Need to Know: Emergency Savings Plans

Robin Weingast Retirement SavingsWhile we tend to focus our tips and tools on retirement and long-term financial planning, the truth is that every day life can sometimes interrupt your long-term financial plans.

If you don’t have an emergency savings set up or a plan in place to fund one, you’re not alone. About 57 million Americans have no emergency savings. While this is an improvement from last year’s estimate of 66 million Americans without emergency savings, the truth is that most of us would likely see our financial path derailed if a sudden, emergency expense popped up.

The first step is to acknowledge that emergency saving is part of your overall financial plan. While it’s vital to think about retirement and insurance planning, don’t forget that short-term financial needs are real and can come up at any time.

An ideal is to have three to six months’ savings available to you, though it may not be possible to accumulate that much savings immediately. The trick is to start small, and always make sure you have at least one months’ savings on hand at any given time.

Here are a few ways you can start building your emergency savings:

1) Figure out how much money you need. This is the first step for any financial goal, but it’s especially important for emergency savings. Take a look at your expenses and figure out how much you would need to cover them for one, three, and six months. You can start with a smaller goal, and work your way up to having a three to six month emergency savings fund.

2) Set up a separate bank account for your emergency fund and deposit a portion of your paycheck directly into that fund. Companies that allow for direct deposit of your paycheck may also allow you to deposit into multiple accounts. Look at your budget and determine what amount you can put into an account that’s specifically dedicated to emergency savings. If you don’t have direct deposit for your paycheck, then schedule an appointment each week for you to transfer money out of your primary account into your dedicated emergency savings account

3) Use technology to help you. There are many digital tools that are specifically designed to help you reach short-term savings goals. Check out this rundown of the best options available to you for building your savings with the help of your phone.

There’s no reason to sacrifice retirement peace of mind while preparing for the unexpected.

Need help taking the first step? CONTACT THE ROBIN S. WEINGAST & ASSOCIATES TEAM and we’ll discuss your entire financial future — emergency savings plan and beyond!

Podcast of the Month: Don’t Worry, Retire Happy!

Are you worried about running out of money in retirement? What tools and strategies are available to help protect your retirement income despite all the risks?

Who better to talk about those options than Tom Hegna, best-selling Author of “Paychecks and Playchecks” and “Don’t Worry, Retire Happy!” Tune in for some great tips you can discuss with your own financial professional!

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Podcast of the Month: What if you couldn’t go to work tomorrow?

Disabled person at home

May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month! This special 2-in-1 episode features the incredible story of Rosemarie Rossetti’s terrible accident, and how she managed to stay financially stable during her recovery. Next, Disability Insurance Specialist Corey Anderson breaks down this highly-misunderstood coverage, so you can find out how it really works.

listentoweingastpodcastImage source: https://www.graphicstock.com/stock-image/disabled-person-at-home-hf-gcszcsoiskivlvg

Resource of the Month: The Need for Retirement Planning

Retirement Planning Robin WeingastWith increased life expectancy, early retirement dreams, and changing population demographics, the nature of retirement has changed dramatically. But one thing remains the same: people often underestimate the need to save for this next stage of their life.

A recent analysis by the Economic Policy Institute revealed that the average couple has $5,000 saved for retirement — well below what they will need to maintain their standard of living when they stop earning a regular income.

Still need convincing that retirement saving should be a priority? Our Resource of the Month makes a compelling case for why retirement planning, with the help of a well-informed professional, is a must for everyone.

RSW Resource Download Image

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TPAs: Making Retirement Plans Better

Retirement On Calculator Shows Pensioner Retired DecisionThe German chemical company, BASF, once advertised its value as the ability to improve upon the products created by others.

“At BASF, we don’t make the cooler, we make it cooler. We don’t make the jeans, we make them bluer,” one of the company’s TV commercials famously stated. “At BASF, we don’t make a lot of the products you buy. We make a lot of the products you buy better.”

The retirement plans marketplace has its own BASF that improves upon the work of others: Third Party Administrators or TPAs – like Robin S. Weingast & Associates. Increasingly, financial advisors are partnering with local TPA firms to help sell, design, administer and support defined contribution retirement plans. Some believe it’s a marriage made in heaven.

As a TPA, the Robin S. Weingast & Associates team works with financial advisors deliver a more comprehensive package of services to retirement plan sponsors. These services are becoming increasingly essential in an environment where the designs for retirement plans and the regulations that govern them are becoming ever more complex.

So just how can a TPA make a retirement plan better? TPAs can help guide plan sponsors on regulatory and administrative issues and consult on retirement plan designs, services, and features. Financial advisors may deliver such complementary services as objectively evaluating plan needs, providing information about investment choices, helping educate plan participants, assisting with plan design, and helping select the plan provider.

The relationship often starts with assistance from a TPA in analyzing the plan sponsor’s needs. One of the most important aspects of a successful retirement plan is its design, which can be created to achieve any number of goals. The right retirement plan design may help employees prepare to retire on time, help the business owner save more, reward key employees, give a boost to older employees or achieve a combination of goals.

Understanding what options are available and how they work can be complex and, admittedly, more than a little esoteric. That’s where an assist from a TPA may be especially valuable.

A TPA may help advisors and plan sponsors view how a specific retirement plan design is intended to work, provide options and a cost-value analysis, and provide a hypothetical projection on performance. The insights and analysis may help advisors and their clients make the right choice based on goals, budget and regulatory requirements.

For instance, if the owner of a small business is deferring $18,000 (the maximum) to a salary deferral 401(k) plan but wants to significantly boost her retirement savings, a TPA might recommend adding a Cross-Tested design. This design may allow the client’s business to enhance contributions on her behalf, minimize contributions for non-owner employees, and allow for the maximum total contribution of $54,000 for her. In addition, if the business owner is age 50 or older, she can also contribute an additional $6,000, bringing the total amount of contributions by the owner and the business to $60,000.

But what happens after the plan is in place? Many small, and even medium-sized, employers lack a dedicated, in-house specialist to administer retirement plans. Working with a local TPA may fill the need to have a retirement expert on hand, adding value to your client relationship.

Then there is the ever-changing regulatory environment. As we’ve seen in the past year, government rules and regulations often shift like the sand on a wind-swept beach. What is an advisor to do when those sands create a new dune to climb or maneuver around?

An effective TPA may help an advisor stay up to speed on regulatory changes. More important, a TPA may help advisors understand the implications of new rules and regulations and, in turn, what they mean to sponsors and participants.

That’s critical as 84 percent of sponsors say they value advisors who are proactive, MassMutual’s 2015 Winning Combination study shows*. The study also reports that it’s far better if an advisor informs a client about a new regulations and what it means than if the client has to reach out to the advisor about something that has just been introduced.

Advisors who are newer to the retirement plans marketplace may also learn more about marketing from TPAs, who often partner for prospecting and finals presentations. Working with a local TPA potentially extends an advisor’s contact network for referrals and presents opportunities to jointly market services and host local seminars.

In the past year, the percentage of retirement plans in the small-business market that engage TPAs increase to 85 percent. TPA firms are becoming an important pillar of support, especially for smaller businesses that lack the specialized resources or expertise to successfully administer a retirement plan.

At the end of the day, a The Robin S. Weingast & Associates TPA firm has the potential to help make your retirement plan service and support better.

*2016 Winning Combination Study, What retirement plan sponsors value most from financial advisors, January 2016, https://www.massmutual.com/~/media/files/rs7153_brochure.pdf

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Resource of the Month: 2017 Open Enrollment Deadlines

robinweingast-health-insuranceThe open enrollment period for Obamacare starts on November 1, 2016 and runs through January 31, 2017. Not enrolling in health insurance comes with financial penalties, so to help you keep track of what you need to know about getting covered, our October Resource of the Month breaks down critical dates and provides you with key information on this important deadline.

Click here to download.

Resource of the Month: Personal Net Worth

Robin Weingast financial planning for couplesIn keeping with our focus on financial planning for couples, our latest Resource of the Month is designed to help make planning with your partner a bit easier. As we mentioned in our latest installment of “What Robin’s Reading” (link to post above), couples argue about money, partially because of key misconceptions about their own approach vs. the approach of their partner. Before you can have a conversation as a couple, it’s important to have a solid understanding of your individual personal financial picture. That’s why our February Resource of the Month is a “Personal Net Worth” worksheet that will give you a snapshot of your financial health. You can even pass a copy to your partner, and encourage them to fill it out as well.

Our hope is that knowing your own financial situation will help make conversations with your partner easier for both of you. Once you know where you stand, you can create shared goals for your financial future.

Download our February 2016 Resource: Personal Net Worth.

Need help understanding how your personal net worth should shape your financial goals? The Robin S. Weingast & Associates team is here for you. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help.

Resource of the Month: 2016 Plan Limit Changes


IRS_ImageAs they do every year, the IRS released their plan limit changes for the 2016 tax year. For our final 2015 Resource of the Month, we’ve compiled all the changes into a handy document that you can reference!

Download our Resource of the Month: 2016 Plan Limit Changes.

Questions about 2016 Plan Limits and what they mean for you? Contact our team today!

What Robin’s Reading: December 2015

Robin Weingast Reading RecsWelcome to a new installment of “What Robin’s Reading,” our bimonthly feature that highlights what the Robin Weingast team is reading to stay current and up-to-date on the issues that will most impact our clients and their benefits planning.

This month, we’re reading the 2015 Employee Benefits Security Survey, released each year by Mass Mutual. The goal of the survey, which drew responses from over 1,500 full-time employees at companies that provide benefits is “to explore the disconnect between the value employees place on their employer-provided benefits and other aspects of their lives, to understand employees’ perceptions of their benefits, and to determine the level of interest in employee benefits and personal finance guidance tools.”

Here are some takeaways from the survey that caught our attention:

• Personal finance and health are the areas that are most important to the respondents — being able to retire comfortably is important, but not nearly as important as those two areas.

• Respondents know more about their personal finances and employee benefits than anything else, including current events, sports, and office gossip.

• While respondents feel like the understand basic personal finances, like credit card balances and savings accounts, they do not feel they know as much about what it takes to retire comfortably, and how to prioritize their benefits

• Respondents who want to know more about their finances feel that the obstacles they encounter include not having enough time and not having a person they trust to talk to about finances.

• 40% of the respondents stated that they are very distracted at work due to their concerns about their own finances, most notably millennials. (We read this great follow-up piece in Forbes on why that’s so important.)

• A total of 87% of the respondents were at least somewhat satisfied with their employee benefits plan. Not surprisingly, those who knew more about their plans were more satisfied with them and less distracted by their finances.

For a full copy of the report, click here

For us, this study reinforced a few key things. The first, is that it’s difficult for people to understand what they need to do to retire comfortably. We touched upon this in previous posts about 401 (k) plans and retirement myths. 

The second big takeaway for us, is that it’s not enough to have a good benefits plan; you have to have a well-educated team of employees who understand the plan and know how it can help ease their anxiety and keep them focused at work. That’s good for your team, and good for your business.

It’s vital that you have a plan administrator who won’t apply a “cookie cutter” solution to your benefits plan and who will take time to provide your employees with information and resources to help them plan for their futures. If you’d like help making sure your employees have a benefits plan that they understand, appreciate, and that works for your bottom line, contact us today.