When Hobbits and the 4% rule will shape the fortunes of all

It began with the forging of the Great Rules.  Three percent annual returns were given to treasury-bills, immortal, fairest, and surest of all investments.  Five percent was given to bonds, disciplined and reliable sources of revenue.  And seven, seven percent was given to company stocks, which above all else desire  capital return.  For within these rules were bound the benchmarks to govern any retirement portfolio.  But they were all of them relieved, for another rule was made.  Deep in the land of California, under the blistering sun of San Diego, the great financial planner William Bengen forged a master rule in secret, and into this rule he poured all of his foresight, his experience, and his will to encompass any retirement scenario.  One rule to ring them all. What I am discussing, for those who don’t fantasize about Lord of the Rings featuring a plucky band of accountants, is the “four percent rule.”  I hope to cover what it is, the reasoning behind it, and its validity in current market conditions.  And no orcs, I promise. Planning for income needs in retirement is difficult under the best of circumstances.  On the one hand is a retiree with a large balance in their retirement account, saved up over a lifetime of hard work.  On the other is an unforeseeable number of years of living expenses, with unpredictable market returns and unknowable inflation. Faced with this conundrum, William Bengen researched the historical record to determine not which plan could work, but which one always works.  His study, published in 1994, found that a four percent withdrawal rate provided a minimum of 30 years of retirement income.  This proved true across many financial crises, from the Great Depression to the stagflation of the seventies.  He experimented with a variety of allocations and his insights were far-ranging, but for retirees the take-away was this: the most you can withdraw from your portfolio with (almost)… | Read More »

Medicare fee hike adds urgency to open enrollment period

The 2015 Medicare open enrollment period may be one of the most active in years as recipients digest a significant potential increase in fees. A “hold harmless” provision of the Social Security Act, combined with a freeze in cost of living adjustments, could mean a 52% increase in Medicare rates for the approximately 15.6 million people currently accessing Medicare Part B. Most Medicare recipients have their premiums deducted from Social Security and those payments are protected. If Medicare premiums rise, but Social Security benefits don’t, the government has to look elsewhere to make up the difference. The “hold harmless” provision protects recipients from having their payments reduced. But, the money has to come from somewhere and that means a significant increase (at least $650 annually) for new beneficiaries, those with high incomes, and Medicare recipients who don’t get Social Security. About 3.1 million participants would be subject to the rise because of their incomes. The projected increase for single individuals earning between $85,001 and $107,000—and couples earning $170,001 to $214,000— is $76.10 per month in 2016. The increase also poses a threat to many state budgets, which would have to cover the rise in cost for nearly nine million lower-income Medicare beneficiaries. As Congressional lawmakers wrestle with this conundrum, we encourage Medicare participants, and those weighing whether to begin taking Social Security, to use this open enrollment period to review their choices. Beneficiaries can save an average of 31 percent by switching their Medicare insurance plans, according to research done by the Institute on Innovative Aging Policy and Practice. If you have questions about regarding Medicare of Social Security, we can help. We have a dedicated insurance specialist, and Social Security experts on staff, who would be glad to sit down with you to make sure you are maximizing your earning potential and minimizing your fees. Contact us today to set up an appointment. When and how to begin your… | Read More »

The Richest Man in Babylon should be required reading

There’s something mystical and thrilling about books – the excitement of choosing which new book you will get to sample, the smell of the paper, the feel of the pages in your hand, the new characters that become almost friends. If you are a Nook reader, it remains just as stimulating – an awakening  where you can gather knowledge and be transported to another world, all through the power of words!  Books are my thing.  In general, I have approximately four books going at once: For the spirit Straight fiction (allowed only at the gym as motivation) Some sort of self-help To better my working financial knowledge. In all honesty, I have not been held particularly rapt by the last book category, not for lack of interest but because many of the books are simply difficult to digest.  For that exact reason, I am writing a series on financial books, to help you pick some easy-to-read and really informative financial literature.  If you have already read the book I suggest, then GREAT.  Maybe even read it again?!  If you have not read it, I hope you’ll give it a try. I believe that almost everyone age 14 or older will absorb a great deal out of The Richest Man In Babylon by George S. Clason ©1926.  In fact, I feel it should be required reading in both high schools and universities.  My copy has large print and only 158 pages.  It is a quick read, with easy to understand suggestions and practical applications.  Additionally, it is entertaining in an almost cinematic way. Overview It is a book of parables set in ancient Babylon.  It focuses on two best friends (Bansir and Kobbi) who have worked hard but have nothing to show for it.  They ask a third friend (Arkad), who has accumulated much wealth and is a happy man, how he did it.   Arkad wisely instructs his friends, “no man… | Read More »

Together Everyone Achieves More

We love team sports here at Winch Financial, where we are soccer moms and baseball coaches, football fans and basketball players. We wear our team colors proudly, especially on football Fridays. Many of our Saturday mornings start early and usually involve a trip to a field or diamond. On Sunday, you’ll find us at Lambeau Field or gathered around our television sets, cheering for our beloved Packers (except for a rogue and nameless team member who likes to root for the Bears). At the office, we’re team players too. We have dedicated departments (teams within our team) for insurance, taxes, client services, marketing, financial planning and investing. We gather frequently for office-wide meetings, and we enjoy a good birthday party or pre-game tailgate as often as we can. Our team approach extends to our clients. Behind every advisor stands an experienced client service representative, a highly qualified investment analyst, and specialists in the areas of risk management and taxes. A recent study by PriceMetrix asserts that advisors working in team grew at a healthier pace than those working solo. This makes sense to us. In the past 12 years, as we’ve dramatically increased our staff, we’ve also quadrupled our assets under management. In the challenging world of finance, it’s nice for us to work with friends and brainstorm with people who have earned our respect. It’s even nicer for our clients, who benefit from an effective combination of one-on-one meetings with a trusted advisor, and innovative solutions developed by an ambitious team. Call us today to see how effective our approach can be to help you reach your retirement goals. Together Everyone Achieves More. Go team!

Maximize your company’s 401(k) plan and minimize your liability risk

Owning a business can be one of the most rewarding professional experiences. If you are like most business owners, you have invested greatly and sacrificed much to follow your vision and reap the personal and financial rewards that go along with it. The day-to-day challenges are daunting even for the most tenured and savvy businessperson. No matter how successful you are, you risk losing everything if you don’t keep up with constantly evolving laws. Most employers are unaware of a recent Supreme Court Ruling that expands the rights of employees to sue over their 401(k) plans, and increases pressure on employers to be vigilant in monitoring their retirement plan offerings. Tibble v. Edison International emphasizes that overseeing a retirement plan includes a continuing duty to monitor investments and remove options that aren’t prudent. The Supreme Court extended the six-year period in which employees may sue an employer so it begins when the employer is alleged to have breached his or her duty in monitoring the plan, rather than when the investments in question were added to the plan. Another very important fact business owners need to understand is that anyone with discretion over the plan is considered a fiduciary, meaning they are legally responsible to act in the plan participants’ (employees) best interest both in the selection and continued monitoring of the investment. How can you make sure you are protecting your company and still focus on driving your business objectives? 1) Due Diligence – Can you answer these questions? • Do you know how much your 401(k) plan is costing you and your fellow employees? • Do you know what investment options are in your plan? • Do you have true diversification options? • Is your plan serving your interests? • Have you researched other plans? 2) Be aware of what the Dept. of Labor is looking at: • High plan fees • Fee disclosure • Investment plan options… | Read More »