FINANCIAL FOCUS – Consider These Financial Tips for Single Women

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If you’re a single woman, most of your financial challenges and aspirations may resemble those of single men. Men and women face the same economic stress factors of modern life, and both groups have similar financial goals, such as the ability to retire comfortably. But women still face specific obstacles. You need to be aware of these challenges – and do everything you can to overcome them.

For example, women still face a wage gap. In 2017, women earned 82% of what men earned, according to the Pew Research Center. However, the wage gap narrows among younger workers, and may even disappear for highly educated women, especially those in the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Another financial concern for women is connected to their role as caregivers.  Women spend an average of 12 years out of the workforce to care for children, elderly relatives, and even friends, according to an estimate by the Social Security Administration. Other studies report different figures, but all the evidence points to women being the ones who take time off from work to care for loved ones. This means fewer contributions to Social Security, 401(k)s and other retirement plans.

Faced with these and other issues, what can you do to help yourself move toward your important goals? Consider these steps:

  • Develop good financial habits. Establishing good financial habits can pay off for you throughout your lifetime. These habits can include maintaining a budget, keeping your debts under control, and putting aside some money for a “rainy day.”
  • Take advantage of available opportunities. If you work for an organization that offers a 401(k) or similar plan, contribute as much as you think you can afford. At the very least, put in enough to earn your employer’s matching contribution, if one is offered. And every time your salary goes up, increase the amount you invest in your plan. Also, think about opening an IRA, which, like a 401(k), can offer tax-advantaged investment opportunities. If you have children, you’ll also want to explore college savings vehicles, such as a 529 plan.
  • Educate yourself about investing – and get professional advice. Some people think investing is just too complex and mysterious to be understandable. Yet, with patience and a willingness to learn, you can become quite knowledgeable about how to invest, what you’re investing in and what forces affect the investment world. And to help you create an investment strategy that’s appropriate for your goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon, you may also want to work with a financial professional.
  • Discuss financial issues with your future spouse. If you get married or re-married, you’ll want to discuss financial issues with your new spouse. Specifically, you’ll want to answer questions such as these: What assets and debts do each of you bring to the marriage? Do you plan to merge your finances or keep them separate? Are your investment styles compatible? Do you have similar long-term goals? You and your new spouse don’t need identical views on every financial topic, but you both need to be willing to work together to advance your common interests.

Ultimately, you have a lot of control over your own financial future. And making informed choices can help make that future a bright one.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Where You Live as Retiree Can Affect Financial Strategies

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Upon retiring, many people relocate to enjoy a more favorable climate, or to be closer to grown children, or to live in an area they’ve visited and enjoyed. If you, too, are thinking of moving someday, you’ll want to study possible locations, but you also need to be aware that where you eventually decide to live can greatly affect your savings and investment strategies – both now and during your retirement.

Here are some relocation costs to consider:

  • Housing – Not surprisingly, the larger the city, the more expensive the housing is likely to be. Also, locations near an ocean or the mountains tend to be more costly. But the type of housing you select – house, apartment or condominium – also can affect your financial picture in terms of initial expense, maintenance and possible tax benefits. Plus, you can now find newer types of arrangements, such as senior cooperative housing, in which you own a share of the community and have a voice in how it’s run.
  • Health care – If you are 65 or older when you retire, you’ll have Medicare to cover some of your health care costs, though you’ll still likely need to purchase some type of supplemental coverage. However, out-of-pocket health care expenses may vary in different parts of the country, so this is something else you’ll want to check out before relocating. Of course, the availability of good medical facilities may be just as important to you as health care costs.
  • Taxes – You may hear about people moving to a different state to lower their tax burden during retirement. A few states don’t have personal state income taxes, and many others offer favorable tax breaks on retirement income, so, if taxes are a major concern, you’ll want to research the tax situation of prospective retirement locations. You may also want to consult with your tax advisor.

These aren’t all the areas you will need to consider when estimating your total cost of living in a retirement destination, but they should give you a good idea of what you can expect. And your choice of where to live as a retiree can affect your financial strategy in at least two ways: how you invest today and how much you can withdraw from your retirement accounts when you’re retired.

Regarding how you invest today, you should evaluate whether your current investment strategy is likely to produce the resources needed to support you adequately in the retirement location you’ve chosen. So, for example, if you think you’re going to live in a fairly expensive place, you may need to reduce your expenses, delay retirement or work part time.

Your choice of a retirement destination also may affect how much money you withdraw each year from your 401(k) and IRA. When choosing an appropriate withdrawal rate, you’ll need to consider other variables – your age, the amount of money in your retirement accounts, other available assets, etc. – but your cost of living will be a key factor. A financial professional can help you determine the withdrawal rate that’s right for you.

When you retire, it can be a great feeling to live where you want, but you’ll enjoy it more if you’re fully aware of the costs involved – and the financial steps you’ll need to take.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Saying “I Do” Might Mean “I Can’t” for Roth IRA

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June is a popular month for weddings. If you are planning on tying the knot this month, it’s an exciting time, but be aware that being married might affect you in unexpected ways – including the way you invest. If you and your new spouse both earn fairly high incomes, you may find that you are not eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA.

A Roth IRA can be a great way to save for retirement. You can fund your IRA with virtually any type of investment, and, although your contributions are not deductible, any earnings growth is distributed tax-free, provided you don’t start withdrawals until you are 59-1/2 and you’ve had your account at least five years. In 2018, you can contribute up to $5,500 to your Roth IRA, or $6,500 if you’re 50 or older.

But here’s where your “just married” status can affect your ability to invest in a Roth IRA. When you were single, you could put in the full amount to your Roth IRA if your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) was less than $120,000; past that point, your allowable contributions were reduced until your MAGI reached $135,000, after which you could no longer contribute to a Roth IRA at all. But once you got married, these limits did not double. Instead, if you’re married and filing jointly, your maximum contribution amount will be gradually reduced once your MAGI reaches $189,000, and your ability to contribute disappears entirely when your MAGI is $199,000 or more.

Furthermore, if you are married and filing separately, you are ineligible to contribute to a Roth IRA if your MAGI is just $10,000 or more.

So, as a married couple, how can you maximize your contributions? The answer may be that, similar to many endeavors in life, if one door is closed to you, you have to find another – in this case, a “backdoor” Roth IRA.

Essentially, a backdoor Roth IRA is a conversion of traditional IRA assets to a Roth. A traditional IRA does not offer tax-free earnings distributions, though your contributions can be fully or partially deductible, depending on your income level. But no matter how much you earn, you can roll as much money as you want from a traditional IRA to a Roth, even if that amount exceeds the yearly contribution limits. And once the money is in the Roth, the rules for tax-free withdrawals will apply.

Still, getting into this back door is not necessarily without cost. You must pay taxes on any money in your traditional IRA that hasn’t already been taxed, and the funds going into your Roth IRA will likely count as income, which could push you into a higher tax bracket in the year you make the conversion.

Will incurring these potential tax consequences be worth it to you? It might be, as the value of tax-free withdrawals can be considerable. However, you should certainly analyze the pros and cons of this conversion with your tax advisor before making any decisions.

In any case, if you’ve owned a Roth IRA, or if you were even considering one, be aware of the new parameters you face when you get married. And take the opportunity to explore all the ways you and your new spouse can create a positive investment strategy for your future.

Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Time for Your Pre-retiree Checklist?

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Like everyone, you want to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle when you retire. But a successful retirement doesn’t just happen – it requires a lot of planning. And that’s why it’s a good idea to draw up a “pre-retiree checklist.”

Such a checklist might look like this:

__Twenty years before retirement: Try to estimate a “price tag” for your retirement, incorporating a variety of factors – where you might live, how much you might travel, what activities you’ll pursue, and so on. Then, assess if your retirement savings are on track to help you meet your expected costs. From this point, monitor your progress every year.

__Fifteen years before retirement: Although you’re still fairly far away from retirement, you’ll want to bring your goals and challenges into a clearer focus. For starters, try to establish a firmer target goal for the assets you’ll need during retirement. Also, consider your legacy goals and start developing your estate plans, if you haven’t already done so. You might also explore methods of dealing with potentially enormous long-term care costs, such as an extended stay in a nursing home. Solutions to long-term care may become much more expensive later in life.

__Ten years before retirement: At this stage, in addition to reviewing your target asset and spending levels, you’ll want to get more precise about how much income you can expect as a retiree, whether through your investments or retirement accounts (such as your 401(k) and IRA), or through some type of part-time work or consulting. Maintaining an adequate income flow is extremely important, because you could spend two or three decades as a retiree, and some of your expenses – health care in particular – will likely rise during the later years. It’s important to plan for health care and long-term care, given the costs and ability to qualify for coverage later in life.

__Five years before retirement: Re-evaluate your investment mix to help reduce the risk of having your portfolio vulnerable to a market downturn when you plan to retire. Generally speaking, stocks and other growth-oriented investments are more volatile than bonds and other income-producing vehicles. So, you may want to consider shifting some – but certainly not all – of your investment dollars from the “growth” portion of your portfolio to the “income” side.

__Two years before retirement: This close to retirement, you’ll want to pay particularly close attention to health-care expenses, so you may want to investigate Medicare supplemental policies. You’ll also want to ensure that you have an adequate emergency fund to cope with unexpected costs, such as major home repairs. In addition, you’ll want to think about whether you should take Social Security right away or if you can afford to wait until your monthly checks will be bigger.

__One year before retirement: Now it’s time for some key decisions: How much can you withdraw each year from your 401(k), IRA and other retirement accounts without running the risk of outliving your money? Have you lined up your health care coverage? And, finally, are you really set on retiring in a year or could you delay retirement to improve your financial picture?

This checklist isn’t exhaustive – but it can give you a good idea of the various issues you’ll need to consider on the long road to retirement. And the sooner you start planning for that journey, the better.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Can You Afford to Retire Early?

Some people dream of retiring early. Are you one of them? If so, you’ll need to plan ahead – because a successful early retirement can’t be achieved through last-minute moves.

So, if you’re determined to retire early, consider taking the following steps:

  • Pick a date. Early retirement means different things to different people. But it’s important to pick an exact age, whether it is 60, 62, 64, or whatever, so you can build an appropriate retirement income strategy.
  • Think about your retirement lifestyle. You may know that you want to retire early – but have you thought about what you want to do with your newfound time? Will you simply stay close to home and pursue your hobbies? Do you dream of spending two months each winter on a tropical island? Or are you thinking of opening your own small business or doing some consulting? Different retirement lifestyles can have vastly different price tags. Once you’ve envisioned your future, you can develop a saving and investment plan to help you get there.
  • Boost contributions to your retirement plans. If you want to retire early, you may well need to accelerate your contributions to your retirement accounts, such as your IRA and your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored plan. You may need to cut back in other areas of your life to maximize the amounts you put into your retirement plans, but this sacrifice may be worth it to you.
  • Invest for growth. Your investment strategy essentially should be based on three key factors: your goals, risk tolerance and time horizon. When you change any one of these variables, it will affect the others. So, if you shorten your time horizon by retiring early, you may well need to reconsider your risk tolerance. Specifically, you may need to accept a somewhat higher level of investment risk so you can invest for greater growth potential.
  • Keep a lid on your debt load.  It’s easier said than done, but try to manage your debt load as tightly as possible. The lower your monthly debt payments, the more you can contribute to your retirement plans.

Life is unpredictable. Even if you take all the steps described above, you may still fall short of your goal of retiring early. While this may be somewhat disappointing, you might find that adding just a few more years of work can be beneficial to building resources for your chosen retirement lifestyle. For one thing, you can continue contributing to your IRA and your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored plan.

Plus, if you’re still working, you may be able to afford delaying your Social Security payments until you’re closer to your “normal” retirement age, which, as defined by the Social Security Administration, likely will be 66 or 67. The longer you put off taking these benefits, the bigger your monthly checks, although they will max out once you reach 70.

And even if you are not able to retire early, some of the moves you took to reach that goal – such as contributing as much as you could afford to your IRA and 401(k), controlling your debts, and so on – may pay off for you during your retirement – whenever it begins.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Put Lessons From “Retirement Week” to Work

To raise public awareness about the importance of saving for retirement, Congress has designated the third week of October as National Save for Retirement Week. What lessons can you learn from this event?

First of all, save early – and save often. Too many people put off saving for retirement until they are in their late 40s – and even their 50s. If you wait until you are in this age group, you can still do quite a bit to help build the resources you will need for retirement – but it will be more challenging than if you had begun saving and investing while you were in your 20s or early 30s. For one thing, if you delay saving for retirement, you may have to put away large sums of money each year to accumulate enough to support a comfortable retirement lifestyle. Plus, to achieve the growth you need, you might have to invest more aggressively than you’d like, which means taking on more risk. And even then, there are no guarantees of getting the returns you require.

On the other hand, if you start saving and investing when you are still in the early stages of your career, you can make smaller monthly contributions to your retirement accounts. And by putting time on your side, you’ll be able to take advantage of compounding – the ability to earn money on your principal and your earnings.

Here’s another lesson to be taken from National Save for Retirement Week: Maximize your opportunities to invest in the tax-advantaged retirement accounts available to you, such as an IRA and a 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan. If you have a 401(k)-type plan at work, contribute as much as you can afford every year, and increase your contributions whenever your salary goes up. At a minimum, put in enough to earn your employer’s matching contribution, if one is offered.

Apart from saving and investing early and contributing to your tax-advantaged retirement accounts, how else can you honor the spirit of National Save for Retirement Week? A key step you can take is to reduce the barriers to building your retirement savings. One such obstacle is debt. The larger your monthly debt payments, the less you will be able to invest each month. It’s not easy, of course, to keep your debt under control, but do the best you can.

One other barrier to accumulating retirement resources is the occasional large expense resulting from a major car repair, sizable medical bills or other things of that nature. If you constantly have to dip into your long-term investments to meet these costs, you’ll slow your progress toward your retirement goals. To help prevent this from happening, try to build an emergency fund big enough to cover three to six months’ worth of living expenses. Since you’ll need instant access to this money, you’ll want to keep it in a liquid, low-risk account.

So, there you have them: some suggestions on taking the lessons of National Save for Retirement Week to heart. By following these steps, you can go a long way toward turning your retirement dreams into reality.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Here’s Your Retirement Countdown

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If you want to enjoy a comfortable retirement lifestyle, you don’t need to have been born rich or even to have earned scads of money during your working years. But you do need to make the right moves at the right time – which means you might want to start a “retirement countdown” well before you draw your final paycheck.

What might such a countdown look like? Here are a few ideas:

  • Ten years before retirement – At this stage of your career, you might be at, or at least near, your peak earning capacity. At the same time, your kids may have grown and left the home, and you might even have paid off your mortgage. All these factors, taken together, may mean that you can afford to “max out” on your IRA and your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan. And that’s exactly what you should do, if you can, because these retirement accounts offer tax benefits and the opportunity to spread your dollars around a variety of investments.
  • Five years before retirement – Review your Social Security statement to see how much you can expect to receive each month at various ages. You can typically start collecting benefits as early as 62, but your monthly checks will be significantly larger if you wait until your “full” retirement age, which will likely be 66 (and a few months) or 67. Your payments will be bigger still if you can afford to wait until 70, at which point your benefits reach their ceiling. In any case, you’ll need to weigh several factors – your health, your family history of longevity, your other sources of retirement income – before deciding on when to start taking Social Security.
  • One to three years before retirement – To help increase your income stream during retirement, you may want to convert some – but likely not all – of your growth-oriented investments, such as stocks and stock-based vehicles, into income-producing ones, such as bonds. Keep in mind, though, that even during your retirement years, you’ll still likely need your portfolio to provide you with some growth potential to help keep you ahead of inflation.
  • One year before retirement – Evaluate your retirement income and expenses. It’s particularly important that you assess your health-care costs. Depending on your age at retirement, you may be eligible for Medicare, but you will likely need to pay for some supplemental coverage as well, so you will need to budget for this.

Also, as you get closer to your actual retirement date, you will need to determine an appropriate withdrawal rate for your investments. How much should you take each year from your IRA, 401(k) and other retirement accounts? The answer depends on many factors: the size of these accounts, your retirement lifestyle, your projected longevity, whether you’ve started taking Social Security, whether your spouse is still working, and so on. A financial professional can help you determine an appropriate withdrawal rate.

These aren’t the only steps you need to take before retirement, nor do they need to be taken in the precise order described above. But they can be useful as guidelines for a retirement countdown that can help ease your transition to the next phase of your life.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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