Four Things Entrepreneurs Can do Now to Save for Retirement

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While retirement may seem a long way off when you’re young and just starting to build a business – or older and rebooting – it’s important to have a retirement savings plan and stick to it to create the future you want.

Retirement planning can be difficult for anyone, but entrepreneurs and small business owners can face unique challenges. According to a 2013 American Express survey, 60 percent of small business owners said they weren’t saving enough for retirement, and over 73 percent said they were worried about not being able to afford the lifestyle they want in retirement.

While many employees can choose to make automatic deductions from their paycheck towards a 401k, for instance, entrepreneurs have to make a conscious decision to sock away money for retirement, as well as find plans that work for them.

Fortunately there are several things that you can begin doing now to contributing to your long-term financial future. As always, please review these and other options with your financial planner to see what strategy may be most suitable for your individual situation.

1) Open an IRA

If you haven’t already, now may be as good a time as any to open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). IRAs are long term investments that allow you to save money for the future in a tax efficient way. They also offer catch up contributions if you’re over 50.

Traditional vs. Roth

Traditional IRAs allow you to deduct contributions the year in which they are made, then pay taxes when you withdraw the money. A Roth IRA allows you to pay taxes on your contributions now, rather than upon withdrawal and earnings and distributions may not be taxable if held in the Roth IRA for up to 5 years.

For older investors who are approaching retirement, traditional IRAs probably make more sense, as their tax rate may likely be lower in retirement than it is currently. Younger investors, however, may want to consider a Roth IRA if they believe their tax rate could be higher in the future than when they make their contributions.

Contribution Limitations

Regardless of whether you elect to contribute to a Roth or Traditional IRA the IRS sets annual limits each year stating the maximum individuals can contribute to their IRA based on their annual earnings. For instance, in 2015 you are limited to a maximum of $5,500 annually (or $6,500 if you are 50 or over).

Finally, with either type of IRA, there are penalties and taxes for early withdrawals prior to 59 ½ years old!

Please consult your tax professional regarding your specific situation and the specific rules that apply to you.

 

2) Consider alternative forms of IRAs to increase your contribution limits

If you are your company’s only employee, or you only have a couple of other employees, you may want to look into setting up either an SEP-IRA or a SIMPLE-IRA.

SEP-IRA

SEP-IRAs allow you to contribute up to 25% of your salary, or $53,000 (as of 2015) whichever is smaller. This is significantly more than what non-SEP-IRAs allow for.

Setting up a SEP-IRA may be an easy choice if you and your spouse are your only employees, but there can be other costs associated if you have other people working for you.

SIMPLE-IRAs

SIMPLE-IRAs provide an alternative that is cheaper for companies with several employees.

With the SIMPLE-IRA, the employer creates an IRA for each employee. Employees have the option to contribute a certain percentage of their income to their IRA. Employers are then required to match that percentage up to a maximum of three percent of the person’s salary, or contribute two percent of each person’s salary into the IRA.

By creating a SIMPLE-IRA the owner is then able to contribute an additional $12,500 ($15,500 for those 50 and over) to his or her own IRA.

If you have only a few employees working for you and you expect to contribute either the full $12,500 or a large portion of it, there is a good chance that your tax savings may more than pay for the cost of contributing to your employee’s IRAs. Please consult your tax professional for more specific information about how this could affect you and your employees.

 

3) Setup Automatic Deductions

Unfortunately, we all have a tendency to procrastinate, and thinking about retirement is often not at the top of our priorities! It’s easy for entrepreneurs and small business owners in particular to become distracted and forget to contribute to your retirement account(s). Automatic deductions solve this problem.

By setting up your IRA and other retirement accounts to take money directly out of your bank account or paycheck each week (or month,) you can ensure that you contribute as much money as you feel you can, up to the full tax deductible amount, each year. You no longer have to worry about forgetting to, or putting off, contributing.

With any IRA, think carefully about how much you can realistically contribute. They are considered long term investments and you cannot access the money prior to a specific age without incurring taxes and significant penalties for making early withdrawals. Please make sure you are carefully considering your short and medium term goals. And remember: starting to save early is a good way to get on the road to achieving your goals.

 

4) Speak with as Experienced Financial Planner to Help You Create a Plan

Taking care of long-term financial goals can be a challenge but fortunately you don’t have to go it alone. Financial planning professionals can help you create an individualized plan focused on your specific goals. Whether they are:

  • Saving for retirement
  • Saving for your children’s education
  • Buying a home
  • Having a baby

Financial planners are here to help you plan for the future you envision for yourself and your family.

 

 

With over a decade’s worth of experience in financial services, Brad Sherman is committed to helping his clients pursue their financial goals. Contact Brad today to learn more about how you can better prepare for retirement.

Learn more about our Retirement Planning services.

Related Reading:

Finding Financial Independence

YOLO (You Only Live Once) so you Need a Retirement Goal

Your 401K Program: A Little Savings Now Goes a Long Way

How Much Money do you Need for Retirement These Days?

The Benefits of Saving Early for Retirement

Advantages of Participating in Your Workplace Retirement Plan

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Why Reducing Your Tax Refund is a Good Thing

With tax day fast approaching, many people are counting on receiving a big check back from the Government. While you’re probably looking forward to this windfall, there are reasons why you may wish to minimize your end-of-year refund.

Why Big Refunds are Bad

Taxes are refunded to you when the Government takes too much of your pay each pay period. By overpaying each paycheck, only to get the money returned to you once a year, you are essentially lending the Government money at zero percent interest.

This is money that could have been budgeted for and spent, or invested, throughout the year. Even if you had put the money in a savings account over the year, you still would be better off.

How to Minimize Your Refund

In order to adjust the amount that is withheld for the IRS each pay period you need to fill out/change your W-4 form.

The W-4 allows you to specify allowances or exemptions that you are eligible for.

These can include:

  • Donations to charitable organizations
  • Interest on a home mortgage
  • Interest on student loan debt
  • Contributions to traditional IRAs

The W-4 form estimates the amount that you would receive from a tax refund. This amount is then distributed over the number of weeks remaining in the tax year, lowering the amount withheld from your paycheck each pay period.

You should also look into filling out a new W-4 every time you have experienced a major change in your life. Examples of this include:

  • Switching jobs
  • Marriage
  • Having a child
  • Losing a dependent (They either file their own tax return, or you can no longer claim them)

While trying to lower the amount that is withheld in taxes each pay period generally makes sense, it may be prudent to not list all of the exemptions you are eligible for on your W-4.

Why You May Not Want to Claim all Your Allowances

While having too much in taxes withheld can be compared to lending the Government money at a rate of zero percent interest, the reverse is also true.

If you underpay in taxes each paycheck, you end up owing money to the Government. In theory this is great. You could put the money in a savings account, and then at the end of the year pay back the Government while pocketing the interest that you collected.

In practice however this is not a prudent strategy for most people.

Individuals have a tendency to spend money that they have, and forget about longer-term consequences of their actions. Additionally while receiving a refund at the end of the year is exciting, the opposite is also true.

This is why it may make sense for you to leave a few deductions you are eligible for unlisted on your W-4. This ensures that you receive a tax refund, albeit a smaller one, rather than owing money.

What to Do When You Do Receive a Refund

While this advice can be helpful for next year, chances are this year’s tax season will provide you with a large refund.

If you do receive a large refund there are a series of things you can consider to maximize its value. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Invest in yourself – Sometimes the best investment you can make is in yourself. Consider buying a book or taking a class to help improve your performance in work or at life.
  • Get your will done – this can often cost less than a $1,000 in total but can save your beneficiary’s significantly more both in terms of money as well as headache
  • Put money into a college savings plan
  • Pay down your mortgage
  • Invest in a non-tax-exempt account – if you have already maxed out your IRA
  • Save for a rainy day
  • Open/add to an IRA
  • Pay off student loan debt
  • Pay off credit card debt – if you have any credit card debt, this should be an immediate priority
  • Save the money and increase your 401(k) contributions – put your money in a safe place such as a savings account, and bump up your 401(k) contributions to reflect the fact that you have this money sitting on the side.

Regardless of what you do with your tax refund, it is important that you come up with a plan. A trusted financial planner can help you in the process of creating one.

With over a decade’s worth of experience in the financial services industry Brad Sherman is committed to helping individual investors plan and prepare for retirement.

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The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.

Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.

If you have any questions regarding this Blog Post, please Contact Us.

5 Things Investors Get Wrong

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Humans have a tendency to behave irrationally when it comes to money. Here are the five things investors get wrong that can harm their returns.

Believing They Will Beat the Market

Study after study shows that investors, including professionals, continually under perform the S&P.

In their most recent SPIVA (S&P Indices vs. Active) report, released in September, McGraw Hill Financial found that more than 85% of all funds underperformed the S&P 500, the index found to represent the overall market. (1).

What’s scarier is the fact that individual investors do even worse. In a 20 year study conducted by Dalbar, a financial services research firm, the average investor has seen a return of just 2.1% compared with the S&P’s annualized return of 7.8% (2).

What causes this under performance?

According to Dalbar the biggest reason for this under performance by investors is due to irrational behavioral biases. These include panic selling, under-diversifying, and chasing momentum (3).

Chasing Hot Stocks 

In a study done by the University of California Berkley, as well as UC Davis, researchers found that investors are much more likely to purchase shares in companies that have recently been in the news (4), bidding the price of these stocks up.

Additionally many investors make the mistake of trying to chase performance by buying investments that have already risen significantly. A 2011 study by Baird, a wealth management firm, suggests that investors generally chase short-term performance by buying funds that have risen in the short run, and selling those that have performed poorly (5).

The same can be said about the market as a whole where investors tend to purchase stocks after they have seen a large rise, and subsequently sell into weakness (6).

In short, investors sell low, and buy high.

Ignoring Fees 

You probably know that fees are important, what you may not realize is just how important they are.

Take for example two 30-year-old investors who each contribute $5,500 annually to their IRAs. They both achieve 9% annualized returns, before fees, over the next 35 years. The only difference between them is that one investor pays annual fees of .5%, while the other investor pays 2.5% in total fees. Over the course of their working career, investor A will have accumulated $1,059,859.21 in their account while investor B will have $682,190.80.

This is a hypothetical illustration only and is not indicative of any particular investment or performance. Return and principal value may fluctuate, so when withdrawn, it may be worth more or less than the original cost. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

In this example, Investor B’s IRA will be worth less than 65% of Investor’s A account as a result of a 2% difference in fees!

Not Re-balancing

While buy-and-hold is usually a good strategy for most people, it is sometimes necessary for individuals to make slight tweaks to their investments.

This is particularly important if you have had one asset class or investment rise or fall significantly more than the rest of your portfolio. In this case it is a good idea to re balance your portfolio in order to realign it with your target allocation. This ensures that you not only maintain diversity, but also that you buy low, and sell high, by buying assets that have fallen significantly and selling assets that have risen.

Turning to the Wrong People for Advice 

Financial advice and information has never been more accessible to the average investor than it is today. Between TV and the Internet, investors are bombarded with information on a daily basis. Unfortunately not all of this information is sound.

Investors should consider carefully the source of any advice they receive, watching out for potential conflicts of interest. Before making any investment decisions you should carefully consider all options, and consider speaking with a financial advisor.

Learn more about our Investment Management services.

Related Reading:

Tips for Millennials to Understanding the Stock Market

What is Dollar Cost Averaging?

5 Big Picture Things Many Investors Don’t Do

Why and How to Get Started Investing Today

Mitigating Your Investment Volatility

The Psychology of Investing

Rebalance Your Portfolio to Stay on Track With Investments

Behavioral Investing: Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus!

References:

1. http://us.spindices.com/resource-center/thought-leadership/spiva/

2. http://www.thestreet.com/story/11621555/1/average-investor-20-year-return-astoundingly-awful.html

3. http://www.advisorperspectives.com/commentaries/streettalk_100814.php

4. http://faculty.haas.berkeley.edu/odean/Papers%20current%20versions/AllThatGlitters_RFS_2008.pdf

5. http://www.rwbaird.com/bolimages/Media/PDF/Whitepapers/Truth-About-Top-Performing-Money-Managers.pdf

6. http://theweek.com/articles/487000/sell-low-buy-high-are-investors-being-stupid-again

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