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5 Common Factors Affecting Retirement Income

5 Common Factors Affecting Retirement Income

When it comes to planning for your retirement income, it’s easy to overlook some of the common factors that can affect how much you’ll have available to spend. If you don’t consider how your retirement income can be impacted by investment risk, inflation risk, catastrophic illness or long-term care, and taxes, you may not be able to enjoy the retirement you envision.

1. Investment Risk

Different types of investments carry with them different risks. Sound retirement income planning involves understanding these risks and how they can influence your available income in retirement. Investment or market risk is the risk that fluctuations in the securities market may result in the reduction and/or depletion of the value of your retirement savings. If you need to withdraw from your investments to supplement your retirement income, two important factors in determining how long your investments will last are the amount of the withdrawals you take and the growth and/or earnings your investments experience. You might base the anticipated rate of return of your investments on the presumption that market fluctuations will average out over time, and estimate how long your savings will last based on an anticipated, average rate of return.

Unfortunately, the market doesn’t always generate positive returns. Sometimes there are periods lasting for a few years or longer when the market provides negative returns. During these periods, constant withdrawals from your savings combined with prolonged negative market returns can result in the depletion of your savings far sooner than planned. Reinvestment risk is the risk that proceeds available for reinvestment must be reinvested at an interest rate that’s lower than the rate of the instrument that generated the proceeds. This could mean that you have to reinvest at a lower rate of return, or take on additional risk to achieve the same level of return.

This type of risk is often associated with fixed interest savings instruments such as bonds or bank certificates of deposit. When the instrument matures, comparable instruments may not be paying the same return or a better return as the matured investment. Interest rate risk occurs when interest rates rise and the prices of some existing investments drop. For example, during periods of rising interest rates, newer bond issues will likely yield higher coupon rates than older bonds issued during periods of lower interest rates, thus decreasing the market value of the older bonds. You also might see the market value of some stocks and mutual funds drop due to interest rate hikes because some investors will shift their money from these stocks and mutual funds to lower-risk fixed investments paying higher interest rates compared to prior years.

*All investments are subject to risk and loss of principal. When sold, investments may be worth more or less than their original cost. Mutual funds are sold by prospectus. Please consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses carefully before investing. The prospectus, which contains this and other information about the investment company, can be obtained from your financial professional. Be sure to read the prospectus carefully before deciding whether to invest.

2. Inflation Risk

Inflation is the risk that the purchasing power of a dollar will decline over time, due to the rising cost of goods and services. If inflation runs at its historical long term average of about 3%, the purchasing power of a given sum of money will be cut in half in 23 years. If it jumps to 4%, the purchasing power is cut in half in 18 years. A simple example illustrates the impact of inflation on retirement income. Assuming a consistent annual inflation rate of 3%, and excluding taxes and investment returns in general, if $50,000 satisfies your retirement income needs this year, you’ll need $51,500 of income next year to meet the same income needs. In 10 years, you’ll need about $67,195 to equal the purchasing power of $50,000 this year. Therefore, to outpace inflation, you should try to have some strategy in place that allows your income stream to grow throughout retirement. (The following hypothetical example is for illustrative purposes only and assumes a 3% annual rate of inflation without considering fees, expenses, and taxes. It does not reflect the performance of any particular investment.)

Inflation Bar Graph

3. Long-Term Care Expenses

Long-term care may be needed when physical or mental disabilities impair your capacity to perform everyday basic tasks. As life expectancies increase, so does the potential need for long-term care. Paying for long-term care can have a significant impact on retirement income and savings, especially for the healthy spouse. While not everyone needs long-term care during their lives, ignoring the possibility of such care and failing to plan for it can leave you or your spouse with little or no income or savings if such care is needed. Even if you decide to buy long-term care insurance, don’t forget to factor the premium cost into your retirement income needs. A complete statement of coverage, including exclusions, exceptions, and limitations, is found only in the long-term care policy. It should be noted that carriers have the discretion to raise their rates and remove their products from the marketplace.

4. The Costs of Catastrophic Care

As the number of employers providing retirement healthcare benefits dwindles and the cost of medical care continues to spiral upward, planning for catastrophic health-care costs in retirement is becoming more important. If you recently retired from a job that provided health insurance, you may not fully appreciate how much health care really costs. Despite the availability of Medicare coverage, you’ll likely have to pay for additional health-related expenses out-of-pocket. You may have to pay the rising premium costs of Medicare optional Part B coverage (which helps pay for outpatient services) and/or Part D prescription drug coverage. You may also want to buy supplemental Medigap insurance, which is used to pay Medicare deductibles and co-payments and to provide protection against catastrophic expenses that either exceed Medicare benefits or are not covered by Medicare at all. Otherwise, you may need to cover Medicare deductibles, co-payments, and other costs out-of-pocket.

5. Taxes

The effect of taxes on your retirement savings and income is an often overlooked but significant aspect of retirement income planning. Taxes can eat into your income, significantly reducing the amount you have available to spend in retirement. It’s important to understand how your investments are taxed. Some income, like interest, is taxed at ordinary income tax rates. Other income, like long-term capital gains and qualifying dividends, currently benefit from special–generally lower–maximum tax rates. Some specific investments, like certain municipal bonds,* generate income that is exempt from federal income tax altogether. You should understand how the income generated by your investments is taxed, so that you can factor the tax into your overall projection. Taxes can impact your available retirement income, especially if a significant portion of your savings and/or income comes from tax-qualified accounts such as pensions, 401(k)s, and traditional IRAs, since most, if not all, of the income from these accounts is subject to income taxes. Understanding the tax consequences of these investments is important when making retirement income projections.

*Interest earned on tax-free municipal bonds is generally exempt from state tax if the bond was issued in the state in which you reside, as well as from federal income tax (though earnings on certain private activity bonds may be subject to regular federal income tax or to the alternative minimum tax). But if purchased as part of a tax-exempt municipal money market or bond mutual fund, any capital gains earned by the fund are subject to tax, just as any capital gains from selling an individual bond are. Note also that tax-exempt interest is included in determining if a portion of any Social Security benefit you receive is taxable.

Have you planned for these factors?

When planning for your retirement, consider these common factors that can affect your income and savings. While many of these same issues can affect your income during your working years, you may not notice their influence because you’re not depending on your savings as a major source of income. However, investment risk, inflation, taxes, and health-related expenses can greatly affect your retirement income.

 

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This blog has been developed by an independent third party. Commonwealth Financial Network is not responsible for their content and does not guarantee their accuracy or completeness, and they should not be relied upon as such. These materials are general in nature and do not address your specific situation. For your specific investment needs, please discuss your individual circumstances with your representative. Commonwealth does not provide tax or legal advice, and nothing in the accompanying pages should be construed as specific tax or legal advice. Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser.
Engage with the entire Blakely Financial team at WWW.BLAKELYFINANCIAL.COM to see what other financial tips we can provide towards your financial well-being.
Blakely Financial, Inc. is an independent financial planning and investment management firm that provides clarity, insight, and guidance to help our clients attain their financial goals.
Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser.

What is Your Retirement ‘Elevator Pitch’?

We are entering the halfway point in the year. Now is a great time to do a mid-year check of your goals. And a great way to do this is to start with an ‘elevator pitch’.  Imagine stepping into an elevator and realizing that you are about to spend the 30-second ride with someone who could make your retirement dreams come true — if only you could explain them before the doors open again. How would you summarize your financial situation, outlook, aspirations, and plans if you had 30 seconds to make an “elevator pitch” about achieving one of your most important goals?

Answering that question — and formulating your own unique retirement dream elevator pitch — could help bring your vision of the future into sharper focus and make sure you are on the path to reaching those goals.

What Are Your Goals?

Start with an overview of what you hope to accomplish. That typically includes describing what you want, when you want it, and why. For example, you might say, “My goal involves retiring in 10 years and moving to a different state so I can be closer to family.” Or, “In the next 15 years, I need to accumulate enough money to retire from my regular job and open a part-time business that will help sustain my current lifestyle.”

If your plans include sharing life with a loved one, make sure you’re both on the same page. Rather than assume you have similar ideas about retirement, discuss what you want a future together to look like.

How Much Will It Cost?

To put a price tag on your retirement dream, consider working with a financial professional to calculate how much money you’ll need. Making multiple calculations using different variables — such as changing your anticipated retirement date and potential investment growth rate — will help you develop a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities you may encounter.

It’s important to remember that plans don’t always work out the way we intend. For example, 72% of workers surveyed in 2021 said they expect to continue working for pay during retirement, but only 30% of retirees said they actually did so. And nearly half (46%) of current retirees left the workforce earlier than expected.1 Understanding the financial implications of an unanticipated change in plans before it happens could make it easier to adjust accordingly.

How Will You Do It?

If your calculations indicate you may be facing a retirement savings shortfall, take a fresh look at your spending habits to help find ways to save more money. Make a list of your fixed expenses and then keep track of your discretionary purchases every day for a month. It might be startling to realize how much you routinely spend on non-essential items, but you’ll quickly discover exactly where to start applying more financial discipline.

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2021

Finally, you’ll need to manage the funds you earmark for retirement by choosing the types of accounts to use and allocating your money within each account. If you have access to an employer-sponsored retirement account with matching contributions from your employer, you might want to start there and then invest in additional tax-deferred and taxable investments.

Regardless of the types of accounts you choose, your specific investment decisions should reflect your personal tolerance for risk and time frame, while addressing the priorities outlined in your retirement dream elevator pitch. If your retirement outlook changes at any point, take a fresh look at your investment strategy to make sure you’re still potentially on course.

Taking time to perform this exercise of crafting your ‘elevator pitch’ and talking to your trusted financial advisor to review your goals and current situation is imperative in helping to achieve your goals and dreams.

All investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. There is no guarantee that any investment strategy will be successful. Asset allocation is a method used to help manage investment risk; it does not guarantee a profit or protect against investment loss. There is no assurance that working with a financial professional will improve investment results.

1) Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2021

This material has been provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute either tax or legal advice. Although we go to great lengths to ensure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a tax preparer, professional tax advisor, or lawyer.

Engage with the entire Blakely Financial team at www.blakelyfinancial.com to see what other financial tips we can provide for your financial well-being.

Blakely Financial, Inc. is an independent financial planning and investment management firm that provides clarity, insight, and guidance to help our clients attain their financial goals.

Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser.

 

Mid-Year is a Good Time for a Financial Checkup

The first half of the year is coming to a close. Conducting a mid-year financial analysis can be helpful. Here are some ways to make sure that your financial situation is continuing on the right path.

Reassess your financial goals

At the beginning of the year, you may have set financial goals geared toward improving your financial situation. Perhaps you wanted to save more, spend less, or reduce your debt. How much progress have you made? If your income, expenses, and life circumstances have changed, you may need to rethink your priorities. Review your financial statements and account balances to determine whether you need to make any changes to keep your financial plan on track.

Take a look at your taxes

Completing a mid-year estimate of your tax liability may reveal new tax planning opportunities. You can use last year’s tax return as a basis, then factor in any anticipated adjustments to your income and deductions for this year. Check your withholding, especially if you owed taxes or received a large refund. Doing that now, rather than waiting until the end of the year, may help you avoid owing a big tax bill next year or overpaying taxes and giving Uncle Sam an interest-free loan. You can check your withholding by using the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator at irs.gov. If necessary, adjust the amount of federal or state income tax withheld from your paycheck by filing a new Form W-4 with your employer.

Check your retirement savings

If you’re still working, look for ways to increase retirement plan contributions. For example, if you receive a pay increase this year, you could contribute a higher percentage of your salary to your employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k), 403(b), or 457(b) plan. For 2021, the contribution limit is $19,500, or $26,000 if you’re age 50 or older. If you are close to retirement or already retired, take another look at your retirement income needs and whether your current investment and distribution strategy will provide the income you will need.

Evaluate your insurance coverage

What are the deductibles and coverage limits of your homeowners/renters insurance policies? How much disability or life insurance coverage do you have? Your insurance needs can change over time. As a result, you’ll want to make sure your coverage has kept pace with your income and family/personal circumstances. The cost and availability of life insurance depend on factors such as age, health, and the type and amount of insurance purchased.

Ask questions

Finally, you should also ask yourself the following questions as part of your mid-year financial checkup:

  • Do you have enough money in your emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses?
  • Do you have money left in your flexible spending account?
  • Are your beneficiary designations up-to-date?
  • Have you checked your credit score recently?
  • Do you need to create or update your will?
  • When you review your portfolio, is your asset allocation still in line with your financial goals, time horizon, and tolerance for risk? Are any changes warranted?Asset allocation is a method used to help manage investment risk; it does not guarantee a profit or protect against investment loss. All investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal, and there is no guarantee that any investment strategy will be successful.

Doing that mid-year checkup will help you maintain course and achieve your goals. The team at Blakely Financial is always here to help, so call us today!

 

This material has been provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute either tax or legal advice. Although we go to great lengths to ensure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a tax preparer, professional tax advisor, or lawyer.

Engage with the entire Blakely Financial team at WWW.BLAKELYFINANCIAL.COM to see what other financial tips we can provide for your financial well-being.

Blakely Financial, Inc. is an independent financial planning and investment management firm that provides clarity, insight, and guidance to help our clients attain their financial goals.

Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser.

BFI April Blog • Social Security Benefits

Working While Receiving Social Security Benefits

The COVID-19 recession and the continuing pandemic pushed many older workers into retirement earlier than anticipated. More than 50% of Americans aged 55 and older said they were retired in Q3 2021, up from about 48% two years earlier, before the pandemic.1

For people age 62 and older, retiring from the workforce often means claiming Social Security benefits. But what happens if you decide to go back to work? With the job market heating up, there are opportunities for people of all ages to return to the workforce. Or, to look at it another way: What happens if you work and want to claim Social Security benefits while staying on your job?

Retirement Earnings Test

Some people may think they can’t work — or shouldn’t work — while collecting Social Security benefits. But that’s not the case. First, however, it’s essential to understand how the retirement earnings test (RET) could affect your benefits.

  • The RET applies only if you are working and receiving Social Security benefits before reaching full retirement age (FRA). After reaching full retirement age, any earnings do not affect your Social Security benefit. Your FRA is based on your birth year: age 66 if born in 1943 to 1954; age 66 & 2 months to 66 & 10 months if born in 1955 to 1959; age 67 if born in 1960 or later.
  • If you are under full retirement age for the entire year in which you work, $1 in benefits will be deducted for every $2 in gross wages or net self-employment income above the annual exempt amount ($19,560 in 2022). The RET does not apply to income from investments, pensions, or retirement accounts.
  • A monthly limit applies during the year you file for benefits ($1,630 in 2022) unless you are self-employed and work more than 45 hours per month in your business (15 hours in a highly skilled industry). So, for example, if you file for benefits starting in July, you could earn more than the annual limit from January to June and still receive full benefits if you do not make more than the monthly limit from July through December.
  • In the year you reach full retirement age, the reduction in benefits is $1 for every $3 earned above a higher annual exempt amount ($51,960 in 2022 or $4,330 per month if the monthly limit applies). Starting in the month you reach full retirement age, there is no limit on earnings or reduction in benefits.
  • The Social Security Administration may withhold benefits as soon as it determines that your earnings are on track to surpass the exempt amount. After that, the estimated amount will typically be deducted from your monthly benefit in full. (See example.)
  • The RET also applies to spousal, dependent, and survivor benefits if the spouse, dependent, or survivor works before full retirement age. Regardless of a spouse’s or dependent’s age, the RET may reduce a spousal or dependent benefit based on the benefit of a worker who is subject to the RET.

Back to Work

In this hypothetical example, Fred claimed Social Security in 2021 at age 62, and he was entitled to a $1,500 monthly benefit as of January 2022. However, Fred returned to work in April 2022 and is on track to earn $31,560 for the year — $12,000 above the $19,560 RET exempt amount. Thus, $6,000 ($1 for every $2 above the exempt amount) in benefits will be deducted. Assuming that the Social Security Administration (SSA) became aware of Fred’s expected earnings before he returned to work, benefits might be paid.
In practice, benefits may be withheld earlier in the year or retroactively, depending on when the SSA becomes aware of earnings.

The RET might seem like a stiff penalty, but the deducted benefits are not lost. Your Social Security benefit amount is recalculated after you reach full retirement age. For example, if you claimed benefits at age 62 and forfeited the equivalent of 12 months’ worth of benefits by the time you reached full retirement age, your benefit would be recalculated as if you had claimed it at age 63 instead of 62. You would receive this higher benefit for the rest of your life, so you could receive substantially more than the amount that was withheld. There is no adjustment for lost spousal benefits or lost survivor benefits based on having a dependent child.

If you regret taking your Social Security benefit before reaching full retirement age, you can apply to withdraw benefits within 12 months of the original claim. You must repay all benefits received on your claim, including any spousal or dependent benefits. This option is available only once in your lifetime.

1) Pew Research Center, November 4, 2021

 

This material has been provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute either tax or legal advice. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a tax preparer, professional tax advisor, or lawyer.

Engage with the entire Blakely Financial team at WWW.BLAKELYFINANCIAL.COM to see what other expert advice we can provide towards your financial well-being.

ROBERT BLAKELY, CFP® is a financial advisor with BLAKELY FINANCIAL, INC. located at 1022 Hutton Ln., Suite 109, High Point, NC 27262. He is the founder and president of Blakely Financial, Inc.

Blakely Financial, Inc. is an independent financial planning and investment management firm that provides clarity, insight, and guidance to help our clients attain their financial goals.

Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser.

Diversification and asset allocation programs do not assure a profit or protect against loss in declining markets, and cannot guarantee that any objective or goal will be achieved.

401(k) and IRA: A Combined Savings Strategy

401(k) and IRA: A Combined Savings Strategy

Contributing to an employer-sponsored retirement plan or an IRA is a big step on the road to retirement, but contributing to both can significantly boost your retirement assets. A recent study found that, on average, individuals who owned both a 401(k) and an IRA at some point during the six years of the survey had combined balances about 2.5 times higher than those who owned only a 401(k) or an IRA. And people who owned both types of accounts consistently over the period had even higher balances.1

Here is how the two types of plans can work together in your retirement savings strategy.

Convenience vs. Control

Employer-sponsored plans such as 401(k), 403(b), and 457(b) plans offer a convenient way to save through pre-tax salary deferrals, and contribution limits are high: $19,500 in 2021 ($20,500 in 2022) and an additional $6,500 if age 50 or older. Although the costs for investments offered in the plan may be lower than those provided in an IRA, these plans typically offer limited investment choices and have restrictions on control over the account.

IRA contribution limits are much lower: $6,000 in 2021 and 2022 ($7,000 if age 50 or older). But you can usually choose from a wide variety of investments, and the account is yours to control and keep regardless of your employment situation. For example, if you leave your job, you can roll assets in your employer plan into your IRA.2. In contrast, contributions to an employer plan generally must be made by December 31; you can contribute to an IRA up to the April tax filing deadline.

Matching and Diversification

Many employer plans match a percentage of your contributions. If your employer offers this program, it would be wise to contribute enough to receive the entire match. Of course, contributing more would be better, but you also might consider funding your IRA, especially if the contributions are deductible (see below).

Along with the flexibility and control offered by the IRA, holding assets in both types of accounts, with different underlying investments, could help diversify your portfolio. Diversification is a method used to help manage investment risk; it does not guarantee a profit or protect against investment loss.

Rules and Limits

Although annual contribution limits for employer plans and IRAs are separate, your ability to deduct traditional IRA contributions phases out at higher income levels if you are covered by a workplace plan: modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of $66,000 to $76,000 for single filers and $105,000 to $125,000 for joint filers in 2021 ($68,000 to $78,000 and $109,000 to $129,000 in 2022).3 You can make nondeductible contributions to a traditional IRA regardless of income.

Eligibility to contribute to a Roth IRA phases out at higher income levels regardless of coverage by a workplace plan: MAGI of $125,000 to $140,000 for single filers and $198,000 to $208,000 for joint filers in 2021 ($129,000 to $144,000 and $204,000 to $214,000 in 2022).

 

Source: Investment Company Institute, 2021

Contributions to employer-sponsored plans and traditional IRAs are generally made pre-tax or tax-deductible and accumulate tax-deferred. Distributions are taxed as ordinary income and may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty if withdrawn before age 59½ (with certain exceptions). Nondeductible contributions to a traditional IRA are not taxable when withdrawn, but any earnings are subject to ordinary income tax. Required minimum distributions (RMDs) from employer-sponsored plans and traditional IRAs must begin for the year you reach age 72 (70½ if you were born before July 1, 1949). However, you are generally not required to take distributions from an employer plan as long as you still work for that employer.

Roth IRA contributions are not deductible, but they can be withdrawn at any time without penalty or taxes. To qualify for the tax-free and penalty-free withdrawal of earnings, Roth IRA distributions must meet a five-year holding requirement and take place after age 59½ (with certain exceptions). Original owners of Roth IRAs are exempt from RMDs. However, beneficiaries of all IRAs and employer plans must take RMDs based on their age and relationship to the original owner.

1) Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2020

2) Other options when separating from an employer include leaving the assets in your former employer’s plan (if allowed), rolling them into a new employer’s plan, or cashing out (usually not wise).

3) If a workplace plan does not cover you, but your spouse is covered, eligibility phases out at MAGI of $198,000 to $208,000 for joint filers in 2021 ($204,000 to $214,000 in 2022).

 

This material has been provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute either tax or legal advice. Although we go to great lengths to ensure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a tax preparer, professional tax advisor, or lawyer.

Engage with the entire Blakely Financial team at WWW.BLAKELYFINANCIAL.COM to see what other financial tips we can provide towards your financial well-being.

Blakely Financial, Inc. is an independent financial planning and investment management firm that provides clarity, insight, and guidance to help our clients attain their financial goals.

Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser.

Women Face Challenges in a Post-Pandemic World Emily Promise Blakely Financial

Women Face Challenges in a Post-Pandemic World

By Emily Promise,  CFP®, CDFA®, AIF®, APMA®, CRPC®

The COVID-19 economic crisis tested the mettle of all Americans, mainly working mothers. Research shows that the pandemic’s impacts on women have been far-reaching and potentially long-lasting. Now that the U.S. economy is picking up steam, it may be more important than ever for women to re-examine their retirement planning strategies.

Effects of the COVID-19 Economy

The COVID-19 recession disproportionately impacted working women because sectors that typically employ them — including retail, hospitality, and health care — were hit harder than others. As noted in a paper released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, “Employment fell more for women compared to men at every stage during the pandemic, with the biggest gender differences estimated for married women with children.” Many women were forced to cut work hours or leave jobs entirely to care for family members and supervise remote schooling activities when daycares and schools shut down.1

In a Pew Research study, 64% of women said they or someone in their household lost a job or took a pay cut during the pandemic, and nearly a quarter took unpaid time off for personal, family, or medical reasons. Half of women ranked their financial situation as “only fair” or “poor.”2

More Than Their Share of Job Losses
Before the pandemic, women made up 52% of the population. Yet, they represented a more significant proportion of the employment decline during the spring, summer, and fall seasons of 2020.
Women’s share of the 2020 employment decline: spring 66%; summer 63%; fall 59%.
Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2021

Retirement at Risk?

When it comes to retirement savings, unmarried women have the most ground to cover, according to an Employee Benefit Research Institute survey. Nearly six in 10 have less than $50,000 set aside for retirement; 31% have saved less than $1,000.3

Couple these statistics with the retirement planning challenges women faced even before the pandemic — longer life spans and lower earnings and Social Security benefits, on average — and it’s apparent that women need a carefully considered retirement strategy that will help them pursue their goals.

Making Up Lost Ground

If you or a loved one need to make up lost ground, consider the following tips.

1. Save as much as possible in tax-advantaged investment vehicles, such as employer-based retirement plans and IRAs. In 2021, you can contribute up to $19,500 to 401(k) and similar plans and $6,000 to IRAs. Those figures jump to $26,000 and $7,000, respectively, if you are 50 or older. If your employer offers a match, be sure to contribute at least enough to take full advantage of it. If you have no income but you’re married and file a joint income tax return, you can still contribute to a spousal IRA in your name, provided your spouse earns at least as much as you contribute.

2. Familiarize yourself with basic investing principles: dollar-cost averaging, diversification, and asset allocation. Dollar-cost averaging involves continuous investments in securities, regardless of fluctuating prices, and can be an effective way to accumulate shares to help meet long-term goals. However, you should consider your financial ability to continue making purchases during periods of low and high price levels. (If you contribute to an employer-based plan, you’re already using dollar-cost averaging.) Diversification and asset allocation are methods to help manage investment risk while building a portfolio appropriate for your needs. Note that all investment involves risk, and none of these strategies guarantees a profit or protects against investment loss.

3. Seek guidance from your financial professional, who can provide an objective opinion during challenging times and may be able to help you find ways to reduce costs and save more. Although there is no assurance that working with a financial professional will improve investment results, a professional can evaluate your objectives and available resources and help you consider appropriate long-term financial strategies.

Sources: 1) National Bureau of Economic Research, 2021; 2) Pew Research Center, 2021; 3) Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2021

This material has been provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute either tax or legal advice. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a tax preparer, professional tax advisor, or lawyer.

Engage with the entire Blakely Financial team at WWW.BLAKELYFINANCIAL.COM to see what other specialized advice we can provide towards your financial well-being.

EMILY PROMISE is a financial advisor with BLAKELY FINANCIAL, INC. located at 1022 Hutton Ln., Suite 109, High Point, NC 27262 and can be reached at (336) 885-2530.

Blakely Financial, Inc. is an independent financial planning and investment management firm that provides clarity, insight, and guidance to help our clients attain their financial goals.

Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser.

Prepared by Commonwealth Financial Network®