A Retirement Recipe to Try this Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, consider throwing a new recipe onto your menu. Ingredients like contributions to an employer sponsored 401(k) program or to fixed indexed annuities can create a deliciously balanced portfolio that can keep you and your family financially full for many Thanksgivings to come.

Check out this Thanksgiving Retirement Recipe from the IALC:

Succulent Savings
Serves: You and your family
Nutritional Information: Guarantees are dependent upon the claims-paying ability of the issuing company.

Instructions:

Step 1: Measure your spending.  Begin by identifying all your expenses, including lifestyle, healthcare, etc. and create a budget. Be sure to include a healthy splash of saving for retirement in your monthly reoccurring expenses. This ensures that you are putting something toward your retirement savings each and every month.

 Step 2: Combine your employer’s retirement plan to the mixture. Check whether your employer offers savings options like a 401(k), and if they’re willing to match it. Money you allocate to your 401(k) will come from your paycheck, and go directly into the savings pot. (Note: Any money your employer will match is kind of like baking soda– you add a little and with time, you’ll see it grow.)

 Step 3: Bake in a fixed indexed annuity. The featured ingredient, fixed indexed annuities, or FIAs, can help to balance the flavors of your portfolio, while providing guaranteed lifetime income in retirement.

Step 4: Dig in! Enjoy your Thanksgiving with family and friends and feel confident that your retirement savings strategy will be hearty and satisfying for years to come.

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Teacher’s Retirement Q&A w/ IALC Expert

With the school year in full swing, it’s a good time for teachers to revisit their own long-term plan and consider preparation for when they are no longer lesson planning. Checking up on your long-term financial planning should include reviewing your current expenses, evaluating any debt balance, analyzing your savings accounts and ensuring you understand how the products in your retirement portfolio will help you achieve your goals.  One product available to teachers for their retirement is called a Fixed Indexed Annuity.  To help better understand the benefits a Fixed Indexed Annuity (FIA) can add to your retirement portfolio we’ve answered common questions from teachers below.

  1. What are some of the potential benefits of Fixed Indexed Annuities (FIAs) for teachers?

By providing an income stream that pays as long as you live, FIAs can help give teachers the flexibility to do the things they’ve always dreamed of in retirement, such as traveling, spending time with family and friends, and helping out with their grandchildren’s education. FIAs can give you the option of turning on lifetime income stream and protecting your nest egg from market volatility. Because your money won’t decline as long as it’s in the annuity and you don’t withdraw money from it during the surrender period, setting aside of a portion of your funds in a FIA can help provide balance and stability to your retirement portfolio.

  1. How is my interest calculated with a FIA?

An FIA uses a unique formula to calculate annual interest based in part on the performance of a stock, bond or commodity index. While the index is used as a benchmark, you don’t actually invest in it—FIAs do not directly participate in any stock or equity investments. Different FIAs will also apply other limitations in determining how much of the index change to credit as interest. These limitations are called caps and participation rates.  The cap is the upper limit that can be credited. If the index experiences a 10% return, and the cap is 4%, then 4% of interest is credited to the contract. The participation rate sets a percentage of the index to use.  Some of the most popular strategies use a participation rate of 100%, so in that case, the cap would still be the limiting factor.

  1. Can a FIA help with my taxes in retirement?

FIAs are tax-deferred, meaning the interest you earn isn’t taxed until you take the money out in retirement.  When you do withdraw the money, the earnings are taxed as ordinary income. The benefits of tax-deferred earnings allow you to earn interest on the principal, interest on the interest, and interest on the tax savings! And since FIAs don’t have an annual contribution cap when purchased with after-tax dollars, you can contribute as much as you want. Teachers may also have access to FIAs within a supplemental retirement plan called a 403(b) or 457(b) account. These allow you to pay premiums before taxes are taken out, reducing your current year’s taxable income. When these are accessed at retirement, the entire distribution is taxable.

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Q&A with Retirement Expert Tom Hegna


We recently interviewed retirement expert, Tom Hegna, and asked him some of the most commonly posed retirement questions. Here’s what he had to say.

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO CONSIDER WHEN SAVING FOR RETIREMENT?

Hegna: The most important thing for retirees is making sure their basic expenses are covered with guaranteed1 lifetime income. This can be in the form of a pension, Social Security and an annuity. By covering your basic expenses, you help take longevity risk off the table. Longevity risk is the risk that you will live longer than your retirement savings. Why does this matter? The longer you live will have an effect on all the other risks we face like market risk, inflation, deflation, health care risk, etc.

WHY DO YOU THINK AMERICANS STRUGGLE TO SAVE FOR RETIREMENT?

Hegna: If I told you that people spend more time planning their yearly family vacation than they do planning their nearly 20 years of retirement, would that surprise you? Any plan is better than no plan, but many Americans simply don’t sit down and conduct a yearly review of their retirement savings plan. People who fail to plan, plan to fail. The people who are actively engaged in the planning are much more likely to have a happy retirement.

WHAT PRODUCTS CAN HELP YOU BUILD A NEST EGG?

Hegna: I don’t necessarily buy into the concept that you need to make your “number” bigger and bigger and bigger, which would indicate there is a specific number to shoot for. I think you need to turn it around and say, how much income do I need? And what is the most efficient way to generate that income amount? Once you know that your basic expenses are covered, then that frees you up to explore different strategies.

WHAT ARE SOME WAYS RETIRED AMERICANS CAN SUPPLEMENT THEIR SOCIAL SECURITY CHECKS?

Hegna: Social Security is the “best money” that money can’t buy.  It’s not easy to just replace an income stream that has yearly cost-of-living adjustments to account for inflation, that is backed by the U.S. government,  and that grows at almost 8% per year from age 62 until age 70 (if you are able to delay your benefits). However, Fixed Indexed Annuities can be great products to help manage your risk and can provide a consistent stream of income in retirement. Also, I would be remiss if I did not mention that life insurance can be a valuable tool to protect your Social Security checks in case of a spouse passing away.  Life insurance can also be structured as a potential source of retirement income.  If properly funded, you can access the cash value using tax-free loans and withdrawals to supplement retirement income, or other goals.2

IF YOU COULD ONLY GIVE ONE PIECE OF RETIREMENT ADVICE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Hegna: Look, any plan is better than no plan, but where do you begin? Let’s keep it simple.

Step 1: Cover your basic expenses with guaranteed lifetime income.

Step 2: Optimize your portfolio to protect against inflation.

Step 3: Have a plan for long-term care. Follow these three simple steps and you will be on track for a balanced retirement.

Step 4: Consider life insurance, which can be structured as a potential source of retirement income.  If properly funded, you can access the cash value using tax-free loans and withdrawals to supplement retirement income, or other goals.

Follow these four simple steps and you will be on track for creating a balanced retirement.

1The guarantees of annuities are dependent upon the claims-paying ability of the issuing company.

2The ability of a life insurance contract to accumulate sufficient cash value to help meet accumulation goals will be dependent upon the amount of extra premium paid into the policy, and the performance of the policy, and is not guaranteed. Policy loans and withdrawals reduce the policy’s cash value and death benefit and may result in a taxable event. Withdrawals up to the basis paid into the contract and loans thereafter will not create an immediate taxable event, but substantial tax ramifications could result upon contract lapse or surrender.  Surrender charges may reduce the policy’s cash value in early years.

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When it comes to retirement, don’t get spooked

While adults may not get spooked by Halloween anymore, they do get frightened by one thing: retirement. In fact, recent data found that when it comes to retirement, Americans are most scared about the possibility of outliving their retirement income. Following right behind this top fear is the fear that their savings won’t cover basic necessities or allow them to maintain their current lifestyle.

Here is a breakdown of Americans top retirement fears, according to IALC data:

  1. Running out of Money—25% of those surveyed said their biggest fear was outlivingtheir retirement savings.
  2. Terrifying lifestyle changes—23% of responders fear they won’t be able to sustain their current lifestyle
  3. Frightening Cost of Health Care—19% were scared that he or she wouldn’t be able to pay for medical expenses.

In the face of these fears, Americans aren’t taking action- even at an age where they could more easily start saving. More than half of millennials (54%) have less than $5k saved for retirement, and 37% of millennials have absolutely nothing saved for retirement. That’s 91% of millennials who have nothing or just $5k saved!

How can you conquer your retirement frights? Start by checking out these helpful tips:

  1. Build a balanced portfolio—One option to mitigate risk in your portfolio is to add a more conservative product like a Fixed Indexed Annuity. An FIA offers guaranteed lifetime income, helping to ease the stress of having to cover unexpected expenses for longer than anticipated.
  2. Make a personal budget—People who plan can feel confident that they will likely end up saving more. Travel and healthcare expenses may increase during retirement so be sure to take that into account too.

With Americans living longer than ever, they need to take steps now to plan for a better retirement. Fortunately, there are strategies and products available that offer guaranteed lifetime income, helping to ease the stress of having to cover unexpected costs for longer than anticipated.  Don’t let your fear paralyze you from taking control.

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Up Your Retirement IQ with These 3 Tips

This week we’re taking a close look at our new research that shows a startlingly low retirement IQ. Specifically, a recent study by the IALC showed 1 in 4 baby boomers have less than $5k saved for retirement.

In order to guarantee a secure and relaxing retirement, staying informed and educated is crucial—and it is not as intimidating as people think. Here are 3 (simple) ways to start saving for retirement:

Begin saving early: Starting early allows you to make small contributions to your retirement and over time, it will add up to a large balance for your retirement savings. Experts estimate that for every six years you wait to get started, it doubles the required monthly savings you’ll need to reach the same level of retirement income.  Take a look at our Saving for Retirement tool, which helps you calculate how much you should put away each month, taking into account your age and retirement goal.

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Budget:Include saving for retirement in your monthly reoccurring expenses. This ensures that you are putting something toward your retirement savings each and every month. It takes discipline, but it will pay off in the end. If you’re concerned about having enough income in retirement, products like Fixed Indexed Annuities can help provide balance to your nest egg and can help to incorporate guaranteed lifetime income into your retirement plan.

Contribute to your employer’s retirement plan: Check whether your employer offers savings options like a 401(k) and if they’re willing to match it. Money you allocate to your 401(k) will come from your paycheck, and go directly into your savings. Plus, any money you get from your employer match could be considered free money.  At first you might want that extra money in your paycheck, but saving it will add up. Don’t believe it? Check out our Retirement Income & 401(k) Calculator to see how saving even a tiny amount each month can accumulate and make a big difference years down the road.

 

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New Data Shows Baby Boomers Have a Low Retirement IQ

While many Americans believe they’re retirement savvy, the average baby boomer has trouble answering even simple retirement questions. New survey data shows folks between 52 and 70 years of age have a significant gap in retirement knowledge, resulting in little action toward securing their golden years.

Our retirement IQ study found that:

  • 60 percent of baby boomers think they’ll need less than $1 million in retirement.
    • In reality, experts say the average American will need at least $250,000 in retirement for health care costs alone.
  • 1 in 4 baby boomers have less than $5,000 saved for retirement.
    • Reality bites: Retirement will likely cost much more!
  • Close to ½ of baby boomers don’t know there are financial products that deliver lifetime income.
    • The good news is there are products like Fixed Indexed Annuities that can provide lifetime income.

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Our study also found that a majority of baby boomers are hoping that Social Security will help get them through retirement, yet more than 1/2 of baby boomers have no idea what the average monthly Social Security payment is. In fact, many overestimate the average by $500– a budget miscalculation that will leave them almost $250,000 dollars short over a 30 year retirement.

To see just how all-over-the-map baby boomers are when it comes to retirement, we took our cameras to the street and asked some basic questions. See how it went…

Cementing the lack of retirement knowledge out there, if given a gift of $20k, 40 percent of baby boomers said they would prioritize things like traveling and buying a new car over saving their money for retirement.

Although Americans may have good intentions when it comes to saving, they lack awareness of their options to do so and lack knowledge of how much they should be saving. Do you need a paycheck coming to you for your entire retirement? Calculating how much you’ll need for the entire length of retirement is a good first step.  Then figure out what sources of savings and income will cover those costs.  Check out IALC’s retirement calculators to estimate how much you’ll need in retirement.

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New LIMRA Data Shows Indexed Annuities Are Here to Stay

By Tom Hegna

Over the past several years, Fixed Indexed Annuities (FIAs) have emerged as one of the top choices for soon-to-be-retirees due to their potential for wealth accumulation and lifetime income.

FIAs are continuing to become more mainstream and have become a go-to product for many baby boomers who tend to be more financially conservative and are looking for a balanced portfolio with a mix of high-risk and low-risk products.

This month, LIMRA, a worldwide research, learning and development organization, released their 2nd Quarter U.S. Annuity Survey and the numbers show just how popular the product is becoming. Below are the top three things to know:

  1. Fixed Indexed Annuity (FIA) sales were $16.2 billion—30 percent higher than the prior year and greatly surpasses prior quarterly sales records.
  2. In the first half of the year alone, FIA sales increase 32 percent to $31.9 billion, compared with the first six months of 2015.
  3. LIMRA expects indexed annuity sales to exceed $60 billion by the end of the year.
    It’s no surprise that FIAs are increasing in popularity as many Americans are looking for guaranteed income streams, and the product can be designed with guaranteed income riders

A new study released by the Indexed Annuity Leadership Council found that nearly half of baby boomers don’t know that there are financial products that deliver can deliver guaranteed income through retirement – and I suspect that as more and more people learn that those products exist, FIA sales will continue to grow at an even higher rate.

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Watch Out For These Retirement Pitfalls

When it comes to retirement planning, one of the most important things you can do is to make sure you’re creating a portfolio that will provide you with lifetime income. To do this, here are a few retirement pitfalls to avoid:

1. Waiting Too Long to Save. With average life expectancies increasing, it’s becoming more and more difficult to create a nest egg that will provide you with lifetime income. It might seem simple, but it’s worth repeating: the earlier you start saving, the more likely you are to have income that lasts as long as you do.

2. Not Taking Advantage of “Free Money”. If your company offers a 401(k) or an employer-sponsored plan, consider contributing to it. Think of any match your employer makes as “free money.”

3. Underestimating Medical Expenses. According to a recent estimate by Fidelity, a 65-year-old couple retiring this year will need an estimated $245,000 to cover medical expenses throughout retirement, up from $220,000 last year. That’s why it is so important to make savvy financial decisions and start planning for retirement early so you’re prepared for not only any medical expenses, but are also able to enjoy retirement.

4. Lack of Balance in Your Portfolio. While a 401(k) is a great start to a retirement portfolio, it likely won’t be enough for retirement and will need to be supplemented by another product. For example, a Fixed Indexed Annuity can provide much-needed balance to your portfolio and can offer guaranteed lifetime income.

5. Relying on Social Security Only. It’s no secret that Americans are questioning the future of Social Security. It’s important to know that Social Security might not be enough to get you through retirement comfortably, and to keep in mind the importance of a balanced portfolio supplemented with other retirement products.

6. Retiring Too Early. While it might be tempting to retire early and take advantage of traveling, remember that you’ll need your money to last as long as you do, so it might be worth waiting a few years.

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IALC Q3 2016 Newsletter

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Americans’ Top Retirement Fears

This month, IALC released new data that explored Americans’ Top Retirement Fears and found Americans may not be as prepared for retirement as they need to be in today’s volatile market. More than 50 percent of Americans are afraid of outliving their income or their inability to pay for basic necessities like healthcare, but are not changing their financial lives to address their fears, according to a new survey released by the IALC.

Even with this fear, many are not taking the necessary steps to prioritize future savings over their current expenses. In fact, a quarter of Baby Boomers – the age group closest to retirement – have less than $5,000 saved for retirement and nearly one in five Americans have no idea how much they’ve saved.

When taking a closer look at exactly what Americans top retirement fears are, the IALC found they include:

  1. Outliving their income (25%)
  2. Maintaining their current lifestyle (23%)
  3. Healthcare expenses (19%)

Want to learn more about what Americans are most concerned about when it comes to their retirement? Check out the survey data here.

Get Social and Tweet It: The average retirement lasts more than 30 years—are you prepared? Learn how to have income for life @IALCouncil #fixedindexedannuities

 

Keep Up on Retirement News

Want to stay up to date on the latest retirement and Fixed Indexed Annuity news? Check out IALC’s news widget, which links to the latest retirement news. To include this widget on your website, you can find the easy download information here.

 

Debunking 12 Myths about Fixed Indexed Annuities

To mark Annuity Awareness Month this June, the Indexed Annuity Leadership Council is debunking the top 12 myths about FIAs.

Read the full blog here.

 

Summer Vacations and Retirement: Budgeting for Both

While a vacation may last a week or two, retirement may last upwards of 30 years. Neglecting to plan for a period of your life that might last nearly three decades, during which you’ll need to rely on savings, may make your golden years more difficult than you’d expect.

Read the full blog here.

 

Making The Case For Fixed Index Annuities
Nasdaq
July 6, 2016

Once you get your first job, start contributing to any retirement plans your new employer offers as soon as possible. Try to contribute at least enough to receive the full employer match if one is offered.

Read More …

The Fixed Annuity: It’s Like Buying a Pension
The Motley Fool
July 3, 2016

In the old days, many people looked forward to pension income in retirement, but few private-sector companies offer pensions any more. Thus, most of us need to rely on ourselves more than ever to provide for our retirements.There’s a good chance you’re not an annuitant with guaranteed pension income coming to you. If that’s true, and you’re wishing you could enjoy a fixed income stream in retirement, look into annuities. Investing in certain types of annuities is a lot like buying yourself a pension. It will send checks regularly your way — for the duration of the contract or the duration of your life.

Read More …

 

 Estimate your retirement living expenses or calculate your rate of return using these tools.

 

 

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Everything You Need To Know About FIAs

Different retirement products and savings strategies seem to be everywhere we look these days, but there’s one retirement product that is making headlines. In 2015, Fixed Index Annuities (FIAs) saw record-breaking sales, an increase of 13% just since 2014, according to the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute’s fourth-quarter U.S. Individual Annuities Sales survey. But why are FIAs gaining so much popularity? Below, we’ve outlined nearly everything you need to know about FIAs and why so many Americans are taking notice:

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