Articles for February 2019

Is America Prepared to Retire?

A look at some ways to get ready. 

Are Americans saving enough? Only 19% of U.S. adults describe themselves as “very confident” when asked about their savings. Worry spots include retiring without enough money saved (16%) and anxiety about having a “rainy day” emergency fund (14%). These findings come from the 2018 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. (The survey collected data from 2,017 U.S. adults.)1 

Only 41% of us keep a regular budget. If you are one of those roughly two-out-of-five Americans, you’re on the right track. While this percentage is on par with findings going back to 2007, the study also finds that while 65% of Americans are saving part of their annual income towards retirement, 29% indicate they are “not at all confident” that their savings will be enough to sustain them.1

Relatively few seek the help of a financial professional. When asked “Considering what I already know about personal finance, I could still benefit from some advice and answers to everyday financial questions from a professional,” 79% of respondents agreed with the statement. Yet only 13% indicated that they would seek out the help of some sort of financial professional if they had “financial problems related to debt.” While it isn’t surprising to think that 24% of respondents would turn to friends and family, it may be alarming to learn that 18% would choose to turn to no one at all.1

Why don’t more people seek help? After all, Americans of all incomes and savings levels certainly are free to set financial goals. They may feel embarrassed about speaking to a stranger about personal financial issues. It may also be the case that they feel like they don’t make enough money to speak to a professional, or perhaps, a financial professional is something that millionaires and billionaires have, not the average American worker. Another possibility is that they feel like they have a good handle on their financial future; they have a budget and stick to it, and they contribute to an IRA, 401(k), or have some other investments. But that 79% admission, mentioned above, indicates that a vast majority of Americans are not as confident.1

Defined goals lead to definite strategies. If you set financial objectives, you vault ahead of most Americans – at least according to these findings. A written financial strategy does not imply or guarantee wealth, of course, nor does it ensure that you will reach your goals. Yet that financial strategy does give you an understanding of the distance between your current financial situation (where you are) and where you want to be.

How much have you strategized? Retiring without a financial strategy is an enormous risk; retiring with a strategy that hasn’t been reviewed in several years is also chancy. A relationship with a financial professional can help to bring you up to date about what you need to do and provide you with more clarity and confidence when it comes to the financial future.  

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

Website:  www.cfgiowa.com    

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.

Securities and Registered Investment Advisory Services offered through Silver Oak Securities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Silver Oak Securities, Inc. and Cornerstone Financial Group are separate entities.

Citations.

1 – nfcc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/NFCC_BECU_2018-FLS_datasheet-with-key-findings_031318-002.pdf [3/13/18]

Social Security by the Numbers

Facts about the federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program. 

Social Security has been a pillar of retirement life for several decades, but how much do you really know about it? Here are some facts that might surprise you:

The Social Security trust fund exceeds the gross domestic product of every major economy in the world, except the nine largest: China, the European Union, the United States, India, Japan, Germany, Russia, Indonesia, and Brazil.1

For 61% of retirees, Social Security is a major source of income.1

Benefits are subject to federal income taxes, but it wasn’t always so. Amendments to the Social Security Act made benefits potentially taxable beginning in 1984.1

Benefits are determined by your average earnings during a lifetime of work, based on your 35 highest-earning years.1

If you receive Social Security, you no doubt welcome cost-of-living-adjustments (COLAs) to your benefits. Did you know that Social Security COLAs once required an act of Congress? That was the case before 1975, when they were finally pegged to advances in the Consumer Price Index.1

In the middle of 2018, more than 1 in 6 Americans were collecting Social Security benefits. Older Americans constitute about 80% of Social Security recipients, and their average monthly benefit in June 2018 was $1,413.2

When should you begin taking Social Security? That may depend on several factors, but many people choose to claim benefits as soon as they are eligible. You can receive benefits beginning at age 62, but you may choose to delay taking them. You can wait until age 70 to claim them, and if you take them before reaching Social Security’s Full Retirement Age (67 for those born in 1960 or later), your monthly benefit will be fractionally reduced. You may receive over one million dollars total in benefits across your retirement, so when and how you decide to take that income may be critical.1,3

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

Website:  www.cfgiowa.com

Securities and Registered Investment Advisory Services offered through Silver Oak Securities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Silver Oak Securities, Inc. and Cornerstone Financial Group are separate entities.

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 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 – https://www.waddell.com/explore-insights/market-news-and-guidance/planning/9-facts-about-social-security [2/13/19]
2 – https://www.cbpp.org/research/social-security/policy-basics-top-ten-facts-about-social-security [8/14/18]
3 – https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/agereduction.html [12/13/18]

Certain Uncertainties in Retirement

Two financial unknowns may erode our degree of confidence.   

The financial uncertainties we face in retirement may risk reducing our sense of confidence, potentially undermining our outlook during those years.

Indeed, according to the 2018 Retirement Confidence Survey by the Employee Benefits Research Institute, only 17% of pre-retirees said they are “very confident” about having enough assets to live comfortably in retirement. In addition, just 32% of retirees were “very confident” in their prospects for doing so.1

Today, retirees face two overarching uncertainties. While each one can lead even the best-laid strategies awry, it is important to remember that remaining flexible and responsive to changes in the financial landscape may help you meet the challenges posed by uncertainty in the years ahead.

An Uncertain Tax Structure. A mounting national debt and the growing liabilities of Social Security and Medicare are straining federal finances. How these challenges will be resolved remains unknown, but higher taxes – along with means-testing for Social Security and Medicare – are obvious possibilities for policymakers.

Whatever tax rates may be in the future, taxes can be a drag on your savings and may adversely impact your retirement security. Moreover, any reduction of Social Security or Medicare benefits has the potential to increase financial strain during your retirement.

Consequently, you will need to be ever mindful of a changing tax landscape and strategies to manage the impact of whatever changes occur.

Market Uncertainty. If you know someone who retired (or wanted to retire) in 2008, you know what market uncertainty can do to a retirement blueprint.

The uncertainties have not gone away. Are we at the cusp of a bond market bubble bursting? Will the eurozone find its footing? Will U.S. debt be a drag on our economic vitality?

Over a 30-year period, uncertainties may evaporate or resolve themselves, but new ones may also emerge. Solutions for one set of financial or economic circumstances may not be appropriate for a new set of circumstances.

Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle said, “He who could foresee affairs three days in advance would be rich for thousands of years.” Preparing for uncertainties is less about knowing what the future holds as it is being able to respond to changes as they unfold.2

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

Website:  cfgiowa.com

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 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.

Securities and Registered Investment Advisory Services offered through Silver Oak Securities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Silver Oak Securities, Inc. and Cornerstone Financial Group are separate entities.

Citations.

1 – https://www.ebri.org/docs/default-source/rcs/1_2018rcs_report_v5mgachecked.pdf?sfvrsn=e2e9302f_2 [4/24/18]
2 – https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/thomas_carlyle_118785 [12/17/18]

1099 Forms

Explaining these ubiquitous forms and their uses.

What is a 1099 form? This is a record of payment from an individual or entity, showing a payment, generated for your records. The individual/entity sends a copy to both the payee as well as the I.R.S.1

Who might be sending 1099s? Clients send their freelancers 1099s, recording work performed. Banks send 1099s to reflect interest from a savings account. A state may send a 1099 for a tax refund. If the financial institution who handles your retirement account writes you a check, they will also send you a 1099.1

In any event, a 1099 includes the taxpayer identification number or Social Security Number of the payee. Receiving the 1099 does not automatically mean that the payee owes tax, as there could be situations that offset that income, but it definitely means that the I.R.S. also has a record of that payment.1

There are many types of 1099 form. Here are a few of them:

1099-A. This form is a consequence of foreclosure or bank repossession of secured real property – “acquisition or abandonment,” in I.R.S. terms. Lenders send it to the foreclosed party and the buyer.1

1099-B. Brokers and barter exchanges report proceeds from securities, futures, commodities, or barter exchange transactions with a 1099-B.1

1099-C. The 1099-C reports debt cancellation. You must claim the indicated amount on the 1099-C form as income in the year the debt was forgiven. When you pay income taxes on that amount, the creditor cannot come after the debt again. This form sometimes follows a foreclosure.1

1099-CAP. This one is for those who own shares in a corporation that has been acquired or has undergone a significant change in capital structure. If it was sold or changes have been made where you’ve earned cash or stock, for example, this form would be necessary.1

1099-DIV. When you receive dividends, capital gain distributions, or liquidation distributions, you get one of these. For example, when a mutual fund sells off funds and realizes a capital gain, the fund informs you of your share of the capital gain through a 1099-DIV.1

1099-G. This form reports payments from government agencies and qualified state tuition programs – everything from state and local tax refunds and unemployment benefits to agriculture payments, gambling winnings, and taxable grants. It is usually issued to show unemployment benefits or a state tax refund.1

1099-INT. This form reports interest income of $10 or more, and sometimes other tax items related to interest income (such as federal tax withholding or early withdrawal penalties).1

 1099-LTC. As the LTC part hints, these forms report distributions (payments) from long term care insurance contracts and accelerated death benefits paid out as a result of a life insurance contract or a viatical settlement.1

1099-MISC. This category includes “miscellaneous income,” including awards and prizes.1

1099-OID. The 1099-OID reports the difference between the stated redemption price of a bond at maturity and the issue price of that bond.1

1099-PATR. This form reports patronage dividends, such as in a farm cooperative.1

 1099-Q. Have you been paying for school expenses from a 529 plan or a similar savings plan? Withdrawals will be reported on this form.1

1099-R. The 1099-R reports distributions from all types of retirement, pension, and profit-sharing plans as well as any IRA or annuity contract.1

1099-S. The 1099-S reports gross proceeds from real estate transactions or exchanges.1

1099-SA. This form reports distributions from Health Savings Accounts (HSA), Archer Medical Savings Accounts (Archer MSA), or Medicare Advantage Medical Savings Accounts (MA MSA).1

Questions? Are you thinking you should have received one of these forms? Or maybe sent one of these forms? Be sure to talk with a qualified tax professional or qualified financial professional today; they can help you generate, request, and understand the 1099 forms in question.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at 641-344-0328 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website:  www.cfgiowa.com

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.

Securities and Registered Investment Advisory Services offered through Silver Oak Securities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Silver Oak Securities, Inc. and Cornerstone Financial Group are separate entities.

Citations.

1 – nerdwallet.com/blog/taxes/what-is-a-1099-form/ [8/22/18]