You ask. We answer.
The path to your goals starts with practical answers to your questions.
Should I participate in my employer pension or 401(k) plan?
How do I choose between all the investment options?
Yes, you should participate, and if at all possible, you should maximize not only your contribution but any match offered by your employer. An employer match is like a "free raise" - it is a savings deposit you would not otherwise receive which does not increase your taxable income.
Participating in a 401(k) or pension plan has many benefits, including: 1- Tax-deferred wealth growth 2-Reduction in taxable income 3-"free raise" if the company matches your contribution.
Do not let multiple investment options prevent you from participating in your 401(k) or pension plan. The first, and most important step is to enroll. Investment choices can be selected on later dates.
ACTION PLAN: ENROLL
Your 401(k) investment choices should be coordinated with your overall investment plan. At WIN we aggregate all your investments to be able to determine and explain which of your 401(k) choices integrates with your other investments to create your best portfolio.
If I pay for my child's college education will I have enough for my retirement?
Fact: There is no financial aid for retirement. Ensuring you have sufficient funds to last your lifetime must be a priority.
Balancing how much and how best to invest to meet competing goals is at the core of our financial life planning process. To answer these questions, we must first determine how much income you will need in retirement to maintain your lifestyle. Next, we analyze your existing savings and investments - the current and projected future value.
How much you decide to save for each of your financial goals must reflect your needs now and in retirement. We will consider whether your child can qualify for financial aid or scholarships, and the other sources you may have to fund retirement including inheritance, pension, and social security. As well as the various savings vehicles which can reduce your current and future tax obligations. Our decision-center simulation tools allow you to visualize the impact of different savings trade-off scenarios so you can make the best-informed decision.
Education savings is critical and should be started as early as possible, as there is no substitute for the exponential growth of savings over time.
Social Security: Yes, if your marriage was 10+ years you are entitled to 1/2 of your ex-spouse's social security benefit. You may also be entitled to other pension and IRA accounts funded during the marriage. It is important to consult with a specialist in divorce financial planning (a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst) before, during and after divorce.
House: As to your home, to answer your question we need to determine whether you have the financial resources to maintain the home and support the household and yourself - during and after the divorce. We need to consider many factors including whether there is a mortgage and the sources of income you have to meet this obligation, the alternative assets you may be required to concede to retain the home, the cost of alternative housing, whether there are children involved, what funds were used to purchase the house, the current market value and the ability of the parties to take an exclusion when and if sold. While you may initially wish to remain in your home, other assets may be income-producing enabling you to live more comfortably now and in the future.
Our goal is to ensure you can live your best financial life during and after your divorce. This is a complex analysis and to ensure you make the best decision your WIN advisor will review your entire financial life with you - identify any income sources you may be missing, including ex-spouse social security, and create a plan which meets your current and future needs and goals.
I'm married and my job is to take care of our family.
How can I save for retirement?
You may save for retirement by having your spouse fund a Spousal IRA.
Your contribution to your family is an extremely valuable one. Although you are not paid a salary for your work you enable your spouse to earn income.
A spousal IRA permits a spouse with income earned outside the home to contribute to a stay-at-home spouse's retirement savings. To qualify, you must be married filing jointly. The account is subject to annual contribution and income limits.
The IRA is in your name and opened with your social security number, and it remains your account even if you divorce.
If and when you decide to work outside your home you can continue contributions towards your retirement. Ensuring your financial stability through all the stages of your life is our goal.
Do I need an estate plan, I don't have much of a financial estate.
Yes, you need an estate plan even if you don't believe you have significant financial assets.
If you don't have an estate plan in place state inheritance laws and the courts will make decisions for you – not only about your financial assets but also your medical care, children, and digital assets. It is unlikely these laws will accomplish what you intended.
An estate plan tells the world how you want your property distributed, who you want to care for your children and make your medical decisions, and how you want your digital estate (online financial, social media, photographs) accessed and handled.
An estate plan may also include maximizing annual gifts during your lifetime and the establishment of trusts to reduce estate and gift taxes. An estate plan permits distribution to heirs with the cost, delay, and publicity of probate.
Your WIN advisor will listen to your wishes, present your financial choices, arrange for annual gifting, update beneficiary designations and account titling, and help you prepare for the drafting of required legal documents by an attorney. You, your WIN advisor, and your estate plan ensure your assets are transferred and enjoyed as you intend.
Yes, if your child has earned income from a job.*
If your child's income qualifies, you may choose a Traditional or Roth IRA. Traditional – taxes are paid when the money is withdrawn (at your child's then-current rate). Roth - taxes are paid before you put money into the account, so withdrawals of contributions are tax-free. Money grows tax-free while in the account in either case.
How to choose?
If your child’s income is less than the threshold set by the IRS for filing a tax return, she is likely in a 0% income tax bracket and may not benefit from the up-front tax deduction associated with traditional IRAs. Thus, a Roth is generally the choice for minors who have limited income and cannot benefit from up-front tax deduction. Your decision should be made in consultation with your advisor with regard to your personal financial circumstances.
*babysitting & dog-walking count if she received payment – please have a W2, 1099 or keep written records of all payments she receives during the year (copies of checks, journal of cash and dates).
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