So, you think your 401(k)or IRA is the best way to save for retirement? Why the President’s new budget proposal should scare you!

The governments budget is out to get your money. Three reasons why you should look to tax free alternatives for building your retirement account. (and the IRS can’t do anything about it)

 

There goes the budget! Taxes are going to take all of our retirement!

If taxes keep going up like this, how can we budget for retirement?

According to the US Debt clock, the U.S.A. is about $ 18.2 TRILLION dollars in debt and going up faster than I can write this, and your personal debt as a tax payer is only $154,090. Can your budget afford to pay this now?

So, who is really out of money? The government is and they have to pay it back eventually. At this rate, the interest payment alone is about $238 BILLION dollars. Where is this going to come from?! I’ll tell you, from your retirement accounts. The president’s budget plan is to increase revenue by taxing your hard earned dollars to pay off this ridiculous amount of debt.

So let’s look at three ways you can save for retirement and not have to give some (or most) of it to the IRS.  Stay with me to the end and I will give you a bonus.

Jeffery Levine wrote an article about the president’s budget plans and how they could impact your retirement savings. I am going to highlight just a few of his points and give the reason for my alternatives.

One of the problems with the current plans is that you have limits on them:

  • limits of what age you can be to contribute or withdraw
  • limits of how much income you can earn
  • limits of how much you can contribute

Wouldn’t you like to be able to decide how much to contribute? and when? Why limit the amount you can save for YOUR retirement? Why be FORCED to take out money that you don’t want  just because you reached a certain age? Or get penalized if you take it out too soon?

With a Indexed Universal Life insurance policy, you can manage YOUR retirement the way YOU want too. You want to start building your retirement now? Great! Add a little or add a lot? Yes! you can because the premiums are flexible. Need some cash? Yes! Take it out with no penalties. (some restrictions may apply)

A second challenge with the new budget proposal is about your beneficiaries. The budget is wanting to limit the time frame that YOUR beneficiaries can take money out of your account when you pass away. Wouldn’t it be nice if your beneficiary could keep the money in the policy until they needed it or passed away themselves? Yes! With a certain type of insurance policy, both you and your spouse could be covered and both would have access to YOUR retirement account.

All of this sounds good, but what does this have to do with taxes? Great question.

The third reason is probably the most important:

A life insurance policy is paid with after tax income (like a Roth), it grows tax deferred and when you get ready to take money out, it comes out tax free. So why not just put all of your money in a Roth? Remember the limits? What about the risk of loss? Do you have the time to make up the loss? What if you die early?

An insurance policy has guaranteed growth and also the option to gain more. If you choose an Indexed Universal Life policy, you could make as much as 14%, although the average is between 5% and 8% and when the stock market ‘corrects itself’ (read CRASHES), you could only get 0%. This is of course, better than a negative 40%, wouldn’t you say?

Now, remember I said if you hang in there with me, there would be a bonus? Here it is:

A life insurance policy has an immediate death benefit that no other IRA or 401(k) has,  So let’s say you bought a $1,000,000 life insurance policy, made your first payment and then passed away unexpectedly. Your beneficiaries would receive the million dollar benefit tax free. Try that with an IRA or 401(k). With either of those, the most your beneficiaries would get would be the grand total of your contributions and may have to pay tax on it.

That’s what I call peace of mind.

Protect your family, grow YOUR retirement nest egg tax deferred, and when you get ready to retire, you can have an supplemental income that you don’t have to pay taxes on.

Of course, there are specifics to each life insurance policy and you should speak with a licensed agent about how this would benefit you. Also, I am not a tax professional and you should speak to yours about any and all tax advice or questions you have.

 

If you want to find out how a life insurance policy may benefit you and help you build your retirement income, please contact me for a no cost, no obligation discussion to see if this would be a good fit for you.

 

Special thanks to Jeffery Levine for the article on MarketWatch and continuing to educate us on the tax situation.

If you have enjoyed this article, please pass , share, forward, post, link or tweet it to someone you love or think may get a benefit from it.

 

 

 

What are you going to do with your life? Three simple ways to raise the roof on your success this year.

 

 

man raise the roof 3

taking the roof up on your success

Greater success can be yours if you are willing to focus on these three areas of your life…

A recent article from my friend, Kevin Brown, AVP of Marketing, Servpro Industries, Inc. in Gallatin, Tn. Kevin shares the three areas of your life to focus on to get the roof up on your success.

Raise the Roof In 2015

Our theme for this year is “Raise the Roof!” When we settled into that concept, I was reminded of something I heard as a young salesperson.

“What are you going to do to change your life?” I don’t recall exactly when I heard those words or even who said them, but they’ve never left me.

The New Year arrives—unblemished, full of promise, and just waiting for us to leave our mark upon it. What mark did you leave last year…or the year before…or the one before that? What will be your contribution to this year both personally and professionally?

Raising the Roof is about moving to the next level in every area of your life.

So I ask you, what are you going to do to change your life? What thing do you need to learn to grow beyond where you are today? What is the one thing that if you figured it out, could transform your results? Who do you need to meet that might unlock the secret to your greatest achievement?

I think the most important questions are the ones we ask ourselves. Tony Robbins says, “The quality of our life is directly related to the quality of our questions.”

The challenge is—most people ask the wrong questions. My friend and best-selling author, John Miller, literally wrote the book on asking great questions. His book, QBQ! The Question Behind the Question is a book that I have not only endorsed, but I embrace as a foundational teaching in my life.

One of the things I love about QBQ is it removes every excuse, every human tendency to blame others and places the responsibility for change, both personally and organizationally, squarely on me. Yep, no one can change me but me. No one can influence culture but me. No one can increase sales, solve problems, or deliver world class service except me.

And until I realized that—nothing in my life changed. Nothing could change in my life because I was too busy figuring out all the changes everyone else needed to make. I promise you, the path to your greatest accomplishment begins the day you realize the age-old motivational quote, “if it is to be, it is up to me,” is actually true.

The problem with many organizations is they are filled with people who see the quote differently. I think a lot of people are saying, “if it is to be, don’t look at me.”

But that is not you. That is not SERVPRO®.

I am going to ask you to be very intentional about 2015. I am going to ask you to focus on your Wildly Important Goals with a degree of focus you have never had before. I am going to ask you to set the tone this year by doing two things for me.

  • Read or reread QBQ! The Question Behind the Question. Make personal accountability a core in your business and your home. I know it works—I am proof.
  • Say the following phrase out loud and post it somewhere you can see it often: “If it is to be, it is to be”.

Ok, for the record, that was weak. I really need you to buy into this. I know you think it is some hokey motivational speaker thing, but it is not. There is absolute power in the spoken word. If you are not willing to be a little hokey, strange, weird, crazy, or whatever other word you want to attach to it—I can assure you it will be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve really big goals.

The most successful people in human history have been labeled in some form or fashion as “different.” The innovators, entrepreneurs, world changers, and heroes of our time were all marching to the beat of a different drummer…a drummer no one else could even hear.

So go ahead, say it again, “IF IT IS TO BE, IT IS UP TO ME!!!”

Now that you have set your intention and made a commitment to personal accountability, I’d like to go back to my original question.

What are you going to do to change your life? And by your life, I mean all of it. And by change I mean improve. There are three areas that require attention if we are going to truly grow beyond our present reality—you, your relationships, and your work.

1. Work on You

Everything starts with you. I was taught a concept early in my career called You, Inc. The idea of You, Inc., is that we are all just like a business. We are making, creating, producing certain goods and services and offering them to the people around us.

We offer our “goods and services” to our family, our friends, our customers, our clients, our employer, and even complete strangers.  Remember, we can only change ourselves. We can only be responsible for what we do. We can only control the goods and services we produce.

What will you do this year to improve you? What is the one thing you could do that would make the biggest difference for you personally? Maybe it’s your health, finances, or your attitude…maybe it’s a class you need to take, a habit you need to break, or a book you need to read.

Whatever it is for you—pick the one thing you will focus on to improve yourself in 2015.

2.Work on your relationships

Let’s face it, life isn’t perfect and life isn’t easy. I love what Helen Keller said, “Life is short and unpredictable. Eat the dessert first.” The true joy in life comes from the people we take the journey with—our friends and family—the people who love us unconditionally and support us are vital to doing work that matters and achieving success and significance in our life.

In 2015, I would ask you to commit to this area of your life. Commit to improving one thing about the quality of your relationships and work on that as your special project.

Barbara Jordan said, “If you want to be interesting you must first be interested.” While step 1 is all about you, step 2 is all about others.

What one thing could you work on that would improve the quality of your relationships with the people who mean the most to you? Make time to work on your relationships and watch the other areas of your life flourish in the process.

3. Work on your business

The only reason to grow your business is to help people. That is a bold idea. But isn’t it about making money? Absolutely—that’s certainly part of it, but money is simply a means to an end. It is a vehicle allowing you to create the life you desire for you and your family. Here is the part many people miss—it’s also the gateway to creating opportunities to influence the world around you. A lot of people chase success and attach a profit and loss goal to measure it. But I believe the great ones are chasing a goal to serve people and they’ve attached a level of contribution and significance to measure it by. They know if they serve others well, the money tends to follow.

Doing work that matters is vital to fulfilling that place within us that longs to be relevant. We are hard-wired to matter. You were born to achieve something great and do something that helps people. That is what I believe.

I don’t buy into the “just get by” theory of existence. I don’t believe you were created to be ordinary or its close cousin, average. I believe with all of my heart you were made with a special blend of talents, gifts, abilities, and intellect to achieve a purpose that is unique to you. I believe your purpose is unfolding right where you are this moment.

We are all SERVPRO®—but we are all part of this family for a reason and a purpose that is one of a kind.

Your contribution to others through SERVPRO® is as unique and special as your DNA. That, in my opinion, is what makes SERVPRO® special. I love the new tagline Southwest Airlines is using in their TV commercials, “Without a heart, it’s just a machine.”

You see, I think the one thing that makes SERVPRO® great is the collective heart represented by the people who make up this Brand.

So here’s the final step in my raise the roof strategy for 2015—what can I work on in my business right now that would make the greatest improvement? What can I learn, embrace, or implement that would allow me to grow beyond my past achievements and reach a new level of success? In 2015, stretch yourself in the service of others. Grow your business, grow your people, and grow yourself. The responsibility and blessing of leadership is helping people discover the best version of themselves—and the true reward comes when we find our best self in the process.

 

This article was published in the January 2015 edition of the Servpro Newsline. Kevin can be reached at kbrown@servpronet.com .

I hope that you have found some value in this and if so, please share it with someone else you know that may enjoy it too.

Ask the expert week – this week only

radio microphoneI want to invite you to ask the question that is most on your mind when it comes to your financial future. I am hoping you will take advantage of this offer as it is only open for this week. If I use your question in my next blog post I will be sure to thank you personally. Please fill out the form below to ask your question today!

401(k) or IUL. Lets look at the pros and cons.

Can you afford to risk your retirement with your 401(k)? One simple solution might surprise you…

 

So you have a 401(k) and it is the majority of your retirement savings. Have you ever considered what your retirement would look like if that account had 40% less in it?

How would that make you feel? Would you still be able to retire at the same age? What dreams and goals would you have to put off? Why didn’t someone warn you about the risk?

I am sure you could worry yourself sick just thinking about all these questions and more. So what do we do now? Are there any alternatives that will still allow some growth of my money without all the risk? The answer, I am glad to tell you, is YES!

There are other choices and they will mostly depend on your timeline to retirement: Today we are doing to discuss the IUL (Indexed Universal Life) option. Now I know exactly how you must be feeling.  I felt the same way.

I said “I don’t need an insurance policy, I’m wanting to build my retirement account” Believe me, I was skeptical too. Most others are, also. However, when I started doing the research and compared the numbers, It started to make sense and I began to believe.

So hang in there with me and I think you may be as surprised as I was. In fact, I now have one for myself and am starting one for each of our sons and grandson. Do you know when the best time to get one of these is? I will tell you in a minute.

The key is knowing how to set it up. We need to take advantage of the IRS’s own rules which allow you to put in up to a certain amount to maximize the cash value while not becoming a MEC . When your policy is set up correctly, I think the numbers will amaze you. I know they do most of my clients.

These are first and foremost a life insurance policy, not an investment, and they also have the ability to build up a cash value. They can be purchased with a single premium, but are usually started with regular payments either monthly, quarterly or annually. When you pass away, your beneficiaries would receive the money, like any other life insurance policy.

Here are the nuts and bolts:

  • You purchase a policy from an insurance company with after tax money.
  • The value is based on your age, health, and premium paid.
  • You have an instant death benefit available.
  • Your money grows tax deferred.
  • Growth is based on the index you choose to follow. (You can change this annually)
  • You don’t invest directly in the index, the insurance company puts your money in an account that mirrors the growth of that index.
  • There are caps, or maximums, on the interest you can receive.
  • There are floors, or minimums, on the interest you can receive. (Usually 0%, but may be higher depending on the contract)
  • There are fixed interest rates if you want to have guaranteed growth.

Now after you have the policy, here is how it can benefit you:

  • Your death benefit may increase the longer you keep the policy,  as well as the cash value.
  • When you are ready to start taking out money, it comes out tax free as a loan against the death benefit. (This may reduce the death benefit available to your beneficiaries)
  • Most IUL’s have ‘living benefits’ that allow income if you have a critical or chronic health issue, like cancer, heart attack or need to go into a nursing home.
  • You may be able to stop putting in premiums at some time and let the cash value pay for the cost of insurance. (Other fees and charges may apply)
  • When you pass away, your beneficiaries will receive the death benefit, tax free.

So the differences of an 401(k) and a IUL policy can be very important. Let’s look at them:

  • The 401(k) is only worth what you put in it. The IUL has an instant death benefit.
  • There are limits to how much you can put in your 401(k) and no limits in the IUL.
  • You have to take out a certain amount from your 401(k) called RMD (required minimum distributions) but you can take out as much or as little as you want from your IUL. (You don’t have to take out any, if you don’t want to)
  • There are specific times that you have to take out money from the 401(k) and not on the IUL.
  • The money gets taxed on withdrawal on the 401(k) but not on the IUL.
  • The 401(k) is in the stock market and can suffer major losses while the IUL is not in the market and can earn no less than 0% interest.
  • The 401(k) stops paying when it runs out of money . (There could be penalties for lapsing or taking out all of the money from the IUL)
  • The 401(k) is an investment account with no guarantees and the IUL has contractual guarantees from the insurance company.

Given the huge debt that the U.S. is currently in, most say as much as $17 TRILLION dollars, one of the few ways the government  has to pay that off is through taxes. There are about $7 TRILLION dollars in 401(k)’s and IRA’s (individual retirement accounts) that are now, or very close to, being used for retirement. What better time for the government to increase the tax rates of those people to help pay off the national debt?

With an IUL, the cash value can be used for retirement, and is not taxable. It is simply a loan against the death benefit. This loan does not have to be paid back because the amount taken out simply reduces the death benefit.

Now, as promised, when is the best time to start your own (or someone you love) IUL policy? RIGHT NOW! Since these are based on your age and your health, you are as young as you will ever be and probably in the best health, too! It’s not too soon to start, even if you’re just a kid.

I think it was Albert Einstein that said ‘the most powerful force in the universe was compounding interest’. Start building a part of your retirement income as early as possible and allow compounding interest work for you with an Indexed Universal Life policy.

Of course, there are disclaimers: Always consult your tax professional (I am not one) regarding the tax implications of any investment or insurance policy, there may be additional fees, charges, penalties, etc… , the primary need for an life insurance policy is for the death benefit, the rules of the IRS are subject to change and may change the tax treatment of a life insurance policy.

Always do your due diligence, educate yourself on the specifics of a life insurance contract and understand what your agent is recommending and why.

If you have any questions or would like to see how an IUL might be beneficial for your retirement, please feel free to call me and we will discuss your particular situation, needs and goals.

If you found this video and article helpful, please share it with your friends, families and co-workers, anyone you can think of that is absolutely scared to death of losing their retirement dream due to a risky 401(k).

A special thanks to CBS television, 60 Minutes and producer Ira Rosen, and Steve Kroft, reporting.

 

Ask the expert week – this week only

radio microphoneI want to invite you to ask the question that is most on your mind when it comes to your financial future. I am hoping you will take advantage of this offer as it is only open for this week. If I use your question in my next blog post I will be sure to thank you personally. Please fill out the form below to ask your question today!

Ever wish you could live life in reverse?

Reverse your future, make a date to call your Life Insurance professional.

IF only we could go back, we would probably reverse the outcome by doing things a little differently.

Things like our childhood, our words or some choices can’t be reversed. There are some decisions that we have put off, however, that can be. Watch this short video below and realize that it is not too late to make the right choice and reverse the outcome.

Click here to watch the short video.

Can you hear yourself saying these exact words? Does it sound like you as she reads them from the top down or from the bottom up?

 

What would it feel like if you went to the Dr. for a check-up and got the worst news possible? All of a sudden, you only have a few months to live and yet there are so many things you had planned on doing. The second honeymoon, the kids college, the girls’ fairy-tail wedding, that trip of a lifetime… Now what? These are dreams you never took the time to insure, because after all, you were in good health and you always said ‘it won’t happen to me’, right? Not only are the dreams not going to happen, but how will everyone get along without you there. Your income was supposed to pay off the home early and boost the retirement account. The kids really need you and your spouse will be lost without you.

Now let’s reverse this and look at it with the same Dr’s report, but having planned before it happened. Yes, the spouse and kids will still be hurting, and all the money in the world could never replace you, however, when the questions come up, you already know the answer.

Questions like:

  • can we still stay in our home? or
  • can I be here for the kids at night without having to work a 2nd part time job just to pay the bills?
  • can I still afford to send the kids to college without mortgaging the home?

The answer to these and a hundred others will be answered a resounding YES, because you reversed your decision to do it ‘next week’ and took action today.

It’s not too late.

It’s not too late unless you have waited until ‘next week’ and got that Dr’s report yesterday. Then, yes, it’s probably too late.

Most people plan on getting some life insurance or have some and want a little more and then something comes up. Life happens and  those plans get put off. If you want to reverse the outcome of not getting around to it yet, then call your life insurance professional to get the ball rolling. It won’t take that much time and the results could have a huge impact on your loved ones.

Speak with a  life insurance professional today and find out how easy and affordable it really is to protect your family and provide them the lifestyle you would want them to have if you couldn’t be in the picture anymore. Whether it is a term policy or a more permanent one like an Universal Life policy, find out what your options are and take those steps now. It will be a decision that you won’t regret or wish you could go back and reverse later.

 

If you like this, or know someone who needs to read it, please share it and sign up to receive my personal newsletters with articles about life, and how to enjoy more of it.

Working out and investing. Are they similar?

corporate-gym1

Working out and investing in you.

I was in the gym this morning and I started thinking how working out and

investing are really similar.

When you work out, you usually want to gain something; either better overall health, weight loss, or even muscle growth. Now if you read the fitness magazines, there are many companies that tout their product as the latest and greatest to achieve that perfect body with minimal or little effort on your part. The “take this pill, eat all you want and lose 30 pounds in a month”, or “use this machine for 10 minutes and you will have 6 pack abs in a week” advertisements all want you to believe that these products will get you the successful body you are looking for.

Well, I believe the only place that success comes before work is in the dictionary! The old adage “No pain, no gain”, is still true. If I want to lose weight or increase muscle, I am going to have to do a few of the basics like eating a healthy diet, increasing my heart rate for an extended period of time, and stressing my muscles. These are the foundations of a healthy person. I may use some additional products to ramp up my metabolism, or increase my protein to fuel the muscle growth, but to grow safely and to stay healthy, I will probably avoid the higher risk products.

The same is true in our investing. There are products and services that will promise you “double digit growth with no market loss”, “double your money in a year, can’t lose a penny ever”, and so on. I have found that most of the claims are unfounded or only real in a perfect, hypothetical world. Now don’t get me wrong, I think investments are neither good or bad and they need to be determined by your financial goals, time to retirement, risk tolerance and the amount you have to invest. I think smart investing means having a plan that increases your account with minimal risk and a fair return.

When I am investing, especially for my retirement, I want to do it safely and with a mostly proven track record. That is where a Fixed Index Annuity comes in. The insurance company guarantees you a minimum growth no less than 0% (floor), and a potential maximum growth (cap) that could be as high as 8% or greater. That growth is determined by the indexes you participate in and the length of time you agree to keep your money with them. If I stop working out next year, I will lose my gains (health, muscles, etc…), however, with an Annuity, I get to keep all of the gains I made last year due to an annual reset feature. I also realize that the greater the growth potential, the greater the risk of loss so I am willing to give up a little of the potential growth to protect from all of the potential loss. In other words, if the market is getting 10% now, and I am only getting 6%, that’s o.k. because when the market loses 12%, I won’t lose any.

This is good, solid, fundamental investing. Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? Slow and steady always win.

If you would like to see how a Fixed Index Annuity might work for you, click on the yellow button to sign up for my newsletter and I will get back with you to discuss the potential, features, and options of a FIA.