An Important Article on Saving for Retirement

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Pay Yourself First Because No One Else Will

Orlando, FL — (SBWIRE) — 12/20/2013 — The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason published in 1926 remains a classic slice of literature and read by millions. His message may be interpreted differently by readers, but the theme of his writing sends a powerful message of self perseverance. Clason illustrated the value of saving and money management using characters set in ancient Babylon whereby financial and life’s lessons were learned.

When a professional first begins practice, the primary goal is to meet expenses. After which the goals are to continually improve the practice by serving patients well and increase profitability by keeping a positive cash flow and growing net income. The importance of retirement planning should not be underestimated.

The Need to Start Saving Towards Retirement

Financial experts and related articles continually urge the beginning of any retirement plan be done sooner vs. later, as time is not forgiving for those who often wait. The earlier you start saving the likelihood is you will have the opportunity to build a portfolio of growing assets and peace of mind.1 Action steps require some level of planning by obtaining information on how the process of implementation is best used to attain desired goals, i.e., retirement funding, purchase home or car, education for children, travel, etc.

For those who think Social Security will be sufficient to meet required retirement expenses, think again. In reality, 48% of U.S. households do not save and more glaring is the fact that over 65% of American adults do not have any emergency funds (3-6 months cash on hand to cover monthly expenses) set aside.2 To compound these findings, the retirement age for receiving full Social Security (FRA) benefits is creeping up and life expectancies are increasing. In other words, you will likely wait longer to receive your full retirement benefit and will statistically live longer. These factors alone should motivate everyone to the importance of not waiting to start a savings program and begin the process of building an asset base. As you will need them most during your retirement years! “According to a recent EBRI survey3, nearly one in three workers–an all-time high in the survey’s history–are not confident they’ll have enough money to retire comfortably… While previous generations relied on traditional pensions, social security benefits, or even inheritances, these sources of income are considered supplemental by today’s retirees.”

Retirement Plan Savings and Choices

The options available for retirement savings and investing are innumerable. However, the requirements and availability of options are often times limited due to a whole host of equally daunting factors. The intent of funding a plan is only a small part in the retirement funding puzzle. Many questions pose themselves and only individuals well versed in the constantly changing maze are equipped to help guide you to realizing your goals. For example, are you a solo practitioner or practice in a group? Do you plan on including your staff in a plan? Can staff be excluded legally and if so how? What are the advantages to an owner by having staff participate? Do you want a qualified or non qualified plan and do you know the difference? What are the tax benefits and potential pitfalls of participating in a plan? Once a plan is selected and funded, are you required to maintain annual contributions? May you increase or decrease the amount contributed? What are the vesting requirements for ownership of plan assets? Does the plan require annual actuarial review or not? There are additional questions to be answered before selecting a plan. Selecting a plan which adequately and appropriately suits the owner and employees must be fully vetted to ensure appropriate participation.

The process and implementation may be simple to complex depending on the determined needs and requirements of the owner and staff; in essence all the probable participants.

Once questions are answered and decisions made the following plans5 may adequately suit the needs of the owner and participants: defined contribution or benefit, profit sharing, SIMPLE, SEP, Keogh, 401k, money purchase, age weighted, target benefit, cash balance, safe harbor plans and more. The contribution to an IRA or Roth IRA may be done individually and unrelated to an employer’s plan. However, in certain circumstances this option may be curtailed or eliminated. It is best to speak with your tax professional prior to making any contribution.

Choose Wisely

It becomes abundantly clear the choices for retirement planning and subsequent investing may become overwhelming if not cumbersome. Retirement planning is not the end all but a part, albeit large portion, of asset accumulation. The need for assets is continual as you go through life and its challenges. The goal is to meet each need and have the fortitude to stay the course to reach your ultimate goal. It is never too late to begin your financial journey, although earlier is better vs. later. The importance of selecting a professional with knowledge and experience to assist you with your journey towards your goals is similar to a patient selecting you for their health care needs. Patients entrust their needs and goals in you and your expertise. Your choice in selecting a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) is akin to a patient selecting a doctor; ensure you select a fiduciary having the same professionalism, expertise and knowledge you would expect to offer a patient. One more thing, do not forget to pay yourself first!?

References:

1Top 10 Ways to Prepare for Retirement. US Department of Labor:

http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/publications/10_ways_to_prepare.html

2U.S. Federal Reserve Board, Survey of Consumer Finances, 2010.
3EBRI’s 2013 Retirement Confidence Survey: Perceived Savings Needs Outpace Reality for Many. http://www.ebri.org/pdf/surveys/rcs/2013/PR1013.19Mar13.RCS.pdf

4Gibbons, Vera. How Much Do You Need for Retirement?

http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/cost-of-living/much-retirement-140830786.html>

5Types of Retirement Plans
http://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Plan-Sponsor/Types-of-Retirement-Plans-1> …

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IRS Tax Tips

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Prepare Yourself: IRS Offers Tips On Getting Ready For Tax Time (via Annandale Patch)

This year’s filing season begin on Jan. 31. By Jane Lemons You know tax season is just around the corner, so you might as well get yourself prepared. The IRS has released a series of YouTube videos designed to help taxpayers prepare for the upcoming filing season, which begins on Jan. 31. The channels — available in English, Spanish and American Sign Language (ASL) — have received nearly 6.5 million views:

IRS Videos —http://www.youtube.com/irsvideos
ASL Videos — http://www.youtube.com/IRSvideosASL
Multilingual Videos —http://www.youtube.com/IRSvideosMultilingua

Specific videos that taxpayers can use to help them get ready over the coming weeks — and get their refunds as easily as possible — include:

Do-It-Yourself Free Tax Preparation ─ Helps taxpayers find free help from certified volunteers to electronically file tax returns. Taxpayers interested in helping their own communities can also watch a video to learn about becoming involved in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance or Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs.

Do I Have to File a Tax Return? ─ Learn about the requirements for filing a tax return, including income limits and age, and why taxpayers may want to file even if they don’t have to.

How to Get 1040 Forms ─ Provides tips on the quickest way to get the various 1040 forms on IRS.gov.

Tax Scams ─ Offers some tips on how to protect personal information and avoid becoming the victim of a tax scam.

Record-keeping ─ Learn which financial and tax files to keep and how long to keep them.

Changed Your Name After Marriage or Divorce? ─ Find out what you need to do if you have changed your name before you file your tax return.

Choosing a Tax Preparer ─ Hear some useful tips for choosing a reputable tax preparer.

In addition to YouTube, the IRS uses social media to share information on tax changes and other issues, including the IRS2Go phone app, Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook.

To protect taxpayer privacy, the IRS only shares public information on social media, and it doesn’t answer personal tax questions. It advises taxpayers to never post confidential information, like a Social Security number, on social media sites. A listing of the IRS social media tools is available on IRS.gov.

Many software companies are expected to begin accepting tax returns in January and hold those returns until the IRS systems open on Jan. 31. This includes the Free File partners that offer access to their software for free at irs.gov/Free File.

The IRS will not process any tax returns before Jan. 31, so there is no advantage to filing on paper before the opening date. Taxpayers will receive their tax refunds much faster by using e-file or Free File with the direct deposit option. …

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Tips to Guard Against Tax Identity Thieves

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Similar to last post, here is another tax article.
Tips to Guard Against Tax Identity Thieves

Thieves are gearing up for tax season. The Federal Trade Commission is warning people that tax identity thieves are gearing up for tax season – with you possibly in their sights. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job, and you might not know it’s happened until you get a letter from the IRS saying more than one tax return was filed in your name, or IRS records show you have wages from an employer you don’t know.

The FTC has these tips to fight tax identity theft:

File your tax return early in the tax season, if you can.
Use a secure internet connection if you file electronically, or mail your tax return directly from the post office.
Shred copies of your tax return, drafts, or calculation sheets you no longer need.
Know the IRS won’t contact you by email, text, or social media. If the IRS needs information, it will contact you by mail.
If your Social Security Number has been compromised, contact the IRS ID Theft Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.

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Copyright Infringement Means Tarantino Won’t Make a Movie Next

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Tarantino sues gossip website over leaked screenplay (via AFP)

“Pulp Fiction” director Quentin Tarantino has sued gossip website Gawker, seeking at least $2 million over the publication of a leaked screenplay for what was to be his latest movie. Tarantino, who announced last week that he had scrapped plans to film “The Hateful Eight” as his next project, accused Gawker of “predatory journalism” over the 146-page screenplay, posted anonymously online at a location which Gawker pointed its readers to.

“This action is necessitated by Gawker Media’s and the other defendants’ blatant copyright infringement by their promotion and dissemination of unauthorized downloadable copies…

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Assistance for Storm Victims

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An article in The Times of Ottawa describes the assistance that victims of the recent tornados can get from the government. This aid may include loans or grants to repair, clear, or fix storm damaged property not covered by insurance. Residents and businesses can apply for assistance at DisasterAssistance.gov. They can also call Representative Adam Kinzinger’s Ottawa, IL. office at 815-431-9271 with any questions.

When President Obama declared Lasalle County a Federal Disaster Area (along with other local counties) it meant that certain affected citizens and businesses may by able to receive certain tax relief from the IRS. To find out more about if they qualify, taxpayers can download forms and publications from irs.gov or call 800-829-3676. The IRS toll-free number for general tax questions is 800-829-1040

Read more about the storm aid here. 

For Ottawa wealth protection and estate planning services, contact Attorney Nick Wroblewski at 312-544-9737.

How much the Fiscal Cliff will cost you & more… :: Chicago Estate Planning Attorney

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The Atlantic has a good explanatory piece on the Fiscal Cliff. Below is a key chart from the article.

The Fiscal Cliff is a double edged sword because it would cut the deficit in a big way, but it would also probably lead to a lower GDP, higher unemployment, and possible recession… To read more of the article, go here.

For estate planning and personal finance questions as you enter retirement contact me for a free consultation. I will also be taking the Series 65 exam shortly so that I can officially offer investment advice and investment management for .8% of assets-under-management per year.

Nick Wroblewski is a Chicago Estate Planning Attorney. Prior to becoming a lawyer he received a Economics degree from Illinois State University and worked in banking for almost 3 years. He enjoys reading, trading options, and anything economics related.