May 8, 2023 Weekly Update

We do love it when someone refers a family member or friend to us.  Sometimes the question is, “How can we introduce them to you?”   Well, there are multiple ways but a very easy way is to simply forward them a link to this webpage.

Here are this week’s items:

Portfolio Update:  Murs and I have recorded our portfolio update for May 8, 2023

This Week’s Podcast -What Issues Should You Consider Before You Retire?

Listen in to learn the importance of understanding your cash flow needs and budget and building some type of plan for your retirement. You will also learn the importance of budgeting for health insurance if you retire earlier than age 65 and the options to consider for long-term care planning.


This Week’s Blog – What Issues Should You Consider Before You Retire?

Are you considering retiring? After working your entire life, you’ve come to this beautiful ending where you’ve hit all your milestones to secure your retirement and can pursue the things that you truly love to do. Many companies offer early retirement options to their employees, it’s an important time to consider a few things before retirement.

What Issues Should You Consider Before You Retire?

Are you considering retiring? After working your entire life, you’ve come to this beautiful ending where you’ve hit all your milestones to secure your retirement and can pursue the things that you truly love to do.

Many companies offer early retirement options to their employees, it’s an important time to consider a few things before retirement.

In our most recent podcast, we go through all the things we think you should consider before retirement. Even if you’ve spent decades on retirement planning, these are things that you need to sit down and think about before transitioning into retirement.

Want a sneak peek at what we’ll be talking about?

  • Cash flow
  • Healthcare
  • Assets and debts
  • Tax planning issues
  • Long-term care

If you’re not considering all these points already, you need to go through them for yourself to better understand each one.

5 Issues to Consider Before Retirement

1. Cash Flow

Cash flow from your own financial perspective will change a lot when you retire. You’ve spent a lifetime working, receiving a check, and enjoying steady cash flow as a result. When you close out your life chapter of working, your cash flow will change.

Instead of cash being given to you for the hours you put in every week, you’ll take money out of the retirement accounts you’ve built up.

You’ll need to consider:

  • Your cash flow needs.
  • Where will the money come from- Social Security, pensions (we’re seeing far fewer of these), retirement accounts, etc.

Often, many of our clients have income from their careers, but do not have a strict budget in place. You need to spend time learning what your true cash flow needs are every month so that you can determine whether retirement is even a possibility.

If you’re lucky enough to have a pension, be sure to know your options:

  • Single life is often the highest payout
  • Spouse benefits

Are you retiring early? Social Security defines retirement as around 67, but there are benefit implications to retiring “early”. If you retire before 59.5, you are penalized on your IRA withdrawals. There are a lot of things to work through to understand what retiring early truly means.

For example, if you retire early, there is an income limit for Social Security that you need to consider. The limit is $21,240 (currently). If you hit full retirement age, the income limit is bumped up to $56,520.

Keep in mind:

  • Retiring before 55 comes with an IRA penalty
  • Retiring at 55 with a 401(k) doesn’t have a penalty

If you’re married, you also need to consider what that means for you and your spouse. You want to consider that one spouse likely has a higher income than the other. If you have a higher Social Security amount, your spouse will get credit if you’re married for 10 years or longer. The spouse, if they never worked, can receive up to 50% of the Social Security benefits that you have. However, if the person did work and their own benefits were higher, then they will receive the benefits they earned.

We recently had a client who didn’t know this and was shocked when they found out that their spouse would also get benefits. Even if you are now divorced but had been married to your ex-spouse for at least 10 years, there may be some benefit there for you in Social Security.

Healthcare is the next big point to consider.

2. Healthcare 

At 65, you qualify automatically for Medicare. Retiring before this age means that you must put a lot of thought into your healthcare because healthcare is very expensive. Medicare will save you a ton of money, but you need to bridge the few years between retirement and Medicare.

We’re seeing costs from $1,000 to $1,500 for people at 62 or so to get private health coverage. That figure is for a single individual and not a couple.

Employers cover your healthcare while you’re working, but when you retire, you’ll need to consider:

  • Dental
  • Vision
  • Healthcare

If you are contributing to an HSA, you will want to think about using this account, too. At age 65, you still need to take IRMAA into account, which is a Medicare surcharge for someone making over a certain threshold. We have a whole episode on this very topic, which you can listen to here or read here

3. Asset and debts 

Many of our clients have the majority of their money in an IRA or 401(k). One of the first things we are asked is, “Should I pay off my house?” If you need to take the funds from a 401(k), the answer is likely going to be: no. You need to pay taxes on your 401(k) withdrawals, and paying off your home can have a significant impact on the money you’ve saved. Instead, small distributions to make an extra payment often work better.

Low mortgage rates, such as 2.8 percent, can often be left because you may make more money with the cash in a brokerage account.

Let’s say that you have $100,000 left on your mortgage and your principal and interest payment is $1,200. If you had this $100,000 in a savings account, it might only net you $600 a month. In this scenario, paying off the house is a wise choice.

Bump your mortgage balance to $300,000, and it may not be beneficial to pay off your mortgage.

Beyond mortgage, you also need to consider risk exposure.

Transitioning to retirement means that you need income for 30-something years from the asset accounts that you have. When you retire, you want to have as little risk exposure as you can with your assets because you don’t want to experience a situation like we did in 2020 when some indexes fell 20% – 30%.

Reevaluating your investments and how you’re invested in the market will help you to limit your risk exposure.

4. Tax planning issues 

If you retire prior to 72 or 73, tax planning can save you a lot of money. 

Imagine retiring at 62 and you have $1 million in assets in your IRA growing at a little over 7% per year. By the time you’re 72, you’ll have $2 million and need to take a required minimum distribution of $80,000 or so per year. If you have Social Security and a pension, these distributions can push you into a higher tax bracket.

We can take a strategic approach to retirement by looking at a Roth conversion. We had a client who retired, had cash in the bank and lived on these funds to allow for significant Roth conversions at a low tax bracket.

5. Long-term care

The least fun part of retirement planning is long-term care planning. You never want to think about yourself in a long-term care situation, but it’s a reality that all of us are at risk of being in at some point.

And long-term care is not cheap.

You need to have a scenario in place where you are prepared to pay for this care. We’re seeing a lot of people pay $8,000 a month for long-term care, with durations being 4 or 5 years. This form of care can cost you $400,000 to $500,000 in total.

Can you afford to take on this financial burden?

You can pay insurance premiums out of pocket, or you can go with an asset-based plan. We’re seeing premiums soaring 50% to 70%, causing many people to be unable to pay for their long-term care.

Instead, you can put $100,000 in a long-term care annuity that grows to $300,000 and can be used for your long-term care. You still have access to this money if you need it and can also name beneficiaries on the account. A beneficiary will receive the total of the account if you pass and never use it, or they may receive any unused funds in the account.

If you pay insurance premiums on long-term care insurance, you will not receive any of these funds back. An annuity can be a great option because if you don’t need to use the funds in the account, they aren’t just going to an insurance company.

We also recommend that you have a will in place or review your will and beneficiaries on all accounts before you retire. If you don’t have all of your estate planning documents in place, you are putting a major burden on your family. You want to go as far as confirming all your beneficiaries and loved ones know the types of documents you have and where these documents are just in case you are ever unable to show them.

P.S. We are working off our own internal checklist titled “2023: What issues should I consider before I retire?” Call the office or email us if you would like a copy of this checklist. We also have a checklist for anyone who is updating their estate plan so that you don’t miss any key points along the way.

Click here to schedule a 15-minute call with us to discuss the things to consider before retirement.

How to Protect Against Cyber Attacks

Cyber security is of the utmost importance. At our firm, we work diligently to protect against cyber-attacks and prevent our client’s data from being stolen in the process. We recently had the pleasure of speaking to a cyber security professional named Jamie Ramirez, who walked us through the steps of reducing the risk of threats.

While he works primarily with businesses, his points are helpful for everyday folks. After all, everyone is using the Internet more now than even three years ago.

If you’re in the midst of retirement planning and trying to secure your retirement, the last thing you want is for someone to hack into your financial accounts or steal your identity. Diligence is critical here, and we’re excited to bring this interview to you today.

Securing Transactions to Secure Your Retirement

Jamie, the owner of Preventor, is a cyber security professional who created the next generation in ID verification and financial crime risk management. Lending his expertise to us, he offers many recommendations throughout our talk.

A Rise in Individual Threats and Risks

The pandemic has led many people to work from home and do more online than in the past. For example, remote workers don’t have the same level of security as they did in the workplace, which employers have more control over.

Jamie states that the pandemic has accelerated threats and a major demand in AI and security services.

The Internet opens opportunities for identity theft and cybersecurity risks.

Cloud computing companies, such as Google Cloud and Azure, have high-end security measures that help protect businesses and their customers. So from an individual standpoint, if you use a service that runs on these platforms, you can have some level of confidence that your data will be secure.

However, when you use a no-name service or something similar, you just don’t know who is on the other end looking to steal your data. As an individual, it’s crucial to ask the service providers you use about their:

  • Security measures
  • Internal security protocols

For example, at our firm, we have a strict rule never to follow a client’s instructions that are sent over email because it’s just too easy to fake an email or gain access to an account and request money transfers.

We perform security and identity checks to ensure the client truly made the request before proceeding.

How to Protect Clients from a Business Standpoint

In our business, it’s possible to perform a phone call verification because we don’t handle thousands of client calls per day. But unfortunately, large companies that have thousands of transactions per day cannot call to verify every person’s identity.

Even when calling a person to verify their information and requests, there’s still a risk that it’s someone close to the person who can answer all of these questions.

Additional methods to authenticate a person’s identity include:

  • Face recognition
  • Voice recognition
  • Requesting specific documents
  • Etc.

From a business standpoint, it can be complex to automate these processes. Technology can only automate some of these steps to protect a business while reducing customer abandonment. Many customers don’t like to go through extra security measures, so it’s crucial to find effective solutions that don’t cause customers to leave your business.

How Consumers Can Protect Themselves 

Consumers must take it upon themselves to protect their identities and ensure that their information hasn’t been exposed. First and foremost, it’s essential to look through account statements and balances to ensure there are no unwanted charges.

Additionally, credit reports can help you find accounts in your name that you may not have opened.

Hackers have become very creative.

For example, you can see this creativity in the way that certain transactions are made or even hidden. Hackers will try and make transactions look normal to the consumer, and when they realize the issue, it’s too late.

Banks may recognize the issue and send money back to the user – when and if the money can be recuperated.

What Preventor Does

Preventor is a risk and identity management platform. The company started by working with financial institutions, but now it has expanded to more industries. Preventor is based in Miami, Florida but works with financial solutions globally.

Wrapping Up

Staying as vigilant as possible as we adopt more Internet solutions requires you to take advantage of the technology that’s available. Don’t reuse your passwords, enable two-factor authentication, and be willing to take advantage of more complex security measures, such as facial or voice recognition.

Click here to subscribe to our podcast for other great retirement information.

Retirement Before Medicare

Medicare begins at age 65 for people in the United States, so if you enter early retirement before this threshold, you’ll be retiring before Medicare. Most people that come to us will say that they want to work until 65, 66 or even 70.

Since we believe in retirement planning using concrete data, we’ll plug in the person’s figures and forecast what their retirement may look like.

For some people, they’ll find that they have significant money leftover at age 90, so they want to see what happens if they retire at 62. We can easily run these forecasts, but there are a few things that occur when you start thinking of retiring early.

Early Retirement and a Few Factors to Consider

If you can secure your retirement by 60, it’s a wonderful feeling. You’ve done everything properly, and now you’re able to enjoy your life a little more. However, if you do retire early, there are some factors you need to consider.


Medicare is going to be unavailable until you’re 65, and if you’re no longer working for a company that offers health insurance, you’re now on your own. Health insurance expenses will be a major factor, especially with rising insurance costs.

Lost Income Potential

If you retire before 65, you’re no longer paying into Social Security, nor are you able to allow your investments to accumulate as much money as you would if you stayed in the workforce. Of course, this is a tradeoff of early retirement, but it’s something to consider based on your current financials.

Potential retirees that are trying to make all the calculations on their own may miss crucial factors that help shape their retirement plans. We use special software that can easily be adjusted to add in:

  • Special expenses
  • Fun funds
  • Additional expenses or income

Running what-if scenarios, such as retiring before Medicare or if rates rise for Medicare, can help you better understand your retirement potential.

While you may be a master of Excel, it’s far too easy to miscalculate your funds or miss a calculation that throws off your retirement figures in both directions.

Real-time output and reports are crucial to outline whether you have enough money to secure your retirement and what can happen if you do retire before you’re eligible for Medicare.

Social Security

Another thing to consider if you’re retiring early is that you will pay less into Social Security. You can start Social Security as early as 62, and your contributions stop at 70. For some people, they plan on retiring at 65. If you’re working and have ample income, it doesn’t make sense to take Social Security.

Instead, in the scenario above, it makes the most sense to let your Social Security build so that it’s higher when you do retire.

Some people will retire at 65 and not take Social Security until they’re 70 to maximize their benefits. We like to run figures until a person is 90 to have a good idea of what it means to take Social Security.

Ideally, we run figures for taking Social Security at:

  • 65
  • 67
  • 70

It may seem like a no-brainer to take Social Security at 70 because that’s when your benefits will be their highest. However, if you must take money out of your retirement account because you stopped working at 65 and don’t take benefits until you’re 70, this will impact your retirement, too.

For example, if you still have $500,000 in retirement funds at 90, why would you wait to retire?

You’re unlikely to use all your retirement before your demise at that point. If you’re holding out on Social Security and continue working to maximize these benefits, will they really matter in the whole spectrum of things?

There’s a lot to think about if you plan to retire early, and it’s a very individualized thing.

You might want to help pay for a person’s wedding, renovate your house, and make other big purchases. If you’re retiring before Medicare, these expenses may be fine, or they may leave you taking money out of your retirement accounts earlier than expected.

If you do plan to retire a little earlier, we recommend running the figures to have a clear picture of:

  • What your health insurance costs will be.
  • What happens to your retirement accounts because you’re paying for insurance out of your investment accounts?
  • Etc.

Ideally, you’ll work with someone, like us, who can run the numbers for you to plug in all these variables and what-if scenarios. We can even forecast what happens if you plan to retire at 55, so you can have a clear picture of how realistic retirement is for your situation.

If you need help running these reports and want to know what your retirement before Medicare may look like, schedule an introductory call with us.

Can You Retire Early? The Key Things You Need to Consider

Wanting to retire early is relatively common. Even if your goal was to stick it out until 67, your circumstances may have changed, or you might feel different about work than you did a couple of years ago.

And that’s OK. We speak to lots of people who are in the same scenario – looking for a viable way out that won’t jeopardize their quality of life in retirement.

In this guide, we’ll take you through the process of early retirement, including how it works, what to consider, and whether it’s the best option for you.

You can watch the video on this topic above, or to listen to the podcast episode, hit play below. Or you can read on for more…

Why do some people want to retire early?

There are lots of reasons why you might be considering early retirement. You may be feeling stressed and exhausted at work or have a new boss that you don’t get along with.

A wish to retire early isn’t always based on negative aspects of work, either. You may want to spend more time with your grandkids or start that round-the-world trip a few years earlier than you planned.

The question is: can you make it happen without endangering your financial freedom in retirement?

Retiring early – what it looks like and how it works

Retiring early may be something you can think about, but it does all depend on your finances and assets.

To show you how retiring early works, we’ve put together a detailed example which covers our process and all the things you’ll need to consider. But before we get on to that, allow us to introduce our character for this particular scenario, Cindy.

Cindy is 62 and looking to retire. She had planned to work until social security starts at 67, but she’s no longer happy in her job and wants to call it a day.

Does that sound familiar? Many of our clients are in a similar situation, so we thought it would be useful to look at whether Cindy could take early retirement.

Finances and spending

First, we need to get a picture of Cindy’s finances, assets, and spending. We want to find out:

  • Does she have any savings?
  • Does she have a pension?
  • Does she have any other forms of income?
  • What is her spending plan, and how much money will she need in retirement?

In Cindy’s case, it turns out she doesn’t have a pension or any other forms of income. But she does have a healthy savings pot, with about $1.1 million in a 401k.

She’s also projected to receive $3,000 a month in social security at 67, so that’s a good source of income to include in her retirement plan.

But what about her spending? Well, Cindy needs around $5,000 a month to cover both her essential needs and her “wants”. That could be money to spend on her grandchildren or to put towards regular vacations.

From here, we can create Cindy’s retirement income plan. This is a detailed document that sets out how she’ll use her money and how far it will stretch in retirement.

Creating a retirement income plan

Until you know what your finances will look like in retirement, it can be difficult to plan ahead and look forward to finishing work. That’s where a retirement income plan comes in.

After talking through Cindy’s finances, we’re now in a position to create her bespoke retirement income plan. To do this, we use specialist software that allows us to input all her information and make quick changes – like her chosen retirement age.

Let’s say Cindy already had an income plan which was set up for a retirement age of 67. By changing it to 62, this will affect the numbers and how much money Cindy has in leftover assets.

When creating a retirement income plan, it’s important to account for a person’s entire life – regardless of existing medical conditions or other factors. That’s why we calculate retirement assets up to age 90.

Based on Cindy’s circumstances and projected spending ($5,000 a month), this would leave her with only $100,000 at 90 if she were to retire at 62. For us, that’s not a reasonable enough buffer to say, “yes, you can retire right now”.

The problem with Cindy’s situation is that she’s too reliant on her savings assets. Even with $3,000 a month in social security (which doesn’t start for another five years), she’s drawing a lot from her savings pot each month to get by.

It’s impossible to predict what unexpected costs our retirement years will bring. That’s why Cindy’s $100,000 isn’t adequate for us to confidently say that now is the right time to retire.

And there are other things to consider too, like the cost of inflation. The inflation rate may be low at the moment, but history tells us that the average is around 3% – so that’s the figure we use when projecting retirement income and expenditure.

Consider that Cindy’s average monthly spending is around $5,000. Taking the 3% inflation rate into account, that rises to $6,800 by the time she turns 72, and over $9,000 when she’s in her 80s – meaning she be could be using more and more of her savings in later life.

What are the options?

This might sound like bad news for Cindy, but there are a few things we’d recommend.

First, she could wait it out for a couple more years. This would reduce her reliance on savings in the years before receiving social security, but it wouldn’t solve the problem of feeling dissatisfied at work.

Second, Cindy could look to reduce her spending. Again, this would reduce the draw on her assets, but it’s not ideal if she’s been looking forward to a retirement free from financial worries.

The third option, and one we’d recommend, is for Cindy to look at alternate income streams. Is there anything she’s always wanted to do that would pay an income, even if it means taking a significant pay cut compared to her current job?

Whether it’s selling artwork or becoming a part-time gardener, Cindy could quit her job and still earn income elsewhere. This would protect her savings and give her a greater safety net in later life.

Say, for example, she started a new part-time position which brought her $3,000 a month in regular income. This would be of huge benefit to her retirement income plan, even if she only did it for a few years until social security kicks in.

A final word on early retirement

Taking early retirement can feel like the only way out when you’re through with work and ready to put your feet up. But often, having the security of knowing what your finances will look like in retirement is enough to get you through those final years.

Having seen their retirement income plan, many of our clients reconsider early retirement. It changes their mentality towards work, showing them that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t retire early if your finances allow. But if you’re concerned that doing so might jeopardize your financial freedom, we would encourage you to get a retirement income plan and find out how you’re set for the future.

If you’re ready to take control of your finances, we can help you create a bespoke retirement income plan that puts your money into perspective. Remember, if you need any advice or expertise, our financial specialists are here to help. Book a complimentary 15-minute call with a member of our team to discuss your retirement goals today.