It’s important to get your facts straight when it comes to retirement. Even a single, seemingly “simple” mistake can have unpleasant repercussions.
At Global View, we know what one assumption can do to a retirement plan. Before making any important financial decisions regarding retirement, make sure you understand the effects those decisions have on your future. If you’re unsure, talk to a financial advisor.
Retirement planning isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. What works for your friend, neighbor or colleague, may not work for you. Retiring in Greenville, SC may be different than retiring somewhere else. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Assumptions with high net worth retirement planning can have even bigger effects.
In our experience at Global View, we see 12 common misconceptions when it comes to retirement planning.
1. Social Security Benefits Aren’t Taxed
Despite common belief, Social Security benefits are in fact taxed. If you file as an individual, you’ll pay income tax on 50 percent of your Social Security benefits when your combined income is between $25,000 and $34,000, and 85 percent for higher incomes.
For joint returns, the 50 percent range is for a combined income between $32,000 and $44,000, and the 85 percent range is for incomes in excess of $44,000. For more information, check out our new guide: Navigating Social Security.
2. Medicare Is Free
Medicare is certainly not free to its recipients. Not only have you paid Medicare withholding taxes, currently equal to 1.45 percent each from you and your employer, throughout your working life, but for folks with wages in excess of $200,000, there is an additional Medicare tax with a withholding rate of 0.9 percent.
Once you sign up for Medicare, most people pay no premium for Part A, although deductibles and coinsurance apply. Part B charges a standard premium, which in 2021, is $148.50/month or higher, and deductibles apply. Part C and Part D premiums depend on the plan you select.
For more information, read our recent blog post: Retirement Planning Greenville, SC: Understanding Medicare’s Role.
3. You Have to Take Social Security Benefits as Soon as You’re Eligible
The truth is, you can begin taking Social Security benefits at age 62, or you can delay your claim until later, up to age 70. The older you are when you start to claim benefits, the bigger your monthly benefits will be, assuming the same earnings record. Read our recent blog post: 3 Reasons You May Want to Claim Social Security Benefits Later.
4. You Should Wait as Long as Possible to Claim Social Security Benefits
Your decision of when to begin taking your Social Security benefits should depend on several factors, including your age, health, income and life expectancy. It’s true that you’ll get the maximum monthly benefit for which you are eligible if you delay your claim for as long as possible. However, if you start earlier, you may collect benefits for a longer time. Also, widows and widowers can begin receiving survivor benefits as early as age 60. Read our recent blog post: 3 Reasons You May Want to Claim Social Security Benefits Early.
5. Withdrawals from Your Retirement Accounts Aren’t Taxed (or Are Taxed the Same)
Withdrawals from traditional tax-deferred retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s and IRAs, are taxed as ordinary income at your marginal tax rate. Withdrawals before age 59-½ may be subject to a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty, although several exceptions exist.
Roth-style retirement accounts, on the other hand, are usually free from taxes, as long as you follow the rules. However, you may have to pay taxes and possible penalties on the withdrawal of earnings before age 59-½ or within the five-year period beginning with the first tax year for which a contribution was made to a Roth IRA set up for your benefit.
6. Online Retirement Calculators are Accurate
Here are some facts about online retirement calculators:
- Calculators assume a flat rate of return on your investments, but actual investment returns fluctuate from year to year. Most calculators can’t handle the sequence of your returns, and this might cause significant discrepancies.
- Retirement calculators vary in quality. Like financial advisors, not all are created equally!
- Inaccurate assumptions yield inaccurate predictions.
7. Your Expenses Will Go Down in Retirement
Depending on your plans in retirement, your expenses may actually increase once you enter retirement. Reasons include higher prices for travel, increasing healthcare costs, large Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from your retirement accounts, expensive home repairs, lofty financial goals, such as paying for children’s college tuition in retirement, etc.
Discuss your plans with a financial advisor to make sure your finances and goals are inline.
8. A Conservative Risk Tolerance in Retirement is Necessary
As we age, it becomes increasingly important to preserve our capital, and that requires a conservative portfolio. However, you may still need to follow a more aggressive investment strategy later in life, be it to stay ahead of inflation or because you got a late start with your retirement planning and need to catch-up for lost time. Lean on your financial advisor to make sure the risk you’re taking with your portfolio coincides with your needs and tolerance for risk.
9. You Can Withdraw 4 Percent and Not Run Out of Money
The 4 Percent Rule is a common retirement planning rule of thumb, which states that you can take 4 percent from your retirement plans each year, adjusted for inflation, and have enough money to last 30 years. But this rule assumes you are invested about 60 percent in stocks and 40 percent in bonds. This might work for some, but it can fail for several reasons, including unusual expenses, higher spending patterns over time, changing market conditions, changing asset mixes and a longer retirement. For more information, read our recent blog post: Looking Beyond the 4 Percent Rule for a Better Retirement.
10. Investing Ends at Retirement
If you simply turn your investments into fixed-income savings, you could lose out to inflation. Talk to your financial advisor about your retirement income and whether you will have enough money to cover your entire retirement. If you continue to work after retiring from your primary job, you may be able to donate some of your income to new retirement investments.
11. Roth Retirement Accounts are Best
Roth retirement accounts might be best for folks who don’t want to pay taxes on withdrawals and don’t mind forgoing the tax deduction on contributions. If you plan to bequeath your accounts to your heirs, Roth accounts can save them from paying the income taxes. Also, there are no RMDs for the original owner of a Roth IRA, although certain beneficiaries may have to observe time limits.
However, for folks who want to deduct contributions and pay taxes on withdrawals, a Traditional account may be a better choice. Again, retirement planning is not the same for everyone, and high net worth retirement planning can take an even more complex strategy.
12. All Financial Advisors Will Put Your Best Interests First
Unfortunately, investors give their hard-earned wealth to unscrupulous salesmen posing as “financial advisors” every day. Don’t be one of them.
Understand how your financial advisor gets paid. Be aware of any conflicts of interest. Make sure your financial advisor is a fiduciary who will act on your behalf and with your best interest in mind at all times.
Global View is a fee-only, fiduciary financial advisory firm headquartered in Greenville, South Carolina that serves investors nationwide. Our mission is to be our clients’ advocate. Our financial advisors provide truly independent, conflict-free advice and complete wealth management services, so you can protect and maximize the wealth you’ve built. This is especially important when it comes to high net worth retirement planning, because more money invested in the wrong strategies can equate to more money lost.
If you’re planning on retiring in Greenville, SC, let’s talk.