Mega Back Door Roth: This Supersized Option is Good for your Health

This topic has come up for me twice in the last week, so as is often the case, I’ve made it the topic for my newsletter this month.

I often get asked about the best strategies for saving outside of one’s 401(k).

My first caveat is that one size does not fit all, so what is a great solution for your neighbor may not be the best strategy for your situation.

I’ve highlighted in past newsletters the benefits of saving into an HSA, if you have one.

There’s also the option to contribute to an IRA, but regardless of which type of IRA you are to contributing to (deductible, non-deductible, ROTH, backdoor Roth), you are limited to how much you can contribute each year ($6,000 for 2020, $7,000 if you are over 50).

But what if you are in the fortunate position to be able to save more than this?

Introducing the Mega Backdoor Roth

There’s a little known strategy that I’m seeing as an option with more employers as of late. It’s the option to make after-tax contributions to your 401(k).

This strategy can offer tax diversification in retirement, but there are certain criteria that make it most effective.

It’s known in my industry as a  “Mega Backdoor Roth”, but you will not see it described that way in your benefits guide. It allows you to sock away more into retirement than the annual limits on a 401(k) or IRA.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Your 401(k) plan (your employer) allows after-tax contributions. If they don’t, game over.
     
  2. Your employer offers in-service distributions of these after-tax contributions to a Roth IRA while you are still employed or allows you to move the after-tax potion of your 401(k) to the Roth 401(k) part of the employer plan (if they offer one).

    If not allowed, game might be over, but not necessarily. It depends.

    I know, you hate when I say that. 
     
  3. You convert the after-tax contributions to one of the above as soon as allowed in order that the growth on your contributions is tax-free. You will now have a Roth IRA in retirement where there are no RMD requirements and distributions are tax free. Game changer.

When MIGHT this strategy be an effective strategy for you?

  • You already max out on your 401(k) contributions.
  • You max out on your HSA, if your employer offers one.
  • You make too much money for traditional IRA contributions to be deductible.
  • You max out a Roth IRA or backdoor Roth ($6,000 for 2020, $7,000 if you are over 50).

As with most financial planning and tax strategies, there are a lot of ins and outs and I try to stick to top level highlights to educate and make you aware of possible options available to you.  Consulting with your financial advisor or CPA is always prudent to determine which strategies are your best fit.

Financial Fitness Tip

Speaking of 401(k)’s, we are quickly approaching the end of 2020 (thank goodness). It’s a good time to check where you are with your 401(k) contributions for the year. You may have dialed back the % you contribute when things got a little coo coo in the markets or you had a temporary need for increased cash flow.

If things are looking brighter in your financial world, increase your % for these last few paychecks of the year and into 2021. And if there was never a hardship yet you are not maxing out, consider increasing it a percent or two now.

Little steps carry us a long way over time.

Things I Love

I will be pulling out my mom’s tattered and stained copy of her mom’s recipe to try to match what my grandmother used to create – a true masterpiece! I can never quite match it (my mother always said the same thing when she made it), but I can try.

And besides, it’s simply the tradition of making it and remembering them both that is my true Favorite Thing!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sea of Letters

You are likely in the middle of open enrollment, or will be soon, so I thought this month would be a great time to review some of the crazy acronyms you see as your eyes glaze over the 100+ page benefits guide from your employer.

I can’t say here which benefits are the “best fit” for you. Reviewing benefit options is part of what I do with my clients each year. Lives change. Families change. Benefit packages change. For many, the confusion stays the same. 

The Biggest Offenders

FSA – Flexible Spending Account
HSA – Health Savings Account
HRA –  Health Reimbursement Account

These are NOT the same thing.

I’ll get the HRA out of the way, as it is not as common as the other two. This is an EMPLOYER owned and funded account an employee can use for medical expenses. It generally stays with your employer if you leave, unless they offer a retirement continuation. 

FSAs are offered with a standard HMO or PPO (I’m going to assume you know these two old friends).

I wrote a newsletter on HSAs a few months ago and the triple tax benefit they offer. They are only offered in conjunction with a HDHP. 

HDHP – High Deductible Health Plan

Similarities

  • Both are employee funded, although some employers will make contributions as an added benefit.
  • Both are funded with pre-tax dollars. Always a PLUS.
  • Both are used to pay for qualified medical expenses. 

Differences

  • Pre-tax contribution limits are higher for the HSA than the FSA. The HSA also offers a catch up contribution for those over age 55.
  • The up front, out of pocket medical payments are higher for Team HSA/HDHP.
  • FSA contributions are forfeited if not used in the same calendar year. There is some flexibility for carry over and grace periods, but forfeiture is the general rule. 
  • HSA contributions are yours forever. AND they can be invested. AND they can grow tax deferred. 
  • Your FSA is not portable. If you leave your company, the funds in the account do not go with you. An HSA is yours forever. 

While the HSA offers more flexibility than the FLEXIBLE Spending Account (oh the irony), it does not mean it is the right choice for you, even if both are offered by your employer. Every situation is unique.

Almost done, but a distinction I explain in this next section is REALLY important.

STD  – Short Term Disability
LTD – Long Term Disability

Granted, you probably know these two acronyms, but are you aware of the distinction when it comes to whether this benefit it taxable or not? 

It all comes down to how the premium is paid. I’ve worked with many clients who were not aware of the key difference because most benefit guides don’t do a great job of explaining it. 

It makes a big difference in how much money you actually take home, should you become disabled. 

  • If premiums are paid by you with after-tax dollars, then the disability benefit will not be taxable.
  • If premiums are paid by your employer, then the disability benefit will be taxable. 

Most LTD benefits offer coverage for “60% of salary”. If that 60% is not taxed, you are in OK shape.

If that 60% is taxed, your monthly benefit will be significantly less than your regular pay. 

One final scenario offering a TAX FREE disability benefit: 

  • Your employer pays the premium BUT adds the amount paid on your behalf to your gross earnings. By you paying taxes on the premium, any disability benefit you receive will be tax free

If your employer offers a tax free disability benefit option, this is the option you want. Otherwise, you may want to consider a private policy to supplement your employer plan.

Financial Fitness Tip

I often tie in both personal and professional experience to my newsletter and this time is no different. I was in a minor fender bender this morning (thankfully, everyone is OK), so I thought this was a good time to touch on auto insurance. Ironically, I also worked on a client plan this week where I recommended they increase their coverage. 

Most states require a minimum level of insurance, and if you are using a lender, they require proof of this coverage as well. Many folks go with the minimum requirements for Uninsured/Underinsured coverage and Property Damage. I don’t recommend this. Increase your coverage limits where you can. Back in my 20’s, I worked for an auto insurer as a claims adjuster, and believe me, these coverages come into play more often than we would like. 

Things I Love

I could probably do an entire newsletter devoted to binge worthy shows. My current fave is “Heartland” on Netflix. It’s a modern day Little House on the Prairie, which of course was the favorite of my 7 to 11 year old self. As I said in my January newsletter about The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, it allows me to fall asleep with a happy heart. 

From a Google review:
“This sprawling family saga takes place where an unfortunate tragedy has glued a family together to pull them through life’s thick and thin moments. Follow young Amy Fleming as she slowly discovers she possesses her now-deceased mother’s ability to aid injured horses as well as maintaining good relationships with those who are trying to get by one day at a time.” 

Netflix has all 13 seasons and Heartland has been renewed for its 14th. When I saw that, I knew it must be a hit! 

One Woman Really CAN Reshape the World

In honor of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I’ve decided to share my newsletter from back in January where I made “art imitating life” observations of how far we’ve come, and still have to go, in moving the educational, professional and financial plight of all women forward.

RBG fought tirelessly for her own rights as a young woman to attend law school and, despite finishing top in her class at Columbia Law, still encountered gender discrimination while seeking employment. Of course she did, it was 1959! If not for her and many other female pioneers like her, I would not be sitting here today as owner of my own financial advisory firm.

Thank you RBG, for your tireless fight.

RBG and Mrs. Maisel would probably have been great friends!

Please continue reading for the post I shared in January:

Have you been watching Amazon’s hit comedy “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”? Do you love it? I have-and I DO! It’s simple. It’s funny. I can fall asleep after it is over with a light heart. I binge watched Season 3 over the holidays.

The story line focuses on Miriam “Midge” Maisel, a NYC housewife in the late 1950s/early 1960s who discovers she has a knack for stand-up comedy and begins actively pursuing a career. To keep it simple without need of spoiler alerts, her husband can’t handle her success, has an affair with his secretary and they separate.

I love that it brings current day recognition to the female pioneers that paved the way for the careers we women pursue today (although still today, this is not without challenges and/or risks to our financial well-being, but that’s a topic for another newsletter).

“Mrs. Maisel” depicts, in a “making fun of what used to be” sort of way, the early phases of breaking the mold during a time that was probably anything but fun for women choosing this path. I love that it makes me recognize and appreciate how much things have changed for women.   

Yet after watching an episode of Season 3, I began to wonder if in some ways, despite the 1960’s setting, “Mrs. Maisel” is also current day art imitating life when it comes to many women and their finances. As Midge gains earning power, she washes her hands of money management and leaves it in the trusted hands of her talent manager Susie, who fails miserably. And then, of all people, Susie goes to Midge’s EX-HUSBAND, begging him to take over Midge’s finances. So Midge has a successful career and is taking on the world…but will still be relying on her ex-husband to handle her money.

Unusual for the times? No, not at all. Women weren’t even allowed to apply for their own credit cards until 1974! But how much has truly changed in regards to women being fully engaged in their finances?

Certainly, there have been HUGE strides over the decades in so many areas for women, but there are still inroads that we need to make for our financial security and that of our families.

I leave you with this question:

On a scale of 1-10, how “in the loop” are you in the understanding of your personal or family finances?

If you are not an 8 or above, I encourage you to become more engaged, ask questions if you don’t understand, and make 2020 the year that you become your own pioneer in financial empowerment.


Financial Fitness Tip

This month I helped a client in understanding her right to appeal the IRMAA surcharge she was paying for her Medicare.

The Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA) is an amount that is added on top of the base premiums for Medicare. Those that earn over a certain amount are subject to this surcharge.  More and more folks are affected by this as more and more folks work past age 65, but there are certain times that this surcharge can be successfully repealed.

Much to her delight, she easily won her appeal and now pays significantly less per month for her Medicare premiums!


My Favorite Things: Block Island

I have three passionate football players in my house, and a youth football coach, so when it was announced that football would not be allowed this Fall, it was time to make lemonade out of lemons.

We took a “glass half full” September trip to Block Island. We all have that place we hold near and dear to our hearts, our “happy place” that holds so many memories. In our hearts, it feels like it’s a living, breathing object. This is what Block Island is for me. I have been visiting since I was 6 -years old, and now my children have been there since as early as 1-month old!

Little known fact: Block Island’s official town name is “New Shoreham” and it’s where I derived the name of my firm, New Shore Financial. I had to be sure to incorporate my happy place into my passion!

What Are Your Earliest Memories of Money?

The first impactful memory I have around money always comes to me right away. It’s a story I shared at my dad’s 70th birthday celebration. I was about 10 years old and was with him at the ATM. He always counted the money before putting it in his wallet.

When he counted it on this particular morning, there were two $20’s stuck together.

My 10-year old mind thought, “How AWESOME is THAT”?

I must have not only thought it but also said something along those lines because I remember CLEAR AS DAY my father’s response:

“Susan, this is not my money. I’ll return it to the bank on Monday”.

IMPACTFUL.

Sometime not too long after, he called me over to his chair where he sat every night to watch the evening news and read the paper. He showed me a piece of mail he had just opened. It was a letter from the president of the bank thanking him for his honesty in returning the $20.

IMPACTFUL.

I’d be remiss to leave out my mom in my earliest memories around money and the impact they’ve had on me. Mom handled all the day to day family finances and taught me how to balance a checkbook…to…the…penny. Of course, with today’s technology I don’t balance a checkbook anymore, but I do still watch every penny. It was also her influence that taught me that just because you can afford something doesn’t mean you should buy it and that if you can’t afford something, then you definitely shouldn’t buy it.

That’s Cash Flow Planning 101
Needs vs Wants
Spend less than you make.


And from all this, a trusted financial advisor was born. Thanks Mom and Dad!

My clients have heard me say that not every decision around money is black and white, that there is often an emotional component to our decisions that can make things a bit gray. Behavioral Finance has become a field of study in and of itself and is often a seminar topic at  financial industry conferences.

I’m sure my parents had NO IDEA at the time that all these little things would serve as defining moments for me and my approach to all things money in the future.

But it makes me stop and think, what little impacts am I having now on my kids and the way they head into their future thinking about money? I guess we’ll just add it to the list as one more thing to worry about, because parenting is definitely filled with a whole lot of gray.

This Triple Scores You a Homerun

The Basics of an HSA

An HSA is a savings account for health care expenses tied to what’s known as a High Deductible Health Plan, often offered as a health care option through your employer. This type of account is different from a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), where you can lose any unused portion of your dollars set aside for a given year.

The money set aside in an HSA stays with you forever, similar to how your 401(k) would work. So even if you leave your current employer, your HSA dollars go with you. And like your 401(k), you can invest them.

You own the assets in your HSA forever.

How the high deductible health plan works and whether it is right for your circumstances is a newsletter for another time, but many who currently have this type of plan with an HSA don’t understand the benefits of the HSA in and of itself.

Triple Tax Advantaged

  1. Your contributions are pre-tax, so they lower your taxable income in the year they are made. Think of this tax savings in the same way you think of your pre-tax 401(k) contributions. 
     
  2. You can invest your contributions and they will grow tax free, meaning any growth on the account is also NOT taxable. This works like a Roth IRA in this regard, so for high income earners who are phased out of making Roth contributions, this is an excellent tax savings vehicle that offers the same tax free growth one gets from a Roth. 
     
  3. Withdrawals, AS LONG AS USED FOR QUALIFIED MEDICAL EXPENSES, are 100% tax free.

Boom!!! A Triple Tax Homerun!

Now the caveat is that although you can make contributions to this account on an annual basis to pay for current medical expenses, the goal is to instead pay out of pocket and invest that savings, like you would any other qualified savings account, allowing it to grow tax free for as many years as possible.

With our ever increasing health care costs, this is a great tool for our future selves to have a bucket of tax free money to help cover our future medical care costs.

Are You REALLY Paying More in Taxes, or Does it Just Feel That Way?

A friend reminded me this past week of the story I tell on my website about my dad and taxes. “Don’t just file those away”, he said to me years ago. “Look them over and get an understanding of what’s going on”.

It was an early catalyst for discovering my love of personal finance.
  Many folks feel overwhelmed by any talk around taxes. This is understandable. Our federal tax code can be a tough code to crack. It is a moving target of rules, income phaseouts and brackets which seem to change on a near constant basis.

Effective Tax Rate vs Marginal Tax Rate

We follow a progressive tax system in the US. This means the amount of tax we pay on the first dollar we earn is less than the tax we pay on the last dollar we earn. This progression results in a taxpayer’s Effective Tax Rate, or average overall tax rate, being less than their Marginal Tax Rate, or the tax rate of their final dollar(s) earned.

It tends to be a taxpayer’s marginal tax rate that is referred to most often, however it is the effective tax rate that more accurately reflects the average amount of tax you pay. When a taxpayer falls into the 24% tax bracket for example, this is their marginal tax rate…24%. This simply means that the highest level of tax paid was 24%, even if it was only $1 of income in that bracket. But their effective tax rate, the amount of tax they paid as a percentage of their overall income, is typically lower.

Total Tax Liability vs Amount You Owe

If you look at page 2, line 23 of your 1040 you’ll see “Amount You Owe”.

This is NOT your total tax liability for the year, which is up above on line 16, aptly named “total tax”.  

Amount you Owe is what is still left to pay of your total tax liability for the year, unless of course, you are getting a refund.

Your total tax liability in any given year depends on many different factors. And even if the figure on line 16 is higher this year, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are paying more in taxes.

You have to take into account what percentage of your overall income that number represents, which as you read above, is your effective income tax rate.

Let’s compare apples to apples:

In 2018, I picked 100 apples and had to give 20% of them to Uncle Sam.
That’s 20 apples (Total Tax, line 16).
I paid in 1 apple each month for the year, so in April I owed 8 more apples (Amount You Owe, line 23).

In 2019, I picked 200 apples and had to give 20% of them to Uncle Sam.
That’s 40 apples (Total Tax, line 16).
I paid in 1apple each month for the year, so in April I owed 28 more apples (Amount You Owe, line 23).

Since 40 is more than 20, it would appear I owed more to Uncle Sam in 2019, and as a flat amount of apples I did, but as a percentage of my overall apple income, my taxes did not go up.

I owed the same amount as a percentage of my apple income…20%.

And since the amount I owed in April (line 23) was 28 instead of 8 this year, it may appear as if I owed more in 2019, but it’s because I didn’t pay enough apples each month along the way in 2019 (paycheck withholdings). Overall, I still paid 20% both years.

Now for purposes of simplicity in this example, I used a flat tax of 20% instead of a progressive tax that I explained up above. You may be thinking this would not happen, because if I picked more apples, I would have owed more than 20% this year. However, this example helps to demonstrate what the expanded tax brackets did for many Americans with the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

From 2018 through 2025, when this law is scheduled to sunset, many Americans can earn more while remaining in the same tax bracket, or in some cases a lower bracket, than they were in prior to 2018.

That sounds like a pretty good tax deal to me!

Someone Had to Say It

Memorial Day Weekend- 2016: My Mom, Dad, sister, brother and me, celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary at The Hotel Manisses on Block Island. 

“You do know Sue, if something happens to Mom at this point, there’s no way Dad can stay in the house by himself”.

I still remember where I was parked when my sister spoke these words to me. Although our mom’s terminal cancer was “stable” at the time, our dad had entered into early stages of dementia and without her, would not be able to care for himself. Someone had to say it.

But we didn’t need to worry about that now, mom was fine, we had time.  

I also remember the intense fight my sister and I had after our mother passed, while having a discussion about our father, moving him out, selling the house. My brother was in on this one too. It was not a discussion at all actually, it was a screaming match between me and my sister, wrought with grief. Two against one, and I was the odd man out. I knew intellectually what needed to be done, I just wasn’t ready emotionally for all that it meant. Someone had to say it.

I will add, my sister and I are extremely close, yet there we were.

It’s very difficult to have these conversations during a time of crises or grief.  

There are many articles written about how adult children should approach these tough topics with their parents because it is so hard for any of us to face getting older and what these changes mean for all family members. I think there should be more written for parents along the lines of, “Talk to Your Adult Children Before Things Get Ugly, Because It Can Get Ugly”.

Have these conversations with your adult children now. Let them know what you want, but keep in mind their lives as well if what you want has a heavy impact on them. Don’t be afraid of hurting anyone’s feelings. You know your kids better than anyone. There’s potential for worse fall out and hard feelings amongst your children after you are gone. When you have these hard conversations ahead of time when things are good, your kids are secure in knowing your wishes and that they are doing the right thing by you in the future, because “Mom and Dad said so”.

Some pointers for families:

  1. Start Early
    The sooner you begin to open up these conversations the better. No one is in crisis and it’s much less threatening for all involved.
     
  2. Ensure your Estate Planning is in proper order
    Estate Planning is one of the most important things a family can be sure is buttoned up tight. Work with a qualified estate planning attorney to be sure your wishes/concerns are addressed fully in a legal capacity. Documents such as health care proxies and durable powers of attorney are critical to have in place at all times, but especially as we age. 

    While these may be generic legal documents, their impact is anything but. There’s a heavy human component to those pieces of paper, and you must be sure to choose a person(s) you know you can trust explicitly to carry out things the way you would want. A conversation should be had with anyone involved in your wishes. These directives will potentially be a huge responsibility for this person at some point. Be sure the person(s) you are choosing are up for the task that may one day fall on them. Don’t be afraid of hurting anyone’s feelings when making your choices. It’s too important for that.
     
  3. Organize Important Documents
    Personal, financial and legal documents should be organized and kept in one place. Tell a trusted family member or friend where they are should they need to be accessed.
     
  4. Talk About the What Ifs
    Have open conversations about what things might look like if things were to either suddenly, or over time, change. Discuss what options there are, what that might look like for all of you as a family, what would be the ideal solution if you could have it, what monies might be needed, who may need access to certain things like financial or legal documents. It’s a lot to think about, and not pleasant to talk about, but it’s harder when there’s been no discussion at all.
     
  5. Enlist the Help of Others
    If you find starting these types of conversations too difficult on your own or fear emotions escalating, enlist the help of a trusted professional who is well versed in your wishes. It may be your estate attorney, financial advisor, doctor, or clergy member that could help facilitate a family discussion and help keep emotions in balance. We work with clients and families touching the most personal side of their lives every day. We can help here too.

There are no easy answers, I’m not going to pretend there are. Facing one’s mortality or that of someone we hold dear is as real as it gets when it comes to human emotion, but having these conversations in an open and honest manner may be one of the greatest gifts you can give to each other.

“There’s No Place Like Home”

This past week, during one of our TV watching marathons, my youngest son and I happened upon “The Wizard of Oz”.

When Glenda the Good Witch began her famous mantra to Dorothy of, “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home”, I couldn’t help but think of the irony in hearing this famous one-liner right now.

After all, for now, home is the ONLY place for most of us. I don’t know about you, but my home is less than idyllic at this point. I think I need to channel my inner Glenda.

Home is usually the place where we feel most safe and at ease, yet the fact that we are forced to stay home because of COVID19 instead creates a dichotomy of sorts, where our being at home is the result of a precarious situation reaped with uncertainties and anxiety.

What can we do during these times to help us feel less anxious and more “at home”?  We’ve all heard the cliché “control the controllable”. What is controllable, or even worth controlling, will be different for everyone, but there are always some things that are within our control. We can let go of the rest, remembering to not beat ourselves up for whatever we miss. Whatever it is that will offer stability, a sense of normalcy or bring joy is what we focus on.

These have been some of my controllables:

  • Cleaned out my closet. It helped declutter my mind and I had total control of every decision I made to keep or donate. Hey, control is control.
  • Choose to binge watch only happy, funny or heartwarming things. I don’t need the added angst I get when I watch shows like Bluebloods. This, I can control.
  • Set my alarm for the same time every day. Granted, some mornings I hit snooze more than others, but the attempt, and the control as to when I start my day, is there.

You may be thinking, “what does this have to do with my finances”?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Well, almost nothing.

I’ve already addressed market volatility and the stimulus bill in previous newsletters. I wanted this newsletter to acknowledge that right now, while we are in the thick of this, it’s not only about money and finances. And even in the “good times”, money issues are never black and white. There is most always an emotional component to money decisions. We make the best decisions by addressing the human side of things first.

I’ll end with a known fact about the human race.

We are a resilient and adaptable species. We are problem-solvers. There are already countless ways we have adapted as individuals, families and as a nation to a situation that 6 weeks ago we would have thought impossible to deal with. We will get through this and things will return to normal, because even a new normal eventually becomes normal over time.

Show Me the Money! – Highlights from the Stimulus Package

Like a good thriller movie (or perhaps more accurately, a horror film), the suspense is over and Congress has passed the stimulus bill that was then signed by President Trump late Friday afternoon. It is officially called the CARES Act (free package of TP for anyone who can guess what the “C” stands for).
But who really CARES what it is called? We care what it will do.

Let me see if I can help sort this out a bit.

This bill is over 800 pages long and includes many provisions for both individuals and small businesses. I am going to focus today on the ones that affect us most as individual taxpayers.

Stimulus Checks:

  • $1,200 for individuals; $2,400 for married couples
  • Additional $500 per child UNDER age 17
  • Amount is phased out based on your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) in either 2018 or 2019, whichever tax return is the most current the IRS has on file.
  • Phaseouts begin at AGI’s above:
    • $150,000 for Married Filing Joint
    • $112,500 for Head of Household
    • $75,000 for Single

A confusing part of this stimulus check is that although they will be determining the amount we get based off of 2018/2019 AGI, it is actually a 2020 rebate. For those that may be phased out either partially or in full based on their prior AGI but are now suffering hardship in 2020, you may still get a rebate if your 2020 AGI falls into or below the phase out ranges. You just won’t be getting it now when you need it most.

Unemployment:

  • State unemployment benefits are $600/week more than “regular” unemployment
  • This additional bonus payment runs for up to 4 months
  • Overall benefits are extended by an additional 13 weeks
  • Federal Government will pay to cover the one week “waiting period”
  • Pandemic Unemployment assistance for those not eligible for unemployment
    • Contractors, self-employed, gig workers

FEDERAL Student Loan Relief:

  • Payments and interest are deferred until September 30, 2020
  • While not required to make payments, voluntary payments are allowed.
  • Proactively contact your loan provider to pause payments, it will not happen automatically.

No Required Minimum Distributions (RMD’s) for 2020

  • This includes IRA’s and employer plans
  • Applies to Inherited IRA’s as well
  • If subject to the 5-year rule, 2020 is ignored

Distributions from Retirement Accounts: aka  “Coronavirus Related Distributions”

  • 10% Early Withdrawal Penalty is waived
  • Not subject to mandatory withholding of taxes (usually 20%; this applies to employer plans)
  • Up to $100,000 combined from IRA’s or employer plans
  • Withdrawn in 2020
  • WITHDRAWALS ARE TAXABLE INCOME, but eligible to be “rolled back in” to the account over 3 years. If this is done, an amended return can be filed to claim a refund for any taxes paid on the withdrawal.
  • If you do not roll it back in, the income and resulting tax can be spread out over 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Assuming your 2020 income has be greatly affected and you would be taking this distribution due to a Coronavirus hardship, it may make more sense for you to include all of this income on your 2020 return. Your CPA will be able to give you guidance on this. Your advisor will give you guidance on whether it is good option for you given your overall financial circumstances.

These are just some of the major highlights affecting a vast majority of US citizens.

If you are unsure whether you will qualify for a stimulus check or what the amount will be if you do, shoot me an email at susan@newshorefinancial.com and I will run through the numbers with you.

All we can do at this point is keep hanging on, be patient with our families and strangers, control what we can control and let go of the rest.

With three teenage boys trapped at home, a clean kitchen is NOT something I can control right now and I’m really trying to LET IT GO!  What are YOU letting go?

Wowzer, What a Week

A fun meme was going around on Facebook last weekend that said:

“Just a Warning, this week is starting by changing the clocks, has a full moon and ends with Friday the 13th. Good Luck People.

P.S. Don’t forget to wash your hands”.

As it turns out, that warning did not do the week justice as far as the stock market and our investment portfolios are concerned.

It happened whiplash fast.  A week where the biggest warning for the coronavirus was to wash your hands and stay home if you feel sick ended with many of us feeling quite sick, but not because we had the virus.

This past week ended a record breaking 11 year bull run as the major market indices officially entered bear territory, defined as falling 20% or more below their all-time highs.

Because in this life none of us can predict the future, we rely on what we know and have learned from the past. But there is always that underlying itch that says, “but is this time different”?  In talking with my friend and colleague Michelle this past week, also a financial advisor (a phenomenal one I will add), she remarked, “‘this time’ is always different, but also not different”. Meaning, it’s a new catalyst that pushed our markets into bear territory this week, but not different because we’ve been here before, and each time, the market eventually recovers and investors continue to make money in their portfolios.

So, following this crazy week, I thought I would share with you a compelling video by Loring Ward that depicts the value of $1 invested in the Total US Stock Market in 1927 and if left untouched, the value that single dollar would be today.

It gives a great perspective on the long term effects of “bad news” and “bear markets” on the overall stock market.

It covers over 90 years in about 3 minutes, so stick with it to the end for an inspiring quote from legendary investor Warren Buffet.

This clip will eventually be updated to reflect this past week and whatever the weeks and  months ahead will bring, but I remain confident that history will again repeat.

None of this is to say it’s easy to watch our portfolios take a hit.  It’s a punch in the gut and it takes resilience to stay the course.  But when we ride the wave, history shows us that staying in the market is the best place to be for the long game.