Are You Going to be Self-Reliant (and Self-Directed) with Your Retirement Investments and Future?

Are You Going to be Self-Reliant (and Self-Directed) with Your Retirement Investments and Future?

The Gallup Organization released figures* recently that point to a shift in Americans’ expectations about their retirement income. It’s only a slight shift upward (by one percentage point) since April 2008 but Gallup reports that 50 percent of non-retired Americans expect their retirement savings account to be a major source of income in retirement.

 

That said:

 

Regarding that part-time work in those retirement years: in April 2017, 19 percent of Americans age 65 and over were still working, according to government data; this is the highest rate since 1962. Some people enjoy working but others continue to do so out of financial need. More than a quarter of workers age 55 or older say they have less than $10,000 in savings and investments, according to the latest retirement confidence survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

What about people who are already retired? The majority—55 percent—say Social Security is a major source of retirement income. Work-sponsored pensions are next among retirees, at 38 percent calling it a major source. In third place are retirement savings accounts such as a 401(k)s or Keoghs, at 24 percent.

Of course, those who self-direct their retirement accounts could be looking at a much better source of retirement income. These self-reliant investors can include many more types of investments within their retirement plans—alternative assets they know and understand—and create a very different set of expectations about their retirement income. Rather than rely on returns from the stock market, from long-term bonds or money market funds, self-directed investors can grow their retirement nest eggs with investments in real estate, commodities, precious metals, private placements, equity investing and much more.

If you’re already in the know about certain nontraditional investments and are comfortable making your own investment decisions, why not consider opening a self-directed retirement plan? Rather than be one of those Americans who plans to rely heavily on Social Security (and who knows what the future holds for the Social Security Trust Fund), be among the 50 percent or more who will look to their retirement savings to support them in their later years. And, you could beef up those savings through the many alternative assets allowed through self-direction, and build a more eclectic retirement portfolio.

At Next Generation, we’re here to answer your questions about self-direction as a retirement wealth-building strategy, and have plenty of online tools to help you prepare, from our educational videos to our Starter Kits on our website. Contact our helpful professionals at Info@NextGenerationTrust.com or 888.857.8058 with your questions or download our white paper that explains more about self-directed retirement plans for the more self-reliant investor.

*Based on telephone interviews conducted April 5 through 9, 2017, with a random sample of 1,019 adults, ages 18 and older. More information is here.

Are You a HENRY? Why High Earning is not the Same as Wealth

Matthew Carr, the Emerging Trends Strategist for The Oxford Club, recently wrote an article about those who are “high earners but not rich yet.” He referred to them as HENRYs, a term that appeared in Forbes over 10 years ago to describe the one-percenters who don’t feel rich, because they aren’t.

HENRY households comprise professionals and entrepreneurs, high-level people with household incomes between $250,000 and $500,000 per year. In spite of their generous income—or because of it—they are likely to send children to private schools, spend lavishly on expensive cars and big homes, pay high income taxes and real estate taxes all which leads them to struggle financially.
Hard to believe for many Americans, but it’s true.

These HENRYs have worked hard (Carr says they are “the strivers”) who made their way to the top of the income ladder but have discovered they still don’t have enough (whatever “enough” is for them). The hard realization for this class of Americans is that income does not equal wealth. In fact, Americans in all income brackets need to understand this, because money does not always flow in but it sure flows out easily!

Fail to plan, plan to fail

Regardless of income level, it is so very important for everyone to prepare for leaner times and to certainly prepare for retirement, when work income has stopped and it’s all about relying on savings and some Social Security benefits. Failing to plan is planning to fail, and that goes for everything from a family reunion to retirement savings.
Here’s are some scary statistics cited by the author:

If not now, when? And, if you are lucky enough to be earning high income, how do you avoid becoming a HENRY?

Plan, save, self-direct

1 – Save early and often. Pay yourself first by opening a savings account or an IRA for long-term savings that will grow over time.

2 – Start investing now. There’s no “when I make more” or “when I am ready.” Plan now to start investing to grow your retirement savings. And, if you understand alternative assets, you can open a self-directed IRA and include a broad array of nontraditional investments to help build a more diverse retirement portfolio. Many self-directed investors—who want to make their own investment decisions and wish to include non-publicly traded assets within their plans—are already investing in real estate, precious metals, commodities, unsecured and secured loans, private placements and more, outside of their existing retirement plans. Why not make these investments within a tax-advantaged retirement account instead?

3 – Have a goal and stick to it. Judging from the statistics noted above, Americans lack discipline when it comes to saving in general and certainly when it comes to saving for retirement in particular. If you are self-directing your retirement plan, research those alternative assets that will help you meet your retirement goals and make sense for your specific financial situation.

4 – Make catch-up contributions. If you are 50 years old and up, you can add catch-up contributions to your retirement plan (read more about contribution limits and catch-ups here).

5 – Download a Next Generation Trust Services starter kit from our Client Forms page and open your self-directed retirement plan!

As always, our helpful professionals are available to answer your questions about self-direction as a retirement wealth-building strategy. Contact Next Generation Trust Services at Info@NextGenerationTrust.com or (888) 857-8058 and we’ll get you the answers you need.

 

Are you Part of the Gig Economy? How is Your Retirement Account Doing?

There’s no question that services such as Lyft and Uber, Air BnB and others have created what’s now known as “the gig economy.” Of course, musicians, actors, creatives, and those in hospitality have been part of the gig economy for decades—picking up work when it’s available, often as an independent contractor. Whether part time or full time, the work for these gig workers is not the traditional 9-5 corporate job that comes with benefits (including a retirement plan).

That brings us to the retirement planning part of what it’s like for workers in the gig economy. Are they saving enough for retirement? Are all those people opening and funding retirement plans?

We sure hope so.

When you consider that before the 2008 Great Recession, part-time workers constituted about 17 percent of the labor force and increased to just over 20 percent during those stormy downturn days. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part-timers account for more than 18 percent of the current workforce. Therefore, it’s possible that a noticeable portion of the U.S. labor force is not building a secure retirement fund, which puts additional pressure on them to work longer.

A recent research report by the Pew Charitable Trusts focused mainly on millennials, Latinos and African Americans—workers who tend to be employed in “lower-hour” industries with more prevalent part-time work (such as retail, arts and entertainment, recreation, hospitality and food service). Pew’s research (based on U.S. Census Bureau survey data) found that:

A study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) published in October 2016 noted that even long-term part-time workers can be excluded from retirement plans if they work less than 1,000 hours annually (about 19 hours weekly).

Back to those gig workers – who may also be older people, not only millennials. In fact, Uber reported in 2015 that nearly 25 percent of its drivers are over age 50. Add to that the rising number of older workers who start small businesses to supplement income and retirement savings, and to delay claiming Social Security benefits so they can optimize those benefits. These are often part-time gig jobs – again, with no access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

What’s a gigger to do? Open an IRA and start saving! Even in the face of uneven income and the absence of employer contributions, it’s still possible to put a little away for the retirement years.

Uber recently entered into partnership with Betterment, which offers IRAs and retirement planning advice to Uber drivers and gives Betterment access to a growing labor force. Lyft offers its drivers savings plans through Honest Dollar. There is an app called Even that helps people who have fluctuating incomes save by automatically pulling money in and out of savings accounts depending on whether income that month is higher or lower.

Saving early and often, even in small increments, will add up over time, in part due to the power of compounding. According to the GAO, a worker who contributed about $2,600 by age 20 could accumulate more than $85,000 at retirement age (compare that to someone starting at age 48 who would need to contribute ten times that amount to accumulate that $85,000 nest egg).

Self-directed retirement plans can be a great way for those in the gig economy to boost their retirement savings by investing in what they know and understand. Again, even in small increments, owners of self-directed retirement plans can invest in a broad array of alternative assets to grow a potentially more lucrative portfolio. Think that Broadway show could be a hit? Your self-directed IRA can invest in it. Like the idea of that restaurant that’s opening up? Your self-directed retirement plan can be an investor in that startup. Do you have your eye on an investment property that could return sustainable rental income over time? Real estate is the largest asset class within self-directed retirement plans.

Whether you are a younger worker or older adult nearing retirement, but are savvy about investing and want to make your own investment decisions, read more about self-direction as a retirement wealth-building strategy at any age – and from any “gig economy” walk of life. If you want to open a new self-directed IRA, our starter kits take you through the process, step by step and our helpful professionals at Next Generation Trust Services are available to answer any questions you have. Contact us at Info@NextGenerationTrust.com or (888) 857-8058.

 

Not Kidding Around About Retirement

Baby boomers are risking their retirement plans by spending too much money on their adult children. As parents, everyone loves their kids and wants to help them any way they can but don’t sabotage retirement for Pete’s (or Petra’s) sake.

According to the 2016 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, youth unemployment (ages 16 to 24) is at 11.5 percent. So, if you listen closely, you can hear parents around the country continuing to dole out cash to their adult children—who are using these funds to cover their expenses such as rent, cell phones, cars and leisure activities.

Get real

In addition to helping out adult children, many soon-to-be retirees are part of the sandwich generation— struggling between caring for their aging parents while helping support their own children. That said, the kids are the ones putting a bigger burden on people’s ability to save for retirement.

Interestingly, it isn’t just the unemployed or the low-paid respondents who were enjoying these parental-sponsored benefits. Respondents who earned more than $75,000 a year indicated that their parents were paying for groceries (25 percent) and clothing (21 percent).

Gift your future

Prolonged support is squeezing even affluent boomers. And, the scary part is that these parents who have been subsidizing their adult kids will be living longer with less money to last themselves into their 80s and 90s.

It’s hard to strike a balance between supporting your grown children and supporting your retirement finances, but that’s what being an adult is about. The best gift you can give yourself (and your kids) is to ensure you are able to take care of yourself in retirement and that your kids are self-sufficient.

Tough love starts with the purse strings—yours and your grown kids. Don’t kid around. Gift your future by investing in your retirement savings plan on a regular basis.

Self-direct your retirement

An even greater gift you can give yourself is to self-direct your retirement plan. Financially savvy investors who understand alternative investment options know that a self-directed IRA can be a great way to build retirement wealth more aggressively. Self-directed retirement plans allow individuals to invest in nontraditional assets that they already know and understand such as real estate, mortgages and other loans, private hedge funds, precious metals, limited partnerships, commercial paper and notes, and more. These plans enjoy the same tax advantages of their more traditional counterparts, while enabling individuals to make all their own investment decisions and control their future, today.

For information about ensuring that your retirement game plan is gear, contact Next Generation at (888) 857-8058 or Info@NextGenerationTrust.com. We do not give investment advice and strongly recommend you consult your trusted financial advisors about your Traditional or Roth IRA and your retirement investments.

Retirement Savings with Your Future in Mind

Saving for a big ticket item like a car is relatively easy—you determine what kind of car you want, how much you want to spend and then you start saving. Saving for retirement is much more challenging. For instance, how long will you need the money? Since no one knows how long they will live, answering that question and undertaking the necessary savings needed to retire successfully can be tough.

According to the Society of Actuaries, people are living 10 percent longer than they did 20 years ago. Men who reach the age of 65 can be expected to live to an average age of 86.6 and women to 88.8. And, those are only averages. Online longevity calculators such as the Actuaries Longevity Illustrator  may provide additional insight into your potential longevity.

With longer life spans on the horizon, individual investors need to get more aggressive about retirement savings to be able to fund their desired standard of living in retirement and avoid falling into longevity risk. Longevity risk occurs when the individual depletes his/her resources before the end of life. This problem can affect anyone but typically hits widows over 85 because income falls by about one-third after the death of a spouse. However, it can happen sooner than that. According to Social Security Administration data, 14.5 percent of widowed women over the age of 65 live in poverty; as well as divorced women (17.1 percent); and those who never married (23.2 percent).

Longer life, lower investment returns

Consider this: A 35-year-old couple with household income of $50,000 would need to save between 11 percent and 13 percent in pre-tax dollars to maintain their standard of living, while the same couple with household income of $100,000 would need to save between 13 percent and 16 percent.

Since investors are experiencing high asset prices on stocks and lower returns on safe assets such as bonds, aggressive savings alone won’t resolve this fiscal challenge. In fact, a consistently low-return environment means the percentage of income a person needs to save to meet a retirement goal needs to increase and also reduces the income a person can expect to receive once that goal is reached. All of this translates into lower expected returns in the future.

If reality bites, bite back

Here are some suggestions to overcome the financial reality:

Self-directed IRAs can provide informed investors the ability to develop a more diversified portfolio that they control. A self-directed retirement plan allows the individual to respond to economic downturns or take advantage of opportunistic (and tax-advantaged) investments with greater flexibility.

At Next Generation, our professionals are available to answer questions about self-directed retirement plans and the alternative assets allowed within these plans, and our transaction specialists ensure that you are investing within IRS guidelines. Since we do not give investment advice, we strongly recommend you consult your trusted financial advisors about your investments and any tax implications they have for your unique situation.

Want to put your retirement plan in a better state? Contact Next Generation at 888.857.8058 or Info@NextGenerationTrust.com, or read through our Starter Kits for more information.

 

Age is More than Just a Number

When it comes to planning for retirement, everyone should be aware of certain milestones because everyone starts and stops at different times in their lives. Your retirement age could differ from your friends, coworkers, or relatives, but what matters most is knowing the four milestone ages that are important to the growth of your retirement plans. Keeping these ages in mind can help you optimize your self-directed retirement accounts- so be sure to make note of them!

1st Milestone: When You Start Saving for Retirement

Congratulations! You have started your retirement journey! The age you start this journey could be any age. The moment you begin thinking about your future and saving for retirement is a milestone. You could be putting away as little or as much as you’d like. The act of saving for your future can help you reach your retirement goals. If you haven’t started yet, the best time to start is always right now!

2nd Milestone: Fifty Years Old – Begin to Catch Up

Once you hit fifty, you can begin catch up contributions to your IRAs. The limit for annual contributions to all of your IRA accounts is $5,500 if you are under the age of fifty. Once you hit fifty, your contribution limit increases to $6,500 annually. Being able to put more money into your retirement accounts means you can increase the potential growth until you decide to begin taking of your distributions. Speaking of distributions…

3rd Milestone: Fifty Nine and a Half Years Old – No Penalty for Early Withdrawals

Once you turn fifty nine and a half, there is no longer a penalty for early withdrawals from your IRA. This does not mean you must begin taking distributions if you do not want to, but you can if you desire. Just make sure to remember that when you withdraw from certain accounts, like a Traditional IRA, you will need to pay income tax on the money received. If you are distributing cash from an account that has already been taxed, like a Roth IRA, you will not be taxed upon distribution since the money was taxed prior to entering the account.

4th Milestone: Seventy and a Half Year Old – RMDs Begin

Seventy and a half is when Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) begin. It is crucial to keep this in mind, because if you do not take your RMD, you can be penalized up to 50% of the amount you were going to take. This is not the case if you have a Roth IRA. If you have a Roth IRA, distributions are not required at any age.  If you need to take an RMD from your Next Generation account, please feel free to contact us at 888.857.8058 so we can calculate the amount you would need to take.

Self-directed retirement plans are administered by third-party professionals, like Next Generation Trust Services, that review and execute the transactions, hold the assets, and manage all the paperwork associated with the plan.

Next Generation Trust Services makes it easy to get started on the path to a more eclectic, and potentially more lucrative, retirement portfolio. In addition to the information available in our white paper on the topic and on our website, our Starter Kits walk you through the steps needed to open and fund a new self-directed retirement plan. Once you’ve carefully researched your investment, send us the instructions to execute your transaction and you’re on your way to being better prepared for your retirement needs.

If you have questions about the various nontraditional investments these plans allow, contact our helpful professionals for answers at Info@NextGenerationTrust.com or 888.857.8058.

What Would The Three Bears Say About YOUR Retirement Fund?

Are you saving too little, too much (is that even possible?) or just enough?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that roughly half of United States workers participate in a workplace retirement savings plan.   However most of those participants do not calculate how much money they’ll need to fund their retirement,  let alone check to see if they’re even on track to meet that goal.

Some advisers suggest using ages as milestones to gauge if you’re saving enough or not. For example, Fidelity Investments used to recommend for those starting out to estimate one’s salary by age 35 in order to have reasonable financial security in those golden years. However, the firm is now recalculating and moving up that timeline by recommending you save one times your salary by age 30. That means a lot of hustle (and saving) in one’s 20s.

Adding to that hustle is the recommendation to have your savings equal twice your annual pay by age 35, and three times your salary by age 40. By age 67, which is currently the full retirement age for today’s younger workers, you’d better go all Papa Bear on your retirement savings at ten times your annual pay. These guidelines are meant for people who plan to retire at 67 and who want to have their savings provide at least 45 percent of their pre-retirement pay. Those who want to work past 67, will have to anticipate their needs and make adjustments to their expenses or savings.

Don’t hibernate when it comes to retirement savings

Of course, with the behavior of the stock market over the past 20 years, it’s hard to predict future performance and return. With so many Americans struggling to sock enough away while also paying their bills, many people are caught short when it comes to retirement savings. In fact, a 2015 report from the Government Accountability Office revealed that more than half of people age 55 and up don’t have any money saved for retirement, and about half of those people aren’t getting a pension. Without any retirement savings, they will end up relying heavily on Social Security benefits—which were never meant to replace full retirement income.

Rather than stay in that bear den and hope your retirement fund grows on its own, get proactive and save, save, save—whether you are just entering the workforce or see retirement in the near future. One way to grow your IRA is to open a self-directed retirement plan and include alternative assets you already know and understand. For example, do you already invest in real estate? Do you trade in commodities such livestock or agricultural products, or natural resources? Are precious metals already adding shine to your investment holdings? You can include all of these and more in a self-directed retirement plan, and build a more diverse portfolio that is potentially more lucrative.

You can read more here about self-direction to see if it’s right for you. If you are a younger worker with many years ahead of you before you retire, now is the time to open and fund a retirement plan, whether Traditional or Roth; you may even be able to self-direct your workplace 401(k) plan (ask your employer about that) and go from savings that are not enough to just right—and then some.

Have a question about self-directed IRAs? Give our helpful professionals a call at 888.857.8058 or send an email to Info@NextGenerationTrust.com. We’ll give you the answers that are just right to help you get started.

 

Increased IRS Scrutiny? We Can Handle It!

At Next Generation Trust Services, we want to protect the tax-advantaged status of your account. IRAs holding non-traditional assets are being placed under increased scrutiny by the IRS because of the higher likelihood that a prohibited transaction will take place and/or proper vales will not be reported. Because of the increased scrutiny from the IRS, we will be requiring more documentation for transactions.

In order to ensure that each client receives top notch service, we have a two to five
business day review period for all transactions. Our review period reflects the amount of transactions in our queue as well as the complexity of your investment. By taking this time to review your investments thoroughly we ensure that it is administratively feasible to hold your asset.

We also like to ensure that investments are set up for success.  Moving forward the following transaction types have increased requirements:

Investing in an IRA LLC will require an ERISA attorney to set up the operating agreement. It may also become required that an ERISA attorney or a CPA review all of the transactions that occur within the LLC. The increased review of single member LLCs is to help retain the tax advantaged status of your account.

Lending funds from your IRA in the form of an Unsecured Promissory Note will require a loan application from the borrower to submit to the lender (your IRA). A copy of the loan application will remain on file.

We take great pride in our customer service, and want to ensure our clients receive the best possible care. Our entire staff is cross trained so that if one associate is unavailable, another can assist you without delay. We have also added new email addresses so you can email your inquiries to us.  Rest assured that you will be answered within 24 hours.

For transaction related questions or documents, please email Transactions@NextGenerationTrust.com

For questions about assets or Fair Market Values, please email Assets@NextGenerationTrust.com

For questions about accounts and online access, please email Accounts@NextGenerationTrust.com

For questions about billing, please email Billing@NextGenerationTrust.com

For general inquiries, please email Info@NextGenerationTrust.com

 

The GAO Report and Self-Directed IRAs

GAO Report

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a publication on January 9th titled Improved Guidance Could Help Account Owners Understand the Risks of Investing in Unconventional Assets. IRAs have become an integral part of retirement savings for many, and more people are beginning to branch out from more traditional assets in favor of alternative types of assets such as real estate, precious metals, private funds, crypto currency, and more. These types of assets are held in self-directed accounts, and the regulations for these types of accounts can be murky at best.

The GAO reported that currently, the IRS provides little guidance to IRA owners when it comes to the increased responsibility and potential challenges that arise when investing in unconventional assets. The following areas needed improved guidelines when it comes to compliance with IRS.
Prohibited Transactions

IRS Publication 590 A defines a prohibited transaction as any improper use of your IRA by you, your beneficiary, or any disqualified person.  These prohibited transactions usually fall into these categories: extension of credit or self-dealing. These prohibited transactions do not limit what your IRA can invest in, but dictates who can and cannot interact with your IRA.

Those with self-directed accounts are at a greater risk of engaging in a prohibited transaction with their IRA, and may not even know it. The GAO concluded that there should be more education about prohibited transactions in order to ensure compliance with IRC § 4975. For more information on prohibited transactions, you can click here.

Unrelated Business Taxable Income (UBTI)

Depending upon the assets in your account, your IRA may incur UBTI. Unrelated business taxable income is gross income generated from an ongoing trade or business that is not related to the IRA.  So if an IRA were to own a business, such as a grocery store, the proceeds from the store would be subject to UBTI because that would be considered business or ordinary income. The IRA would then file a 990-T tax return and would be responsible for the tax on the earned income. Certain types of income (such as dividends, rental income from property, or interest) do not incur UBTI, unless the rental property that is generating the income holds a mortgage. This type of tax, UBTI, is a very complicated issue and should be discussed with your tax advisor.

The GAO reported that there is not a lot of guidance when it comes to UBTI in publication 590-A or 590-B and warned that without guidance, IRA holders may invest in different opportunities that would subject them to this tax. To read more about UBTI, click here.

Fair Market Valuations

Fair market valuations are necessary for 5498 forms that are required by the IRS. These forms report the values of assets held in IRA accounts as of December 31st of the previous year. For accounts that hold stocks and mutual funds, it is much easier to report the value of the asset, as the value would be the closing market price of the stock or fund on December 31st of the previous year. For assets like real estate, the valuation is not as easy to come by and the valuation can be obtained using various methods.

The GAO recommended that the IRS develop guidelines on how to valuate these types of assets. Creating a guideline would make the valuations much easier for the IRA owners as well as the IRA administrators and custodians. To read more about Fair Market Valuations, click here.

These enhanced guidelines would improve the IRA owners experience with self-directing and make it much easier to include a self-directed IRA in your retirement portfolio. The professionals at Next Generation Trust Services are ready to assist you with any questions you have about any of these topics. If you are interested in self-direction, you can call one of our representatives at 888.857.8058 or email us at Info@NextGenerationTrust.com.

self directed IRA