Podcast of the Month: Retirement Challenges for Women

Robin Weingast Business Woman Holding BriefcaseAttention women – did you know that you typically face more challenges in retirement than men do!?

What do these unique challenges entail, and how can you ensure that you adequately prepare for them? Our podcast of the month features Retirement Specialist Tom Hegna, as seen on PBS. He addresses the problems most women face, and offers his insight on what you can do to combat these issues.

Need to Know: Navigating Stock Market Uncertainty

If you’re on the east coast, chances are you’ve been dealing with some truly unpredictable weather. In fact, most of us—wherever we live—have had to handle some climate curveballs these past few months.

The same can be true for the stock market. Sometimes you’ll deal with sunny skies, and smooth waters — at other times, the skies will churn and whirl with unpredictability, much like a storm, or even worse, a hurricane. Lately it seems like uncertainty is the norm, and while we can’t predict the future of the stock market, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to navigate through tough times. Here’s what you need to know about navigating stock market uncertainty:

1. Review your plan before making any changes 

This is perhaps the most important thing you can do when it seems like each new day brings a new high or low in the stock market. A well-designed investment plan takes into consideration the many fluctuations that the stock market experiences. You may not need to change course, or you may need to make small adjustments. But uncertainty is not a reason to abandon your plans and start making decisions that aren’t aligned with your overall financial and investment goals.

2. Diversify

Your investment portfolio should not rely upon one type of asset class; if it does, you will be hit particularly hard by market uncertainty. Diversification is the best preparation for uncertainty, because it means you’ll never be hit too hard by one fluctuating factor.

3. Review the quality of your investments

Have you ever tried to get through a bad rainstorm with a cheap umbrella? You won’t get very far! You have to consider not just the type of investments in your portfolio, but the quality of them. Do you have enough “steady Eddie” stocks in your portfolio? (Ones that may not rise much during high-performing markets, but also don’t fall too much when the market falls, either). Diversification can be strengthened by ensuring that you’re making quality investments.

4. Talk to an advisor

The Robin S. Weingast & Associates team understands that weathering stock market uncertainty can be challenging. But you don’t have to do it alone. If you don’t have a financial plan, or you would like to review your plan, we’re here to help. Contact us today and find out how to be prepared for anything.

Podcast of the Month: How the new tax law can benefit YOU!

There’s a BIG difference between getting your taxes “done” and implementing tax planning strategies to maximize your return!

Tune in to our monthly podcast as CPA and Tax Specialist Sandy Botkin discusses the new tax law that went into effect January 1st of 2018, what the changes mean for you, and what you can do NOW to get the most out of it!

In case you missed it: Check out our blog post on 10 tax changes you need to know for 2018

Questions about the new tax law? Contact the Robin S. Weingast & Associates team today to find out how we can help!

What Robin’s Reading: 10 tax changes you need to know for 2018

Robin Weingast Reading RecsWith major changes to the United States Tax Code, as well as changes implemented by the IRS, your 2018 taxes will be a much different story from your 2017 taxes. Here at Robin S. Weingast & Associates, we’re reading up on what you need to know to be prepared. We’ll continue to share information as we learn about the implications of the new law and IRS changes, but here are ten key takeaways you should keep in mind:

1) Standard deductions will change.

If you’re married and filing jointly your standard deduction will increase to $24,000. If your single or are married and file separately, your standard deduction increases to $12,000. For heads of households, the deduction will be $18,000, up from $9,550.

2) The personal exemption will be eliminated.

3) Your tax bracket will change

In addition to adding a new tax bracket for those who earn above $500,000, there are now revised tax brackets. You can find yours here.

4) Changes to the estate tax

The estate exemption doubles to $11.2 million per individual and $22.4 million per couple in 2018.

5) Changes to the child tax credit

The child tax credit has been raised to $2,000 per qualifying child, those who are under 17, up from $1,000.

6) Mortgage interest caps

For mortgage balanced taken out after December 15 of 2017, the deduction for interest is capped at $750,000. For those prior, the limit is still $1 million.

7) Changes to state and local taxes

The itemized deduction is limited to $10,000 for both income and property taxes paid during the year.

8) Retirement plan contribution limits increased

You can now contribute $18,500 per year, rather than $18,000 to your 401(k), 403(b) and most 457 plans, and the Thrift Savings Plan.

9) Changes to IRA contributions

Savers who contribute to individual retirement accounts will have higher income ranges following cost-of-living adjustments. Note that the deduction phases out for individuals and their spouses who are covered by workplace retirement plans.

For single taxpayers, the limit will be $63,000 to $73,000.

For married couples, the phaseout range will vary depending on whether the IRA contributor is covered by a workplace retirement plan or not. When the spouse who is investing has access to an employer plan, the range is $101,000 to $121,000. For individuals who don’t have a retirement plan but are married to someone who does, the phaseout has been raised to $189,000 to $199,000.

The phaseout was not adjusted for married individuals who file a separate return and who are covered by a workplace retirement plan. That range is $0 to $10,000.

10) Changes to Roth IRAs

For individuals who are single or the heads of their households, the income phaseout has been raised to $120,000 to $135,000. For married couples who file jointly, the range climbs to $189,000 to $199,000.

The phaseout was not adjusted for married individuals who file a separate return. That is $0 to $10,000.

Questions about how the new tax law will affect you? Contact the Robin S. Weingast & Associates team today and we’ll answer you questions!

Resource of the Month: Business Highlights of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017

In December, President Trump Signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 into law. It’s the most significant revision to our tax code since 1986 — but do you know what it means for your business?

Our resource of the month offers you a high-level summary of how the new law will affect your business. It’s a great starting point for a conversation with your financial and business adviser as you work together to figure out if you need to adjust your business plan.

Questions about what the new law means for your business? The Robin S. Weingast & Associates team can help. Contact us today to learn more!

Podcast of the Month: What would happen if you weren’t around?

Who do you love? What would happen to them financially if you weren’t around? Tune in to our monthly podcast as Renowned Financial Speaker Larry Rybka explains how Life Insurance protects you and your loved ones, and what you can do to make sure you have the right plan for you! Plus, find out about some big benefits that you may be missing, especially If you took out a life insurance policy over ten years ago.

Listen now or click below!

Need to Know: 5 Things You Can Do With An IRA That You Can’t With a 401 (k)

List of Retirement Plan distribution options

IRAs and 401 (k)s share key similarities: they are both retirement plans that can help you lower your tax bill, provide tax-deferred growth, and can serve as an income source later in life. However, there are also key differences between the two options, some of which may affect your financial planning decisions.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. IRAs allow you to make qualified charitable distributions.

If you are an IRA owner or beneficiary over 70 1/2, you can send up to $100,00 from an IRA directly to a charity without including it in your income. While you won’t get a charitable deduction, you will never have to report that income on your tax return, thus your tax bill won’t increase. In addition, a charitable distribution from an IRA can be used to offset all or part of your required minimum distribution.

2. IRAs allow you to take a penalty-free distribution for higher education expenses

Typically, distributions from a retirement account taken before age 59 1/2 are subject to both income tax and a 10% early distribution penalty. However, there are some exceptions, including using your IRA to pay for higher education expenses for yourself or other family members. Note that this is only true of IRA distributions taken before age 59 1/2. If you try to do the same thing with funds from a 401 (k), you will end up with a large tax bill.

3. IRAs allow you to take a distribution whenever you want.

While funds retirement accounts are meant to be used during retirement, sometimes circumstances arise that necessitate an early distribution. Taking an early distribution from a 401 (k) plan can be complicated and dependent upon your specific plan’s rules. Access to 401 (k) funds are limited and are not guaranteed under the law.

Conversely, you can usually take a distribution from an IRA whenever you want, even if it’s early (i.e., before age 59 1/2), regardless of the circumstances. While you will owe both income tax and a penalty, if you truly need access to the funds, you know you will have this option available to you.

4. IRAs allow for aggregate RMDs between multiple accounts.

People are now more likely to be maintaining multiple retirement accounts, usually because they have switched employers. If you have more than one 401 (k) and you are over age 70 1/2, you are required to determine the Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) for each account and take the appropriate amount separately from each account.

If you have more than one IRA and are over age 70 1/2, you still have to calculate an RMD for each IRA, but you can either combine or aggregate the RMDs you take without any penalty. Doing the same thing with a 401 (k) plan would subject you to a 50% penalty!

5. IRAs allow you to avoid withholding

You can’t avoid paying taxes, but there are often deductions, exemptions, and credits that will lower you tax bill. In those instances, it doesn’t make sense to further withhold from your retirement plan, since you would essentially be giving the government an interest-free loan.

If you have an IRA, you can opt-out of withholding — an option that isn’t available to you with a 401 (k).

Questions about what plan might be best suited to your financial goals? The Robin S. Weingast & Associates team can help! Contact us today to discuss what works for you.


Podcast of the Month: Commonly Missed Veterans’ Benefits

Calling All Veterans!

Veteran in front of a flagHave you or a loved one ever tried applying for VA benefits and been declined? VA Claims Agent Brian Byars has some great advice on how and with whom you can work to get your affairs in order and possibly get more benefits than you knew were possible!

Listen to the podcast here.

What Robin’s Reading: Long-Term Care Trends

Robin Weingast Reading RecsWhile our monthly podcast covers how to afford nursing home care, most Americans would prefer not to live in a nursing home if they require long-term care, according to The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research 2016 Long-Term Care trends poll

Although only 14% of the population was age 65 and up in 2013, by 2040, that number is expected to increase to 22%, which means it’s vital to understand trends in long-term care preferences and attitudes.

Key takeaways from the poll found that among adults aged 40 and older:

– People are slightly more confident in their ability to afford nursing home care, but a majority do not think that they are on the right financial track to afford nursing care home if needed.

– Nearly 4 in 10 believe that Medicare will cover their long-term care needs, even though this is not true for most Americans.

– Over 75% would prefer to receive long-term care in their own homes, and over 60% would prefer their family members to receive in-home care.

– One-third have done no planning for their long-term care needs.

– 72% support state paid family leave programs to help provide long-term care to loved ones and family members.

A majority favor policies that would help them save for long-term care, with tax breaks a preferred option.

Want to know more about trends in long-term care attitudes and financial tactics? Visit The AP-NORC Center’s long-term care project website at www.longtermcarepoll.org.

Need help planning for your long-term care needs? Contact the Robin S. Weingast & Associates team today to find out how we can help secure your future!