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Weekly Newsletter

“Third-party Posts”

A Recession Survival Guide for Retirees

Economic downturns are inevitable. Here's how to protect your retirement nest egg Sooner or later, the economy will fall into a recession, because that’s the nature of the economy: Busts follow booms. For many retirees, the biggest challenge is the investment...

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72(T) DON’TS

By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst The 72(t) rules (”series of substantially equal periodic payments”) allow a person to tap retirement dollars before 59½ without a 10% early distribution penalty. However, to gain this early access, you must commit to a plan of...

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Weekly Market Commentary

Weekly Market Commentary - 6/17/2022 -Darren Leavitt, CFA Investors sent global markets lower on recession fears induced by tighter central bank policies. The Federal Reserve announced that they would raise their policy rate by 75 basis points to a target of 1.50% to...

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Tax Breaks After 50 You Can’t Afford to Miss

IRS tax code offers perks to taxpayers of a certain age If you’re 50 or older, there is one benefit to reaching this milestone that you may be overlooking: tax breaks aimed right at you. Now you can contribute more to your Roth or traditional individual retirement...

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WHEN THE FIVE-YEAR RULE APPLIES

By Sarah Brenner Director of Retirement Education If you inherit an IRA, especially if it is a larger one, you may be afraid of being stuck with the five-year distribution rule. If this rule applies, your IRA must be entirely emptied in five years, which can be a...

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Weekly Market Commentary

Weekly Market Commentary -6/10/2022 -Darren Leavitt, CFA Global growth concerns were raised throughout the week on multiple fronts. Central bank policy from the Eurozone, India, and Australia promoted tighter monetary policy. Higher fuel prices stoked fears of...

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Social Security Resource Center

Social Security retirement benefits are primarily based on two factors: your average income over your working life and your age when you claim them. You get to decide when to start collecting benefits, within an eight-year window from age 62 to age 70. The longer you...

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ONE ROTH IRA BUCKET

By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst SCENARIO: John owns multiple Roth IRAs. He believes it is necessary to maintain all these accounts to keep things properly organized and to track his 5-year conversion clocks. He has contributed to Roth IRA #1 for over a decade. He...

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5 WAYS AN EXCESS IRA CONTRIBUTION CAN HAPPEN

By Sarah Brenner, JD Director of Retirement Education You can have too much of a good thing. While saving for retirement with an IRA is a good strategy, there are limits.  When a contribution is not permitted in an IRA, it is an excess contribution and needs to be...

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Weekly Market Commentary

Weekly Market Commentary -6/3/2022 -Darren Leavitt, CFA Wall Street ended lower for the week as investors heard more hawkish rhetoric from Fed officials and economic warnings from two prominent CEOs.  The holiday-shortened week produced another tranche of mixed Q1...

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3 Steps to Help You Get out of Debt

How to get control of what you owe For Gail and Tony Dean, the crisis came as they approached 50. Living in South Florida, they decided to move north, near Orlando, where they bought land and began to build their dream home. Then the debts piled up. The couple — she...

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WHEN A “REVERSE ROLLOVER” MAKES SENSE

By Ian Berger, JD IRA Analyst Usually, rollovers involving 401(k) accounts and IRAs involve moving dollars from a plan to an IRA. But sometimes it makes sense to instead do a “reverse rollover” – from an IRA to a 401(k). Let’s get some bad news out of the way:...

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Weekly Market Commentary

Weekly Market Commentary -5/27/2022 -Darren Leavitt, CFA Happy Memorial Day, and thank you to all that have served our great country. Global financial markets rallied as buy the dip investors finally showed up on Wall Street. US Markets were especially strong after...

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What Happens to Your Debts After You Die?

5 things loved ones will have to do to settle your accounts How many times have you told your loved ones that you don’t want to be a burden, and saddle them with a financial mess at the end of your life? It’s a common sentiment. Despite their good intentions, however,...

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WATCH OUT FOR THE ONCE-PER-YEAR ROLLOVER RULE

By Sarah Brenner, JD Director of Retirement Education Why is it so important to know how the once-per-year rollover rule works? Well, that is because trouble with the once-per year rule is the kind of trouble no one wants! An IRA owner who violates this rule is...

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Weekly Market Commentary

Weekly Market Commentary -5/20/2022 -Darren Leavitt, CFA US markets continued to sell off while developed international and emerging markets traded higher. Disappointing Q1 earnings results from the retailers cast some doubt on the health of the US consumer and...

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HOW THE VESTING RULES WORK FOR COMPANY RETIREMENT PLANS

By Ian Berger, JD IRA Analyst Employees leaving their jobs are often surprised to discover they aren’t entitled to the full balance of their company plan account. The reason is that some plans impose a vesting rule on certain types of contributions. What do the...

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HOW YOUR IRA CAN HELP IF YOU ARE A FIRST-TIME HOME BUYER

By Sarah Brenner, JD Director of Retirement Education The real estate market is red hot right now. This can be especially challenging for first time home buyers. IRA savings are intended to be used for your retirement. However, if you are like many others, your IRA...

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How Long Do You Have to Keep Tax Records?

For many financial documents, just 3 years — for others, practically forever You may be starting at a heap of paperwork when you finish filing your 2021 federal taxes, which are due April 18. Your first urge may be to sweep them all into a paper bag and put the bag...

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Weekly Market Commentary

Weekly Market Commentary -5/13/2022 -Darren Leavitt, CFA Investors endured another tough week as financial markets continued to digest robust inflation data, mixed Q1 earnings, and fears that global growth will continue to slow. Economic data was centered on the...

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Weekly Market Commentary

Weekly Market Commentary -5/6/2022 -Darren Leavitt, CFA It was an extremely busy and volatile week on Wall Street.  The Federal Reserve's May FOMC meeting statement was top of mind for investors and came in as expected.  However, post statement Q&A added some...

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How the Fed’s Rate Hikes Will Affect Your Finances

You'll get better savings rates but higher borrowing costs this year The Federal Reserve is raising borrowing costs to cool the hottest inflation readings in 40 years. The Fed on Wednesday hiked its key short-term fed funds rate to a range of 0.75 to 1 percent, the...

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A DOZEN QCD FACTS

By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst Qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) continue to gain popularity, and with that popularity comes more questions. Here are a dozen QCD facts that will keep you on the straight-and-narrow with your QCD transactions: 1. QCDs are...

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INVESTING YOUR IRA IN CRYPTO

By Sarah Brenner, JD Director of Retirement Education Recently, Fidelity investments made headlines by announcing that it would allow retirement savers to put Bitcoin in their 401(k)s. Cryptocurrency has been all over the news, and you may be wondering if it would be...

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April 2022 Market Review and Outlook

Monthly Market Commentary – April ’22 -Darren Leavitt, CFA Global financial markets had a rough month in April. Inflation continued to be top of mind for investors as data continued to show historic increases in prices. The Federal Reserve still appears to be behind...

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Weekly Monthly Commentary

Weekly Monthly Commentary - April '22 -Darren Leavitt, CFA Global financial markets had a rough month in April. Inflation continued to be top of mind for investors as data continued to show historic increases in prices. The Federal Reserve still appears to be behind...

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401(K), 403(B), 457(B): DOES IT REALLY MATTER?

By Ian Berger, JD IRA Analyst There are three types of company savings plans: 401(k) plans if you work for a for-profit company; 403(b) plans if you work for a tax-exempt employer, a public school or a church; and 457(b) plans if you work for a state or local...

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FIRST DOLLARS OUT RULE AND THE STILL-WORKING EXCEPTION

By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst For those who have 401(k)s or other employee retirement plans (but not SEP or SIMPLE plans), the required beginning date (RBD) for when required minimum distributions (RMDs) are to begin is the same as for IRA owners – April 1 of...

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Weekly Market Commentary

Weekly Market Commentary -4/22/2022 -Darren Leavitt, CFA Financial asset classes had a tough week as global growth concerns were stoked by more hawkish commentary from Fed Presidents and mixed earnings results from corporate America. Economic data showed mixed results...

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Biggest Social Security Changes for 2022

Benefits are going up, but so are the Medicare premiums deducted from monthly checks Social Security beneficiaries will have a lot to cheer about in 2022 — but they may have a few things to grouse about as well. Here’s a rundown of what will change for Social Security...

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UNDERSTANDING THE SAME PROPERTY RULE

By Sarah Brenner, JD Director of Retirement Education For IRA-to-IRA or Roth-to-Roth 60-day rollovers, the same property received is the property that must be rolled over. These rules also apply to SIMPLE and SEP IRAs. You cannot receive a distribution of cash and...

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TAKE ADVANTAGE OF CATCH-UP CONTRIBUTIONS!

By Ian Berger, JD IRA Analyst Tax Day 2022 seems like an appropriate time to review a sometimes-overlooked way to get extra dollars into your IRA or company savings plan. Folks age 50 or older are allowed to make “catch-up” contributions with no strings attached....

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Weekly Market Commentary

Weekly Market Commentary -4/15/2022 -Darren Leavitt, CFA First-quarter earnings season kicked off with mixed results from the financials and positive results from the airlines. The holiday-shortened week found US equities taking one step forward only to subsequently...

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LAST-MINUTE IRA TAX DEADLINES & RULES

By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst The deadline for filing your 2021 tax return is this Monday, April 18. It is extended through the weekend because IRS offices in Washington DC are closed on Friday, April 15, in observance of the locally recognized Emancipation...

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5 TAKEAWAYS FROM THE NEW SECURE ACT REGULATIONS

By Sarah Brenner, JD Director of Retirement Education The SECURE Act was signed into law in late December of 2019. This new law upended the rules for retirement accounts. With it came many questions, and IRS guidance was eagerly anticipated. Finally, on February 23,...

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Weekly Market Commentary

Weekly Market Commentary -4/8/2022 -Darren Leavitt, CFA Fed rhetoric sent yields higher across the curve, with longer duration Treasuries taking the brunt of the sell-off. Higher yields pressured growth stocks and favored defensive sectors such as the Utilities,...

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INHERITED IRAS AND SEP ACCOUNTS: TODAY’S SLOTT REPORT MAILBAG

By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst Question: I have a non-spousal inherited IRA account.  Once I take out my RMD for the year, am I able to take out excess funds and roll those into a Roth account? Thank you. Answer: Inherited IRA accounts do not follow all the same...

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HOUSE PASSES SECURE 2.0 BILL, BUT IT’S NOT LAW YET

By Ian Berger, JD IRA Analyst A bill designed to increase savings in IRAs and company plans has passed the House of Representatives, but it’s not yet law. The bill is officially called the “Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2022,” but many are calling it “SECURE...

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Fixed index annuities: potential plus protection

Fixed index annuities can help you accumulate money for retirement and provide guaranteed income after you retire. A fixed index annuity may be a good choice if you want the opportunity to earn indexed interest, but don’t want to risk losing money in the market. What...

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Weekly Market Commentary

Weekly Market Commentary -4/1/2022 -Darren Leavitt, CFA Financial markets started the week with a strong rally on the back of what appeared to be constructive negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.  However, progress was refuted as the week moved forward, and...

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March 2022 Market Review and Outlook

Monthly Market Commentary - March '22 -Darren Leavitt, CFA In March, global financial markets continued to be volatile, focused on the Russian/Ukraine war and inflation rates not seen in decades.  Countries worldwide condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and started...

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Facts About Life Insurance: Must-Know Statistics in 2022

Purchasing life insurance is a big deal. If you want to be sure your family is covered if something happens to you, choosing the right policy is imperative. Whether you’re looking for the average policy cost or more in-depth knowledge, such as the largest life...

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THE 3 EXCEPTIONS TO THE PRO-RATA RULE THAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

By Sarah Brenner, JD Director of Retirement Education Most IRA distributions will be taxable. However, if you have ever made nondeductible contributions to your IRA or rolled over after-tax funds from your company plan to your IRA, then the rules can get a little bit...

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$1,512,350 IS THE NEW $1,362,800

By Ian Berger, JD IRA Analyst When you file for bankruptcy, one thing you usually don’t have to worry about is protecting your IRA funds from creditors. That’s because, in just about every case, all of your IRA (and Roth IRA) monies are off limits. Under the federal...

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Weekly Market Commentary

Weekly Market Commentary -3/25/2022 -Darren Leavitt, CFA It was a hectic week for investors as US financial markets tried to post a second consecutive week of gains. Geopolitics continued to influence market action. President Biden traveled to Europe to meet with NATO...

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NOW IS THE TIME TO MAKE YOUR 2021 IRA CONTRIBUTION

By Sarah Brenner, JD Director of Retirement Education It may be hard to believe it but the countdown to the 2021 tax filing deadline is on. The deadline is April 18, 2022, for most filers. That is really only a few weeks away. Time is running out. Is your IRA ready?...

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Weekly Market Commentary

Weekly Market Commentary -3/18/2022 -Darren Leavitt, CFA Global financial markets registered significant gains for the week. Investors continued to watch for any progress on negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. Central bank policy came in as expected, which helped...

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What Every Retirement Saver Needs to Know About 2022

Changes in contribution limits, taxes, Social Security benefits, Medicare premiums and more We all get sentimental from time to time, but unless you hit the lottery or found true love, you probably won't be looking back on 2021 all too fondly. The COVID-19 pandemic is...

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DECIPHERING YOUR 401(K) STATEMENT

By Ian Berger, JD IRA Analyst With many 401(k) (and 403(b) and 457(b) plans) offering multiple participant accounts, your plan statement is probably more complicated than ever. Here’s a brief primer to help you understand what each account represents: Pre-tax deferral...

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“MONITORING CONCURRENT LIFE EXPECTANCIES?” – SMH

By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst I am usually patient with the IRS. I understand the massive workload they have, and there are tax cheats lurking around every corner. The IRS does its best to ensure no loopholes exist for bad actors to circumvent tax laws to avoid...

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Weekly Market Commentary

Weekly Market Commentary -3/11/2022 -Darren Leavitt, CFA Investors started the week facing $130 a barrel crude as the US announced an embargo on Russian oil.  Europe also announced that they would begin to taper their dependence on Russian energy, albeit a process...

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2022: The Year Consumers Discover Annuities

What You Need to Know The government is confusing. Stock market gains are high, for now. The Secure Act is turning employer-sponsored retirement plans into income-planning educators. Have you ever experienced the solution to a problem being in plain sight, only to...

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SECURE ACT REGS BRING NEW ROTH IRA ADVANTAGE

By Sarah Brenner, JD Director of Retirement Education Roth IRAs have always been a great retirement savings tool. While pre-tax retirement accounts allow tax deferred savings, a Roth IRA promises tax-free benefits. They allow you to receive years of earnings in...

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THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL PART OF THE NEW IRS REGULATIONS

By Ian Berger, JD IRA Analyst The part of the new IRS SECURE Act regulations causing the most reaction is the one requiring annual required minimum distributions (RMDs) for some IRA or workplace plan beneficiaries subject to the 10-year payment rule. Under the SECURE...

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Weekly Market Commentary

Weekly Market Commentary -3/4/2022 -Darren Leavitt, CFA Financial markets continued to be volatile as investors assessed the ramifications of the ongoing war in Ukraine.  International sanctions roiled the Russian ruble and kept the Russian equity markets closed. ...

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AGE OF MAJORITY AND THE NEW SECURE ACT REGULATIONS

By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst The 275 pages of proposed SECURE Act regulations, released by the IRS on February 23, are chock full of little details. Each of these tidbits will have some impact on particular IRA owners and retirement account participants. One...

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How to Retire Like a Millionaire with $500,000

As volatility creeps back into the marketplace the need for the guarantees that only annuities provide is only going to increase. Retire with $500,000 but Spend Like a Millionaire Inflation (CPI) went up 7 percent in 2021, the highest annual inflation increase since...

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Weekly Market Commentary

Weekly Market Commentary -2/25/2022 -Darren Leavitt, CFA The uncertainty of the ramifications of a Russian-induced war led to massive swings in the global financial markets. Generally speaking, markets do not like uncertainty. While Russia’s move into Ukraine was well...

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SECURE ACT REGULATIONS ARE HERE

By Sarah Brenner, JD Director of Retirement Education On February 23, 2022, the IRS released the long-awaited proposed SECURE Act regulations. The new regulations clock in at 275 pages and offer guidance on many SECURE Act rules. They also include a few surprises....

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ACT NOW TO CLEAN UP 2021 EXCESS 401(K) DEFERRALS

By Ian Berger, JD IRA Analyst The amount of annual pre-tax deferrals and Roth contributions you can make to a 401(k) plan is limited by the tax code. If you exceeded that limit in 2021, time is of the essence to correct the error. If you don’t act quickly, the tax...

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Weekly Market Commentary

Weekly Market Commentary -2/18/2022 -Darren Leavitt, CFA Global financial markets traded lower for the week as Russian-Ukraine tensions dominated headlines. The Federal Reserve’s policy rate path continued to be debated off the back of another hot inflation print of...

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22 Uses for Annuities in 2022

As we head toward 2022 and see more Americans reaching their mid- to late 60s, it is a great time to revisit how annuity products can be used to meet consumer financial challenges. In anticipation of the new year, here are 22 ideas on how consumers can use annuity...

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WHAT PROTECTION DO SPOUSES GET IN COMPANY PLANS?

By Ian Berger, JD IRA Analyst The federal ERISA law gives spouses of plan participants in ERISA-covered plans certain rights to the participant’s account. There are two types of ERISA financial protection for spouses. Spouses of IRA owners usually don’t have similar...

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MAKING A SPOUSAL IRA CONTRIBUTION

By Sarah Brenner, JD Director of Retirement Education The pandemic has upended the workforce. Many workers lost jobs. Some workers resigned by choice. Others were forced to leave jobs due to childcare issues. If you are not working outside the home, you may believe...

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Weekly Market Commentary

Weekly Market Commentary -2/11/2022 -Darren Leavitt, CFA US equity markets struggled to gain any footing as concerns regarding record inflation along with worries about an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine kept a lid on investor sentiment. Fourth-quarter earnings...

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HOW DOES THE IRS COMPENSATION LIMIT WORK?

By Ian Berger, JD IRA Analyst Towards the end of each year, the IRS announces cost-of-living increases for several retirement-related dollar limits that will become effective for the next year. For example, last November, the IRS said that the limit on employee...

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ROTH CONVERSIONS & RMDS: TODAY’S SLOTT REPORT MAILBAG

By Sarah Brenner, JD Director of Retirement Education Question: I turn 72 this year. I am getting notices from my many IRA custodians that they want a waiver on file if I am NOT using my account for the RMD (i.e., I am taking it somewhere else). They make it sound...

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Expenses You Can Eliminate in Retirement

Eliminating these expenses means substantial savings in retirement. Lower your expenses. Many retirees are tempted to spend more money on leisure activities in retirement. Health care costs also tend to increase as people age. But there are many costs that decline in...

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10% PENALTY EXCEPTIONS

By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst For IRA owners and retirement plan participants who are under age 59 ½, taking a distribution from a retirement account is typically off limits. The distribution will most likely be taxable, and there is a good chance that a 10%...

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WATCH OUT FOR THE FIVE-YEAR RULE ON CONVERTED ROTH FUNDS

By Sarah Brenner, JD Director of Retirement Education If you are under age 59 ½ and you converted your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, you will need to watch out for the five-year rule for penalty-free distributions of converted funds. Not understanding how the rule...

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Weekly Market Commentary

Weekly Market Commentary -2/4/2022 -Darren Leavitt, CFA Global markets continued to be volatile but managed to post nice gains in the first week of February. Month-end rebalancing coupled with oversold conditions helped the S&P 500 maintain support at its 200 day...

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January 2022 Market Review and Outlook

Monthly Market Recap for January 2022 -Darren Leavitt, CFA It was not a pleasant start to 2022 for investors as global financial markets took a few steps back. Increasing inflation concerns and the prospect for higher interest rates dampened sentiment. The Omicron...

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Your Wealth Must Reside Somewhere!

Your wealth must reside somewhere! It must have a permanent place of residence. You must own, control, and have use your money, or you haven’t built any wealth, you just stashed some money away. About 90 % of Americans keep their wealth in either taxable, unavailable, and/or volatile residences that limit what you can do with their money. If what you thought was true about your money, wasn’t true about your money, when would you want to know? I first heard this question from Don Blanton, a fine southern gentleman with a distinct southern Georgia drawl, and I’ve been unable to “unhear” it, since.