With all the news we are bombarded with every day, you may have missed this information which is new and will affect every single person in some way in their life. It is the passage of the new SECURE Act which became the law effective January 1, 2020 and changes retirement plan rules.
The new law has 29 new provisions or major changes, but I want to focus on just a few major areas. Some of this news is good news and some of it could be bad.
Most people just took it for granted. What was it? The fact that when you’re young, you’ll go to college and get a great quality education that lands you a good job and starts a great working career. Or, perhaps you will take up some kind of trade after high school or even join the military and that will be your career path. The choices you make, they may eventually lead to—over the course of forty or so years (if you’re smart, frugal and make good money at your work)—your accumulation of enough money to retire comfortably at the age of 65 or so. That was then and this is now. Is it still true? You may wonder, “Will I ever be able to retire in the 21st century?”
A Cold, Hard Look at My Retirement – When It Happened
I made it. I am retired, albeit I didn’t do it with the full intention of retiring when I was forced to because of my health at the age of 62, eight years ago. A not-so-funny thing happened to me on my way to retirement and it’s called a heart attack, type 2 diabetes and CHF (congestive heart failure). Believe me when I tell you it wasn’t then—nor is it now—any fun.
When it comes to preparing for retirement, it’s very important to stay right up to speed with all the rules, regulations, and changes made by the IRS from year to year. With the next year looming just two months away, the IRS has made some 401(k) contribution limit changes for 2020 but still has left both Roth and traditional IRA contribution limits for 2020 flat.
The IRA limits are again unchanged from 2019’s $6,000, or $7,000 combined if you’re age 50 or older. This is the second straight year at those caps. The caps are the maximum amounts you can kick into those retirement accounts, whether you use just one type or in any combination. Before 2019, the IRA contribution limits stayed the same for six years in a row. So just in case you needed a refresher, today I thought I’d go over some of the things that you really need to know when you are saving in these accounts for your retirement!
It seems that before we start working for a living, all we can think about is getting a good job and earning lots of money. I am pretty sure that the vast majority of us think exactly like that when we get to a certain age and that’s probably by the time we near the end of high school or college. After all, we know we are going to be out on our own soon and we need a job. But then a funny thing happens.
Almost as soon as we start that “first great job”, some papers are shoved in front of our faces and one of them is all about benefits and retirement plans. Retirement planning? I mean, holy crap, I just started working and now I have to think and decide about retirement planning?
Every year around this time, anyone who gets a regular check from Social Security gets curious and also a bit nervous. That’s because they and I know that in just a few weeks, mid-October, the annual Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2020 will be announced. This comes as our lawmakers are looking for ways to expand and preserve Social Security, a task they have been avoiding now for decades. So perhaps for them, this news that Americans might be in for a smaller cost-of-living adjustment next year is good news. But not for anyone who depends on it.
According to a new estimate released by The Senior Citizens League on Thursday, the 2020 COLA is forecast to be a 1.6% increase which would come out to about $23.40 per month for the average beneficiary (the average beneficiary received $1,475 a month this year). That compares to the $40.90 beneficiaries received in 2019 which was a 2.8% COLA.
A lot of financial experts and bloggers don’t recommend annuities or even like to talk about them very much. They are more likely to recommend and want to talk to you about investments in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds for growing your wealth and prepping for retirement. That may leave you to wonder what annuities really are and whether you should you invest in them for your retirement years.
I chose to purchase an annuity about 20 years ago (when I was 50) with qualified money I used from a 401(k). Then, about 5 years ago, I took that money and used it to purchase a 5-year deferred annuity that will start paying me beginning in January of 2020. Those payments are guaranteed to me or a beneficiary (my wife who is 20 years my junior) for 20 years, or for my entire life as long as I live (even if I live to be 100 or more). This made good sense for my situation. But, before you decide that an annuity is either a good or bad choice, ask yourself this: Have you taken a really good look at annuities and do they make any sense for you?
So much is written about eliminating your debt, paying off your debt, and being totally debt free at any and every age in life that you may believe that it’s always the only goal you should have. Financial independence (FIRE) depends to a huge degree on not owing money to anyone or anything.
Truthfully, it’s a wonderful goal and for some people it actually can be achieved. It’s not common, but it does happen. When you owe debt, more than you can ever repay, it can ruin your life. But today’s post isn’t about that subject. There are many posts about it, so I want to look at debt from a different angle. What about debts you hold after you retire….your retirement debt?
Most people who talk about retirement planning are usually concerned about the “financials”. They talk about saving for it, investing for it, earning more for it, and guarding against the erosion of it so it will last on and on into the sunset of those golden years. And they are 100% right to do that, for sure. Without a strong financial base, retirement will be a struggle at best or a disaster at worst. Believe me when I say that the proper planning doesn’t just appear magically when you are actually retiring and needs to starts much earlier. So much earlier, in fact, that it should start when you begin your very first job because it’s that important. I say that to anyone who will listen, but very often if falls on deaf ears.
But, the fact that financials are so important doesn’t mean that there isn’t “something else” to be concerned about. I like to call it the Big “H” that you need to give plenty of thought to when it comes to your retirement years. What is it you ask? The twist is it’s about your healthcare, the Big H of your retirement years!