Why Should I Start a Roth IRA Now?

When you’re younger, contributing to an IRA sounds a bit crazy, making it that much easier to delay starting.

CNBC’s article, “The one thing no one tells you about investing in a Roth IRA,” says that what you almost never hear, is the regret retirees have that they didn’t start saving sooner. It’s wise to start investing as early as possible, so your investments will have more time to grow.

Millennials seem to really like Roth IRAs, which show an across-the-board increase in all age groups.

In looking at investor data, Fidelity concluded that more than 50% of IRA contributions go into Roth IRAs, especially from people age 23 to 38. Millennials opened 41% of new Roth IRA accounts in 2018, and 74% of their contribution dollars are going into Roth’s. These accounts are especially valuable, when they’re the sole source of retirement savings.

For younger people, 30 or 40 years seems like a super long time to not be able to use that money.  However, because Roth contributions are made with after-tax dollars, that’s not a big concern.

The benefit is that you can use the contributions you’ve made without taxes or a penalty. You have to forfeit the immediate tax break, but you’ll receive something better in return: the contributions and years of earnings that will be tax-free in retirement.

Fidelity believes that this year millennials are estimated to be a larger population than boomers. Older millennials are in their 30s, stable in their careers and saving.

Since the IRS has upped IRA contribution limits, you can contribute $6,000 annually. If you are over age 50 and making catch-up contributions, you can add in an additional $1,000, for a total of $7,000 per year.

The income cutoff for contributing to a Roth IRA is $137,000 for single filers, up from $135,000 for single filers in 2018.

If you’re still unsure which type of IRA to choose, go with a traditional IRA, which has instant gratification because of the upfront tax refund. However, if you’re thinking long term, and what will be better for you and your family many years from now, select a Roth IRA.

Reference: CNBC (March 31, 2019) “The one thing no one tells you about investing in a Roth IRA”

 

Tips to Boost Your Tax-Free Income in Retirement

There is a bright side to the income taxes that will follow you into retirement. Create a pool of tax-free income, advises CNBC, by following the advice in the article “3 tips to help boost your tax-free income in retirement.”

Introduce yourself to the Roth IRA and the Roth 401(k). Unlike a traditional IRA, with a Roth IRA you pay taxes when you make your contribution to the account. The funds then grow tax-free over time and, as long as you meet certain conditions, there are no taxes on withdrawals. With a Roth IRA, there are none of those pesky RMDs (Required Minimum Distributions). However, there are withdrawal distribution requirements for a Roth (401)k.

Most employers offer Roth IRA and Roth 401(k) accounts, so there’s a good chance they are offered by your employer.

Roth IRAs are often offered along with their counterpart, the traditional 401(k). Between the two of them, it’s possible to save as much as $19,000 in 2019. For those workers who are 50 and over, you can add $6,000 as a catch-up contribution.

The power of the Roth 401(k) is the tax-free compounding that takes place over time. Don’t miss out on this, if you want to max out your tax-free savings.

There are two different types of Roth plans: the Roth 401(k) and a Roth IRA. Roth IRA plans have income limits. If your modified AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) is more than $137,000 for a single and $203,000 for a couple filing jointly, you aren’t allowed to make a direct contribution to a Roth IRA. However, there are no income caps for Roth (401)k. You can also save more for retirement in a Roth 401(k), compared to a Roth IRA. Roth IRAs are also subject to annual contribution limits: $6,000 in 2019, plus a $1,000 catch-up contribution, if you are over age 50.

Here are three steps to make your retirement savings more tax free:

Can you do an in-plan conversion? If your employer offers a Roth 401(k), you may be able to convert some of your traditional 401(k) savings to the Roth. This is called an in-plan Roth conversion. Just like a direct contribution to a Roth 401(k), it will be taxable. Therefore, make sure that you run the numbers before moving funds. You’ll be responsible for taxes on pretax principal and earnings. Don’t do it all at once, so that you don’t find yourself moved into a higher tax bracket.

What does your plan allow? If you’ve left your employer and have money in both a traditional 401(k) and a Roth (401)k, you might want to convert those accounts — if your retirement plan allows it.  Remember that you may not write a check from an outside bank account to add after-tax money to a Roth 401(k).

What’s your time-frame? Just as young workers are in the best position to save early and often, they are also in the best position to make the most out of Roth savings accounts of all types. It’s likely that younger workers have not yet reached their full career and earnings stage, so now is the best time to put money into a Roth 401(k). When incomes are higher, so will taxes on Roth retirement account contributions. If you’re close to retirement, there are other timing factors to consider, primarily Medicare. How much you pay for Medicare Part B and D, which covers doctor’s visits and prescription drugs, depends upon your modified gross income from two years ago. Do the conversion to a Roth at age 62, if you intend to file for Medicare at age 65.

Reference: CNBC (Feb. 10, 2019) “3 tips to help boost your tax-free income in retirement”

Are You Ready to Retire? These Professionals Can Help

Are you thinking about retiring in 2019 or 2020? It seems like a simple concept: Just pick a month, run some numbers and turn off your weekly early morning wake-up alarm. However, it’s not that simple. According to an article titled “Professionals can ease a person into retirement” from the Cleveland Jewish News, most people need some help for both financial and non-financial planning.

A good place to start is with the financial side. Take inventory of all your assets to identify where you have assets and where you have liabilities. You’ll need to be brutally honest with yourself and your spouse. Are there gaps? Is your credit card debt bigger than you thought? Use this exercise to get a real sense of whether you can retire this year.

Next, take care of the legal aspects of retirement. You’ll need a will, durable power of attorney, health treatment directive (for end-of-life decisions) and a medical power of attorney. This last POA will give someone the legal authority to make care decisions for you, if you become incapacitated. If you already have a will but have not reviewed it in three or four years, it’s time for a review. Laws change, lives change, and what may have worked well for you and your family when the will was first created, may not work now. You’ll want to work with an estate planning attorney to create a plan, making sure assets are properly aligned with your estate plan and minimizing any tax liability for your heirs.

This is also the time to consider how you’ll pay for long-term care. Do you have a long-term care insurance policy in place? Speak with a reputable insurance agent, or if you don’t know one, ask your trusted advisors to make a recommendation. People don’t like to think about going into a nursing home for an extended period of time, but it happens often enough that it makes sense to have this type of insurance. It’s not cheap—but neither is paying out-of-pocket for care at a nursing facility.

When you’ll retire, and what you’ll do with your retirement years, which could last two or even three decades, is a big question. The answer may be based on your finances—can you realistically stop working full time, or do you need to continue to work for a few more years? Would part-time work fill any savings gaps? These are questions that can’t be answered, without a thorough financial analysis of your retirement income.

If you stop working, what will you do? Some experts advise asking a bigger question: Who are you, now that your work identity is gone? If you’ve planned well, or if you’re lucky, your retirement can be a time of great fulfillment, spending time with family, volunteering in the community and devoting time to taking better care of yourself. For some people, retirement from one career is an opportunity to spring into a new career, one that they’ve always put to the side, in order to earn a paycheck.

How much you can achieve of your dreams, depends on putting down a solid foundation of legal and financial resources. An estate planning attorney and a financial advisor are important members of your retirement success team.

Reference: Cleveland Jewish News (Jan. 9, 2019) “Professionals can ease a person into retirement”