A New York Times article with the title Too little, Too late: Bankruptcy Booms among Older Americans outlined the profile of a gentleman who was a former carpenter. His union had changed some of the eligibility requirements for his health insurance that created a snowball that led him and his family into bankruptcy. Unfortunately, that headline is not uncommon. The market conditions and interest rates are increasing and pensions are having challenges, and so on and so forth. It’s saddening to hear these types of things happening to people in the fourth quarter of life. The Thrive experts bring real information, real understanding, and real solutions as they address the subject of taxes in retirement which is one of the things that have an erosive impact on retirement and bankruptcy.
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Taxes In Retirement: Bankruptcy Among Older Americans
Welcome back, everybody. David, you are refreshed after a nice vacation, I gather.
I’m completely refreshed. I had a great time and a chance to work and still feel refreshed. We met with so many cool people. I had a great time sharing a lot of good quality information. I’m excited to be on the show.
It’s nice to have you back, Karen. You’re ready to go.
We had a great time and we actually went together. Both of our families like each other. We work and play together. We had a fantastic time. I’m happy to be back.
Bret, I welcome you in as well. How are you?
I’m doing great. I’m so excited to get things back into motion.
It’s nice to have you back as well. I want to share a piece of incredible news and I wanted to send a big thank you out to the audience. The ratings are in now for the book. There’s a significant rating increase this month. Doubling our audience from the previous month. We continue to build and we continue to network amongst all of our audience and the people that are coming to the workshops. I congratulate all three of you for delivering good real-time information that’s resonating with the audience.
That’s a big kudos to you as well. The professionalism, that conscientious observation type person you are. The questions you ask during the show are really consumer-oriented. I’m very thrilled to hear that. That’s exciting that we’re having some impact in the community.Have the ability to plan and to prepare for the unknown. Click To Tweet
I’ll give you the opportunity to set the table on one, an article that popped up that I would love for you to put it in the Rolodex and plan a conversation over the next couple of weeks perhaps. The New York Times article, Too little, Too late: Bankruptcy Booms among Older Americans. The profile of the gentlemen in the story was a former carpenter and his union had changed some of the requirements and some of the eligibility requirements for his health insurance. That created a snowball that led him and his family into bankruptcy. It resonated with me, David, because we have talked about the ability to plan, to prepare for the unknown and that’s what this show’s all about.
Unfortunately, that headline is not uncommon. We’ve done a couple of shows where we certainly did address some of the negative things that are happening out there. The market conditions and interest rates are increasing and pensions having challenges and so on and so forth. Our job is to bring real information, real understanding and real solutions. What we pride ourselves on at Thrive is we do act as advocates for the people that we serve. We want to empower them through education. Sometimes people don’t necessarily want to know the minute detail of everything, but they want to have confidence that they work with somebody who can identify with that challenge maybe and then more importantly, provide some type of a solution so that that trouble does go away.
It’s saddening to hear these types of things happening to people in the fourth quarter of life. I don’t think it’s going to be uncommon and I don’t think it’s going to go away. In this show, we’re going to address one of the things that does have an erosive impact on retirement, which is taxes. Before we get into that, I’ll just comment while we were away, I was hitting for a nap. Before I fell asleep, I happened to catch this older movie. It’s probably four years old now which is called The Big Short. It was a docudrama on what the financial crisis was all about. They tell people and people don’t tend to pay attention, but history tends to repeat itself. The things that they were addressing in that movie, which were the causes of the financial crisis in 2008, 2009 are starting to appear again and we’re seeing some of the same cause and effect issues.
People forgot that there were people that weren’t making a lot of money, but because they could qualify for these mortgages where you didn’t have to prove a whole lot, they would get involved in buying one home, two homes, three homes, four homes. When interest rates started to go up and these loans reset, the bankruptcy rate went through the roof. That wasn’t a whole long time ago. That was ten years ago and things are starting to present themselves again. We have those loans again and people are jumping on the bandwagon saying, “I can get in a much bigger house than I can afford.” At some point in the future, you’ve got to pay the piper. What we want to try to do on this show is keep people educated so those things don’t happen to them in retirement.
Karen, what are your agenda for the audience?
We have a whole show geared towards this, but we’re going to talk a little bit about taxes in retirement. How can they affect your nest egg?
Thrive Financial spends a lot of time at the weekly workshops. I believe Bret will zero in on that very topic.
My concept of what I’m going to talk about is the big number of zero. When we talk about zero, it doesn’t normally sound like a good thing. When we’re talking about the topic of taxes, one question we always ask during a workshop is how many people in here are a big fan of taxes? We have yet to see a hand go up yet, so we’re going to try to dig deep a little bit into paying no taxes in retirement.
David, as we begin and you start to process and I even referenced that article, you talked about ten years ago with the changes and everything else, there is that uncertainty that if you’re not prepared for, I think that is what causes or creates that potential trouble or that pitfall. You have to get on the road. You have to get a plan together.
I commend the people who do come out to our workshops or visit our website or give us a phone call because it shows a proactive approach to finding out before it’s too late. We’re big on second opinions. We’re big on getting a second set of eyes. We run under this idea of a Thrive Retirement Roadmap Review. That review takes a look at four major areas of retirement and the areas that we’ve decided from a business perspective to be specialists at, not general practitioners but absolute specialists. We address Social Security and Medicare. There are 567 different election options in Social Security. Somebody’s got to help you decipher all of that and figure out what’s the best way to do it, Medicare surcharges and things like that. Lots of questions where people don’t even know about that and don’t know how to prevent themselves from getting a surcharge.
We address taxes from a dynamic perspective. Are there opportunities throughout your retirement that you may be able to get money out very tax efficiently? We talk about risk and are you going to have enough and will it last? I’d encourage our folks to visit our website, send us an email, sign up for a complimentary Thrive Retirement Roadmap Review. You can go to ThriveFinancialServices.com or you can call us at 1-800-516-5861. We’ll be happy to do it. It will be a couple of appointments, about two hours’ worth of time. It will probably be the best two hours you could invest.To enjoy your retirement, you have to start preparing now. Click To Tweet
We’ve got a great lineup for you. More about it as the month rolls on, but a fantastic lineup with our friends at Del-Val insurance. We’re going to get them on and deal with insurance. They’ve been able to help so many of our audience and we’re glad to have them aboard.
After coming off our vacation, it gets us motivated that we actually are looking forward to retirement. It’s something that is an abstract as you’re younger but as you get older, it’s something that you start to look forward to. Everybody has different ideas of what retirement is going to look like. Hopefully, people are starting to plan earlier than later. One of the things that people don’t always plan for is taxes and paying taxes in retirement. When you think about retirement, everybody has their own ideas. We’d like to go on the beach, take our grandchildren that we don’t have yet. Take them on big vacations or long vacations, but where are you going to get that money from? Have you started planning? Is that going to come from your retirement savings? Once you retire, you still have to pay income tax. You’re going to have to pay taxes on that money that you’re planning your great vacations or whatever your retirement’s going to be. Are you going to buy a condo in Cape May or are you going to move to Florida? Whatever that might be.
It’s interesting you referenced that too. A product of this show, an end result of this show has put my wife and I on this mission of trying to understand, is Cape May the best place for us to be? Is the State of New Jersey the best place to retire? All of the research that we’re finding and all of our discussions tells me no. That forces forward another conversation and another decision about what you do with the property there that you’ve enjoyed going to the shore on the weekends and all of that. It’s amazing how it all fits. It’s amazing how it all comes together.
That’s one of the areas we talk about in our workshops and it’s one of the areas we focus on. When you come in for your complimentary consultation, we have a specified software that clarifies taxation during your retirement years. Please take a look at our website. If you’re interested in coming in, do not hesitate.
That’s the main reason people come to see us. That starts the conversation. The thing that confuses people the most or people have the least understanding of is what the tax rules are and how they’ll be applicable during retirement. One of the first questions I ask when I go up and start our workshop is how many of you have a complete understanding of how taxes will impact you during retirement? There’s never a hand that goes up. That’s why I’m here. How many of you have questions? Every single hand goes up. We’re going to address a lot of that and it’s something that you do have to plan for. Sometimes it’s too late. If you position your money improperly, you could end up paying the piper because of that.
Another area we talk about is, “Is there anything I can do about it?” Yes, there are things you can do about it, but you have to start planning for that prior to when you turn 70 and a half, and you have no choice. You have to start taking what’s called required minimum distributions. We talk about that in our workshops and we talk about that with people who come in and visit us for the first time and the second time. It’s great if you’re saving your money in your 401(k) and all your tax-deferred accounts. What happens when you start taking money out? You have to start paying income tax. Are there different areas you could be saving money? Are there different places you can save money that won’t have that effect?
I’m going to talk about a case that we had to go through. Sometimes we meet people who have already started. I’ve already started Social Security and it’s like water under the bridge. It’s why we love sometimes to meet people before they’ve made that decision or they’ve delayed it. It’s like, “I’m going to let my IRA bucket grow until 70 and a half because I don’t have to touch it and I’m going to start my Social Security today.” Conventional wisdom tells us that the government is running out of money, take your Social Security before they run out. Stop. We go through a scenario that we illustrate during the workshop. Just talking about the importance of people don’t understand how their Social Security is taxed like no other income they’re ever going to receive. While you’re working, whether you’re getting a paycheck, a 1099, whether it’s rental income, incomes can typically come from almost anywhere and it’s all going to be relatively taxed the same.
When we talk about long-term capital gains, which we’re not going to talk about right now, but we’ll talk about Social Security. Everyday a couple let’s says have $70,000 of income on the tax return in retirement. The first couple said, “I’m turning on Social Security and I’m going to fill the gap for the rest of my life coming from my IRA bucket.” Let’s say $70,000 of income or $50,000 of it is coming from their IRA, call it a pension, call it what you will and $20,000 of it is coming from Social Security. The second scenario, same $70,000 of income, but somebody had gone through putting all the pieces together. It’s part of the Thrive Retirement Roadmap Review and we sit down with people saying, “What if we change things up a little bit?” Long-term, same $70,000 of income but now $50,000 is going to come from Social Security and only $20,000 is going to come from that IRA.
In that very first scenario, we take people through. It’s a lot of moving pieces, but these are things that we love to dive deep into people with. We ask people in the room, “How many people like to pay taxes?” No hands go up. When you understand how Social Security is taxed differently in the very first scenario, $50,000 coming from IRAs or a pension and $20,000 coming from Social Security, the amount of money you’re going to pay in taxes to Uncle Sam, I’m not talking about the state, forget about Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, that conversation here. You’re going to write a check with $70,000 of income for $4,467. That sounds like a lot $70,000 of income, but $4,467. We’re paying the government almost about $350, $370 a month.
We take people through the educational piece of, “What if we waited on Social Security and pulled from our assets a little bit earlier?” We’re now long-term $20,000 coming from IRAs and $50,000 coming from Social Security. The exact same math, the exact same equations. What you find is you owe a check at the end of the year to the government for $25. If you had a choice of $25 versus $4,467, which would you rather pay the government? You don’t have to answer because everyone’s answering the same exact thing. When you talk about whether it’s I want to go spend time down in Florida or Cape May. Karen talks about, “I want to go spend some time and take the grandkids on a big vacation.” What if I just found $4,400 a year for you by not paying the government where you can go take the grandkids to Disney? Nobody likes paying more than they have to for taxation.Do things in advance so that you can optimize taxation in retirement. Click To Tweet
What an unbelievable example that is. $4,400 is a significant amount of money. You give that back to the individual. You’re not giving it to them, you’re creating the scenario based on the variable.
It’s coming up with that plan. That’s part of the Thrive Retirement Roadmap Review is that planning on the tax aspect side, so much it’s always your investments. We talked about the dominoes. We’ve got to put all those puzzle pieces together to figure out when I should do what. The people that have become clients at Thrive appreciate what we go through with them on an annual basis.
It’s an illustration of reactive, which is what most people do, versus being proactive about the education. It’s a big difference.
We have another area where you can save money in taxes. Even if all of your money right now is currently sitting in tax-deferred investments because that’s what you were told to do. That was the best thing to do when you were working. Perhaps at this time, some retirees might have stopped working, but maybe they’re not 70 and a half yet, maybe 60, 65. At this point, your income has dropped. What that means is your tax rate is going to go down because you’re no longer bringing in an income. That makes early retirement a great time to pay tax on your tax-deferred savings, to transfer some money to tax-advantaged Roth IRAs. People know that’s something they can do. They can convert this money in a traditional IRA or 401(k) into a Roth IRA, but they’re not sure how to do it. It sounds great. You can do it, but you have to pay income tax on that money, so when’s the best time to do that?
While we’re working, it’s very hard to be creative from a tax standpoint. You can get that W-2 showing up on the tax return, no matter what. There’s nothing we can do. The cleats are hung up, there’s a big difference when we talk about cashflow and what’s taxable income. Cashflow is what we spent. Not all of the money that we pull from our different buckets are taxable, showing up on our tax return versus when we enter retirement, we can pick and choose and be as much as tax efficient as we can, especially during the decade of our 60s. When we start talking about items like when should I sell my beach house? When should I sell maybe some of that stock?
Maybe I should start converting some of my Roth IRAs. I shared that again in the very first segment talking about zero. Who likes paying taxes? Nobody. How do we get our taxes to zero each and every year? A lot of times we meet people as they enter retirement. Another example, we’ve talked about them during the workshop as well. We met a couple. When we first met, they had about $48,000, $4,000 a month coming between their two Social Security checks. Then they were pulling the rest of their money that they needed on a monthly basis from buckets that weren’t showing up on the tax return. What we soon realized was if they’re just drawing from Social Security, they’re paying no taxes whatsoever. That’s a good thing. No tax, zero. What we had identified going through this process was they actually had some stock that they had been sitting on forever.
They had inherited it. They had about $50,000 of long-term capital gains in that stock. We had identified with them that we should sell off enough of that stock that we want to show a $20,000 long-term capital gains this calendar year. If we did it last year while I was working, I was going to have a 15% tax, so 15% of $20,000 is $3,000. $3,000 doesn’t sound like a lot but it’s not zero. We identified $20,000 being sold from their stock that they could realize on this tax return on top of that $48,000 of Social Security income. In addition to that, they had some of those tax-deferred buckets. They’ve never paid taxes on it. The conventional wisdom, don’t touch it until 70 and a half.
We said, no. We like zero. We had identified another $12,000 from their 401(k) IRAs that we said, “Let’s go convert that to a Roth IRA.” They could have done whatever they wanted to do with it. We just wanted that $12,000 to show up on the tax return. Let’s assume that we’re going to move it into what we call a partial Roth conversion. What happened when we put all those puzzle pieces together, they were already paying no taxes, $48,000 of income. Now we’re adding $20,000 in long-term capital gains, plus an additional $12,000 they’re able to pull from their IRA, 401(k).Little things make a difference. Click To Tweet
We went from $48,000 on the tax return to now $80,000 on the tax return. It sounded good before whereas paying nothing in taxes. When we did that, the amount of money they owed in taxes was going from $48,000 to $80,000 is $161. Simply by doing things in the right order when you should. That’s part of that retirement Roadmap Review. It is sharing with people when to do what in certain times of retirement. If you knew there was a way how you could pull money from a long-term capital gains standpoint and/or pull money from your IRA, 401(k) and never pay taxes on either of those events. Does it make sense to figure out how that applies to me?
The only way you’re going to do it is somewhere on the ThriveFinancialServices.com. There is a tab that simply says Start My Journey. The only way you’re ever going to get to that result, to understand that result and feel that result is to start. You have to start. It’s amazing to me those two examples that Bret used are two of so many that come across the boardroom in your office when you sit down with a client.
It gets me thinking a little bit, I don’t even know why this is in my head, but I’m going to share it with the audience. It could be scary. I remember hearing the story that there are people who can leap over tall buildings, there are people who can leap over short buildings, and then there are people who can run into buildings. The point of it being is when we sit with clients or prospects, there are people who are self-directed, very educated, who easily could leap tall buildings in a single bound. We introduce them the ideas that they may not have heard of before. They will take our information, it’s complimentary, and go do it themselves. God bless them and good luck. We’re fine with that.
That’s what we’ve committed to that we’ll provide advocacy, empowerment and education. If people want to be our clients, great. If they don’t want to be our clients, great. It is just what it is. Then there are people who can leap over small buildings in a single bound. These are people who need the assistance of an advisor so that they can get educated, understand what’s happening, rationalize it and then go, “That’s a good decision, I want to do that.” I love cars. I love racing cars. I love driving cars, but I couldn’t fix a thing on a car. I won’t even lift the hood. We were at the Whole Foods in Ambler and the car was running fine when we went in, when we came out, nothing was working. It won’t start, lights wouldn’t go on and it wouldn’t unlock. Nothing. I had no idea. I kept pushing the button hoping it would work.
I’m the person who runs into the building. I physically run into the wall, not the doors. We have clients like that who don’t know what the question to ask is. For those folks, we bring up the questions and then we help them answer. That’s why that Thrive Retirement Roadmap is something that can apply to all people. For the person who can leap over tall buildings, the people who can leap over small buildings, the people who could run into buildings. We fit all of those types of people in providing education, empowerment about these ideas. The difference between paying a $4,400 bill for taxes a year in retirement versus one that you pay $25, it’s a no-brainer that you would want to learn how to find out if that’s applicable to you. Then how you could increase your income from $48,000 to over $80,000 and only increase your tax consequence by $161. Who in their right mind wouldn’t want to at least explore if that was something that could apply to their retirement plan?
Why is it do you think that many people don’t?
I’ll be honest with our audience and I hate saying that but I’m always honest with it. What I recognize is that our industry does have a black eye and it puts a cautious tone in most people that are out there. We’ve had the Bernie Madoff and we’ve had Wells Fargo issues and the list just goes on and on. When I was watching that movie, The Big Short, at the end of the movie they said, “Not one financial executive had ever been charged with a crime or spent any time in jail for the biggest financial calamity that any of us have ever experienced.”
It aggravates me. It makes me want to fight that much harder on a daily basis to right the wrongs that our industry has done to most consumers. I hope through this show and our offer of sitting down with an attitude. If you want us, we’re there for you. If you want us for information, were there for you. If you want our information, you don’t necessarily want to be our client, that’s okay too. I hope that we can impact many people in this tribe. Get them educated and have them share the word that we’ve passed on so that it improves people’s lives at retirement.
It’s education and advocacy. It’s why we do our workshops. It’s why we’re not necessarily doing big steak dinners. It’s why we’re here on the radio shows. How can we make an impact in this community to just make a difference? That’s putting those puzzle pieces together.
I have to ask the audience to close your eyes and visualize. If you’re 53 or 55 years old and you’re sitting there and your kids are either in school or just finishing school and start to visualize what’s in front of us.
I agree and I’m looking forward to it. To enjoy your retirement, you have to start preparing now. Little things make a difference and everybody should enjoy their retirement. They shouldn’t be worried about where they’re going to live or health insurance and all that. You prepare for it. Don’t stick your head in the sand.
Roadmap to Retirement: Navigating Your Way to Peace of Mind, the book. We gave away a lot of complimentary copies of that book. It is chockfull of information.
We get fantastic feedback on that. I tell people that come out to the workshop that if you call our office, we’ll get you a complimentary copy. It’s on Amazon. It’s $19.95, 100% of the proceeds of all the sales go to a charity called BeatCancer.org, which I’m a Board member of. I give a wink every once in a while. Don’t go to Amazon, just call our office and we’ll get you a complimentary copy. If you want to get a complimentary copy of it, just connect with us on our website, ThriveFinancialServices.com or you can call us and tell them you wanted to get a complimentary copy of the book. We’ll get it out to you.
A lot of what’s in the book is talking about mistakes. The mistakes that we see people making during retirement. What we, Karen and Bret were talking about were missed opportunities. Those are strategic. Those are oriented around planning, doing things in advance so that you can optimize taxation in retirement. What I’m going to share a little bit is some of the mistakes that we see people make during retirement. It has a lot to do with retirement plans because people tend not to know all the rules that apply to what we call decumulation. Distributing your assets versus accumulating.
Some of those orient around these things called required minimum distributions. It’s a topic that we discussed heavily in our workshops and during our appointments with folks. I ask people all the time, “Do you know how to calculate the required minimum distributions across multiple tax-deferred retirement accounts?” I get that raised eyebrow look, “What do you mean?” The situation that we typically see is many families today have four or five different IRA accounts. They may have been employed and either left that original employer or were laid off. After they got laid off they rolled over the 401(k) plan into a self-directed IRA with Vanguard, Fidelity, Schwab or something like that. Then they got reemployed. That company happened to have a 401(k) and that’s where they retired from and have yet to roll over.
That employer-sponsored plan still has that IRA or a 401(k) plan. During the financial crisis back in 2007 through 2009, a lot of people left the markets. They had money sitting in IRA accounts and they went to local banks and credit unions and opened up IRAs with CDs and money market. We typically see four or five different IRA accounts when we review for folks. I asked, “Do you know how to calculate your RMD across all of those?” Especially if you’ve got some with brokerage, some without and some at the bank, you’re responsible for coming up and reporting how much needs to be distributed out to your family through those RMDs.A tax is a penalty for doing something right. Click To Tweet
Then we ask the next question, “What if the calculation you made is wrong?” I talk about that a little bit and I know we have this benevolent organization called the IRS. They’re kind and sweet and they let you get away with making mistakes. We know that’s all not true. What happens is there’s a penalty assessed. What I try to share with people is a penalty is a tax for doing something wrong. A tax is a penalty for doing something right. We want to make sure people understand what the effect of a penalty if you make the calculation wrong.
Do you know if you take money out in an early distribution before you’re 59 and a half out of an IRA, there’s an early withdrawal penalty? Do you know what that percentage is? That’s a 10% penalty, which you would think no penalties are fair. It’s our money but they assessed the penalty, it’s 10%. Maybe that’s somewhat reasonable. The penalty for making a miscalculation on your required minimum distribution is 50% of the mistaken amount. It is a big deal. That’s a big number. It really is in everybody’s best interest to make sure that they don’t make a mistake on the calculations.
Some people say, “My financial advisor does that for me.” We had a client, a prospect who came in and visited with us for our Thrive Retirement Roadmap Review. Through our calculations, we calculated that he made a major mistake on his RMD calculation and his response was, “I’ve worked with my financial advisor for 25 years. There’s no way that I made a mistake on this.” Our response was like, “We’re not going to argue with you. We did our calculations. We believe we’re right. If you don’t, God bless, good luck. I wish you well,” all that kind of stuff.
About two months later we got a phone call from this gentleman and he says, “You were right, I made a huge mistake or my RMD and it costs me 50%.” When we dove into it a little deeper, what we found out was that this gentleman ended up having a second financial advisor. He never told the first financial advisor that he took some of his money that he inherited and put it with another advisor. The two advisors didn’t know which hand was doing what. He always counted on the one advisor to provide the number for the RMD, never taking into consideration that there was IRA money that needed an RMD from the second advisor. That’s where the mistake came from. My advice to our audience is full disclosure with your financial professional should be paramount, that way you end up not making mistakes. Those are two big things that we see.You need a relief pitcher to finish the game in a successful way for you. Click To Tweet
The second point of it is that we uncovered it before it actually could have and would have happened, but didn’t heed our instruction. We understand that you don’t know who we are, you do not necessarily trust us, but that’s where that whole second opinion concept comes in. That’s something that’s so ingrained in me personally because of the medical experiences that I’ve had. I tried to convey that to the people that we talk about is you may love your doctor, but when you get a life-threatening condition, it’s probably not a bad idea to go get a second opinion from somebody who specializes in that specific condition.
You may work with a financial advisor who’s done a spectacular job in helping you accumulate your wealth for retirement, but if you start to ask questions that are related to Social Security, Medicare, taxation, distribution of assets, and you don’t get answers that sound correct or you get answers of, “That’s not my expertise. Why don’t you talk to your accountant? Why don’t you call the Social Security Administration?” That is a huge red flag, right at that particular point that you worked with that advisor who was a good starting pitcher, but you now need a relief pitcher to finish that game in a successful way for you.
I would say it’s okay to do that. I would say it’s okay when you get to that realization of where you are in your life, that it’s now time to make a transition selfishly to be in your best interest.
We appreciate loyalty, but the loyalty that you should most have is to your family and your money. If that’s applicable, that’s why we’re here and we give those second opinions. Those are some of the things that we basically go through to get people educated about the distribution of assets and all the things that we cover in that Thrive Retirement Roadmap consultation. We want people to remember that’s a complimentary session with us and they can schedule that by going to our website and we have that start your journey right there. They’ll tell you how to do that.
We thank, everybody. Sometimes people go away and they don’t come back but at least for now, everyone is back. On behalf of David, on behalf of Karen, on behalf of Bret and all of our audience, we certainly hope you have a great day. I’m Joe Krause. See you next time.