Consider a gift you can give yourself

It’s benefit election season! And this is the time of year when you can consider a gift to yourself that you will celebrate years into the future.a gift you give yourself

While many employees concentrate on making selections related to insurance plans, it’s also time to consider your contributions to your 401K or other retirement savings accounts for the 2019 plan year. It’s also a great time to think about other ways you can ensure your retirement income will be adequate when the time comes to start drawing on it.

Since 2007, when the median retirement savings was only about $75,000, there has been a significant increase in the amount baby boomers are saving. That’s good news, considering that an estimated 39% of baby boomers expect their primary source of retirement income to be self-funded from 401Ks and similar retirement savings accounts. While the median amount of baby-boomer retirement savings is closer to $165,000 now, it still falls short of what will be needed to fully fund retirement that could be 20, 30 or even more years long.

In 2018 you can contribute up to $18,500 to your 401K plan and if you’re age 50 or older you can make a “catch-up” contribution of $6,000 more for a total of $24,500. In 2019 the contribution limit will increase to $19,000. While an increase in your monthly contribution might not be realistic for your financial situation, if you are able to give yourself this gift, it can help secure your later years and reduce your tax burden at present.

Many people may not be aware that the full retirement age (FRA) for Social Security benefits has been gradually increasing. FRA is now age 67. According to a Boston College study, 42% of men and 48% of women begin drawing benefits at the minimum allowable age of 62. This can significantly reduce your amount of benefit you receive.

You can defer Social Security benefits until age 70 and increase your monthly income about 8% per year for each year you defer.  Unfortunately, many opt to begin receiving benefits early because they haven’t saved enough in other areas to fund their retirement. From its inception, Social Security was designed to supplement retirement income not serve as the primary source. Among Social Security beneficiaries, 50% of married couples and 71% of singles receive at least 50% of their retirement income from Social Security.

If you’re at or nearing retirement age, you may want to consider continuing some form of work. By continuing to work, even with reduced pay, hours, and stress, you’ll be able to have an additional retirement income source that, coupled with savings from 401K, pensions or other income, could allow you to defer your Social Security benefits thereby increasing the amount you’ll ultimately receive.

Consider giving yourself a gift toward your retirement income this holiday season. It is certainly one you’ll be grateful for in the future.


Three priceless gifts of your career asset

Three priceless gifts of your career asset

It’s the season when everyone is thinking about meaningful things they can give to the people around them. Here are three gifts that stem from one of your most valuable financial assets—your career.Career Asset Management

The career gift of your knowledge. Never underestimate the value of your years of accumulated knowledge. Companies rely on long-standing employees who hold a wealth of institutional knowledge in addition to the knowledge they hold about their given job or role in the organization. Institutional knowledge is like being a company historian—because you’ve been around for a while, you’re probably able to navigate company politics like a pro, likely to have great information on processes and projects that have been used in the past and you know leaders who’ve come up through the ranks. Knowledge about your job is also important and human resource departments are always looking for ways to “transfer knowledge” to up-and-coming career talent who will eventually replace retiring talent. You can share the gift of your knowledge by suggesting ways to capture it and transfer it to younger employees.

The career gift of your skills. Like knowledge, you’ve likely invested heavily in building technical skills related to your role. Through the years you may have had to call on different skills in different roles and collectively they contribute to your overall value as an employee. Each new skill you add to your toolbox adds value to your career asset and can be viewed as a gift you’ve given to yourself at some point that can then be given and shared with others.

The career gift of your experience. In financial planning, we note that past performance is not indicative of future performance; however, in the case of your career asset, it can be a great gift to offer others. Sharing stories of how you approached an important decision or how you addressed a difficult situation can truly make a difference to others. Perhaps you worked on a project years ago that shared common characteristics of a contemporary project. Sharing your experience of the highs and lows of the original could help the team anticipate potential obstacles and prevent them from delaying the project or limiting its success. Like sharing your skills and knowledge, your experience is heavily weighted when it comes to younger talent seeking to learn from the gifts of later-career members.

In this season of gifting, take time to reflect on all the gifts you can offer through your own career lifecycle. Those are gifts worth sharing that will be received with lasting gratitude.

Learn more about Career Asset Management or get a copy of Mike’s book, Career Asset Management: Getting Ahead, Staying Ahead and Using your Head to Maximize your Career Value at