Need to Know: Women and Retirement

Weingast_startupSince March is Women’s History Month, we’re bringing you a special Need To Know post on women and retirement. The gender pay gap in the US and globally is well-documented and a frequent topic of conversation and advocacy. While there is work to be done to achieve compensation equality, women can —and should — take some key steps to ensure financial stable retirements for themselves.

The most important thing for women to do when it comes to retirement is to get informed. The Robin S. Weingast team believes when it comes to retirement planning, knowledge is more than just power — it’s peace of mind. The Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) has a helpful checklist that outlines what women need to know, what women should ask their employers, and what women should discuss with their spouses. Click here to look at their checklist.

Something important to note is that while retirement benefits are offered to more and more full-time employees, women are more likely than men to be working part-time, and so there may be fewer benefits available. The TransAmerican Center for Retirement Studies advises women to consider retirement benefits as part of overall compensation and to advocate for benefits if none are provided.

Once you’re informed about your benefits, it’s time to think big picture and come up with a long-term strategy. A 2015 survey by the TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies found that almost 60% of all female respondents felt that they were “guessing” when they estimated their retirement needs. That same study found that women estimated their retirement financial needs to be much lower than men’s — even though women live longer than men. Guessing and incorrect estimations can have drastic consequences when it comes to retirement planning. This can mean the difference between being free to enjoy retirement or having to work longer than expected.

Women should make it a point to sit down and articulate their financial goals — including a realistic picture of how much money is needed for retirement — and then determine a savings plan to help achieve those goals. The plan should include your knowledge of your benefits, and should also take into consideration that women are more likely to take time away from the workforce to act as caregivers to children or elder relatives. This will have an impact on your retirement savings and may necessitate some catch-up retirement planning. Revisit our post on making up for lost time with retirement planning to see how you can offset any delays in planning.

Something else women should consider doing when it comes to retirement? Asking for help from a professional. Only 36% of all women polled in the TransAmerica study used a financial advisor, and of that 36%, 77% talked retirement planning with their advisors. A financial advisor is well-versed in the many avenues available when it comes to retirement planning and can help get you up-to-speed on how to maximize your benefits and other savings opportunities available to you.

If you’re ready to have a discussion about your retirement, it’s time to contact the Robin S. Weingast & Associates team. We’ve worked with clients for over 30 years to craft customized retirement and financial plans that will help you do more than just save money, they’ll help give you peace of mind. Contact us today to learn how we can help.

Resource of the Month: 529 College Savings Plan

Robin Weingast 529 planWhether you have a baby on the way or are planning summer campus tours with your teen, saving for college is probably on your mind. It’s no secret that college costs have been steadily rising. In fact, since 1971, college tuition has increased at 6% higher than the inflation rate, and student debt has risen to over $1 trillion.

While it’s easy to panic, there are steps you can take to make saving for college easier. A 529 savings plan is a common way that families save for future education expenses.

A 529 plan is “a tax-advantaged savings plan designed to encourage saving for future college costs. 529 plans, legally known as “qualified tuition plans,” are sponsored by states, state agencies, or educational institutions and are authorized by Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code.” Every state (and the District of Columbia) offers at least one 529 savings plan option. 

To help you learn more about 529 savings plans, our March Resource of the Month gives you 10 reasons that will help you determine if a plan is right for you. 


>>>Click here to download our March Resource of the Month now!<<<

Ready to talk more about a 529 savings plan? Contact the Robin S. Weingast & Associates team today. 

 

Resource of the Month: Personal Net Worth

Robin Weingast financial planning for couplesIn keeping with our focus on financial planning for couples, our latest Resource of the Month is designed to help make planning with your partner a bit easier. As we mentioned in our latest installment of “What Robin’s Reading” (link to post above), couples argue about money, partially because of key misconceptions about their own approach vs. the approach of their partner. Before you can have a conversation as a couple, it’s important to have a solid understanding of your individual personal financial picture. That’s why our February Resource of the Month is a “Personal Net Worth” worksheet that will give you a snapshot of your financial health. You can even pass a copy to your partner, and encourage them to fill it out as well.

Our hope is that knowing your own financial situation will help make conversations with your partner easier for both of you. Once you know where you stand, you can create shared goals for your financial future.

Download our February 2016 Resource: Personal Net Worth.

Need help understanding how your personal net worth should shape your financial goals? The Robin S. Weingast & Associates team is here for you. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help.

What Robin’s Reading: February 2016

Robin Weingast Reading RecsFebruary may be the shortest month of the year, but there’s still plenty going on to keep everyone busy. In keeping with Valentine’s Day, this month we’re reading up on how couples can successfully (and peacefully) manage their finances.


Anyone who’s ever been in a relationship knows that both merging and co-managing finances can be a source of stress and tension. We’ve been reading a recent study by Money magazine that revealed that 70% of couples fight about money above any other topic in their relationship. The study points to a key reason for this arguing: four out of five of us say we’re on the same page as our partner about finances, but when you dig a little deeper, the gaps and differences begin to show up. An overwhelming majority of respondents said they were much better than their partners at managing every aspect of finances – from paying the bills to handling retirement planning. In addition, most respondents would describe themselves as  “savers” and their partners as “spenders.” These misconceptions make conversations spiral into arguments, which makes future financial talks even less appealing and less smooth.
Robin Weingast love and finances
Is there any hope to bridge these gaps? For starters, it’s helpful to know how to approach financial conversations. We found this video and article a helpful place to start. Most experts recommend making a commitment to consistently bring up the topic of finances, in a way that’s free of judgement and criticism. In some ways, the conversation has to be approached the way you would handle a professional meeting in your workplace — focused on the shared goals and end results, without getting overly personal. It sounds like easy advice, but we all know that when money comes into the conversation, keeping the tone business-like is easier said than done. In some cases a professional adviser may be a good idea. Having a third-party there – especially one who knows what your shared goals are — can help keep the conversation focused and can stop a couple from veering into personal attacks that are counterproductive to achieving financial harmony.


Our team has also been visiting this comprehensive “Love and Money” online portal, which offers couples-themed advice on topics including talking finances and understanding how income gaps affect your relationship.
If you’re looking for some outside help to bring some financial harmony to your life, The Robin S. Weingast & Associates team is ready! We’ve been working to keep couples on track with their financial goals for over 30 years and would be happy to sit down with you and your partner. Make an investment in your relationship and contact us today.

Resource of the Month: Ten Financial Resolutions for 2016

Robin_Weingast_Financial_ResolutionsJanuary is a time for goal setting and resolutions, and in that spirit, our Resource of the Month offers ten financial resolutions that will help keep your savings on track in 2016. From tips on planning to what documents you should review, these are ten tips you don’t want to miss!

Click here to download Ten Financial Resolutions for 2016

 

 

Need to Know: Your 401 (k) Options when you leave your job

Robin Weingast 401kThe new year often means a career change for many people. But what does a new job mean for your retirement plan? Here’s what you need to know about changing jobs and your employer-sponsored retirement plan.

Typically you have four options – you can leave your money in its account, transfer it to an IRA, move it to your new employer’s plan, or cash out. Each option has implications for your finances, so here are some more details on each one:

Transfer into an IRA
This is an easy option that provides a few key advantages, most notably:

• You avoid taxes and penalties, which means your savings doesn’t take a hit
• You preserve your tax benefits
• Your savings become easier to manage – you’ll have fewer statements, and when it comes time to take your Required Minimum Distributions, you will have a centralized source.
• If you elect to transfer into a Roth IRA, you will avoid RMDs – you can withdraw at your own pace, which is particularly appealing if you anticipate having multiple sources for your retirement income.
• Your investment assortment may grow, since IRAs tend to offer more investment options than a traditional 401 (k).
However, be mindful that if you have company stock in your 401 (k) that has increased in value, then you should explore other options aside from an IRA, since company stocks moved to IRAs are taxed as income when withdrawn.

Keep your savings in your old 401 (k) plan
Many companies will allow you to keep money in your old 401 (k), even after you’ve left. This is certainly an easy option, and it has several key benefits:
• You retain the plan’s investments, fees, and features, plus you buy yourself some time to decide what you’d like to do with your money (all while earning more money)
• You avoid immediate taxation and penalties, and you preserve your tax benefits
• You have the option to transfer your savings at any time – typically once you leave a company, you are free to take distributions whenever you’d like, so you can move your money into a new account at any time.
• If you leave your job in or after the year you turn 55 (50 for public employees such as police and firefighters), you can take penalty-free withdrawals from the account.
You should keep in mind that if you have less than $5,000 in the account, you may not have this option and the plan may automatically roll the money into an IRA. If you have less than $1,000 in the account, you may simply receive a check.

Move your savings to your new employer’s 401 (k) plan
You are not required to move your savings into your new employer’s 401 (k) plan, but it may be the simplest, most streamlined solution for your money. You also benefit from a few key things
• You avoid immediate taxation and penalties
• You preserve your tax benefits
• You may be able to postpone the RMD past age 70 if you are still working
Be sure to fully understand your new plan’s rules, distribution parameters, and fees before you move your savings into a new 401 (k).

Cash out your savings
This seems, on the surface, like an attractive and easy way to access your funds. However, you should know a few things before cashing out your old 401 (k) plan
• The amount you withdraw will also be added to your taxable income, meaning you could lose as much as 49.6% to federal taxes
• You will have less money leftover to reinvest back into a retirement savings option, which will affect your long-term planning
In some cases, you may decide the penalties are worth it – but you should make sure you understand what they are before deciding on the cash out option.

If you have questions about how a job change will affect your retirement plan, then we’re here to help. Contact the Robin S. Weingast & Associates team for more information about how to make the decision that’s best for you.

Resource of the Month: 2016 Plan Limit Changes


IRS_ImageAs they do every year, the IRS released their plan limit changes for the 2016 tax year. For our final 2015 Resource of the Month, we’ve compiled all the changes into a handy document that you can reference!

Download our Resource of the Month: 2016 Plan Limit Changes.

Questions about 2016 Plan Limits and what they mean for you? Contact our team today!

What Robin’s Reading: December 2015

Robin Weingast Reading RecsWelcome to a new installment of “What Robin’s Reading,” our bimonthly feature that highlights what the Robin Weingast team is reading to stay current and up-to-date on the issues that will most impact our clients and their benefits planning.

This month, we’re reading the 2015 Employee Benefits Security Survey, released each year by Mass Mutual. The goal of the survey, which drew responses from over 1,500 full-time employees at companies that provide benefits is “to explore the disconnect between the value employees place on their employer-provided benefits and other aspects of their lives, to understand employees’ perceptions of their benefits, and to determine the level of interest in employee benefits and personal finance guidance tools.”

Here are some takeaways from the survey that caught our attention:

• Personal finance and health are the areas that are most important to the respondents — being able to retire comfortably is important, but not nearly as important as those two areas.

• Respondents know more about their personal finances and employee benefits than anything else, including current events, sports, and office gossip.

• While respondents feel like the understand basic personal finances, like credit card balances and savings accounts, they do not feel they know as much about what it takes to retire comfortably, and how to prioritize their benefits

• Respondents who want to know more about their finances feel that the obstacles they encounter include not having enough time and not having a person they trust to talk to about finances.

• 40% of the respondents stated that they are very distracted at work due to their concerns about their own finances, most notably millennials. (We read this great follow-up piece in Forbes on why that’s so important.)

• A total of 87% of the respondents were at least somewhat satisfied with their employee benefits plan. Not surprisingly, those who knew more about their plans were more satisfied with them and less distracted by their finances.

For a full copy of the report, click here

For us, this study reinforced a few key things. The first, is that it’s difficult for people to understand what they need to do to retire comfortably. We touched upon this in previous posts about 401 (k) plans and retirement myths. 

The second big takeaway for us, is that it’s not enough to have a good benefits plan; you have to have a well-educated team of employees who understand the plan and know how it can help ease their anxiety and keep them focused at work. That’s good for your team, and good for your business.

It’s vital that you have a plan administrator who won’t apply a “cookie cutter” solution to your benefits plan and who will take time to provide your employees with information and resources to help them plan for their futures. If you’d like help making sure your employees have a benefits plan that they understand, appreciate, and that works for your bottom line, contact us today.

What Robin’s Reading: October 2015

Robin Weingast Reading RecsWelcome to a new installment of “What Robin’s Reading,” our bimonthly feature that highlights what the Robin Weingast team is reading to stay current and up-to-date on the issues that will most impact our clients and their benefits planning.

We’re focusing on life insurance this month (be sure to read our recent Need to Know post on Whole Life Insurance), and paying special attention to a group of people who are most likely not thinking about life insurance at all: millennials. Millennials have taken the workplace by storm, but they are also proving to be very different from their baby boomer and Gen X counterparts when it comes to long-term planning.

We were particularly interested in this article that cites “a study from Life Happens, a consumer group formed by insurance providers, and LIMRA, the life insurance trade association, found that 29 percent of millennials cited saving for a vacation as a priority over purchasing life insurance or increasing their coverage. And 60 percent of millennials said it was more important to pay for expenses like Internet access, cable, and cellphones than purchase some or more life insurance.”

The article goes on to explain ways to make sure that millennials are prepared – even if they don’t think life insurance is something they should worry about right now. Rather than scaring them with tales of doom-and-gloom, focus on the benefits – particularly the financial benefits.

If you, like many business owners, manage an intergenerational work place, it’s important to understand the millennial mindset. If you need help making sure your benefit plans are tailored to your staff’s needs and financial goals, contact the Robin S. Weingast & Associates team today.