Category: Lifestyle

Effective Retirement Plans Do Not End at Retirement

There are those fortunate individuals who, because of wise planning, are able to retire without having to worry about how much money they can spend after their paychecks stop.  These people can afford their needs and wants from sources like pensions and social security that adjust for inflation.  They have probably been saving all of their lives and have always lived below their means.  Others are not so fortunate.

Most middle class retirees fund their retirement spending from Social Security, a pension (perhaps), and income from investments.  Because people often live several decades after retirement, it’s vitally important to make estimates and projections about the future.

Here are just a few of the things that factor into how much it will cost to live once you retire:

  • Your basic living expenses; your “needs.”
  • The cost of your “wants” and “wishes” above your basic expenses
  • The age at which you want to retire.
  • The number of years in retirement.
  • Spousal income and, in two income families, the age at which each spouse retires.
  • Your pension benefits.
  • Life, disability and long-term-care needs.
  • The age at which you apply for Social Security.
  • The value of your investment assets at retirement.
  • The estimated return on your investment assets.
  • Your risk tolerance.
  • The rate of inflation during retirement.

Putting all these factors together is a complicated process that’s beyond the capability of most individuals who don’t work in finance.  Complex planning programs have been developed that can provide answers.  These answers typically provide a probability of success or failure via a procedure called “Monte Carlo” analysis.

We have found that people who begin planning early can make appropriate mid-course corrections while they still have time.  It also provides them with the peace of mind.  Having a well-thought-out plan for the future removes a great deal of worry an uncertainly.

If you are approaching retirement without a plan, give us a call for more information.  We would be happy to meet with you to discuss your needs.

Even the “rich” can’t afford retirement.

Investment Approach

Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) deal with people at all wealth levels but most are upper income even if they are not billionaires.  There is a retirement crisis and it’s not just hitting the working class.

The typical median wage earner making $50,000 a year and retiring at 67 can expect Social Security to pay him and his wife about $2400 per month.  To maintain their previous spending levels this leaves a gap of about $1000 a month that has to be made up from savings. But many of these middle income people have not saved for their retirement.  Which means working longer or reducing their lifestyle.

This problem is also hitting the higher income people.  How well is the person earning over $200,000 a year going to do in retirement?  The issues that even these so-called “rich” face are the same:  increased longevity, medical care, debts and an expensive lifestyle are all issues that have to be considered.

“The $200,000+ executive expects a fine house, two cars, two holidays a year, private schools, to pay for his kid’s university tuition, and so it goes on. And this is not to mention the tax bill he’s paying on his earned income. A bunch of all this was really debt-funded, so effectively the executive spent chunks of his retirement money during his working days.”

When high income people are working, they usually don’t watch their pennies or budget.  But once retired, that salary stops.  That’s when savings are required to bridge the gap between their lifestyle and income from Social Security and (if they’re lucky) pension payments.  At that point the need for advance planning becomes important.

Before the retirement date is set, the affluent need to create a retirement plan.  He or she needs to know what their basic income needs are; the cost of utilities, food, clothing, insurance, transportation and other basic needs.  Once the basics are determined, they can plan for their “wants.”  This includes things such as replacing cars, the cost of vacation travel, charitable gifts, club dues, and all the other expenses that are lifestyle issues.  Finally, there are “wishes” which may include a vacation home, a boat, a wedding, a legacy.  The list can be a long one but it should be part of a financial plan.

If the plan tells us that the chances of success are low, we can move out our retirement date, increase our savings rate or reduce our retirement spending plans.

This kind of planning will reduce the anxiety that is typically associated with the retirement decision making.

Why Your Home is a Poor Investment

Image result for homes

A couple we know moved to a new house recently.  They sold their old for a little more than twice the price they originally paid.  Doubling your money sounds like a great deal, right?

Not so fast.

To determine if the house was a good investment we need to make some calculations.  They originally bought their old home about 33 years ago.  That means that the return on their investment was just 2.4% per year.  To put it in perspective, 33 years ago CD rates were around 10%.  Viewed strictly from an investment perspective, they could have made a better return on their money if they had bought a CD.  And that’s to say nothing of maintenance and upkeep, costs not associated with CDs.

On the other hand, you can’t live in a CD.

How about investing that money in the stock market?  Over that same period the S&P 500 grew 8.5% annually.  That means that every $100 invested in the market 33 years ago would have grown to $1476!

The reason that so many people think that their home is their best investment is that they don’t sell their home very often.  As a result, they look at what they paid and what they sold it for.  If they held it for many years, it usually looks like a big number, and it is. But when viewed strictly as an investment, the annual growth rate is small compared to the alternatives.

As we alluded to earlier, home ownership also involves many other expenses.  There are property taxes and insurance.  Homeowners know that repairs and maintenance are expensive and never ending.  After all of the expenses are taken into account, the real return on home ownership may be even less that our earlier calculation.

But a home is much more than an investment.  It’s a place to live, a place to raise a family, a place to call your own.  A home is a refuge from the rest of the world.  The alternative is renting, wherein you often have more flexibility and are not on the hook for all of the repairs and maintenance.  But it also means that your monthly payment to your landlord is not going into equity that home ownership provides.

We are homeowners and advocates of home ownership.  The point of evaluating the true value of the home as an investment is to bring reality to the financial aspects of home ownership. It’s also a warning against investing too much of our resources in the family home, making many people “home poor.”

Making Smart Decisions About Social Security

Social Security CardDeciding when to start collecting your Social Security retirement benefits is an important choice that will impact the income you receive for the rest of your life.  The decision can also affect the income and lifestyle of a surviving spouse.
When it comes to Social Security, you may be wondering whether you should: 

              • Start collecting before Full Retirement Age but receive a reduced benefit?
              • Wait until Full Retirement Age to start collecting your full benefit?
              • Delay past Full Retirement Age to maximize your benefit?

To help make an informed decision, you’ll want to consider a number of key factors, including your marital status, your health, your plans for retirement and your retirement income sources, just to name few.

Your Full Retirement Age (FRA) is the age at which you qualify for 100% of your Social Security benefits (known as your Primary Insurance Amount).  Your FRA is based on your year of birth.  See this chart from the Social Security website to find yours:


When you’re ready to start collecting benefits
, you should apply for Social Security no more than four months before the date you want your benefits to start.

If you start collecting Social Security benefits and then change your mind about your choice of start date, you may be able to withdraw your claim and re-apply at a future date, provided you do so within 12 months of your original application for benefits.  All benefits (including spousal and dependent benefits) must be repaid. You may only withdraw your application for benefits once in your lifetime.

You generally have three main options when it comes to choosing when to start collecting your benefits – a process often referred to as your Social Security “filing strategy.”

  • Start collecting early (before Full Retirement Age)
  • Start collecting at Full Retirement Age
  • Start collecting after Full Retirement Age

Each filing strategy has advantages and disadvantages.

Order our white paper on Social Security claiming strategies by calling our office (757-638-5490) or emailing us at info@korvingco.com.

Will Retiring Force Cutbacks in Your Lifestyle?

For most people, retiring means the end of a paycheck.  When you retire, how will your lifestyle be affected?  If you don’t know the answer to that, don’t you want to find out before it’s too late?  There are so many things to take into consideration, including:

Retirement age – Modern retirees face lots of choices that their parents did not have.  There is no longer a mandatory retirement age, so the question of “when should I retire?” gets more complicated.

Social Security – The age at which you apply for Social Security benefits has a big effect on your retirement income.  Apply early and you reduce your monthly benefits by 25% – 30% depending on your age.  Wait until you’re 70 and you increase your monthly benefit by up to 32% (8% per year) depending on your age.  If you are married the decisions get even more complicated.

Pension – If you are entitled to a pension, the amount you receive usually depends on your length of service.  The formula used to calculate pension benefits can get quite complicated.  Those who work for employers with questionable or shaky financials may want to consider whether they will get the benefits they are promised.  If you are married, you will need to decide how much of your pension will go to your spouse if you die first.

Second career – An increasing number of people are going back to work after initially retiring.  Quite a few people don’t really want to stop working, but instead want to do something different or less stressful in their retirement.  Others use their skills to become consultants, or turn a hobby into a business.  A “second career” makes a big difference in your retirement lifestyle and how much income you will have in retirement.

Investment accounts – These are the funds you have saved for retirement in: IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 457s, and individual accounts.  These funds are under your control.  Most retirees use them to supplement their Social Security and pension income.  They play a very large role in determining how well people live in retirement.

To find out whether you will be forced to cut back after you retire, you need a plan that allows you to take all these factors into consideration.  A plan allows you to gauge your progress and make corrections before it’s too late.

If you have questions, or if you would like to create a retirement plan, contact us.

What Are Your retirement Goals?

A recent issue of Financial Advisor magazine reports that “millennials” (people between age 18 and 34) view retirement goals differently from their parents.

Instead of viewing retirement starting at a certain age, like 65, millennials expect to retire when they reach a certain financial goal.

Fifty-three percent of millennials view retirement as the start of something exciting. In comparison to their elders, 21 percent of millennials are more likely to make pursuing a passion, furthering their education or starting or growing their own business their priorities in retirement.

We at Korving & Company are in the business of helping people achieve their financial goals. How do you view your financial goal? Please use the response button below to let us know.

The Ten Best States for Retirement

From Wealth Management:

  1. Wyoming – It has among the lowest tax burdens in the country; well below the national average for crime rates.  Good weather; cool climate, summer nights are mild, few cold waves during the winter, humidity is also super low, making it the perfect place for retirees who don’t like stuffy summers.
  2. South Dakota – It has one of the lowest tax burdens in the country tying with Wyoming.  It also scored well for overall happiness, particularly when it comes to social well-being.
  3. Colorado – It has great weather, ample sunshine and little humidity.  It scores high for well-being in the Gallup-Healthways index and has a relatively low tax burden.
  4. Utah – It ranks sixth best in the nation for weather, lots of sunshine and low humidity.  The cost of living is below the national average.
  5. Virginia – It has a low cost of living, and a low crime rate. The state also received above-average marks for health care quality and weather.
  6. Montana – The weather ranks above the national average.  Montana ranks high for well-being; residents fell good about their community.  Cost of living and taxes are below the national average.
  7. Idaho – It’s a safe place for retirees to settle down; cost of living and crime rate both ranked among the lowest on the list.  Housing in Idaho is extremely affordable.  Weather and recreational resources add to its appeal.
  8. Iowa – Quality health care is a big feature here along with a low crime rate and an affordable cost of living.
  9. Arizona – It’s warm with great weather; rarely a a cloud in the sky.  It ranked in the top 10 in the Gallup-Healthways Index for overall wellness combined with a fairly low tax burden on its residents.
  10. Nebraska – It has a relatively low cost of living and a low crime rates. Residents here report being slightly happier than people in other states, based on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

We’re fans of Virginia, our home state, but the others also sound interesting.

The Advantages of Waiting to Retire at 70

There are a number of reasons why people should think about delaying retirement past the traditional age of 65. The retirement age of 65 was set in 1935 when Congress enacted Social Security and lifespans were much shorter.

Several things have happened in the decades following 1935 that now makes it reasonable for people to delay retiring until age 70. First, the structure of work has changed. Instead of working on a farm or doing heavy lifting in factories, the typical American worker is physically capable of working longer than 65. For the vast majority of workers, there’s more sitting or standing than manual labor. The second factor is the longer lives that U.S. citizens now enjoy. While not universally true, many people do enjoy their jobs do and prefer to go to work instead of sitting around the house or playing endless rounds of golf.

From the financial perspective, it makes even more sense to work past age 65. Monthly Social Security checks increase by 76% just by waiting until age 70 to retire instead of collecting at age 62 (the first year of eligibility) –76%!

As people get older and advance in their careers, their salary often increases with their tenure, meaning that if they leave at age 65, they could be leaving during their peak earning years. By continuing to work they can continue to add to their retirement savings. This is important for people with pensions whose retirement benefits continue to grow the longer they work. And it becomes even more important for people whose retirement is self-funded by their 401(k) plan, IRA or other investment portfolios.

Finally, from a purely actuarial perspective, the longer we work and bring in income, the less time we will spend fully retired and withdrawing from our retirement savings. The greatest fear that people have is running out of money during retirement. Delaying retirement until age 70 or beyond reduces that possibility.

Rent or Buy?

Should you rent or buy a house?  That’s a question often asked by young couples, those in the military, and people who are undergoing life changes.  The main reason that people want to buy rather than rent is because they view renting as throwing money away and not building equity.  Additionally, buying a home provides a feeling of stability.

However, there are downsides to buying.  Buying a house locks you into a situation.  If your life changes, you lose your job, or wish to move, selling a home can be difficult and expensive.  Owning a home means that you have upkeep and maintenance costs.  If you rent those costs are borne by the landlord.  The cost of rent is often less than the costs associated with home ownership; mortgage payments, real estate taxes, insurance, maintenance and all the other costs that a home owner faces.

Over the long term, owning a home has been a good investment for many families.  But more recent history has clearly shown that the assumption that a home will always go up in value is not true.  Just ask the people whose homes went on the market as “short sales.”

If you are an individual who is contemplating whether to rent or buy, keep these issues in mind.  If you’re not sure, get the advice of a financial planner who can run the numbers for you and help you make the right decision.

Lifestyle and Financial Success – Some Examples

I read an article recently about a woman with a PhD from Harvard, held a high government position in the Treasury Department and worked at the Federal Reserve. You would think that this person would be smart about finances and investments.

You would be wrong. She messed up, but was able to recover.

Academic skills and executive level jobs – in or out of government – don’t automatically translate into wise lifestyle decisions and certainly not wise investment decisions. Having a high paying job provides you with the opportunity to save for retirement. But for too many people it provides for an extravagant lifestyle.

You may never have heard of Curtis James Jackson III, but if you are familiar with the current music scene you may have heard of “50 Cent.” He is reputed to have earned about $30 million a year but he just filed for bankruptcy claiming he owes between $10 and $50 million to his creditors.

How does this sort of thing happen? Some of it could be the result of poor investment decisions. But lifestyle is the primary reason that highly paid entertainment figures, athletes and the like go broke. They spend money on expensive things – homes, cars, planes – entertainment, and on “posses” (friends and hangers-on) who they support not realizing that their money is not literally endless.

Of course “50 Cent” is not typical, but the woman who we discussed at the beginning of this essay had the same problem,  on a smaller scale. She and her husband had a huge home that absorbed a lot of their income. There was a big mismatch between their current lifestyle and the savings that were supposed to support them in retirement. In addition, they kept too much of their savings in cash or cash-equivalents because, while they were educated, they were not investment experts.

We have met too many couples who are in their 50s, are earning $150,000 to $350,000 a year, and want to retire in about a decade. But they have not really focused enough on asset gathering. Their lifestyle absorbs most of their income and their investment decisions have lacked a plan.

Does this mean that retirement for them is bleak? No. But it requires facing some facts about lifestyle, savings and investing that will require some smart decisions. This is the point at which a good financial planner and advisor can help people get their financial life in order, before it’s too late.

If this sounds like someone you know, give us a call. We may be able to help.

How Well Do Couples Communicate About Money?

A recent research report by Fidelity Investments studied how well couples communicated. The majority said they communicated very well. However, the study found that couples don’t communicate very well at all on finances, and many disagree on investing. The study included a wide range of ages. The couples were either married or in committed relationships. They ranged in age from 25 to retired.

Here is what the study showed:

  • 43 didn’t know how much their partner earns.
  • 10 were off by over $25,000.
  • 36 don’t know how much they had in investable assets.
  • Nearly half had no idea how much they should to save for retirement.
  • 60 didn’t have any idea how much Social Security would provide for their retirement.

This proves to us that financial planning is very important; especially for achieving peace of mind and helping couples get on the same page about their finances.  If you have any questions about creating a financial plan or saving for retirement, contact us today!

Income vs Spending in Married Couples

Most couples think they communicate well, but research indicates otherwise when it comes to finances. Of course, talking about finances can be a minefield. If one partner is frugal and the other spends freely, tensions can be high. Disagreements about money are one of the leading causes of divorce.

More than four out of ten couples did not know how much their partner makes. Many were off by over $25,000! This can have serious effects. If you don’t know how much income you make as a couple, how do you know how much you can reasonably spend?

Unless couples lead totally separate financial lives, not knowing how much they are earning together can lead to a lack of savings or even debt. This issue could be behind the alarmingly high amount of debt that people carry, often at exorbitant rates.

More than one-third of couples disagree on the amount of investable money they have. This usually happens when there is a division of labor between couples, where one partner is in charge of the investments.

However, our experience indicates that couples also disagree on the kinds of investments that are appropriate. In general, men tend to prefer riskier investments that women. This can lead to a good deal of stress and disagreement.

How Much Will You Need?

Most couples think they communicate well, but when it comes to their finances research indicates otherwise. Our previous essays on the subject have shown just how poor it typically is.

On the issue of retirement, nearly half of the couples surveyed had no idea how much they needed to save in order to maintain their current lifestyle once they retire.

Nearly half disagreed on the amount they need. Even more startling, those who were nearest to retirement – when changing course is the most difficult – disagreed the most!

Over half of the respondents had “no idea” what they would receive in monthly retirement income. Asked about Social Security, 60 percent either did not know or were not sure, what they would receive. That includes the about-to-retire Baby Boomers.

Roughly one-third of couples disagreed on their retirement lifestyle. Half could not even agree on when they would retire.

Our next section on this series will have a look at what financial issues couples worry about financially.

Financial Worries Couples May Have

Most couples think they communicate well, but research indicates that communication about finances is often not good. In our previous essays we have discussed common financial disagreements.

In this essay we will discuss some of the financial worries couples have.

Nearly three-quarters of couples worry about unexpected health care costs. For more than half, it’s their top concern. With people living longer than ever before, advances in medical technology and the skyrocketing cost of health care, this concern comes as not real surprise.

After health care, the next biggest concern for couples was outliving their retirement savings.

The negative effects of inflation and concerns that Social Security may run out were the next biggest concerns.

Despite these worries, only 20 percent of couples actually have a plan in place to address these issues! And over one-third haven’t even thought about planning!

Our next essay will take a look at those couples who have taken the time to create a financial plan.

Why You Should Have a Financial Plan

Most couples think they communicate well, but research indicates otherwise when it comes to finances. Communication on financial issues between couples is especially poor, as we have discovered. Despite concerns about medical costs, running out of money, inflation and Social Security, most couples have not created a plan to deal with these worries.

The 20 percent of couples who have created a plan get the benefit of peace of mind, less stress, and a more cohesive relationship. Uncertainty and doubt around important financial issues creates stress within relationships.
Couples who have a retirement plan in place:

  • Are twice as likely to live a very comfortable retirement.
  • Are 50 more likely to be “completely confident” in assuming responsibility for retirement.
  • Are much more confident that their partner will be OK in retirement.
  • Are twice as likely to know how much they will need in retirement.
  • Are less concerned about unexpected health care costs.
  • Are much less likely to be concerned about outliving their savings.

Having a plan to reach your goals is much like going to the grocery store with a shopping list. You know what you need and are less likely to forget important items, nor are you as likely to buy things you don’t need.

Creating a plan forces couples to be open with each other about their goals, their finances, and the issues that may keep them from achieving those goals. Working with a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP) to create a plan also brings an important measure of reality to the process. Professional guidance creates realistic assumptions about how much should be saved and the rate at which it should grow. A CFP can also help mediate differences between couples when issues arise.

Newly Wed Financial Mistakes

Most couples think they communicate well, but research indicates otherwise when it comes to finances. Communication on financial issues between couples is especially poor, as we have discovered in previous essays.

Couples were asked what advice they would give to newlyweds and young couples about finances. Newlyweds usually do not put frank talk about finances at the top of their “to-do” list. That may be a big mistake.

The most common suggestions for young couples starting out in life together were:

  • Save as early as possible for retirement.
  • Make all financial decisions together.
  • Make a budget and stick to it.
  • Make sure you have an emergency fund.
  • Don’t hide expenditures.
  • Disclose income, debts and assets early.

One of the easiest ways of accomplishing all of these objectives is for young couples to consult a financial advisor as soon as possible. By doing so they will reveal their finances to each other, develop a budget that matches their income, agree on an investment strategy, and be given a roadmap to long-term financial peace.

Our final essay on this subject will summarize what we have learned.

Creating a Retirement Plan

Most happy couples think they communicate well. However, on the subject of finances, studies and experience has shown that they don’t communicate nearly as well as they think.

Many couples don’t know what their partner earns, how much they have invested, what it takes to retire and where their retirement income will come from.

Couples often disagree on the way their money should be invested and in too many cases one partner is in charge of investing and the other is kept in the dark.

Retirement is another issue in which there is a great deal of confusion. Many do not know what it takes to retire, have nebulous goals about retirement and even disagree about when to retire.

The lack of good communication leads to worries about financial disasters. Issues include health care costs, the effect of inflation on buying power, outliving their savings and the possibility that Social Security may not be there for them prey on their minds.

In the face of so much uncertainty, only one-in-five couples have a plan. One of the benefits of having a plan is that it makes it much more certain that they will achieve their goals. And that bring peace of mind.

Of course the earlier that people start to plan, the higher the probability that they will achieve their goals and have a healthy and frank discussion about financial issues. The best time to start is when you are young and it’s an excellent way for newlyweds to begin life together.

Thanks for your interest and we hope you will share this with your friends.

Korving & Company, the 2015 Suffolk Small Business of the Year is a family owned investment management and financial planning firm. We deliver a very personal level of service to guide, empower and assure our clients that their money is carefully managed to meet their long-term life goals.

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