Tag Archives: Tips

Playing by the IRA Rules

ira rulesUntitled-logoIndividual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) offer favorable tax-deferral benefits to individuals who are saving for retirement. But with those benefits, there are certain rules about when distributions may be taken to avoid penalty taxes. Contributions to a traditional IRA, depending on your income and participation in employer-sponsored plans, may entitle you to certain current income tax deductions. Further, because your funds are not taxed until distributions begin, your savings have the potential for tax-deferred growth.

Generally, IRAs are designed to work as long-term savings vehicles, but you may be able to withdraw funds early and without penalty, provided your situation qualifies as an exception.

The Age 59½ Rule

The age 59½ rule provides that, if you take distributions from your traditional IRA before you reach the age of 59½, you may be subject to a 10% Federal penalty tax in addition to regular income tax. However, you may not have to pay the penalty tax if your early distribution meets certain requirements.

Exceptions

You may be eligible for penalty-free qualified distributions, if one of the following exceptions applies:

  1. You are taking distributions as the beneficiary of a deceased IRA owner. Generally, if you inherit an IRA, you are required to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) over a period no longer than your life expectancy. For non-spousal beneficiaries, RMDs must begin in the year following the year in which the IRA owner died.  Spousal beneficiaries may have additional time to begin taking RMDs, depending on certain factors, including whether they opt to treat an inherited IRA as their own. This penalty tax exception does not apply to spousal beneficiaries who opt to treat the account as their own IRA.
  2. You are paying for certain first-time home buyer expenses, generally referred to as qualified acquisition costs, such as buying, building, or renovating a first home. Distributions, which may not exceed $10,000, may be used to cover qualified costs for you, your spouse, your children, or your grandchildren.
  3. You, your spouse, or dependents have un-reimbursed medical expenses that total more than 10% of your adjusted gross income (AGI) (7.5% if you are age 65 or older, but only through 2016). If a medical expense for you, your spouse, or a dependent qualifies as an itemized deduction on your income tax return, it will generally qualify for this penalty tax
  4. The distributions are part of a series of substantially equal periodic payments (SEPPs) made at least annually that meet certain additional requirements. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) currently recognizes three methods for calculating SEPPS: the required minimum distribution method, the fixed amortization method, and the fixed annuitization method.
  5. Once SEPPs begin, they must be made for five years or until you reach age 59½, whichever is later.
  6. You qualify with certain physical and/or mental conditions as being disabled, determined by a physician and if the disability can be expected to result in death or continue for an indefinite duration.
  7. You are paying medical insurance premiums due to unemployment. If you lost your job, and received unemployment compensation for 12 consecutive weeks, you may take distributions from your IRA account, penalty tax-free, during the year in which you received unemployment compensation, or in the following year, but no later than 60 days after you have been re-employed.
  8. You are paying for higher education expenses, such as tuition, fees, and books at an eligible educational institution (generally all accredited postsecondary institutions). The distributions may not exceed your qualified education expenses, or those of your spouse, your children, or your grandchildren.
  9. The distribution is attributable to an IRS levy of the IRA.
  10. Reservists qualify while serving on active duty for at least 180 days.

IRAs are strictly regulated to ensure that they are used as vehicles for retirement savings. Therefore, they generally work best as long-term savings vehicles. However, if you do need income from your IRA before you reach age 59½, it is important to know if your situation excuses you from the penalty tax levied on early distributions before making a withdrawal. Playing by the rules may save you money and help preserve your savings for retirement. Be sure to consult your tax advisor to determine whether your individual situation will qualify as an exception.

Please visit https://syb.com/wealth-management-and-trust/how-we-serve-our-clients/ira-retirement-rollovers/.  for more information.

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6 Tips to Save for a Down Payment

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When considering buying a home, the down payment you put upfront plays a major role in your future housing expenses. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the amount you save can greatly influence your interest rate, monthly housing payment and also your need for mortgage insurance. As you prepare for the home buying process, we are highlighting six tips to help you cut the extra costs and save a substantial amount for your down payment.

Typically, lenders require anywhere between 5 and 20 percent of a home’s purchase value as down payment, but the more money you can put down, the better off you’ll be. By responsibly managing your spending and allocating extra cash to a savings account, you will be on the right track towards saving for your home purchase.

We are providing prospective homebuyers with these tips to save for a down payment:

  • Develop a budget & timeline. Start by determining how much you’ll need for a down payment. Create a budget and calculate how much you can realistically save each month – that will help you gauge when you’ll be ready to transition from renter to homeowner.
  • Establish a separate savings account. Set up a separate savings account exclusively for your down payment and make your monthly contributions automatic. By keeping this money separate, you’ll be less likely to tap into it when you’re tight on cash.
  • Shop around to reduce major monthly expenses. It’s a good idea to check rates for your car insurance, renter’s insurance, health insurance, cable, Internet or cell phone plan. There may be deals or promotions available that allow you to save hundreds of dollars by adjusting your contracts.
  • Monitor your spending. With online banking, keeping an eye on your spending is easier than ever. Track where most of your discretionary income is going. Identify areas where you could cut back (e.g. nice meals out, vacations, etc.) and instead put that money into savings.
  • Look into state and local home-buying programs. Many states, counties and local governments operate programs for first-time homebuyers. Some programs offer housing discounts, while others provide down payment loans or grants.
  • Celebrate savings milestones. Saving enough for a down payment can be daunting. To avoid getting discouraged, break it up into smaller goals and reward yourself when you reach each one. If you need to save $30,000 total, consider treating yourself to a nice meal every $5,000 saved. This will help you stay motivated throughout the process.

If you are interested in a first mortgage on a new home or refinancing an existing home please call the SYB&T Mortgage Department number listed below!

Louisville / Southern Indiana:
(502) 625-9388

Indianapolis
(317) 238-2888

Cincinnati
(513) 824-6190

Apply online for a Mortgage: https://mb.syb.com


 

Resource Information Provided by the American Bankers Association.

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Next Gen Family Wealth and the Softer Side of Planning

Untitled-logo trustNeil ByrneWhat do you want to pass on to future generations?  As the old saying about money goes, “You can’t take it with you.”  Money is important though, undoubtedly.  Of course, so are family, friends, and our social, cultural and intellectual pursuits.  Recent research from Purdue University has even found that money can increase people’s emotional well-being, as well as their overall satisfaction with life – to a point.  According to the researchers, money alone can actually lower a person’s well-being if it is not handled properly.  The research goes on to conclude that “[m]oney is only a part of what really makes us happy. . . .”

So, what else makes us happy?  Well, that depends on what makes you and your family unique.  What’s your family’s story?  Do your children and grandchildren know it?

Traditional financial advisors are good at tackling the technical challenges, such as the legal and financial planning that families must address.  A modern estate plan, however, is not all there is to consider when creating a legacy.  After all, most family interactions are not technical discussions about taxes or investment returns – they are far more interesting than that!

When is the last time you discussed the importance of community involvement, professional development, or shared family goals and expectations?  What non-monetary goals are important for your loved ones to achieve in their lives?  What values should their lives reflect?  Philanthropy?  Entrepreneurship?  The arts?

We frequently have clients who express their concerns about how loved ones would manage an inheritance, and those concerns are well-founded.  Often, however, clients have not told the story of how she or he earned those resources.  The story behind the assets is interesting, and extremely important to the choices that are made by succeeding generations.  If assets become part of the “family legacy” instead of just money in an account, there is a higher likelihood that they will be used wisely.  The story also becomes part of who the family members are, not just what is in their bank accounts.

Telling the family story does not mean telling younger generations every last detail about your finances.  Instead, it means dedicating time and attention to preparing family members for a future inheritance in a meaningful way, and doing that more than once.  It also means sharing with younger generations the intellectual, social, human and spiritual responsibilities they will take on as future family leaders – and as beneficiaries.

Mark Twain has been quoted as saying, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”  A singular focus on technical details without discussion about the larger family legacy can be detrimental to a family and a family’s wealth.

We are inviting you to consider some of the less obvious, but incredibly important discussions and plans you may need to have with your family.  Please contact your advisor to talk more about your family’s legacy, or me at neil.byrne@syb.com or (502) 625-2459.


See:  https://www.futurity.org/money-can-buy-happiness-1685132/ “Money can buy happiness.  Here’s how much it takes,” February 21, 2018.

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7 Tips for Choosing a Financial Caregiver

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According to the National Council on Aging, almost 90 percent of the financial abuse committed against older Americans is done by someone they know. More than ever, it is imperative for seniors to select a trustworthy person to properly manage their finances and personal affairs.

Fraudsters often prey on seniors experiencing cognitive decline, limited mobility and other disabilities that require them to rely more heavily on others for help. Appointing someone you trust to handle your financial matters aids tremendously in the fight against these crimes.

In recognition of May as Older Americans Month, we want to share seven tips to help choose the right financial caregiver and prevent financial abuse:

  • When delegating financial decisions, make sure it’s someone you trust. If you are unable to facilitate financial transactions, carefully choose a trustworthy person to act as your agent in all financial matters.
  • Know who is in your home. Conduct a thorough background check on all individuals you hire for personal care or home care services. Check references and credentials before you let them into your personal space.
  • Never sign something you don’t understand. Consult with a financial advisor or attorney before signing any document that appears suspicious or unclear.
  • Understand the terms of assigning a Power of Attorney. Granting someone POA gives them the authority to act and make decisions on your behalf, including managing and having access to your bank and other financial accounts. Make sure you fully understand the terms and conditions of consenting a legal agent before you do so.
  • Always trust your instincts. Exploiters and abusers are very skilled. They can be very charming and forceful in their efforts to exploit you. Don’t be fooled – if something doesn’t feel right, it may not be.
  • Safeguard your personal information. Shred old bills, junk mail, bank statements and other personal documents you no longer need. Leaving unwanted personal documents around the house could lead to the misuse of your information. If you come across keepsake documents opt to store them in a locked cabinet or safe deposit box at your nearest bank.
  • Keep personal items out of plain sight. Lock up checkbooks, credit cards and other monetary instruments to prevent unauthorized use.Resource information provided by the American Bankers Association.

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7 Worthwhile Ways to Use Your Tax Refund

 

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According to the Internal Revenue Service, more than 70 percent of the nation’s taxpayers received a tax refund averaging nearly $3,000 in 2017 and will get a similar amount this year. As Americans receive their refunds along with additional benefits coming from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in December, we have highlighted seven tips to help them use their money wisely.

To help consumers make the most out of their money, We have provided you with the following tips.

  • Save for emergencies.  More than 60 percent of Americans are not prepared for unexpected expenses. You can prepare by opening or adding to a savings account that serves as an “emergency fund.” Ideally, it should hold about three-to-six months of living expenses in case of sudden financial hardships like losing your job or having to replace your car.
  • Pay off debt.  Pay down existing balances either by chipping away at loans with the highest interest rates or eliminating smaller debt first.
  • Save for retirement, your child’s education or future health expenses. Open or increase contributions to a tax-deferred savings plan like a 401(k) or an IRA. Your bank can help set up an IRA, while a 401(k) is employer-sponsored. Look into opening a tax-advantaged 529 education savings plan to ensure school expenses will be covered when your child reaches college age. Or save for future health expenses with tax-free dollars by investing in a Health Savings Account.
  • Pay down your mortgage or student loans.  Make an extra payment on your mortgage or student loans each year to save money on interest while reducing the term of your loans. Be sure to inform your lender that your extra payments should be applied to principal, not interest.
  • Invest safely with U.S. savings bonds or municipal bonds. The U.S. Treasury allows for savings bond to be purchased using your tax refund for as little as $50. Savings bonds earn interest for a maximum of 30 years.
  • Invest in your current home.  Use your refund to invest in home improvements that will pay you back in the long run by increasing the value of your home.  This can include small, cost-effective upgrades like energy-efficient appliances that will pay off in both the short and long term – and with tax credits (as long as Congress continues to renew the program).
  • Donate to charity.  The benefit is two-fold: Giving to charity will make a difference in your community, and you can also claim the tax deduction, if you itemize.

Resource information provided by the American Bankers Association.

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4 TIPS TO GET FINANCIALLY FIT

The New Year is an ideal time to set new goals, as many vow to become more physically fit or get organized.  The New Year is also a great time to assess your finances, gain control and stick to a new budget or saving plan. Taking control of your personal finances will allow you to save and prepare for unexpected expenses.

Get financially fit this January.  Follow the tips below to get started.

Get Organized Consider treating yourself to a post-holiday gift of a financial organization system.  Alphabetized file folders, or filing systems specifically for financial organization are available in January as people begin to prepare for tax season.  Take advantage and start the New Year with an organizational system.  While you’re getting organized, consider buying a shredder to keep your personal information safe from identity theft.

Create a Budget Track your income and expenses to see how much money you have coming in and how much you spend.  If you have debt, establishing a budget will help you to pay down your debt while saving. Use computer software programs or basic budgeting worksheets to help create your budget.  Include as much information as you can and review your budget regularly.  Print several copies of this budgeting worksheet to help you get started.

  • Identify how you spend your money.
  • Set realistic goals, especially if you plan to cut some of your expenses.
  • Track your spending and review your budget often.
  • Points to consider when cutting debt:

Lower Your Debt Debt from student loans, mortgages and credit cards is nearly unavoidable.  Most families carry about $10,000 in credit card debt.  Spending more money than you bring in can lead to financial stress.  Establish a budget to pay down debts while you save.

  • Pay more than the minimum due and pay on time.
  • Pay off debt with higher interest rates first.
  • Transfer high rate debt to credit cards with a lower interest rate.
  • Use credit cards and loans for purchases that will appreciate in value like a home.

Save for the Unexpected and Beyond Pay yourself first.  Saving is important; it ensures a comfortable future that can endure financial surprises.  No matter how old you are, it’s never too late to begin saving.

  • Save at least 10 percent of your income for retirement.  Enroll in a retirement plan or consider optimizing an established retirement plan.  Contribute at least the maximum amount that your employer will match.  Contributions made to these types of plans are tax deductible.  If your employer does not offer a retirement savings plan, many banks offer Individual Retirement Accounts.  IRAs offer tax-deferred growth, meaning you pay taxes on your investment gains when you make withdrawals.
  • Financial advisors often recommend keeping about three months’ salary in a savings account in case of financial emergencies like hospital bills or loss of job.
  • Increase your contribution as your income increases.
  • If you receive direct deposit at work, ask your employer to send a specific amount to your savings account.  Because the money is put into an account before you have a chance to spend it, automatic savings plans are an easy and convenient way to save.  If your employer doesn’t offer direct deposit, many banks allow for automatic transfers from checking to savings accounts.

Resource information provided by the American Bankers Association