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Self Directed Retirement Plans Blog

Why Retirement Planning Should Be Your Top Priority

The immediate priority for new parents is their bundle of joy and the arrival of this new family member often shifts the focus to hospital paperwork, birth certificate and SSN applications followed by making provisions for college funds and a comfortable future. While making provisions for your child’s needs is important, planning for your own future should also be a priority. With compounding money stresses, most new parents struggle to strike a balance between financial planning for children and retirement planning.

This is because most new parents are unaware of the dire consequences of failing to create a retirement reserve. If you want to maintain your standard of living even after retirement, retirement planning is important. It will not only ensure a steady flow of income post retirement but also keep your medical expenses from exhausting your lifetime of savings. You won’t ever have to liquidate your assets even if you happen to live longer and the inflation rates rise beyond expectations. The earlier you start the bigger corpus you can build and enjoy greater returns during the golden years of your life.

Where to Invest Your Money for Maximum Returns

  • Make the Most of Your 401(k) for Tax Advantages

If your employer is offering a 401(k) savings plan, use it to your advantage. These accounts allow your retirement reserve to grow tax-free and you get numerous advantages ranging from low-cost index fund options and tax credits to matching contributions and a Roth without limits!

So contribute to match your employer and enjoy the free money. Designate at least 5% of your paycheck if your employer is matching contributions up to 5% and keep adjusting your contributions as the limits are updated every year.

  • Open an IRA to Save More

If you don’t have access to a 401(k) plan or you want to boost your retirement savings in addition to your employer-sponsored 401(k) plan, setting up an IRA makes perfect sense. You have two options here: traditional IRA and Roth IRA. While a traditional IRA uses pretax contributions, a Roth IRA allows your retirement nest egg to grow tax-free.

Retirement may seem a long way off for new parents but your baby’s first few years will pass away in a flash and you will be throwing a retirement bash before you even know it. So do your best now to keep growing your nest egg even as you continue to invest in your child’s future.

Watch Out – Most young parents struggle to pay off student loans and credit card debts and this makes it very difficult to save for retirement. Pay off your credit card bills and repay all the debts with high-interest rates so you can save for your future.

Use Your Retirement Savings to Pay for Education Expenses

New parents prioritize the needs of their children above retirement planning and this can be a very expensive mistake forcing them to modify their lifestyle during retirement or even postponing their retirement in dire circumstances. It is important to balance financial priorities so you don’t lose track of your own future while investing in the future of your child. The best way to strike a balance between the two is tapping your retirement reserve to cover your child’s college expenses.

With a self-directed IRA you don’t even need to pay a 10% penalty as long as the educational expenses meet specific requirements. With a self-directed IRA new parents have many investment options that can be used for funding their child’s education, investing in real estate, or making loans. Just knowing the right alternatives when it comes to retirement planning can not only secure your future but also the future of your family and loved ones.

To learn how you can leverage your self-directed IRA to save for your retirement and also set your child on the path to financial freedom, call us at (866) 639-0066.

Leveraging a Self-Directed IRA to Loan Money and Maximize Returns

Most people assume or believe that IRA investments are limited to stock and bonds but that’s not true. IRAs can be used to invest in a wide variety of investments including real estate, mortgages, private placements, limited partnerships, private lending and many other types of investments. So how can you use an IRA for private lending and enhance your returns? There’s not much you need to do – simply set up a self-directed IRA, vest the note for private lending, sign custodian agreements to gain checkbook-control, close the transaction and coordinate with the loan servicer to send payments.

IRA

Making Private Loans with an IRA

Private lending using an IRA can be done by purchasing a secured or unsecured promissory note, mortgages, or deeds of trusts. A small lender who makes a loan and needs to recover the money lets an investor use liquid assets or cash in a self-directed IRA to purchase the promissory notes along with payments. In such a situation the lender is lenient and often willing to sell the note for less so the IRA holder receives both the interest and a certain amount of principal as well.

One more lucrative option to lend money to an organization using a promissory note is with collateral where the collateral is the company’s stock. The risk with this secured note is that the value of the collateral is directly impacted by the success or the failure of the company that has issued the note.

Other investment options for private lending include:

  • Bridging loans to companies that seek debt finance
  • Residential and commercial mortgages
  • Equity participation loans
  • Equipment financing
  • Automobile loans
  • Microloans for small businesses
  • Personal loans
  • Non-performing notes
  • Debt-financed loans

Your self-directed IRA also lets you set your own origination fees and rate of return while letting you turn your retirement nest egg into a bank. Marketplace lending is another great way to do private lending using a self-directed IRA.

The Upsides of Using a Self-Directed IRA as a Lending Institution

  • Improves the potential of your retirement reserve
  • All the gains are tax-free
  • The returns are excellent
  • The potential for future profits is maximum

When loaning your retirement funds for a mortgage, you get to secure the loan using the same property so even if the mortgage defaults, you get possession of the property which can then be sold or given on lease. Additionally, all your gains are completely tax-free if you are leveraging a self-directed IRA. However, before using a self-directed IRA for private lending be sure to consult a financial advisor and ensure the investment gives you excellent returns or simply call a self-directed retirement expert at (866)639-0066 and take checkbook control of your IRA.

The Top 7 Dos and Don’ts of IRA Investments

IRAs or Individual Retirement Accounts are some of the most popular personal finance solutions for retirement planning, since they offer significant tax advantages as well as various investment options. An IRA is not an investment in itself, but an account where various investments are held.

However, it’s important to remember that certain types of investments cannot be held within these accounts and will be treated as withdrawals if you try to do so. This involves not only being taxed on the investment, but also a 10% early withdrawal penalty if you’re under 59.5 years of age!

Here are 8 basic dos and don’ts of IRA investments that you should keep in mind while planning for retirement:

1. DO: Common Investments – Mutual funds, including equity, bond and balanced funds, are the most common type of IRA investments and a good place to start. Other popular options include publicly traded stocks, fixed and variable annuities, money market funds, bonds, treasury instruments and cash.

2. DO: Real Estate Investments –IRA contributions can be used for making down payments while buying a home as a first-time buyer. You can withdraw up to $10,000 tax-free, if the funds have been in the IRA for at least 5 years. You cannot use IRA earnings, which would be treated as taxable distributions and subject to early withdrawal penalties.

3. DON’T: Prohibited Investments – Tangible personal property deemed as collectibles by the IRS, such as art, rugs, gems, stamps, fine wines or other alcoholic beverages, antiques and most precious metals are not permitted as IRA investments. The IRS allows some exceptions for coins made of precious metals.

4. DON’T: Life Insurance – You cannot buy life insurance policies as IRA investments, but you can set up your IRA account through a life insurance company to hold an annuity that offers life insurance benefits. As the IRA owner, this annuity must be in your name and proceeds from it can only be paid to you or your beneficiaries.

5. DON’T: Prohibited Transactions – You cannot use an IRA for personal financial gains beyond the tax benefits you already enjoy. The IRS prohibits self-dealing, i.e. engaging in transactions that involve the IRA owner and parties in interest such as members of their family, corporations where they hold controlling interest, etc.

6. DON’T: Prohibited Financing – If you’re using any kind of debt to finance IRA investments, you will get in trouble. The accounts are designed to help with planning for retirement, not making quick profits, so you cannot use margin accounts, rental income from mortgaged real estate, or securities purchased with loans.

7. DON’T: Master Limited Partnerships – While there’s no prohibition, you should avoid buying MLPs or Master Limited Partnerships, such as pipeline or real estate partnerships with your IRA. Most people consider these the same as corporate stock, since they’re traded on the stock exchange. However, the taxation rules are different.

Whether you have a self directed IRA or your account is handled by a brokerage firm, you enjoy a certain amount of freedom over where and how you invest your IRA money. The right decisions will help you grow your retirement savings while reducing your tax bill.

To learn more about permitted and prohibited IRA investments, contact the team at Self Directed Retirement Plans today!

Top 7 Retirement Planning Tips for Couples

As a couple, a smart retirement planning strategy can help you enjoy a comfortable and happy life when you’re older. However, you need to sit down and figure out the basics about each other’s financial or retirement goals, annual income and savings. Knowing where you stand financially can help you decide if or when you can afford to retire.

If you’re both working, the first step is to get the full employers match on a 401k. Based on your income and how much you can afford to max out your retirement accounts, the income tax deductions and matching employer contributions can help you boost your retirement savings tremendously.

If one spouse does not work, a spousal IRA can help the working spouse make contributions in the name of the non-working one. Remember, the ability to claim tax deductions is limited if you have a 401k as well as an IRA. If you both have IRAs, you can name each other as a beneficiary of the account.

Other basic tips to follow while planning for retirement:

1. Diversify Investments – When it comes to personal finance and investments, spouses often disagree. Retirement planning can be challenging in this case, but keep in view the family as a whole. Look for IRA investments that are low-risk and offer long-term gains, but diversify your portfolio to help you meet short-term goals as well.

2. Make Collective Savings – Both of you are individually accountable for your own retirement, but just as you decide on the financial aspects of your lives together right now, you should also save for retirement together. If your partner is not enrolled in a 401K, save more in your own plan to help you meet mutual retirement goals.

3. Avoid Retiring Together – Retiring together isn’t wise, since you put double the burden on your lifestyle and the change becomes too extreme. Try on partial retirement by working fewer hours at first. While ironing out the kinks, you will better understand how to utilize your free time before taking on retirement!

4. Review Beneficiaries – Even after choosing a beneficiary while opening a 401k, you need to update it after major life changes like marriage, the birth of your children, divorce or death. Contact your financial planner, IRA custodian or HR representative handling your company’s 401k plan to modify beneficiaries as needed.

5. Discuss Retirement Goals – Spouses usually have different ideas about their lifestyle after retirement. It’s healthy to have varying interests and hobbies, but discuss these so retirement planning becomes hassle-free and you both get what want. In case either of you has a business plan or wants to travel after retirement, plan for it now.

6. Budget Expenses – If you plan on moving or modifying your home, how this would affect your retirement lifestyle and budget? Will it make your life better in old age? Figure out your living situation, how much time you expect to spend with children or grandchildren, funding college expenses when you near retirement, and other questions now.

7. Educate Yourself – Learn everything you can about retirement plans, to understand which kind will best suit your needs. Consult experienced financial advisors to explore asset allocation options tailored to your specifications. Retirement planning is one of the most important decisions of your life, so take your time to get it right.

At Self Directed Retirement Plans, our expert advisors will be glad to help you understand your retirement planning options and choose the right one. If you want to explore self directed IRAs or get the right investment advice for planning retirement savings as a couple, contact us today!

Year-End Retirement Planning Checklist to Help You Boost Savings

Year end is a good time for tax and retirement planning, since the last day of the calendar year is also the contribution/distribution deadline for many retirement accounts. You may get extra time with other plans, but planning now could help you avoid higher taxes with last-minute deposits or withdrawals!

Here are 7 important moves for year-end financial planning:

1. Set a Retirement Savings Target – Before you can start successfully saving for retirement, you should know how much you will need. Without setting goals and calculating your retirement needs accordingly, you’re likely to end up with too little saved by the time you reach retirement. Use a retirement calculator to understand how much you should be saving every month, based on your annual income, age, current investments and goals.

2. Contribute to Your IRA and 401k – Even if you make IRA and 401(k) contributions every year, you may not be contributing enough to reach your retirement saving goals. Max out your annual contributions so you can enjoy the full tax savings and benefits. Remember that your biggest ally in terms of retirement planning is time; compound interest and tax-deferred gains can help your investments grow tremendously.

3. Make Catch-Up Contributions – After you turn 50, you can make additional tax-deferred contributions to your 401k by the end of the calendar year. Use these catch-up contributions to maximize your savings and tax breaks while planning for retirement. Workers who are 50 years of age or older can contribute an additional $6,000 to their 401k account, for a total of $24,000 annually.

4. Track Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) – You need to take RMDs from traditional IRAs and 401ks after the age of 70½. If you don’t take the entire amount by December 31 every year and pay income tax on the distribution, you incur a 50% penalty and tax on the amount that should have been withdrawn. You can delay your first RMD till the following April, but you pay tax twice, and could end up in a higher tax bracket.

5. Explore Conversion to Roth IRA – Investments in a traditional IRA account are not taxed until you make a withdrawal. However, income tax is due on contributions to Roth accounts at the time of the contribution. Roth IRA investments don’t have RMDs, which can be very helpful for tax and retirement planning. You can convert part or all of your IRA into a Roth account, but consult a tax professional or financial planner about whether and when to do this.

6. Review Your Retirement Goals – You may have a general goal in mind when it comes to retirement, but you need a specific plan for effective savings. Reassess your retirement planning goals annually, and prioritize spending needs based on what will make you happy and comfortable. Create a budget for early, middle and late retirement, taking into consideration different expenses for each stage.

7. Optimize Retirement Planning for Tax Breaks – Year end is a good time to review your taxes, both for the current year and the next. If you’ve been holding retirement money in a savings account, move it into tax-advantaged retirement accounts to start maximizing your tax breaks. Sign up for your employer’s 401(k) plan, contribute as much as they will match, and check whether you qualify for saver’s credit.

Retirement planning is not a one-time activity, but something you need to review and update regularly. Year-end reassessments can help you stay on track, especially if you haven’t looked over your investment portfolio and personal finances in a while.

A self directed IRA gives you complete control over your IRA investments. To understand how they work, contact Self Directed Retirement Plans today!

How Small Business Owners Can Benefit From SEP IRA

Do you as a small business owner find the process of choosing a retirement plan expensive and confusing? A Simplified Employee Pension IRA or SEP IRA might be the perfect option for you. Do you as a small business owner find the process of choosing a retirement plan expensive and confusing? A Simplified Employee Pension IRA or SEP IRA might be the perfect option for you.

SEP IRA

A wide-array of small businesses, ranging from partnerships, LLCs, S-Corporations, C-Corporations to sole proprietorships can benefit from the powerful features of SEP IRA accounts. These accounts were created so as to provide a tax-advantaged retirement plan for small businesses.

A SEP IRA can simply be set up by executing a written agreement, or setting up the SEP plan with a qualified financial institution (such as a mutual fund company, a bank, a brokerage firm or through a financial advisor), or by opening a SEP IRA for each eligible employee.

Let’s take a look at 7 ways in which small businesses can benefit by choosing a SEP IRA: 

  1. A major advantage of an SEP IRA account is its high yearly maximum contribution limit. Hence, you may contribute more to a SEP IRA as compared to traditional IRA or Roth IRAs as long as you make more than $22,000 approximately.
  2. As with a traditional IRA or 401(k), contributions to a SEP IRA account are not taxed in the year they are made. Instead, until the withdrawals are made, the taxes are deferred. This allows the money to compound tax-deferred for long periods of time.
  3. Employers can reduce the tax bite on the contributions they make to the SEP IRA account of their employees as these contributions are tax-deductible for the employer.
  4. With an SEP IRA, an employer is not required to make contributions each year. Also, the amount of contribution that you can make as a percentage of an income can vary from year to year.
  5. In case of a 401(k) plan, it is mandatory to fill out an annual form 5500. But this is not the case with an SEP IRA. There is no requirement to fill out excess tax forms.
  6. Every participant has immediate and complete ownership of the money contributed by you to his or her SEP IRA accounts. This means the employer is not responsible for the investments within the employees’ accounts. Also, the employer does not have to set up a schedule for vesting or to track service requirements. Each employee is responsible for choosing his or her investments inside this account.
  7. With SEP IRA, employers can take advantage of the flexible funding feature. This means the employers can take the decision every year regarding the amount to be contributed to this account. The amount can vary and the employers can even skip contributing any amount altogether.
  8. Apart from all the features listed above, small business owners can also benefit from the fact that along with contributing for an SEP IRA, they can also contribute to a Roth or a traditional IRA. Also, SEP IRAs are easy to set up, have no initial setup or annual maintenance fees, come with low administrative costs and are easily available through most online investment firms.

If you too are interested in learning more about how an SEP IRA can be beneficial for your business, get in touch with our expert IRA advisors at SD Retirement Plans LLC today.