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Self Directed Retirement Plans Blog

How to Make the Most of your Hard-Earned Retirement Reserve

How to Make the Most of your Hard-Earned Retirement Reserve

Most of us build a retirement savings plan, but is this enough to live comfortably during the retirement? Balancing your retirement funds can be extremely difficult, given that your daily expenses rise as you age.
Just like it was mentioned in a recent Self Directed Retirement Plans’ blog post, for the majority of Americans, living past 85 years would be financially difficult. So, no matter if your retirement is still decades away or it’s approaching quickly, you need to plan and use your retirement fund strategically.

Here are a few tips that will help you do so.

Invest in the Right Retirement Plan on Time


Concerned about their student debt and bank loans, young people usually don’t think about their pension on time. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Compensation Survey, only 15% of private-sector employees have a pension plan, while 44% of them have a retirement savings plan.

The perception of workplace retirement plans has also changed. The same report says that only half of employees in the private sector had a workplace retirement plan in 2017.

With the traditional pension benefits disappearing, your goal is to start saving up and preparing for your pension on time.

Start with a 401(k) plan.

The 401(k) plan that is financed through your contributions either via pre-tax or post-tax. The major benefit of this plan for employees is a high annual contribution limit that goes up to $19,000 for those under age 50 and $25,000 for people aged 50 and above.

Before you start contributing to 401 (k), always make sure your employer offers match programs. This means that a company contributes the additional sum of money to your account each time you make a contribution.

Open a Traditional IRA

If your employer doesn’t offer a company match, then skip 401 (k) and consider investing in IRAs, especially traditional ones.

Employees usually decide for traditional IRA plans, especially if they want to save money on taxes on their contributions. There are numerous significant benefits of traditional IRA plans

    Anyone can open and contribute to traditional IRAs – there are no income limits.
  • It provides wide investment opportunities.
  • Your investments are tax-deferred until you start withdrawing funds. A traditional IRA also allows you to deduct your contribution and save money on taxes upfront.
  • You can invest in a traditional IRA even if you if already have a workplace pension plan, such as the abovementioned 401 (k).
  • There is a limit to contribution amounts. In 2019, the traditional IRA contribution is up to $7,000 if you’re 50 or older

Additional IRAs to Consider

  • Roth IRA – This plan requires paying taxes on contributions you make. Still, you will reap its benefits later, given that you won’t pay tax on withdrawals.
  • Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) – designed for self-employed people and business owners.
  • Self-Directed IRA provides numerous investment options for your retirement fund. These include residential real estate, commercial real estate, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, currency, etc.
  • Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE) IRA is particularly important to small businesses. Workers can contribute a certain sum of money to their SIMPLE IRA funds and their dollars will grow at the determined interest rates.

How to Save Up and Use your Money Wisely after Retiring


When planning your retirement fund, you need to consider your current lifestyle and ask yourself if something is going to change once you retire. Knowing your lifestyle, you will be able to predict your expenses and determine whether they’re realistic when compared to your retirement income.

It’s also a good idea to plan your retirement pessimistically. Taking your worst-case scenario into account, you will be able to prioritize your expenses and make wiser decisions.

  • Estimate your future medical costs. As you age, your medical expenses will also grow. That is exactly why you should consider creating a health savings account to cover your medical expenses, as well as invest in a comprehensive, long-term medical insurance.
  • Know where you can save up. Seniors enjoy numerous benefits when it comes to payments. For example, when traveling, you can use seniors travel insurance that will cover most of your medical care costs, protect you against lost belongings, and even provide notable discounts or bonus days.
  • Cut where it doesn’t hurt. Are you still paying for that family membership at the gold club no one uses? Or, if your home is expensive to maintain, why not downsize?
  • Focus you 401 (k) and IRAs on safer investments. Many seniors decide to invest in stocks just to find out that their returns are not satisfactory. Remember that age is not on your side, so choose investments that will generate regular income and keep your funds safe. According to The Economic Times, some of these options could be tax-free bonds and mutual funds.
  • Know when and how to withdraw money from your retirement savings accounts. Just like I’ve mentioned above, when taking distributions from your traditional IRA account, you will need to pay a tax on withdrawals. Always make sure that you’re not withdrawing cash from an IRA at the same time you’re getting Social Security benefits. Otherwise, you will face high tax brackets.

Unsurprisingly, the sooner you start preparing yourself for retirement, the better off you will be. If you’re still a few decades away from retiring, this is a great opportunity to start investing in the right retirement plan and saving up. On the other hand, if you’re close to pension, then strategize your investments, choose the right insurance coverage, and minimize costs on multiple levels.

Guest Post – Keith Coppersmith is a business journalist with experience in numerous small businesses and startups. A regular contributor at Bizzmarkblog.com, he enjoys giving advice on both marketing and financial strategies.

The Most Profitable Retirement Investment for 20-Somethings

The Most Profitable Retirement Investment for 20-Somethings

Most 20-somethings don’t even give retirement savings a thought, partly because it’s too far and partly because they are already caught up with student debt. But, if you are not saving for retirement in your 20s, you are missing out on major opportunities to boost your nest egg into a massive retirement reserve.
So, if your goal is to retire on time and you want a financially secure future, then 20s are when you should start saving.

Start Saving as Less as a Latte a Day and Retire a Millionaire at 65

Yes, it’s true! All you need to invest is $3 of your latte every day into a retirement account and you’ll have a million in your retirement account when you hit 65. This is the magic of compounding interest. A small trade-off today will pay off in a big way tomorrow. So open up a retirement account today, start investing and set yourself up for a stress-free and financially secure future.
But before you get off to a good start, it is important that you know the types of IRA. There are 5 major differences between both the types of IRA and they include income limits, age limits, distributions, tax treatment and withdrawals.

1. Traditional IRA
• With a traditional IRA, you will be able to save on taxes up front but you’ll pay income tax on your contributions and earnings when you withdraw.
• The required minimum distributions in a traditional IRA kick in when you reach age 70 ½. So you must take it even if there is no need because if you fail to do so, the IRS will forfeit half the RMD that is due.
• The maximum contribution that can be made to a traditional IRA annually is $5,000 but those who are 50 years and older can contribute up to $7.000 and catch up.

2. Roth IRA
• The contributions made to a Roth IRA are not eligible for tax deduction at the front end but all your withdrawals are tax-free.
• The income phase-out limit for singles is $120,000 to $135,000 and for married couples is $189,000 to $199,000.
• With Roth IRA, you can make contributions at any age without being subjected to the rules governing required minimum distributions.

Now let’s understand both the types of IRA with an example. We will suppose that you contribute $5,000 every year to a traditional IRA starting at the age of 23 years and continue until you reach 63 years of age. Assuming that you are saving $5,000 for 40 years at a 10% rate of return, your traditional IRA will grow to $2,212,962. But, you will pay income tax on each withdrawal.

Now if you fall in the tax bracket of 25%, every $100,000 withdrawal will actually come down to just $75,000. On the other hand, if the same amount is invested in a Roth IRA, it will still grow to $2,212,962 and all your withdrawals made after retirement will be absolutely tax-free!
While Roth IRA is clearly the wisest long-term investment in this case, regardless of your investment choice, your 20s are the perfect time to take charge of your finances. So start sooner and maximize your retirement ROI!

Call (866) 639-0066 for expert guidance that will significantly improve your prospects of a stress-free and financially sound retirement.

6 Ways to Make Your Newfound Retirement Freedom Fun and Exciting

6 Ways to Make Your Newfound Retirement Freedom Fun and Exciting

After being in the workforce for decades, retirement finally brings you the freedom to spend your time your way. And if you are fortunate enough to be physically healthy, financially sound, and have little-to-no custodian responsibilities, then there are endless possibilities for you to make the most of your retirement.

But if your retirement plans rely on your IRA income, now is the time to test things out. Can you live frugally and still enjoy your retirement? You won’t really know until you automate a transfer to your savings account to mimic the income you would be receiving from your 401(K) plan or other qualified IRA.

Here are 6 good things to do with your time during retirement to make it more meaningful and enjoyable:

1. Explore the World
Now that you don’t have to worry about pending work and leave applications being approved, take that much-awaited extended vacation. You can go on one-day trips, take a long cruise and travel to foreign lands, or simply set off on a whiskey tasting tour to Tennessee and get back! If you feel a little adventurous, you can raft your way to the Grand Canyon or head out for a hike and hit the red rocks in Southern Utah or simply go live in a whole new country.

2. Remodel Your Home for a Refreshing Vibe
Whether you’ve always desired a complete overhaul or simply want to upgrade a part of your home; now is the time to make all the repairs and replacements. You can use the required minimum distributions from your 401(k) plans to pay for your remodel or you can also consider earmarking your renovation dollars in a savings account.

3. Make Retired Friends with Similar Hobbies
Join a meet-up group of retired people who are geared to interests or leisure activities you like. It can be a reading club, a social network, or a group that organizes camps like fishing, swimming, hiking, snow skiing, surfing, or kayaking.

4. Rekindle the Important Relationships of Your Life
If you both are retiring around the same time, you are going to be spending ample of time together. Working on the relationships that are important to you now will help you keep things fresh and enjoyable. At home, you can trade responsibilities with your partner and plan outings that enrich your life. You can also make plans with close friends with whom you have strong bonds so that this transition becomes more fun and exciting.

5. Start a Sport You Enjoy or Join a Fitness Group
Join a sports league where you can regularly participate in sports like tennis, soccer, or bowling. Or you can commit to a new active lifestyle by joining a group that is devoted to living a fit and healthy life. Joining a group where everyone is dedicated to getting into their best shape and staying fit, will improve your quality of life and help keep aging related illnesses at bay.

6. Learn a New Language or Learn to Play an Instrument
Retirement brings you a lot of time to make foreign trips so learning a new language will serve you well during extended holidays. Learning a new foreign language will also help you keep your mind sharp.

You can also consider taking piano or guitar lessons as it will help you uncover a new talent and put you in the spotlight at all the family get-togethers and parties. You can also make the most of your newfound freedom by volunteering, teaching, taking up a part-time job, or starting your own business.

Whatever you choose to do during retirement, make sure you know all the smart withdrawal strategies so you avoid penalties and pitfalls. Safeguard your financial future by knowing what to do and what not to do with your 401(k) plans or any other types of IRAs. Before tapping your retirement reserve, call (866) 639-0066 for expert advice.

8 Tips to Prepare for Retirement

8 Tips to Prepare for Retirement

According to a recent Wells Fargo retirement study, more than one third of the US workers say that it would be financially difficult to live past 85 years of age. Experts advise people to plan 20 or 30 years in retirement with a target saving of $1 million. Does this worry you? Then you need to start planning for your upcoming retirement right now. These tips will help you have a comfortable stress-free retirement.

1. Make savings a non-negotiable item in your budget.

When you are at the peak of your career, you generate the highest income. And that’s the time you can save the most. Contribute as much as possible to your IRA accounts, or your employer’s retirement plan such as 401(k) plans.

2. Make the most of retirement accounts and catch-up contributions too.

You need to invest in your retirement accounts every month. However, if possible or whenever possible, contribute up to the maximum limit allowed in 401(k) plans or IRAs. If your employer matches your contributions, make sure you take advantage of it by contributing to your 401(k) as high as possible. If you are 50 years and above, take benefit of catch-up contributions.

As you close in on retirement, take time to have a look at your total retirement assets. Make decisions to make your portfolio stronger for better returns. Consolidate retirement accounts if required. You may want to check with your ex-employers if you have any 401(k) plans with them.

3. Reduce your debt.

As you are nearing retirement, you need to make sure you do not have a huge amount of debt to deal with in your retirement. If you have a mortgage, try to speed up with your payments. Avoid swiping a credit card to make new purchases, use cash instead. By reducing the existing debt and curbing the need to acquire new debt, you can save money on interest payments.

4. Determine other financial resources.

Other than the retirement accounts, you may possibly have other assets that can potentially help you to support your lifestyle in retirement. The financial assets you may possess may be a life insurance with cash value or an annuity. If you have a 401(k) account with company stock entitlement, you may take advantage of the Net Unrealized Appreciation (NUA) rules. You may also want to find out if your employer offers retiree health insurance.

5. Calculate your predictable retirement income.

It’s always good to estimate the income you are expected to get from your Social Security, employer pension schemes, your savings, and your retirement accounts. The general rule of thumb here is that if you want your assets to last for a lifetime, you can only afford to spend 4% of your retirement income. That means, if you have $1 million in retirement assets, you can afford to spend only $40,000 per year. A reality check here. Are your retirement assets generating enough income to support your retirement lifestyle?

6. Determine the amount you’ll need to support your lifestyle.
You’ll have to make hard choices and difficult decisions too. Decide how you will live in retirement. Most importantly, start putting aside the money to support that lifestyle. Will you be relocating or moving into a smaller house? Will you have grown up children to support? Will you be still having debt when you retire?

7. Make arrangements for future medical costs.

Your medical insurance may cover your routine health costs, but to cover your non-routine health expenses you may want to think of getting an add-on coverage. Your health expenses are likely to go up as you age. Most medical insurances do not cover long-term care costs. To ensure that you do not spend your retirement nest egg on health, consider taking a long-term care medical insurance.

Consider having a health savings account. It provides tax benefits. Consider contributing up to its maximum limit. But, if the money is used for non-qualified medical expenses, it may attract income tax and penalties. If you let it accumulate until you actually need it in retirement, you could have accumulated quite an amount that can cover your health expenses.

8. Create a withdrawal strategy.

There are different rules governing the withdrawal aspect of different types of retirement accounts. When you withdraw from a 401(k) or a traditional IRA accounts, your withdrawals are taxed. Withdrawals from Roth IRAs are not taxed as long as the withdrawals are done adhering to certain rules.

Withdrawal from an annuity account may or may not be taxed and that depends on the amount of money you withdraw. You need to make good choices as far as retirement accounts are concerned and create a withdrawal strategy that helps you maintain a good financial health in retirement.

Quick Takeaways

Picture your lifestyle in retirement. Then take an estimate of resources that you need to maintain that lifestyle.
Maintain a right healthy mix of stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and other assets so that your portfolio generates a good ROI throughout retirement.

Health expenses will increase as you age. Consider a health insurance policy that provides maximum coverage.

Are you reading for your upcoming retirement? Get in touch with Self Directed Retirement Plans at (866) 639-0066. Call now!

The Importance of 401(K) in Your Retirement Savings

The Importance of 401(K) in Your Retirement Savings

Earlier, private sector employees were depending on their employers to provide them defined pension benefits. In the 1980s, a good 60% of employees were entitled to receive pension benefits from their employers, but in 2017 the number dropped to only 4%. With the conventional pension schemes quickly fading, the pressure is now on the 401(k) plan to help you sail through your retirement.

How much you need to save to maintain your current lifestyle in retirement

To maintain the lifestyle, you are enjoying today in your retirement, it is important that you have 70% to 90% of your current income saved for retirement. Most employees have IRA accounts and savings put aside for their retirement, but most of the income is likely to come from social security. If you take your fund from social security at your full retirement age, you are likely to get about 40% of your income. The rest of the income required can come from your well-maintained 401(k). However, you need to ensure that your 401(k) account is purely used for retirement only. Try to avoid withdrawing small amounts from your 401(k) plan as it can create an imbalance in your financial health at retirement.

Importance of a 401(k) Plan

1. Matching Contributions

If your employer offers a matching contribution to your 401(k) plan, that’s easy and free money. Some employers offer 50% of your first 6% contribution towards your 401(k) plan. For example, let’s assume that you earn $50,000.

  • Your contribution is 6% of your income = $3,000
  • If your employer offers dollar-to-dollar match = $3,000
  • If your employer contributes 50% of your 6% = $1500

Moreover, your employer’s contribution to your 401(k) plan doesn’t count towards your annual contribution limit. Hence, you have all the money to gain and nothing to lose.

2. Lifetime Contributions
Once you turn 70 1/2 years of age, you can no longer make a contribution towards any of your retirement accounts, including traditional IRAs even if you are still working. April after you turn 70 1/2, you have to start withdrawing small amounts, which are called Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from your retirement accounts.

As soon as you start taking RMDs, it is considered normal income and could propel you to higher tax rates. A 401(k) plan works differently v.s. an ira. As long as you are still working, you can contribute to a 401(k) plan and as long as you own less than 5% of the business that employs you, you are not required to take RMDs from your employer.

3. Protection from Creditors
A 401(k) plan is an ERISA-qualified retirement account. This means that it is set up under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Therefore, a 401(k) plan provides creditor protection.

Having a 401(k) plan also offers some protection from federal tax liens too. Since 401(k) legally belongs to your employer, IRS cannot place a lien on your account.

4. Roth 401(k) Option
Since 2006 when the rules were changed, 401 k participants have the option to contribute traditional (before tax) dollars or Roth (after tax) dollars or any combination thereof. In addition, the plan participant has the power to a Roth conversion inside the plan. In either case the Traditional dollars and the Roth dollars will be in separate sub accounts all within the same plan.

By using Roth contributions and/or Roth conversions there are tax advantages to the participants. With a Roth contribution, your contributions are taxable at today’s tax rate, BUT your withdrawals in retirement are completely tax-free. This plan works best for people who would be in a higher tax bracket in their retirement. Roth 401(k) contribution limit is similar to a traditional 401(k) plan.

Year Contribution Limit
2019 Up to $19,000 (for 50 years and above catch-up contribution limit is of $6,000)

Traditional and/or Roth IRAs have income limits. You are allowed able to make a contribution towards a Roth IRA if your income is below a certain amount.

However, there are no income limitations affecting 401 k contributions. If you fall in the bracket of high earners, Roth 401(k) is the ideal retirement plan for you. This a huge difference between IRA’s and allows high income people to enter the Roth world. It is the best of both worlds, no income limitations and much higher contribution limits.

5. Backup Retirement Plan
Even if you have a lot of retirement savings plans to finance your retirement, it is advisable to have a 401(k) plan as a backup plan. From now until your retirement, a lot of things can happen. You may lose your job, you may go out of business or your health could make it impossible for you to work. These scenarios can adversely affect your quality of life in retirement. To make sure that you have a good life post your retirement, putting away some portion of your income into a 401(k) plan makes sense. With a well-financed 401(k) account, you are prepared to face the challenges of a retired life without compromising on the standard of your living.

Why Your 401(k) Matters – Final Words
If you want to sustain the lifestyle you have outlined for yourself in your retirement, you need to save aggressively. A 401(k) is a more efficient tool to save for retirement than a traditional IRA. Whether it is an individual retirement account or an employer-sponsored saving plan, the key to having a good retirement saving plan is to save consistently. Create a budget, calculate the percentage of salary you should be putting aside for retirement each month and stick to your budget.

5 Financial Beliefs of Wise Retirement Planning

5 Financial Beliefs of Wise Retirement Planning

This guest post is written by Vivek Shah

Who doesn’t want to retire with Ease and Comfort after the hardships of 1st Innings!!!

Retirement is one of the most important phases in a person’s life. It marks a tectonic shift from active income to passive income. The amount of savings and investments done during the youth and the middle age will determine the quality of a good 2nd innings. Many people think that whatever they have saved will be enough for their sunset years without accounting for the monster called inflation.

Unfortunately retirement planning generally comes last in all the financial goals of most Indians. Most of the people generally save for a dream house or a dream car they want to purchase or for exotic vacations. If a person were to start investing at the age of 30, with a sum of Rs 10000 per month and if it were to grow at 12% per annum, he would have an accumulated corpus of Rs 6.5 crores at the age of 65. However if the same person were to start at the age of 35, then he would accumulate just 3.5 crores. Thus it’s a whopping difference of Rs 3 crores. Hence the earlier one starts, the more he can accumulate.

The 5 financial beliefs of wise retirement planning are as follows:-

  1. Your expenses will not halve when you retire– A lot of people forget to factor in the healthcare expenses that balloon during old age. Life expectancy of an individual has gone up from 70 Years to 80 years. Moreover inflation points out that the cost of goods and price will keep moving up.
  2. You could live much longer than you think– Living too long is another problem that happens if one is not financially secure. Many people face the problem of depleting resources when it comes to old age since they did not accumulate enough. With the improvement in healthcare, the life expectancy of an individual has gone up. One could easily ensure at least 20 years post retirement.
  3. Buying a pension plan is not enough, your retirement plan needs to be your own plan– A lot of advertisements talk about retirement with pension income. One needs to factor in inflation when assessing the expenses which would start arbitrarily without any income in the old age. A corpus needs to be accumulated from which atleast 8% to 10% can be withdrawn per year equated on a monthly basis. This accumulated amount should be invested in a product which gives more than double digit returns per year so that it does not get depleted due to systematic withdrawals. A periodic Systematic Investment Plan would help in achieving the goal of meeting monthly expenditure during old age. Mostly the pension plans that are available in the market offer very low returns and moreover the capital amount is either blocked or is only released during death of the holder to the nominee. Commutation is restricted to only a part of the pension corpus.
  4. Get expert advice– One should take the help of financial planners while planning their retirement. Doing everything by yourself could lead to biased decisions and wrong investments and also investors might tend to squander their money over something which is for temporary gratification and the one which will not be useful for their planned long term goal. One could also study online about wealth management if one has difficulty finding the right financial advisor. One needs to follow the right asset allocation in order to achieve actual financial freedom. This only an expert would be able to guide to.
  5. Invest and shop smartly– It is extremely easy to spend frivolously as soon as one gets his salary paycheck on the latest gadgets and the fancy stuff. Any person who has acquired great wealth has done so by investing 1st and then spending whatever is left after savings. Investing leftover after spending is an incorrect method of financial planning. As soon as one gets his pay, it is prudent to allocate a percentage towards investment. Compounding plays a major role in wealth creation and it all depends on how much one invests and not splurge unnecessarily on the latest fads available in the market. This would ensure financial peace.

Why do we need to plan Retirement Early?
77% Indians do not save for retirement, most of the people depend on their children for support. The youth of the country does not save much; they tend to be spendthrift with their credit cards and hence are not focussed on retirement kitty. Considering that the Government in India does not provide retirement benefits like some of the countries in the Western world do, it is imperative to take financial planning seriously. With so much of information available online, one needs to start saving smartly. The investments should be in an asset class which beats inflation handsomely and thus equities and mutual funds happen to be the best avenues.

For people who are slightly risk averse, mutual funds are a better bet compared to direct equity. A decent life cover needs to be taken (atleast 10 times of annual income) and a comprehensive health cover also needs to be taken. These will be like a financial umbrella for one’s retirement corpus.  A lot of times people do not take adequate health insurance and life insurance and in case of any unforeseen circumstance stand to lose out big on their investments. Thus rightly said —

“Retirement is supposed to be the great escape from the stresses inherent in most jobs, a time to experience a fulfilling life derived from many enjoyable and rewarding activities.”Ernie J. Zelinski, The Joy of Not Working.