RD-Tax-Credits

Small Businesses May Be Eligible for Thousands of Dollars in Tax Credits from this Little Known Program

As a savvy small business owner, unlocking potential savings through tax credits is a game-changer. Understanding which credits apply to you and how to leverage them is key. Today, let’s explore the Research and Development tax credit (R&D tax credit) – a valuable opportunity for small businesses to offset their R&D costs.

What is the R&D Tax Credit?

The R&D Tax Credit is a federal dollar-for-dollar tax credit designed to help companies cover the expenses of developing new or improved business elements. This includes processes, products, technologies, and innovations such as new formulas, techniques, or inventions. Any activity enhancing quality, performance, reliability, or functionality may qualify, whether it’s software development, product quality enhancements, or updated manufacturing processes.

Eligibility Criteria

To determine if your business qualifies, the IRS has a four-part qualification test:
1. Purpose of Research:
Develop a new or improved function, performance, reliability, or quality for a business component.
2. Eliminate Uncertainty:
Tackle a problem with a high degree of technical uncertainty using your procedures.
3. Technology:
Engage in technical research, relying on hard sciences like machine learning, physics, chemistry, biology, software, or electrical engineering.
4. Experimentation:
Include simulation, evaluation of alternatives, trial and error, testing, modeling, and refining in your research process.

Qualified Costs
Qualified expenses for R&D tax credit include salary and wages, supplies, and cloud services for software under development, all tied to qualified activities meeting the four-part test.

Ineligible Costs
Certain costs, like research outside the U.S., third-party research without rights or payment, market research, training, troubleshooting, customizing for specific customers, and attorney fees for patent filings, do not qualify.

Claiming the R&D Tax Credit
To claim the credit, maintain meticulous records, including expense details, payroll records, project notes, lab results, and communications related to research. Complete Form 6765 for the federal credit and, for small businesses, file Form 8974 once approved. Start-ups can apply the credit against payroll taxes.

Misconceptions – Dispelling myths:

  • Your company doesn’t need income taxes to claim.
  • Cutting-edge scientific work isn’t a must; meeting criteria and the four-part test is sufficient.
  • No R&D department is needed; meeting criteria and the test is key.
  • Companies subject to AMT may still qualify.

Risks and FAQs
Be aware of IRS audits, penalties, and interest. Frequently asked questions:

  • Yes, you can retroactively claim for up to three years.
  • Profitability is required to utilize the credit, but federal credits can carry over for 20 years.
  • Failure in research and development doesn’t disqualify if other criteria are met.

Federal and State Credits
The R&D tax credit is both federal and available in 37 states, providing a wide opportunity for businesses to benefit.

 

In conclusion, the R&D Tax Credit is a powerful incentive for innovation. Whether you’re a tech company or not, understanding the criteria and documenting your efforts can lead to significant savings. Reach out to lynnt@herretirement.com if you’re a small business owner interested in the R&D Tax Credit program.

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Navigating Financial Challenges: Bankrate Survey Delves Into the State of Emergency Savings in 2023

In a comprehensive exploration of the financial landscape, a recent Bankrate survey, conducted in September with responses from approximately 2,500 U.S. adults, uncovers a disconcerting trend: around four in five households find themselves grappling with the inability to increase their emergency savings in 2023. The overarching issue? Inflation was identified as the primary impediment for 57% of respondents.

Key Findings:

Limited Emergency Savings Growth: A staggering 80% of households surveyed have not managed to increase their emergency savings in 2023. Alarmingly, only 19% report successfully boosting their emergency savings since the year began.

Inflation Takes Center Stage: Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrate, underscores the impact of inflation on savings growth, stating, “Rising prices and high household expenses have been the predominant impediments to boosting emergency savings.”

Generational Differences: Unpacking the data reveals intriguing generational nuances. Gen X and baby boomers are disproportionately more likely to find themselves with less emergency savings in 2023 compared to the start of the year. On the flip side, millennials and Gen Zers exhibit a slightly higher inclination toward increasing their emergency savings.

Income Influence: Income disparities significantly influence emergency savings trends. Higher-income households earning $100,000 or more exhibit a greater likelihood of increased emergency savings, while lower-income groups face more substantial challenges in amassing savings.

Reasons for Stagnant Savings: The survey delves into the multifaceted reasons behind stagnant emergency savings. Respondents cite factors such as excessive debt, changes in income, rising interest rates, and unexpected large expenses. However, the pervasive impact of inflation stands out, acknowledged by 57% of those surveyed.

Future Outlook: The future outlook appears worrisome, with 60% of Americans expressing a sense of falling behind on emergency savings. Strikingly, 16% believe it will take more than five years to regain financial footing.

Comfort with Current Savings: A nuanced finding reveals that 17% of those not increasing their savings express contentment with their existing emergency savings, showcasing diverse sentiments about financial preparedness.

Strategies to Boost Emergency Fund: Bankrate’s guidance extends beyond the survey findings, offering practical strategies for readers to fortify their financial resilience. Suggestions include opening high-yield savings accounts, implementing budget cuts, and exploring side hustles.

The Bankrate survey unfolds a poignant narrative of financial challenges in 2023, with inflation and high expenses emerging as formidable foes for American households. Greg McBride’s advice resonates, urging readers to consider tapping into the burgeoning gig economy or taking on additional employment opportunities to make headway on boosting savings. This comprehensive blog post encourages readers to proactively embrace practical strategies and foster financial well-being amidst the ongoing economic uncertainties.

You can read the full report here.

FILE - A Social Security card is displayed on Oct. 12, 2021, in Tigard, Ore. The annual Social Security and Medicare trustees report released Thursday, June 2, 2022, says Social Security’s trust fund will be unable to pay full benefits in 2035, instead of last year's estimate of 2034, and the year before that which estimated an exhaustion date of 2035. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

Cautious 3.2% Social Security Benefit Increase Expected in 2024 Amid Slowing Inflation

In 2024, Social Security beneficiaries are set to receive a 3.2% increase in their benefits, a stark contrast to this year’s extraordinary hike, indicating a slowdown in consumer price increases.

The cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) translates to an average monthly increase of over $50 for recipients, beginning in January, as reported by the Social Security Administration on Thursday. The AARP estimates this boost at approximately $59 per month.

Kilolo Kijakazi, acting commissioner of Social Security, expressed, “This increase will assist millions in managing their day-to-day expenses.”

Roughly 71 million individuals, spanning retirees, disabled individuals, and children, rely on Social Security benefits.

This announcement follows the notable 8.7% increase in benefits experienced this year, a result of the historically high 40-year inflation rates that drove up the prices of consumer goods. With inflation now stabilizing, the upcoming annual increase is notably more modest.

Martha Shedden, president of the National Association of Registered Social Security Analysts, remarked, “In comparison to last year’s 8.7% hike, this will feel relatively small, and there is a perception that it may not keep pace with the ongoing inflation and the increasing living costs for retirees.”

In addition to this, an expected rise in Medicare premiums for 2024 is likely to offset the Social Security cost-of-living increase. While traditional Medicare has not yet disclosed the extent of the increase, Medicare Advantage plans are anticipated to remain steady.

However, advocates for senior citizens have celebrated the annual Social Security adjustment. AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins noted, “Retirees can breathe a bit easier knowing that they will soon receive a boost in their Social Security payments to help them cope with the rising expenses.”

Social Security is funded through payroll taxes collected from both workers and employers. The maximum earnings subject to Social Security payroll taxes will rise to $168,600 for 2024, up from $160,200 in 2023. Retirees who rely solely on Social Security income are exempt from taxes on that income.

Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works, an advocacy group for the social insurance program, underlined the significance of COLA and urged Congress to pass legislation to safeguard and expand benefits. Nonetheless, the program faces a substantial financial shortfall in the near future.

The annual Social Security and Medicare trustees report, issued in March, revealed that the trust fund for the program will be unable to meet the full benefit obligations from 2033 onwards. If the trust fund is depleted, the government will only manage to pay out 77% of the scheduled benefits, according to the report.

While there have been proposals in Congress to strengthen Social Security, none have advanced past committee hearings. A March poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that the majority of U.S. adults oppose measures that would cut Medicare or Social Security benefits, with 79% of respondents opposing reductions in Social Security benefits.

It is important to note that the Social Security Administration is currently without a permanent leader, as President Joe Biden nominated former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley to head the agency in July.

The COLA is currently determined using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, there have been calls to consider an alternative index, the CPI-E, which measures price fluctuations based on the spending habits of the elderly, including healthcare, food, and medication costs. Any alteration in the calculation method would require approval from Congress. Nevertheless, given the historical inactivity surrounding Social Security and the current gridlock in the House, senior citizens and their advocates are skeptical about the prospects of any changes being approved in the near future.

These cost-of-living adjustments will have a substantial impact on individuals like Alfred Mason, an 83-year-old resident of Louisiana. Mason emphasized that “any increase is welcome because it helps us cope with our current situation.” He stressed that, given the persistent high inflation, any addition to his income would be greatly appreciated.

What Can Wealthy Boomers Do to Stay Wealthy?

One of the most valuable things wealthy boomers can do to protect their wealth is tax planning. Here’s some tax planning strategies to consider in your financial plan:

  • Roth Conversions: Convert traditional IRAs or 401(k)s into Roth IRAs over time. While you’ll pay taxes on the converted amount, Roth IRA withdrawals in retirement are tax-free, which can reduce your future tax burden.
  • Tax-Efficient Withdrawal Strategy: Plan how you’ll withdraw money from various retirement accounts (e.g., traditional IRAs, 401(k)s, taxable accounts). Aim to minimize the tax impact by strategically choosing which accounts to tap into each year.
  • Asset Location: Allocate your investments wisely between taxable and tax-advantaged accounts. For example, place tax-inefficient investments (like bonds) in tax-advantaged accounts and tax-efficient investments (like stocks) in taxable accounts.
  • Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs): If you’re charitably inclined, consider making charitable donations directly from your IRA using QCDs. This can satisfy your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) and lower your taxable income.
  • Tax-Efficient Investments: Invest in tax-efficient funds or individual stocks that generate lower levels of taxable income, such as index funds and ETFs.
  • Tax-Loss Harvesting: Offset capital gains by selling investments that have declined in value, thus realizing capital losses that can offset gains.
  • Minimize Medicare IRMAA Surcharges: Be aware of how your income affects Medicare premiums. There are some strategies that can help reduce the impact of IRMAA.
  • Estate Planning: Implement effective estate planning strategies, such as gifting assets to heirs over time to take advantage of gift tax exclusions and reduce your taxable estate.
  • 529 Plans: Use 529 college savings plans for education expenses. They offer tax-free growth and withdrawals when used for qualified education expenses.
  • Health Savings Account (HSA): If eligible, contribute to an HSA, which provides a triple tax advantage – tax-deductible contributions, tax-free growth, and tax-free withdrawals for qualified medical expenses.
  • Long-Term Care Insurance: Consider long-term care insurance to protect assets from potential long-term care expenses while keeping premiums tax-deductible.
  • Real Estate Strategies: Explore tax-efficient real estate investment options, such as real estate investment trusts (REITs) or like-kind exchanges (1031 exchanges).
  • Use Tax Credits: Take advantage of available tax credits for retirees, such as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit (Saver’s Credit) or any state-specific tax credits.

If you’d like to chat with a retirement tax planning specialist, reach out to us at: retire@herretirement.com.

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How & Why to Do An Annual Financial Check Up

(01:05):

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of the Her Retirement Podcast. This week’s episode is entitled How and Why to Do an Annual Financial Checkup. Performing an Annual Financial Checkup is, of course, a precious practice to assess your financial health, set goals, and make any necessary adjustments for the coming new year before the distractions of the end of the year come. I believe fall is a perfect time to do a checkup or have one done for you so you can do this yourself with the steps I’m going to outline in today’s podcast, or maybe better yet for you, you can join my financial wellness workshop taking place on Thursday, September 14th, and we can do this together along with a small intimate group of other women I’m gathering so that we don’t have to do this alone and try to stumble and fumble and keep putting it off.

(02:04):

This will force you to put it on your calendar, make a money date with yourself, and get her done. I’ll provide the templates, the software, the support, and a few other surprises when you join me for the workshop. It’s 90 minutes long and it’s only $27. You’ll walk away with a great picture of your financial health, a good set of financial priorities and critical action items for the remainder of 2023, and action items for 2024. Plus, I love surprises, so you’ll benefit from those, and you may even meet some new friends. So please consider joining me for the two sessions I’m offering on September 14th. One is at noon, and the other is at 7:00 PM Eastern Standard Time. To sign up, go to www.herfinancialcheckup.com, and I hope to see you there. However, if you decide to do your checkup yourself, here are the steps I recommend.

(03:09):

Number one, gather all your financial documents and collect them, including bank statements, investment statements, credit card statements, pay stubs, bills, insurance policies, tax returns, and any other relevant documents. Better yet, my suggestion is that throughout the year, you should organize and keep these all together in one place so that when you do your financial checkup or have one done, you have everything. You’re not scrambling and digging through desk drawers and file cabinets and who knows where else to find all this information. So, one of the steps we will discuss in the workshop is how to get organized and have easy access to all your financial documents. Number two, check your credit report. When was the last time you checked it? Did you know you can pull your credit report free once a year on annualcreditreport.com? Of course, having a good credit score and credit history can help you get lower interest rates on various purchases, which results in you saving money.

(04:14):

Take a financial inventory to determine your current debt expenses and income. We’ll help you understand what specific areas of your finances need the most attention and help you prioritize accordingly. My software platform, called the Financial Inventory and Analysis Tool, or Fiat for short, is a tool you can use to do this and then continue to track things like your cash flow, spending, net worth, retirement projections, and so much more. You can access a free trial of that software at www.fiatool.com. If you’re getting closer to retirement, let’s say, I don’t know, five years or less, you may prefer my retirement readiness software platform that includes everything in the Fiat tool, but it also has an e-class on money and retirement and other retirement-focused content to make sure you are truly ready. You can also get a free two-week retirement readiness software trial on my website at www.herretirement.com.

(05:30):

Alright, number four, review your budget and track your spending. So, many Americans don’t manage a budget, which is okay. Still, once a year, it’s a good idea to take a close look at your budget, what you spend your money on, and if you do have a budget, how well did you adhere to it, or maybe you have a mental budget, it’s great to go through your statements and uncover where did you kind of fall off the train? What things can you reel back in in the new year? Where did you spend more than you thought you would? Where were you losing a little bit of financial control? Analyze your income and expenses to identify areas where you may have overspent or saved more than you expected. You’ll have perhaps a pleasant surprise. This is called knowing your cash flow, and it’s essential to know and track it. You can use the more brilliant spending tracking tool in either the software platforms, the Fiat tool, or the retirement readiness platform on her retirement.

(06:39):

Next is to track your net worth. Knowing your cash flow and monitoring your net worth are two financial benchmarks that you need to start and then continue to follow. Calculating your net worth is easy. You subtract your total liabilities and debts from your total assets, which will give you your net worth, and hopefully, it’s positive. And the goal of being wealthy is to improve your net worth as time goes on. This will give you an idea of your overall financial health and position, and you must compare it to previous years to track and celebrate your success. If you don’t follow things, you have no idea if you’re making progress, going backward, or just staying put. Number six is to assess your emergency fund. You want to ensure that your emergency fund is adequately funded or adequately funded.

(07:42):

Financial experts recommend having three to six months’ worth of living expenses in this fund, and if it falls short, consider increasing your contributions in the coming year. Everybody’s emergency fund is different, so you must figure out what’s best for you. Sometimes, people feel more comfortable having up to a year in an emergency fund, and an emergency fund is best placed in either treasury bills or a high-yield savings account. And if you want some help with either of those, please get in touch with me. I do have a couple of recommendations for a high-yield savings account. You can also go to bankrate.com, which will pull up some online banks with great rates. Number seven, review your debt levels. You want to check the status of your debts, including credit card balances, loans, and mortgages. Assess whether you’ve made progress in paying down your debts and whether you need to adjust your repayment strategy.

(08:42):

One of the things that’s also good is to look for any leakage that you may have in your spending, in your debts, or in things that you’re maybe spending money on that you aren’t aware of. So one day, I looked at my iPhone, looked at some of the subscriptions I was paying for, had no idea I was paying for these apps, and deleted them. I also have access to a tool that looks at this for you. It looks at the subscriptions you’re paying for and will identify those so you can cancel them and save money. It’s called money leakage, and I believe that being wealthy here is all about plugging those leakage points, focusing proactively on your savings and investments, and earning money. If you want access to that tool, you can go to her subscriptions.com, which I believe is the correct one.

(09:41):

I will put it in the show notes and the transcript so that we can make sure you go to the right place, but I’m 99% sure it is her subscriptions.com. Alright, number eight, evaluate investments. Review your investment portfolio in your 401(k), IRAs or brokerage account to assess the performance over the last year. Of course, we’ve come out of that dip in the stock market somewhat, and we’re not back to where we were before, but we are doing better, so we should not be in such a; it shouldn’t make us feel so bummed out as we might’ve been last year. I didn’t even want to look at my accounts last year. Still, this year might make you feel a bit better if you go ahead and check those out and look at the performance. You want to ensure your asset allocations align with your long-term financial goals and risk tolerance, and you want to consider rebalancing if necessary.

(10:39):

Number nine is tax planning. You want to review your tax situation and assess potential tax implications for the year. Consider tax saving strategies such as contributing to retirement accounts or maximizing deductions. If you haven’t opened a Roth IRA, you have until the tax deadline of 2024 to max out your Roth IRA and make a catch-up contribution. So if you need some information, check with me on that. Also, suppose you want to be proactive in thinking about the future or getting closer to retirement and want to know how to be genuinely tax efficient and keep more of your savings and investments in retirement. In that case, you can request a tax-smart retiree assessment. Go to www.taxsmartretiree.com, scroll down that homepage, and look for that assessment. It is worth its weight in gold—alright, number 10, insurance coverage.

(11:40):

Review your insurance policies, including your health, life, auto, and home insurance. Often, with the Mass Health Connector, open enrollment starts in October, allowing us to look at health insurance coverages and see if there are ways to reduce the cost or improve the insurance we had during the previous year. You want to ensure you have adequate coverage and make adjustments if necessary. Of course, insurance is a crucial component of financial planning as it protects against various risks that could lead to significant financial losses. While the specific types of insurance you need can vary depending on your circumstances, there are different types of insurance that most individuals should consider. Number one is health insurance. Number two, auto insurance. Three, homeowners or renter’s insurance. Four, life insurance; five, disability insurance; six. Long-term care insurance. Seven. Umbrella insurance, which, for those of you don’t know, offers additional liability coverage beyond the limits of your auto home or renters, and it protects against large liability claims that could otherwise deplete your assets.

(12:58):

Eight. Travel insurance. Nine. Pen insurance, 10. Identity theft insurance. 11. Business insurance if you’re a business owner, flood insurance. And finally, 13. Earthquake insurance. If you live in an earthquake-prone area, the specific insurance coverage you need depends on your lifestyle, financial situation, and where you live. It’s essential to regularly review your insurance coverage and adjust it as necessary to ensure that you are adequately protected against potential risks and financial setbacks. Consulting with an insurance agent or a financial retirement advisor can help you determine the right insurance policies for your circumstances, and this might be a great time to add that I am very close to deciding to get my insurance license so that I can help women protect themselves, their money and their family. I will have more information and news about that exciting new goal I’m potentially setting.

(14:03):

So they say it’s never too late to start, so you can do anything regardless of age when you want to do it. I see such a huge need for women to protect themselves, their money, and their families that I’m motivated and excited about the opportunity. So, onto number 11, set financial goals for the following year. Reflect on your financial goals and objectives. Are there any new goals you want to arrange for the next year? Whether it’s saving for a vacation, paying off a specific debt, or increasing retirement contributions, having clear financial goals is essential, and of course, those goals should be tied to your life goals. From a lifestyle perspective, what do you want to do short-term and long-term? I was talking to one of my nieces about this. She’s approaching 40 and thinking, “Okay, when can I retire?

(14:55):

She’s been picking my brain about those retirement years, how she wants to spend them, and what she needs to do to retire early to enjoy life doing non-work things: number 12, plan for major expenses. Identify any significant costs or financial milestones expected in the coming year, such as home repairs, tuition, or retirement, and plan how you will fund these expenses. And I always say plan for the unknown, right? This is part of the emergency fund, but think plan B; you always need a plan B. Some people call it a catastrophic fund, which is in addition to their emergency fund, or perhaps they combine it, and it’s for the, I don’t know, the water heater goes in your house or the roof leaks or the engine blows in your car, which just happened to us not too long ago.

(15:55):

It is essential to have a plan B for those types of expenses. 13. Review estate planning. If you have an estate plan, review it to ensure it reflects your current wishes and circumstances. If you don’t have one, consider the Her Retirement Trust and Will resource I make available to people at www.getherwilldone.com. It’s high quality and affordable estate planning. I have used them, and I love the service. I highly recommend that because so many people don’t have a will, they don’t have trust, and they can walk you through when and why you would need trust. Number 14, update your beneficiary designations. Verify that these designations are on your retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and the other assets are up to date and aligned with your wishes. Number 15, save and invest for retirement. Ensure you’re contributing enough to your retirement accounts,

(16:57):

401(k), IRA, or Roth IRA to meet your long-term retirement goals. Consider how you’re contributing to these different accounts, right? This is where tax planning comes in, but it’s not just throwing all the money in a 401(k) because you want to diversify into other tax buckets. So, if you’re not sure that you’re saving and investing in the right way in the right places, we can talk about that and get you connected with resources that can help you make sure that you are saving and investing in the right way for retirement. 16 charitable giving. Review your charitable giving for the year and plan your contributions for the following year. 17. Tax withholding and filing. Check your tax withholding to avoid any surprises when you file your taxes. Adjust your withholding if necessary and consider consulting a CPA. I have a great one in Massachusetts.

(17:56):

He does work with people all over the country. If you want access to him. 18, create a financial calendar. Set up a financial calendar for the coming year, including important dates for bills, tax deadlines, and financial milestones. If you get super organized now, it will make the following year, 2024, much easier to manage. 19. Meet with a financial retirement coach and or advisor. If you have complex financial situations or investments, or you’re getting ready to retire, which conjures up a whole other set of issues and decisions you need to make, or you want to plan now for a better retirement like my 40-year-old niece, consider meeting with a coach like me or an advisor and my network to get the professional guidance that you need. 20. Document your plan; write down your financial goals and the steps you plan to take in the coming year to achieve them.

(18:56):

This will serve as a roadmap for your financial success. I also highly recommend you purchase my new retirement personal info and emergency planner at www.heremergencyplanner.com. It’s relatively new. It’s 130 pages and captures all your essential and financial information in one place. This means you’ll know what you have and what you’re missing. This is also an incredible gift. You can leave your family in incapacitation or at your passing. Your family will be able to keep calm and carry on because they’ll have all the info they need about you and your personal life. And it’s also an excellent resource for writing down things you want your family to know about you, some of your memories. There’s a section where you can write a love letter to those you care about. It’s an excellent document to capture everything your family needs to know about you personally and financially.

(20:04):

You can check that out. I’m also creating her retirement happier, healthier, wealthier journal, which is a little more, I guess, fun because you’re going to be able to journal and write down some of your dreams and your goals. And that’s going to be coming out soon. I don’t have a UR L because I’m working on it. So I’m excited about that. Happier, healthier, wealthier Journal 21, monitor your progress regularly and review your financial progress throughout the year, not just at the end. Adjust your plan as needed to stay on track. This is where a coach or an advisor can help you because they’ll help you monitor what’s going on, help you make those adjustments, and hold you accountable, one of the most significant values a coach or an advisor has. 22 is to stay informed.

(21:00):

Keep yourself informed about changes in tax laws, financial markets, and economic conditions that may impact your financial situation. And I’m going to add 23, which is to get educated. It’s essential to stay informed of what’s happening, get educated above this money and retirement, and enlighten others. So I’m in the process of putting together a guide, a financial focus, money Guide for kids and teens because the onus is not just on the financial services industry, which they can do a good job not on schools, but on parents and grandparents to educate the young people in our world on this money stuff. That’s how they will be better informed and more financially secure adults. We won’t have the scary, scary statistics we have about poverty in retirement for many, many Americans. So this is one thing you can do proactively: not only educate yourself, but once these materials come out, you are certainly welcome to access them and share them with young families, children fam,ilies, and teenagers.

(22:23):

They’re quick little guides I decided I wanted to put together to extend the information and education I’m putting out for her retirement to the younger generation. So stay tuned for that information. It’s a lot. So, I’m doing a workshop because it’s a lot to tackle on your own, and I hope you would consider coming to the workshop so we can work through all of this. Performing an end-of-year financial checkup is an excellent way to ensure that you’re making informed decisions and taking steps to secure your financial future. It’s a proactive approach to managing your finances and working toward those goals. And because I believe a better, more intentional life in retirement is more than money. I want to give you a couple of other quick non-financial steps and tips to consider as we enter this new fall season here in New England.

(23:20):

It’s a beautiful time of year to get out, walk, be in nature, appreciate all the changing trees and leaves, and enjoy the season’s beauty. But first is physical wellness, so ensure you get those health checkups. I’ve made a list: the dermatologist, the regular doctor, the eye doctor, the dentist. It seems like fall is the time of year when I do all of that. But schedule that health checkup. And ladies, don’t forget the mammograms. Schedule those with your healthcare providers. Discuss concerns, medications, and recommended screenings. Be proactive about your health. It’s one of the ways that we can enjoy the longevity that many of us will live. And when we are healthier, we reduce our healthcare costs, which can be pretty astronomical throughout our lives and retirement. Number two is nutrition. Eat right, and evaluate your eating habits. Are you consuming a balanced diet?

(24:17):

Rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, make small, sustainable changes to improve your nutrition. I know it’s a tough time of year with Halloween candy, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, but if you start thinking about how to manage your nutrition during those periods now, like here in September, you’ll be better prepared. Physical activity: Incorporate regular physical activity into your routine, even if you start with walking. Walking is excellent for you. It doesn’t have to be intense. You can walk, swim, yoga. It’s perfect for staying active and keeping your body physically healthy. Mental well-being: Prioritize your mental health, practice mindfulness and meditation, or engage in hobbies that bring you joy and reduce stress. I was reading something by Tony Robbins on beautiful states versus suffering states, and he said that life is really about how we react to bad situations because they’re going to happen or stressful situations.

(25:19):

And his whole thing is thinking about being in a beautiful state versus a suffering state. So, I’ve been repeating that in my mind lately. When something is creeping up on me, and I feel stress creeping up, I remind myself that I want to stay in a beautiful state and push the suffering away and out of my mind. Number five is sleep quality. Ensure you’re getting enough quality sleep. I’m working on that. I tend to be a night owl and then get up early, so I’m burning both ends of the candle, which is unsuitable for my mental and physical health. Good sleep is crucial to well-being. So, take a nap if you’re not sleeping well at night. I know I’ve been taken down, and it’s what Europeans do all the time. It’s one of the things they say is critical to longevity is taking that siesta.

(26:09):

And finally, under this category, check out the new Netflix series Live Two 100, which I just started watching. Very, very interesting. It’s about the blue zones worldwide and using those blue zone habits to help us live a longer, better life. Also, check out the book by Peter Adia called Outlive. I just picked it up. It’s pretty heavy-duty. It’s a big book. But there are so many nuggets of good stuff that Peter talks about and his four pillars to outliving the people that are not going to follow these pillars, and they’re going to be short-lived. Finally, empower yourself—set goals. Define your physical and financial wellness goals for the upcoming year. Make them bright, which is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Seek support. Don’t hesitate to seek guidance. I mean, we women are good at asking for directions.

(27:17):

So whether it’s a financial advisor, retirement coach, personal trainer, or therapist, you don’t have to do this journey alone, okay? You can get the support you need. Celebrate progress. Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small. Indeed, celebrating milestones keeps you motivated. Stay connected. Maintain a robust support system of friends and loved ones. Share your goals and progress with them to stay accountable. September and October are my busy visiting and vacationing with friends and family. I’m looking forward to this time of connection and celebrating life and self-care. Prioritize self-care as a non-negotiable. Remember, investing in yourself is an investment in your future. Ladies, okay? So take care of you. This is the time for you. If you’re one of my listeners starting your second half of life, I always say this is all about me. Well, it’s not all about me; it’s much about me.

(28:31):

Indeed, I have all my other responsibilities, my kids, my significant other, and my dogs, but it is essential to make sure you prioritize yourself. This checklist is a roadmap to empower you to end the year on a high note, which would be the best holiday gift we could give ourselves, and we’ll allow you to step confidently into the next year and chapter of your life. You have the strength and wisdom to make positive changes for your financial, physical, and mental well-being. So, ladies, thank you for listening to today’s episode. Here’s to being happier, healthier, and wealthier. I look forward to seeing you in my workshop. Just go to her financial checkup.com. We will get a bunch of things done, and we’ll have some fun. So here’s to knowing more, having more, and getting her done.

 

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Tips & Milestones to Empower Women & Their Money

(01:04):

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of the Her Retirement Podcast. I’m excited to have you here listening to this episode. Go ahead and throw on some headphones, go for a walk, and take a listen because, as I always say, it’s about knowing more and having more, and of course, it’s about being healthier, happier, and wealthier now and in retirement. I’m also recording this episode as a video, so you can go over and check it out on my YouTube channel. This week, I’m going to be talking about seven important milestones after the age of 50 because I talk to so many women and they’re like, I don’t even know the things that I need to do after age 50, what kind of decisions I need to make. And so what I’m going to do is I’m going to highlight some of these milestones, and then I’m going to be talking about ten tips to help empower women financially.

(02:00):

One of the things I want to note about these milestones is that I have actually programmed these milestones into my Her Retirement Readiness software platform. So that means when you subscribe to the software platform, amongst all the other benefits of it, there’s going to be a milestone functionality, which means that once you put your birth date into the software, the software is going to monitor your ages. When you hit a certain milestone or actually a year out from when you hit a milestone, the software is going to automatically send you an email and say, Hey there, Beth, you’re about to become 59 and a half. What should you be doing before you turn 59 and a half? And what is the opportunity, the retirement planning opportunity you have at 59 and a half or 62 or 65? So it’s one of the more powerful features of the software because it is going to remind us and nudge us to take action.

(03:04):

In addition, it will educate us on what that milestone is, what the opportunity is, and how we can best take advantage of that milestone and opportunity. So, congratulations on being over 50. Now, the real adventure starts, and maybe you’ve already started thinking about retirement, but you definitely need to make sure that you take note of some of these significant dates in your calendar. Of course, when you subscribe to the software, it’s going to be your little reminder, but once you get beyond the age of 50, there are multiple birthdays, even half birthdays, that you need to pay attention to as the decisions you make around those milestones can significantly affect your retirement income. So, let’s talk about the big five. Oh, once you attain age 50, individuals with specific qualified retirement plans have the opportunity to make extra catch-up contributions on top of their regular contributions.

(04:12):

This is such a missed opportunity for so many people because they don’t know about it. So in 2023, if you are under 50 years old, you can contribute a maximum of $6,500 to an IRA, or an individual retirement account, and if you are 50 or older, you can add an additional $1,000 to that amount. Likewise, if you are 50 and older, you can contribute a total of $30,000 to your 401(k), your 403B, a thrift savings plan, and a 457B in 2023. And for those who are 50 or older and participate in a simple 401(k) IRA, your contribution limit for 2023 is $19,000. And I’m going to add one more, which is a Roth IRA. Again, you have that thousand dollars catch-up contribution, but it’s between the IRA traditional IRA and a Roth IRA.

(05:17):

You have that max of $7,500, so you can’t do 7,500 for both; it’s one or the other. Now, let’s talk about five years later. At age 55, a significant number of individuals are really not aware that they may have the option to make withdrawals from their 401(k) or similar retirement plans beginning at the age of 55. So let’s say you happen to leave your job regardless of the reason in the year you turn 55 or thereafter, you are eligible to withdraw funds from the retirement plan associated with that specific job without incurring any penalties. It’s really important, however, to note that this provision does not apply to funds rolled over into an IRA. All right, so 59 and a half. A lot of people are familiar with this age because it is the age that you can begin withdrawing from your IRA or 401(k)s, typically previous 401(k)s, if you’re still working without facing any penalties.

(06:24):

So yes, ladies, getting older definitely has some perks. So once you reach the age of 59 and a half, you can enjoy the benefits of withdrawing from those deferred retirement savings accounts without penalties. If you have retired or left your employment and still have funds in your 401(k) plan, you can access them at 59 and a half without incurring any early withdrawal penalty tax. The same rules apply if you have rolled your 401(k) funds into an IRA. When you reach 59 and a half, you have the earliest opportunity to withdraw funds from an IRA count without being subjected to a 10% early withdrawal penalty. However, even if you are still employed, many of us are accessing funds from an old 401(k) plan at age 59 and a half may have some restrictions depending upon the company’s policy. So you definitely need to check those policies.

(07:28):

You need to consult a 401(k) plan administrator with your employer or previous employer to determine if your plan allows what’s called an in-service distribution at age 59 and a half. This option varies among the various 401(k) plans, and one of the opportunities that you have is so many people leave 401(k) monies at previous employers, and maybe you’ve gone to a few different employers. Sometimes people have more than that, and they kind of leave these little pebbles, I call ’em. You drop these little piles of money and you leave them scattered about with different employers. Well, what you can do, and a lot of people don’t realize this, is that you can gather all those piles and make one bigger pile. So you don’t necessarily have to leave these monies with different employers. You can combine them all together into one traditional IRA and manage it from one place.

(08:31):

Sometimes it’s easier. There’s less fees, less complexity, and sometimes more choice. So, with employers, your choices can be somewhat limited depending upon your employer’s plan. But when you have your own traditional self-directed IRA, you have the choice with whatever company you have those monies with. So let’s say the company that I co-own your retirement advisor, let’s say they were going to help you roll all those monies into one IRA, they would have a lot more choices from the perspective of investment choices. So, choice with your money and your investments is typically a good thing. Okay? So definitely reach out if you want to go find those monies if you’re not sure where they all are and if you want to consolidate them into one account. I did this quite a number of years ago because I didn’t know I had probably three different 401(k)s, and I didn’t really know what was going on with each of them.

(09:39):

And now I have one invested. I can look at one dashboard and see what I got and how it’s doing, and I am paying less fees, and it’s less complicated, and I have a lot more investment choices. Alright, so let’s talk about age 62. A lot of people know that age because it is the first time you become eligible to claim social security benefits. However, you need to note that if you choose to claim benefits before reaching your full retirement age, which is not 62, it’s later, it’s probably typically 66 to 67. Your benefit amount if you choose to claim it 62 versus your full retirement age will be permanently reduced. On the other hand, if you delay claiming benefits to full retirement age or beyond, your benefit will increase by approximately 8% for each year. You defer until you reach the age of 70.

(10:40):

So it’s like your money sitting in social security is going up 8%, which isn’t a bad return for each year that you wait. If you’re considering working while receiving social security benefits, it’s important to note that your benefit may be subject to reduction. Social security beneficiaries who are below their full retirement age and have earned income exceeding $21,240 in 2023 will have $1 withheld for every $2 earned above this limit. Once recipients reach their full retirement age, the earnings limit increases to 56,540 and the penalty decreases to $1 withheld for every $3 earned above the limit. However, once people reach their full retirement age, no benefits are withheld if they continue working. So let me unpack this for you. If you intend to keep working after 62, sometimes it doesn’t make a lot of sense to start collecting your social security benefit because of that $1 for every $2 earned reduction.

(11:57):

In addition, once you start claiming you’re going to miss out on that 8% increase every year, okay? And that’s just what the government gives you as an incentive for waiting. They say, okay, your benefit’s going to go up 8%, 8%, 8%, so the year you reach your full retirement age, it’s that $1 for $3. But after your full retirement age, you can work and continue to collect a hundred percent of your social security. So what a lot of people do is they wait. They wait until that full retirement age because they can work and they can get their social security benefit and their income from their work. Makes sense. One thing to note here also is that the cost of living increase is not part of that 80%. So you’ve heard about Colas last year it was like 8.7%. I think it was the biggest in the history of social security.

(12:58):

On average, colas over time have been about 3%. So if you start claiming is social security, the only way it’s going to go up is that 3% cost of living increase. So if you lock in at 62, you’re going to get the cost of living increase, but you won’t get that 8% because you took it, you didn’t wait. Alright, 65, if you’re nearing 65, retiring soon or newcomer to Medicare, it’s important to make informed decisions about your healthcare. So not at 65, but say four months before you turn 65, you need to make your decisions about Medicare. Oftentimes I get people approaching me at 62, 63, even younger, 50 55. They really want to be prepared and they want to understand what this whole Medicare thing is about. Because one of the issues is if you take your social security at 62 and you stop working, you don’t get Medicare until 65.

(14:00):

So you’re going to have to cover that gap between 62 and 65, your healthcare gap. Alright, important to note that if you delay enrolling in Medicare beyond 65, you may face a penalty and a gap in coverage. So your initial enrollment period for Medicare is the first time you can enroll. If you’re eligible for Medicare when you turn 65, you can enroll within a seven month period. That includes the three months before you turn 65, the month you turn 65 and the three months after your birthday. So that’s how they get the seven month enrollment period that they give you two enroll in Medicare, you can even sign up for part A, which is hospital insurance if you have employer-based health insurance when you turn 65, so let’s you’re working, you can sign up for part A. It’s really important to consider that for the majority of individuals who have paid Medicare taxes during their employment, there won’t be a monthly premium for Part A.

(15:05):

Now, if you’re familiar with Medicare, there are a lot of parts. If you are currently receiving social security benefits, you’ll be enrolled automatically in Medicare Part A and Part B while you have the option to decline Part B, which is medical insurance coverage. It does involve an additional premium payment. If you don’t have coverage through an employer’s health plan and choose to enroll at a later time, you may be subject to a penalty for the duration of your enrollment. If this all sounds confusing, I get it, you might have to rewind and listen to this again, but I have a better option. You can go check out hermedicareclass.com. Again, that’s hermedicareclass.com. I put together a 20-minute on-demand class that you can watch at any time and learn some of the basics of Medicare. And then after you watch that basics class, you can reach out to me and watch my full Medicare class, which happens to be part of my Her Retirement Roadmap Masterclass, which is an eight-module 10-hour class, and one of those hours is on Medicare.

(16:18):

So if you go to hermedicareclass.com, you can definitely check out that Medicare class. If you want to check out the full Her Retirement Roadmap masterclass, which covers everything from investments to income planning to Medicare to long-term care to estate planning, you go to her retirement class.com. All right, and I’ll definitely have this in the notes of this episode. So this is a little fun fact. According to a study conducted by United Income, an average household misses out on approximately $111,000 worth of social security benefits over their lifetime. I think a lot of this is due to the fact that if you’re divorced, widowed, or even marital benefits, a lot of times, people in those situations miss out on the proper timing and claim some people don’t even understand that they can claim on an ex-spouse and if the ex-spouse’s benefit is greater than your own, you can get the ex-spouses.

(17:25):

And so there are all these different rules depending upon not only marital status but timing and taking into consideration those 8% increases each year, the Colas. So if you want to know more about Social Security and really understand it, then what are the best choices for you? I have a social security class also it’s her social security.com. You can go check out that class, and there’s a whole bunch of resources, and decision trees to help you make the best social security decision. And we also do social security analysis. It’s like $125 and you can get a social security analysis to help you determine what is the best social security strategy for you. Alright, let’s talk about the ages. 65 to 67. This period is when individuals are eligible to receive their full Social Security benefit, in most cases. In 2023, social security benefits received a cost of living increase, and it was a record increase, I was correct, of 8.7%.

(18:39):

This is the highest in almost four decades, which increased the maximum monthly benefit for retirees who claim at their full retirement age to 36 27. So $3,627 was the maximum. So there isn’t an unlimited amount of monthly benefit. If you’re a multimillionaire, you’ll be capped at this $3,627. While it’s unlikely that everyone will qualify for this much in Social Security benefits, everyone and I believe everyone can develop a strategy to maximize their benefit. So many times, I hear, “I’m just going to claim it at 62.” I think that’s an emotional decision. It might be the right practical decision. I’m not saying it isn’t, but never assume, especially regarding retirement planning. Don’t assume, don’t listen to your neighbor, don’t just listen to something you read, which is generic advice. It’s personal finance for a reason. You need to have an analysis done to make the best decision for you.

(19:45):

Now, of course, if you aren’t able to work and you have no other income sources, then yes, by all means, 62 is a no-brainer decision claim at 62, be done with it. Stop working, protect your health, get that guaranteed income every month, and you’ll probably be happier. One way to maximize your social security is regularly reviewing your benefit statements to ensure you receive credit for the taxes you have paid into the system and determine when you should claim benefits. So here’s another assumption. People think, oh, social security, they know what they’re doing; they have it, right? They have all of my credits. Well, oftentimes, people never check, and they take what they get. You should check the credits for the taxes you’ve paid into the system. We all pay into it. If we are working for a system that takes money out, if we’re working for an employer that takes money out, social security, you’re paying in.

(20:49):

So check your statements, check your record, make sure it’s accurate, and don’t wait until just before retirement to check it. It’s actually something on my to-do list. I just turned 58 3 days ago, and yes, I can hear you all singing Happy Birthday to me. But anyway, I turned 58, and it’s on my to-do list because I actually have never checked. I didn’t know until a few years ago that this was a thing, so go do it. It’s worth noting that only Americans age 60 and above who have not claimed their benefits and have not set up an online account will receive their statements by mail. So to create an online account, look for a letter with an activation code or visit the Social Security Administration’s website. Okay? Alright, so I want to give you some quick numbers. If you are at age 62 and you claim social security, you’ll get, let’s say in this case you get $2,364.

(21:52):

Just as an example, let’s say you wait until your full retirement age, depending upon what that is, your benefit could be 32 40 to 36 27. Let’s say you waited until age 70, your maximum benefit would be $4,555. The difference between the 2364 and the 45 55 should be around 128%. I can’t do that math in my head, but they do say that if you wait until full, excuse me, if you wait until your maximum age of 70, which is the latest, that’s when social security basically stops getting bigger. You could go from 2364 a month to 45, 55. So some people say, you know what, I’m going to wait till age 70. I’m healthy, I have longevity in my family. Again, these are all questions that you need to ask yourself as you’re making these decisions. And in her social security class@hersocialsecurity.com, there is a decision tree gives you a bunch of questions to answer and helps lead you through this decision tree to making the best social security decision for you.

(23:09):

Alright, age 73. With the implementation of the Secure Act 2.0 at the end of 2022, there have been changes to the age at which required minimum distributions or RMDs begin starting in 2023. RMDs will now begin at the age of 73, and it used to be like 78 and a half, and then it went to 72, but now RMDs begin at the age of 73, and this age will further increase to 75 after the year 2032. These mandatory distributions apply to various qualified retirement plans, including 401(k)s, 403bs, profit-sharing plans, money purchase pensions, IRAs, simple IRAs, and SEP IRAs. As a result, retirees now have more time to allow their retirement savings to grow tax-free. Tax-free is for me, people. If you’ve listened to any of my podcasts, you know that tax planning is relevant for many people. RMDs represent the minimum amount you must withdraw each year, but you always have the option to withdraw more if desired.

(24:26):

However, in some cases, some retirees may prefer to withdraw less than the required amount. Taking additional withdrawals from a traditional retirement account leads to a higher tax burden and the loss of tax-free growth for the withdrawn funds. This is why it’s so important to do careful retirement income planning. It’s just, again, it’s not like, oh, let’s take our money, let’s take it out. It has to be a very concerted, organized, structured drawdown of those accounts, and doing some tax planning prior to retirement is so important because, basically, when you open a 401(k), you’re in a relationship with the government. They’re saying you can get the tax benefit upfront, but in retirement, when you are 73 or after 20 32 75, we want our taxes. So they’re going to force you to take those withdrawals, and you’re going to have to pay the taxes. So understanding what impact your income will have after you’ve paid those taxes is really important, and that’s why we talk about having some tax-free buckets in retirement like a Roth IRA where you can take that money, and you don’t have to pay any taxes.

(25:53):

Alright? It’s important to remember that failing to take an RMD does result in penalties in 2023. There is a 25% penalty based on the RMD amount that should have been taken. RMDs are calculated based on the total balance of all your IRAs, 401(k)s, and other traditional retirement plans as of December 31st of the previous year. To ensure compliance and develop a long-term plan for minimizing taxes, it’s important to consult with a retirement advisor who has knowledge of these important birthdays. These milestones can assist you in adequately planning for specific retirement income benefits. These all impact your retirement income, and you must project what these milestones will do to your income situation. Alright, so the right retirement advisor will be very well-versed and familiar with these milestones. They will be projecting and running what I call several experiments to see how various decisions at these various birthdate milestones will affect you, your money, your family, your health, and your happiness, right?

(27:13):

They’re all very, very much intertwined. Being aware of these birthdays and these milestones definitely can prevent you from incurring penalties in case you overlook them. So this is one of the things my software is designed to do – remind you one year out, it will remind you if you’re working with a retirement advisor, they will remind you, okay? So you know what? If you’ve got questions, of course, you want to talk to a retirement planner, advisor, or coach. After years of committed savings, every woman deserves to smoothly and confidently move into the life that you’ve worked so hard for, and that’s what her retirement is here to help you with. Regrettably, taking action becomes challenging when you lack complete clarity regarding answers to your questions, and this is the precise reason why her retirement is available. So, I want you to make the most of your plans, and you can get a complimentary assessment with her retirement at any time.

(28:25):

Okay? I will have the full transcript of these seven important milestones after 50. It’s actually a nice little designed handout that we will link to so that you can print it out and certainly share these milestones. Share this podcast with your friends because these dates are so very important. Now, I want to go over 10 tips to help empower women investors, and I will go through these fairly quickly. Again, this is another nicely designed document that you can print out, and the next time you go to the beach, you can take this for your beach reading instead of that juicy romantic fiction novel. But seriously, I will go over these ten tips to empower women to investers. Alright? So every woman needs her own financial plan. That’s because her financial strategies often need to be different from a man’s for a variety of reasons.

(29:30):

Women continue to earn less, women live longer, women are more likely to be single later in life. Women are time starved. Women are paying the price for going back to school because oftentimes we do that. Americans now hold over 1.7 trillion in outstanding loan debt with women holding almost two thirds of that debt. So for many women, financial independence is our number one concern, but what steps can we women take to achieve this throughout our life? So here’s a few key action items that I would like you and any younger woman in your life, I’d like you to share this with them because as older women is our responsibility to help our younger generations be healthier, happier, and wealthier. All right, number one, keep money in your name. Every woman needs a pot of money to call her own. This means that in addition to joint financial accounts, you may have with your significant other, with your spouse partner, you should consider keeping some financial accounts in your name only and make sure you maintain your individual credit history.

(30:47):

And you can do this by holding a credit card or a personal loan issued just to you. Number two, confront your fears. Are you controlling your money or is it controlling you? Are your ideas about money and money management keeping you from becoming financially competent? As women increase education levels and continue to take on expanded roles in the workforce, they control more wealth and as a result, traditional views about finances need to be redefined and women need to face financial decisions head on. Number three, share decisions. If you share finances with someone else, you need to start talking this way. You’ll know if you share the same goals and dreams for the future as well as whether you’re on track to meet those schools. And oftentimes, people go into retirement as a couple and they don’t really talk about retirement. I mean, maybe the husband is the manager of the finances, and there’s not a real discussion with the woman.

(31:48):

In other cases, there might be a lot of financial discussion, but there’s no discussion about the non-financial parts of retirement. Those non-financial discussions and things that happen can significantly impact the financial part. If you don’t talk about where you want to live, that could have a huge impact. Your housing is one of your biggest expenses in retirement, and not having that discussion not communicating is a disaster in any relationship, no matter the topic, but you need to have those retirement discussions to avoid any potential disasters. Also, remember that disagreements are bound to happen, right? Good communication is key to working through these disagreements and getting you back on track financially and non-financially. As a couple, four, maintain access to all finances. Keep your financial records accessible and easy to gather when you need them. This could include brokerage accounts, insurance policies, retirement plan statements, tax returns, and other important documents.

(32:52):

If you don’t have access to those because maybe your spouse, partner, or husband keeps them somewhere, make sure you know where they are and you have access to them. Making copies is a really good idea. Keep a record of who owns each account. Be sure to notify the person responsible for handling your state where all your documents are and whom to contact in the event of your passing. And this is why I created her personal info and emergency planner. If you haven’t seen it, you can go to her emergency planner.com. If you go to that URL, you can access my 130-page PDF that you can fill out online, or you can print it out and fill it out with a pen and then keep it someplace special that you remember. Maybe give access to someone who’s going to be responsible for your financial affairs if you become incapacitated or when you pass away.

(33:48):

This document is so important because it keeps track of all those things I just mentioned and more. There’s even a section on writing notes to people who are special to you or making a list of those special trinkets and treasures that you want to leave to special people in your life. It literally covers everything you can imagine, and it documents it all in one place. So definitely go check that out. Number five, pay yourself First. Fund your I R A, your 4 0 1 k, or your other accounts to the maximum. If you’re over 50, make sure to make those catch-up contributions when you leave your job. Consider rolling your 4 0 1 K funds into your own self-directed IRA. It can continue to grow tax-deferred, and you’ll gain the ability to choose from a broader array of investments, which I discussed earlier. Number six, choose a financial or retirement advisor wisely.

(34:46):

It’s important to have trust, ask for referrals, and interview several to find one that you have rapport with. And don’t be shy about asking tough questions. Check their credentials. An experienced advisor can help you look for the right solutions at every stage of your life and help you build competence in your ability to take control of your finances. And I do have a guide to finding the right financial advisor/retirement advisor, which includes the questions that I want you to ask that person. You can get access to that in my masterclass. Number seven, put your plan in writing. Ask your advisor to help you create a formal, written, long-term financial plan. A written plan will provide the framework for defining your goals and shaping your decisions. It will also help you set sites on those goals in the long term and help keep you on track regardless of market conditions or unexpected life events.

(35:44):

The right advisor and the right plan help you avoid those blind spots. And when you work with her retirement in a coaching capacity, we help you identify those blind spots. We help you get educated about those blind spots because sometimes the financial advisor or the insurance person you’re working with really isn’t in it to educate you. And so if you’re working with that type of person, it doesn’t mean you need to stop. It means maybe you look to her retirement to help educate you on all of this retirement stuff. Number eight, have a backup plan. Speaking of life events, don’t let a critical life change, such as marriage, divorce, widowhood, or illness, derail your goals. Always have a plan, and of course, an advisor or a planner can work with you to create a plan that addresses the unexpected and helps keep you moving forward, right?

(36:41):

If you’re going through that kind of transition, you lose your job, you lose your spouse, however it happens. You lose your capacity to work. You really need to make sure that you have a plan that can address those issues and be better prepared for them. There’s so much mental stress in those situations that if you can reduce the financial stress because you know you have a plan B, you will be so much better off. It’s about being happier, healthier, and wealthier regardless of what life throws at you. Number nine, understand what you own. Although working with an advisor is vital, in my opinion, you must also know and make sense of the investments you hold. Not only should you be investing too many women hold their money in cash because they’re afraid of investing. My masterclass has an investment module so that you can learn more about investing and feel more confident in it, but you need to educate yourself on these basic investing principles.

(37:44):

Course by taking classes like mine, reading books like mine, or there are so many valuable resources out there to help you get educated about investments and understanding what is in your 4 0 1 k. I mean, you don’t need to become a D I Y investor. You don’t need to be picking stocks and pouring over financial statements. I used to get the booklets from the companies I was invested in, and I was like, recycle, recycle. But you need to understand how investing works, why it’s so important to invest, and how it’s not as potentially scary for some of us as it needs to be. Number 10, finally, number 10, plan your family’s. When planning your estate, you can create a strategy designed to take care of your heirs while optimizing your retirement income. Work with a qualified estate planner in concert with your financial or retirement advisor to design an integrated strategy for passing on wealth to your loved ones while you enjoy the fruits of what you’ve worked so hard to earn throughout your lifetime.

(39:00):

And we actually have a referral to an online estate planning company. They do a trust in a will for significantly less than a traditional estate planning attorney that might be in your community. So if you want access to that, you go to get her will done.com. Again, get her will done.com, and you will get to this company that can do a trust and a will, and they’ll help educate you on what you need. And believe me, it is the most affordable trust and will, and you get access through it or access to it through your relationship with her retirement. So yes, you’re welcome. But I do highly encourage every woman to have at least a will. And for sure, you have to ensure you have beneficiaries named on all of your accounts if you don’t have a will. Beneficiaries are a must. Ladies, financial independence starts with determining your financial goals and putting in place a plan designed to help you reach them.

(40:09):

By implementing these steps that I’ve briefly outlined here, you can well be on your way to creating financial confidence for yourself and your family, both now and in your retirement years. As I always say, you, too, can be happier, healthier, and wealthier. It’s all about knowing more having more as a result, and getting her done. So, definitely reach out to me for help with any of the topics I discussed in this episode of the Her Retirement Podcast. I know I covered a lot. There are going to be two documents that you can link to the milestones document and the ten tips to help empower women financially to help empower women to invest who, right, invest hers. Very, very important. So ladies, here’s to being an investor, and here’s to getting super, super prepared for retirement, and I’m here to help you do it. Let’s get her done.

 

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Making the Right Medicare Decisions

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of the Her Retirement Podcast. This week I am talking about Medicare and the Medicare maze that we are all so confused about. I’m also recording this as a video, so you can go check it out on YouTube. After you’ve thrown on some headphones and listened to the podcast, you can go and take a look at a video of me chatting about it also, and I’m going to include a link to a Medicare workbook in the transcript of this podcast so that you can reinforce the concepts I’m going to be covering today. So are you preparing to embark on a Medicare journey within the next 12 months, but you’re finding it challenging to navigate this super complex landscape? Well, you don’t have to look any further. I got you. We’re gonna help you get her done. I’m going to attempt to simplify Medicare and enrollment for you.

(02:00):

So who is this for? Well, it’s for anyone seeking clarity and understanding of Medicare, regardless of age or background. It’s particularly beneficial for those who are ready to apply for Medicare and specifically people who are 64 years old and preparing for enrollment or who’re under 65 and living with a disability. Okay. So what you’ll learn in this podcast or video is understanding how Medicare functions and operates, identifying Medicare plans that align with your unique health budget and location, and determining the optimal plan suited to your needs regardless of your financial status. And we will discover strategies to avoid errors, penalties, and crucial deadline oversights. So let’s get this Medicare Party started. We’ll start by talking about original Medicare, which has two parts, part A, hospital coverage, and part B, medical coverage. Part A is inclusive coverage for hospital care, including inpatient services, hospice care, and select skilled nursing care.

(03:04):

Part B medical coverage is extensive coverage for those essential medical services such as doctor visits, lab tests, x-rays, provision of oxygen, hospital beds, preventative services like colonoscopies, and the ever-important mammograms. So Part A hospital Medicare Part A is often mistaken as being free, but it’s important to clarify that it is not free of charge. The truth is that you have paid in for Medicare Part A through your contributions made via your payroll taxes during your working years. If you or your spouse have worked and paid payroll taxes for a minimum of 10 years, you have already fulfilled the payment from Medicare Part A. Individuals who have not worked for full 10 years or who have not made sufficient payroll tax payments may be required to pay some or all of the expenses associated with Medicare Part A. This can result in expensive costs. So part B, medical Medicare Part B requires payment, and the amount you pay depends on your earnings.

(04:17):

In 2023, the majority of Medicare beneficiaries, over 90%, will pay approximately $165 per month for Medicare Part B. However, if you have a higher income, your monthly payment for Medicare Part B may exceed $165. It can range anywhere from 200, 300, 400, or it can even surpass $500 a month. The specific amount is determined based on your modified adjusted gross income two years ago. So your Maggie from two years ago is important to note that this payment date difference based on income can really catch some individuals off guard. It’s crucial to be aware that your monthly costs for Medicare Part B may not align with what others are paying. Your income determines it from two years ago. Some individuals with low income do receive assistance from their state to cover the cost of Medicare Part B. As mentioned before, the vast majority, around 90% of people in 2023, will pay approximately $165 a month for Medicare Part B.

(05:32):

If you receive social security benefits, the monthly premium from Medicare Part B is automatically deducted from your Social Security payments. For those not receiving social security benefits, the payment process may be slightly more complex. When relying solely on government Medicare, you are responsible for paying 20% of all Medicare Part B costs. The government covers the remaining 80%, which may initially seem favorable. However, it’s essential to recognize that the 20% you are responsible for is not capped. This means that for significant medical expenses, your out-of-pocket liability could potentially amount to thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. While it’s not my intention to alarm you, it’s crucial to acknowledge that government Medicare alone may not provide you with sufficient coverage. There are gaps in limitations within government Medicare that can leave you exposed to substantial costs. So I highly recommend exploring supplemental coverage options to fill the gaps in government Medicare and protect yourself from potential financial burden.

(06:46):

Okay, let’s talk about Medicare coverage limitations. What’s not covered? The significant gap in original Medicare A and B lies in the 20% patient responsibility for Medicare Part B services. Imagine paying 20% of each chemotherapy, radiation, or dialysis treatment. The cost can quickly escalate due to the frequency and duration of these treatments. Original Medicare A and B do not provide coverage for prescription drugs. To address this gap, you must purchase a separate private insurance plan known as Medicare Part D, which offers prescription drug coverage. However, even with Medicare Part B, you still need to pay 20% of the cost for certain drugs, which are typically expensive medications like those used for U, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, or chemotherapy. Original Medicare A and B do not cover dental services, including cleanings, exams, and X-rays. No dental coverage is provided at all, while original Medicare A and B cover certain vision conditions like cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma.

(08:02):

They do not include routine eye exams. These exams are essential for detecting eye conditions in their early stages, which of course, if not identified in early stages, can become big expensive issues. Medicare A and B do not cover hearing services, including hearing exams and the cost of hearing aids. Hearing aids can be expensive, and Medicare offers no assistance in this area. Medicare does not cover any cosmetic procedures like getting rid of some of those wrinkles or some of those extra layers of fatty tissue or services considered medically unnecessary. So what are some options to fill your Medicare coverage gaps? Well, it’s crucial to acknowledge the limitations of the original Medicare, which is why individuals opt for supplemental coverage to fill the gaps. Of course, you have to evaluate this based on your personal situation, and you can evaluate this each and every year as your healthcare conditions change.

(09:08):

And this is probably a good time for me to note that because of all these medical costs in retirement and as we age, this is why I really focus on women in particular because my platform’s called her retirement, but focus on being healthy. Her. If we can focus on our health, we can obviously live a better, happier, more physically enjoyable retirement in later life, but we can also reduce our healthcare costs. I think it’s something like 10% of disease is genetic, and 90% is within our control. So if you can prioritize not only your wealth but your health, you are going to protect your retirement savings, and you’re going to spend so much less on healthcare costs. So get out there, move, exercise, care for yourself mentally, physically eat right, sleep, and drink water. Speaking of, I’m gonna take a little sip of water myself. Okay, so various options are available to supplement government Medicare, providing comprehensive coverage.

(10:22):

Generally, you’ll face a choice between two paths. One option is to purchase a Medicare supplement plan, also known as Medigap or supplemental plans, which work alongside government Medicare. The other option is to explore private Medicare, referred to as Medicare Advantage PPOs or HMOs. Selecting the right path is a critical decision that may have long-term implications. It’s essential to carefully consider your own options as it might be a lifetime decision with limited opportunities for changes later on. So option one is Medicare supplements. This plan serves as an additional layer of coverage alongside your existing original Medicare. Essentially, you retain your enrollment in government Medicare parts A and B while obtaining a private insurance plan to address the gaps in coverage. By acquiring a private insurance plan, you ensure comprehensive coverage that compliments and enhances your existing Medicare benefits. So let’s talk about the benefits of Medicare supplements.

(11:32):

Number one is unrestricted healthcare access. The most significant advantage of Medicare supplements is the freedom to choose any doctor and hospital nationwide. This unparalleled flexibility is highly appealing to individuals seeking comprehensive healthcare options. Number two: enhanced financial security. Medicare supplements fill gaps in original Medicare, mitigating the risk of high out-of-pocket expenses by providing additional coverage. These plans offer greater predictability and a clearer understanding of your healthcare costs. Number three is simplified and standardized coverage. And a noteworthy development of Medicare supplements underwent standardization. This means that regardless of the insurance provider, a specific plan, such as Plan G, offers identical coverage. This shift from the previously complex and confusing system ensures transparency and prevents any deceptive practices. And the next benefit is a guarantee of benefits. Once you select a Medicare supplement plan, your benefits remain unchanged. As long as you continue paying your monthly premium, your coverage remains intact.

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This guarantee allows for lifelong plan renewal and safeguards against unexpected modifications and the final benefit. Separate prescription drug coverage. It’s important to note that if you opt for a Medicare supplement plan, you must obtain a separate prescription drug plan. This ensures comprehensive coverage for both medical and prescription needs. Okay, next, Medicare supplements, eligibility, and enrollments. You must health qualify. You’ll be asked numerous health questions by different companies to understand your health status in the last two to five years. Questions vary slightly, covering conditions like cancer, heart attacks, C O P D, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, and more. Answering yes to these questions often makes you ineligible for Medicare supplement. Let’s talk about initial enrollment. When enrolling in Medicare Part B, insurance companies must accept you. During this enrollment period, health questions are not allowed. Any plan shown on the chart, which I will share in the transcript, is available for selection.

(14:00):

The importance of an enrollment window missing the initial enrollment window leads to health-related questions. Answering yes to these questions may permanently disqualify one from Medicare supplements. Understanding this before enrolling is crucial. So two popular plan choices are plan G and plan N, which individuals commonly prefer as they provide comprehensive coverage from Medicare gaps. And I want you to note proper understanding of eligibility enrollment windows and plan options is essential. When considering Medicare supplements, I really encourage you to seek guidance to make informed decisions. Okay, option two: Medicare Advantage. Medicare Parts A and B supplement and drug plan into one package. Let’s talk about the benefits of Medicare Advantage. While it may have a low premium or no premium, it’s important to note that you will still need to pay for Medicare Part B enrollment. In Medicare, A and B are necessary to be eligible for Part C.

(15:14):

Unlike Medicare supplements, Medicare Advantage operates within a network of doctors and hospitals. The network size varies, but it typically includes all of your preferred healthcare providers. Medicare Advantage plans often include coverage for prescription drugs. Part D within the health plan premiums can change annually. Unlike Medicare supplements that remain stable and it’s important to be adaptable and open to potential changes each year. Also, plans may differ for individuals living in different areas. So what are some of the extra benefits of Medicare Advantage as of 2023? Dental coverage, which may include routine dental care, cleanings, fillings, and even dentures, vision coverage, eye exams, prescription eyewear glasses, contact lenses, and discounts on vision-related services. Hearing aid coverage, transportation options may include rides to doctor’s appointments, pharmacies, and other healthcare facilities. Meal assistance may include meal cards or reimbursements for specific dietary needs, such as post-surgery recovery.

(16:22):

It’s important to understand that not all Medicare Advantage plans offer the same extra benefits. Availability of benefits can vary by county within your state, so it’s crucial to research plans specific to your location. Extra benefits may change annually, so staying informed about the current offerings is essential. Remember that original Medicare does not include most of these additional benefits, and of course, Her Retirement can assist in researching these available insurance companies and benefits specific to your zip code. So supplement or advantage choosing between Medicare supplement and Medicare Advantage depends on several factors, including budget, health condition, travel frequency, number of doctors, and comfort level. With the change, Medicare supplement is advantageous for individuals with a higher budget offering flexibility in nationwide coverage. Medicare Advantage may be more suitable for those who are healthy and eat and infrequently visit doctors, as well as those with ongoing health conditions that require more comprehensive coverage.

(17:33):

Travelers and individuals with multiple doctors may benefit more from a Medicare supplement plan to ensure broader access to healthcare providers. Personal preferences, family medical history, and anticipated health needs should be considered when making this decision. And you can regularly reassess your health and financial situation to ensure the chosen plan continues to meet your needs. So if you wanna start with one and switch to the other, which plan should you start with? Supplement to Advantage or advantage to supplement. Everyone’s situation is certainly unique, and the best Medicare plan for you may differ from others. Evaluate your health, your budget, your insurance preferences, and your travel frequency. Medical Medicare supplement is available to everyone during the initial enrollment period for Medicare Part B. Regardless of your health insurance, companies must accept you in any state and plan. Starting with a Medicare supplement provides flexibility and the ability to choose any doctor or hospital.

(18:39):

If you can comfortably afford a Medicare supplement plan, it’s recommended that you start with it. Keeping in mind that Medicare supplement premiums typically increase annually by around five to 10% after a few years, the premium may become less affordable, but you can explore other options. Private Medicare Advantage plans can be an alternative with zero or low monthly costs. Medicare Advantage plans offer extra benefits such as gym memberships or grocery carts. You have an annual opportunity to switch to Medicare Advantage during the open enrollment period from October 15th to December 7th. If you initially choose Medicare Advantage, you can switch back to Medicare supplement in the future. Moving between plans based on changing health and financial circumstances is an option. Consider your age, health outlook, and preferences when making these transitions. So little caution. When choosing your plan, it’s vital to assess your healthcare needs, preferences, and budget. When selecting a Medicare plan, relying on someone else’s plan without considering your own unique circumstances may lead to inadequate coverage.

(19:56):

Your health condition. Prescription meds providers should drive your plan selection. Ensure your chosen plan covers your doctors, hospitals, and necessary medications. Medicare plan availability and coverage options vary by zip code. Your location plays a significant role in determining the plans accessible to you. Of course, consulting with a Medicare specialist or insurance professional can help you navigate the huge range of options, and they can assist in assessing your specific needs and finding a plan that best aligns with you. Critical deadlines and penalties, retirees have a three-month window before and after their 61st birthday month to enroll in Medicare without penalty. On the other hand, working individuals with employer coverage are not penalized for keeping their current plan missing. Enrollment deadlines can result in lifelong penalties such as the Part B and Part D penalties. The Part B penalty is 10% of the monthly premium, increasing annually.

(21:00):

While the Part D penalty can also apply, it’s essential to compare the benefits of Medicare to your employer coverage if you’re still working at 65. As Medicare may provide more advantageous options, you need to make an informed decision by evaluating the advantages and potential cost savings of Medicare versus your employer’s plan. You know, we can connect you with these resources to help you analyze these plans and make the best decision. And I also have a more in-depth Medicare class. That’s part of my Her Retirement Roadmap Masterclass. The masterclass includes class workbooks, guides, checklists, decision trees, and other resources. If you wanna learn more about the masterclass, go to her retirement class.com. Module number six in the masterclass covers healthcare, Medicare, and long-term care. I will do a future podcast on long-term care and estate planning. So in that masterclass, there are eight modules, and the sixth module covers healthcare, Medicare, and long-term care.

(22:10):

The point of today’s podcast and video was to give you a very high-level overview of the Medicare options that you have. There are also some changes coming to Medicare, which you can learn about in the masterclass. Important changes that you need to be aware of. One of the other things that I wanted to point out today is that Medicare comes out of your social security benefit. One of the issues is as we age, our Medicare costs and medical costs go up. So potentially, like a 65-year-old couple, by reaching 80, most of their social security benefit could be going toward Medicare medical expenses. So it’s really important to understand how your Medicare and medical costs will impact your retirement income. And relying on social security for your income alone is not a good decision. For most people, social security accounts for 30 to 50% of their income.

(23:15):

And you know, you may say, okay, my social security will be my medical expense, right? That income will just cover my medical expenses, and if there’s any leftover, then that’s a bonus. But then you have to have your other income sources, which of course, if you have deferred retirement savings accounts like 401ks and IRAs if you have Roth Accounts Index universal life, you’re going to work. Maybe you get inheritance rental properties. I mean, all of these income sources go into creating your retirement paycheck, and it’s very important to understand how these costs will impact you. The other thing that we didn’t talk about was out-of-pocket costs. So in this session, we talked about Medicare and medical supplement costs. So out-of-pocket costs can add up to a very large number over the course of retirement, and you need to be prepared for those.

(24:11):

And so, in the masterclass, I talk about ways to fund those out-of-pocket costs and to fund things like long-term care because, again, in the Masterclass, you’ll learn that Medicare does not pay for long-term care. That is a completely separate expense that is on you. So I hope you’ve learned a little bit about Medicare, and you are welcome to reach out to me if you need help. You’re 64, and you need to decide soon here. You need to start evaluating your options and trying to decide the best situation for you. What is the best plan for you beyond parts A and part B? Definitely reach out to me at lynnt@herretirement.com and go to her retirement class.com. If you want to access the eight modules in that masterclass, one is on Medicare, healthcare, and long-term care. Here’s to Knowing more, Having more, and Getting Her Done.

 

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Are You There Mom? It’s Me, Lynn.

My favorite teenage book inspired the title of this week’s podcast, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

Since my mom’s passing on April 1 of this year, I find myself asking this question almost every day. My mom was my best friend, and the void she left is deep. Her name was Carol Toomey. She was born on August 1, 1935.  She bravely battled Ovarian cancer for 3 ½ years. She was my hero and my best friend.

I yearn to know if she’s there listening to me or watching me. We had a bond so strong that I always felt that even death couldn’t break it. Maybe I was wrong. But in the spirit of my mother’s optimism, I’m choosing to believe that she is, in fact, watching over me, and perhaps we’ll be together again someday.

Until then, she wanted me to live, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do for the last four months, but dammit, death is hard.

This podcast is dedicated to her memory. She loved listening to my podcast even though she retired 30 years ago from teaching 3rd grade…she didn’t need any retirement advice. She would admit to not understanding all the financial concepts I discussed, but as my biggest fan, she would listen to me prattle on anyway.

I miss my cheerleader. My biggest supporter. The one person I would talk to almost every day for 57 years. That’s a lot of talking, yet we still have unfinished conversations. There are so many more things I’d like to say to her and so much more advice I need about living. Fifty-seven years was not enough.

I don’t think I’ll ever get over the yearning to hear her voice and laugh again. She had an amazing laugh and a beautiful smile. She was a happy lady. She had many blessings, and she counted them every day. She saw the glass half full…always. She would say, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going, and sometimes they go shopping too!” We did a lot of shopping over the years. I remember sitting on the floor of many dressing rooms as a child, watching her try on clothes, and then we’d go to the children’s department, and it was my turn.

I am the youngest child with three older brothers, so I was kind of a living doll to my fashionista mom. She dressed me to the hilt when I was younger and then gave me an obsession with clothes, jewelry, shoes, and purses.

My mother taught me many things as moms are supposed to do. She taught me optimism and hope. She taught me how to be brave and strong. She taught me unconditional love. She taught me the importance of family and friends. She taught me about getting an education and a good job. She taught me that a man is not a plan. She taught me how to be self-sufficient and independent. Kind and generous. She taught me to lotion my elbows and scrub my heels, fixes my eyebrows, and cut threads dangling from my clothes. She taught me to laugh and appreciate sunsets. She taught me to keep lists, be organized, and care for my stuff. Perhaps one of the most important lessons she taught me is about happiness. One of her favorite expressions was life is 20% what happens to you and 80% how you react to it. The other important lesson she taught me is always to take good care of yourself mentally and physically, but make sure to eat the cake and a little ice cream too.

It’s because of my mom that I came up with the term, Be the Her in Hero. We can save ourselves, ladies. We can be happiher, healthiher and wealthiher. We can be both a student and stewards of our lives and our retirement. This is our right and our responsibility. Thanks, Mom, for all the lessons. I think you’re listening to me recording this podcast right now and smiling down on me.

I’m in the throes of planning my mom’s celebration of life happening this coming Sunday. In her optimistic spirit, she did not want us to mourn her death but rather celebrate her life, and that’s exactly what we will do. I can’t promise I won’t cry, but I can promise to honor and share her life and legacy with all her friends and family.

She left me some specific instructions and “lists” (of course). She was very organized with her personal information, making taking care of all those post-passing details much easier as her executor.  I would encourage you to document all these details for your loved ones. Be as specific and thorough with your wishes as possible.

Inspired by my mom’s organization with all these details, I recently finished what I’m calling the Her Personal Info and Emergency Binder. In the event you become incapacitated or upon your passing, this booklet or binder will have all the details your family and/or friends will need to keep calm and carry on in your absence. I’m about to launch a binder for couples/families as well.

As we all know, life is unpredictable. Being organized with all of your personal information and directives is really important. Using this info and emergency planner is a gift you can give yourself and your family and friends. The planner is a sort of control central for you as well. It allows you to have ONE place to keep the details of your life organized and accessible. And it will feel so good to know it’s all documented clearly.

Plus, you’ll be able to easily identify what’s missing and fill in the gaps before it’s too late. The last thing you want is for anyone to struggle to help you if you’re unable to help yourself and deal with the details of life, or to deal with your stuff after you’re gone. Life is also complicated so this planner is where you can keep track of everything financial and personal that matters. Making the complex simpler is one goal of planning.

My planner is divided into three sections:

  • Key Family Information: This includes any information needed if your family faced a medical or another emergency that separated you or your spouse from your family for a period of time.
  • Household Info
  • Personal Docs
  • Medical Info
  • Pet Care Info

Financial Information: This section organizes all your financial details and accounts. Whether you need to have bills paid, accounts accessed or insurance claims, your emergency person would know who to contact.

  • Insurance Info
  • Investment Info
  • Rental Property Info
  • Housing Info
  • Vacation Property Info
  • Business Ownership Info
  • Rewards Program Info

Need to Know Information: This is your end-of-life info. If you, or you and your spouse, passed away or were incapacitated, this would inform your family what to do and who to contact. You can also include personal messages here as well with your end-of-life wishes.

  • Where to Find Original Documents, Keys, & More
  • Employer Info
  • Online Account Info
  • Burial / Memorial Service Preferences
  • Personal Notes
  • Contact Notes

Using this planner is a tremendous benefit and relieves your loved ones of the immense burden of trying to find information about you and guess your wishes. It will take quite a bit of work on your part, but it is well worth the effort. It will give you peace of mind, comfort, and convenience. Life is about simplifying, and this planner is designed to make things simpler for you and your loved ones when the need arises. While a will and a trust are important documents to have (with updated beneficiaries on all accounts), a will doesn’t include all the daily living details and wishes you may have (like the tea set you want your daughter to have or where you have your car loan).

You can purchase the Her Personal Info & Emergency binder at www.HerEmergencyPlanner.com. It’s only $14.50. You can download and print an electronic file and then fill in all the information with a pen, or you can down-complete the planner electronically with fillable fields and save it on your computer or in an electronic storage vault, or print it once you’ve completed filling in all the info. Keep it in a special place or with your will.

*Please note: this planner does not replace the need for a legal will and/or trust. If you need an affordable will and trust, I got you. Go to: www.GetHerWillDone.com

I hope all of you listening can take some Carol Toomey inspiration, and the next time you feel stressed, overwhelmed, or sad, remember another one of my mom’s expressions, “This too shall pass.”

Here’s to being the Her in Hero. As always, if you need help planning any aspect of your retirement, reach out. I can help you Get Her Done. My mom believed in me…I think you can too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Uncovering Medicare Advantage Overpayments: USC Schaeffer Center Research Highlights Potential Excess of $75 Billion in 2023

In a recent study conducted by the USC Schaeffer Center, concerning findings have emerged regarding overpayments made to Medicare Advantage plans. The research suggests that these overpayments could surpass a staggering $75 billion in 2023 alone. This blog post dives into the implications of these overpayments, their impact on the healthcare system, and the potential solutions to address this issue.

Understanding Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage plans, offered by private insurance companies, provide an alternative to the traditional Medicare program. These plans offer additional benefits and often boast lower out-of-pocket costs. Medicare pays a fixed amount to these private insurers for each enrolled beneficiary, covering their healthcare expenses.

The Problem of Overpayments

According to the USC Schaeffer Center research, the Medicare program may be overpaying Medicare Advantage plans by a substantial amount. The projected overpayment of over $75 billion in 2023 raises concerns about the efficient allocation of taxpayer dollars and the financial sustainability of the Medicare program.

Factors Contributing to Overpayments

Several factors contribute to the overpayment issue. Risk adjustment, the process by which Medicare payments are adjusted based on the health status of beneficiaries, plays a crucial role. The current risk adjustment methodology used by Medicare Advantage plans has been criticized for potentially inflating payments and failing to account for the actual health needs of beneficiaries adequately.

Another factor is upcoding, where Medicare Advantage plans may overstate the severity of a patient’s condition to receive higher reimbursement rates. This practice can lead to inflated payments and financial strain on the Medicare program.

Implications for the Healthcare System

The overpayments made to Medicare Advantage plans have significant implications for the healthcare system as a whole. The excess funds could be utilized to improve and expand access to care for underserved populations, invest in preventive health measures, or reduce out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries. Addressing the issue of overpayments is crucial to ensure the optimal utilization of healthcare resources.

Potential Solutions

Efforts are underway to address the issue of overpayments to Medicare Advantage plans. Revisiting and refining the risk adjustment methodology to accurately reflect beneficiaries’ health status and needs is one potential solution. Implementing more rigorous auditing and oversight mechanisms can help detect and prevent upcoding practices, ensuring that payments align with actual patient conditions.

Additionally, fostering greater transparency and accountability in the Medicare Advantage program can empower beneficiaries to make informed decisions and help identify and rectify instances of overpayment.

Conclusion

The USC Schaeffer Center’s research sheds light on the concerning issue of overpayments to Medicare Advantage plans, projecting a potential excess of $75 billion in 2023. Understanding and addressing this problem is essential to ensure the effective utilization of taxpayer funds and the long-term sustainability of the Medicare program. By implementing targeted solutions, such as refining risk adjustment methodologies and enhancing oversight mechanisms, we can strive to create a fair and efficient healthcare system that benefits all Medicare beneficiaries.

 

Concerned about the risk of overpaying for Medicare? Contact me at lynnt@herretirement.com to set up and chat and find out how we can help you avoid this.

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Bridging the Spending Gap: Understanding the Generational Divide Between Baby Boomers and Millennials

In today’s dynamic economy, a stark generational divide has emerged between Baby Boomers and Millennials regarding spending habits. This divide has significant implications for various industries and the overall economy. We can gain valuable insights into the evolving consumer landscape by exploring the factors driving this spending gap and potential strategies for bridging it. In this blog post, we delve into the fascinating dynamics between these two generations and shed light on the future of consumer spending.

The Generation Gap

Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, have long been recognized as a dominant consumer force. They have enjoyed relative economic prosperity, job security, and rising property values. As they approach retirement, many Baby Boomers focus on saving and investing for their future.

On the other hand, Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, have faced different economic circumstances. They entered the workforce during or after the 2008 financial crisis, a period marked by economic uncertainty, stagnant wages, and high student loan debt. These factors have made it challenging for Millennials to accumulate wealth and engage in traditional spending patterns.

Spending Patterns and Consumption Habits

The differing economic realities of Baby Boomers and Millennials have influenced their spending patterns. Baby Boomers tend to prioritize large-ticket items such as housing, automobiles, and travel experiences. They have a higher homeownership rate and spend more on discretionary items.

In contrast, Millennials, burdened by student loan debt and rising living costs, often prioritize essentials like rent, education, and healthcare. They tend to be more budget-conscious, value experiences over material possessions, and embrace the sharing economy and subscription-based services.

Implications for Industries

The spending divide between these two generations has significant implications for various industries. The housing market, for instance, has experienced a shift as Baby Boomers downsize or seek retirement communities while Millennials face challenges in accessing affordable housing.

Retail and consumer goods industries have also felt the impact of the generational divide. Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers have had to adapt to Millennial preferences, such as online shopping and sustainable, ethically sourced products. Additionally, the travel and leisure sectors have witnessed changes, with Baby Boomers driving demand for luxury experiences while Millennials seek affordable, authentic, and socially conscious travel options.

Bridging the Gap

It is essential to address the underlying economic factors contributing to the divide to bridge the spending gap between Baby Boomers and Millennials. Policies that promote affordable housing reduce student loan debt, and improve income equality can help alleviate the financial burden on Millennials and empower them to participate more fully in the economy.

Businesses can also adapt their strategies to cater to the evolving preferences of both generations. This might involve offering flexible payment options, personalized experiences, and sustainable products. Additionally, fostering intergenerational collaboration and mentorship programs can facilitate knowledge sharing and bridge the gap between the two generations.

Conclusion

Understanding the generational spending gap between Baby Boomers and Millennials provides valuable insights into the evolving consumer landscape. We can create a more inclusive and prosperous economy by recognizing the economic factors driving this divide and implementing strategies to bridge it. Ultimately, finding common ground and fostering intergenerational cooperation will be crucial for shaping the future of consumer spending and ensuring a vibrant economy for all.