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Self Directed Retirement Plans Blog

Is Bitcoin a Good Option to Consider While Investing for Retirement?

Is Bitcoin a Good Option to Consider While Investing for Retirement?

Are you tempted to invest your retirement savings in digital currency? Do you think Bitcoin could be your primary source of retirement income?

Bitcoin and other digital currencies seem to have become all the rage as an investment option these days. In addition to growing at an incredible rate over the last few years, the cryptocurrency has also become widely accepted in many areas, which only helps to make it more popular.

However, there are a few reasons why Bitcoin shouldn’t play a significant role in your retirement planning:

  1. Potential Growth Isn’t Actual Growth – Many financial experts believe that the past and current growth of cryptocurrency is not sustainable over the long term. Treat these as you would any speculative investment, instead of looking at potential value alone. Like other speculative investments, it’s equally possible for the value to rise tremendously or drop to a fraction of the price at which you bought it.
  2. High Volatility Makes for High Risk – Bitcoin did extremely well in 2016 and 2017, but the sudden drop in prices at the end of 2017 left many regretting their decision to invest in it. At a time when the digital currency would double in value within a week, a number of small investors decided to jump on the bandwagon and put their savings at risk. Buying Bitcoin at a high price meant heavy losses when prices fell.
  3. Constant Fluctuations Are a Gamble – Most Bitcoin success stories came from investors who bought the cryptocurrency when it cost a few hundred dollars, or sold it when the process was its peak. There’s no way to predict when prices will rise or fall, so investing in digital currency is a lot like buying a lottery ticket. There’s little harm in spending ‘spare change’ on it, but avoid putting large sums at risk.
  4. You Need Steady Gains for Retirement – Cryptocurrency has no guaranteed rate of return. Yes, it might make you a millionaire, but it might also leave you broke, especially if you put all your money in it. It’s a good option for short-term speculation, but only as a small percentage of a diversified portfolio. For retirement income, you need smart long-term investments that offer steady, if slow, growth.
  5. Buy When You’re Financially Ready – If you’re considering Bitcoin or other speculative investments, you need to offset the risk by making sure your finances are in control. Ideally, you should invest in cryptocurrency when you’re free of debt, have good cash flow and a decent emergency fund, and have already set up a source of income for college, retirement and other financial goals.

Investing in Bitcoin works best if you already have a healthy mix of short-term and long-term assets in your portfolio, and are investing for retirement in an IRA or other tax-advantaged plan. If you need help with making the most of your investments for the future, get in touch with our retirement planning experts now!

When Can You Move an Existing Retirement Account to a Self Directed IRA?

When Can You Move an Existing Retirement Account to a Self Directed IRA?

Self directed IRAs offer many benefits, such as access to a wider range of investing options and greater control over asset allocation. By moving your existing account to one of these plans, you can maximize the growth of your retirement funds by selecting investments that offer the highest tax efficiency and returns.

You can transfer or rollover funds to a self directed IRA from another retirement account in specific situations:

  1. 401k or 403b Account with a Former Employer
    Employer-sponsored 401k or 403b plans offer significant tax benefits, and have higher contribution limits than IRAs. Max out these plans to take advantage of matching contributions while working, and rollover to a self directed IRA with checkbook control after you leave the job.To avoid taxes and early withdrawal penalties, make sure the withdrawal is designated as a rollover and choose the right IRA type. Rollover your 403b or traditional 401k plan to a self-directed traditional IRA, and pick a self directed Roth IRA for an existing Roth 401k plan.
  2. Traditional IRA with a Brokerage Firm/Bank
    If you are interested in using self directed IRA accounts, you can perform a direct or indirect rollover with a traditional IRA. For a direct rollover, funds are directly transferred or a check is made out from your existing plan to the new IRA.In case of an indirect or 60-day rollover, funds from your existing plan are distributed to you, and you need to deposit them into your self directed IRA within 60 days. A percentage of the amount may be withheld as tax, which you can recover while filing tax returns. However, you need to add this amount while making the deposit.
  3. Roth IRA with a Brokerage Firm/Bank
    Existing Roth IRA plans can be moved to self directed Roth IRAs the same way as a traditional IRA, and will not incur taxes and penalties if they’re handled correctly.To ensure that these transactions remain tax-free and penalty-free, opt for a direct rollover or transfer from one account to the other. This way, you are not directly receiving the assets from your existing retirement account, so it will not count as an early withdrawal.
  4. Inherited IRAs
    If you have an inherited an IRA from a spouse, you can treat the account as your own or roll funds over to your self directed retirement account.With non-spouse IRAs, you have two options. You could take full distribution of the account, paying income tax on the funds, or have the plan retitled as an ‘inherited IRA’. For retirement accounts inherited from anyone other than a spouse, you can rollover to a self directed IRA only if the inherited IRA has been characterized correctly.

There’s no restriction to how many times you perform a direct transfer, but an IRA rollover can only be performed once in 12 months. To learn more about maximizing your retirement savings with self directed IRAs, call (866) 639-0066 today!

Why Retirement Planning Should Be Your Top Priority

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!