Americans Remain Committed to Retirement Saving

Americans remain committed to retirement savingDefined contribution (DC) plan participants’ contribution activity remained strong in 2021, according to an ongoing Investment Company Institute (ICI) study. ICI tracks contributions, withdrawals, and other activity in 401(k) and other retirement plans, based on data covering more than 30 million accounts in employer-based DC plans. The latest data indicate that Americans remain committed to retirement saving and investing. Only 1.2 percent stopped contributing to their plans in the first three quarters of 2021, compared with 2.2 percent in the first three quarters of 2020, and 5.0 percent in the first three quarters of 2009 (another time of financial market stress).

“Despite the economic hardships brought on by the lingering pandemic, the long-term mindset of retirement savers continues to serve them well,” said Sarah Holden, ICI senior director of retirement and investor research. ICI has been tracking DC plan participant activity through recordkeeper surveys since 2008.

Americans Remain Committed to Retirement Saving

Read about how early and consisting investing in your employer 401k can help you win the retirement race.

By |2022-03-11T09:54:11-07:00March 14th, 2022|Current Affairs, Retirement|

IRS Impersonation Scams on the Rise

IRS impersonation scamsAs the new year begins, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is reminding taxpayers to protect their personal and financial information. Be aware there are many IRS impersonation scams that try to trick people out of their hard-earned money via text, email, and phone. This tax season, the IRS also warns people to watch out for signs of potential unemployment fraud.

Text Message Scams

Last year, there was an uptick in scam text messages that impersonated the IRS and referenced COVID-19 and/or stimulus payments. These messages often contain bogus links claiming to be IRS websites or other online tools.

Other than IRS Secure Access, the IRS does not use text messages to discuss personal tax issues, such as those involving bills or refunds. The IRS also will not send taxpayers messages via social media platforms.

Unemployment Fraud

Many states have experienced a surge in fraudulent unemployment claims filed by organized crime rings using stolen identities. Criminals are using these stolen identities to fraudulently collect benefits. You may be a victim of unemployment identity theft if you’ve received:

  • mail from a government agency about an unemployment claim or payment for which you did not file. This includes unexpected payments or debit cards, and they could be from any state;
  • an IRS Form 1099-G reflecting unemployment benefits you were not expecting or did not receive. Box 1 on this form may show unemployment benefits you did not receive or an amount that exceeds benefits you did receive. The form itself could also be from a state in which you did not file for benefits; or
  • a notice from your employer indicating the employer received a request for information about an unemployment claim.

 

For more on keeping your financial data safe, click here to read our article on cyber security.

By |2022-02-11T15:32:34-07:00February 28th, 2022|Current Affairs, Cyber Security, Taxes|

Tiny Habits Lead to Big Wins

Lupe Camargo

Photography by Mark Skalny

Does anyone else feel like January came and went in the blink of an eye? If you’re asking yourself why you haven’t given thought to your 2022 goals yet, you’re not alone. But remember, tiny habits often lead to big wins.

Maybe before we can be ready to tackle the coming year, we need to take time to reflect on what happened in 2021. The insights gained from this exercise can fuel you for the journey ahead.

Start with your successes. What were your big wins last year? Perhaps you saved more, spent less, or just as important, learned a valuable lesson.

One lesson many of us have learned during the pandemic is that simplicity can bring peace, happiness, and stronger connection to our loved ones. Learning to be happy with less is priceless.

Stop, reflect, and write down at least three wins of 2021. Feeling successful, fuels the momentum for more success. Isn’t it more inspiring to begin with the feeling that your further ahead, rather than feeling like you’re falling behind?

Next, identify areas where there are opportunities to do better in 2022. Perhaps you started to build momentum that you want to continue into the new year. If not, then identify small things to help you start that momentum.

B.J. Fogg, Ph.D., a Stanford professor and habit expert, discusses and shares small steps that can start building momentum toward your goals in his book Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything. He points out that practicing tiny habits – ones that take two minutes or less – doesn’t rely on motivation or willpower. One push up is better than no push up. Start with one.

Another valuable lesson Fogg shares (one I learned last year) is that change is easiest when you’re feeling good and hardest when you’re feeling bad.

So celebrate the wins of last year; and give yourself many opportunities to feel successful today by doing tiny things that will eventually lead to big successes in 2022.

By |2022-02-11T12:26:36-07:00February 14th, 2022|Advisors|

Teaching Kids Money Concepts

teaching kids money conceptsTeaching kids money concepts is easier with The Four Money Bears. A book review by Patrick Eng.

I was recently introduced to a book called The Four Money Bears, by Mac Gardner, a Certified Financial Planner practitioner based in Tampa, Florida.  He created it to help teach youngsters (ages 5 to 10 years) about money. It’s a charming story, and a great way to begin money conversations in any family. Grandparents can read this book to their grandkids, and parents can use it to introduce financial concepts to their children at an early age.

Gardner uses the four money bears – Spender Bear, Saver Bear, Investor Bear and Giver Bear – to teach kids about the four primary functions of money. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses; and, as such, they cannot be successful on their own. By working together to create a game plan (budget), they can all be successful.

Reading the book as a family is a great way to discuss the many uses of money and learn how to view each in a healthy way. You can go online at www.teachkids.money to learn more.

Teaching kids money concepts with The Four Money Bears.

The Four Money Bear Rules:

  1. Spend Cautiously
  2. Save Diligently
  3. Invest Wisely
  4. Give Generously
By |2022-01-13T09:02:20-07:00January 31st, 2022|Books, Financial Planning|

5 Simple Steps to a Happy Retirement

simple steps to a happy retirementIn my business, I talk extensively about the financial aspects of planning for retirement. But financial independence is only one piece of the big picture. Your financial advisor can help you get that piece solidly in place. The rest of the picture is up to you.

Taking these simple steps to a happy retirement can help you make the most of your golden years.

Explore new interests and activities before you retire. For many people, work is a central part of their identity (I’m a nurse. I’m a business executive. I’m an electrician.).  Discovering new parts of your identity can help provide a new sense of purpose and avoid a sense of loss. Explore volunteer interests or part-time work you can continue after retirement. My father-in-law began a private investigation company after he retired from the FBI. The new activity was interesting and the work made him feel productive.

Create a satisfying daily routine after retirement. Once the “honeymoon” phase of not working wears off, many people get bored in retirement. It’s important to take time to experiment and find a new daily routine that you find enjoyable and that keeps you mentally and physically active.

Keep mentally active and try new things. Keeping mentally sharp helps your overall well-being. Easy everyday activities might be crossword puzzles, sudoku, cards games and reading. You can also gain new knowledge by taking a community college class (either in person or online). My mother took a community college choir class for many years after she retired. It was something she really enjoyed, gave structure to her week, and helped form an important new friend group.

Stay physically active. Regular exercise helps boost the immune system, reduce stress, lower blood pressure, strengthen heart health, and improve sleep. Even something as simple as a daily walk can have significant health benefits.

Remain connected to family and friends. People who are isolated and lonely are at greater risk for dementia and shorter lives. Connecting with your family and friends provides an important sense of closeness and community. Arrange regular get-togethers (i.e. weekly coffee klatch, daily walk with friends, weekend dinner with your parents or children). When you can’t see others in person, meet up with video chat.

For more simple steps to a happy retirement, check out this article from AARP, 10 Secrets of a Happy Retirement.

By |2022-01-13T08:39:34-07:00January 17th, 2022|Retirement|