxed.  We look at:

  • The common types of accounts retirees use
  • The types of income taxed at the highest rates
  • Types of income which receive favorable tax treatment

Watch Now: How Retirement Income is Taxed

how Retirment Income is Taxed

Listen Now:
How Retirement Income is Taxed

Subscribe Where You Find Your Podcasts

Blog Post Alt Tag

When you retire, you go from earning a paycheck to using your savings to create a paycheck. You will still have to pay income taxes. Today, we look at the common types of accounts retirees use to create income, and how they are taxed.

Retirement Plans and IRA's

This might be a 401k, a 403b or even a 457 deferred compensation plan. Many people roll those over into an IRA.

The taxation of the income generated from those accounts depends on the contributions. If you made pre-tax contributions—meaning you took a tax deduction—the income is taxable. Your contributions, your employer’s contributions, and the earnings are taxed as ordinary income. Tax rates for ordinary income start at 10%. The maximum tax rate is 37%.

If you used the Roth type accounts, the contributions happened on an after tax basis. This means withdrawals from these accounts are not taxed.

Individual and Joint Accounts

The second type of account that retirees use is an individual or a joint account. If you have this type of account, you pay taxes “as you go”. The investments in those accounts often pay dividends or interest. Interest is usually taxed as ordinary income. Dividends paid by a common stock get favorable tax treatment. In most cases, the highest tax rate for qualified dividends is 15%.

You may also have capital gains. A capital gain happens when you or one of the investments you own sells an investment. If you own a mutual fund, that mutual fund may buy and sell stocks and bonds inside the mutual fund. The gains pass to you as a shareholder.

If you own an individual investment, and you sell those shares, you can generate a capital gain as well. If you owned the position for at least a year, the gain is a long-term capital gain. Long-term gains get favorable tax treatment. The highest capital gains rate is 20%. Most people will pay 15%. The full amount of the sale is not usually taxed. Taxes are due on the amount above what you originally paid for the investment.

This can be a factor if you are using a systematic withdrawal. This strategy involves selling shares of your investments to generate monthly income. Part of the income is going to be taxable, and part of it is going to be return of your principal. The taxable part may get taxed at lower rates.

Pension Plans

The other type of account used to create income in retirement is a pension plan. If your company offered a pension plan, the income is taxable as ordinary income.

Annuities

Another common type of account is an annuity. If you annuitize a contract, part of the income is taxable. The balance is a return of your principal.

Social Security

The last type of income source that’s taxable in retirement is Social Security. We will cover taxes of Social Security benefits next week.

Talk to a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional

Knowing how taxes impact retirement can help you plan for a better future. If you have questions or concerns, talk to a financial planner.

 


insert here

About the Author

Neal Watson is a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional and a Financial Advisor with Fleming Watson Financial Advisors.    He specializes in helping hard working, middle class families plan for retirement.

Our Most Recent Videos And Posts

Save More or Pay Off Your Mortgage?

Save More or Pay Off Your Mortgage?

As you get closer to retirement, should you save more or pay off your mortgage?  This was a question we received from a listener.  Let’s look at the key factors of your decision.

Watch Now: Save More or Pay Off Your Mortgage?

Blog Post Alt Tag

Listen Now:
3 Things to Know About Bear Markets

Subscribe Where You Find Your Podcasts

Blog Post Alt Tag

Today we have a question from Laura. She writes, “My husband and I will be 52 years old this year. Should we focus on saving more for retirement or paying off our mortgage?”

Why Pay Off Your Mortgage Before You Retire?

Your mortgage payments are typically one of your biggest expenses. Not having that expense frees up money for other things or reduces the stress on your savings. We like to see people not have a mortgage when they go into retirement.

An Example:

Laura and her husband need $2,000 per month from savings to cover their expenses—including their mortgage. Using the 4% rule as a basic guideline, they would need about $600,000 in savings.

save more or pay off mortgage

Their mortgage payment is $800 per month. If they pay off the note before retirement, they would only need about $1,200 per month from savings. Using the 4% rule, this means they only need about $360,000 in savings. It is a significant difference.

Save More Pay Off Mortgage

What Factors In Your Decision?

If you are trying to determine whether you should pay more on your mortgage or save more, ask these questions:

If you keep your mortgage payment the same, will your mortgage be paid off by the time you retire?

If the answer is yes, consider adding extra funds to your retirement savings. You may want to think about using a Roth IRA, Roth 401k, or other types of after-tax savings? If the answer is no, you may want to dig a little deeper.

Will paying more on your loan eliminate your mortgage by the time you retire?

If the answer is yes, consider paying extra on your note.

How much have you already saved and how much are you saving towards retirement?

If you have been a good saver and have a good foundation, it’s easier to favor paying extra on your loan. But if you have not been a good saver, you may want to place a higher priority on your savings.

Talk to a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional

There are a lot of moving parts to this and it is a great thing to discuss with a financial planner. They can help you build a strategy that makes sense for you and helps you achieve the best possible outcome.

 


insert here

About the Author

Neal Watson is a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional and a Financial Advisor with Fleming Watson Financial Advisors.    He specializes in helping hard working, middle class families plan for retirement.

Our Most Recent Videos And Posts

What is Tax-Loss Harvesting?

What Is Tax-Loss Harvesting?

A listener asks a question about year end tax planning.  Can tax-loss harvesting help your tax situation?  Today we look at this strategy and how it works.

Watch Now: What is Tax-Loss Harvesting?

What is Tax Loss harvesting

Listen Now:
3 What is Tax-Loss Harvesting?

Subscribe Where You Find Your Podcasts

What is tax-Loss harvesting

Today we answer a question from Joanne. She writes, “Last week I heard about something called tax-loss harvesting. What is it, and how can we benefit from it?” This is a strategy you can use to reduce your tax liability.

Understanding Capital Losses

From time to time, investments will decrease in value. And they may decrease to a level that is below your cost basis. Your cost basis is what you paid for the investment, plus any dividends reinvested into that position.

If the market value drops below your cost basis, you have an unrealized capital loss. You realize that loss when you sell it, and that can help reduce your income tax liability.

How Capital Losses Affect Your Taxes

First, losses offset any capital gains. Capital gains happen in two ways. They happen when you sell something for a profit. If you own a mutual fund, the fund may pay a capital gain distribution. The fund creates gains when the fund buys and sells securities.

An investor sells shares of Amazon for a $10,000 profit. They also sell shares of Ford for an $8,000 loss. They would only pay capital gains taxes on $2,000.

Loss-Harvesting

If your losses exceed your gains, you can use those losses to reduce other income, up to certain limits. You can use $3,000 of capital losses to reduce your other income each year. Any excess gets carried forward to future years.

Our investor sold shares of Amazon for a $10,000 gain. They also sold shares of General Electric for a $15,000 loss. You would not incur any capital gains taxes this year. They can use $3,000 of the remaining loss against their other income. The investor would have to carry $2,000 forward to use against their taxes next year.

What is Tax-Loss harvesting

Planning Tip

This does not apply to any investments in an IRA, 401k, or other types of qualified plans. You are not paying capital gains taxes on anything you buy and sell in those accounts.

Wash Sales

If you are harvesting a capital loss, you can’t buy the same investment you sold for a loss within 30 days. Doing so creates a wash sale. The IRA will not allow the loss on your taxes. If the stock you sold has a sudden increase in price, you can miss out on the gains.

Keep Good Records

If you have a large capital loss, it could take a long time to carry it forward. You will need to keep very good records.

There is Still Time for 2020

You still have time to harvest capital losses for this year. Any sales made between now and December 31 count on this year’s taxes. But you should speak to your tax professional to see what kind of impact those will have on your situation.

Talk to a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional

 


insert here

About the Author

Neal Watson is a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional and a Financial Advisor with Fleming Watson Financial Advisors.    He specializes in helping hard working, middle class families plan for retirement.

Our Most Recent Videos And Posts

Is Bitcoin a Good Investment?

Is Bitcoin a Good Investment?

Is Bitcoin a good investment? It is the new frontier in the investment world.  Its gains over the past six years will catch your eye.  Today we will answer a listener question about the digital currency and its characteristics.

Watch Now: Is Bitcoin a Good Investment

Bis bitcoin a good ivnestment

Listen Now:
Is Bitcoin a Good Investment?

Subscribe Where You Find Your Podcasts

Is bitcoin a good investment

Our question is from Chris. He writes, “A guy at work keeps talking about Bitcoin. I don’t understand it. What is it and should I consider investing in it?”

Bitcoin, along with a few others, is a digital currency. It is not backed by a country or a central bank. An encrypted public ledger verifies the ownership of the coins. This ledger uses blockchain technology and it is very difficult to change. There are people who use computers to verify the transactions using digital cryptographic keys.

Bitcoin and Gold

In many ways, Bitcoin is similar to an investment in gold.

  • You can buy in various currencies, just like gold.
  • Its price fluctuates with changes in demand, just like gold.
  • And it is used as a store of value, just like gold.

But it is also different. Most businesses do not accept gold as a form of payment. You can use Bitcoin and other digital currencies to buy and sell goods and services. You can use it on PayPal. Some online retailers will also accept it for payment.

Growing Popularity

Bitcoin has become very popular to investors for a couple of reasons. The first is its meteoric gains over the last several years. It started trading in mid-September 2014. The price then was about $460. Last week, it closed at over $18,800. The average annual return of the Bitcoin has been about 82% per year.

The other appealing aspect of Bitcoin is that it is not a government-controlled currency.

Caution: Proceed with Care

There are many concerns when investing in Bitcoin.

Volatility

Bitcoin began trading in September 2014. Since then, we have seen

  • one price drop of more than 80%
  • another price drop of nearly 60%
  • three more drops of more than 30%
  • and three more drops of at least 20%.

This equates to eight bear markets in six years. It can be a very wild ride—more so than stocks and gold!

Taxes

There are tax consequences to sell your coins. Those sales get taxed as capital gains and losses. You need to be aware of your holding periods to know whether it’s short term or long term.

Are Purchases Considered Redemptions?

If you are using your Bitcoins to buy something, is that considered a redemption? This is a vague area. In some cases, using your digital currency as payment is considered a redemption. This could create a taxable event you did not expect.

Fees

There are some transaction fees to buy and sell Bitcoin. You want to be aware of those.

Non-traditional Businesses

You cannot buy cryptocurrency through most traditional financial institutions. Major brokerage firms and banks won’t hold or execute the trades.

The “Wild West” of Finance

Many governments fear criminals use Bitcoin to launder money. The United States asks if you have a cryptocurrency account on your tax return. They ask to help them track potential criminal activity.

Security of your account is also a concern. It’s a new frontier with very little regulation. There are many concerns about the security of your digital key and avoiding hackers.

Your digital key is very important. Recently, a CEO from a cryptocurrency exchange died with his passwords. He had over $150 million tied up in cryptocurrency. His family cannot access those accounts without the digital keys.

How do You Buy It? (My Own Experience)

The first thing you need to have is a digital wallet. There are many well-known providers. I used Coinbase. I opened an account in less than 10 minutes. I had a little difficulty linking it to one of the banks I deal with, but I was able to fix the issue.

Coinbase charges a minimum transaction fee of $2.99. The costs are then about 1.5% of the amount you buy or sell.

Overall, the process was very easy.

If you want to use a brokerage firm, try Betterment or Robinhood.

Is Bitcoin a Good Investment?

It has been terrific if (and that is a big “IF“) you can withstand the volatility. But nobody knows how it will do in the future. Right now, it is near its all-time high. You could be buying high, hoping it goes higher. You may want to wait for a correction—it tends to correct frequently. And there are tax consequences when you sell your coins.

You need to be careful and make sure you have your strong passwords written down somewhere. If something happens to you, your loved ones can access that account. 

Blockchain

Blockchain technology has a lot of potential uses in many different industries.

  • you could use it to verify your title to real estate
  • governments could use it for online voting security
  • Stock exchanges can use it to verify ownership of stock certificates. This could speed up trade settlements
  • companies like FedEx and UPS can use it to verify their deliveries
  • the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards is already using blockchain to authenticate credentials

Bitcoin is a new frontier in the investing world. If you would like to learn more or get an objective opinion about how cryptocurrency could fit into your plan, check with a financial planner.

Talk to a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional

 


insert here

About the Author

Neal Watson is a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional and a Financial Advisor with Fleming Watson Financial Advisors.    He specializes in helping hard working, middle class families plan for retirement.

Our Most Recent Videos And Posts

How to Pick Investments for Your 401k

How to Pick Investments for Your 401k

Today we discuss how to pick investments for your 401k.  Do the performance statistics matter?  What about expenses? What are the most important things you can do to pick the right funds?

Watch Now: How to Pick Investments for Your 401k

How to Pick investments for your 401k

Listen Now:
How to Pick Investments for Your 401k

Subscribe Where You Find Your Podcasts

How to pick investments for your 401k

Today we have a question from Randy. He writes, “I’m trying to choose investments for my 401k. How important are the three-year and five-year returns when picking the funds? What should I be focusing on to choose the right investments?”

401k plans are wonderful savings vehicles. But oftentimes, you get very little guidance about how to select the investments. Some plans have hundreds of options. Other plans may only have a dozen. It is hard to know which ones to pick to help you achieve your goals.

Information Overload

Plan sponsors provide a lot of data about the fund in your plan. It includes the type of fund it is. You will see common terms like growth, growth and income, or capital preservation. It may tell you how the fund invests. It may own stocks, bonds, or real estate. And it will show you what the internal expenses are.

You also get a lot of information about the funds’ past performance. Many people will focus on these numbers.

Everyone Loves a Winner

We all like winners. It is easy to spot the funds which have big numbers. Who doesn’t want that fund with a five-year track record of 15% per year?

Is picking funds really that simple? Unfortunately, the answer is no. There have been studies that show past performance is not good at predicting the future. The most popular one is the Standard and Poor’s Persistence Scorecard. The report shows how many funds were top performers in the past that stayed that way in the future.

We looked at their most recent data (2019), and here are some interesting findings:

  • Only 3.84% of funds that were top half performers in 2015 remained top half performers over the next four years.
  • Only 21% of the funds that were in the top tier for five-year periods ending in 2014 remained top tier performers by 2019

Using past results has shown to be a very unreliable tool to pick your funds.

How to Pick Investments for Your 401k

Your primary focus should be on your asset allocation. This is the mix you have between stocks and bonds and other assets. Owning more stocks gives you greater opportunities for future growth. But it also means you will experience more short-term declines in your account values.

Bonds can reduce volatility, but they will not offer as much potential for growth.

As a general guideline, the younger you are, the more you should have in stocks.

  • If your retirement is 20 years or more from now, it is reasonable to have between 80 and 100% stocks in your account.
  • If your retirement is 15 years away, you may want to scale that back to between 70 and 90% stocks.
  • If you are 10 years from retirement, you may want to be 60 to 75% stock.
  • If your retirement is five years or sooner, you may only want to be 50 to 60% stock.

Costs Matter

Focus on low-cost funds. These are likely going to be funds that track a specific index like the S&P 500. You also may want to diversify by using large-cap, mid-cap, and small-cap stocks. Each of those will behave a little differently. International stock funds are also a good choice. Sometimes they do better than the US companies.

The same thing applies to bond funds. Use the lower-cost funds. Right now, you may want to avoid anything that has “long-term” in the name.

Keep it Simple

You can have too many funds, you should be able to build a good allocation with six or fewer funds. Some will even suggest only using four. In some situations, you can create a good allocation with only two funds.

If you would like to receive a second opinion about your 401k, choose a time on the calendar below.

Talk to a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional

 


insert here

About the Author

Neal Watson is a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional and a Financial Advisor with Fleming Watson Financial Advisors.    He specializes in helping hard working, middle class families plan for retirement.

Our Most Recent Videos And Posts

How Could Your Taxes Change in 2021?

How Could Your Taxes Change in 2021?

How could your income taxes change in 2021? We’re still waiting on election results. But we can look ahead to the potential changes to your taxes if Joe Biden wins the election.

Watch Now: How Could Your Taxes Change in 2021?

Blog Post Alt Tag

Listen Now:
3 How Could Your Taxes Change in 2021?

Subscribe Where You Find Your Podcasts

Blog Post Alt Tag

Here’s what we know about Mr. Biden’s tax plan.

Improving and Adding Certain Tax Credits

He wants to improve and add tax credits.  His plan calls for:

  • increasing the Child and Dependent Care tax credit. (this is for daycare costs)
  • expanding the earned income tax credit for people over 65.
  • renewable energy credits for electric vehicles and solar panels.
  • restoring the first-time homebuyers tax credit.
  • for 2021—and as long as economic conditions dictate—increasing the child tax credit.

Tax Credits for Retirement Savings

His plan also wants to equalize the tax benefits of retirement plan contributions. Right now, people get a deduction for some of those retirement plan contributions. He wants to change this to a tax credit.

What is the difference between a tax deduction and a tax credit? Which is better?

 
A Tax Deduction is something which reduces your income. If you earned $1,000, and have a $200 deduction, your adjusted income is $800. You compute your tax using the reduced amount. If your tax rate is 15%, your $200 deduction will lower your taxes by $30.
 
A Tax Credit is a direct reduction of your income tax liability. If your tax liability is $1,000, and you have a $200 credit, your tax bill is $800.
 
In most cases tax credits are better than tax deductions.

Tax Increases for High Earners and Corporations

Mr. Biden also wants to increase taxes for those people who make a lot of money. If you make over $400,000, you can expect a significant tax increase.

  • your social security taxes will go up.
  • The maximum tax rate that you pay on your income will also increase.
  • If you are a business owner, you will lose the qualified business deduction.
  • It will also tax capital gains and qualified dividends as ordinary income for those making over $1 million.
  • It will also limit the benefits of itemized deductions.

He also wants to increase the taxes on businesses. The corporate tax rate under Mr. Biden’s proposal goes from 21% to 28%.

Lastly, he wants to restore federal estate taxes back to 2009 levels.

The Most Concerning Tax Change

There is something in Mr. Biden’s tax plan that will impact a lot of people. It involves how your cost basis is treated at a person’s death.

What is cost basis? 

Your “cost basis” is what you pay for an asset. Whether you buy a house, a stock, a rental property or a bond, whatever you pay for that asset is your cost basis. If you add money to it, it increases your cost basis.

The cost basis is important when you sell that asset. You pay capital gains tax on the difference between the sale price and your cost basis. Let’s look at an example. Let’s say you buy a stock for $10,000. After several years, the value has grown to $50,000. If you sell that stock, you pay capital gains on the difference between the sale proceeds of $50,000 and your cost basis ($10,000). You would owe taxes on $40,000.

How Could Your Taxes Change in 2021

If you had reinvested the dividends from that stock, your cost basis increased. Let’s say you reinvested $5,000 of dividends, the cost basis increases to $15,000. If you sell the stock, you pay capital gains taxes on the difference between the $50,000 and $15,000.

Current Law vs What Could Change

Under current law, your cost basis steps up or steps down when you die. What Mr. Biden wants to do is eliminate the step-up in basis. Consider this. You paid $10,000 for your stock. It’s worth $50,000 at your death. Under current law, your heirs have a cost basis of $50,000.

Likewise, let’s say your parents bought a house several years ago for $50,000. When they die, the house is worth $200,000. Under current law, the basis increases to $200,000.

Under Mr. Biden’s proposal, there would be no step-up in basis.  This means you would have a capital gain of $150,000 when you sold your parents house.

The other disturbing thing about Mr. Biden’s tax plan is the deemed sale at death. This means the tax code would treat a person’s assets as being sold at the date of death (rather than sold when the heirs want to sell them). It would make that capital gains tax due immediately.

Right now, most of those assets pass to others with little to no tax bill. Eliminating the step-up in basis will hit the wallets of many Americans.

Don't Worry Yet

None of this has happened yet. We still do not know who the President-elect is, and we do not know who is going to control the Senate or the House. But this is something to monitor. If you have a question about how any of this could impact you, talk to a financial advisor or a tax professional.
insert here

About the Author

Neal Watson is a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional and a Financial Advisor with Fleming Watson Financial Advisors.    He specializes in helping hard working, middle class families plan for retirement.

Our Most Recent Videos And Posts

Is Gold a Better Investment than Stocks?

Is Gold A Better Investment Than Stocks?

Is gold a better investment than stocks?  Wendy asks, “I keep hearing ads advising us to sell our stocks and buy gold or silver. For an older investor, is this a valid point?” 

Watch Now: Is Gold A Better Investment Than Stocks?

Gold Better Investment Than Stocks

Listen Now:
Is Gold a Better Investment Than Stocks?

Subscribe Where You Find Your Podcasts

Gold Better iNvestment than stocks

Is gold a better investment than stocks?  

Gold is one of the ultimate fear assets. When things go haywire in the markets, people tend to turn to gold because it’s a tangible asset, and it has value everywhere.

We’re dealing with the possibility of hyperinflation. If that happens, gold could do very well. Another shutdown could increase the fear level of investors. Gold could also do well in that case. There are periods of time, like early 2020, where gold really shined.

Fact or Myth? Gold is safer than stocks

You have a gold bar locked in the safe. You paid $1,500 dollars for it. Unless you pay attention to gold prices, you know you have a gold bar and it has value. You may not know how much it’s worth, but it’s going to be worth something to somebody.

If you pulled it out earlier this year and thought to yourself, “I wonder how much this is worth?”, you discovered it was worth $2,000. Then, you put it back in the safe until next year. The next time you think about the bar, it could be worth $1,500. It could be worth $1,200.

Gold has extreme fluctuations in value, just like stocks. Let’s look at the last 13 years.

  • 2013 -28%
  • 2014 -2%
  • 2015 -10%
  • 2018 -2%.

Over the same timeframe, stocks were down

  • 2008 -37%
  • 2018 -4%.

Over 13 years, gold lost money four times, and stocks were down twice.

If you look at the last 48 calendar years, gold experienced declines 18 times. Stocks fell 11 times.

Gold is not a “safer asset” than stocks.

Is gold better than stocks?

Here is a link to a good article called, Gold’s Romantic Delusion. There’s a graph in that article which shows $10,000 invested in gold in 1980 versus $10,000 invested in stocks. On July 31 2020, the gold would have been worth about $36,000. Stocks would have been worth $761,000.

Is Gold Better Than Stocks

Source: Gold’s Romantic Delusion by Andrew Hallam.  Click here for the full article

Is it a better asset than stocks for older clients, or any client for that matter? In our opinion, no. The numbers say the opposite. Gold isn’t a bad investment, but I wouldn’t own gold instead of stocks.

Click here to subscribe
Click here to subscribe
insert here

About the Author

Neal Watson is a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional and a Financial Advisor with Fleming Watson Financial Advisors.    He specializes in helping hard working, middle class families plan for retirement.

Our Most Recent Videos And Posts

Should I Use My Savings To Pay Off my Mortgage?

Should I Use My Savings To Pay Off My Mortgage?

This question is from Karen. She asks, “With interest rates so low, we aren’t earning anything on our savings. I’m also worried about another significant drop in the stock market. Should I take money from my savings to pay off my mortgage?”

Watch Now: Should I Use My Savings To Pay Off My Mortgage?

pay off mortgage

Listen Now:
Should I Use My Savings To Pay Off My Mortgage?

Subscribe Where You Find Your Podcasts

use savings

There are two parts to this. One is eliminating debt. The other is what is the better use of your money?

Paying off debt is never a bad thing, especially as you get closer to retirement. According to the Employee Benefits Research Institute, the largest annual expenditure for people 50 and older is housing. If you can pay off your mortgage before you retire, it can help you have a more successful retirement.

There is also a huge psychological boost to being debt-free. What happens if the economy shuts down again and you get laid off? Not having a mortgage payment can reduce your stress. It’s less stressful knowing you don’t have to come up with $1,000 each month when you’re not working. We cannot underestimate the value of being debt-free.

What is the best way to do this? Here are some factors to consider. These apply whether you’re using a lump sum or paying extra on your principal. 

Compare interest rates

The first thing is to compare your current interest rate to what you earn on your savings and investments. If your mortgage interest rate is high, 4% or more, and you’re earning 0.75% (or less) on your savings, this decision is easy. The difference in the cost of your money compared to what you’re earning is significant. Using your savings to pay down or pay off your mortgage makes a lot of sense. If your interest rate is closer to 3%, and you’re invested in something that has a potential to earn 8%, the math changes.

Your age

The second factor is your age. For someone under 40, the value of compounded returns from investing can be better for your future. If you are closer to retirement, the benefit to paying off that mortgage is more valuable.

use savings pay off mortgage
use savings pay off mortgage

How long will you live there?

Are you planning to stay in your house for a long period of time? If you’re planning to remain there for several years, paying off the mortgage makes more sense. If you’re planning to sell your home in the next 36 months, I’m not sure the answer is as clear. You may not want to pay off your mortgage if you plan to sell it in the very near future.

Tax costs

What are the potential tax costs to raise the funds to pay off your mortgage? Does that come from an IRA or a 401k? If it does, then the entire distribution can be taxable.

Here is an example. If you need $100,000 to pay off your mortgage, you may need to withdraw $133,000 from an IRA. The extra amount will cover the taxes. That is a very expensive way to pay off your mortgage.

Selling stock to pay off your mortgage can also result in a significant tax cost. Your sales proceeds are $100,000. You paid $50,000 for those shares. You will incur $7,500 in capital gains taxes and some additional state income tax. That is also an expensive way to pay off your mortgage.

If the money is in a savings account, there is no tax cost to use it for your mortgage.

Paying off debt is rarely a bad choice, but you need to look at it from all angles and make an intelligent choice.

use savings pay off mortgage

About the Author

Neal Watson is a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional and a Financial Advisor with Fleming Watson Financial Advisors.    He specializes in helping hard working, middle class families plan for retirement.

Our Most Recent Videos And Posts

Is Doing Nothing The Right Thing To Do?

Is Doing Nothing the Right Thing to Do?

During a Bear Market, many investors are tempted to sell their stocks and move to cash.  Many financial advisors will tell them to sit tight, and ride out the storm.  Is “doing nothing” the right thing to do?  Today we’ll share some interesting data that shows that in the last market, doing nothing was better than panicking.

Watch Now: Is Doing Nothing the Right Thing to Do?

Is doing nothing the right thing

Listen Now:
Is Doing Nothing The Right Thing To Do?

Subscribe Where You Find Your Podcasts

is doing nothing the right thing

We’ve already been through a lot this year. And we’re still dealing with a lot. We have an election coming up in a few weeks. The Coronavirus is still part of our lives. There are questions about another major shutdown. And there are some concerns with all the government help that there is going to be hyperinflation. There are a lot of things that could cause another bear market.

Doing nothing

When we have major turmoil, people want to do something to protect their nest egg. In every bear market, we’ve had people call and ask if they should go to cash. Our answer has always been no. Sit tight right through any storm we encounter.

We believe you will be better off if you don’t make an emotional decision. Doing nothing is hard to do. In fact, it’s the second hardest thing to do as an investor.

Inevitably, we will have someone who can’t take it anymore and bail out. During the “dot com” bust and the Great Recession, we had clients who sold their stocks within a week of the market bottom after the damage was done.

Cash panickers

Is doing nothing the right choice? Recently, Vanguard did a study during the bear market this spring. They looked at over 31,700 accounts, both retirement plans, like 401(k)’s, and retail accounts. They found that 0.5% of those accounts panicked and moved to cash between the market high on February 19 and the end of May.

They looked at two things. They looked at the actual returns of those clients at three different points: March 31, April 30th, and May 31. And they compared those to the returns those clients would have realized if they had done nothing. Here’s what they found.

By the end of March, 56% of those clients who went to cash were in a better place than if they had done nothing. This means they had a higher balance than if they stayed invested.

The stock market rebounded very quickly. By the end of April, only one third of those clients were in a better place.

By the end of May, only 15% of those clients had a higher balance by going to cash. 85% of those clients who panicked would have had better results if they did nothing.

85% of those clients who panicked would have had better results if they did nothing.

Selling low...

Why is that? Most of them didn’t guess the correct time to move to cash. You have to make that decision very early in the process, so you don’t take part in the downturn. A good number of them went to cash after a significant amount of the damage was done.

When the market turned around and moved higher, they missed a great buying opportunity. They didn’t participate in the rebound. Essentially what they did was sell low and bought at higher prices. This is the exact opposite of what you’re supposed to do.

Is doing nothing the right thing
is doing nothing the right thing
is doing nothing the right thing

The cost of being wrong

If you sell now thinking things are going to get bad, you have to be aware that they may not get as bad as you think. For example, let’s take the 2016 election. I woke up that morning and saw that Donald Trump won the election and immediately turned to CNBC. The futures that morning showed that the Dow Jones Industrial Average was in for a rough day. When I got to work I had two calls before the market opened. These clients were extremely concerned about what was going to happen in the stock market. They thought it was going to be ugly.

By the time the market opened, futures were positive. Over the next several months, we saw the stock market race higher. Had those clients gone to cash, they would have missed that rally.

If things do get as bad as you believe, you might be right for a while— just like the folks in the Vanguard study. But will you have the confidence to buy at lower prices?

Most people think things are going to get worse before they get better. Stocks are forward looking. The stock market will turn around long before the economy turns around. Stocks will begin to increase long before people believe things will get better. If doing nothing is the second hardest thing to do, then buying stocks in the middle of a bear market is the hardest.

Vanguard found only 9% of those 31,000 accounts bought more stocks during the bear market.

If you have to...

If you’re convinced you need to go to cash, do it early. Do it before things get worse. We’ve already seen a minor pullback. Don’t wait until things are down 20% or more to sell. And you need to have a plan to buy at lower prices. You must have courage to buy when things look like they’re going to get much worse.

If you can’t make the decision to do both of those things, then do nothing. Sit tight and ride out the storm.

is doing nothing the right thing
Financial Planning

About the Author

Neal Watson is a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional and a Financial Advisor with Fleming Watson Financial Advisors.    He specializes in helping hard working, middle class families plan for retirement.

Our Most Recent Videos And Posts

Do You Need $8 Million to Retire?

Do You Need $8 Million To Retire?

Do you really need $8 million to retire? This is one of those articles that makes you scratch your head and say, “Where is this coming from?”

Watch Now: Do You Need $8 Million to Retire?

Do You Need $8 Million to Retire

Listen Now:
Do You Need $8 Million to Retire?

Subscribe Where You Find Your Podcasts

Do You Need $8 Million to Retire?

Transcript: Do You Need $8 Million to Retire?

The article appeared last week on marketwatch.com. It was titled,  The New Savings Target for a Modest Retirement: $8 million? The article is based on a blog post written by someone who calls himself the Financial Samurai. The Samurai believes that the 4% Rule is dead. The actual safe withdrawal rate is 0.5%. Let’s dig into this.

Using the 4% Rule

The 4% Rule is something that a lot of financial advisors use. It starts the conversation about how much income you can generate from your retirement savings. You can use the rule to set a savings goal, or you can use it to determine how much income your savings will provide.

If you’re trying to set a savings goal, determine how much income you’ll need from your savings. If you need $40,000 from your nest egg, multiply $40,000 by 25. Your target is $1,000,000. (4% of $1,000,000 is $40,000 a year.)

Do You Need $8 Million to Retire?

Perhaps you’re getting close to retirement. You’re wondering how much income you can expect to get from your 401k. You’ve saved $500,000 in your 401k. Multiply that by 4% and you get $20,000 for the first year.

$8 million to retire

If you use 0.5% to compute your savings goal, it changes the math significantly. Instead of needing a million dollars to create $40,000 of income, you’ll need $8,000,000!

More on the 4% Rule

This video and blog post goes into greater detail about the 4% rule. 

Is This Realistic?

blank

Your $500,000 401k with a 0.5% withdrawal rate creates $2,500 of annual income. That’s a little over $200 per month.

Do You Need $8 Million to retire?

Is This Realistic?

Is this half percent safe withdrawal rate, the “new normal”? We disagree. We believe the 4% Rule is a valid tool to use to start the income conversation.

Academic minds developed the 4% Rule by studying past return data for stocks and bonds. The researchers were looking for a withdrawal rate with a very high level of success. We define success as not running out of money during your lifetime.

They tested it through all types of extreme market events. This includes bear markets like the “dot com” bust, the Great Recession, and the early 1970s. The 4% Rule held up in all those circumstances. It doesn’t mean it will hold up going forward. It’s not guaranteed.

Higher Withdrawal Rates Increase Risk

We know this. As you increase your withdrawal rate, you increase the chances of running out of money. You increase the odds of significant spending cuts because of adverse market conditions. The 4% Rule is not a silver bullet. We don’t know what future returns will be. But the 4% Rule remains a good starting point. The pandemic, an over-valued stock market, or low bond yields don’t change our opinion.

You don’t need $8 million to enjoy a modest retirement. People can retire and live a happy life on far less. They figure out ways to make it work.

The 4% Rule is a baseline. We work from there based on each individual’s circumstances to create a plan.

Do You Need $8 Million To Retire?
Do you Need $8 Million to Retire
Click here to subscribe

 

Don’t Miss An Episode

Get every episode of Monday Morning Money in your inbox.  Join our mailing list.

Subscribe Where You Find Your Podcasts

Financial Planning

About the Author

Neal Watson is a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional and a Financial Advisor with Fleming Watson Financial Advisors.    He specializes in helping hard working, middle class families plan for retirement.

Our Most Recent Videos And Posts