The life of Pi

There’s a lot of inspiration in a slice of pie. Much like retirement planning, it all starts with a seed. If you plant the seed early enough and water it just right, it grows into a tree with apples plump enough to sustain you when you need to harvest them. You have to time the apple harvest carefully to maximize the flavor of the apples and their ability to sustain their nutritional value. And then there’s the dough, a perfect blend of two very common ingredients – butter and flour. But, you need to cut that butter into the sifted flour exactly right for the flakiest dough, and only the best bakers can manage that. Most people need a little help. Just like life, you’ll want to add sugar and spice to your pie, and everyone’s preference is different. You have to figure out what proportions best suit you before you seal the crust. Sometimes you need to tweak the recipe to suit your own needs. We can help with that. We’ve been helping people bake their perfect slice of retirement pie for more than 40 years. Happy Pi Day from all of us at Winch Financial. We hope your pie is extra delicious today.

SPF15 tips for people in their 50s

When you consider protection in your 50s, both from the sun and for your money, the key is application. It is one thing to buy the sunblock, it is quite another to use it effectively. Similarly, the trick with money management in your 50s is how well you understand and apply the concepts as they pertain to your own situation. Here are our Sound and Practical Finance (SPF) 15 for people in their 50s. Anyone over 50 is eligible to make catchup contributions to their retirement account, including 401(k), 403(b), SEP and 457. This means you can exceed the $19,500 limit by up to $6,500 annually. This can make a big difference as the interest that extra money earns compounds. People over 50 also can contribute an extra $1,000 annually to their traditional IRA for a total of $7,000 annually. To the extent that you can afford it, we recommend maximizing these accounts. Understand the difference between a Roth IRA and a traditional IRA as it relates to your own anticipated tax status when you retire. If you will be in a lower tax bracket when you retire, it probably makes sense to direct most of your retirement savings into a traditional IRA and pay the taxes when you withdraw. If, however, you think you will be heading into a higher tax bracket, you should invest in a Roth IRA, from which you can withdraw at will without paying taxes, when you retire. If you don’t qualify to contribute to a Roth IRA (due to income limits) and your employer offers this option, you can look into a Roth 401(k), which has no income limits. Consider splitting your contributions between Roth and traditional accounts to retain a portion of the current-year tax break. Begin looking at ways to trim your budget so you can direct more money into retirement accounts now and spend less on day-to-day expenses in the future…. | Read More »

Sound and Practical Finance tips (SPF 15) for people in their 30’s

As we mentioned in last week’s post, good financial habits are like sunscreen – the earlier you begin to apply them the more you’ll thank yourself as you age. Last week, we addressed the specific needs of people in their 20s. This week, we are offering 15 SPF (Sound and Practical Finance) Tips to make life easier for people in their 30s: Finish paying off your student loans. If you took out a standard loan with a 10-year repayment schedule, and you completed college in your 20s, now is the time to wrap up that payment schedule. Then, to lighten that financial burden for the next generation… Open a college savings account for any children you have. Do this as soon as possible to allow those funds to earn compound interest. Consider buying a home but make sure it’s one you can comfortably afford. Shop around for the best mortgage rate and don’t panic purchase an overpriced house. Aim to have a year’s worth of salary saved for retirement. It will grow over time. Establish a good credit history by paying off your credit cards each month and making car, house and educational loan payments on time. If you have children, name a legal guardian for them. You will need a will to do this. Check the beneficiary designations on your life insurance policy. Do this annually to make sure they are current. Maintain an emergency fund with three to six months of income in it. Increase your job skills, obtain certifications and/or advanced degrees. Do the work now to increase your earning capacity later. Educate yourself about your finances. Read books, listen to podcasts, attend seminars and sit down with a financial advisor at least once a year. Achieve financial independence from your parents if you have not already done so. Pay for good insurance policies, including health, homeowners or renters, life and car. Plan your meals ahead of… | Read More »

Springtime in Wisconsin

Springtime in Wisconsin requires next-level planning, just like retirement. You can enjoy both a lot more when you’re prepared. So, you check the weather forecast and make your plans. But, you also throw an umbrella and a winter coat in the car, just in case. That’s the insurance aspect of retirement planning. Many people cheerfully set aside some of the more cumbersome details of retirement planning because they intend to work well past their full retirement age. They love their jobs, they enjoy their co-workers and they depend on that paycheck to meet their budget. While the work ethic is admirable, it is also not enough. Just like unexpected snow showers can wreak havoc on your golf game during what had been forecasted to be a lovely spring day in Wisconsin, unplanned shifts can impact your working life. You may become incapacitated by injury or illness, you might have to step in and care for a spouse, parent, or adult child, you could find your job outsourced or your company sold and your position redundant. Just like you dress in layers when you head out on an April morning, prepared for sunshine or snow, you can protect your retirement with careful planning. Have you purchased Long Term Care insurance? Today’s policies provide for far more than nursing home care and they are far less expensive if you can purchase a group plan through your employer. Are you maxing out your retirement plan options? Beyond your 401(k) or 403(b), are you investing in an individual retirement account? Have you considered a Roth IRA, in which you pay taxes upfront so you can withdraw tax free? Roth’s can be extremely helpful when it comes to meeting your budget in retirement, especially if you end up retiring sooner than you had planned. Are you meeting the employer match in your 401(k)? Those matches are part of your benefits and, if you don’t take… | Read More »

Talk to your kids about money, don’t give it to them

The parental playing field has never been level, because it was never meant to be that way. Some parents have more time to spend with their kids than others. Some are more athletic, creative, musical, mechanical, demonstrative, intellectual or active than their neighbors and friends. Some have more money to spend. It’s okay. Your job as a parent is to do the best you can with the resources you have. You don’t have to be something you’re not, or spend more than you have to raise a healthy, happy family. In the wake of financial challenges exacerbated by this global pandemic, you might be tempted to stretch your own financial resources to help your children out.  For instance, you may think you should mortgage your own home to help them buy theirs, deplete your emergency fund to take care of theirs, dip into your retirement account to fund their education. We encourage you to avoid these seemingly loving financial gestures. Loaning or gifting your children money is fine if you have those funds to spare. But, risking your own financial health to solve your children’s financial troubles could backfire for you in the long run. Those very children you protected so diligently during years they could have scaled back their lifestyle or stepped up their earning power, may end up resenting you later on.  If you run out of both money and the means to acquire it during your retirement years they probably will have to jump in and help you out. Nobody wants to see that happen. Sitting down together and discussing ways to solve the financial difficulties, or better yet, helping your children acquire the financial skills they need to avoid financial stress in the first place, will be much better for all of you in the long run. Remember, you can apply for a loan to fund college or the purchase of a home, but you can’t… | Read More »