With the latest changes in Social Security, many are left scratching their heads wondering what to do next. The popular file-and-suspend strategy will be removed from the list of filing options starting May 1, 2016. However, if you or your spouse are between the ages of 65 ½ and 70 years of age and have not started filing for benefits, you may be eligible for the lucrative benefit. This revised calculator can help you find an optimal time to file. A few things you want to consider if thinking about this filing strategy:
- You can still voluntarily suspend your benefit until age 70 and receive a benefit increase of approximately 8% per year.
- There is no change to those who have currently implemented the file-and-suspend strategy or who will begin prior to May 1, 2016.
- Clients younger than age 62 on December 31, 2015 will no longer have the option to choose between a spousal benefit and their own Social Security benefit. The benefit received will default to whichever option is the greater amount.
- Clients who suspend benefits after May 1, 2016 will also suspend any spousal or other family benefits.
We are creatures of habits – these very habits create our daily schedule and routine. Some of our behaviors we adopt are positive – exercising, drinking water, daily meditation, etc. but others may have a negative influence on our life – poor sleep, stress – we could all list a few. Unfortunately because we are creatures of doing the same thing on a regular basis, we often continue these negative choices… just because. Carl Richards discusses the idea of why we stay at “status quo” and continue doing things that do not always work for us. We become complacent and the idea of changing things can appear too complex and confusing, regardless if the outcome may be more positive. Evaluate your current financial habits – could you be better off if you chose a different path? It may be finding an advisor that can help you take advantage of a more cost effective portfolio, perhaps it is changing your investment funds to something better. Maybe it is changing credit cards to a lower interest rate card or a company who provides better perks. As the feds evaluate interest rates, perhaps finding a better way to manage your personal inflation rate is going to be far more impactful than the rising interest rate debate. Challenge yourself in the New Year to find a better alternative to “status quo”.
Investing In Slower Markets – Part 2: When the market is unpredictable and investors look for guidance, we often tell individuals to focus on the things they can control. Managing personal inflation rates and maximizing saving accounts can often have the greatest impact on long-term financial success, many times regardless of portfolio outcomes. Jonathan Clements gives us a realistic prediction about what the market may do and its outcomes. His advice is something right out of our own book, “Americans need to save like crazy to compensate for the market’s likely modest gains—and they should make sure they capture as much of those gains as possible, by opting for low-cost market-tracking index funds.” We couldn’t agree more Mr. Clements.
Have you checked your investment statements lately? If so, you may notice your returns haven’t been as stellar lately but that’s okay because you are investing in the long haul, right? In Bill’s recent 425 Business column, he explains the method behind the current market madness and provides a few investment strategies to improve portfolio returns in a slower market. If you are in or near retirement, proceed with caution. Bill always warns to avoid becoming so dependent upon stocks that you end up selling them to pay your utility bill – make sure your allocation matches the amount of risk you can tolerate. Sound advice for sound investing.
We are huge fans of compounding here at the Coffeehouse – it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Every November around Thanksgiving time, we spend a little time discussing the best part of the “money pie” and the advantages investing for the long haul can bring. We also really appreciate a great pie so we take the opportunity to share Bill’s favorite pumpkin pie recipe. However, even with sugar and spice there can be a downside to compounding when it comes to debt. The eloquent Jonathon Clements discusses the often misunderstood theory of compounding and how we can’t ignore the sweet or sour side of the coin.
We can often measure our level of happiness based upon our own job satisfaction. We spend most of our day working so naturally it takes up most of the scale. Psychologist Barry Schwartz discusses the importance of work satisfaction and finding meaning and purpose to our daily duties. Jobs that pay less or may appear more medial than others can often produce far greater satisfaction due to the meaningful work employees feel they accomplish. We spend nearly 40 years working to save for retirement, it’s about time we start working with joy. “You don’t need to be working for an organization that saves lives to find meaning and purpose in what you do. You just need to be doing work that makes people’s lives better”- Barry Schwartz.
What’s the point of an advisor if I can do it myself? We get this question all of the time and the answer can be fairly straight forward. Besides the portfolio management portion of it, the wealth management piece can often have a greater impact. An investor may have followed the Coffeehouse for years, read all of the investment books, but missed a few key ingredients of a sound financial plan including tax efficient planning, estate planning, and assessing insurance needs. Noble Peace Prize recipient Eugene Fama and Finance Professor Kenneth French discusses this and more in this quick 2 minute video.
If you have watched any of the recent debates you know Donald Trump isn’t shy to controversy nor an opportunity to debate. What if we told you he could be even richer if he would have only invested in index funds in 1988 rather than his current holdings? This article originally was printed in August but suggests that the “Donald” could be worth more like 13 billion rather than his mere four billion he has reported. I wonder how the index fund debate would go when the monetary facts speak for themselves? Somebody send Donald the Coffeehouse book!
We all have different ideas about what retirement may look like and at what point we will be ready or forced to retire. The one common denominator we probably all can agree on is that we do not want to stress about money shortages during retirement nor create undue financial hardships for our loved ones in order to meet our retirement needs. Financial columnist Jonathan Clements gives a poignant look at retirement and why retirement should be our number one goal for saving.
With the recent retirement of Jon Stewart from The Daily Show, we thought we would share a small part of his interview in 2009 with Wall Street guru, Jim Cramer. It wasn’t the brutal interrogation or the frustration Jon displayed during the interview that was compelling, but rather the topic Jon challenges Jim on in 2009 is the same song and dance still occurring on Wall Street in 2015. Around minute 10 of the video, Jon discusses a topic we come to know as our third Coffeehouse Investor principle: there is no such thing as a free lunch. “Anytime you sell people the idea that… sit back and you’ll get 10-20% on your money, don’t you always know that that’s going to be a lie… When are we are going to realize in this country that our wealth is work?” As investors, we must become savvy media viewers and skeptical headline readers besides responsible stewards of our own money.