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Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment Adjustment

Social Security Update: Cost of Living Adjustment

If you receive Social Security benefits, you can expect them to be boosted by 8.7% in 2023. This cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) was announced by the Social Security Administration on October 13th, and it is a massive increase from that of previous years. 

What does this mean for you, and what does it imply for the future? 

In 2022, the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment was 5.9%, which was the highest in forty years. The last time the COLA was this high was in 1981, at 11.2%. This adjustment rate is set automatically, based on the inflation rate each year between July and September as it compares to the previous year, and has been set this way since the 1970’s. The amount is based on the rise in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). 

Use the extra benefit wisely

Despite these annual adjustments for inflation, a 2021 study found that the buying power of Social Security benefits declined by 30% from 2000 to early 2021, in part because the CPI-W is weighted more heavily toward items purchased by younger workers than by Social Security beneficiaries. Due to this method of setting the COLA, you should not anticipate that the increase you are seeing in 2023 will be continued in the upcoming years; be sure to handle the extra money wisely to prepare for future years in which your benefits may not be as high. 

While the COLA will actually take effect with the December 2022 benefits, payments will be made in January 2023. To gauge how much more money you may see next year, take your net Social Security benefit, add in your Medicare premium, and multiply that by the 2023 COLA.

If you have not yet begun to claim Social Security benefits, you may consider delaying until they are needed. Your benefits will still reflect the cost-of-living adjustments whether you claim them now or in a later year. Each year that you delay, benefits will increase 8% from your retirement age until age 70. Obviously, this strategy will not be ideal for every person, especially if you have health concerns, but you can change your mind at any point and begin receiving payments- you don’t have to delay until age 70 even if that was your initial plan. Conversely, if you are not ready to retire or decide to go back to work after retiring, you can still receive your social security benefits

If you are in need of a financial planner to help you get the most out of your benefits to enjoy a long and comfortable retirement, contact Blakely Financial today. 

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.

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What You Need to Know About President Biden’s Student Debt Relief Plans

On August 24, 2022, President Biden announced plans to offer student loan forgiveness to selected individuals. Below is a summary of the executive action that the Biden Administration plans to effectuate. It’s important to note that strong legal challenges to these provisions are likely because the changes are sought to be implemented without Congressional approval. Many of you or your family members may be affected, so the team at Blakely Financial wanted to update you with the information that we have so far.

Final Extension of Student Loan Repayment Moratorium

Borrowers won’t be required to make payments on their federal student loans through December 31, 2022. Borrowers haven’t been required to make student loan payments for more than two years thanks to pandemic-related relief for borrowers. No interest has accrued on federal student loans during the repayment pause. President Biden has indicated that this will be the final extension, and that borrowers will have to resume student loan repayments in early 2023.

Forgiveness of $10,000–$20,000 from Student Loan Balances

Individuals making less than $125,000 per year ($250,000 for married couples) in income will be eligible to have up to $10,000 of student loan debt canceled. For Pell Grant recipients, the cancellation amount may increase to $20,000. In most circumstances, the Department of Education will have individual income data to be able to automatically process the debt cancellation. In the event the government doesn’t have the relevant data, it anticipates providing applications in short order.

Proposed Changes to Existing Repayment System

The Biden Administration also announced proposed changes to income-based student loan repayment programs, whereby individuals could potentially be required to pay a lower proportion of their income to service their student loan debt. In addition, student loan forgiveness could be accelerated for some borrowers, depending on their student loan balances. The timeline or definitiveness of these changes is unclear; they have been announced as “proposed rules.”

Additional Resources

As with any government policy announcement, details are sparse; more information should be forthcoming in the coming days and weeks. For more information on debt relief actions, visit these resources:

You can also subscribe to updates directly from the Department of Education.

As always, we are here to help. Thank you for your continued trust and confidence.

 

Sincerely,

The Blakely Financial Team

 

These hyperlinks are being provided as a courtesy and are for informational purposes only. We make no representation as to the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these websites. 

Blakely Financial, Inc. is located at 1022 Hutton Lane Suite 109, High Point, NC 27262 and can be reached at 336-885-2530. Securities and Advisory Services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. Fixed insurance products and services are separate from and not offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®.

© 2022 Commonwealth Financial Network®

At What Age Should I Teach my Child about Money?

There is no agreed-upon age to begin teaching your child about money. Some sources claim they should learn around age 7, while others say they need to be familiarized with the concepts at age 3. There are plenty of ways to teach your young child about money, especially in subtle ways that help them build the skills they will later need for financial literacy. 

Does a toddler really need to know about money?

As with many financial matters, our team at Blakely Financial believes the best advice is to start early. The sooner children learn financial fundamentals, the more likely they will become informed investors later in life. You never know; you may even benefit from learning alongside your child! If there are areas where you could use a refresher, take the time to review those topics as you approach them with your son or daughter. Remember to always consult with your financial advisor for guidance on investing and saving.

Obviously, a toddler will not understand the importance of a diverse portfolio. There are ways, however, to provide children with skills that will help them make smart financial decisions as they age. The first few years of life are critical for mental development. Toys that incorporate counting, such as building blocks, can help your child develop mathematical skills. Many young kids books also cover important topics like saving, spending, and the value of a dollar. 

How can I teach money skills to a young child?

Teaching your child about money doesn’t just mean describing how to create a budget. Forming a positive association with the concept of money is essential to future financial wellness. Be sure you and your partner don’t instill a negative association with money in your child by arguing about finances in front of them. Do not avoid the topic of money altogether, but be careful not to speak in such a way that could cause your child to associate negativity and stress with the concept of money. Your child could develop “money avoidance” tendencies where they resist acknowledging their finances or learning more about budgeting and saving. 

Consider using physical cash more often. If your young child only sees things being purchased with a card, they may take longer to understand the concept of money and the value of a dollar! 

Another way to indirectly teach a young child about money is to educate them on the difference between wants and needs. When you are very young, it can feel as if you need something that is actually just a want. Be sure to discuss the difference between these terms with your child so that they can learn to categorize the two by themselves. Talk about wants and needs in terms of the consequences they will face if they don’t get to have/do the thing they want or need. This line of thinking will help them prioritize their needs over wants; an essential skill for dealing with money later in life. 

How can these skills be expanded as my child grows?

The skills they learn (physical cash, wants vs needs, math) can be applied to their own purchases as they begin to earn and possess their own money. If your child receives money from family members for birthdays or holidays, consider how you will help them use it wisely! Maybe you will offer to hold on to some of the money for them or get them a piggy bank. Try to discuss what they would like to do with the money and make suggestions, but don’t go overboard!

Let them make mistakes. Though it may be tempting to take full control over your child’s money, you need to allow them the freedom to slip up. If, for instance, they immediately spend all of their birthday cash on a video game, they will learn the consequences when they want something else and don’t have any money left over. This is a far more effective lesson than simply being told what to do, so be sure to give your child a reasonable amount of freedom when it comes to spending! By the time they become a teenager, these skills will help them navigate the financial freedom of their first job and beyond. 

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.

Traits of a Millionaire Woman

Traits of Millionaire Women

Presented by  Emily Promise

How does a millionaire woman look? Well, millionaires – women and men – come in all shapes and sizes. 

First, we will look at the profile of a millionaire woman. Here are some basic facts:

  • 2/3rds of millionaire women come from a dual-income household
  • 2/3rds have children
  • Only 5% of millionaire women are business owners

Millionaire women and women, in general, all share the following traits: 

  1. Express increased concern, and exhibit more stress, regarding preparing for their financial future versus men
  2. Are more concerned about the future versus the present
  3. Love having a financial plan – women are natural planners

All millionaire women have a plan. Women, in general, love the idea of a financial plan – it serves as a road map to reach their goals, whatever those may be.

Women take on myriad roles in life and, to coordinate everything, planning is a vital component! (Think about trekking the kids around to all their extra activities without a schedule or forethought!)

When it comes to finances, it takes diligent savings to amaze the wealth that women have. As they say, money does not grow on trees.

One final trait that all millionaire women share is that they want their concerns addressed. Whether it’s the financial concern of having enough money, or the personal, such as how will I care for my aging parents, women want someone to go to as a trusted advisor to provide clarity, insight, and guidance to elevate their concerns.

 

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®

 

 

 

Diversification: Having Your Eggs In Different Baskets

Diversification: Having Your Eggs in Different Baskets

Presented by ROBERT BLAKELY, CFP®, AIF®, CHFC®

We have all heard the saying, “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket” which was coined in the early 1600s in Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes. When investing, particularly for long-term goals, there are two concepts you will likely hear about over and over again — diversification and asset allocation. Diversification is the art of not putting all your eggs in one basket and helps limit exposure to loss in any one investment or one type of investment. Asset allocation provides a blueprint to help guide your investment decisions. Understanding how the two work can help you put together a portfolio that targets your specific needs and keeps those eggs in different baskets.

After over 25 years in business at Blakely Financial, our team has seen the long-term benefits of diversification and firmly believe the following will help you in your long-term financial goals.

One way to lower your risk without sacrificing return potential is to spread your money out more widely. Diversification refers to the process of investing in a number of different investments to help manage risk. The theory is that if some investments in your portfolio decline in value, others may rise or hold steady.

For example, say you wanted to invest in stocks. Rather than investing in just domestic stocks, you could diversify your portfolio by investing in foreign stocks as well. Or you could choose to include the stocks of different size companies (small-cap, mid-cap, and/or large-cap stocks).

If your primary objective is to invest in bonds for income, you could choose both government and corporate bonds to potentially take advantage of their different risk/return profiles. You might also choose bonds of different maturities, because long-term bonds tend to react more dramatically to changes in interest rates than short-term bonds. As interest rates rise, bond prices typically fall.

Choosing different baskets for those ‘eggs’ is the key.

Asset allocation: Investing strategically

The second part of successful long-term investing is asset allocation. Asset allocation is a strategic approach to diversifying your portfolio among different asset classes that seeks to pursue the highest potential return within a certain level of risk. After carefully considering your investment goals, time horizon, and risk tolerance, you would then invest different percentages of your portfolio in targeted asset classes to pursue your goals. A careful analysis of these three personal factors can help you make strategic choices that are suitable for your needs.

Generally speaking, a large accumulation goal, a high tolerance for risk, and a long time horizon would typically translate into a more aggressive strategy and therefore a higher allocation to stock/growth investments. One example of an aggressive strategy is 70% stocks, 20% bonds, and 10% cash.

The opposite is also true: A small accumulation goal (or one geared more toward generating income), a low tolerance for risk, and a shorter time horizon might require a more conservative approach. An example of a more conservative, income-oriented strategy is 50% bonds, 30% stocks, and 20% cash.

Mutual funds and ETFs for Diversification

Because mutual funds and ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds) invest in a mix of securities chosen by a fund manager to pursue the fund’s stated objective, they can offer a certain level of “built-in” diversification. For this reason, mutual funds and ETFs may be an appropriate choice for most investors and their portfolios. Including a variety of mutual funds or ETFs with different objectives and securities in your portfolio will help diversify your holdings that much more. You can also select a combination of mutual funds to achieve your portfolio’s targeted asset allocation.

If you have accounts spread over multiple brokerage firms, think about consolidating.  If you don’t have significant amounts of time, knowledge or desire to complete the research required for proper diversification, consider contacting a financial planning firm to assist with the decision process for proper diversification. Work with your chosen advisor to determine what steps need to be taken and if there are any exceptions to transferability.  We cannot stress this enough for investors at or nearing retirement.

Rebalance to stay on target

Over time, an asset allocation can shift simply due to changing market performance. For example, in years when the stock market performs particularly well, a portfolio may become over-weighted in stocks. Or in years when bonds outperform, they may end up comprising a larger-than-desired percentage of the portfolio. In these situations, a little rebalancing may be in order.

There are two ways to rebalance. The first is by simply selling securities in the over-weighted asset class and directing the proceeds into the underweighted ones. The second method is by directing new investments into the underweighted asset class until the desired allocation is achieved.

Keep in mind that selling securities can result in a taxable event unless they are held in a tax-advantaged account, such as an employer-sponsored retirement plan or an IRA so make sure you plan accordingly and consult with your financial advisor with any questions.

By planning appropriately and diversifying your portfolio with a specific asset allocation based on your investment objectives, you can pursue your financial planning goals with more confidence. And just remember, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

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.