America Saves Week is Feb. 22-26. Are you Saving Enough for Retirement?

America Saves Week is Feb. 22-26. Are you Saving Enough for Retirement?

America Saves Week is an annual event, and a call for Americans to commit to saving successfully—as individuals and families, for reducing debt and for retirement, to have something for emergencies, and to create the habit of saving automatically. According to its website, America Saves encourages us all to set goals and make a plan to achieve better financial stability. The week’s daily focus changes; yesterday, Wednesday, February 24th was “save to retire.” We like that!

It’s no secret that most Americans need better overall financial habits, especially when it comes to saving for retirement. Between the Great Recession and the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been tough for many people to stay on track (or get back on it) with their retirement savings. Moreover, the pandemic has led to many people retiring before they had planned to do so, for various reasons. However, there’s an interesting flip side to this issue: for some retirees or those nearing retirement, they are opting to work longer, even part-time, because they find working remotely to be a viable option or they are waiting for more of the economy  to rebound. With nowhere to go, they might as well still work.

Whether you aren’t on Medicare yet and can still contribute to an HSA (which you can use later on for non-medical expenses without penalty), or you’re still contributing to your workplace retirement plan or your IRA, America Saves Week is the perfect time to educate yourself about wealth building..

Investing those funds through a self-directed IRA could get you to your retirement goals sooner.

Saving and Investing with a Self-Directed IRA

Self-directed retirement plans come in all types, with the same tax advantages as their traditional counterparts. However, unlike typical retirement plans, you are not limited to stocks, bonds, and mutual funds when you self-direct your investments. Instead, you can include a wide range of alternative assets—ones you may already be investing in outside of your existing retirement plan—and build a more diverse portfolio based on what you know and understand.

You can self-direct a Traditional or Roth IRA, a SEP IRA or SIMPLE IRA – as well as a health savings account or education savings account. If you are a small-business owner or sole proprietor with no common law employees, you may also open a Solo 401(k).

When you self-direct your investments, you can include alternative assets such as real estate, private equity, precious metals, notes/loans, impact investments, cryptocurrency (and more) and take advantage of diverse investment opportunities. As with all self-directed investing, you as the investor conduct your full due diligence on the alternative assets you wish to include, all income and expenses related to the assets flow through the retirement plan, and you must avoid prohibited transactions.

Post-retirement contributions

As you may know, the SECURE Act has made it possible for you to continue contributing to a Traditional IRA after you’ve retired, as long as you have earned income (similar to a Roth IRA). To continue contributing to a Roth IRA, you must also meet certain income criteria as set by the IRS. That is good news when it comes to saving for retirement.

Here’s more good news: the professionals at Next Generation are here to help you understand the many options and benefits of self-direction as a retirement wealth-building strategy. You may schedule a complimentary education session to get answers to your questions and learn more about getting started—whether you’re many years away from retiring, in your mid-level career, or wish to change the way you’ve been investing your retirement savings. You can also contact the Next Generation team by phone at 888.857.8058 or email at NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com.

Show Your Retirement Portfolio Some Love this Year

Whether you’ll be staring adoringly into your partner’s eyes on Valentine’s Day or celebrating with a Galentine’s/Malentine’s Day get-together with friends, February is the month of love and friendship—and your retirement plan also deserves some special attention.

The first way to give your retirement plan a loving boost is to open a self-directed IRA. Why a self-directed plan? Two words: alternative assets. And those non-publicly traded, alternative assets provide you with many ways to diversify your retirement portfolio with an array of investments you may already be “engaged” with outside of a retirement plan. In most IRAs held with a brokerage, those alternative investment options are not always available to you. Hence, the self-directed IRA.

Sure, you may love playing the stock market and enjoy the thrill ride of that roller coaster by way of its volatility. However, as a self-directed investor there’s no reason to limit your investing to stocks, bonds and mutual funds. In fact, most advisors may actually encourage diversification and alternative investing to allow you added control over your investment returns while providing a hedge against that volatility. Investment options include real estate, private equity, notes and loans, social causes, cryptocurrency, precious metals and more.

What do you already love?

Think about the investments you already know and understand—the ones you already love investing in, like real estate, precious metals, or private equity. As explained before, the list of possible investments through self-direction is long and enables individuals to take advantage of market opportunities and apply what they know to their tax-advantaged retirement account. For example:

Many types of retirement plans can be self-directed—a Traditional or Roth IRA, SIMPLE or SEP IRA, or solo 401(k), even health savings accounts (HSAs) and education savings accounts (ESAs). Depending on your goals and situation, you have plenty of options in terms of the type of plan to open. That flexibility may come in handy when you do retire and want a combination of tax-free and tax-deferred income, for example, or if you are self-employed or own a small business with employees.

Here’s more to love: opening a new self-directed IRA is easy and you can fund the new account the same way as you would any other plan—with a transfer from a like account, a rollover, or a personal contribution. At Next Generation, we simplify the process with our electronic starter kits that walk you through every step from opening the account through sending your instructions to our transaction specialists. As a third-party administrator and custodian of self-directed IRAs and other plans, we will review and execute investment transactions, custody asset(s) for our clients, provide recordkeeping and complete all necessary tax reporting.

If you are comfortable making your own investment decisions and conducting your full due diligence on the investments you wish to include, we invite you to learn more about this retirement strategy by scheduling a complimentary education session with one of our knowledgeable representatives. You may also contact our team directly via phone at 888-857-8058 or via email at NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com.

What’s Your Retirement Planning Strategy?

If you’re a younger worker, it’s easy to think you have your whole life ahead of you to plan for retirement. And if you are nearing retirement, you may think you’ve got it covered through your employer’s retirement plan or other means. But with so much uncertainty swirling around us right now and with the cost of living rising, a proactive approach to your retirement planning strategy is always wise.

Plan ahead to be less dependent on Social Security or someone else’s bank account. Many older adults may feel that Social Security benefits will keep them financially secure or their adult children will help them out. But with real concerns about the Social Security Trust Fund’s sustainability and Generations X and Y facing their own savings issues, there are no givens. Besides, Social Security was meant to be a supplement to retirement income, not a main source of income.

Plan ahead for how (or if) the sale of your home will fund your lifestyle. Those who own a home may feel confident about living off the proceeds of the home’s sale, especially if the house is paid off already—but a lingering mortgage cuts into proceeds, capital gains may be a factor to consider, and if you’re thinking of moving into a retirement community, the rents can be quite high.

Plan ahead for possible early retirement. The pandemic has wreaked havoc on employers nationwide. Businesses are closing or tightening their financial belts in response to market conditions; extended furloughs may become permanent, and this may motivate some people to consider an early retirement.

Plan ahead for a smaller pension plan. Part of the corporate belt tightening has been the steady disappearance of traditional pension plans. Plus, many pension plans are in distress and may have to reduce distribution levels due to various factors such as poor ROI on investments, lower participant rates, and economic factors brought on by COVID-19.

Plan ahead for “I’m that old already?!” When getting our careers in gear, many of us think we have “forever” to get started on saving for retirement. Then suddenly, 20 years have passed and that time horizon for putting money away is much shorter.

Plan ahead for retirement through self-direction

Self-directed retirement plans offer an alternative strategy to traditional investing, by including non-traditional assets that brokerage accounts do not allow. For seasoned investors who are comfortable making their own investment decisions and are confident about conducting their own full due diligence on those investments, a self-directed IRA can be a great way to build retirement income with a powerful hedge against stock market volatility. Self-directed IRAs also allow for retirement portfolio diversification and greater control over your investment returns.

If you have an employer-sponsored plan, it is likely limited to stocks, bonds and mutual funds that are susceptible to the ups and downs of the market. You may also have an IRA (or brokerage account) that offers a “self-directed” option; however, it is not truly self-directed. The true definition of a self-directed IRA is a tax-advantaged retirement account that allows you to invest in non-publicly traded assets. These non-publicly traded assets, also known as alternative assets, can include real estate, private equity, social/impact investments, cryptocurrency, notes/loans, and more.

As a custodian and administrator for these self-directed retirement plans, the team at Next Generation is here to help. You can schedule a complimentary educational session to learn more about self-direction; or you may contact the Next Generation team directly via phone at 888.857.8058 or email at NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com.

It’s a New Year – Do You Have a New Outlook on Your Retirement?

The new year often brings promises and resolutions to create new habits, get back to something we enjoy, or try something new. Why not apply the “new year, new you” mindset to your retirement planning as well?

Do any of these scenarios sound like you?

Get a new plan for your retirement in the new year with a self-directed IRA

Self-directed investors are those who are comfortable making their own investment decisions (that’s where the “self-directed” part comes into play), and who are knowledgeable about (and often experienced in) investing in various alternative assets. For example, you:

  1. Already invest in real estate (residential, commercial, industrial, raw land, etc.)
  2. Understand how to make a secured or unsecured loan with interest and terms
  3. Are involved in private equity funding
  4. Trade in agricultural or energy commodities
  5. Buy and sell cryptocurrency
  6. Are passionate about investing in social causes

The list goes on and is as diverse as the investors who self-directed their retirement plans.

Open a new self-directed IRA at Next Generation

Whether you’re just starting out with your self-directed IRA or have one that needs some catchup contributions, Next Generation is here to help. As a self-directed retirement plan custodian and administrator, we work with investors who wish to include alternative assets in their self-directed IRAs. Our clients understand that this strategy enables them to diversify their retirement portfolios with investments they already know and understand, while also providing a hedge against stock market volatility and the same tax advantages as regular retirement plans.

The turn of the calendar page is a great time to consider opening a new self-directed retirement account and start putting your investing expertise to work through a tax-advantaged plan. We offer client education through webinars, on our blog, and  complimentary education sessions to help you evaluate if self-direction is the right direction for your retirement goals. If you have a specific question or want to know more, you may also contact the Next Generation team by phone at 888.857.8058 or by email at NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com.

Retirement Plan Contribution Limits for 2021

The IRS has announced 2021 contribution limits in its Notice 2020-79, which covers various types of retirement plans, including workplace retirement plans and individual retirement arrangements (IRAs). These figures apply to regular and self-directed retirement plans. The deadline to contribute to your retirement plan for the 2020 tax year is April 15, 2021.

Contribution limits remain the same. Note that once again, there is no change for Traditional and Roth IRA contribution limits, which remain at $6,000 per account holder per year. Note that taxpayers may be limited in their contribution limits to a Roth IRA, or be prohibited from contributing at all, based on modified adjusted gross income (for single filers and/or those filing jointly), as detailed by the IRS.

Catch-up contributions—the additional retirement plan contributions allowed for taxpayers ages 50 and over–will also remain unchanged:

Deductibility phase-outs. Depending on income levels and types of retirement plans, taxpayers may be eligible to take a yearly tax deduction for the money they contribute to an IRA each year (this does not apply to a Roth IRA, which is treated differently for tax purposes), but there are criteria for this. Contributions to a SEP or SIMPLE IRA are also deductible but you should consult your tax professional for guidance about those.

For taxpayers who participate in employer retirement plans, there is an IRA deductibility phase-out based on modified adjusted gross income (MAGI); for 2021 this will rise slightly in each category as follows:

Roth IRA eligibility ranges will increase. Because Roth IRA contributions are made on an after-tax basis, the rules are different in terms of eligibility to contribute, based on MAGI:

Employer-sponsored plans. Most but not all workplace retirement plans will not see a change in annual additions, deferral limits, and other criteria. For example, defined contribution plan additions increase to $58,000 (up $1,000 from 2020) but there is no change for defined benefit pension plans. Certain income thresholds will go up. Your employer plan administrator should have that information available to you.

Potential tax credits. Taxpayers who make contributions to IRAs or deferral-type employer-sponsored retirement plans of up to $2,000 may be eligible for a special income tax credit, referred to as the “saver’s credit.” Depending on modified adjusted gross income, it could be 10, 20, or 50 percent of the amount contributed, and differs for joint filers, heads of households, and singles.

Potential retirement wealth boosters—self-directed IRAs

Whether you’ve already contributed your maximum allowed amount for 2020 or you are still making contributions to your retirement plan, you can boost your retirement savings with a self-directed IRA. Whether Traditional or Roth, SEP or SIMPLE, self-directed retirement plans put you in control of your investments by allowing you to include a broad range of alternative assets in your account. For individuals who are comfortable making all their own investment decisions, are able to conduct full due diligence about nontraditional investments, and want to create a hedge against stock market volatility, a self-directed IRA can be a powerful tool to build a more diverse retirement portfolio.

Read more about the many options and benefits of self-direction on our FAQs page.  If you have questions about this retirement strategy, you can arrange a complimentary educational session; or contact our team directly via phone at 888.857.8058 or email at NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com.

Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2021

It was announced in mid-October that Social Security beneficiaries will see a 1.3% cost- of-living adjustment (COLA) in their monthly distribution checks, effective January 1, 2021. The Social Security Administration says this is in line with prior years’ increases, although it is slightly smaller than the 1.6% increase in 2020 and a more significant 2.8% bump to monthly checks in 2019. Looking back over a longer timeline, the COLA was zero several times (2010, 2011, 2016) and only 0.3% in 2017. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, the figures are much higher, ranging from around 6% in 1977 to 14% in 1981.

Given the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on many Americans, including those receiving Social Security checks, that 1.3% increase won’t go too far in many areas of the country. According to the Social Security Administration, the average monthly benefit increase will be as follows for various categories of recipients:

Some other changes coming in 2021 are:

Calculating COLA
The cost-of-living adjustment is based on the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers. However, this formula focuses on younger workers under age 62, who are not claiming benefits nor having Medicare payments deducted from their monthly Social Security income. Let’s not forget the rising costs of living seniors face in general, which outpace that COLA amount—food, housing, and prescription drugs among them.

There is a groundswell to change the COLA calculation to the consumer price index for the elderly instead. This is the Social Security 2100 Act, which is being put forward by Congressman John Larson of Connecticut. It expands benefits for current and future recipients, cuts taxes on the elderly, and aims to keep the Social Security Trust Fund solvent through the rest of this century.

Social Security is not so secure
Any way you slice it, relying heavily (or in many cases nationwide, solely) on Social Security for one’s retirement income does not bode well for today’s retirees —especially right now, when the fund is scheduled to be insolvent by 2033. Being more proactive about retirement saving can provide more stable financial health during one’s working and retirement years.

While Social Security benefits provide a financial safety net as per the program’s original intent, in today’s world, those benefits don’t stack up for individuals seeking to retire comfortably and maintain their accustomed lifestyle. That’s where self-directed IRAs and the nontraditional investment they allow can really shine.

Self-directed IRAs allow account owners to include a broad array of non-publicly traded, alternative assets, such as real estate, private equity, notes/loans, precious metals, and so many more. Self-directed investors can be proactive as well as nimbler about how they invest for their later years. That’s because, as individuals who make all their own investment decisions, self-directed investors can take advantage of market shifts and opportunities, and invest in many alternative assets they already know and understand, and that provide a hedge against stock market volatility.

At Next Generation, we’re all about client education. You can read more about the different types of self-directed retirement plans for individuals and business owners here. You may also schedule a complimentary educational session to get the information you need to decide whether self-direction is the right retirement strategy for you. Our helpful team is here to answer questions as well; you may contact us directly via phone at 888.857.8058 or NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com.

Has the Pandemic Affected Your Retirement Confidence?

The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies issued its 20th annual survey of retirees last month, titled “Retirees and Retirement Amid COVID-19.” The report focuses on financial stability and readiness in retirement amid the pandemic. Findings are based on a survey done in November/December 2019 and again in June 2020; it polled people 50+ years of age who consider themselves fully or semi-retired, and who worked for a for-profit company for the majority of their careers.

The study reported that among those retirees surveyed:

However, eating into the financial security for nearly half of those surveyed is household debt (student loans, car loans, credit cards, medical bills) and nearly a quarter of respondents are paying off mortgages.

Even though many retirees are not feeling shaken financially by COVID-19’s economic ramifications, Transamerica noted that relatively few were “very confident” before the pandemic. The study concluded that many retirees are in danger of outliving their financial resources or lack income to cover healthcare expenses or pay for long-term care. Another sobering revelation: the lack of a financial strategy for retirement. Of those who said they have a plan (58%), only 18% have it in writing. That leaves 42% without a financial strategy amid the pandemic.

Self-directed retirement plans—an effective financial strategy at any time
Self-directed IRAs are ideal for investors who are confident in making all of their own investment decisions, and those who may already be investing in alternative assets outside of a retirement plan. Whether you are in your early- or mid-career phase, nearing retirement, or already retired, you have the option to use the many different nontraditional investments allowed through self-direction to build retirement wealth.

Self-directed IRAs enable investors to include a wide range of non-publicly traded alternative assets that typical plans do not allow, such as real estate, private equity, social causes, precious metals, secured and unsecured loans, and many more. In short, while the pandemic and politics can create instability in the stock market, self-directed IRAs provide a valuable hedge against that volatility, with a more diverse retirement portfolio and better control on investment returns.

If you’re thinking of diversifying the investments in your retirement plan, are comfortable conducting your own due diligence and research about those investments, Next Generation has the tools you need to get started. Please considering registering for a complimentary educational session. Alternatively, you may also contact our team directly via phone at 888.857.8058 or email at NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com.

Get Schooled on Self-Directed Education Savings Accounts

There are several investment/savings options available to individuals who want to give the gift of education to children. An education savings account (ESA) is an excellent supplement to other education savings (such as a 529 plan) with tax advantages. Also called a Coverdell Education Savings Account, this is a trust account created by the U.S. government.

An ESA may be used to cover qualified expenses related to primary, secondary, or higher education, from kindergarten through college or post-secondary trade school. Withdrawals are tax free (free from federal income tax) when used for eligible expenses. These include tuition, books and supplies, computers/equipment, transportation, school fees, and room & board. Children attending public school or private school may use the funds for qualified expenses.

Self-directed ESA investments

As with any other type of self-directed plan, an education savings account can include a range of alternative assets. Depending on need and time horizons for taking qualified withdrawals, there are opportunities to boost the $2,000 annual contribution limit through nontraditional investments such as private equity, secured and unsecured loans, real estate, precious metals, and many more.

For example:
Baby Sarah’s grandparents want to contribute to her education and open a self-directed ESA – they can contribute up to $2,000 annually. Sarah’s parents are also putting money away for the baby’s education. They plan to register her into public elementary school but may consider private middle/high school.

Every year, Sarah’s grandparents contribute $2,000 into her ESA, and begin investing the funds in an alternative asset with which they have years of experience.

As the value of Sarah’s ESA grows beyond the $2,000 annual contributions, she will have funds to use for books and supplies or can withdraw funds to cover tuition costs at a private high school or for college, to supplement her parents’ savings. Plus, her grandparents can continue to contribute to the ESA until Sarah turns 18—and continue to diversify the accounts’ holdings through other self-directed investments they already know and understand.

Their $36,000 gift over those 18 years can grow exponentially through the power of nontraditional investments not typically affected by the stock market, provide Sarah with more money to use for her education, and give mom and dad a little help along the way.

ESA facts

If you have questions about how to get started or about the alternative assets allowed in self-directed accounts, you can schedule a complimentary educational session with one of our knowledgeable representatives. Alternatively, you may contact us at directly via phone at  888.857.8058 or send an email to NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com.

 

Has Your Work Situation Changed? You Can Roll Your 401(k) Funds into a Self-Directed IRA

Do you have a retirement plan that is still with an employer where you are no longer working? If you have recently lost a job due to COVID-19, or are in job transition, make sure you don’t leave your old 401(k) plan behind. If yours is still with a previous employer, you can rescue those funds and roll them over into a self-directed IRA.

Right now, it’s unclear for many workers if or when there will be a new employer with a new workplace retirement plan. However, one thing is clear: opening an IRA (Roth or Traditional) is an option that enables individuals to make sure their retirement savings stay with them. Moreover, if that new retirement plan is self-directed, there is a much wider range of potential investment options available that account holders—not their employers—control.

Rollovers into self-directed IRAs

Since most 401(k) plans are limited in terms of allowable investments, rescuing and rolling over those funds into a self-directed IRA opens up the door to greater investment opportunity, without the limits imposed by most plan sponsors on the defined contribution plans they offer. As you may know from your existing 401(k), most of those plans are limited to investing in mutual funds or exchange traded funds, stocks, and bonds. Opening a new self-directed IRA will enable you to include an array of alternative assets that you may already know and understand, such as real estate, private equity, precious metals, hedge funds, secured and unsecured notes/loans, energy investments, and more.

Through self-direction, you’ll build a more diverse retirement portfolio, create a hedge against stock market volatility, and gain better control over your investment returns as part of your retirement strategy. You’ll also have the flexibility of buying and selling your investments when you choose, rather than according to a prescribed schedule that most 401(k) plans follow.

You can choose to do a rollover into a new Roth or Traditional IRA, or a SIMPLE or SEP IRA, depending on your employment status, overall tax situation and how far out you are from retirement. As always, we recommend you discuss your unique scenario with a trusted advisor. You may also have to check with the current plan administrator to see if there are any restrictions concerning the type of IRA allowed for a rollover from the existing 401(k).

How to roll funds over into a self-directed IRA

At Next Generation, our comprehensive starter kits walk you through all the steps needed and required documentation to submit in order to open a new self-directed retirement plan with us, and include a rollover form for Traditional, Roth, SEP, or SIMPLE IRAs (we have starter kits for other types of plans as well). Moreover, our helpful team of professionals are available to answer questions about opening a self-directed IRA or about the many types of non-publicly traded, alternative assets, these plans allow. You may schedule a complimentary education session; or you may contact Next Generation by phone at 888.857.8058 or by email at NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com.