What Role Can you Play in the National Economy?

Thanks to our nation’s growth in employment levels, low gas prices and stability in the real estate market, it was expected that consumer confidence would remain steady.

Instead, the index measuring consumer confidence dropped to its lowest mark of the year, from 91.1 in August to 85.7 in mid-September.

So, what gives? Some experts believe this lackluster attitude is in response to the volatility the stock market experienced in August, when the S&P 500 dropped by about 6 percent.

Still, this disappointment on the part of consumers has one upside: They are off the sidelines and keeping a close eye on what happens with their assets.

This is a good reminder that no matter how well off you are, you should never be complacent about your finances. As your financial professional, we consider it part of our role to help clients feel confident about their future.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “August’s stock market mayhem has Americans feeling worse about everything,” from Business Insider, Sept. 11, 2015.]

In a recent Wall Street Journal survey of private economists, more than half believed that an increase in consumer spending could have a significant impact on economic expansion, particularly moving into the fourth-quarter holiday season.

The lesson here? Don’t be a cheapskate … although you may get a kick out of reading about some of the wealthiest cheapskates of all time in the article below.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “What’s Most Likely to Shift Economy Toward Faster Growth? Consumers,” from The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 11, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “10 of the Richest Cheapskates of All Time,” from Time.com, 2015.]

Researchers at the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank recently compiled data on how people of all ages manage their money. While the results are mixed across all demographics, there was a meaningful tip that applies to all ages: Don’t judge yourself based on point-in-time circumstances, because life accomplishments and income accumulation is a process. Wealth typically doesn’t happen overnight.

[CLICK HERE to view the video, “What Roles Do Age and Birth Year Play in Income and Wealth?” from St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, July 15, 2015.]

Here’s another idea to play a role in our nation’s health: Engage in political oversight. We’re embarking on an election year, and the media is already running rampant with stories. Make sure you get the facts — the real facts, not some pundit’s interpretation of them.

Although we are continually inundated with campaign rhetoric and a muckraking frenzy, don’t forget that Congress has some pretty big issues to resolve before the end of the year. If you’ve never written your congressional representatives in the past, you may want to take advantage of easy online communication forms to let them know what issues are most important to you as a constituent.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Five Fiscal Deadlines to Watch This Fall,” from The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 11, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Find Your Representative,” from House.gov, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “How to contact U.S. Senators,” from Senate.gov, 2015.]

As always, we stay on top of today’s issues, headlines and economic news and understand how various factors can impact your financial future. If you’d like to get together to discuss your personal situation, please give us a call.

Social Security for 2016 and Beyond!

Wendy Wallace and Lighthouse Financial Group are holding a Social Security Benefits Class and you are invited!

Learn why electing Social Security Income CORRECTLY might be the most important financial decision you make!

At this exclusive and educational class you will learn:

  • Strategies to Optimize Your Social Security Benefits.
  • How Benefits Are Calculated and Simple Strategies To Increase Them.
  • Coordinating Benefits… Why Married Couples Could Miss Out On Substantial Benefits.
  • When Should You Apply For Social Security… What You Don’t Know Could Cost You!
  • The Future of the Social Security program and what it will take for it to become solvent.

Bonus Topic:
Learn how the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 affects your Social Security Benefits!

Our goal at this educational event is to empower you to do what smart people do with their hard earned retirement dollars. The class is FREE and holds no obligation. So, now you have no risk and no reason not to come, BUT there is a catch. Space is strictly limited due to the popularity, so I believe it is in your best interest to reserve your attendance now.

Choose Your Date and Time:

Thursday, January 7, 2016 Tuesday, January 12, 2016

3:00 PM or

5:00 PM or

7:00 PM

3:00 PM or

5:00 PM or

7:00 pm

LOCATION

Armstrong Center
13040 Abercorn Street
Savannah, GA 31419

Reserve Your Spot Now, Seating is Limited
Contact us at (912) 354-4200 or info@lifigroup.com

Women and the Process of Retirement Planning

Planning for retirement income shouldn’t stop just because you retire. It’s a process, much like raising children and pursuing a career.

You learn, you implement, you make mistakes, you seek advice. So whether you are already retired, nearing retiring or thinking about it as an abstract concept many years away, we can help you engage in this ongoing process.

In addition to general retirement income planning for a couple, it’s a good idea for married couples to also engage in individual retirement income planning. Odds are, one spouse will live longer than the other, so it’s important to plan for financial security once one spouse has passed away. Given that women generally live longer than men, this can be especially important for them.

[CLICK HERE to read the report, “Impact of Retirement Risk on Women,” from Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “10 Money Tips for Retired Women on Fixed Incomes,” from NextAvenue.org, Aug. 28, 2015.]

Needs change throughout life, whether you’re a man or a woman. But a change in marital status can have a more detrimental impact on financial security in retirement for women.

When a woman gets divorced, she is likely to lose her survivor’s benefits from her ex-husband’s pension plan. That’s why it’s important as part of the divorce settlement to draw up a special court order, called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, that can specifically provide for a survivor’s pension in the event of divorce.

Widows now have protection for survivor’s benefits, thanks to a 1984 law that requires private pension plans to provide a pension to a worker’s surviving wife (or husband) if the employee earned a benefit.

In fact, the employee’s spouse has to provide written permission in order to waive this right. Note, however, that this legislation only applies to private pension plans. If the spouse worked at a state, local or federal government job, then the widow should find out what rules apply to that pension.

Now, some people suffer through one or more divorces and decide, “That’s it. I’m not ever getting married again.” They may engage in a long-term relationship and even share a home with a partner, but simply not marry. This arrangement should be considered in the process of retirement income planning, because common law and non-married partners may not have a legal right to survivor benefits from Social Security or pension plans. Despite its troubles, marriage may still have financial benefits, depending on the situation.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Rights of Surviving Spouses,” from Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Widows and Widowhood,” from Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement, 2015.]

If you’re a working woman, you have plenty of good income planning options. Especially when you consider that within the next 15 years, it’s estimated that women will control two-thirds of the wealth in the U.S.

That is particularly remarkable when you consider that, on average, women still earn about 22 cents less per dollar than men. But women will need the extra funds, because right now experts project that 70 percent of baby boomer wives will outlive their husbands by 15 to 20 years.

[CLICK HERE to view the video, “The Financial Divide: Women and Wealth,” from Regions Bank, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Women and Retirement Savings,” from U.S. Department of Labor, August 2013.]

Regardless of where you are in the lifelong process of retirement income planning, it’s certainly never too late to get started. Even if you have a plan for retirement income as a couple, it’s a good idea to ensure it would cover a surviving spouse.

As always, we’re here to help you with just that type of retirement income planning — now, and as you need it throughout your lifetime.

Finding Fulfillment in Part-Time Work

Professional employees in their 50s and 60s are starting to think more strategically about retirement. Not just about how to pay for it, but how they’ll spend their time once they get there.

For some, that means they’d like to keep doing what they’re doing — just not quite so much of it. According to one survey, 80 percent of workers in their 50s and up indicate an interest in staying in the workforce past their planned retirement date if they could scale back their hours and responsibilities.

Take Steve Norwitz, for example. After 38 years working in media relations at T. Rowe Price, he took a 25 percent pay cut in exchange for just over three months’ vacation time each year. Now, at age 68, in between the special projects he manages for the company, Steve and his wife have traveled to Ecuador, China and Slovenia and taken a river cruise down the Rhine.

When he’s home, Steve’s happily engaged at work and out of his wife’s hair. It’s a win-win, not only for the couple, but also for his company that benefits from his same experience for a much lower price.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Facing Retirement, but Easing Your Way Out the Door,” from The New York Times, Aug. 28, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to view the infographic, “Retirement Throughout the Ages: Expectations and Preparations of Workers of All Ages,” from Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, 2015.]

As your financial professional, we specialize in creating financial retirement solutions, but not all of them are asset-based. As people live longer, a better solution than retiring altogether might be to save for periods of unemployment, with eventual returns in and out of the workforce. For that, you need flexible and customized retirement income strategies.

Today’s buzz word in the halls of human resource departments is “work-life balance.” If the millennials can demand it, why not soon-to-be retirees? According to one research report, work-life balance is the single most important factor on staff morale — up from its No. 6 ranking in 2009. Interestingly, it’s those in senior management who complain of having the worst work-life balance.

Maybe it’s time for a change. Not a dramatic change, like retirement, but a reorganization of priorities — so mature workers can keep the responsibilities they like and delegate the ones they don’t. At the same time, this opens the door for younger workers to pick up more responsibilities and management opportunities under the watchful eye of an experienced coach.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Bosses have the worst work-life balance in 2015,” from Human Resources Online, Aug. 18, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the report, “Wellbeing and Business Performance,” from Morgan Redwood, 2015.]

Unfortunately, while it looks like companies are starting to embrace a culture change that includes workplace flexibility, not everyone is on board. And so it may in your world. But consider whether that should stop you from achieving your own work-life balance.

There are other companies and other jobs that may value your skills and experience in a less demanding environment. To go this route, consider two things. First, focus on your skill set, not your past job descriptions. You may find that your knowledge is applicable across different types of businesses and industries.

Second, consider how to transform from a workaholic Type A personality to a more laid-back Type B. This doesn’t mean you have to drop your standards for work performance, simply that you learn to enjoy your labors more. After all, at the pre-retirement stage in a career it’s important to appreciate that work is a privilege, since it may not always be an option.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The Future of Work and Our Social Compact,” from Forbes, June 18, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the report, “How to Go From Type A to Type B in Retirement,” from NextAvenue, July 14, 2015.]

If you’d like to discuss ways to integrate your retirement income plan with your career, please give us a call.