Beware of Lifestyle Creep

Beware of Lifestyle Creep

Sometimes more money can mean more problems. 

Provided by Jose Medina 

“Lifestyle creep” is an unusual phrase describing an all-too-common problem: the more money people earn, the more money they tend to spend.

Frequently, the newly affluent are the most susceptible. As people establish themselves as doctors and lawyers, executives, and successful entrepreneurs, they see living well as a reward. Outstanding education, home, and business loans may not alter this viewpoint. Lifestyle creep can happen to successful individuals of any age. How do you guard against it?

Keep one financial principle in mind: spend less than you make. If you get a promotion, if your business takes off, if you make partner, the additional income you receive can go toward your retirement savings, your investment accounts, or your debts.

See a promotion, a bonus, or a raise as an opportunity to save more. Do you have a household budget? Then the amount of saving that the extra income comfortably permits will be clear. Even if you do not closely track your expenses, you can probably still save (and invest) to a greater degree without imperiling your current lifestyle.

Avoid taking on new fixed expenses that may not lead to positive outcomes. Shouldering a fixed mortgage payment as a condition of home ownership? Good potential outcome. Assuming an auto loan so you can drive a luxury SUV? Maybe not such a good idea. While the home may appreciate, the SUV will almost certainly not.     

Resist the temptation to rent a fancier apartment or home. Few things scream “lifestyle creep” like higher rent does. A pricier apartment may convey an impressive image to your friends and associates, but it will not make you wealthier.

Keep the big goals in mind and fight off distractions. When you earn more, it is easy to act on your wants and buy things impulsively. Your typical day starts costing you more money.

To prevent this subtle, daily lifestyle creep, live your days the same way you always have – with the same kind of financial mindfulness. Watch out for new daily costs inspired by wants rather than needs.

Live well, but not extravagantly. After years of law school or time toiling at start-ups, getting hired by the right firm and making that career leap can be exhilarating – but it should not be a gateway to runaway debt. According to the Federal Reserve’s latest Survey of Consumer Finances, the average American head of household aged 35-44 carries slightly more than $100,000 of non-housing debt. This is one area of life where you want to be below average.1

Jose Medina may be reached at 469-777-8082 or info@medinaadvising.com

www.medinaadvising.com

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This material was prepared for J I Medina Investments, and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 – time.com/money/5233033/average-debt-every-age/ [4/13/18]

Combining Your Finances When You Marry

Combining Your Finances When You Marry

How separate (or intertwined) should your financial lives be?

Provided by Jose Medina 

Some spouses share everything with each other – including the smallest details of their personal finances. Other spouses decide to keep some individual financial decisions and details to themselves, and their relationships are just fine.

Just as a marriage requires understanding, respect, and compromise, so does the financial life of a married couple. If you are marrying soon or have just married, you may be surprised (and encouraged) by the way your individual finances may and may not need to change.

If you are like most single people, you have two or three bank accounts. Besides your savings account and your checking account, you may also have a “dream account” where you park your travel money or your future down payment on a home. You can retain all three after you marry, of course – but when it comes to your expenses, you have a fundamental decision to make.

After you marry, the two of you may also find it best to have three checking accounts. A joint account can be set up specifically for household expenses, with each spouse retaining an individual checking account. Of course, each spouse might also maintain an individual savings account.

Do you want to have a joint bank account? The optimal move is to create it as soon as you marry. Some newlyweds find they need a joint bank account only after some financial trial and error; they may have been better off starting out married life with one.

If you only have individual checking accounts, that forces some decisions. Who pays what bill? Should one of you pay most of the bills? If you have a shared dream (like buying a home), how will you each save for it? How will you finance or pay for major purchases?

It is certainly possible to answer these money questions without going out and creating a joint account. Some marrying couples never create one – they already have a bunch of accounts, so why add another? There can be a downside, though, to not wedding your finances together in some fashion.

Privacy is good, but secrecy can be an issue. Over time, that is what plagues some married couples. Even when one spouse’s savings or investments are individually held, effects from that individual’s finances may spill into the whole of the household finances. Spouses who have poor borrowing or spending habits, a sudden major debt issue, or an entirely secret bank account may be positioning themselves for a money argument. The financial impact of these matters may affect both spouses, not just one.

A recent TD Ameritrade survey found that 38% of those questioned had little or no information about the debts their partner may hold. In another survey by Fidelity, 43% of respondents indicated that they had no idea what salary their partner brings home. This is hard to reconcile with the same Fidelity survey indicating that 72% of couples say that they are excellent communicators. Still, an effort to live up to that impression is a step in the right direction; more communication may help put both partners on the same page.1

So, above all, talk. Talk to each other about how you want to handle the bills and other recurring expenses. Discuss how you want to save for a dream. Chat about the way you want to invest and the amount of risk and debt you think you can tolerate. Combine your finances to the degree you see fit, while keeping the lines of communication ever open. 

Jose Medina may be reached at 469-777-8082 or info@medinaadvising.com

www.medinaadvising.com

Click Subscribe to receive our newsletter that includes financial tips and tools from top financial gurus. Subscribe.

This material was prepared for J I Medina Investments and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.     

Citations.

1 – time.com/money/4776640/money-tips-married-couples/ [6/1/17]

Managing Money Well as a Couple  

Managing Money Well as a Couple  

What are the keys in planning to grow wealthy together?

Provided by Jose Medina 

When you marry or simply share a household with someone, your financial life changes – and your approach to managing your money may change as well. To succeed as a couple, you may also have to succeed financially. The good news is that is usually not so difficult. 

At some point, you will have to ask yourselves some money questions – questions that pertain not only to your shared finances, but also to your individual finances. Waiting too long to ask (or answer) those questions might carry an emotional price. In the 2017 TD Bank Love & Money survey consumers who said they were in relationships, 68% of couples who described themselves as “unhappy” indicated that they did not have a monthly conversation about money.1 

First off, how will you make your money grow? Simply saving money will help you build an emergency fund, but unless you save an extraordinary amount of cash, your uninvested savings will not fund your retirement. Should you hold any joint investment accounts or some jointly titled assets? One of you may like to assume more risk than the other; spouses often have different individual investment preferences.

How you invest, together or separately, is less important than your commitment to investing. Some couples focus only on avoiding financial risk – to them, maintaining the status quo and not losing any money equals financial success. They could be setting themselves up for financial failure decades from now by rejecting investing and retirement planning.

An ongoing relationship with a financial professional may enhance your knowledge of the ways in which you could build your wealth and arrange to retire confidently.

How much will you spend & save? Budgeting can help you arrive at your answer. A simple budget, an elaborate budget, or any attempt at a budget can prove more informative than none at all. A thorough, line-item budget may seem a little over the top, but what you learn from it may be truly eye opening.

How often will you check up on your financial progress? When finances affect two people rather than one, credit card statements and bank balances become more important, so do IRA balances, insurance premiums, and investment account yields. Looking in on these details once a month (or at least once a quarter) can keep you both informed, so that neither one of you have misconceptions about household finances or assets. Arguments can start when money misunderstandings are upended by reality.

What degree of independence do you want to maintain? Do you want to have separate bank accounts? Separate “fun money” accounts? To what extent do you want to comingle your money? Some spouses need individual financial “space” of their own. There is nothing wrong with this, unless a spouse uses such “space” to hide secrets that will eventually shock the other.

Can you be businesslike about your finances? Spouses who are inattentive or nonchalant about financial matters may encounter more financial trouble than they anticipate. So, watch where your money goes, and think about ways to repeatedly pay yourselves first rather than your creditors. Set shared short-term, medium-term, and long-term objectives, and strive to attain them.

Communication is key to all this. In the TD Bank survey, 78% of the respondents indicated they were comfortable talking about money with their partner, and 90% of couples describing themselves as “happy” claimed that a money talk happened once a month. Planning your progress together may well have benefits beyond the financial, so a regular conversation should be a goal.1

Jose Medina may be reached at 469-777-8082 or info@medinaadvising.com

www.medinaadvising.com

Click Subscribe to receive our newsletter that includes financial tips and tools from top financial gurus. Subscribe.

This material was prepared for J I Medina Investments, and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.    

Citations.

1 – newscenter.td.com/us/en/campaigns/love-and-money [1/2/18]

 

Will Teachers Get the Retirement That They Deserve?

Will Teachers Get the Retirement That They Deserve?

Classroom educators are coping with hybrid plans and pension fund shortfalls.

Provided by Jose Medina 

Arizona. Kentucky. Massachusetts. Michigan. Pennsylvania. Rhode Island. Tennessee. In these states and others, teachers are concerned about their financial futures. The retirement programs they were counting on have either restructured or face critical questions.1,2

Increasingly, states are transferring investment risk onto teachers. Hybrid retirement plans are replacing conventional pension plans. These new plans combine a 401(k)-style account with some of the features of a traditional pension program. Payouts from hybrid retirement plans are variable – they can change based on investment returns. The prospect of a fluctuating retirement income is making educators uneasy, especially in states such as Kentucky where teachers do not pay into Social Security.1 

Traditional pensions have vanished for teachers starting their careers in Michigan, Rhode Island, and Tennessee. In 2019, that may also happen in Pennsylvania.1

In some states, educators are being asked to offset a shortfall in pension funds. Arizona teachers now must contribute 11.3% of their pay to the Arizona State Retirement System, compared to 2.2% in 1999. (What makes this situation worse is that the average Arizona public schoolteacher earns 10% less today than he or she did in 1999, adjusted for inflation.)2

Classroom teachers in Massachusetts already have 11% of their salaries directed into the state retirement fund; in California, almost 10% of teacher pay goes into the state retirement system. (The national average is 8.6%.) Make no mistake, some of these pension fund problems are major: New Jersey’s state retirement system is only 37% funded, and Kentucky’s is just 38% funded.1,3

How can teachers respond to this crisis? One way is to plan for future income streams beside those from underfunded or reconceived state retirement systems. A talk with a financial professional – particularly one with years of experience helping educators make sound, informed financial decisions – may help identify the options.

That conversation should happen sooner rather than later. Educators in some states are no longer assured of fixed pension payments – and unfortunately, the ranks of these teachers seem to be growing.

Jose Medina may be reached at 469-777-8082 or info@medinaadvising.com

www.medinaadvising.com

Click Subscribe to receive our newsletter that includes financial tips and tools from top financial gurus. Subscribe.

This material was prepared for J I Medina Investments and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 – money.cnn.com/2018/04/04/retirement/teacher-pensions-kentucky/index.html [4/4/18]

2 – money.cnn.com/2018/04/20/pf/arizona-teacher-pay/index.html [4/20/18]

3 – yankeeinstitute.org/2018/04/bill-seeks-to-lower-teacher-pension-contribution/ [4/11/18]

Different Types Of IRAs

The Different Types of IRAs

This popular retirement savings vehicle comes in several varieties. 

Provided by Jose Medina 

What don’t you know? Many Americans know about Roth and traditional IRAs, but there are other types of Individual Retirement Arrangements. Here’s a quick look at all the different types of IRAs: 

Traditional IRAs (occasionally called deductible IRAs) are the “original” IRAs. In most cases, contributions to a traditional IRA are tax deductible: they reduce your taxable income, and as a consequence, your federal income taxes. Earnings in a traditional IRA grow tax deferred until they are withdrawn, but they will be taxed upon withdrawal, and those withdrawals must begin after the IRA owner reaches age 70½. I.R.S. penalties and income taxes may apply on withdrawals taken prior to age 59½.1 

Roth IRAs do not feature tax-deductible contributions, but they offer many potential perks for the future. Like a traditional IRA, they feature tax-deferred growth and compounding. Unlike a traditional IRA, the account contributions may be withdrawn at any time without being taxed, and the earnings may be withdrawn, tax-free, once the IRA owner is older than 59½ and has owned the IRA for at least five years. An original owner of a Roth IRA never has to make mandatory withdrawals after age 70½. In addition, a Roth IRA owner may keep contributing to the account after age 70½, so long as he or she has earned income. (A high income may prevent an individual from making Roth IRA contributions.)1,2 

Some traditional IRA owners convert their traditional IRAs into Roth IRAs. Taxes need to be paid once these conversions are made.1

SIMPLE IRAs are traditional IRAs used in a SIMPLE plan, a type of retirement plan for businesses with 100 or fewer workers. Employers and employees can make contributions to SIMPLE IRA accounts. The annual contribution limit for a SIMPLE IRA is more than twice that of a regular traditional IRA.3 

SEP-IRAs are Simplified Employee Pension-Individual Retirement Arrangements. These traditional IRAs are used in SEP plans, set up by an employer for employees, and funded only with employer contributions.4 

Spousal IRAs really do not exist as a distinct IRA type. The term actually refers to a rule that lets non-working spouses make traditional or Roth IRA contributions as long as the other spouse works and the couple files joint federal tax returns.1 

Inherited IRAs are Roth or traditional IRAs inherited from their original owner by either a spousal or non-spousal beneficiary. The rules for Inherited IRAs are very complex. Surviving spouses have the option to roll over IRA assets they inherit into their own IRAs, but other beneficiaries do not. No contributions can be made to Inherited IRAs, which are also sometimes called Beneficiary IRAs.5 

Group IRAs are simply traditional IRAs offered by employers, unions, and other employee associations to their employees, administered through trusts.6

Rollover IRAs (occasionally called conduit IRAs) are IRAs created to store assets distributed from another qualified retirement plan, often an employer-sponsored retirement plan. If the original plan were a Roth, then a Roth IRA must be created for the rollover. Assets from a non-Roth plan may be rolled over into a Roth IRA, but the rollover will be viewed as a Roth conversion by the Internal Revenue Service.6,7 

Education IRAs are now mainly referred to by their proper name: the Coverdell ESA. A Coverdell ESA is a vehicle that helps middle-class investors save for a child’s education. Taxes are deferred on the assets saved and invested through the account. Contributions to a Coverdell ESA are not deductible, but withdrawals are tax-free, provided they are used to pay for qualified higher education expenses.8

Consult a qualified financial professional regarding your IRA options. There are many choices available, and it is vital that you understand how your choice could affect your financial situation. No one IRA is the “right” IRA for everyone, so do your homework and seek advice before you proceed.    

Jose Medina may be reached at 469-777-8082 or info@medinaadvising.com

www.medinaadvising.com

Click Subscribe to receive our newsletter that includes financial tips and tools from top financial gurus. Subscribe.

This material was prepared for J I Medina Investments and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 – thestreet.com/story/14545108/1/traditional-or-roth-ira-or-both.html [4/4/18]

2 – forbes.com/sites/catherineschnaubelt/2018/04/25/choosing-the-best-ira-to-maximize-your-retirement-savings/ [4/25/18]

3 – fool.com/retirement/2017/10/28/2018-simple-ira-limits.aspx [10/28/17]

4 – investopedia.com/university/retirementplans/sepira/ [11/14/17]

5 – investopedia.com/terms/i/inherited_ira.asp [4/30/18]

6 – fool.com/retirement/iras/the-eleven-types.aspx [4/30/18]

7 – investor.vanguard.com/401k-rollover/options [4/30/18]

8 – investopedia.com/terms/c/coverdellesa.asp [4/30/18]

Retirement Planning Weak Spots

Retirement Planning Weak Spots

They are all too common. 

Provided by Jose Medina 

Many households think they are planning carefully for retirement. In many cases, they are not. Weak spots in their retirement planning and saving may go unnoticed.

Couples should recognize that they may face major medical expenses. Each year, Fidelity Investments estimates how much a pair of newly retired 65-year-olds will spend on health care throughout the rest of their lives. Fidelity says that on average, retiring men will need $133,000 to fund health care in retirement; retiring women, $147,000. Even baby boomers in outstanding health should accept the possibility that serious health conditions could increase their out-of-pocket hospital, prescription drug, and eldercare costs.1

Retirement savers will want to diversify their invested assets. An analysis from StreetAuthority, a financial research and publishing company, demonstrates how dramatic the shift has been for some investors. A hypothetical portfolio split evenly between equities and fixed-income investments at the end of February 2009 would have been weighted 74/26 in favor of equities exactly nine years later. If a bear market arrives, that lack of diversification could spell trouble. Another weak spot: some investors just fall in love with two or three companies. If they only buy shares in those companies, their retirement prospects will become tied up with the future of those firms, which could lead to problems.2

The usefulness of dollar cost averaging. Recurring, automatic monthly contributions to retirement accounts allow a pre-retiree to save consistently for them. Contrast that with pre-retirees who never arrange monthly salary deferrals into their retirement accounts; they hunt for investment money each month, and it becomes an item on their to-do list. Who knows whether it will be crossed off regularly or not?

Big debts can put a drag on a retirement saving strategy. Some financial professionals urge their clients to retire debt free or with as little debt as possible; others think carrying a mortgage in retirement can work out. This difference of opinion aside, the less debt a pre-retiree has, the more cash he or she can free up for investment or put into savings.

The biggest weakness is not having a plan at all. How many households save for retirement with a number in mind – the dollar figure their retirement fund needs to meet? How many approach their retirements with an idea of the income they will require? A conversation with a financial professional may help to clear up any ambiguities – and lead to a strategy that puts new focus into retirement planning.

Jose Medina may be reached at 469-777-8082 or info@medinaadvising.com

www.medinaadvising.com

Click Subscribe to receive our newsletter that includes financial tips and tools from top financial gurus. Subscribe.

This material was prepared for J I Medina Investments and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 – marketwatch.com/story/youre-probably-going-to-live-longer-what-if-you-cant-afford-it-2018-04-23 [4/23/18]

2 – nasdaq.com/article/how-to-prepare-your-income-portfolio-for-volatility-cm939499 [3/26/18]