How to Avoid Scams – Practical Tips for Preventing Fraud

Scams are a major concern for everyone. Every day, people are falling victim to scams. Occasionally, a client of ours will contact the office because their data has been breached. 

Just in the last week, two clients have reached out to us because they were scammed. 

Let’s go through some tips to help you avoid scams and have peace of mind that you’re taking the steps to avoid falling victim to one of these scams. 

Remember, millions of people fall victim to identity theft, fraud and scams each year, so it can happen to you.

Client 1 Example 

The first client clicked on something that led to a notice that said: 

  • You have a problem with your computer 
  • Call the Microsoft number on your screen for help to fix the issue 

If you ever encounter this situation, do not call the number on the notice. Go to a computer repair specialist and they’ll help you because these notices are from scammers who scare people into doing exactly what our first client did. 

Unfortunately, the client called the number on the screen, and they did share some information with the person on the phone. While some things were shared, the person’s identity has not been breached yet. However, they are now going through the necessary steps to circumvent any issues if the scammers do use this information. 

Client 2 Example 

In scenario two, the client clicked on something and divulged some of their information. It resulted in $4,800 being removed from their bank account. Fortunately, the person caught the withdrawal quickly and the bank was able to reverse the transaction before the client suffered a major loss. 

We’re seeing an influx of clients get caught up in these scams, and if your thought is, “I just won’t go online,” that’s not always a realistic option. 

You can be safe online, and learning what the latest scams are and how they work can help you avoid being scammed in the first place. 

3 Things to Keep at the Top of Mind When Working with an Advisor 

1. Good, Safe Practices to Working with Your Advisor 

If you’re working with an advisor as part of your retirement planning, you must have good, up-to-date, safe practices in place. Your advisor is a trusted person who you share some of your most private data with, such as: 

  • Financials 
  • Social Security number 
  • Account numbers 
  • Date of birth 

Talk with your advisor to understand how they protect your information and assets. For us, we have ongoing cybersecurity training, encryption, backup software, and numerous other safeguards. 

We’re continually trying to improve our security measures as security risks evolve to keep client information safe and secure. 

You also need to keep your advisor up to date when you: 

  • Change your email address 
  • Move to a new address 
  • Change your phone number 

Keeping your advisor up to date can prevent your important documents from going to someone other than you.  

We require verbal verification to make changes to this type of information because going by email requests only can be very risky. If your email was hacked, the verbal verification requirement is an extra step we have in place to help keep you and your information safe.  

2. Expect a Verification Call 

If you send us an email asking us to send you money or to change addresses, expect a call from us. Speaking with you allows us to verify you made the request and confirm the details of the request so that we’re 100% positive before sending the money, changing emails, and so on. 

While a call may be an extra step that you don’t want to take, it’s much better than the alternative. 

3. How Custodians Protect Your Security 

Custodians, such as Schwab or Fidelity, take security very seriously. Some of the many ways that custodians will verify you with is: 

  • Voice 
  • Two-factor authentication 

If you want to protect yourself, two-factor authentication is one of the most secure measures you can take with your accounts. You’ll receive either an email or text with a code that you need to verify the log-in, or you may have to download an authentication app. 

From our understanding, the authentication app is the best, and the text is really good, too. 

Two-factor authentication prevents your account from being hacked so that even if a hacker gains access to your email, they can’t access your accounts without these codes. 

11 General Best Practices of Cybersecurity 

1. Be Suspicious of Everything 

To avoid scams, you should be suspicious of texts, phone calls, and emails. If you do pick up calls from phone numbers that you don’t recognize, be cautious when they ask for any identifying information.  

If, for example, the person asking for your identifying information states that they’re from Chase, hang up the phone and call a verified Chase number rather than trusting the phone call. 

2. Remain Diligent on Social Media 

People share a lot of life updates on social media, such as their date of birth, contact information, favorite vacation spots, and other data that a scammer or hacker can use to gain access to even more of your data.   

Once you share this data with the world, it’s out there. 

3. Be Cautious of Money Movement Instructions Via Email 

If you receive any money movement instructions over email, you need to be extremely cautious. You might receive an email from UPS asking you for payment to ensure that your delivery arrives or PayPal asking you to click a link because someone deposited money into your account.  

4. Avoid Clicking Links Because Phishing Attempts are HUGE 

Phishing attempts are on the rise, and people are more willing than ever to try and steal your personal information. You want to avoid clicking on any unknown links because it’s too easy to fall into a phishing trap and have your information or money stolen. 

If the link is to PayPal or a bank account, go to the verified website rather than clicking on the link in the email. This will help circumvent the risk of clicking on a phishing link. 

5. Avoid Disclosing or Entering Confidential Information on a Device in a Public Area 

Hackers can use man-in-the-middle attacks when you’re on public Wi-Fi to intercept your data and steal your identity. Public Wi-Fi is usually found in places like airports, cafes, and malls. Instead of using public Wi-Fi, you’ll either need to use a VPN or wait until you’re on a private, encrypted Wi-Fi network before entering private data or log-in credentials into an app or website.  

6. Monitor Account Statements and Emails 

If you make it a habit to log into your accounts and check your financial statements regularly, it will help you avoid unauthorized charges. Acting fast to dispute a credit card charge or withdrawal can save you a lot of heartache in the long term. 

Check your emails and accounts often to make sure that you have a pulse on your balances and transactions. 

7. Keep Your Technology Updated 

Your technology is a major security risk because if a vulnerability is discovered, hackers will take advantage of it to gain access to your accounts or devices. You want to keep any technology (and its software) that you use updated, which includes: 

  • Computers 
  • Laptops 
  • Tablets 
  • Smartphones 
  • Apps 
  • Browsers 

All computers should have updated anti-virus, anti-malware, and anti-spyware. If you don’t have these installed, be sure to work on that. 

Enable security settings within your browser, too. 

If you go somewhere that offers you a free USB device, it’s not worth using because it does pose the risk of having malicious software on it. 

8. Avoid Throwing Your Computer Away 

Your computer has very valuable information and log-in data on it. If we are no longer using a computer, we use a service that will destroy the computer so that it can never be restored. Never just throw your computer in the trash because it is a security risk.  

9. Try to Avoid Using Public Computer 

If you use a public computer at a library or other location, do not log into your accounts. Anyone who sits down at the computer can see the history and potentially access your account if you didn’t properly log out of all your accounts before you left. 

You should also clear the browser history when you are finished if you do need to use a public computer. 

10. Use Wireless Networks That You Know and Trust 

Public Wi-Fi is simply not secure. You should use networks that you know and trust. Password protection and encryption can prevent a hacker from accessing the information you transmit over the network. 

If you turn on a mobile hotspot on your phone, it will increase your security when using a public network. 

It’s also not good practice to update your device or computer on a public network. 

11. Be Strategic with Your Log-in Credentials and Passwords 

No one likes to remember 20 different logins and passwords, but it’s one of the best security practices that you can follow. When creating a password: 

  • Create a unique password for each account 
  • Avoid using your date of birth or other personal info 
  • Consider using a password manager for password creation and storage 
  • Never share or text your password with someone else 

Every time that you have a chance, be sure to enable two-factor authentication to keep your account safe. 

More About Phishing Attempts 

But we already covered phishing scams! Well, we are seeing such an increase in phishing attempts, it’s worth a deeper dive. Understanding the strategy of phishing attempts can be helpful to keep in mind as you answer calls or open emails and texts. Often, phishing scams will: 

  • Dangle something, like money, if you give over information 
  • Create a sense of urgency to get you to supply your data 
  • Threaten you to get you to click on a button 

As we’ve said before, never click on a link in an email that you don’t know or trust. For example, if Schwab emails you your statement, you can open your browser and go to the verified website to login and access these documents rather than click the link in the email. 

If you see a suspicious link, hover it and look in the status bar on your browser to see the real web address. 

Also, check the sender’s domain name. Often, scammers will send what looks like a legitimate email until you look at the sender. The sender may actually be from somewhere like Gmail or Yahoo and not the real company email address. 

Carefully read the sender email address. Sometimes, the name will look very similar to a real account, such as @PayPai instead of  

Examine the entire email before clicking on any link or button inside of the email. 

Scammers may even use a name that you know for the sender’s name to trick you, so be very vigilant because scammers are smarter than ever. 

We know that this is a lot to digest, but protecting your identity and sensitive information is a must when doing anything online. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office. 

Click here to schedule a consultation with us. 

June 10, 2024 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 June 10, 2024

Form 5498 Demystified – Essential Tax Information for Retirement

Radon, Murs, and Taylor discuss the significance of Form 5498 as an essential tax information document. Taylor describes Form 5498 as an informational document that reports contributions, rollovers, and required minimum distributions (RMDs) related to IRAs.


Form 5498 Demystified – Essential Tax Information for Retirement

Our in-house tax guru, Taylor Wolverton, CFP®, EA, sat down with us on this week’s podcast to help explain the ins and outs of Form 5498. Just a few days ago, a client sent us an email they received from Schwab saying, “important tax information.”  The email said that Form 5498 was available for him to download. Our client was concerned because he had already filed his 2023 tax return and didn’t know why he was receiving this form or what implications it had.  He asked us what he needed to do. That prompted us to…

Form 5498 Demystified – Essential Tax Information

Our in-house tax guru, Taylor Wolverton, CFP®, EA, sat down with us on this week’s podcast to help explain the ins and outs of Form 5498. Just a few days ago, a client sent us an email they received from Schwab saying, “important tax information.” 

The email said that Form 5498 was available for him to download. Our client was concerned because he had already filed his 2023 tax return and didn’t know why he was receiving this form or what implications it had. 

He asked us what he needed to do. That prompted us to have Taylor on the podcast to help all of our listeners and clients learn more about this form. 

Taylor’s Response to the Client’s Email 

First off, do not stress about Form 5498. For this particular client, the form was generated because he had transferred a 401(k) to a traditional IRA in 2023. The form was issued from the custodian of the traditional IRA to document that the 401(k) rollover was received as expected.  

This does not change anything in terms of filing taxes. 

You do want to keep Form 5498 for your records in case you’re audited or have to prove such a transaction was completed properly to the IRS. 

Why Form 5498 is Important 

When you open your email and the form, you’re likely to see some information about your contribution to your Roth IRA, Traditional IRA, SEP IRA, or Simple IRA. If you put money into these accounts the prior tax year, you’ll receive this form. 

An account receiving a 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan rollover (like what happened with the client in our example) is also reported on this form. 

In some cases, Form 5498 may also report what your required minimum distributions (RMDs) are if that applies to your situation. You’ll see the fair market value of the IRA from the year prior and what the previous year’s distributions should have been. 

Form 5498 vs 1099 

A 1099 is a tax form that reports distributions or sources of income, which are normally taxable. You need this information for your tax return, so be sure that you have this form before filing your taxes. 

In contrast, your 5498 reports contributions to your account, RMD information, and/or that a rollover has occurred. 

To make it simple: 

  • A 1099 reports distributions 
  • A 5498 reports contributions 

Does Form 5498 Help Reduce Taxable Income? 

Whether this form affects your taxable income depends on what the form is reporting. Contributions to a traditional IRA (or SEP IRA or Simple IRA) can be deducted on a tax return to reduce taxable income. However, you don’t need to wait to receive Form 5498 to report those contribution types on your tax return.  

If the form contains information about an RMD, this should have also been already reported on your tax return. Because RMDs are a source of income, they will generate form 1099R which you should receive before your tax return is filed. The RMD information reported on Form 5498 is a way for the IRS to reconcile the distributions reported on your tax return with what the form says needed to be distribution to ensure you’ve met the requirement.  

If Form 5498 reports your Roth IRA contribution or a rollover, this does not reduce your taxable income. Roth IRA contributions are not reported on the tax return. Rollovers are noted on the tax return but if done correctly, also do not impact taxable income in any way. 

Form 5498 is Reported to the IRS 

A Form 5498 is for checks and balances. Your custodian will send both you and the IRS the same form. The IRS will reconcile the information reported on your tax return with the information on this form. 

Example of a Rollover Contribution  

Let’s assume in 2023 someone had their 401(k) with Empower. If the person chose to transfer the 401(k) from Empower to a traditional IRA at Schwab: 

  • They would receive a 1099-R in January or February from Empower 
  • The 1099-R would show that the 401(k) no longer exists and the full amount at the time of the rollover, which is recorded as a distribution that is not taxable. 
  • The rollover is noted on the tax return by the tax preparer 
  • In May of 2024, Schwab would send out Form 5498 showing the same amount from the 401(k) confirming that it was received into a traditional IRA. 

In this scenario, the 5498 confirms that the rollover didn’t simply end up in your checking account and that you did move the money into a traditional IRA like it should have been. 

If you did pocket the money and never did the actual rollover, you potentially owe taxes and penalties on the distribution. 

Why Does Form 5498 Come Out So Late in the Year? 

While it may seem inconvenient that Form 5498 doesn’t come out at the same time as all other tax forms such as forms 1099, there is a delay because the deadline to contribute to many of your accounts is the same as the tax filing deadline. 

So, for example, if you wanted to make a Roth IRA contribution for 2023 as part of your retirement planning strategy, you have until April 15, 2024, to make this contribution. 

Form 5498 cannot be generated and sent out until after the contribution deadline, so that is why you’ll receive it later than your other tax forms. 

In conclusion, if you do receive Form 5498, simply keep the form with your other tax records. If you’ve already filed your tax return, there’s nothing else that you need to do with it. 

Do you have any questions regarding Form 5498 or about your retirement plan? 

Click here to schedule a consultation with us. 

June 3, 2024 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 June 3, 2024

Annuitization Versus Deferred Annuities in Retirement

Radon and Murs discuss the concept of annuitization and immediate annuities versus deferred annuities. Annuities can come from different sources, such as insurance companies or municipal pensions. Listen in to learn how immediate annuities work, their pros and cons, and risks such as the potential loss of the principal if the annuitant dies early. You will also learn how…


Annuitization Versus Deferred Annuities in Retirement

Learn how deferred annuities work, the fixed type of deferred annuities, and why they make more sense for retirement planning than immediate annuities.

Understanding Annuitization Versus Deferred Annuities

When planning for retirement, many clients ask us about annuitization and how it compares to deferred annuities. This topic often causes confusion, so we aim to clarify the differences and benefits of each option to help you make informed decisions about your retirement income. 

Types of Annuities 

There are two primary types of annuities: 

  1. Immediate Annuity: You invest a lump sum of money and start receiving payments almost immediately. 
  1. Deferred Annuity: You invest over time, allowing your money to grow before you start receiving payments. 

What is Annuitization? 

Annuitization means converting your investment into a stream of income. This process allows you to secure a reliable income during retirement. However, it’s important to understand the specifics: 

  • Lump Sum to Income: You provide a lump sum to an insurance company, which then guarantees a regular payment for life. 
  • Risk and Reward: If you live longer, you benefit from a steady income. If not, the remaining funds typically do not go to your beneficiaries. 

Example Scenario: 

  • You invest $100,000 into an immediate annuity. 
  • The insurance company calculates that you will receive $500 monthly for the rest of your life. 
  • If you live a long time, this can be advantageous. If not, the insurance company retains the remaining funds. 

Adding Protections to Your Annuity 

To mitigate the risk of losing your investment early, you can add protections: 

  • Joint Annuitization: Adding a spouse as a beneficiary ensures they continue to receive payments after your death, albeit at a reduced rate. 
  • Period Certain: Guarantees payments for a specific period, even if you pass away early, ensuring your beneficiaries receive the income. 

Immediate Annuities: Considerations 

Immediate annuities can provide peace of mind with guaranteed income but may not always be the best financial choice. For instance, one client needed to live until 102 to break even on their investment. While it provides security, it might not offer the best return on your money. 

Security vs. Growth: 

  • Peace of Mind: Immediate annuities offer the security of a fixed income, which can be comforting for those worried about outliving their savings. 
  • Limited Growth: However, the lack of growth potential means that your money doesn’t work as hard for you. For those who have saved diligently and are financially secure, this might not be the most efficient use of their funds. 

Deferred Annuities: A Balanced Approach 

Deferred annuities offer more flexibility and growth potential compared to immediate annuities, making them suitable for good savers who want to maximize their retirement funds. They come in two forms: 

  1. Fixed Deferred Annuities: Provide a safe place to grow your money with predictable returns. 
  1. Variable Deferred Annuities: Offer the potential for higher returns but come with more risk. 

Fixed Deferred Annuities: 

  • Predictable Returns: These annuities grow at a fixed rate, providing stability and peace of mind. They are ideal for conservative investors who want to avoid market volatility. 
  • Indexed Growth: Some fixed deferred annuities are linked to an index like the S&P 500. This allows you to benefit from market growth without exposing your principal to risk. For example, if the S&P 500 performs well, your annuity’s value increases, but if the market underperforms, your principal remains protected. 

Variable Deferred Annuities: 

  • Higher Potential Returns: These annuities invest in a variety of sub-accounts, similar to mutual funds. While they offer the potential for higher returns, they also come with increased risk. Your returns will vary based on the performance of the underlying investments. 

Making the Right Choice 

Choosing between annuitization and deferred annuities depends on your unique financial situation and retirement goals. Here are some key considerations: 

  • Financial Goals: What are your primary financial goals for retirement? Are you looking for security and a guaranteed income, or are you willing to take on some risk for the potential of higher returns? 
  • Risk Tolerance: How comfortable are you with market volatility? Fixed deferred annuities offer stability, while variable deferred annuities come with more risk but also higher potential rewards. 
  • Life Expectancy: How long do you expect to live? This can impact whether an immediate annuity makes sense for you. If longevity runs in your family, an immediate annuity might be more attractive. 

We recommend discussing your options with a financial advisor to determine the best strategy for you. Our team is here to help you navigate these decisions and find the right solution for your retirement plan. 

Ready to explore your options and secure your financial future? Click here to schedule a 15-minute call to discuss annuities and your retirement plan 

May 28, 2024 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 28, 2024

What’s The Difference Between FDIC and SIPC in Retirement?

Radon and Murs discuss the difference between FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) insurance and SIPC (Securities Investor Protection Corporation) insurance. Both FDIC and SIPC offer protection of funds held in accounts at financial institutions like Charles Schwab or Fidelity.


What’s The Difference Between FDIC and SIPC in Retirement?

We aim to address topics on the Secure Your Retirement podcast that people have asked us about. Recently, we’ve been receiving questions about whether the funds in Schwab, Fidelity, etc., are insured.  Some accounts, if they are bank-related, are ……

What’s The Difference Between FDIC and SIPC?

We aim to address topics on the Secure Your Retirement podcast that people have asked us about. Recently, we’ve been receiving questions about whether the funds in Schwab, Fidelity, etc., are insured. 

Some accounts, if they are bank-related, are FDIC-insured. 

If the account is not bank-related, it will not be FDIC-insured. We need to really think of these as two separate entities: 

  1. Banking 
  1. Investments (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.) 

In most cases, your will have money in both of these types of accounts (realizing there are other options outside of these two as well). Both are fundamental in your retirement planning but are also very different. 

What is FDIC and Why Was It Put in Place? 

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) made headlines last year when regional banks like Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) started having issues. Businesses and individuals had a lot of money in SVB, and this sparked a relevant interest in the FDIC. 

In the 1920s and 1930s, bank failures led to people losing money and savings. 

In response, the government started the FDIC to protect the public. If the bank does something wrong or there are other issues, people would be covered up to a certain dollar amount by the FDIC. 

The FDIC covers up to $250,000 per person. If you have $250,000 in your own savings account, you can be confident that up to this amount is covered by the government. 

During the SVB debacle, FDIC was extended up to $1 million. 


The FDIC is a way to make consumers feel more comfortable with the banking system. With account titling, you can cover a lot of your assets with FDIC. 

You can receive coverage for (talk to your banker to do this properly) : 

  • Separate accounts 
  • Joint accounts 
  • Transfer On Death (TOD) accounts 
  • Trust Accounts 

Different account registrations can help you cover your money in multiple accounts with FDIC. If you have bank accounts with ten different banks, each account can be covered by FDIC.  If you have more than $250,000 at one bank, work with a banker to see options to extend FDIC coverage. 

When you work with a bank for your investment, the investments and securities do not fall within the FDIC. Cash in the bank falls under FDIC, but investments do not. 

Investments have risks, and since this is the nature of investments, the government does not cover these funds.  Enter SIPC. 

What is SIPC? 

SIPC stands for Securities Investor Protection Corporation. If you’re a securities company, such as Schwab or Fidelity, you have SIPC protection. 


SIPC protects you from a different side of things compared to FDIC. Custodians, such as Schwab and Fidelity, allow you to invest money in stocks, mutual funds and so on, but you’re not invested in these companies. 

Instead, you invest through the custodian. You can move all your investments to another custodian whenever you like. 

If you want to see your stock in one of these custodian accounts, and the custodian cannot find the stock or the investment you made, this is where SIPC comes in. SIPC protects against these types of clerical errors. 

You can lose 90% of your investment in a stock because the company is going bankrupt, and there is no insurance for this risk. However, if the investment is lost because of a custodian error, SIPC will offer up to $500,000 per person in protection. 

If Schwab went out of business, SIPC would put forth the money to help you find your: 

  • Stocks 
  • Mutual funds 
  • Etc. 

In the market, you can lose your money.  A custodian’s purpose to provide a place to park your investments like a parking garage’s purpose is to give you a place to park your car.  If those investments are somehow lost, SIPC does offer some protection to help find your “lost car”. 

Financial planning with the right strategies in place provides you with peace of mind that your money and investments have the maximum amount of protection possible. 

Do you have questions about your financial plan or about FDIC and SIPC? 

Schedule a 15-minute call with us today. 

May 13, 2024 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 13, 2024

Aging Gracefully at Home in Retirement

Radon and Murs speak with Lynne Moore about the concept of aging in place, comparing it to continuous care retirement communities (CCRCs). Lynn has an extensive background in geriatrics and now works with ThriveMore, an organization specializing in helping people age in place.  

Aging Gracefully at Home in Retirement

On the Secure Your Retirement podcast, we have a great episode on Aging Gracefully at home with Lynne Moore. Lynne works at ThriveMore, where she uses her skills as a geriatric nurse and as a former director of a nursing home to help people in long-term care facilities…

Aging Gracefully at Home in Retirement

On the Secure Your Retirement podcast, we have a great episode on Aging Gracefully at home with Lynne Moore. Lynne works at ThriveMore, where she uses her skills as a geriatric nurse and as a former director of a nursing home to help people in long-term care facilities. 

She was also an administrator of a nursing home for 15 years before becoming a director of a continuous care retirement community (CCRC).  

During Covid, she learned a lot about bringing care into an independent living situation and how easy this was achieved, even with all of the regulations in place. Working with people in independent settings was much easier because there were fewer regulations to worry about. 

Her experience led her to become a geriatric care manager, working with people privately in their homes and bringing them the care necessary. Ultimately, this all led to a position at ThriveMore. 

Continuing Care at Home vs in a Community 

ThriveMore owns four CCRCs and is building two additional facilities, so the company is not against a CCRC. If you’re a person who wants to start aging gracefully in the comfort of your home, over 96% of people can achieve this goal. 

The difference? 

  • You retain your home 
  • You maintain your home 
  • Services are brought into the home 

Instead of selling your home to pay for entry into a CCRC, you’ll reside in your home that you know and love. 

What Services are Brought into the Home? 

From the very beginning, an aging-in-place assessment is performed to identify things such as, do you need a first-floor bedroom or do you need to widen the doorways? 

When people enter into the ThriveMore program, they must not need care at the moment. ThriveMore works as a sort of insurance and care is brought in over time as necessary. 

We bring in the support and care people need in their homes before they need them and add more as a person’s needs evolve. Short-term or long-term care is brought in, and the long-term care insurance is underwriting the care. 

Is medical underwriting required? 

Entering into a program like this will require: 

  • 5 years of medical to ensure that the applicant is “healthy.” What this means is that a person does not have a diagnosed progressive declining disorder, such as Parkinsons, ALS, Lupus and things of that nature. These disorders lead to extensive time in a long-term care community where this type of program would not be beneficial 
  • Entering into a membership 
  • Supplying financial information 

How the Program is Modeled 

You can think of the ThriveMore program as an insurance plan with multiple levels of coverage. Part of the cost is based on an entrance fee and then there’s a monthly fee attached to it. 

The buy-in fee is determined by the person’s age. Often, people buy in when they’re younger because it’s more affordable than if they’re closer to needing care. 

Members pay a pre-paid membership fee, and the monthly fee is less because you’re not paying for a fancy facility like in a CCRC. When compared to a CCRC, you’ll pay much lower fees. 

Through ThriveMore, a 75-year-old would: 

  • Have $385 per day in coverage max 
  • Have $192.50 per day and the person’s long-term care plan 

Entering into a program like this would cost around $50,000 for the entry fee and $500 per month in membership fees for a 75-year-old. 

Compare this figure to a CCRC, and you’ll notice that many CCRCs have a $300,000 – $500,000 buy-in plus $2,000 – $8,000+ per month. 

Homeowners are still maintaining the cost of their homes, so they can save a lot of money. 

A review is done when meeting with potential customers, where the team will review any insurance plans the person may have and determine the level of coverage. The highest level of coverage for someone who is 75 will be somewhere around $70,000 buy-in and $700 in monthly fees. 

These fees will provide $385 in coverage per day. 

Entering the program requires you to be at least 62, and at this time, the buy-in can be as low as $30,000. You can have a health crisis that happens early, and if you’re not a member, you cannot join in. 

Members who develop a diagnosis cannot be kicked out of the program, even if they’re not in their 70s. For this reason, it’s better to buy in when you’re younger, and it’s cheaper because you have the security of being a member. 

You never plan on having a stroke or developing Parkinson’s, so buying in early can save you a lot of money and lock in benefits that you may miss if you did have a diagnosis prior to applying. 

Plus, you benefit from: 

  • Recommendations for aging gracefully 
  • Help outfitting your home for older age 

ThriveMore engages with you from the moment you become a member, so you have professionals who will help you along the way. 

Monthly fee maximums are inflation-related, so they will rise every year. The fee is calculated by analyzing nursing facilities in the area and understanding the average number each year. 

So, yes, your monthly fee can rise annually, but it will not be more than the average you’ll pay at a skilled nursing facility. 

Staying Busy and Interactive  

Social engagement and keeping busy are crucial to staying healthy in the latter years of life. While an at-home program doesn’t provide many of the social aspects of a CCRC, it does allow friends and family to come to your home and spend time with you. 

Retirement planning in a CCRC is different from a solution like ThriveMore because people can remain in their neighborhoods and enjoy the social life that they already have. 

From Lynne’s experience, seniors are always very busy when they’re retired. 

However, there are opportunities to get together with members and get out in the community. 

ThriveMore is a program for people who want to stay in their homes, so they already have a social life and want to remain in place. Extroverts may prefer to be in a traditional CCRC, while introverts prefer something like ThriveMore. 

Quality Care Vetting 

ThriveMore’s care vetting strives to offer excellent quality. Partnerships with home care providers in the area allow members to have access to the exceptional care they need while remaining in the home they know and love. 

Lynne’s background allows her to assess healthcare partners to know if they offer excellent care or not. 

If you want to learn more about ThriveMore, you can visit the official website. 

Click here to schedule a call with us to learn more about how we can help you reach retirement. 

May 6, 2024 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 6, 2024

Downsizing In Retirement

In this Episode of the Secure Your Retirement Podcast, Radon, Murs, and Nick discuss downsizing in retirement. Scenarios such as lifestyle preferences and financial needs are what make downsizing a consideration for retirees. Listen in to learn how we use practical scenarios to help clients…  

Downsizing In Retirement

Nick Hymanson, CFP® from our office, joined us this week on our latest podcast, where we talked about something many people overlook in their retirement planning: downsizing.  Nick often meets with clients to review their retirement focused financial plan, making sure…

Downsizing In Retirement

Nick Hymanson, CFP® from our office, joined us this week on our latest podcast, where we talked about something many people overlook in their retirement planning: downsizing. 

Nick often meets with clients to review their retirement focused financial plan, making sure everything is up to date and the clients are happy. Sometimes, there are needed adjustments that are identified, and Nick works with clients to address these as well. 

And one of these adjustments relates to downsizing in retirement. 

We’ve noticed a common conversation recently where some folks are interested in discussing: 

  • Downsizing into a smaller home 
  • Downsizing into a home that’s easier for them to get around in 

Let’s dive deeper into this topic and look at a few scenarios. 

Scenario 1: You’ve Been in Your House for 30 or 40 Years 

Let’s say that you have been in your home for 30 or 40 years. Maybe you raised kids in your home, and it was set up for the lifestyle you had 20 – 30 years ago. Unfortunately, the house isn’t set up for where you may be now, or in 10 years. 

Often, retirees are in a much larger house than they need for the lifestyle they have now, and it would be nice for the main bedroom to be on the first floor. 

Pros and Cons 

In addition to wanting your bedroom on the first floor, you may want: 

  • Fewer stairs 
  • A smaller space that is easier to maintain 

Downsizing may mean worrying less (or not at all) about constant tasks like yard work, stairs, and cleaning additional bathrooms. 

In the Raleigh-Durham area, housing prices have been going up for quite some time.  People are concerned about going into a smaller home that may be even more expensive than the home they are in currently. From a financial perspective, moving to a new home may be an even exchange but the person may lose some square footage and land. 

Depending on the community, landscaping, and some outside work that you may not be able to do on your own may be included. 

Scenario 2: Cash Flow Scenario 

You’re in a beautiful home, but you want to reduce the mortgage and the strain it may have on your financial plan. From a cash flow perspective, downsizing may be a better option and provide peace of mind for the next 10 – 20 years. 

If your house has appreciated in value and you don’t have much to pay off on the mortgage, you might find yourself in a scenario where you can sell your home and buy another one in cash. 

A $1,000 – $3,000 mortgage can have a drastic impact on your financials. 

When we look at a retirement plan, we look at a person’s income and expenses to see where they may be having stress in their finances. For some people, downsizing can either: 

  • Reduce the mortgage 
  • Eliminate it 

If you eliminate the mortgage, you may have the additional cash to travel or have less of a strain on your finances in retirement. 

We talk to clients from the beginning about their homes and if it makes sense to downsize. 

Planning from the start to downsize can offer a realistic view of what freedom selling the house may offer. Of course, not everyone will need to sell their home or have a desire to do so. 

If selling does make more sense from a cash flow or mobility standpoint, then it is something that is worth discussing with a financial advisor. 

Moving to a CCRC is a conversation that we have, too. The CCRC allows you to receive community and care throughout the various stages of retirement, which is also a nice perk. 

What Happens in Our Strategy Meeting 

We have software that allows us to plug in the numbers and look at what your financial decisions today will mean in the future. Let’s assume that your target date for retirement is five years from now. 

In five years, we can simulate: 

  • What the sale price of your home is likely to be in five years 
  • Tax consequences of selling the home 
  • What it looks like if you use the funds to buy into a CCRC or another home that’s better for your scenario 

Our goal is to show you how downsizing in retirement may benefit you. We’re able to see how a lower mortgage (or no mortgage) can benefit your overall cash flow and retirement plan. If you don’t have a $1,000 – $3,000 house payment, it can make a world of difference in your expenses. 

Visualizing all the cash flows through the software helps you feel more confident in your decision, which may or may not be to sell your home. 

We can look at this scenario for you if you have two homes and want to sell one in the future or even if you want to make a large purchase in the future. Seeing the figures of your retirement and how the decisions you make today can shape your retirement is empowering. 

If you need help to secure your retirement, are considering downsizing and want to see how it may benefit you or want to know if you can really afford that once-in-a-lifetime trip, we’re here to have that conversation with you. 

Click here to schedule a call with us to learn more. 

April 29, 2024 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 April 29, 2024

Why Savvy Savers Should Spend More in Retirement – Part 2

In this Episode of the Secure Your Retirement Podcast, Radon, Murs, and Taylor discuss in detail the importance of spending more in retirement as a savvy saver. Taylor provides a numerical analysis and insights into how spending habits in retirement can impact your financial plan in a scenario of a sample retired couple in their late 60s.


Why Savvy Savers Should Spend More in Retirement – Part 2

Learn the importance of aligning expenses with income sources and assets in retirement planning, considering inflation and the potential for increased expenses. You will also learn the importance of enjoying retirement and fulfilling bucket list items even when they require larger withdrawals.

Why Savvy Savers Should Spend More in Retirement – Part 2

If you missed Part 1 of this series, we recommend that you either read through our blog post here or listen to the podcast here. Continuing on with Part 2 of why savvy spenders should spend more in retirement, we decided to bring in our own Taylor Wolverton, CFP ®, Enrolled Agent, on the discussion. 

Foundation of Why Savvy Savers Should Spend More in Retirement 

Oftentimes, we have conversations with clients who have more money than they’ll need in retirement. However, at times the fear of running out of money is so great that even when it’s a necessity, they hesitate to spend. Because of this, many will pass on a multimillion-dollar legacy to their beneficiaries at death, whether that is their true intention or not. 

Let’s look at some examples of this concept. 

Husband and Wife, Both 69 Years Old 

Our first example to illustrate the idea is a husband and wife, both currently age 69, with the following details: 

  • Both fully retired- not currently receiving wages or employment income 
  • Husband receives $4,000 a month from Social Security 
  • Wife receives $2,700 a month from Social Security 
  • Wife receives a pension of $1,900 
  • Cash savings of $200,000 
  • Husband’s IRA balance is $1,360,000 
  • Husband’s Roth IRA balance is $50,000 
  • Wife’s IRA balance is $830,000 
  • Wife’s Roth IRA balance is $44,000 
  • Joint brokerage account containing stock worth $80,000 

In total, the couple has $2,564,000 between cash savings, IRAs, Roth IRAs, and stock along with steady sources of income from their pension and social security benefits. 

Let’s look at their spending. 


This couple spends about $12,000 per month to cover their expenses. This does include $6,000 to $7,000 per year that they use for travel. In our long-term projections of this scenario, we assume inflation on their expenses at a rate of 3% per year for the duration of their retirement. 

Note: When we meet with the client, we try to gather as much information as possible to have an awareness of relevant figures, but there are times when someone forgets about an account or a small pension, so it’s something that we continuously review and tweak as necessary over time. 


As previously mentioned, we assume inflation will rise 3% per year. To stress test a retirement scenario, we also assume that the invested assets will have a 4% to 5% return each year which we believe is conservative. We assume the social security and pension amounts stay the exact same with no cost-of-living adjustments over time. 

What the Couple’s Retirement Page Looks Like 

Clients of ours receive a one-page retirement summary that outlines income and expenses for the duration of their retirement. For this couple, the page will show the following: 

  • $1,900 per month from the pension 
  • $6,700 per month in combined Social Security benefits 
  • After subtracting an estimated for tax withholdings, net income is $8,400 per month 

Based on the couple’s current spending habits, they need $3,600 – $4,000 distributed from their accounts per month to make up for this difference. The couple has over $2.5 million in savings, IRAs, stock, etc., so they have a decent amount of money available to take distributions from. 

Both spouses are age 69 today. At this rate of distribution, what will happen by the time they’re 80? 

Inflation Calculation 

The couple spends $12,000 a month at age 69, and by 80, with a 3% inflation rate, this figure will be $16,900. In just 11 years, additional pressure is put on the savings and investment accounts because the couple needs about $8,500 a month to cover expenses after pension and Social Security. 

You can quickly see how inflation will impact your assets. 

At age 69, the couple had over $2.5 million in retirement accounts, and by age 80, we project they will have around $3.2 million. If you were feeling stressed up until this point, you’re not alone. But with a conservative 5% annual rate of return, the couple in this example has more in savings and investments at age 80 than when they started at age 69, even when taking regular monthly distributions to cover their expenses. 

What about at age 90? In this scenario, the couple is projected to have $2.9 million in savings and investments. Withdrawals started to impact the accounts somewhat, but at age 90, the total value is nowhere near an amount that would cause concern around the ability to maintain the current level of spending. 

You can do a lot with $2.9 million and enjoy the money that you worked so hard to accumulate. We know that this couple puts aside $6,000 to $7,000 to travel, but they do have a few bucket list trips that they would love to take. 

$30,000 Trip Added In 

The couple is nervous about taking these bucket list trips because they will have to take a larger withdrawal. For a few years, the couple has wanted to take a $30,000 trip that they couldn’t because of work and other obligations. 

We always sit down to crunch the numbers with our clients because retirement spending is a major source of anxiety for a lot of retirees. 

What we show the client is something like this: 

  • Remember, at age 90, without taking this trip, you’ll have $2.9 million. 
  • Let’s add in the $30,000 expense at age 69. What’s the long-term impact at age 90? The couple has $2,780,000 instead of $2.9 million. 
  • Over 20 years, they may lose about $120,000, but they were able to tick something off their bucket list. 

Will the trip and memories be worth the money? For most people, the answer is a resounding “yes.”  

$35,000 Trip Added in for 2026 

Perhaps the couple was so excited about their first trip and didn’t mind the retirement spending, so they added in an additional trip of $35,000. By age 90, with the $30,000 and $35,000 trip taken, the couple will still have $2.6 million in savings and investments. 

Passing $2.6 million to your beneficiaries is always going to be a nice gift. 

Withdrawing money and adding in these larger expenses into your retirement planning really comes down to “what are you working for in retirement?” The sooner we can add these figures into your plan, the faster we can secure your retirement. 

We encourage you to start looking at the things that you really want to do in retirement and begin planning them now. 

It doesn’t matter if you would never spend $30,000 on a trip or don’t have $2.5 million in retirement accounts. 

Spending and retirement accounts vary drastically between couples. If you’re not spending more than you have, there’s always a good chance that you can start checking off some of the items on your bucket list and still have more than enough money for yourself well into retirement. 

We can run these numbers for you so that you can feel confident about spending more money and making memories for yourself while in retirement. 

If you have any questions or would like us to run the numbers for you, please feel free to reach out to us. 

Click here to schedule a call with us.