Monthly e-News

Making Your New Year’s Financial Resolutions Stick

By: Karen Schaeffer, CFP®

Published: January, 2022

A recent survey found the top three financial resolutions for Americans are to save more, spend less and pay down debt.  No surprises there, but how do we really make 2022 the year of financial success?  Before our great January intentions fade into unfulfilled promises of February, try these tips, culled from financial planners, to stay on track.

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What To Do First When a Loved One Dies

By:  Marc S. Levine, Esq.

Published: December, 2021

 

What are some of the practical considerations when a loved one dies? A lot of estate planning is about planning for low-probability / high-impact events – such as an early or unexpected death, as well as planning for the reality that all of us will pass at some point. This is one of the most important aspects of what we do – helping people navigate what can be a very complicated and often upsetting maze of what has to be done after someone dies.

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Part Time Proration – What It Means in Determining Your Federal Annuity

By:  Bob Braunstein, Federal Benefits Specialist

Published:  November, 2021

 

Believe it or not, there was a time when the calculation of Federal retirement annuities made no distinction between part-time work and full-time work.   Under the old Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), you could retire after the same time as one with the same number of years who had worked full-time.  And, even though you had worked fewer hours, your annuity would have been the same as it would have been had you always worked full-time. This inherent inequity – paying the same annuity to those who work fewer hours due to part-time work schedules – led to the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) changing its annuity calculation rules.  The change became effective on April 7, 1986, and created “part-time proration,” which reduces retirement annuities.

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Social Security Spousal Benefits: Top 5 Questions (and Answers)

By:  Vanessa Craddock, Federal Benefits Specialist

Published:  October 2021

 

Once you are eligible to collect your Social Security (SS) retirement benefit, you may also entitle your spouse to a monthly benefit if he or she meets certain qualifications. This is true even if your spouse has never worked under Social Security. Generally, a current spouse benefit is payable if your spouse has been married to you for one year, is at least age 62, and is not qualified for a higher benefit based on his/her own earnings record. The most important fact about the spousal benefit is the timing when the benefit is claimed. Below are 5 common questions employees ask about the spousal benefit:
 

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Finance for Singles

By:  Kaitlin Yardley, CFP®

Published:  September, 2021

 

Have you ever thought of handling your personal finances like any other household chore? It’s always best to follow a schedule before the tasks get out of control. The laundry pile is a little less daunting if you attend to it every week and the bathroom is certainly more pleasing if you can get to the scum before it grows. While it is helpful to divvy up household chores – someone cooks and the other clean up – if you are single, all of the chores fall in your lap. Delegating the cleaning duties to an outside service, when possible, can be a great solution. However, when it comes to finances, this is your job. You, and only you, will reap the reward of a job well done or pay the price of missteps. Here are some tips for staying on top of your personal finances, even when you can’t share the job. 

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Making the Decision About WHEN to Retire

By:  Michael Townshend

Published:  August 2021

 

Many of our readers in the Federal workforce, have shared with us their concerns about retiring, even though they may have confidence in their financial preparations.  So, what is it that they fear about the prospect of retirement?  For many, it is the simple question, “What in the world will I DO with myself and my newly found free time?”

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The Final Stretch: The Secure Act is Coming for Your Retirement Beneficiaries

By:  Anne Sullivan, Esquire

Published:  July 2021

 

When was the last time you checked your TSP or IRA beneficiary designations? If you haven’t lately, or even if you have, please go back and review them now against the Secure Act. Never heard of the Secure Act?  Let me explain.
In December 2019, Congress enacted the Secure Act to encourage Americans to save more in their retirement accounts. While the law ushered in several changes to stimulate retirement savings, it also dramatically changed the distribution rules for TSPs, IRAs, and other income tax-deferred accounts. The law applied immediately to IRAs but delayed implementation for the TSP until December 30, 2021. 

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Bob Braunstein

Postponed or Deferred Retirement: What’s the Difference and What Are My Options?

By:  Bob Braunstein, Federal Benefits Specialist

Published:  June 2021

When the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) was introduced as the alternative to the original Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) in the mid-1980s, it was touted as a more flexible and portable program – which, in fact, it is.  Instead of a pension-only retirement plan that required staying in Federal service for almost 42 years to gain the maximum entitlement, FERS offers the following flexibilities:

  • A pension with a personal early retirement option; CSRS early retirements require special circumstances,
  • Social Security (SS) coverage for the same years of service; CSRS is not covered by SS, and
  • Thrift Savings Plan with agency matching; CSRS employees do not get agency matching on their TSP contributions.

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Medicare

Thinking About Medicare?

Published: May 2021

By: Maureen Wilkin, Federal Benefits Specialist

 

If you are or soon will be age 65, it is time to consider enrolling in Medicare. Enrollment is voluntary. Your opportunities to enroll are limited. You should plan on spending about as much time to make this decision as you would to choose a cable provider or streaming service. Well, maybe not that much time!

 

 

Enrollment may be done online. You can find complete information regarding Parts A, B, C, and D and also enroll at: https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/medicare/

 

You have three opportunities to enroll:
  • Initial opportunity = 7 month window around 65th birthday
  • Special opportunity = 8 month period that starts when health insurance coverage becomes retirement based AND you are 65
  • General enrollment = January – March each year; becomes effective in July (when payment begins) Possible late penalty for delaying Part B enrollment – a permanent penalty.

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Cash

Top 5 Money Concepts to Master

By:  Karen Schaeffer, CFP®

Published:  April 2021

In honor of Financial Literacy Month, here are the top five money concepts financial planners think everyone can and should master:

 

 

1.      Managing and analyzing cash flow. How much money is coming in and where the heck is it going? Now is a great time to compile the numbers from 2020 and calculate a couple data points: What percentage of your income went to taxes? How much did you save or invest? And, since the rest got spent, determine how much went to your fixed expenses and how much of your spending was discretionary. Happy with your choices? Congratulations. Not so much?  Make a list of small positive changes that you can implement in 2021. Spend less on one particular item, bring in a little more income from a side gig, round up what goes into TSP each pay period by $50; you get the idea. 

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