Category Archives: Independent Agent

Making Retirement Money Last to 103: An Expert’s Plan for Himself

Americans worry about affording retirement, but that doesn’t usually translate into hard-core financial planning. Then there’s David Littell, the 61-year-old director of the retirement income planning program at the American College of Financial Services, a nonprofit that educates financial advisers. If anyone ought to have a well-thought-out plan, it’s this guy.

So we asked him what’s in it.

It’s a little intense—this is one well-prepared pre-retiree, and one who knows his insurance products, since the college’s focus has historically been on educating insurance agents.1  While the challenge of ensuring he won’t outlive his money isn’t unique, his attitude may be. “I find this fun,” he said. A sign of how into this stuff he is? Before a follow-up call, he e-mailed a three-page, 1,500-word, bullet-pointed outline of his thinking.

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What really happens when pensions disappear

Plans such as 401(k)s and their ilk have been part of the retirement landscape for decades, and discussions of their pros and cons relative to traditional pensions go back even further.

Now researchers have gone from the theoretical to the concrete and examined exactly how employees respond when their traditional pension plan is replaced. It’s not pretty.

The new plan they examined, for employees of the state of Utah, was less generous than the pension plan it replaced, but few employees took steps to supplement their retirement savings. Affected employees also began leaving their jobs at a faster rate.

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More American savers skimp on retirement plans

Americans are saving more, just not in their employer-sponsored retirement plans, according to a new analysis by retirement market researcher Hearts & Wallets.

Average annual household savings increased almost a full percentage point to 5.5 percent last year, up from 4.6 percent in 2013, based on Hearts & Wallets’ annual survey of 5,500 U.S. households. (The personal savings rate this May was 5.1 percent, according to the latest release from the Federal Reserve Bank in St. Louis.) But the percentage of household savings that went into employer-sponsored retirements plans like 401(k)s fell 7 percentage points to 22 percent in 2014, and households participating in employer-sponsored plans declined to 56 percent last year from 60 percent in 2013.

“Our research shows that the average saver was more focused on building an emergency fund than saving for retirement last year,” said Laura Varas, co-founder of Hearts & Wallets. The percentage of households that said they set aside money to deal with unexpected expenses grew from 37 percent in 2013 to 45 percent in 2014.

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Post-Retirement Work May Not Save Your Golden Years

Unhappy Senior

NEW YORK — For the many who have fallen behind in their retirement savings, the prospect of part-time work in their golden years is a very real possibility. However, it may not be wise to count on those paychecks after leaving your regular 9-to-5.

Recent numbers show employers may not be too keen on hiring older, part-time employees. In fact, a new study by Bankers Life shows nearly three-quarters of retired baby boomers currently aren’t working for pay. Another survey by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found more than half of workers in their 50s and 60s said their employers don’t offer — or they are not sure they offer — benefits such as part-time work or flexible schedules to help employees who are transitioning into retirement.

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How to protect your biggest asset—your income

personal finance disability insurance

You’ve got a machine just sitting around your house. It’s a money-printing machine, and it’s perfectly legal. This machine is expected to print $75,000 this year before taxes. You’ll use that cash to pay your household expenses.

Each year, the machine will print 3 percent more than it did in the previous year, and it will continue doing so for the next 40. That means, over its lifetime the machine will print $5,655,094.48, easily making it your most valuable asset today.

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The best life insurance for your life stage


Insurance agents regularly approach new moms and dads about buying term life insurance to make sure their children will be cared for until adulthood.

But people’s insurance needs shift depending on their stage in life, and their reasons for getting life insurance can vary, as well. Not keeping their policies in sync with their life stage can mean they risk leaving loved ones in the lurch.

“Every five years, you should revisit your life insurance profile—where you are, where your kids are, where your business is,” said Elizabeth Scheiderer, a financial advisor with NCA Financial Planners. “Sadly, too many families are underinsured.”

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State budget balancing is putting pensions at risk

Some 150 state and local pension funds reported assets under $3 trillion to cover the estimated $4.1 trillion needed to pay benefits.

When it comes to the recent improvement in state finances, one retiree’s pain is another one’s gain.

More than five years after the Great Recession tore a giant hole in their budgets, most states have made big progress in stabilizing their finances.

That’s good news for millions of state taxpayers and the millions of investors who hold state-issued municipal bonds—many of whom are retirees that depend on them for a steady stream of safe income.

But the improved fiscal health owes much to a wave of cuts that have whittled away at pension benefits for current and future retirees.

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