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.
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.
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?
- You’ve been inattentive in the past when it came to contributing to your retirement plan on a regular basis. Now you might be falling behind on your retirement savings goals.
- As a younger millennial, you’ve been thinking you don’t need to open an IRA yet, but you have some cash sitting in a 401(k) from a previous employer.
- You are semi-retired and are looking around for a side gig to stay busy, but you don’t need the money for living expenses.
- You enjoy investing in alternative assets outside of your existing retirement plan and are curious about how you could make those nontraditional investments through a tax-advantaged retirement account.
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:
- Already invest in real estate (residential, commercial, industrial, raw land, etc.)
- Understand how to make a secured or unsecured loan with interest and terms
- Are involved in private equity funding
- Trade in agricultural or energy commodities
- Buy and sell cryptocurrency
- 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.
Has the COVID-19 Pandemic Affected Business Owners and Retirement Readiness?
COVID-19 has affected the American economy across a number of sectors and business owners nationwide are feeling the effects. Last month, TD Wealth released the results of a survey conducted in July among 1,296 business owners and individuals in two groups: high-net-worth business owners and individuals with investable assets of more than $500,000, and mass affluent business owners and individuals with investable assets between $100,000 and $499,000. The survey was about the pandemic’s impact on revenue and how or if that affected their retirement planning.
- The majority of respondents in both groups (67% and 73% respectively) said they were concerned about achieving their financial goals due to economic or political uncertainly.
- Among all business owners surveyed:
- Eighty-seven percent said their revenue had been affected by the pandemic,
- Forty-seven percent said they reduced their operations,
- Twenty-five percent experienced temporary or permanent closures.
However, 85% of respondents said they had not altered their retirement planning in spite of the pandemic’s negative economic effects on their businesses. Further, it appears they feel retirement-ready:
- Of those with a long-term investment plan, 94% said they were somewhat confident of achieving their financial goals.
- Among the high-net-worth respondents, 94% expressed confidence about their financial plan generating the income they would need in retirement.
- In the mass affluent group, 82% said they were somewhat confident about having the retirement income they’d need from their financial plans.
The TD Wealth survey also showed that together, retirement savings and investment portfolios comprised more than half of the retirement income across all survey respondents.
Get Retirement Ready with Self-Directed Retirement Plans
Savvy business owners already know a lot about running their businesses and are already comfortable making decisions that affect their operations every day. They could be building a diverse retirement portfolio with a range of alternative assets they also know a lot about—and make their own investment decisions regarding those assets—with a self-directed retirement plan.
Business owners may open several types of self-directed retirement plans based on their business situations, with all having the same benefits as their traditional counterparts but with added advantages—the ability to include nontraditional investments they already know and understand, and create a hedge against stock market volatility.
SEP IRA: SEP stands for Simplified Employee Pension plan; it’s an easy, flexible, option if you are self-employed, or a partner or owner of a corporation with 25 or fewer employees.
SIMPLE IRA: For larger companies of up to 100 employees, the Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees enables employers to make contributions towards their retirement as well as their employees’ retirement.
Solo 401k: The individual/solo 401(k) is for sole proprietors who employ only themselves, their spouse, or partners. It has deduction and contribution benefits similar to a regular 401(k).
At Next Generation, we offer free education to help individuals make informed decisions about which type of self-directed retirement plan to open—including Traditional and Roth IRAs as well as health savings accounts (HSAs) and education savings accounts (ESAs). We always recommend you speak to a trusted financial or tax advisor who knows your specific financial situation to determine if, as a business owner, a SEP IRA, SIMPLE IRA, or Solo(k) will be the plan to help you meet your financial goals.
Once you decide which type of account to open, we make it easy with our starter kits and detailed instructions for funding a new account. As a self-directed investor the rest is up to you—selecting and researching the alternative assets you wish to include, conducting your full due diligence on each investment, and then providing Next Generation with instructions to execute the transaction.
If you are interested in learning more about self-direction as a retirement strategy, please sign up for a complimentary educational session with one of our representatives. Alternatively, you may contact our team directly via phone at 1.888.857.8058 or email 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:
- For IRAs (Traditional, Roth) – $1,000
- For SIMPLE IRA and SIMPLE 401(k) plans – $3,000
- For 401(k), 403(b), and 457(b) plans – $6,500
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:
- Single taxpayers – $66,000 to $76,000 (up from $65,000 to $75,000)
- Married joint filing taxpayers – $105,000 to $125,000 (was $104,000 to $124,000)
- Married with a spouse who is an active participant in employer plan – $198,000 to $208,000 (formerly $196,000 to $206,000)
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:
- For determining the maximum contribution for married joint filers, the phase-out range will be $198,000 to $208,000 (up from $196,000 to $206,000).
- For determining the maximum contribution for single filers and heads-of-households, the phase-out range rises to $125,000 to $140,000 (up from $124,000 to $139,000)
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.
Will Social Security Benefits Support Your Retirement Age?
Although individuals can claim Social Security benefits as early as age 62, the retirement age associated with full Social Security benefits had been 65 for many years. That marker has been creeping up over time, with the number currently set at age 67 for people born in 1960 or later. The goal has been to encourage Americans to retire later; the Social Security Trust Fund is only solvent through 2037 and delaying benefits will help shore up the fund.
However, according to a paper titled, “How Sticky is Retirement Behavior in the U.S.? Responses to Changes in the Full Retirement Age,” the increase in full retirement age is not stopping many Americans from retiring and claiming Social Security at the age of 65. The study, published by the National Bureaus of Economic Research (and reported in Investment News) posits that Congress needs to develop new policies – in addition to increasing full retirement age – to get Americans to retire later.
Adding to this conundrum is the effect that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the economy and personal finances, with historic levels of unemployment or reduced work. It’s unclear right now how this will play out, but one writer foresees trouble ahead for people born in 1960—who are turning 60 years old this year—because of how Social Security benefits are calculated.
- Each year’s earnings over one’s lifetime are adjusted to index to the growth or inflation of national average earnings; the indexing occurs for the year someone turns age 60 and ends there.
- 2020 earnings are taking a major hit compared to 2019 due to the pandemic, and there will likely be a decrease in the national average earnings this year.
- This in turn reduces the indexed lifetime earnings of everyone turning 60 this year, which reduces the monthly Social Security retirement benefits.
- The author warns that, although unknown right now, average earnings could decline for another year or so, also reducing the benefits of those born after 1960.
- Those who are already retired may see little or no cost of living adjustment (COLA).
This may cause many Americans to re-evaluate their retirement timeline, as they may need to work longer as a financial necessity. This is especially true for those who have not been contributing to a retirement plan.
Build a more supportive portfolio with a self-directed IRA
Many people already understand that Social Security may not be there for them throughout their retirement years or be sufficient to rely on as a sole source of retirement income. As a result, most have retirement plans to support them in their later years. For those who’ve been planning for retirement with a self-directed IRA as part of their portfolio, they understand the need to take control of their retirement planning and diversify their investment allocations.
Self-direction enables investors to include a broad array of non-publicly traded, alternative assets within their IRAs, which provide a hedge against stock market volatility while building retirement wealth. It’s a proactive approach for individuals who are comfortable making their own investment decisions, and who understand nontraditional investments such as real estate, private equity, precious metals, lending, partnerships and more.
Are you looking to shift your retirement strategy to include alternative assets you already know and understand? Do you want to develop a retirement portfolio that reflects your interests or an area of expertise? If you’re comfortable making your own investment decisions, it’s a great time to plan your retirement from a different perspective. You’ll find a plethora of information about self-directed IRAs on our website. If you have questions about how to get started, you can schedule a complimentary educational session with someone from our team. Alternatively, you can contact us directly via phone at 888.857.8058 or email at NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com.
Investing in Cryptocurrency in a Self-Directed IRA
One of the benefits of self-direction as a retirement strategy is the ability to include a broad array of nontraditional investments in an IRA or retirement plan. One such investment that has the attention of certain savvy investors is cryptocurrency.
Many people have heard of Bitcoin—a form of cryptocurrency—but what is this alternative asset all about?
What is cryptocurrency?
In short, it’s a digital or virtual currency—not paper money or metal coins—that is created on decentralized networks of computers using blockchain technology. Blockchain is a distributed/online ledger and an organizational method for ensuring the integrity and security of all transactional data—an essential component of many cryptocurrencies.
Cryptocurrencies are secured by encryption techniques called cryptography and allow for secure online payments as virtual tokens—these tokens are the ledger entries in the system. Cryptocurrencies are not held at a bank nor issued by any central authority such as a government agency or financial institution. No personal information is exchanged during a transaction and there is no third-party interaction with institutions such as a banks or credit card companies. The parties’ digital wallets are account addresses with a public key and the owner has a private key to sign transactions.
Bitcoin, launched in 2009, became famous as the first blockchain-based cryptocurrency; today, there are many others that compete with it. A more detailed explanation of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency can be found here.
Including cryptocurrency in a self-directed IRA
Diversifying one’s retirement plan through self-direction enables individuals to include many non-publicly traded alternative assets—such as cryptocurrency—in their retirement portfolios. Investors who know and understand this asset also know that market prices are based on token supply and trader/user demand, and the exchanges the currencies trade on.
(NOTE: There is a limited supply of this computer-generated currency by design; for example, Bitcoin was designed to cap at 21 million).
That said, like many nontraditional investments, cryptocurrencies can provide a hedge against stock market volatility and inflation, and unlike other alternative assets, are certainly easy to transport and use.
Investing in Cryptocurrency through an IRA at Next Generation
Note that any time you buy or trade a digital asset, this transaction is done through a digital wallet that is linked to a checking account. If you plan to invest in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, most self-directed IRA custodians, like Next Generation, require that this be done through an LLC; the LLC is funded by the self-directed IRA and opens a business checking account to use for the digital wallet. This checkbook control should ensure that the funds are held and used specifically for the purpose of buying or trading this digital asset (or other alternative assets within the IRA)
If you’ve done your research on cryptocurrencies—or if you’re already trading these digital assets outside of your existing IRA—you can form an IRA LLC with Next Generation and start building a more diverse retirement portfolio that includes Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. You can also schedule a complimentary educational session with one of Next Generation’s team members to discuss how this all works. For questions about self-direction as a retirement strategy, contact Next Generation by phone at 1.888.857.8058 or by email at NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com.
Considering Taking a Hardship Distribution from Your Retirement Plan?
The coronavirus pandemic is leaving millions of Americans on furlough or out of a job, dealing with reduced hours or workload… but NOT with reduced monthly bills to pay. For many, this is a time of financial hardship. Sadly, according to a 2018 Federal Reserve report, 40 percent of adults cannot cover a $400 emergency expense and the current situation goes far beyond that.
Sometimes, individuals consider dipping into one’s retirement plan to cover short-term expenses. Among the emergency expenses that may qualify for such a withdrawal are tuition/education expenses; down payment or repairs on a primary residence, rent or mortgage payments (to thwart possible eviction or foreclosure); out-of-pocket medical expenses; and funeral costs.
- The withdrawal amount has been limited to the amount of the emergency expense
- The plan participant pays income tax on the withdrawal plus a 10 percent penalty if under 59½ years old
- If a 401(k) design allows for loans (not all do), people taking loans against their 401(k) plans must repay the full loan amount with interest; lack of repayment can trigger additional penalties
- In addition, participants’ contributions from their paychecks into their 401(k) plans are suspended for at least six months after taking the hardship distribution
Changes with the CARES Act
This stimulus package has loosened the rules around taking hardship withdrawals from retirement plans, and loans from 401(k) plans. A CARES Act provision allows individuals who are facing adverse financial consequences due to COVID-19 to withdraw funds from their retirement accounts without penalty (regardless of age). This applies to IRAs and 401(k) plans.
The withdrawal must be made before December 31, 2020 and can be up to $100,000. Tax payments on this income are extended out three years. For those taking loans against their 401(k)s, that amount is also raised to $100,000. Note that there are no loans from IRAs.
Why gamble with your retirement savings?
Many financial experts argue against taking out a hardship loan from one’s 401(k) plan to avoid reducing any retirement savings, when there are other loan options available (such as a home equity loan, SBA loan, or other lines of credit). And, all good intentions aside, it may be difficult to replace the funds from a hardship distribution from an IRA or other retirement plan—and then rebuild on that money for retirement.On top of that, the stock market has suffered a tremendous downturn, with subsequent volatility almost daily, as a result of COVID-19 and the economic stressors stemming from lockdowns.
Weathering market volatility through self-direction
Self-directed investors have greater leeway when it comes to hedging against that stock market volatility. That’s because of the many alternative assets that can be held in a self-directed retirement plan. Investing in real estate, precious metals, private equity, or other non-publicly traded assets give savvy investors many more ways to build a more diverse retirement portfolio that have stronger potential to weather the COVID-19 storm (and other times of economic uncertainty). One reason is because the returns on nontraditional investments in a self-directed IRA do NOT directly correlate with stock market returns.
You can even loan funds from your self-directed IRA to someone who is dealing with a cash flow shortage, with the terms worked out between both parties, and receive interest and principal paid back to your IRA.
As always, it is best to consult your trusted financial adviser about how to navigate financial hardship as it relates to your retirement plan. At Next Generation, we’re here to answer any questions you have about self-direction as a retirement strategy, or about the many alternative assets allowed in these plans. You can schedule a complimentary educational session to learn more or contact us directly via phone at 888.857.8058 or email NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com.
Amid Stock Market Downturn, Consider Self-Directed IRAs
Many investors are dealing with yet another stock market downturn, which is in reaction to current events such as global concerns about the Coronavirus and U.S. politics during an election year. These and other factors—from geopolitics to macroeconomics, trade issues to plant closings to a company’s profitability and earnings—can influence a stock market downturn.
Stocks by nature are volatile, which is why many investors look to alternative assets to build their retirement savings and avoid stock market downturns that are often hard to predict. That means looking at self-directed IRAs, which allow individuals to include a variety of nontraditional investments and build a more diverse retirement portfolio based on assets they already know and understand.
Look at it this way: unless they work there, many people are not experts on what a Blue Chip or Fortune 500 company produces or sells, and they certainly cannot control what those companies do in the marketplace. However, many people know a lot about investing in real estate, precious metals, or private equity. Others like the idea of including secured or unsecured loans in their retirement plan, with terms they determine with the borrower. All of these investment types can be included in a self-directed IRA, where investors build retirement wealth with alternative assets—and have better control over their earnings.
A self-directed IRA has the same tax advantages as regular retirement plans with the added bonus of being a great hedge against stock market volatility. For those who are comfortable making their own investment decisions and conducting their due diligence, self-direction is a powerful retirement strategy.
Typical retirement plans offered by brokerage houses or banks limit investors to publicly traded stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, and mutual or exchange-traded funds. But a self-directed IRA allows you to hold the alternative investments noted above plus notes, private placements, limited partnerships, tax lien certificates and more.
Our whitepaper library has a lot of great information about self-directed IRAs and our helpful team is here to answer your questions about self-direction. To find out more about self-direction, you may call us at 888.857.8058 or send an email to NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com. Alternatively, you can sign up for a complimentary educational session with one of our knowledgeable representatives.
Retirement Plan Contribution Limits for 2020
The 2020 contribution and benefit limits were announced in early November by the IRS. The annual limit for IRAs remains the same at $6,000 with the catch-up contribution for individuals aged 50+ also remaining at $1,000.
There are slight increases for other retirement plans, as follows:
For 401(k), 403(b) and most 457 plans, plus the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan, the limit is bumped up $500, from $19,000 to $19,500 annually. For individuals aged 50+, the catch-up contribution also goes up $500, from $6,000 to $6,500.
In addition, SIMPLE retirement accounts now have an increased contribution limit of $13,500, up $500 from the current $13,000.
Retirement plan account holders should also be aware of annual limitations and income phase-outs for defined contribution and defined benefit plans in the workplace.
There are new income ranges for determining eligibility to contribute to a Roth IRA and to claim the Saver’s Credit, which all increased for 2020. The income phase-out in 2020 for individuals contributing to a Roth IRA went up for singles, heads of households, and married couples filing jointly. Additionally, taxpayers may be able to deduct contributions from a Traditional IRA if they meet certain criteria. A list of those figures is available in IRS Notice 2019-59.
As always, this new information is strictly for one’s own knowledge, and we encourage individuals to consult their trusted advisors regarding their specific financial situations to determine what works best for them.
Boost your retirement savings with alternative assets
Whether you’re already in the real estate market, invest in precious metals, or are interested in putting private equity in your retirement plan, nontraditional investments are a powerful way to build a more diverse retirement portfolio that provides a hedge against stock market volatility. What many people don’t know is that there are many different types of accounts that can be self-directed to include those nontraditional investments within them. So, if you’ve reached your annual contribution limit on an employer sponsored plan, or an IRA with a brokerage firm, you can still open and fund an account with Next Generation through a transfer or a rollover. Our self-directed IRA specialists are happy to review your options with you.
The deadline to contribute to your retirement plan for the 2019 tax year* is April 15, 2020, but it’s always the right time to contact Next Generation to open your self-directed IRA. You can arrange a complimentary educational session if you have questions about self-direction as a retirement strategy. Alternatively, you can contact our helpful team of professionals directly via phone at 888.857.8058 or email at NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com. You can always read more about the many options and benefits of self-direction on our FAQs page.
*Please visit our website for 2019 contribution limits.