SOCIAL SECURITY IS the most important source of income for many retirees. Yet there’s also a lot of confusion, especially when it comes to how benefits are reduced if you continue working and how benefits are taxed. In fact, I’ve heard many folks confuse and conflate these two separate issues.
Want a refresher? Here’s a look at both topics:
Working while collecting. If you start Social Security benefits before you reach your full retirement age (FRA),
MANY FINANCIAL planners say they “stress test” portfolios. That sounds like a good idea, but it isn’t well defined. I decided to do some research to see how I could apply the notion to the investments owned by my wife and me.
I came across a number of useful articles. Investopedia, one of my go-to resources for all things financial, provides this definition: “Stress testing is a computer simulation technique used to test the resilience of institutions and investment portfolios against possible future financial situations.” Forbes,
ONE OF MY FAVORITE things to do is sit on our local beach with a cold beverage on a beautiful day, and talk finance with interested friends and family members. This past Labor Day weekend, I did just that with a soon-to-be retiree.
One of the big issues facing him and his wife: where to live. He had been relocated to New York by his employer. But he and his wife are natives of the Philadelphia region,
BACK IN AUGUST, Adam Grossman wrote a thought-provoking article about regret. He offered six strategies to minimize the chances you’ll end up kicking yourself for a choice you made. That got me thinking about the financial decision I most regret.
I bought a timeshare.
I know this admission will generate strong reactions in the personal finance community. I’d like to claim the ignorance of youth, but I was in my early 50s. I’d like to blame my wife,
WHAT’S YOUR CAPITAL gains tax rate? It’s a crucial number to know—and it could open the door to some big tax savings.
Most investors are aware that there’s a significant difference between the tax rate on short-term capital gains—investments held for a year or less—and that on long-term gains, those held more than a year. Realized short-term gains are dunned as ordinary income, just like your salary or any interest income you earn, while long-term appreciation gets taxed at a lower rate.
SOCIAL SECURITY retirement benefits are one of the most complicated topics in financial planning. As you try to figure out how much you might receive, there are thousands of rules, different types of benefit and numerous scenarios to evaluate.
And then there’s the impact of COVID-19.
It turns out that this year’s economic slump, which caused the economy to shrink by a tenth in the second quarter, may interact with Social Security’s methodology to hurt those who turn age 60 in 2020.
MY WIFE AND I BOUGHT our first home in the mid-1980s. We were thrilled to get an 8% mortgage, though we had to pay three points—an upfront fee equal to 3% of the loan amount—to get that rate. Many of our friends had bought a few years earlier and were paying 14%, a common occurrence back then, according to Freddie Mac data.
We kept our eyes open for opportunities to refinance our high rate.
THIS YEAR’S TAX DAY was the strangest I can remember. Amid the pandemic, the filing deadline had been pushed back to July 15, three months later than usual. And for me, it was our most complicated tax year ever. I had both retirement income and income from various in-state and out-of-state consulting gigs.
But the biggest complication stemmed from last year’s sale of our second home. This was a vacation home that we rented part-time and also used ourselves.
MANY OF US DREAM of owning a second home near the sea, a lake or the mountains. For my wife and me, that dream location was the southern New Jersey Shore. We’d both spent many vacations there as children and then did the same with our own growing family. We had visions of taking grandkids to the beach and boardwalk.
In March 2012, we realized our dream by purchasing a three-bedroom condo in Ocean City,
I’VE BEEN INVOLVED in settling five estates. They ranged from insolvent to almost seven figures. Some were well-organized, but one took significant time and effort to settle. These experiences taught me a key lesson: An organized and easily understood estate is a gift to those you leave behind.
I’m not an estate planning attorney. I’ve dealt with a few and found them to be professional, empathetic and helpful. If you have a complicated financial life or family situation,
MANY OF US HAVE found ourselves with free time on our hands. I’ve read that folks are filling their days with shopping, baking, exercising and binge-watching TV. May I suggest another activity, one that may prove profitable?
Over the past few years, I’ve found significant amounts of money in unlikely places. These treasures often come not just with monetary benefits, but also great memories. Here are four places to look:
1. Forgotten savings bonds.
ONE OF MY GOALS for 2020: develop a plan for doing Roth IRA conversions over the next 10 years. Once the money is out of traditional IRAs and in a Roth, it’ll grow tax-free. Problem is, the conversion means taking a tax hit today.
So why am I interested? There are several reasons: lowering lifetime taxes for my wife and me, creating the flexibility to manage future tax bills and leaving a tax-free inheritance to our children.
BEING STUCK AT HOME lends itself to some less-than-healthy habits, including binge watching TV, snacking at all hours and ignoring daily hygiene. One of the most tempting activities: online shopping.
I’m not normally a shopper, but even I can be lured by the thought of that daily delivery. Amazon, FedEx and UPS trucks go up and down my street all day long. With my older grandsons quarantined in California, buying and shipping a small treat to them—and then seeing their expressions of excitement via Zoom—is priceless.
IT’S TAX SEASON—NOT something many of us look forward to. Although HumbleDollar’s readers may be ready and willing to tackle their own taxes, many others approach Form 1040 with dread. I’ve seen that firsthand.
This has been my second year as a certified volunteer tax counselor for the AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide program, which offers free tax preparation for low-to-moderate income taxpayers, especially those age 50 and older. Earlier this year, Tax-Aide was providing this service at nearly 5,000 locations nationwide,
WHEN STOCKS SLUMP, experts are often quick to advise investors to sit tight or, better still, buy more. But that won’t be the right advice for everybody.
Christine Benz, Morningstar’s director of personal finance and one of my favorite financial writers, recently penned an article listing five questions to ask yourself if you’re pondering whether to reduce your stock exposure during a bear market. I figured I’d work through the five questions—and see what I could learn about my own finances.