Articles for May 2015

Are Your Kids Delaying Your Retirement?

Some baby boomers are supporting their “boomerang” children.

Are you providing some financial support to your adult children? Has that hurt your retirement prospects?

It seems that the wealthier you are, the greater your chances of lending a helping hand to your kids. Pew Research Center data compiled in late 2014 revealed that 38% of American parents had given financial assistance to their grown children in the past 12 months, including 73% of higher-income parents.1

The latest Bank of America/USA Today Better Money Habits Millennial Report shows that 22% of 30- to 34-year-olds get financial help from their moms and dads. Twenty percent of married or cohabiting millennials receive such help as well.2

Do these households feel burdened? According to the Pew survey, no: 89% of parents who had helped their grown children financially said it was emotionally rewarding to do so. Just 30% said it was stressful.1

Other surveys paint a different picture. Earlier this year, the financial research firm Hearts & Wallets presented a poll of 5,500 U.S. households headed by baby boomers. The major finding: boomers who were not supporting their adult children were nearly 2½ times more likely to be fully retired than their peers (52% versus 21%).3

In TD Ameritrade’s 2015 Financial Disruptions Survey, 66% of Americans said their long-term saving and retirement plans had been disrupted by external circumstances; 24% cited “supporting others” as the reason. In addition, the Hearts & Wallets researchers told MarketWatch that boomers who lent financial assistance to their grown children were 25% more likely to report “heightened financial anxiety” than other boomers; 52% were ill at ease about assuming investment risk.3,4

Economic factors pressure young adults to turn to the bank of Mom & Dad. Thirty or forty years ago, it was entirely possible in many areas of the U.S. for a young couple to buy a home, raise a couple of kids and save 5-10% percent of their incomes. For millennials, that is sheer fantasy. In fact, the savings rate for Americans younger than 35 now stands at -1.8%.5

Housing costs are impossibly high; so are tuition costs. The jobs they accept frequently pay too little and lack the kind of employee benefits preceding generations could count on. The Bank of America/USA Today survey found that 20% of millennials carrying education debt had put off starting a family because of it; 20% had taken jobs for which they were overqualified. The average monthly student loan payment for a millennial was $201.2

Since 2007, the inflation-adjusted median wage for Americans aged 25-34 has declined in nearly every major industry (health care being the exception). Wage growth for younger workers is 60% of what it is for older workers. The real shocker, according to Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco data: while overall U.S. wages rose 15% between 2007-14, wages for entry-level business and finance jobs only rose 2.6% in that period.5,6

It is wonderful to help, but not if it hurts your retirement. When a couple in their fifties or sixties assumes additional household expenses, the risk to their retirement savings increases. Additionally, their retirement vision risks being amended and compromised.

The bottom line is that a couple should not offer long-run financial help. That will not do a young college graduate any favors. Setting expectations is only reasonable: establishing a deadline when the support ends is another step toward instilling financial responsibility in your son or daughter. A contract, a rental agreement, an encouragement to find a place with a good friend – these are not harsh measures, just rational ones.

With no ground rules and the bank of Mom and Dad providing financial assistance without end, a “boomerang” son or daughter may stay in the bedroom or basement for years and a boomer couple may end up retiring years later than they previously imagined. Putting a foot down is not mean – younger and older adults face economic challenges alike, and couples in their fifties and sixties need to stand up for their retirement dreams.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph# 641-782-5577 or email:  mikem@cfgiowa.com

website:  www.cfgiowa.com

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.  

Citations.

1 – pewsocialtrends.org/2015/05/21/5-helping-adult-children/ [5/21/15]

2 – newsroom.bankofamerica.com/press-releases/consumer-banking/parents-great-recession-influence-millennial-money-views-and-habits/ [4/21/15]

3 – marketwatch.com/story/are-your-kids-ruining-your-retirement-2015-05-05 [5/5/15]

4 – amtd.com/newsroom/press-releases/press-release-details/2015/Financial-Disruptions-Cost-Americans-25-Trillion-in-Lost-Retirement-Savings/default.aspx [2/17/15]

5 – theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/12/millennials-arent-saving-money-because-theyre-not-making-money/383338/ [12/3/14]

6 – theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/07/millennial-entry-level-wages-terrible-horrible-just-really-bad/374884/ [7/23/14]

Are You Retiring Within the Next 5 Years?

What should you focus on as the transition approaches?

You can prepare for your retirement transition years before it occurs. In doing so, you can do your best to avoid the kind of financial surprises that tend to upset an unsuspecting new retiree.

How much monthly income will you need? Look at your monthly expenses and add them up. (Consider also the trips, adventures and pursuits you have in mind in the near term.) You may end up living on less; that may be acceptable, as your monthly expenses may decline. If your retirement income strategy was conceived a few years ago, revisit it to see if it needs adjusting. As a test, you can even try living on your projected monthly income for 2-3 months prior to retiring.

Should you try to go Roth? Many pre-retirees have amassed substantial retirement savings in tax-deferred retirement accounts such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s and traditional IRAs. Distributions from these accounts are taxed as ordinary income. This reality makes some pre-retirees weigh the pros and cons of a Roth IRA or Roth 401(k) conversion for some or all of those assets. You may want to consider the “Roth tradeoff” – being taxed on the amount of retirement savings you convert today in exchange for the ability to take tax-free withdrawals from the Roth IRA or 401(k) tomorrow. (You must be 59½ and have owned that Roth account for at least five years to take tax-free distributions.)1

Should you downsize or relocate? Moving to another state may lessen your tax burden. Moving into a smaller home may reduce your monthly expenses. In a perfect world, you would retire without any mortgage debt. If you will still be paying off your home loan in retirement, realize that your monthly income might be lower as you do so. You may want to investigate a refi, but consider that the cost of a refi can offset the potential savings down the line.

How conservative should your portfolio be? Even if your retirement savings are substantial, growth investing gives your portfolio the potential to keep pace with or keep ahead of rising consumer prices. Mere gradual inflation has the capability to erode your purchasing power over time. As an example, at 3% inflation what costs $10,000 today will cost more than $24,000 in 2045.2

In planning for retirement, the top priority is to build savings; within retirement, the top priority is generating consistent, sufficient income. With that in mind, portfolio assets may be adjusted or reallocated with respect to time: it may be wise to have some risk-averse investments that can provide income in the next few years as well as growth investments geared to income or savings objectives on the long-term horizon.

How will you live? There are people who wrap up their careers without much idea of what their day-to-day life will be like once they retire. Some picture an endless Saturday. Others wonder if they will lose their sense of purpose (and self) away from work. Remember that retirement is a beginning. Ask yourself what you would like to begin doing. Think about how to structure your days to do it, and how your day-to-day life could change for the better with the gift of more free time.

Many retirees find that their expenses “out of the gate” are larger than they anticipated – more travel and leisure means more money spent. Even so, no business owner or professional wants to enter retirement pinching pennies. If you want to live it up a little yet are worried about drawing down your retirement savings too fast, consider slimming transportation costs (car and gasoline expenses; maybe you could even live car-free), landscaping costs, or other monthly costs that amount to discretionary spending better suited to youth or mid-life.

How will you take care of yourself? What kind of health insurance do you have right now? If your company sponsors a group health plan, you may as well get the most out of it (in terms of doctor, dentist and optometrist visits) before you leave the office.

If you retire prior to age 65, Medicare will not be there for you. Check and see if your group health plan will extend certain benefits to you when you retire; it may or may not. If you can stay enrolled in it, great; if not, you may have to find new coverage at presumably higher premiums.

Even if you retire at 65 or later, Medicare is no panacea. Your out-of-pocket health care expenses could still be substantial with Medicare in place. Long term care is another consideration – if you think you (or your spouse) will need it, should it be funded through existing assets or some form of LTC insurance?

Give your retirement strategy a second look as the transition approaches. Review it in the company of the financial professional who helped you create and refine it. An adjustment or two before retirement may be necessary due to life or financial events.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph# 641-782-5577 or email:  mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website:  www.cfgiowa.com

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 – turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/Retirement/The-Tax-Benefits-of-Your-401-k–Plan/INF22614.html [5/7/15]

2 – investopedia.com/articles/markets/042215/best-etfs-inflationary-worries.asp [4/22/15]

 

Saving Your Elderly Parents from Financial Fraud

Talk to them about their money (and those who could take it away).

 Elders are financially defrauded daily in this country. Just a tiny percentage of these crimes are made public. In fact, the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) estimates that only 1 in 44 cases of elder financial abuse are reported. A recent NAPSA study found that 11% of seniors had been financially “abused, neglected or exploited” within the past year.1

Friends, family & caregivers perpetrate much of this financial abuse. They commit 90% of it, NAPSA estimates. Major damage may result to an elder’s finances and physical and mental health: victims of elder financial exploitation are four times more likely to go into a nursing home than their peers, and nearly 10% of the victims end up relying on Medicaid.1

Frauds range from big scams to little schemes. You likely know about the common ones: the grandparent scam (“Grandpa, I’m in jail in _____ and I need $___ to make bail”), the utility company scam (one criminal keeps the elder busy in the yard as the other burglarizes their home), the lottery scam (a huge prize awaits, the elder need only pay a few thousand upfront to take care of associated taxes). Others are subtler: home health aides severely overcharging an elder for their services, relatives or caregivers using a financial power of attorney to draw down an elder’s bank or investment accounts.

Talking about all this may help to prevent it. Perhaps the best way to introduce the topic is by referring to what happened to someone else – a story coming up on the news or in the paper, an article online. AARP’s Fraud Watch Network emails a monthly newsletter highlighting common scams; it also maintains a map showing per-state occurrences of such crimes.2

A 2014 Allianz Life survey discovered something very encouraging. Seniors who have talked about the issue of financial exploitation with others seem less likely to succumb to it, especially seniors who have talked about such risks in the company of a financial professional.2

The insurer asked more than 2,000 Americans about their awareness of financial fraud – men and women aged 65+, and select family members and friends aged 40-64. It found that 97% of seniors who talked about finances with a hired professional were likely to check their monthly credit and financial statements, while only 84% of those who talked about their finances with no one were likely to do so. It also found that 93% of seniors who communicated with a hired professional were likely to refrain from signing a financial document they could not fully understand; that was true for just 82% of seniors who had never addressed financial topics in the company of professionals, friends or family.2

Another pair of examples: 85% of elders who discussed personal finances consistently shredded or destroyed sensitive financial paperwork while just 69% of those who refrained from such discussion did. Thirty-seven percent of seniors who talked about their finances with a professional were also more likely to have a co-signer for their bank accounts, as opposed to 14% of those who were handling their personal finances solo.2

Have the conversation; have a look at Mom or Dad’s financial situation. It is only prudent to do so. The National Center on Elder Abuse says that the average financial fraud perpetrated on an elder siphons $30,000 out of his or her finances. Think about how devastating that is, especially for a poorer retiree; that may equal a year’s worth of medical expenses, a majority of an elder’s yearly income, or a double-digit percentage of his or her remaining retirement savings. Elders rich and poor need to be warned about such crimes.3

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph# 641-782-5577 or email:  mikem@cfgiowa.com

website:  www.cfgiowa.com

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

 Citations.

1 – napsa-now.org/policy-advocacy/exploitation/ [4/30/15]

2 – allianzlife.com/about/news-and-events/news-releases/preventing-elder-financial-abuse [4/20/15]

3 – tinyurl.com/p4y6pa7 [4/20/15]

Partnership Plans for Long Term Care

Many states are assisting their residents to buy LTC insurance. 

A helping hand for a pressing need. With the baby boom generation maturing, numerous studies and articles have pointed out the rising need for long term care. Some state governments have directly responded to it.

Now, many states have created partnership programs to encourage their residents to purchase LTC insurance coverage. It only makes sense: if more people opt to privately insure themselves, a state will face less of a burden and less liability when it comes to its own eldercare programs and eldercare costs.

How the partnership plans work. Essentially, these plans provide dollar-for-dollar asset protection when you buy an LTC policy. So for every dollar the policy pays out in benefits, you get an equal dollar amount in asset protection under a state’s Medicaid spend-down regulations.

What does this mean for you? It means that you are able to retain assets you would otherwise have to spend down before you could qualify for state Medicaid benefits.

These partnership plans let you protect an amount of funds equal to the amount the policy pays out in benefits and still qualify for state Medicaid assistance (as long as you have used up all policy benefits and still require long term care).

Typically, Medicaid kicks in only when you are destitute. But with these partnership programs, you don’t have to be destitute to receive state assistance, even if your need for care outlasts your LTC policy benefits.

With these programs in place, LTC insurance seems more and more attractive. That’s important, because it has never seemed as essential as it does today.

 Does your LTC policy qualify for a partnership plan? You should find out if it does. Most LTC policies sold today do qualify for these partnership plans. A key factor is whether a policy has an age-related inflation protection benefit. In these policies, your daily or monthly LTC benefit amount is adjusted upward in response to inflation and increased cost of expenses. With these inflation-adjusted policies, your benefits typically go up each year, but your premiums may not.

There’s really not much incentive for state governments to partner with LTC policyholders whose policies aren’t inflation-adjusted. What would happen is that with each passing year, the odds would rise of the policyholder using up the whole LTC benefit and leaning on a state Medicaid program, so the state would be poised to pick up more and more of the cost of eldercare with the passage of time.

 The Ohio example. Consider the State of Ohio’s Partnership for Long-Term Care Insurance, and the need it meets. In 2007, the average annual cost of a private or semi-private room in a nursing home exceeded $60,000 in Ohio, and the cost for a licensed, Medicare-certified home health aide was nearly $52,000 per year (for 50 hours of care per week).1

Here’s the kind of difference the Ohio partnership plan could make for an Ohio resident. As an hypothetical example, let’s say Mr. and Mrs. Jones in Toledo have a $100,000 LTC policy. Once they use up their $100,000 policy benefit, they have to spend down their assets to $2,250 before they can get state Medicaid benefits. But if they exhaust a $100,000 partnership policy, they can potentially qualify for Medicaid coverage and still hang on to $101,500 of their assets.2

In Ohio, if you bought your current LTC policy after August 12, 2002, your insurer must offer you the choice of exchanging it for a partnership-compatible policy. You have 90 days to decide if you want to do that.3 Ohio also offers state residents free, in-home long term care consultations.

What kind of long term care coverage do you have? Do you have a policy that is eligible for a partnership plan? Do you have any LTC policy at all? It is wise to look into this. It may be essential for your long-range financial well-being. I urge you to speak with a qualified insurance advisor or financial professional today about long term care coverage, and these remarkably useful partnership plans.

This was prepared by Peter Montoya Inc., not the named Representative nor Broker/Dealer, and should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representative nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information.

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph. 641-782-5577 or mikem@cfgiowa.com

website:  www.cfgiowa.com

Citations. 1 ltc4me.ohio.gov/faq.aspx            [8/08]

2 ltc4me.ohio.gov/faq.aspx [8/08]

3 ltc4me.ohio.gov/faq.aspx [8/08]

The Difference Between Good & Bad Debt

Some debts are worth assuming, but others exert a drag on retirement saving.

Who will retire with substantial debt? It seems many baby boomers will – too many. In a 2014 Employee Benefit Research Institute survey, 44% of boomers reported that they were concerned about the size of their household debt. While many are carrying mortgages, paying with plastic also exerts a drag on their finances. According to credit reporting agency Experian, boomers are the generation holding the most credit cards (an average of 2.66 per person) and the biggest average per-person credit card balance ($5,347).1,2

Indebtedness plagues all generations – and that is why the distinction between good debt and bad debt should be recognized.

What distinguishes a good debt from a bad one? A good debt is purposeful – the borrower assumes it in pursuit of an important life or financial objective, such as homeownership or a college degree. A good debt also gives a borrower long-term potential to make money exceeding the money borrowed. Good debts commonly have both of these characteristics.

In contrast, bad debts are taken on for comparatively trivial reasons, and are usually arranged through credit cards that may charge the borrower double-digit interest (not a small factor in the $5,347 average credit card balance cited above).

Some people break it down further. Thomas Anderson – an executive director of wealth management at Morgan Stanley and the author of the best-selling The Value of Debt in Retirement – identifies three kinds of indebtedness. Oppressive debt is debt at 10% or greater interest, a payday loan being a classic example. Working debt comes with much less interest and may be tax-deductible (think mortgage payments), so it may be worth carrying.3

Taking a page from corporate finance, Anderson also introduces the concept of enriching debt –strategic debt assumed with the certainty than it can be erased at any time. In the enriching debt model, an individual “captures the spread” – he or she borrows from an investment portfolio to pay off student loans, or pays little or nothing down on a home and invests the lump sum saved into equity investments whose rate of return may exceed the mortgage interest. This is not exactly a mainstream approach, but Anderson has argued that it is a wise one, telling the Washington Post that “the second you pay down your house, it’s a one-way liquidity trap, especially for retirees.”3,4

Mortgage debt is the largest debt for most new retirees. According to the American College, the average new retiree carries $100,000 in home loan debt. That certainly amounts to good debt for most people.3

Student loans usually amount to good debt, but not necessarily for the increasing numbers of retiring baby boomers who carry them. Education loans have become the second-largest debt for this demographic, and in some cases retirees are paying off loans taken out for their children or grandchildren.3

Credit card and auto loan debt also factor into the picture. Some contend that an auto loan is actually a good debt because borrower has purchased a durable good, but the interest rates and minimal odds of appreciation for cars and trucks suggest otherwise.

Some households lack budgets. In others, the budget is reliant on everything is going well. Either case opens a door for the accumulation of bad debts.

The fifties are crucial years for debt management. The years from 50-59 may represent the peak earning years for an individual, yet they may also bring peak indebtedness with money going out for everything from mortgage payments to eldercare to child support. As many baby boomers will retire with debt, the reality is that their retirement income will need to be large enough to cover those obligations.

How much debt are you carrying today? Whether you want to retire debt-free or live with some debt after you sell your business or end your career, you need to maintain the financial capacity to address it and/or eradicate it. Speak with a financial professional about your options.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at  ph# 641-782-5577 or email:  mikem@cfgiowa.com

website:  www.cfgiowa.com

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.  

Citations.

1 – foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2015/03/26/strategic-debt-can-help-in-retirement/ [3/26/15]

2 – gobankingrates.com/personal-finance/19-easy-ways-baby-boomers-can-build-credit/ [4/23/15]

3 – usatoday.com/story/money/columnist/brooks/2015/04/22/retirement-401k-debt-mortgage/25837369/ [4/22/15]

4 – washingtonpost.com/news/get-there/wp/2015/03/26/the-case-for-not-paying-off-your-mortgage-by-retirement/ [3/26/15]