Info

Retirement Starts Today Radio

Benjamin Brandt wants to teach you how to retire! Listen in as Benjamin Brandt CFP©, RICP© answers the questions on the minds of the modern retiree, often joined by the top experts in the retirement planning industry. Ask Benjamin a question here: https://retirementstartstodayradio.com/ask-a-question/
RSS Feed Subscribe in Apple Podcasts
Retirement Starts Today Radio
2022
June
May
April
March
February
January


2021
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2020
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2019
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2018
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April


2015
October


Categories

All Episodes
Archives
Categories
Now displaying: 2021
Dec 27, 2021

Would you want to raise your standard of living for half of what you live on now? Tim Leffel did, which is why he chose to uproot his family from their life in Nashville to move to a small city in Mexico. Tim is the author of the book A Better Life for Half the Price and he joins me today to discuss the pros and cons of living abroad.

Don’t miss the opportunity to learn how you can save money by living abroad. Tim is an expert in the subject and has written extensively about this topic. Listen in to hear this interview. 

Outline of This Episode

  • What made Tim decide to live in Mexico?
  • Why did he rent before buying?
  • What are examples of how he saves money by living in Mexico?
  • Do you need to know Spanish before moving to Mexico?
  • Why would people not want to move abroad?

Why did Tim choose to move to Mexico?

Tim and his wife have traveled extensively and even lived in Seoul, Korea, and Istanbul, Turkey when they were young. When they had their daughter they knew that they didn’t want to live in the far flung reaches of the world but they still wanted the experience of living abroad. 

Mexico was close by and easy to travel to, plus they liked the culture and the food which made it an easy choice to settle on. They chose to live in the central Mexican town of Guanajuato which is a mid-sized city of 200,000 with pleasant weather all year round. 

It makes sense to rent first before purchasing abroad

Tim chose to rent for a year first before taking the plunge and purchasing a home. He remarks that buying a house abroad is not like it seems on those popular house hunting TV shows. 

There is a lot you need to think about when buying a home abroad. The zoning laws aren’t the same as in the U.S. and it can be hard for a foreigner to understand what things are worth without living there first. Tim recommends putting in the time and effort to truly understand the market value before purchasing a home. 

What are examples of how he saves money by living in Mexico?

It’s no secret that living in Mexico is less expensive than living in the U.S. Rent in the United States can easily cost $2000. In Mexico, you can find a house to rent for a fraction of that.

Healthcare expenses are notoriously high in the U.S. and in Mexico, Americans are shocked to find how easy it is to pay for those expenses out of pocket.

Tim finds that his total monthly expenses in Mexico are roughly equivalent to what he paid in rent in the U.S. Not everything is cheaper in Mexico though, listen in to hear about what costs more in Mexico.

Do you need to know the language first?

You would think that you need to be fluent in the language before moving abroad, but there are some places in Mexico where you can get by being monolingual.

Tim still doesn’t consider himself fluent, although he is learning the language. Since his daughter went to school in Mexico, she had the opportunity to become fluent. Would you want to learn the language before moving abroad?

Connect with Tim Leffel

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

Apple Podcasts,Stitcher,TuneIn,Podbean,Player FM,iHeart, or Spotify

Dec 20, 2021

Despite the economic downturn, 2020 turned out to be a fantastic year for charitable giving. In this episode, we’ll look at how people chose to give and you’ll learn about the efficiency of giving through donor-advised funds (DAFs). 

In the listener questions segment, you’ll learn how to survive a bear market in retirement. We’ll investigate the length of the average bear market and see how you can prepare for the worst in your retirement years. 

Outline of This Episode

  • 2020 was a banner year for giving
  • Planning ahead can help alleviate a hefty tax bill
  • What is the average length of recovery from a bear market?
  • Look into Guyten’s Guardrails

Shwab and Fidelity both showed an increase in giving

You would think that with the economic downturn of the last year that people would tighten their bootstraps and cease giving to charities, but it turned out that the opposite was true. The two largest brokerage firms, Schwab and Fidelity, recorded increases in charitable donations. 

Donations were made in response to the Covid pandemic and the social justice protests that marked the year. The biggest recipients of these charitable gifts were organizations that provide food and other necessities

Donor-advised funds are an important vehicle for charitable giving

Fidelity Charitable and Schwab Charitable both use donor-advised funds as a vehicle for charitable giving. Donor-advised funds (DAFs) have become popular since they are simple and make for an easy way to give strategically. These charitable investment accounts allow a donor to make a charitable contribution, receive a tax deduction, and then distribute the money over time. Have you thought of changing the way that you make charitable contributions?

What are the benefits of using DAFs?

DAFs have become more popular in recent years due to changes in tax laws. The new standard deduction for charitable giving increased to $24,800 for a married couple. By creating a DAF, donors can contribute a lump sum every few years and then administer the funds to the charities they choose over time. Many advisors recommend donor-advised funds as a receptacle for their clients to strategically deduct charitable contributions. Listen in to hear a real-world example of how a DAF can be used. 

Planning ahead can create a tax deduction

We must all pay our taxes, but we never want to overpay -- no one wants to leave the taxman a tip. If you are charitably minded, a donor-advised fund is an excellent way to implement a multi-year tax strategy and take advantage of the standard deduction. Think about how lump sum giving every few years could change your tax situation. It pays to plan your taxes ahead in retirement.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podbean, Player FM, iHeart, or Spotify

Dec 13, 2021

We’ve all been sitting at home for the past year and now everyone is getting the travel bug. That’s why today we’re kicking off the Summer Travel Series with an interview with Lee Huffman. Lee hosts a podcast called We Travel There and he writes a frugal travel blog at BaldThoughts.com. I’ve been curious about the world of travel hacking, so I have plenty of questions for Lee about using travel points, how to find the best travel resources, and, of course, where to travel. Check out this interview to help you plan your summer vacation. 

Outline of This Episode

  • Where should we get started?
  • What should one look for in travel points?
  • How saving miles and points are like saving for retirement
  • The go-to resources to use
  • Places to check out 

How should we all get started traveling again?

The pandemic has left many of us homebound for over a year, so now that many people are fully vaccinated, everyone is ready to get on the road again. The big question is: how should we get started? 

Lee recommends using the travel credits that you may have accrued from canceled vacations over the pandemic. Those credits and vouchers may have expiration dates, so be sure to check the fine print to ensure that you don’t lose out. 

He also suggests getting your summer trips booked ASAP. The sooner you book, the sooner you’ll be able to find reward availability and lower prices. The more people begin traveling the higher the prices will rise. 

What about international travel?

Travel within the U.S. is on the rise, but people are also itching to travel internationally. Since the vaccine rollout has been different in each country, it is important to carefully investigate the specific travel rules for the country you wish to go to. Each country has its own pandemic rules and regulations. Some countries require negative Covid tests upon arrival and others may require you to be fully vaccinated. It is also important to remember that if you travel internationally, you will need a negative Covid test to enter the U.S. again, regardless of your vaccination status. Listen in to hear how many hotels in Mexico are helping travelers with this requirement.

What are the best ways to earn points?

You can earn travel points and rewards even when you are not traveling by using a credit card. Lee recommends the Capital One Venture Rewards card to get started. You can get cash back or earn extra miles with each purchase that you make. Listen in to hear how you can get started with the Capital One Venture rewards program to start traveling this summer. 

Lee compares saving miles and points with saving for retirement. He states that the two best days to start saving your miles are 10 years ago and today. He also mentions the importance of using your miles periodically. You don’t want them to become devalued over the years. 

How to use your travel miles

There are more ways you can earn travel miles than just making purchases. There are apps that you can use like Dosh to help you earn extra miles on each transaction. 

If you have had a travel rewards card for years but find it difficult to use, you won’t want to miss this interview with Lee Huffman as he explains how you can best use your hard-earned miles. He not only mentions how to use your miles, but he also includes fantastic resources that you can check out to help you find availability so that you can actually use the points that you have accrued. 

Make sure to check out Lee’s podcast, We Travel There, to get inspiration for your next travel destination. He interviews locals to help his listeners understand how to get there, where to go, what to do, how to get around, and where to stay. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Lee Huffman

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podbean, Player FM, iHeart, or Spotify

Dec 6, 2021

What is the number one travel goal for people approaching retirement? Disney! People young and old alike love to go to Disney. In my 15 years of retirement planning, I have discovered that a multi-generational trip to Disney is at the top of most people’s bucket lists. That is why I have brought the world’s foremost expert on Disney travel, Lou Mongello, on to Retirement Starts Today for an interview. Lou and I discuss all things Disney: the must-see attractions, when to go, how to plan, and what is so special about Disney. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:52] What’s so special about Disney?
  • [4:29] What are the must-see attractions?
  • [8:45] When to go
  • [12:53] Plan in advance
  • [15:56] Lou’s favorite thing at Disney

What’s so special about Disney that everyone wants to go there?

Since Disney is the number one bucket list item for many people there must be something extra special about it. When I ask Lou why it is so special, he is unable to quantify this phenomenon. He chalks it up to the way Disney makes us feel. If you have been, you know what he means. 

One way that Disney is able to give us those warm fuzzy feelings is with its customer service. Disney’s level of service is unparalleled. They always go beyond expectations which is why everyone remembers Disney with such fondness. No other place in the world enjoys such a level of brand loyalty. 

What are the must-see attractions?

There is so much to do at Disney. In Orlando, there are not only the 4 main theme parks but there are water parks and resorts to enjoy as well. It can be challenging to figure out what to do when there is so much to choose from. 

There is something for everyone at Disney. Lou recommends the classics from Magic Kingdom in addition to some of the newer attractions. Grandma and the littles are sure to enjoy It’s a Small World and the Jungle Cruise. The Haunted Mansion is another Magic Kingdom classic. At Hollywood Studios, the Tower of Terror and Rock n Roller Coaster are fun for the thrill-seekers in the family. And Frozen and Toy Story are hits with the kids. The Animal Kingdom safari also brings joy to the entire family.

When to go?

When planning your Disney vacation it is you’ll need to consider when to go. This will depend on your family’s schedule, but there is more to consider. Disney has different travel seasons. The peak season includes major holidays and summer. The off-peak times are the rest of the year. During the off-peak times, you can find values on food and lodging prices. 

One tip to use while planning your Disney vacation is to use a Disney travel agency. Many don’t realize that Disney agents are free to the consumer since they get paid by Disney. When planning your Disney vacation make sure to take advantage of these experts. They can help you make the most of your holiday. 

What is the best age to go to Disney?

There is no bad age to go to Disney. There is so much to do that appeals to every age group. That is what makes Disney such a great multigenerational vacation getaway. Not only is there something for everyone, but there is a wide variety of accommodations and food choices. You can customize your vacation to your family’s specific wishes. The most important thing to do is plan ahead. Much like financial planning, planning before you go to Disney will ensure that you get the most out of your family holiday.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Lou Mongello

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podbean, Player FM, iHeart, or Spotify

Nov 29, 2021

Since travel is on many soon-to-be retirees' must-do lists I have created this summer travel series with various travel experts. Danielle Desir from the Thought Card podcast joins me today to discuss how to travel to any destination on a budget. Recognized by Flight Network as one of the best travel hackers in the world, Danielle has figured out how to travel to bucket-list destinations on a dime. Are you ready to learn how to plan your next big trip on any budget? Listen in to discover how.

Outline of This Episode

  • Danielle’s journey to bucket list budget travel
  • Identify the things that you value
  • Take an individual approach 
  • Danielle’s top destinations
  • How to choose to repeat a destination
  • Jet lag tips
  • Where to learn more about travel hacking with Danielle

If you’re on a budget, don’t settle for inexpensive destinations, think big!

Many people think that if they are on a budget they can only travel to budget-friendly places, but Danielle Desir takes a different approach. As a travel hacker, Danielle has learned how to make travel to bucket-list destinations more affordable. She describes using an abundance mentality as a way to make affordable travel work. She recommends getting creative when planning, “take what you have and make it work.”

Identify what matters to you

The first step in becoming a financially savvy traveler is to identify what you value in travel. Is it important to you to be comfortable on a flight? Do you like to eat out and try the best local cuisine? Do you want to see everything you can in one location? Do you prefer luxury accommodations? 

Once you have identified what the most important aspects of travel are to you then you will understand where you can be flexible in your spending. If eating out isn’t important to you then you can save money by packing a sack lunch each day. If a fancy hotel room isn’t important then you could save money by staying in a hostel or an inexpensive Airbnb or motel. 

Understanding what you value in travel will help you save money and ensure that you have an amazing time on your trip. 

Make a game of saving money

Another way to save money is to gamify your planning experience. By making a game of saving money you can compete with yourself to see how much money you can save each time you travel. You can cut costs in a variety of ways by looking for inexpensive accommodation, saving on flights, or by using travel points. Gamifying your travel costs allows you to get creative and save more. 

Communication is key when it comes to couples’ travel

When traveling with your significant other it is important to take into account what they value as well. Make sure to communicate with them so that you are both on the same page. They may value different things about travel so it is important not to skimp in the areas that matter to them. 

You should also be understanding of your partner's travel experience. There may be one partner that is more travel savvy than the other. That means that the travel-savvy partner needs to be patient and explain the importance of the things that you do to save money when traveling. 

It is also important to remember that traveling in retirement will be much different than traveling for work. You are out there to have fun. Listen to this episode with travel expert Danielle Desir to hear how you can travel to any destination affordably. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Danielle Desir

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podbean, Player FM, iHeart, or Spotify

Nov 22, 2021

Now is a great time to start financial and tax planning for the next year. To do so, you must first look at any changes that were made to tax laws. We’ll do that by exploring 2 articles from Forbes and CNBC which take a closer look at any imminent changes to the tax code.

Then we’ll dive into the main segment with an article from Investment News which claims that fewer retirees are claiming Social Security at age 62. Listen in to hear if there will be any tax and retirement planning changes that affect you and to hear why fewer people are claiming Social Security early. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:42] Changes in tax planning for 2022
  • [5:12] Changes in retirement savings plans for 2022
  • [8:08] Fewer retirees are claiming Social Security at 62

Tax updates from Forbes

Despite all the news media clamoring that there might be significant tax changes in 2022, there haven’t been many changes. According to an article from Forbes, marginal tax rates will rise slightly. The standard deduction will rise to $12,950 for individuals and $25,900 for married couples filing jointly. Capital gains rates remain unchanged for the next year, however, the brackets moved slightly to keep pace with inflation. Unfortunately, the charitable deduction that was available to nonitemizers in 2021 did not carry over to 2022. The SALT tax cap could possibly increase from $10,000 to a significantly higher number, but as of this recording, it is not yet official. 

Retirement plan changes in 2022

Do you max out your 401K? I’m always shocked when I realize how few people actually maximize their savings. Only 8.5% of workers save the maximum allotted amount. 

Even though the vast majority of people do not max out their 401Ks, savers will have the opportunity to save even more next year. The employee contribution limit for tax-deferred retirement savings plans will increase to $20,500 which is up $1,000 from 2021. On the other hand, Roth IRA limits will remain unchanged at $6,000. 

So despite the dramatic headlines in the financial media earlier this year, very little has changed for tax and retirement planning from 2021 to 2022. We’ll keep you posted if anything new arises. 

Fewer retirees are claiming Social Security at age 62

If you are curious about the effects of the baby boom consider this: the number of men who turned 62 has more than doubled between the years of 1997 and 2019. This shocking number makes it easy to be fooled by the number of people who claim Social Security early since the number of people who claim Social Security has risen, but when you look at the percentage of people who claim early the statistics have declined greatly. According to a study at Boston College by the Center for Retirement Research (CRR), the percentage of 62-year-olds who claim Social Security early at age 62 has decreased in the past 20 years. 

How has the Covid pandemic affected Social Security claiming age behavior? 

Although we won’t have hard data for another year, it looks like some older workers who lost their jobs may have turned to Social Security to help make ends meet. Early evidence shows that the effects of Covid have not pushed large numbers of people into early retirement. This could be because those most affected cannot afford to stop working.

I’m encouraged that folks are waiting to collect Social Security and in doing so growing the guaranteed income portion of their retirement income. Hopefully, this is due to retirees actively making the decision to defer, rather than deferring because they are having to work longer. Whether it is planned or unplanned, deferring will result in a larger benefit for those retirees. 

This is our last original episode of 2021 so that I can spend more time over the holidays with my family. We’ll close out the year with a list of my favorite episodes from 2021. Enjoy the holiday season, and we’ll meet again in 2022!

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podbean, Player FM, iHeart, or Spotify

Nov 15, 2021

Have you ever filled out a questionnaire at your financial advisor’s office? If you have, it was probably a risk tolerance questionnaire. I have my own opinions about them, but you’ll have to wait until the end of this episode to hear what it is. 

On this episode of Retirement Starts Today, we’ll explore an article from AdvisorPerspectives.com written by Dr. Wade Pfau and Alex Murguia which argues that risk tolerance questionnaires (RTQs) don’t work. You’ll hear new retirement slang and acronyms as well as a discussion of retirement income sourcing. 

Dr. Pfau has also developed his own tool to use that can help you select the best deaccumulation approach. Don’t forget to stick around until the end to hear my thoughts. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:22] How risk tolerance questionnaires are used
  • [5:45] The different approaches
  • [10:35] Two different styles
  • [12:58] My personal criticisms of risk tolerance questionnaires

What are risk tolerance questionnaires used for?

RTQs are a tool that help financial advisors identify the amount of volatility that clients can handle in their investment portfolios. These tools generally consist of 9 questions and they are designed to establish a baseline so that the advisor can rank the investor on a scale of 1-5 from conservative to aggressive. These documents are especially helpful for advisors to stay compliant as they choose portfolio recommendations.

Why retirement investing is different

RTQs work best in the accumulation stage of people’s lives, but when it comes to retirement they fall flat. In retirement, a person must shift their way of thinking from accumulation to decumulation and this can be a challenging adjustment in mindset. Viewpoints on funding daily expenses inevitably change when one is completely dependent on living off one’s investment capital without the luxury of human capital to cushion the blows of a bear market. 

Retirement brings added risks

In addition to a change in mindset, there are unavoidable spending shocks that arise in retirement. This means that retirees need to consider how much of their assets they need to keep on hand for these unexpected events and market downturns. 

Not only are there the everyday expenses that come along, but retirement brings on further risks. There is constantly the risk of outliving your money and becoming a burden to others since no one knows their own longevity. Another retirement risk is lifestyle risk. To maintain a comfortable lifestyle in retirement it is important to ensure enough discretionary income to fully enjoy retirement. 

Why RTQs don’t work 

RTQs work better for people in the accumulation stage of life because they weren’t designed to handle the broader questions that retirement brings. They can play a small role in helping to decide asset allocation, however, they cannot be used in place of a retirement plan. 

It is important to come up with a retirement income strategy based on goals first. By beginning a retirement plan with a questionnaire you end up boxing yourself into a strategy that may not be in alignment with your ultimate retirement goals. Listen in to hear why I think RTQs are a poor excuse for proper retirement planning. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podbean, Player FM, iHeart, or Spotify

Nov 8, 2021

Do you let news headlines affect your choices? The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wanted to learn more about this question, so they conducted a study to find the answers. In this episode of Retirement Starts Today, we’ll take a look at the findings of this study and analyze how people’s misconceptions can influence their life choices in retirement. After checking out the retirement headline, I’ll clarify a Rule of 55 question from Dave. Listen in to hear how headlines may be affecting your decisions.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:32] Media coverage of Social Security could affect claiming age
  • [7:21] Don’t let scary headlines plan your retirement for you
  • [9:40] A tricky Rule of 55 question from Dave

Do sensational headlines affect people’s retirement decisions?

I found an article written by Emile Hallez at Investment News titled Media Coverage of Social Security Could Affect Claiming Age which piqued my interest since, as a financial advisor, this is exactly what I don’t want to hear. 

In this age of social media, we are used to immediate gratification which means that many people don’t dig past a news story’s headline to learn more. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College studied this phenomenon in relation to Social Security benefits and retirement age. Articles on Social Security often emphasize the trust fund depletion date which leads people to believe that the entire Social Security system is insecure. 

Check out the episode where we recently reviewed an article similar to the ones shown in this study.

How did people react to the experiment?

To analyze how people reacted to headlines, researchers showed several types of headlines on Social Security to participants and then asked them a series of questions about their confidence in the Social Security system. The researchers studied how the type of headline affected people’s decisions regarding their own retirement plans. 

They discovered that workers shown headlines that emphasized the Social Security depletion date decided to claim Social Security a year earlier than those in the control group. Learn more about how the study was conducted and the results by pressing play.

Don’t let alarming headlines plan your retirement

A careful retirement plan should be created based on what is right for you and your family. You’ll want to consider your financial future in the long term and how it will affect your life. Shocking headlines incite many to act on fear, but this would be short-sighted. Once you have a retirement plan in place, you can refer back to it when making any decisions about your retirement rather than a knee-jerk reaction. 

Rules of thumb for claiming Social Security

If you are listening to a retirement podcast, hopefully, you aren’t easily swayed by sensational Social Security headlines, but how should you plan on claiming Social Security? If you are married then I suggest deferring the larger benefit for as long as possible. You can collect the smaller benefit whenever you need the income. By deferring the larger benefit, you will be deferring income longer which will leave room to do Roth conversions if needed and the larger benefit will grow to serve the spouse that lives the longest. It doesn’t matter who earned the larger benefit because upon the first death the smaller benefit expires and the larger one continues. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podbean, Player FM, iHeart, or Spotify

Nov 1, 2021

Our chances of death are 100%, so that means at some point in your life you will probably experience the death of a loved one, and you’ll need to prepare for your own passing. Choosing the right executor can make a traumatic time more bearable. The role of executor is not an easy one, which is why it is important to choose wisely. 

In this episode of Retirement Starts Today, you’ll hear an interview with executor expert, David Edey. David has recently written a book titled How to Pick an Executor and Avoid Family Fights. After listening to this interview you’ll be able to choose and become an exemplary executor. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:32] How to prepare your executor
  • [4:37] Should you hire a 3rd party or ask a family member
  • [10:15] How to be the world’s best executor
  • [15:34] More about David’s book

What you can do to prepare your executor

David learned how to be a rock star executor from his own challenging family experience. It took him 7 years, 10 court appearances, and $50,000 in lawyers’ fees to settle his parents' estate and they both had a will!

Everyone seems to know someone with an executor horror story which is why he decided to write his book. David wants to teach others how they can choose or be a fantastic executor.

If you ask someone to become your executor, you must ensure that they have all the tools they need to perform their duty. Make sure to have an up-to-date will in place. Talk with your beneficiaries so that they know what to expect when the time comes. Your digital assets and files should be organized and easily accessible. No one wants to be looking around for missing paperwork when they are dealing with the loss of a loved one. Make it as easy as possible for the executor to get the job done. 

How to choose an executor

Families can fall apart when it’s time to settle an estate which is why it is important to carefully choose an executor. You could choose a family member, a friend, or a third party. If you choose to hire a third party there will be many fees involved. If you choose one of your children over another it is important to communicate with both the chosen executor and the other children to ensure that you help to keep the family harmony after you pass. 

There is no one right way to choose an executor, but you should consider the health and age of the chosen executor. It is important to choose someone who can keep the dynamic that you want to set for the estate and that can get the job done. 

How to be a fantastic executor

If you have been chosen to be an executor you need to ask plenty of questions. It is important to understand where important documents, passwords, and information are. Insist that the will is up to date and that everything is labeled in an easy-to-find location. David’s book has a wealth of resources that can walk you through the process of being an executor. He explains the protocols for shutting down social media, bank accounts, and other online accounts. You can also check out David’s Executor Help podcast. 

Family dynamics can fall apart when a loved one passes. Doing the proper preparations for your passing may be challenging now, but it will pay off in the long run. Doing so will ensure that you leave a legacy and not a mess. 

Connect with David Edey

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podbean, Player FM, iHeart, or Spotify

Oct 25, 2021

If you are like many Americans who watch the news, inflation is probably on your mind. Since the Covid 19 pandemic began costs have been rising. We are still facing the effects of the supply chain breakdowns brought on by the pandemic in addition to extreme worldwide weather events. 

These events have led to an increase in the price of goods on everything from fuel to food to lumber. This type of inflation can be stressful for the average working family but even more worrisome for those on the cusp of retirement. 

Listen in to hear the latest Social Security news and learn how you can combat rising costs. Make sure to scroll down to the bottom of the show notes to access all the links mentioned in this episode. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:52] Good news about Social Security
  • [4:26] How COLA is calculated
  • [5:40] COLA may not be enough to keep up with inflation
  • [9:28] What can we do to hedge for inflation?

Recipients of Social Security are getting a raise

If you are already retired and receiving your Social Security benefits, I have good news! The annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) will increase by 5.9% in 2022 which will boost the individual income of recipients by about $92. This is the largest increase in Social Security benefits since the 7.4% augmentation in 1983. 

Over the past decade, the rise in COLA has been negligible, only averaging 1.65%. This minimal increase is due to the way COLA is calculated. This calculation is based on the change in prices of a market basket of goods as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPIW). 

Even with next year’s close to record-breaking increase, COLA may not be enough to truly combat inflation. 

Are yearly inflation adjustments to Social Security enough to truly keep up with inflation?

Despite yearly inflation adjustments, Social Security benefits have decreased their buying power by 32%. Even though COLA has increased benefits by 55% since 2000, senior citizens’ expenses have actually increased by 104.8% over this same timeframe. 

This ThinkAdvisor article has a photo slideshow that illustrates 10 costs that older Americans have seen risen over the past 20 years.

The article cites The Senior Citizens League (TSCL), an advocacy group, which is trying to change the way COLA is calculated. While TSCL supports legislation that could modestly increase COLA, you won’t want to wait for Congress to ensure that you can maintain buying power in retirement. 

What can we do to hedge for inflation in retirement?

Buying (and holding) stocks in the best companies in the world is the best way to hedge for inflation. The best companies in the world will hire the best employees in the world, and together they will figure out how to find efficiencies and raise prices which will provide you with positive returns and an increasing long-term share price, regardless of inflation.

An allocation to 50-70% stocks should be plenty to keep your portfolio growing, which will grow your account balances over the long term and allow you to increase your monthly distributions. With this kind of diversified portfolio, you’ll be able to use your cash and bonds to weather the storms and ride out bumpy markets. 

How are you planning to combat inflation in your retirement plan?

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podbean, Player FM, iHeart, or Spotify

Oct 18, 2021

The end of the year is coming up right around the corner, and you know what that means: it’s time for end-of-the-year tax planning! However, this year’s tax planning may look a bit different with new tax legislation making its way down the congressional pipeline. Many wealthy individuals are nervous about what the current regime has in store for them. This is why when I saw the headline Tax Moves Advisors Should Be Making Before Year's End in Financial Advisor Magazine I knew I had to share it with my audience. If the news of the tax legislation has you worried, you won’t want to miss this episode. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:22] It’s time for year-end tax planning
  • [8:53] Why you should donate to charity this year
  • [12:44] How to offset future inherited income taxes
  • [18:08] How a qualified charitable distribution could help with taxes

Do you have tax-change proposal fatigue?

Keeping up with all the changes in tax legislation over the past few years can be exhausting. It seems like once in a generation tax law changes happen every couple of years. 

One of the most troubling things about new tax legislation is wondering when it will take effect. Will the new law come into play at the end of the year, or will the changes be retroactive? While this can cause a bit of worry there is no sense in speculating. There is only so much that you can do to prepare. 

Realize more income now to be proactive about the potential tax law changes

While we have no idea what the future might hold, we can still have the presence of mind to plan ahead. One way to combat a hefty tax bill next year is to accelerate your income now. 

For instance, if companies typically give bonuses at the beginning of the next year, they could pay those bonuses out in December instead. 

Another way to realize more income sooner rather than later is to close any business sales before the end of the year to lock those earnings in under the current tax law. 

Enter into deduction mode if you are close to retirement

If you are nearing retirement and you know your income will drop once you retire, you should be in deduction mode. Take advantage of HSAs and 401Ks rather than Roth IRAs to reduce your income and maximize your contributions between now and the end of the year 

If your income decreases once you retire then you can start Roth conversions to mitigate the tax deductions you took when you had a higher income. 

Year-end tax tips

If you file the standard deduction, don’t miss out on the charitable deduction of $300 for singles and $600 for married couples. 

If you are able to itemize your deductions and you are charitably minded, consider funding future years' charitable contributions through a donor-advised fund (DAF). If you have highly appreciated stock then you could use it to contribute to charity while also realizing a valuable tax deduction. 

Another way to finish out the year is to anticipate your year’s earnings so that you can fill up your tax bracket with Roth conversions. This is a great way to take advantage of the historically low tax rates. 

Worrying about future changes won’t help at all, instead, do what you can to take advantage of this year’s low tax rates to prepare for an uncertain future.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podbean, Player FM, iHeart, or Spotify

Oct 11, 2021

Do you wish that you could have a mulligan when it comes to taking your Social Security benefit? Once you file for Social Security, it seems like your decision is set in stone. But what if I told you that you have options to reverse your decision? 

In this episode of Retirement Starts Today, we’ll explore an Investment News article written by one of my favorite Investment News contributors, Mary Beth Franklin. This article provides options for those who have remorse about the timing of their Social Security claim.

In the listener questions segment, we’ll discuss Jerry’s question about his health insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act and how they are affected by the 8.5% rule.

This episode is jam-packed with helpful retirement information, so press play now to continue your retirement education.

Outline of This Episode

  • [3:02] 3 Social Security do-over options
  • [8:25] Check out the Retirement Repair Shop podcast
  • [9:24] Jerry’s ACA insurance premium questions
  • [13:50] Clarification on the ACA 8.5% rule 

There are 3 ways that you could reverse your Social Security timing

Have you found yourself regretting the timing of your Social Security benefits claim? Maybe you wish that you had waited longer to receive a larger benefit or maybe your retirement timeline has changed based on the pandemic or other factors. If so, I have good news for you. There are 3 ways that you could reverse your decision. 

There are many people that wish they could go back and change the timing of their Social Security claim, so if you are one of them make sure to listen to this episode to learn which choice might best fit your needs. 

Withdraw your application

You may not realize this, but you can withdraw your Social Security benefits application. Use form 521 to do so, but keep in mind that there’s a catch. 

You’ll have to repay any earnings you or your dependents have received. Withdrawing your application can only be done once, but doing so will allow you to apply again later when your monthly check would be higher. 

You’ll also want to consider whether you are already enrolled in Medicare. If you withdraw your application, your Medicare premiums will no longer be automatically deducted from your Social Security benefit, so you’ll have to find another way to pay. 

Suspend your benefits

If repaying your Social Security benefits isn’t feasible, then you might want to consider suspending your benefits. This way you don’t have to repay anything, however, keep in mind that not only will your benefits stop, but also this action will stop any benefits to a dependent family member. Your benefits would then start again at age 70. Listen in to discover why this may be a good strategy for married couples. 

Request a lump sum payout

Requesting a lump sum payout works only for individuals who have reached full retirement age. They can request a lump-sum payout of up to 6 months of retroactive benefits. This option would best be used by someone who has an urgent need for cash or for people who waited until after their full retirement age to claim either spousal or survivor benefits. After receiving a lump-sum payment, that person could then voluntarily suspend benefits and earn delayed retirement credits up to age 70 which would boost future monthly benefits. 

Claiming Social Security seems like such a permanent decision so if life comes along and changes your plans it’s good to know that you have these alternatives to consider. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podbean, Player FM, iHeart, or Spotify

Oct 4, 2021

Do you wish that there was a list of what to do and what not to do in your retirement? I recently discovered an article from MorningStar.com written by Sheryl Rowling titled 8 Financial Do's and Don'ts for the 7-Figure Retirement, and I thought it would be perfect to share with my listeners. You'll learn several tips that you should consider when planning your retirement.

After we analyze the article’s do’s and don’ts, we’ll turn to Debbie’s question about taking Social Security early in order to protect beneficiaries. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:42] 8 Financial Do's and Don'ts for the 7-Figure Retirement
  • [4:11] Boredom is a 4 letter word in retirement
  • [6:25] Don’t take Social Security too late
  • [10:19] Don’t write checks to charity
  • [12:07] Consult a financial professional
  • [13:45] Should Debbie take Social Security early?

8 Financial tips for a successful retirement

Don’t retire too early. Retiring too early can be detrimental to both your psyche and your savings. If you have to retire early or sooner than expected, make sure that you retire to something rather than away from something. Creating a purpose in retirement can ensure that you don’t get bored. Boredom is a four-letter word in retirement. 

For every year that you retire early, you have one less year of savings and one more year of spending. Do the math to learn what that could mean for your portfolio.

Do watch your taxable income level. This may sound odd, but it often makes sense to pay more taxes now in order to pay significantly less later. Retirement is one time in your life when you have control over the taxes you pay. Implementing careful tax planning strategies can save you over the course of your retirement.

Don’t take Social Security too early or too late. When to take Social Security is a complex question, and the answers vary depending on the individual. It’s usually best to wait until full retirement age to start taking benefits and it’s often even better to delay until age 70 especially if you’re married. Listen in to hear what I usually recommend to my clients.

Do consider Roth conversions. If you have the opportunity to convert your IRA to a Roth you should even though you must pay tax on the amount converted. Remember that since these are after-tax dollars, the income they provide is never taxed.

Do consider retirement stages and safe withdrawal rates when determining your budget. Spending more in the early years of retirement makes sense as long as you consider several factors. You’ll need to ensure that you have a safety net in place and that you have a plan to reduce your spending over time or whenever the market becomes uncooperative.

Don’t lock yourself into financial commitments or expensive payments. Long-term expenses like leasing a luxury car can lock you into financial commitments that you can’t free yourself from. Becoming the Bank of Mom and Dad can not only ruin your kids’ chances of financial independence, but it can also ruin your relationship and your own financial security in retirement. 

Don’t write checks to charity. Instead of writing checks to charity, consider contributing appreciated stocks. This way of charitable giving can save you more in taxes. One way to utilize this strategy is by creating a donor-advised fund (DAF) which could be likened to a charitable IRA.

Do consult a financial professional. Obviously, I agree with this tip. Consider consulting a CPA as well as a financial advisor so that you can ensure that you are considering every angle in your retirement plan.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podbean, Player FM, iHeart, or Spotify

Sep 27, 2021

 Do annuities give retirees a different attitude towards spending in retirement? In this week’s retirement headlines, we’ll examine an article that discusses the psychological benefits that retirees who shift their assets from savings to lifetime income enjoy. This group of retirees has more of a license to spend attitude and ends up gaining more enjoyment from their retirement savings. 

Make sure to stick around until the end of this episode to hear my thoughts on the article. You’ll also hear me compare the advantages and disadvantages of using Cobra instead of the ACA before Medicare. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:42] 3 need to know bullet points about annuities
  • [6:52] What do I think about using annuities?
  • [12:12] Cobra or the ACA?

Are you spending less than you should in retirement?

Are you having a hard time loosening the purse strings in retirement? If so, you are not alone. Many retirees find it challenging to shift from a savings mindset to a spending mindset, so they find it difficult to spend their hard-earned savings even on the things they most enjoy. As a result, many retirees end up spending far less in retirement than they could. David Blanchett and Michael Finke at ThinkAdvisor.com recently wrote an article about the shift in mindset that annuities can provide. 

Why do people purchase annuities?

The biggest question in retirement is how much you can safely spend. Retirees are always at the risk of outliving their savings if they spend too much or they end up living a less enjoyable life if they spend too cautiously. For this reason, many decide to transfer the risk of an unknown lifespan to an insurance company that provides guaranteed income. 

Do annuities provide a shift in the spending mindset?

The authors of the article reference a study that discovered that people don’t spend more simply because they are wealthier, instead they spend more based on the form of wealth that they hold. 

Households that hold more of their wealth in guaranteed income end up spending significantly more each year than those which hold a greater share of their wealth in investments.

Retirees end up spending twice as much each year when they have guaranteed income. Every dollar of assets converted to guaranteed income results in twice the equivalent spending compared to the money that is left invested in an investment portfolio. 

Are annuities the only way to shift your spending mindset?

However, you don’t necessarily need an annuity to change your spending mindset. Behavior management and accountability are the most important aspects of retirement planning. If you can hold yourself accountable and adjust your spending habits when necessary you can come up with a successful retirement plan. 

To achieve that, you need a plan that you can have confidence in. If you can create a financial plan in retirement that you feel confident in then you will be able to spend with confidence. One way to increase your confidence in your retirement income is to defer Social Security for as long as possible. By waiting until age 70 you can increase your benefit amount by 32%.

What are you doing to create a successful retirement plan? Listening to this podcast can help you gain the knowledge and confidence you need to successfully plan your retirement.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podbean, Player FM, iHeart, or Spotify

Sep 20, 2021

 The annual Social Security beneficiary report was recently released and just like every other year that they release it, it has caused people to worry about their future. Social Security is a crucial, foundational element of most retirement income plans, so when you read headlines that it will run out soon how should you react? 

Should you go about changing your retirement plans altogether? Should you file for Social Security early to ensure you get the most out of your benefit? We’ll explore these questions in this episode of Retirement Starts Today.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:52] Will Social Security run out in 12 years?
  • [4:44] How to fix the Social Security math problem
  • [11:20] What you should do to prepare for a Social Security pay cut

Covid has exacerbated the Social Security funding crisis

The recent report released by the government was unsurprising to anyone who has been paying attention. This year’s statement revealed that the Social Security trust fund will ‘run out of money’ in 12 years which is one year sooner than previously anticipated. The time frame has been accelerated due to the Covid pandemic. 

The issue of ‘running out of money’ is caused by a math problem. There are insufficient people entering the workforce to support the increasing number of baby boomers that collect Social Security each month. The record unemployment rates during the pandemic resulted in even fewer people contributing to the Social Security fund. 

There is a myth that there are fewer people in the generations succeeding the baby boomers than there are in the baby boomer generation, but this myth isn’t true. There are actually more people in each of the generations that follow the Baby Boomers. So, the problem isn’t due to a lack of work-age people. It is due to a lack of funding.

How to fix the lack of Social Security funding

Before I continue, I need to address the wording that everyone uses surrounding the shortage in Social Security funding. It is commonly stated that Social Security will run out of money. However, Social Security cannot run out of money while workers continue to pay into it. The issue is that there won’t be enough income coming in to support the money going out to the beneficiaries. This means that there will be a reduction in benefits rather than a complete lack of funds.

There are two ways that Congress could alleviate the Social Security funding problem. They could increase payroll taxes beyond the current $142,800 cap or they could increase the percentage of the 12.4% payroll tax that comes from each worker. 

What you should do to prepare for a Social Security pay cut

Hopefully, now you aren’t worried about the complete elimination of the Social Security program, but you may still be concerned about getting a Social Security pay cut in retirement. Many people feel pulled to file early so that they can get into the program as soon as possible. However, if there is a reduction in Social Security benefits those people will be taking a cut on an already reduced benefit. 

If you wait until age 70 to collect your Social Security payment you will receive 132% of your original benefit. So if there does end up being a reduction in the Social Security program, then you will end up taking a cut on an increased amount. 

What would you prefer--taking a cut on a cut or a cut on a larger amount?

Don’t let sensationalist headlines dictate your retirement plans. Create your retirement plan based on your own unique needs. By maintaining a long-term focus you could end up saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in opportunity costs. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podbean, Player FM, iHeart, or Spotify

Sep 13, 2021

Have you been feeling the pull to retire? This feeling isn’t constrained to those nearing retirement age; many people have been feeling the desire to quit their jobs lately. So many workers are considering a job change that this wave of people has begun what is called “The Great Resignation.” I read about this phenomenon on The Guardian website in an article written by Elle Hunt. Elle considers 17 questions that you should ask yourself before you make the leap into the unknown. If you have been contemplating retirement or a job change you won’t want to miss this episode.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:02] 17 questions to ask yourself if you are ready to quit your job
  • [4:53] What do you actually want to do?
  • [8:08] What could you gain by quitting your job?
  • [12:55] You can’t bootstrap your mortgage

Attitudes surrounding employment are changing

A recent survey indicated that over 40% of people have considered a job change this year. This trend could be a byproduct of stress brought on by the pandemic, but it could be due to a global shift in mindset which has led to a changing shift in employment priorities. 

Have you considered retiring early or leaving your current job? If so, you’ll want to make sure that you ask yourself these questions before making any rash decisions.

17 questions to consider if you are ready to quit your job

  1. What are your frustrations? Before you up and quit, you’ll want to ask yourself why you really want to quit. What are the underlying causes of your dissatisfaction? Make sure to go deep in your thinking since your first thought is rarely the true reason for your unhappiness. To explore this question further write down every thought and feeling you have surrounding your job for 10 days. 
  2. How did you get to where you are now? Reflect on what led you to your current job and what brought you to it in the first place
  3. How long have you been feeling this way? Were you unhappy before the pandemic or is the feeling more recent? Consider whether your feelings are pandemic related. If so, this could mean you are actually seeking more control over your life. You may simply feel burned out and need some time off.
  4. What do you actually want to do? How do you want to live your life? Who do you want to be? These questions cut to the core and ensure that you explore your values. You may find that your unhappiness runs deeper than your career choice.
  5. How would your perfect day be different than it is now? Coming up with your perfect day can also help you explore whether you are ready to eliminate all work-related activities. If so, you may be ready to retire. 
  6. What do your friends and family say? Use your support system as a sounding board for your thoughts.
  7. What would you be giving up by quitting? If you are thinking of retiring early, think about the costs of healthcare before Medicare and other stabilizing factors that your job brings. 
  8. What would you gain by quitting? Try to steer clear of revenge retirement. It may lead you to a situation that you can’t come back from. Your negative feelings might pass, so don’t box yourself into a corner. 
  9. Have you explored every option with your employer? Try negotiating. You may be able to work out reduced hours, higher pay, or other changes in your workplace.
  10. Should you wait until you’re back in the office to make a decision? Be clear with your own needs and desires when considering this question.
  11. Should you quit due to a toxic boss? It can be challenging to see a toxic relationship while you are in the thick of the situation. A toxic work environment could mean that it is time for a change.
  12. When should you quit over stress? Is stress causing you to lose sleep, enjoy time with your family, or negatively affect your downtime? If your job adversely affects your life and health then you’ll want to assess why you feel stress.
  13. Are your expectations realistic? Can you actually leave your job?
  14. Can you afford to cover your expenses? If you can’t, then you may need to stick it out a bit longer.
  15. Could caring less help? Try setting boundaries in your workday. Define your values and step away from work when needed. and define values. 
  16. Is now the right time? You can empower yourself by filling in the gaps.
  17. Why can’t you make a decision? Set a decision date so that you don’t let your indecisiveness drag on.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podbean, Player FM, iHeart, or Spotify

Sep 6, 2021

In retirement, you have all the time in the world, but are you using your time wisely? I recently read an op-ed article from CNBC about the power of delegation and it got me thinking about the way we spend our time. 

On this episode of Retirement Starts today, we’ll explore that op-ed article, I'll share what I learned about inherited IRAs this week, and I’ll answer a listener question about retirement planning beyond the 4% rule. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:22] What I learned in my office this week
  • [5:24] An inherited IRA example
  • [6:35] The value of paying others to do services for you
  • [10:55] A question about episode 193
  • [14:52] Check out my retirement guardrails video

What is the highest use of your time?

Are you planning to live your best life in retirement? If so, you may want to consider delegating various tasks that could be better handled by someone else. Even if you have lived a life of frugality you should ask yourself if doing certain tasks is the best use of your time. You may receive a better return on investment and return on your health by hiring someone else to do certain services for you. Use your time to enjoy life rather than by doing menial tasks. 

Tasks that may be best done by others

If you can afford it, consider hiring someone to complete these tasks for you. 

  1. Hire a lawn care service - Not only will having someone else care for your lawn save you time, but it could also save your energy, and maybe even save you from heatstroke, or worse.
  2. Use a travel agent for vacation planning - A professional travel agent can help keep your vacation costs down and save you time on research. A travel agent can also assist you with problems during your trip which can be extremely valuable when traveling abroad.
  3. Grocery pick-up, delivery, and ready-made meals - Many of us discovered the magic of grocery pick-up or delivery services during the pandemic. Choosing a grocery pick-up or delivery service can help save you time on meal prep and also alleviate any COVID-19 related fears associated with shopping in person.
  4. Hire a business coach - A business coach can help you overcome hurdles that stand in the way of your personal and professional goals. They can also help you navigate career options and even reduce stress. 
  5. Quit doing your own taxes - Leaving the tax prep and planning to a professional can save you time and money. 

Which of these services would best serve you?

How will you spend your time in retirement?

Even though you will have more time on your hands in retirement, it still makes sense to use your time wisely. Think about the highest and best use of your time. What could this extra time mean to you? Would it bring an improvement in your quality of life? Could you plan your bucket list or how to leave your legacy? Retirement is all about the what if, so what if you could take some of these tasks off your plate? 

Make sure to listen to hear what I learned this week about inherited IRAs and you won’t want to miss a listener question about using retirement guardrails. This episode is packed full of information so press play now to get started. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podbean, Player FM, iHeart, or Spotify

Aug 30, 2021

Since travel is on many soon-to-be retirees' must-do lists I have created this summer travel series with various travel experts. Danielle Desir from the Thought Card podcast joins me today to discuss how to travel to any destination on a budget. Recognized by Flight Network as one of the best travel hackers in the world, Danielle has figured out how to travel to bucket-list destinations on a dime. Are you ready to learn how to plan your next big trip on any budget? Listen in to discover how.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:22] Danielle’s journey to bucket list budget travel
  • [3:23] Identify the things that you value
  • [7:21] Take an individual approach 
  • [10:53] Danielle’s top destinations
  • [12:32] How to choose to repeat a destination
  • [15:41] Jet lag tips
  • [20:47] Where to learn more about travel hacking with Danielle

If you’re on a budget, don’t settle for inexpensive destinations, think big!

Many people think that if they are on a budget they can only travel to budget-friendly places, but Danielle Desir takes a different approach. As a travel hacker, Danielle has learned how to make travel to bucket-list destinations more affordable. She describes using an abundance mentality as a way to make affordable travel work. She recommends getting creative when planning, “take what you have and make it work.”

Identify what matters to you

The first step in becoming a financially savvy traveler is to identify what you value in travel. Is it important to you to be comfortable on a flight? Do you like to eat out and try the best local cuisine? Do you want to see everything you can in one location? Do you prefer luxury accommodations? 

Once you have identified what the most important aspects of travel are to you then you will understand where you can be flexible in your spending. If eating out isn’t important to you then you can save money by packing a sack lunch each day. If a fancy hotel room isn’t important then you could save money by staying in a hostel or an inexpensive Airbnb or motel. 

Understanding what you value in travel will help you save money and ensure that you have an amazing time on your trip. 

Make a game of saving money

Another way to save money is to gamify your planning experience. By making a game of saving money you can compete with yourself to see how much money you can save each time you travel. You can cut costs in a variety of ways by looking for inexpensive accommodation, saving on flights, or by using travel points. Gamifying your travel costs allows you to get creative and save more. 

Communication is key when it comes to couples’ travel

When traveling with your significant other it is important to take into account what they value as well. Make sure to communicate with them so that you are both on the same page. They may value different things about travel so it is important not to skimp in the areas that matter to them. 

You should also be understanding of your partner's travel experience. There may be one partner that is more travel savvy than the other. That means that the travel-savvy partner needs to be patient and explain the importance of the things that you do to save money when traveling. 

It is also important to remember that traveling in retirement will be much different than traveling for work. You are out there to have fun. Listen to this episode with travel expert Danielle Desir to hear how you can travel to any destination affordably. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Danielle Desir

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podbean, Player FM, iHeart, or Spotify

Aug 23, 2021

 Do you have bond funds in your portfolio? Many people understand the way that bonds work, but they may not know how bond funds work. El has written in to ask this question which I will answer in the listener questions segment. 

Before we get to that retirement question, we’ll take a look at a MarketWatch article titled Are You in Retirement Hell? It was such a catchy title that I had to check it out. 

The article expresses the author’s struggle with finding challenge and meaning in retirement. You won’t want to miss the ways that you can avoid your own retirement hell. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:32] Are you in retirement hell?
  • [5:38] How to prevent retirement hell
  • [6:56] How do bond funds work?
  • [12:53] What are alternative options to bond funds?
  • [16:52] Does John have enough money to retire?

Are you in retirement hell?

Retirement is a time of fun and relaxation. You no longer have exhausting work schedules, long commutes, or alarm clocks waking you up every morning. Every day is yours to do as you wish. 

Passing the days pursuing leisurely activities like playing golf or visiting the grandkids may be just perfect for some laid-back retirees, but for those looking for more challenging pursuits, these carefree days could quickly turn into retirement hell. 

You can recognize if you are in retirement hell if you are feeling lost and vulnerable. You may even sink into a depression as the activities that you once enjoyed feel empty and meaningless. 

How to fix (or prevent) retirement hell

In the article, the author mentions that he didn’t break out of retirement hell until he finally sat down and defined his concept of fine

Contentment is an important part of retirement, it’s so important that I even discussed it once in a previous episode with Fritz Gilbert. When you’re done listening to this episode, pop back over to that one and have a listen. 

I always like to say that you shouldn’t be retiring away from something, instead retire to something. It’s important to consider what you will do with those extra 40 hours a week that you now have at your disposal. 

You don’t want to wait until you are in the thick of retirement hell to figure this out. Try creating a practice retirement with some of your vacation time. Take a couple of weeks off and don’t go anywhere or do anything exciting. Instead, try passing the days as you would like to when you retire. 

How do bond funds work?

A bond fund is similar to a mortgage, but you have a group of investors and a company instead of the mortgage lender and home buyer. 

Bonds can be purchased individually and held to maturity or they can be traded. Bonds are similar to stocks in that they can go up or down in value but they have different interest rates and different rates of maturity. 

To spread out the risk of buying individual bonds, most investors choose to invest in a basket of bonds or a bond mutual fund. The risk is spread in the same way that you spread out the risk in your stock portfolio. 

What are alternative options to bond funds?

If you aren’t happy with the bond funds that you have now try Googling portfolio immunization. Portfolio immunization means that you match your retirement liabilities with your retirement assets. 

The way to do this is to purchase a bond in advance so that it matures the year that you need the cash flow. The specific benefit of this strategy is holding the bond until maturity. By holding the bond until it matures you remove the interest rate risk. 

Make sure to stay tuned until the very end where I answer John’s question about whether he has enough money to retire. You may be surprised by my recommendation. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podbean, Player FM, iHeart, or Spotify

Aug 16, 2021

Are you preparing for a successful retirement? If you are, you’ll need to consider more than just your finances because 80% of a successful retirement has nothing to do with money. However, when people focus on retirement planning, money is often the only thing they focus on. In the retirement headlines segment this week, we’ll check out an article from Financial Advisor Magazine titled Right Way Retirement. This article takes a look at the non-financial aspects of retirement that many financial advisors miss when it comes to retirement planning. 

In the listener questions segment, I answer a question from Majid about working while collecting Social Security. Make sure to tune in until the end to hear how to complete the earnings test so that you will understand how much you can earn and how to avoid Social Security penalties.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:12] To plan for retirement you need to stay ahead of the curve
  • [4:00] 6 items to focus on in retirement planning
  • [8:03] Will income from a part-time job affect the amount of Social Security I receive?

Retirement isn’t only about the money

Robert Laura recently published an article in Financial Advisor Magazine about doing what it takes to create a successful retirement. The author noticed that most financial advisors that help people get ready for retirement focus solely on the financial aspect of this life change. However, retirement isn’t all about the money. He has noticed that advisors often have a blind spot for the areas of retirement that aren’t financially related. To truly prepare for retirement, people need to take a more holistic approach. 

6 ways to create a successful retirement 

  1. Replace your work identity. Many retirees feel like they lose a significant piece of their identity when they leave the workforce. To combat this sense of loss, identify the specific areas of your career that you get fulfillment from. Then think of ways that you can parlay that area of fulfillment into your life in retirement. A couple of ways that retirees choose to carry on their former work identity in retirement is through mentoring or consulting.
  2. Fill your time with meaningful tasks. Once you retire you’ll have a 40-50 hour space to fill in your week. Creating a retirement routine can help combat boredom. Try filling the gap with an active and healthy lifestyle. This will not only leave you fulfilled but healthier as well. 
  3. Stay relevant and connected. When you leave work behind you also leave much of your social network. Retirement can be an opportunity to re-establish old connections and create new ones.
  4. Keep mentally and physically active. You can do this by creating healthy routines.
  5. Express your spiritual beliefs. Not everyone is religious, so if you're not, you could work on improving your mindset by cultivating a gratitude practice. 
  6. Feel financially secure. If you’ve been listening to this show for a while, hopefully, you are well on your way to meet this goal. 

Create a plan to gain the most fulfillment from your retirement

Creating a retirement plan that addresses all 6 of these areas can help you create a greater sense of satisfaction with your life in retirement. You don’t want to get into the thick of retirement and discover that there is something missing from your life. Start a more holistic approach to retirement planning now so that you can create a meaningful life in retirement. 

Make sure to tune into the listener questions segment to hear about receiving Social Security while you are still working. You’ll learn just how important it is to know your full retirement age and how the Social Security Earnings test can help you keep the most from your benefit. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podbean, Player FM, iHeart, or Spotify

Aug 9, 2021

Do you have a case of frugality syndrome? Many of us are so used to saving and living frugally that we have a hard time pivoting from the accumulation stage of retirement planning into the distribution stage. 

A recent retirement headline from Advisor Perspectives titled Overcoming the Frugality Syndrome caught my eye. This article discusses the difficulty that some retirees have in switching from saving to spending. I wanted to share this with you all since so many of you are diligent savers.

After the retirement headlines, we move on to our listener questions segment. Wendell is concerned about having all his eggs in one custodian’s basket and Stella would like to learn about rolling a 401K into a Vanguard target-date fund. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:22] What is frugality syndrome?
  • [4:18] 3 tips for overcoming frugality
  • [8:55] A question about target-date funds
  • [14:49] Should you consolidate accounts into one financial firm?

Can too much frugality be a bad thing?

Rick Kahler at Advisor Perspectives recently wrote an article about the problems that can arise from too much frugality. He uses one particular example to make his point: the FI/RE movement. FI/RE stands for financial independence/retire early and those that try to achieve this goal often do so by becoming exceedingly frugal. 

Many of you have been amazing savers over the years which is why you are on track to achieve your retirement goals. However, while your frugality can help you achieve your retirement goals, a long-term focus on constantly saving can make it hard to stop being thrifty and start spending. 

Over the long-term, frugality becomes a habit and thriftiness becomes ingrained in one's being. This mindset makes the act of switching to the distribution stage of retirement a challenge for many people. Rick offers 3 tips on shifting gears from accumulation to decumulation.

3 ways to shift gears from accumulation mode to distribution mode

  1. Recognize that frugality syndrome is normal. First, it is important to congratulate yourself on your financial achievement. Once you do so, then you can give yourself the grace and understanding that the transition from saving to spending will be a challenge. 
  2. Create a spending plan. A spending plan with set limits can help you overcome any anxiety that you may feel about overspending your carefully saved money. This will also help to ensure that your money will last and that you aren’t squandering away your financial future. 
  3. Get a financial checkup. Consider consulting a fiduciary financial planner a year or so before your target retirement date. You may also look into seeing a Certified Financial Therapist or Certified Financial Transitionist. These financial professionals can help prepare you for the mindset shift that comes with this monumental life change. 

Creating a retirement plan can help you spend confidently

Don’t think of frugality as a light switch that you can turn on and off. It will end up being a mindset that you have to ease out of. 

Early planning can help with the emotional aspects of shifting your financial mindset. Creating a thorough retirement plan can help you to spend confidently. I like to set retirement guardrails that help to safeguard a person from market risk. These set limits protect against sequence of return risk as well as helping with one’s financial mindset. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podbean, Player FM, iHeart, or Spotify

Aug 2, 2021

How’s this for a headline? I’m 62, unemployed, living off my savings, and waiting on Social Security — ‘Can I go fishing for the next 25 years and forget about work? It naturally caught my eye since there was fishing in the title!

Today we’ll check out this MarketWatch article and answer the headline’s question as well as explore the additional recommendations the article mentions on ways to make retirement savings last.

In the listener questions segment, I’ll answer a complex question about borrowing against your home for a gift for a child. Once you’re done listening please head on over to our annual listener survey to make sure you voice your opinions on the trajectory of the show. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:22] Can I go fishing for the next 25 years?
  • [4:58] Financial advisors weigh in on this question
  • [14:20] Should I take out $150,000 of my IRA to help my family buy a house?
  • [19:35] Make your voice heard--go check out our listener survey!

Is it time to forget work and go fishing?

A recent Market Watch article caught my eye since it had fishing in the headline. The article opens with a question from a reader about his decision to quit his job early and go fishing for the rest of his life. The recent retiree did a great job saving for retirement and the MarketWatch author and I agree--he is absolutely ready to go fishing for the rest of his life.

I enjoyed reading this article since it included other experts’ responses, so I thought I would dig in and explore them a bit further and add my own 2 cents. 

The dangers of leaving ‘moldy money’ lying around

One commenter pointed out that the writer had a substantial amount of money in a savings account. He warned of the dangers of inflation by leaving that money in a low-yielding savings account. 

I agree with these concerns. Unless there is a specific reason, you need to be wary of leaving ‘moldy money’ lying around in low-yielding accounts. This money will end up losing purchasing power over time due to inflation. 

If you do have a substantial amount of money that isn’t invested consider converting a portion of that savings into a Roth IRA. Listen in to hear how I disagree with one advisor’s approach to investing for retirement. 

Why the bucket approach works

Another advisor suggested the bucket approach for asset allocation. This approach requires you to divide your assets into categories based on your withdrawal timeline. 

The super-conservative category is the first bucket you’ll dip into. The less conservative bucket has a longer time horizon, and the aggressive bucket won’t be touched for a long time. 

The bucket approach is a great idea and allows you to visualize your near-term assets and distinguish them from your longer, more volatile investments. 

Recognizing the difference between the boring short-term assets from the more exciting long-term assets will help you keep your sanity when the market starts misbehaving. 

To delay Social Security or not

The next area that the article discusses is Social Security. The letter writer plans to wait until full retirement age in order to receive 100% of his Social Security benefit, but there is the possibility of delaying even longer until the age of 70. 

Generally, my suggestion is to wait until age 70 to receive the maximum benefit, however, in this case, I don’t think it is as important. Listen in to hear why. 

 

1IVllfsq61rslNucXcD7 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podbean, Player FM, iHeart, or Spotify

Jul 26, 2021

What do you think about senior living communities? Would you want to move to one? According to a recent WSJ article, occupancy in senior housing is on the decline despite the fact that baby boomers are aging and more of these communities are springing up all over the country. In the retirement headlines segment, we’ll take a look at the reasons for this phenomenon.

But before we get to the retirement headlines I also want to share a conversation I had with a client about how to plan sales of his company stock. Make sure to listen in if you have a significant amount of stock in your company. You’ll want to hear what you should consider before selling. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:22] Identify you pain threshold when selling company stock
  • [5:58] Boomers want to stay home
  • [10:38] Who will win?
  • [11:40] How does long-term care insurance play into this equation?
  • [13:03] Don’t forget to answer our annual listener survey!

Boomers want to stay home

It may not be a surprise to you that seniors want to stay in their homes for as long as possible. A recent WSJ article investigates these low occupancy rates in senior housing developments. People born during the Depression and World War II are moving into senior housing, but baby boomers plan to stay in their homes longer. Even though boomers would like to age in place, the oldest of this generation will start reaching their mid-80s within the next decade which is the age when many people start moving into senior housing. 

Why are senior housing occupancy rates falling?

There are a couple of reasons that senior housing occupancy rates are in decline. One reason is that improved health has led to people entering senior housing later in life than in years past. People are not only living longer, but they are also staying healthier longer. 

Another reason for the senior residency decline is technology. There are several new technologies that can help the elderly stay in their homes longer than in the past. Seniors can remain independent for an extended period with technologies like Uber, self-driving cars, and grocery delivery services. 

The article also mentions more innovative examples of how technology can help the elderly. One example is LifePod Solutions, a voice remote monitoring platform that can identify seniors' needs and send care when needed. An architectural design firm, Gensler is using technology to redesign senior-friendly homes that can adapt to the elderly’s changing needs. Tolent Construction in the U.K. has designed a mixed-use development that includes senior-friendly homes which will allow the elderly to age in place longer. Innovation is responding to demand and creating myriad ways to help the elderly stay in their communities with friends and family for as long as possible. 

Who will win?

The commercial real estate market has been betting big on the idea that aging baby boomers will be needing senior housing, but improved technology that can help the elderly stay home longer may change this reality. The beauty of capitalism is that competition will drive the best solution. I see a very bright technology-enabled future for our aging population. 

How will long-term care insurance play into this equation?

With all of these improvements in technology, will our aging populous still need long-term care insurance? Or will long-term care insurance legislation need to change? One way this insurance could adapt is to allow policies to pay for home upgrades that use technology-based solutions that allow elderly homeowners to age in place. Only time will tell how the technology, real estate, and insurance industries will adapt to baby boomers’ needs.

Before you go, be sure to chime in on what you think of Retirement Starts Today by filling out our annual listener survey. I produce this show with your needs in mind and want to ensure that I am addressing the issues that you find most important. Any changes in the coming year will be based on the results of this survey, so make sure your voice is heard!

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podbean, Player FM, iHeart, or Spotify

Jul 19, 2021

Has the Covid pandemic caused you to reevaluate your life and consider early retirement? If so, you are not alone. Now that we are starting to emerge from the pandemic, many Americans have a new 'life is short' mindset. This, coupled with an upswing in investments and home values is leading many affluent Americans in a rush to retire.

Check out the retirement headlines segment where we explore a recent Bloomberg article that explores this topic. Then, stick around for the listener questions where I answer a question from Randy about paying off his mortgage with a Roth IRA and if you stay until the very end you’ll hear the story behind the Retirement Starts Today theme song. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [3:22] Affluent Americans Rush to Retire in New ‘Life-Is-Short’ Mindset
  • [7:47] There is a downside to the loss of older workers
  • [9:32] Should we consider paying off our home loan with a Roth IRA?
  • [16:21] The story behind the theme song

Participate in our annual listener survey

Every year I send out a listener survey to our Every Day Is Saturday newsletter subscribers to give you all the opportunity to guide the content over the next year. In the past, I have made changes based on your answers and I look forward to hearing your thoughts this year.

If you haven’t yet subscribed to the newsletter you can do so here. In addition to being able to participate in the survey, the newsletter also contains all the links from the show each week, as well as free book offerings from the authors I interview, and all kinds of useful retirement tips. If you want to complete the survey now, simply click here

Many affluent Americans are ready to retire

One of the most surprising aspects of the pandemic has been the unprecedented surge in the stock market. Investors have enjoyed double-digit returns and this swell in portfolio values has led many to reconsider their retirement plans. This is in stark contrast to those on the opposite end of the spectrum that had little savings and lost their jobs over the past year. Life for affluent Americans is looking good and many are taking advantage of the situation by considering early retirement. 

Changes in work environments are another reason for the mass exodus

Another reason people may be considering early retirement is the toll that the past year has had on workers. The pandemic has changed the way that many companies do business. Zoom fatigue and stressful work environments are also contributing factors in the rush to retirement. Teachers and healthcare professionals are experiencing record levels of burnout. While this mass exodus is positive for those ready to retire, there could be a downside.

As the most experienced and productive workers exit the workforce, businesses are experiencing labor shortages. Older workers have higher productivity, lower absenteeism, and usually train the newcomers so this loss significantly affects companies. 

Life is short, enjoy it!

I love to see the newfound freedom that many are experiencing post-pandemic. Life is short and we should enjoy it fully. To do so, make sure to have a written retirement plan to help guide you. 

I also recommend taking a practice retirement before you actually retire. This can help you get a feel for retirement and help you build retirement routines. This trial run will also show you if you are mentally and emotionally prepared for retirement. 

Have you been thinking of retiring early? If so, what have you been doing to prepare? Listen in to hear how a retirement rehearsal could help you prepare for your retirement journey.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podbean, Player FM, iHeart, or Spotify

Jul 12, 2021

Episode 200! I can’t believe I’ve made it to this landmark episode. Thank you all for joining me on this journey and I hope you'll join me for the next 200.

I enjoy looking back and reminiscing on previous episodes, but I don’t have to go too far back to find my most recent favorite. Episode 199 is one of my most recent favorites. In it, I interviewed world-renowned Disney expert, Lou Mongello, to discuss multigenerational Disney trips. Check it out if taking the grandkids to Disney is on your bucket list. 

In this episode, we’re covering two retirement headlines. The first is from Investment News and it describes how some leading retirement experts question whether advisors should rethink their assumptions about retirement spending when creating financial plans. The 2nd retirement headline is from HumbleDollar.com titled Secret SauceThis article describes the aspects of work that we want to hang onto, those that we might not, and it outlines six steps to design a successful and ideal retirement.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:22] How we should rethink our assumptions about retirement spending
  • [9:30] How to plan your retirement withdrawal rate
  • [11:20] To have a successful retirement, you need to have an understanding of work

People in retirement live differently

Mary Beth Franklin recently wrote an article for Investment News about retirement spending. She sourced a study completed by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) which analyzed the spending of 2000 retirees. The study found diversity in the way people live in retirement based on financial status, retirement goals, demographics, and spending habits. Mary Beth's article focuses on the results for those that were classified as affluent and comfortable retirees.

Not many affluent retirees plan to spend their savings

In the article, affluent retirees were defined as those with financial assets exceeding $320,000 and an annual income of $100,000 or more. Most of them were also mortgage-free with zero debt. Their most common sources of income were defined as employer benefit plans, Social Security, and personal savings. They reported that they feel they have saved enough for retirement and only 1 in 3 plans to spend all or a significant portion of their savings. 

Comfortable retirees may spend only a small portion of their assets

Comfortable retirees had mid-levels of financial assets between $99,000 and $320,000 and an annual retirement income of less than $100,000 a year. Many still had a mortgage and other debts. Most of these people cited workplace retirement savings and Social Security as their major sources of income. Almost 75% of these comfortable retirees said that their retirement savings are sufficient or more than meet their needs, however, more than half of them plan to grow, maintain, or spend only a small portion of their assets. 

Why are affluent and comfortable retirees hesitant to spend their retirement savings?

The study found that the Baby Boomer generation wishes to retain assets rather than spending them down. So the question is, why don’t these retirees wish to spend their retirement savings?

This may be due to the fact that their Social Security income or pension provides enough to meet their expenses, but it could also be due to an inability to switch gears from accumulation to decumulation. Another reason may be that many retirees don't know how to determine a sustainable withdrawal rate that considers future uncertainties, and this lack of knowledge makes them wary to spend their nest eggs. 

I think the key to confidently spending and living off your savings is to understand how much it costs for you to live for a year in retirement. Listen in to hear how you can learn how to calculate your spending so that you can determine your sustainable withdrawal rate in retirement. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podbean, Player FM, iHeart, or Spotify

1 2 3 Next »