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Archives for July 2015

Cary Grant’s Retirement Income Checklist

“You never miss the water until the well runs dry.”
His Girl Friday (1940) – Walter Burns (Cary Grant)

In the 1940’s movie His Girl Friday, Cary Grant’s character of Walter Burns reminds us that nothing lasts forever. Many baby boomers now approaching their retirement timeline, have begun to realize that shortly they won’t be bringing home a bi-weekly paycheck.

But the well isn’t dry. Often I urge my clients to create a checklist to help understand what their monthly retirement income will be when they decide to retire.

Retirement signifies the end of person’s fixed income. It does not mean that an individual’s life and interests are over. How might you free up enough money to purchase that boat? Is there a way to travel to those places you have always wanted to experience?

The first step is to have a clear vision of your retirement income potential. Let’s evaluate what current assets you now own, and how they might become additional monthly income during your retirement years.

Silver Screen Income Planning Retirement Check List

Before planning on your retirement dream home, or second home, it is essential you understand what your monthly retirement income will be. To estimate this amount and where your money will derive from, make a listing of the following income assets:

  1. Social Security
  2. 401K Accounts
  3. IRA Accounts
  4. Pension Benefits
  5. Annuities & Insurance Assets
  6. Bonds & Stocks
  7. Other tangible assets. (Housing, Investment Property, Business Property, etc.)

Needless to say, covering all of these income sources would be a lengthy endeavor. In this post, I want to talk about retirees’ top three monthly income assets: Social Security, 401(k) plans, and your housing.  

Social Security 

To understand your monthly Social Security benefit, you can check your current earnings at the Social Security Administration website. Deciding when to claim your benefit and at what age is essential to maximizing your principal monthly income resource during retirement.

At age 62, you are allowed to take your Social Security benefit. Yet, if you delay taking your benefit, it will grow every year until you reach age 70. Postponing retirement gives you time to build a bigger nest egg. Tabling your retirement also delays withdrawing your retirement capital.

Numerous financial advisors will recommend waiting until full retirement age, which is 66 for people born between 1943 and 1954. Before opting to take your Social Security benefit, it is best to discuss this with an expert who specializes in Social Security. Once you choose to take your Social Security benefit there is no way to change your options, so make sure you are opting for the best choice before making a permanent decision.


If you have a workplace 401(k), this will most likely be part of your long-term monthly income plan. You may need income from this fund at retirement age. Some people do not. 401(k) accounts require minimum distributions by the time you reach age 70-1/2. If you do not need to tap these cash assets at age 70 and ½, you can delay withdrawals while enjoying your tax-deferred benefit by working for pay. Rules only permit this if you are not a corporate owner with more than a 5% share in the company that employ’s you.

Housing: Moving Out of Beverly Hills

When planning for retirement, one of the shrewdest strategies to create more income is to lower your housing expenses. But take caution. Trading down or downsizing without professional advice can sometimes reduce your standard of living and not necessarily your monthly payments.

Do you currently carry a mortgage? A Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Report from May of 2014, reveals that 30 percent of homeowners over the age of 65 still are making a monthly mortgage payment. The same survey reports that 8.4 percent to 21.2 percent over age 75 make a monthly mortgage payment.

One way to diminish monthly housing is to sell your home and rent. Others choose to sell a larger home and repurchase something smaller.

Of course, the first step to selling a home is to engage a professional appraisal and calculate how much cash value you currently have in your home. The second logical step is to understand how renting or downsizing will affect your monthly expenses. For example, if you relocate to a condo, be careful to evaluate the association that governs it. Have they recently made capital improvements? If not, you might take a hit with a capital upgrade assessment. If you downsize to a smaller or newer home, what is the monthly property tax burden?

Active Adult Community

Some retirees consider buying or renting housing that is located in a 55+ community. Most of the time these establishments offer group activities and attractive amenities. Monthly housing costs of active-adult communities vary depending on the area they are located in, size of the home, and amenities.

Consider association costs of these communities and perhaps create an expense projection for living within them projecting for ten years or even twenty years to understand what actual costs may be.


Having enough income to retire like Cary Grant takes careful planning. Even Cary Grant would agree that he needed an experienced director to shine upon the silver screen.

Likewise, consider making an appointment with a financial advisor that specializes in retirement. Investment planners are not necessarily retirement advisors. Your long-term investment financial advisor is not a retirement expert.

Retirement advisors offer tools to make a complete checklist of retirement income and can provide planning for health insurances, and other monthly expenses that you may not have considered as part of your list.

To discuss your retirement risk list with a financial advisor, contact us for a free consultation at Secured Retirement Financial. Our goal is to help our clients preserve and protect their wealth through offering comprehensive financial planning.

three step review

Secured Retirement Radio: Probability Investing vs. Safety First

Blog post written by Dale Decker

We all have different tolerances for risk. Some people prefer to go big and climb Mount Everest. Others are perfectly content to stay close to home and go apple picking.

But risk tolerance isn’t limited to hobbies and free-time activities. Risk tolerance also plays a role in your personal finances. Below are some strategies to consider in retirement, based on whether you prefer more of a calculated probability approach or a safety first approach to investing.

On last Saturday’s Secured Retirement Radio show, Joe Lucey and Kari Donnelly talked about Social Security’s 80th birthday and how it’s now a core piece of any retirement strategy. They also discussed how many retirees are either probability or safety first oriented when it comes to their retirement funds.

Joe and Kari provided information on different strategies to enhance retirement:

  • Probability Investing: The goal is to maximize safety, while also reaching out to climb and increase income during retirement years.
  • Safety First Investing: The goal is to minimize all risk in favor of returns that are secure and yield and replenish the fruit of investments.
  • Transformational Investing vs. Transactional Investing: A cohesive plan with overall goals vs. a  parade of transactions.

Ask your self the question: If you had 2 million dollars what would you do?  Listen to this week’s show and  find out.

Secured Retirement Radio is hosted by Joe Lucey. Joe is a nationally recognized financial expert – named a retirement mentor by Dow Jones news service and featured weekly in Market Watch online.
Listen to the latest podcast.

three step review

Getting to the Truth: How Strong is Social Security Anyway?

The number one news headline grab this month isn’t the Kardashians or Donald Trump. Nor is it Spieth’s distressing loss at the Open Championship by one stroke. Surprisingly, according to BuzzSumo.com some of this week’s top trending news headlines sensationalized Social Security.

This Week’s 5 Top Trending Virtual Social Security Headlines:

  1. 6.5M Social Security Numbers Linked to People Aged 112 & Up95.7K shares, Fox News
  2. Puerto Ricans who can’t speak English qualify as disabled for Social Security76.4K shares, Washington Post
  3. Warren: ‘The GOP is inventing a Social Security crisis’, 62.7k shares, MSNBC
  4. Obama admin looks to ban some Social Security recipients from owning guns61.5K shares, Fox News
  5. Bush: Retirement age should be Phased into ’68 or 70’57K shares, Thehill.com

No doubt, we all hear hundreds of alleged complaints about the Social Security program. The headlines listed above make that crystal clear. But Americans have, in essence, purchased the coverage of Social Security and its protection. So despite all the saber rattling and political conflict the program finds itself surrounded in, Social Security is alive and well and continues to offer startling strength. Finally, a positive headline for Social Security!

It is true that Social Security checks come from our government, and many individuals consider them to be a handout or benefit, especially young workers who look at their deductions printed on each paycheck. However, the fact remains that every working American has purchased their Social Security benefit, by paying into it their entire working career.

Social Security Payments: Inflation Proof

Your savings account, checking account or certificate of deposit at your local bank may not keep up with inflation, but a monthly Social Security check will. Social Security payments are inflation proof. Every year the consumer price index is applied to monthly Social Security benefits. This prevents the erosion of your monthly benefit, making it a fixed-dollar endowment that is locked in for life.

When reading your news headlines regarding Social Security, be leery of political moves that would reduce the COLA (Consumer Price Index to an inflation rate minus 5%). Over time, if this were to pass, your own Social Security check would significantly lose its buying power.

Social Security Is Insurance, Not Welfare.

Social Security is not a public assistance program, although many of this week’s headlines treat it as such. Social Security is a social insurance program. The argument that Social Security is not public assistance can be made because Social Security benefits are not calculated on a needs basis. They are calculated by the amount of money you earned during your working years and your age.

Social Security originated as a savings program for taxpayers. Some political types are calling for this to be changed. Be leery of political persons who suggest eliminating or reducing a Social Security benefit for retirees with an outside income. Social Security was purchased in advance by each worker. Working beyond retirement age should not be considered when calculating one’s age and contributions to the program.

Part of Social Security’s strength is based on the facts that age and contributions to the program are concrete. These two concrete qualifications are easy to assess. Probing into need is not required and never should be required. 

1970’s – The Social Security Storm Front

In the late 1970’s, Social Security fought quite a tempest. News headlines predicted that the program would soon run out of money. Congress voted to “fix” the squall between 1977 and 1983, yet the program remained in deficit. Finally in 1983, Congress voted to raise taxes and cut benefits in an amendment to The 1983 Social Security Act. The program has been running in a surplus ever since.

Reformers predict that the program will remain stable until the year 2037. Although the threat could emerge 22 years from now, we can see that political moves are being made today to reform Social Security. While a solution for long-term solvency should be worked on, we all need to be leery of today’s headlines that report individuals who want to modify the Social Security program claiming there is fraud, a financial crisis, or that benefits can be held because of any reason, including the ownership of guns. These are simply non-related red herrings that plague our political stage.

The truth is, Social Security is strong, sturdy, resilient, and worth protecting.

In fact, it is your duty to maximize your own Social Security benefit. Make an appointment to seek professional advice in this matter. Talking to a financial advisor that specializes in Social Security is the first step to a complete and robust retirement plan.

Countless questions arise with regards to individuals’ Social Security benefits. With so much at stake, the most valuable asset to understand in your retirement portfolio is your Social Security benefit. As always, our advisors are happy to discuss any of these items with you. If you have any questions or if you would like to schedule a visit, don’t hesitate to call our office at (952) 460-3260.

For more information on Social Security, explore our free Social Security Kit or calculate your own Social Security benefit by clicking here.

social security decisions ebook

Secured Retirement Radio: What's Your Financial " Squeaky Wheel"?

Blog post written by Dale Decker

Greece is in the news this week, and anytime there’s an event the magnitude of national insolvency, it makes us think about personal finances.

Greece had been accumulating debt over many years, which is akin to being the squeaky wheel on the wagon of the European economy. Surrounding countries didn’t like the noise but ignored it, hoping it would go away. It didn’t go away. It got louder, and now Greece is in line for support from the European community.

When it comes to personal finances, it’s important to stop and consider what unaddressed “squeaky wheels” you may have.

On Saturday’s Secured Retirement Radio show, host Joe Lucey with Kari Donnelly and Derek Fautsch discussed the importance of taking a financial stress test. Addressing your own financial “squeaky wheel” with a Three Step Review is a great way to  see if you are in a strong position to weather current and future financial storms. Taking a moment for preemptive retirement review can be rewarding, and it can help increase your chances for financial success in any climate.

Secured Retirement Radio is hosted by Joe Lucey. Joe is a nationally recognized financial expert – named a retirement mentor by Dow Jones news service and featured weekly in Market Watch online.
Listen to the latest podcast.

three step review