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
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: April, 2021
Apr 26, 2021

If 2020 has taught us anything it is that the future is not always certain. This has brought about feelings of insecurity and anxiety in some people. That’s why this week, I share an article from Harvard Business Review which describes how people can use micro-planning and biomimicry to combat feelings of uncertainty brought on by this post-pandemic world. 

After the retirement headlines, I’ll answer two listener questions. John asks about maxing out his HSA after 50 and Val is trying to decide between a pension and a lump sum payment. Don’t miss out on the latest episode of Retirement Starts Today; press play now!

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:22] How to plan your life when the future is foggy
  • [3:19] The six steps to learn from biomimicry
  • [7:35] How much can a person contribute to an HSA when they are over 50?
  • [9:28] Should Val take a lump sum or an annuity?

Micro-planning can help you take command of your life again

Did Covid-19 toss your 5-year plan out the window? Many of us have had our future plans shaken up due to the effects of the pandemic. The lack of control that the long-term insecurity creates can bring about feelings of unease. 

One way to take back control of your life is by harnessing the power of adaptability through micro-planning. Micro-planning is a way to take a larger plan and break it down into yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily check-in practices.

Biomimicry is the inspiration behind micro-planning

In tumultuous times, micro-planning is more manageable than big-picture planning, and it offers the sense of power and stability that we need. The idea behind micro-planning is based on biomimicry, a practice that learns from and mimics the strategies found in nature to solve human challenges. Biomimicry uses nature as a model to imitate or use as inspiration for designs or processes with the goal of solving human problems. 

Six steps you can follow to feel more in control of your future

Prolonged stress can cause us to function at less than optimal levels, so it is important to mitigate stress when we can. These six elements of micro-planning can help us manage this stress, function at higher levels, and give us a sense that we are taking back control of our lives. 

  1. Set a purpose - Identify the common thread that connects the different roles you have had. What do they have in common? Think about the most fulfilling career experiences you’ve had to date and notice their commonalities. 
  2. Plan your year - Make a plan for the year that aligns with your purpose and identifies between one to three focus areas of desired growth. Keep the list of focus areas short in order to promote a better chance of success.
  3. Plan by quarters - At the beginning of each quarter, reassess your successes and failures and set goals for the next quarter. Be careful to choose no more than five to keep the list manageable. You may want to shift your plan at this stage based on your reflections on the previous quarter. 
  4. Break the quarters into months - Each month break your goals for the quarter down into specific projects, and then break the projects down into even more specific and manageable phases.
  5. Create weekly lists - At the start of the week, create a weekly to-do list, making sure to plan time for movement, sleep, time outside, hydration, and healthy food. Doing this makes sure that you are physically and mentally caring for yourself in support of your intellectual goals. 
  6. Make use of your days - Use a journal to track your energy on a daily basis. Doing this gives you powerful information as to how to optimize your workflow and helps make annual planning more mindful. Make sure to note daily what you are grateful for, as well. Journaling in this way gives you an immense sense of control, which has been proven to shrink the amount of time it takes to get tasks done.

What have you been doing to help you feel more in control during the pandemic? Try implementing these steps to take command of your future. Make sure to press play to hear the details of how you can use micro-planning to improve your life.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

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

Apr 19, 2021

Are you signed up for the My Social Security account from the Social Security Administration? In this episode, we’ll review a Kitces.com article written by Jeffrey Levine about this important resource. We’ll review the history of My Social Security, how to sign up for it, how its benefit calculations account for inflation, and how Americans can interpret its information in order to understand their social security benefits. Don’t miss this excellent opportunity to review a very important topic. Press play to listen.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:28] How to access your My Social Security account
  • [5:22] What can you do with your My Social Security account?
  • [10:04] A question about my podcast host
  • [11:28] Rusty needs to create about $50,000 of income each year - how should he do it?

Background information on My Social Security

From 1990 to 2011, the Social Security Administration mailed paper copies of Social Security statements to most American workers. These statements summarized their personalized retirement and disability benefits. However, budget cuts in 2011 paused these mailings, and now workers under age 60 no longer receive mailed statements at all. The only workers to receive Social Security statements by mail are those who were both 60 or older in 2017 and had not yet registered for an online SSA account. 

How to access your My Social Security account

The primary way Americans can access their annual Social Security statements is online via their My Social Security account. To set up a My Social Security account users will be required to provide some basic information on an online form. This information includes first and last name as shown on their Social Security card, Social Security number, date of birth, home address, and email address. 

After filling out the form, individuals will be required to complete an identity verification process. They can either verify their identity using their smartphone to photo-capture their state-issued ID card, or they can type in their information into the online form. The second method of verification uses financial information such as credit card information, Social Security benefit amount information, a Form W-2 Wage and Tax Statement, or a Schedule SE from their most recent Form 1040.

What can you do with your My Social Security account?

Once you have set up your My Social Security account and can see your Social Security statements you should do a few things. 

  1. Verify your reported work history.
  2. Review the current estimates of your anticipated Social Security benefits.
  3. Explore how the benefits align with your retirement income needs.

In the Social Security statements, there are three pages of important information, but most people are concerned with the information on pages two and three. Page two has a summary of your estimated retirement, disability, family survivors, and Medicare benefits. Page three of the statement lists earnings on file for each year from the time an individual began working. Listen in to hear why you should carefully check the income information from the past years. 

Get your My Social Security account set up to begin your retirement planning

Have you set up your My Social Security account yet? This is a great first step to get you on your way to creating your retirement plan. Make sure to listen to the listener questions segment to hear ways to create income 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

Apr 12, 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

  • [1:42] 2020 was a banner year for giving
  • [4:48] Planning ahead can help alleviate a hefty tax bill
  • [10:49] What is the average length of recovery from a bear market?
  • [17:04] 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

Apr 5, 2021

If you’ve been working from home over the past year you may wonder why you feel even more exhausted than normal. This could be due to Zoom Fatigue.

In this episode, we’ll explore an article from CNBC that references a Stanford study about this phenomenon. In the listener questions segment, I’ll answer questions about RMDs and Roth conversions. Let’s get to the bottom of your exhaustion--press play now. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:22] Zoom fatigue affects people on a psychological level
  • [3:26] Solutions for Zoom fatigue
  • [6:17] Future tax rates and RMDs
  • [10:44] How to pay for Roth conversions?

Why are we so exhausted after video conferencing?

Over the past year, many of us have been using Zoom and other video conferencing applications to replace in-person meetings. The constant video conferencing has led to increased fatigue at the end of the day and a researcher with Stanford University wondered why. Jeremy Bailenson researched this issue and recently published a paper about how video conferencing affects people on a psychological level. 

4 reasons for Zoom fatigue

Jeremy concluded that there are four different contributors to Zoom Fatigue:

  • The extended level of eye contact is unnatural. The screen causes us to look at each other for an extended period of time. In a face-to-face meeting, we wouldn’t be behaving in such a way.
  • Non-verbal signals during video conferences require more effort than in-person meetings. During in-person meetings, our nonverbal cues happen quite naturally and without any effort. However, we have to exaggerate our non-verbal communication in a video chat which requires more thought and increases our cognitive load
  • Watching yourself in the little box on the screen for prolonged periods is unnatural and causes self-critique. 
  • Being forced to sit still in one place for long is exhausting. Since we are on camera we have little room to move around naturally. 

Ways to battle Zoom fatigue

To alleviate these issues, Bailenson has the following tips:

  • Hide self-view. 
  • Shrink the participant’s video window to make other people a bit smaller. 
  • Spend some time adjusting your setup ahead of an important meeting. 
  • Turn off your camera and take a five-minute audio-only break during a long meeting.
  • Set cultural norms in your workplace that it’s OK to turn off the camera sometimes.

Zoom fatigue is a new version of burnout that is important to mitigate. You want to retire when you are ready rather than because you are feeling burnt out due to video conferencing. Try using these tips to help you combat the exhaustion you feel after video conferencing. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

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

1