Impact Investing Through a Self-Directed Retirement Plan
Younger investors are changing the investing landscape as they start putting more of their dollars into sustainable investments. This category of investments includes those that consider environmental, social, or government practices.
More and more, millennial investors want to include investments that align with their values within their retirement plans—including their self-directed IRAs.
According to the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing, interest in sustainable investing (SI) has grown among the general population and even more so among millennial investors in recent years.
- In 2015 among the general population, 71% of those surveyed indicated they were interested or very interested in SI in 2015. In 2019, that rose to 85%.
- In 2017, 84% of millennials were interested or very interested, which rose to 95% in 2019.
- When it came to actually having sustainable investments:
- In 2017, 42% of the general population and 50% of millennials had sustainable investments.
- Today, 52% of the general population and 67% of millennials do.
- Investment into sustainable funds has nearly tripled in 2019 from the prior year ($13.5 billion to date).
To name a few ways that social impact investing is showing up in self-directed retirement plans, investors have been including assets such as organic farmland, FINtech, innovative startups, or renewable energy. Popular target investments cited in the Morgan Stanley report were those related to plastic reduction and climate change.
The social impact side of this is important to investors – a majority (83% of the general population and 89% of millennials) said they believed their sustainable investments could create economic growth and reduce poverty. Around one-third of these investors (33% of the general population and 36% of millennials) are also screening investments in order to avoid putting money behind something they object to.
Sustainable investments in a self-directed IRA
Given that self-directed investors have more options in terms of the types of investments their plans can include, it’s no surprise that those interested in supporting environmental and social causes, innovations, and companies are including organic farmland, renewable energy resources, or innovative startups within those plans.
Some other examples of social impact and sustainable investing are:
- Climate mitigation projects
- Clean energy projects or companies (wind, water, solar)
- Organic farms, sustainable tree farms
- Affordable housing
- Equity funding in companies that produce devices that increase water or energy efficiency or life-saving medical equipment for rural areas or Third World countries
Self-directed investors make all their own investments decisions – usually based on experience with assets they already know and understand. Self-direction can be a powerful way to put what moves investors most into their retirement plans because it can give investors better control over their earnings. Added benefits of self-direction include portfolio diversification for investors who also wish to continue investing traditionally, and a hedge against stock market volatility.
If you’d like to learn more about the many options available through self-direction as a retirement strategy, register for one of Next Generation’s complimentary educational sessions. Alternatively, you can contact our team directly by phone at 1-888-857-8058 or by email at NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com.
Self-Directing your HSA Can Help Boost Your Savings for Future Medical Expenses, Tax Free
It’s common today for people to have a high-deductible health plan (HDHP)—one with a higher annual deductible and out-of-pocket maximums (and slightly lower premiums) than typical health insurance plans.
Those high deductibles may be a hard pill for many people to swallow, but HDHPs allow individuals to open and fund a health savings account (HSA). HSAs provide three tax-advantaged ways to save and pay for qualified medical expenses. The tax benefits of these accounts are:
- Funds deposited into an HSA are not taxed
- The balance in the HSA grows tax free
- The amount withdrawn to pay for qualified medical expenses (including copays, coinsurance, premiums, dental care, eye care, and prescription drugs) is not taxed
After a person hits 65 years old and is on Medicare, he or she can no longer contribute to the HSA but the funds may be used for other expenses without penalty; however, any non-medical distributions are treated like those from a Traditional IRA and subject to income tax on the distribution. Unlike a Traditional IRA, there are no required minimum distributions.
Your savings can accrue year after year, just like in an IRA. And just as you include alternative assets within your IRA, you can also invest the money you accrue in your health savings account—and purchase alternative assets to build up your savings for the future.
Just as with any self-directed retirement plan, you can give your health savings account a boost by including nontraditional investments such as real estate, precious metals, notes, private equity, and more. Self-direction allows you to use your expertise in the investments you’re passionate about, and may bring you comfort in knowing you’re making your own investment decisions. And, if you have relatively low medical costs and build up a healthy balance in your HSA, you have another avenue for growing your retirement savings with the potential for higher yield than the returns on a typical savings account. The broad array of diverse investments allowed through self-direction also provide a hedge against stock market volatility.
The contribution limits for HSAs in 2020 will be $3,550 for an individual and $7,100 for a family; individuals 55 and older can make an additional $1,000 catchup contribution.
You can have more than one HSA and you can transfer funds between them—so you may choose to use one to cover medical expenses or medical emergencies and another building wealth as a long-term investment for future medical expenses or supplemental retirement income. With health care costs continually rising, and today’s workforce expected to need at least $260,000 to cover medical expenses during retirement, having a self-directed HSA can help.
By including alternative assets and self-directing your health savings account, you’ll have more options for creating a cushion for medical or other expenses when you retire—and you’ll maximize your HSA contributions while you are able.
If you have questions about self-directed HSAs or any self-directed retirement plans, Next Generation can help with one of our complimentary educational sessions. Or, contact our team about self-directed IRAs and the many types of nontraditional investments these plans allow. We’re available via phone at 1-888-857-8058 or email: NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com.
Don’t Want to Delay Retirement? Here’s Another Option…
Although the current retirement age is 66, many seniors continue to work, even though they are eligible for full Social Security benefits. In fact, research by Provision Living (a provider of services for older adults) revealed that in U.S. cities with populations of 200,000 or more, at least 20 percent of people ages 65 and up were still working. Results of a more recent poll by Provision Living (August 2019) showed that 55 percent of respondents worked part time and 45 percent worked full time. Survey participants were between the ages of 65 and 85.
Why do seniors continue to work?
A sizable amount—one third—enjoy working and don’t want to retire, or prefer working but with fewer hours. However, 62 percent of respondents cited finances as the reason why they were still in the workforce; they couldn’t afford to retire, they were supporting families, or were still paying off debt. For many, their retirement savings were not at the level needed for a comfortable retirement that was not largely dependent on Social Security benefits.
In fact, 70 percent of working seniors in the survey said that Social Security would be their primary source of income after retirement. The others said a pension, 401(k), personal savings, and stocks would be their main income source in later years. A small percentage (11 percent) said they planned to rely on children or family to support them.
Plan for a comfortable retirement through self-direction
If you enjoy being in the workplace, that’s great! But if you’re thinking ahead to either working less or not at all, have you thought about self-directing your retirement plan?
Opening a self-directed IRA opens the door to building a more diverse retirement portfolio allowing you to invest in alternative assets such as real estate, private equity, unsecured or secured loans, and precious metals. Self-direction can be a powerful way to build retirement savings—and gives you the option to delay retirement because you want to keep working, not because you must due to finances.
Savvy investors who are comfortable making their own investment decisions can invest in what they already know and understand, take advantage of certain market opportunities, and enjoy tax-advantaged retirement savings.
The Social Security Trust Fund has an uncertain future which will affect many of today’s workers. Corporate pensions are disappearing. The stock market is unpredictable. Those who wish to self-direct their retirement plans can better control their futures, today—and create a hedge against market volatility.
Want to learn more about self-directed retirement plans? Contact us to set up a complimentary educational session. Alternatively, you can contact our team with any questions about self-directed IRAs and the many types of nontraditional investments these plans allow. We’re available via phone at 1-888-857-8058, or email at NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com.
Getting Educated About Self-Directed Education Savings Accounts
Thoughts of college are in the air at this time of year, with PSATs, SATs, ACTs and other tests. High school juniors are deciding where to apply to school and seniors have decided where they’ll enroll in the fall.
While college is an exciting time for students, it can be a bit stressful for parents when it comes to making those tuition payments. Even with financial aid, there are plenty of expenses to cover and in many cases, the financial aid does not go far enough.
That’s where Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) come in. Many parents and grandparents set up these accounts when a child is born, and contribute to the ESA annually to build up savings to pay education-related expenses. The 2019 annual contribution limit is $2000 per beneficiary (contributed up to age 18), which can be invested and earn tax-free income.
Here are some of the benefits that ESAs have to offer:
- Coverdell ESAs are tax-advantaged so long as the money in them is used to pay for education expenses—which are not limited to higher education only; the funds may be used for qualified elementary and secondary school expenses as well.
- If the distribution is less than the beneficiary’s qualified education expense, the beneficiary (student) will not owe federal income tax.
- The money is considered the beneficiary’s money when applying for federal student aid, which may reduce the amount of student aid the student receives.
- The funds in the account can be used by the beneficiary up to age 30 or be rolled over to another plan.
Self-directed ESAs – the flexible way to build up education savings
Did you know that when ESAs were first introduced in 1997, they were called Education IRAs?
And did you know that, like all other types of IRAs a Coverdell ESA can be self-directed, so that the funds can be invested in alternative assets?
A Coverdell ESA that is opened with a custodian of self-directed retirement plans—like Next Generation—can include the same types of nontraditional investments as other self-directed plans. That way, if the stock market tumbles, the account provides a hedge through the use of those nontraditional investments, such as real estate, precious metals, private equity, notes, and more. Parents or grandparents who already have the knowledge and experience with these types of investments can apply that experience to the student’s education savings through self-direction—and help grow their contributions over time.
Think of the high school graduation gift you could give your child or grandchild years from now, with a self-directed ESA that has grown in value through nontraditional investments. At Next Generation, we offer a plethora of resources to learn more about Coverdell ESAs and the benefits of self-direction. Because client education is so important to us, we’re here to answer your questions about self-direction as a savings strategy—for education expenses or retirement. Contact Next Generation at 1.888.857.8058 or email NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com if you need assistance.
Alternatively, you can sign-up for a complimentary educational session with one of our representatives.
GE’s Fall off the Stock Market Cliff – a Lesson in the Value of Self-Direction
Over the past year, the value of General Electric Co.’s stock experienced a $140 billion drop. To give you an idea of the significance of this epic decline on the stock market, a Wall Street Journal article reported that this “was twice the amount that vanished when Enron Corp. collapsed in 2001 and more than the combined market capitalization erased by the bankruptcies of Lehman Brothers and General Motors during the financial crisis.”
This means that the retirement savings of untold people—employees with company stock and other shareholders—took a nose dive that will be extremely hard to overcome. The author pointed out some human errors that lay underneath the decapitalization and the stock market’s cyclical fluctuations. Lack of a financial plan, savings objectives, asset allocation, and understanding of risk were among them, as were:
- Overweighted portfolios with stock holdings that are not evaluated periodically. The author called this “survivorship bias.” What was once valuable may no longer be delivering the same high level of expected returns.
- Lack of portfolio diversity. Sure, it’s nice to get company stock as part of a benefit package (from the same employer that is paying your salary), but putting all of one’s retirement eggs in one nest, so to speak, lacks diversity in terms of risk and asset allocation.
As the author noted, the fall in GE’s shares caused a lot of financial pain for many stockholders. Investors who have self-directed retirement plans, however, don’t typically teeter on the edge of the stock market cliff. That’s because they include alternative assets in their plans, and avoid falling victim to the ups and downs of the stock market (especially those cataclysmic falls).
If you’re comfortable making your own investment decisions, understand certain alternative assets, and would like to include them in your retirement plan, self-direction can be a great way to diversify your retirement portfolio. If you’re already investing in real estate, precious metals, commodities, equity funding or other nontraditional investments, consider including them in a self-directed retirement plan. Want to know more? Read up on self-direction as a retirement wealth-building strategy in our white paper library and on our website… or contact our helpful team for answers to your questions at 1-888-857-8058 or Info@NextGenerationTrust.com.