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Ready for Medicare

By | 2018, Money Moxie | No Comments

Understanding the intricacies of Medicare can be tricky, and avoiding some of the common mistakes can save you a great deal of frustration and money. If you are getting close to age 65, here are some things to think about.

Medicare Part A
It’s easy to get confused about signing up for Medicare Part A, especially if you will be delaying Social Security to receive a higher benefit. When it comes to Medicare Part A, there is no delaying. At age 65 you must enroll in Part A. There is a 7-month window to enroll. It begins 3 months before your birth month and ends 3 months after your birth month. If you miss this window you are not eligible again until open enrollment, which is from October 15th to December 7th each year. Your coverage will not begin until January 1st of the following year. Failure to enroll in Part A coverage can put you on the hook financially if you have a hospital stay.

Medicare Part B
The enrollment dates for Medicare Part B hinge on whether you are working after age 65 and are covered by an employer plan. If so, you may be able to delay enrollment until you retire. If not, and you miss the enrollment window, you could be subject to a premium penalty of up to 10% for every 12-month period beyond when you should have signed up. And if that isn’t bad enough, the penalty never goes away. Let’s say you wait 3 years to sign up for Part B coverage, your penalty could be as much as 30%. In real dollars, the 30% penalty would increase your monthly premium from $134 to $174.20 based on 2018 rates. While that may not seem like a lot of money, it’s substantial if you are retired and living on a fixed income.

Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA)
Medicare Part B premiums can also be affected by high-income years. This could result if you sell a property or business or take large distributions from retirement accounts. If you are subject to IRMAA, your premiums will increase for two years. The trigger points for IRMAA are cliff thresholds, not marginal, and there are 5 in all. For married couples, the first threshold hits at $170,000. What we mean by cliff is if your income is $170,001, you hit the threshold and your premium increases from $134 monthly to $187.50. This increase continues for two years and is per person. For those who are single the first threshold hits at $85,000.

Nursing Care Coverage
There is very little coverage under Medicare for a stay in a nursing care facility – rehabilitation and other limited situations only. Medicare does not provide coverage for help with activities of daily living, which is the type of care most often needed by elderly individuals. Plus, to qualify for coverage under Medicare, you must go directly from the hospital, as an inpatient, to a care facility.

These are just a few of the hurdles you need to know when preparing for health care in retirement. Talk to one of our knowledgeable advisors; we can help determine the best options based on your specific needs and benefits.

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How Much Money Will You Need in Retirement?

By | 2018, Executive Message, Money Moxie | No Comments

Dear Financial Partners and Friends!

If we were to ask what percentage of your final salary you will need in retirement, you could probably come up with an answer off the top of your head. In reality, determining what you will need to live on and making sure you have enough to meet that need is extremely complex.

A front-page article in the Wall Street Journal’s Wealth Management section on September 4, 2018, by Dan Ariely & Aline Holzwarth, made this astute observation: “Answering a question as complex as this requires knowledge far beyond most people’s grasp—and far beyond the grasp of many professionals.”

Why is retirement planning so difficult? Because it’s all about longevity, the future cost of federal and state taxes, cost of property taxes, cost of health care, cost of long-term care, the opportunity cost of being too conservative or the penalty cost of being too aggressive, cost of living, as well as daily living and possible travel expenses, just to name a few. Retirement cash-flow planning is not for the faint of heart.

While many think that health care cost will be the largest expense in retirement, the surprise is that for most folks, taxes are the single, largest expense. It’s impossible to generalize for everyone, but taxes are levied on withdrawals from qualified retirement accounts such as IRAs, 401(k)s, and pensions. If you have too much income, your Social Security benefits may also be taxed during retirement.

Integrating tax planning with cash-flow planning may help bring considerable and tangible benefits. Preserving your hard-earned dollars through tax planning is crucial in delivering and providing a sustainable cash flow during your retirement years. Having said this, melding tax planning and cash-flow planning is very complicated.

The great news is that you don’t have to go it alone. At Smedley, we can help you navigate the white waters of retirement tax planning and cash-flow planning. Please come and talk with one of our expert wealth managers who have the experience, credentials, and training to guide you to and through your retirement years. Your financial success is our passion at Smedley Financial.

Best Wishes,

Roger M. Smedley, CFP®
CEO

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What is the Risk of being too Conservative

By | 2018, Money Moxie | No Comments

Are your conservative investments at risk? What about the cash you are keeping in your savings account or in the safe downstairs? “No,” you might be thinking, “I keep cash because it’s safe.” If these are your thoughts, I have some bad news. In an effort to avoid risk, you could be taking on a different kind of risk. I’m talking about inflation risk and it’s a silent killer that preys on the innocent.

Inflation can cause damage too small to be seen until it’s too large to be avoided. And the more conservative the investment, the greater the risk. “But wait,” you might be saying, “I thought conservative investments were safer and risk increased only as I invested more aggressively.” That is generally true with market risk, but it does change when considering inflation risk.

According to inflationdata.com, inflation has historically averaged just over 3%. This means on average a dollar will buy 3% less than it did 12 months earlier. A product that costs $100 dollars today will cost over $2,000 dollars 100 years from now. When my father was young, a candy bar cost 5 cents. I remember paying 50 cents as a child. Today, a candy bar is $1.25. That’s inflation.

If our money is not earning at least the rate of annual inflation, our purchasing power is decreasing. My father could’ve bought almost 20 candy bars with a dollar when he was young. With the same dollar, a child today couldn’t even buy one.

As you can see in the Risk vs. Reward graph I’ve provided, the more aggressive the investment, the greater the potential should be for gain, especially over long periods of time. However, I want to call your attention to the left side of the graph, the conservative side. This side of the graph shows little to no risk being taken and yet there is a loss. That is the risk of being too conservative. This loss isn’t a loss of principal, but a loss of purchasing power.

Keeping up with inflation should be an investor’s number one goal, and some conservative investments struggle to do that. Conservative investments do serve an important purpose and are a great choice for short term goals and emergency funds. But if your goal is long-term, adding a little more risk may actually reduce inflation risk. Investing in a diversified portfolio that includes stock market and bond market risk may help protect you from inflation risk.

A real area of concern for inflation risk is in retirement. If these investors don’t keep up with inflation, they could risk living longer than their money. At a 3.5% inflation rate, the cost of goods will double every 20 years. This means an 85 year-old couple who keep their investments in cash will have half the purchasing power they did when they retired at 65. Although the principal amount would be the same, it would be like a 50% loss. That is a risk I hate to see investors take.

For more information on inflation risk, market risk, and the risks taken in your current portfolio, please call us and schedule an appointment. We would love to answer any questions you have and help you to reduce unnecessary risk.

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Open Enrollment is Now

By | 2018, Money Moxie | No Comments

Healthcare open enrollment is upon us. Here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Medicare Advantage Plans vs. Medigap Plans: Medicare Advantage plans wrap all of Medicare into one plan. Medigap, also known as Supplement Insurance, plans are separate from Medicare and help pay for medical care not covered under traditional Medicare. The premiums are charged in addition to Medicare Parts A, B, & D and are usually more expensive.

2. Take Advantage of a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FS). HSAs have higher contribution limits–$3,350/year for individuals and $6,750/year for families. The money in an HSA will roll over year after year; money not used in an FSA is forfeited. FSA contributions are limited to $2,650/year. To qualify for an HSA, you must be enrolled in a high-deductible health plan. Earnings and withdrawals are not taxed in either account as long they are used for qualified medical expenses.

Contributing to an HSA can be as advantageous as contributing to a retirement plan. Since the money in an HSA will roll over every year, you can use it in retirement to pay for eligible medical expenses.

3. Know the Dates of Open Enrollment! Affordable Care Act open enrollment is November 1st through December 15th. Employers often have their open enrollment around this time as well.

4. Take Advantage of Wellness Incentives. Health insurance providers often have incentives. They can be as simple as going to the doctor for a general health assessment. Incentives may include additional HSA contributions, lower premiums, or even gift cards.

5. Compare Costs: High-deductible plans have lower premiums, but out-of-pocket maximums increase with high medical expenses. Other plans with higher premiums may cover more expenses because of the lower deductible and maximums. Make sure you weigh the pros and cons of each plan.

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Become Cyber Aware

By | 2018, Money Moxie | No Comments

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is kicking off Cyber Security Awareness Month with the following online safety tips:

Always enable stronger authentication. Stronger authentication goes beyond a password to help verify that a user has authorized access. For example, multi-factor authentication can use a one-time code texted to a mobile device. For more information visit the Lock Down Your Login Campaign at
www.lockdownyourlogin.com.

Make your passwords long and strong. Use complex passwords with a combination of numbers, symbols, and letters. Use unique passwords for different accounts and change them regularly, especially if you believe they have been compromised. Check out LastPass.com.

Keep a clean machine. Update the security software, operating system, and web browser on all of your devices. Updating software will prevent attackers from taking advantage of known vulnerabilities.

When in doubt, throw it out. Links in email and online posts are used by criminals to compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, delete it, don’t click on it.

Share with care. Limit the amount of personal information you share online and use privacy settings to avoid sharing information widely.

Secure your Wi-Fi network. Your home’s wireless router is the entrance for cybercriminals to your devices. Always change the factory-set password and username.

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Giving Back

By | 2018, Money Matters | No Comments

Finding opportunities to give back was a consistent theme among the participants at the Just for Women 2018 conference. We agree. Giving has an empowering effect on the giver, the charity that serves a need, and most importantly, on the recipients. The desire to give back is innate – not generally driven by financial benefits. Having said that, there are ways you can give that benefit both you and the charity; financially speaking. Here are two that you may want to consider.

Donation-in-kind. If you have an investment in a non-retirement account, you can donate the investment directly to a qualified charity. By doing this you completely avoid capital gains taxes. Furthermore, if you itemize your taxes, you can claim the value of the investment, on the day it was donated, as a deduction. The key benefit is that the charity receives the full value of the donation tax-free. One caveat; you must have owned the investment for at least one year and one day and it must have increased in value.

Qualified Charitable Distribution. If you have reached the wonderful age of 70½, congratulations! Uncle Sam has been waiting for this day. It is at this age that you are required to take money out of your retirement accounts; i.e. IRA, 401(k), 403(b). This is called a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) and will occur every year going forward. If your retirement account is an IRA, you can choose to have the money you are required to take out – all or part – go directly to your favorite charity, taking advantage of the Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) option. The benefit to you – you do not have to claim the distribution as income or pay tax on the money that comes out. This is valuable because the distribution will not have a negative impact on your Medicare Part B premiums. The benefit to the charity – it receives the full value of your donation; tax-free.

I have the pleasure of working with the Utah Parent Center, a local charity that has served families of people with disabilities for over 35 years. I have been impressed by the positive influence they have on so many lives. While they have served more than 25,000 individuals, there are many more who could benefit from the services they provide. However, they need the support of our community to provide services to those additional people. One family’s story is below.

If you would like more information on making a donation-in-kind or qualified charitable distribution using your investments call our office at 801-355-8888. To donate directly to Utah Parent Center, use this link: https://utahparentcenter.org/donate/.

Together, we can make a difference.

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Shirtsleeves to Shirtsleeves In 3 Generations

By | 2018, Money Moxie, Newsletter | No Comments

There are many ways to improve a person’s wealth without spending money and there are many ways to destroy someone’s wealth by giving them money. In families, there is a pattern where the first generation builds wealth, the second generation maintains it, and the third generation squanders it. This cycle of wealth creation and destruction in the U.S. is called “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.” It applies to families that have $10,000 to $100,000,000.

This phenomenon is so universal that it happens throughout the entire world. In Ireland, it is called “clogs to clogs in three generations.” China’s version is “rice paddy to rice paddy in three generations.” Ninety percent of families that gain wealth succumb to this parable. So, what do the ten percent of families do right to preserve their wealth?

(1) Families change how they define wealth. Wealth is much more than money. It is human, intellectual, AND financial capital. Human capital is physical, emotional, and social well being. Intellectual capital is knowledge and experience. Financial capital is money and assets.

The goal is to improve the human, intellectual, and financial capital for each generation. Financial capital is only one mechanism to help improve the human and intellectual capital of each of the family members.

(2) Families think of their family as a business. The purpose of the business is a long-term succession plan that tutors each member and prepares them to lead the family in the future. With that comes an understanding that each generation needs to work to build wealth like the
first generation.

(3) Families implement a 7th generation mentality. Inheritors typically have a “rush” of adrenaline and are prone to make poor choices, like buying a new car. On average a new car is purchased within 72 HOURS of receiving an inheritance. Instead, family members must be stewards of assets–not just inheritors. As stewards, the financial capital is intended to improve their lives AND the lives of each successive generation, to the 7th generation.

(4) Families define their values and use stories to pass them to the next generation. Without a helm, a ship will sail off course. If families aren’t governed by values, they will also veer off course. The most effective way to pass on values is through stories. These stories should be documented and shared at gatherings or in a newsletter.

(5) Families understand and manage the risks that are being taken with their financial capital. The third generation tends to either be too aggressive or too lax with the financial capital. Each successive generation should be tutored in investing so they can have a better understanding of potential risks and rewards.

(6) Families teach their posterity how to give. A person’s perception of wealth is changed when they see others who have difficult life circumstances. Families can create purpose, unity, and a changed perception of money by working together to come up with donations for a charity and then going together to do service for that charity.

(7) Families understand that most issues with wealth preservation are qualitative and not quantitative. Like reviewing a family’s financial balance sheet to determine growth from one year to the next, families need to hold an annual council to review the progress of each family member.

Some questions to determine this are: Is each member thriving? Is their human, intellectual, and financial capital improving/deteriorating? Is there any assistance that the family can provide without controlling or enabling?

No family is perfect and all families will have issues due to death, divorce, substance abuse, mental illness, etc. However, these issues can be overcome if the family members find common values and strive to show mutual respect, love, forgiveness, and compassion.

Families that have worked hard to build wealth, be it tangible or intangible, don’t want to see that wealth squandered. A family can pass on wealth if family members work together to improve their human, intellectual, and financial capital. This requires planning and work. However, the rewards of seeing a family’s wealth grow are immeasurable.

Source: James E. Hughes, Jr. (2004) Family Wealth: Keeping It in the Family

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Smedley Financial’s New Advisors

By | 2018, Money Moxie, Newsletter | No Comments

We are pleased to introduce two new advisors at Smedley Financial, Jordan Hadfield, and Leah Nelson. In our search for new advisors, we focused on people who had an in-depth education in all facets of financial planning and advising and demonstrated a high level of integrity. We were fortunate to find two amazing individuals with these sought-after qualities. If you have not had the opportunity to meet them yet, we hope you will over the next several months.

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Jordan Hadfield

On May 27th, 2012, I climbed into the right seat of a small aircraft next to a student pilot and took off down the runway. I was flying a Diamond DA20, and this trip was taking me from Provo to Lake Havasu to Catalina Island then up the coast to San Francisco and over to Lake Tahoe before heading back home. We flew low and slow, trying to take in the changing scenery and beautiful landscapes.

I was well on my way to becoming a professional pilot and hoped to land a full-time job flying very soon. That plan changed when I met my beautiful wife and realized a career in aviation would require constantly flying away from what matters most to me, my family. I now have two amazing boys and a little girl who rule my world. I have a bachelor’s degree in Personal Financial Planning from Utah Valley University and I am working towards my Certified Financial Planner® designation. Although I miss flying, I couldn’t be happier with what I’m doing now.

I used to chart my way across the United States and experience the freedom of flying. I now chart investments and retirement accounts to bring financial freedom to others. I find both activities to be exciting, but the latter gives me a sense of gratification that flying never did. I’m also a drummer. I love photography. And I work as a professional skydiver.

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Leah Nelson

For my whole life, I have watched many people around me struggle and make bad financial decisions. Seeing this inspired me to make the decision to become a financial advisor.

I graduated from Utah Valley University with a bachelor’s degree in Personal Financial Planning and successfully passed my Certified Financial Planner® (CFP®) exam.

I want to be on the client’s side helping them make good financial decisions to lessen the stress they feel because of their finances. I have always had a desire to serve people, and I’m glad I’ve chosen the financial services industry to help people reach some of their most important life goals.

In my free time, I am involved in musical theater. Music is one of my favorite things, and I enjoy passing the time by playing the piano, ukulele, or singing. I also love traveling. I’m lucky to have a sister that is willing to be my travel buddy! I love spending time with my family as well. They are fun to be around, and I love seeing what silly thing my nephew will do next. I am so excited to be part of Smedley Financial!

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Just In Case You Missed It

By | 2018, Executive Message, Money Moxie, Newsletter | No Comments

Dear Financial Partners and Friends!

How is the U.S. economy really doing? Here are a few quotes and facts regarding the past, the present, and the future.

The Past: “We Ran Out of Words to Describe How Good the Jobs Numbers Are,” (“The Upshot,” Neil Irwin, The New York Times, June 1, 2018.)

The Present: The U.S. economy jumped to an annualized rate of 4.1 percent GDP in the second quarter of 2018. That’s almost double the first quarter’s rate of 2.2 percent. This is the fastest rate of growth since 2014. This is great news for all of us!

The Future: The following quotes are from Elizabeth MacDonald’s, “Evening Edit,” Fox Business News, July 19, 2018. MacDonald said,“(Here are) CEO commitments for more jobs over the next 5 years.”

FedEx®: “FedEx® will train or reskill 512,000 people over the next 5 years.”

General Motors®: “General Motors® is proud to offer 10,975 workforce training opportunities.”

The Home Depot®: “The Home Depot® is pleased to provide enhanced training and opportunities for 50,000 associates.”

Raytheon®: “Tom Kennedy from Raytheon® and we pledge 39,000 enhanced career opportunities.”

The U.S. economy is doing well. As a result, most Americans are doing well. Remember this: Your financial success is our passion and our mission at Smedley Financial.

Best Wishes,

Roger M. Smedley, CFP®
CEO

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Trade Helps Make America Great

By | 2018, Money Moxie, Newsletter | No Comments

Harley Davidson®, the iconic American motorcycle company, plans to close a Kansas City factory and lay off 800 workers. It will consolidate operations and open a factory in Europe. This surprising announcement came despite actions meant to support U.S. manufacturing and jobs. It is an unintended consequence and casualty of our current trade war.

Trade promotes global peace, grows our economy, and brings greater opportunity to the greatest number of people. The United States has experienced huge benefits over the last century because of increased trade, and Americans want to continue to compete fairly in the global economy. No matter how tough the trade talk, Americans should want more trade, not less.

The trade war is a tactic for negotiating better agreements. Hopefully, we get there soon because we are only beginning to see the effects and the uncertainty.

Don’t Let A Trade War Become A War On Trade
One of the greatest risks the United States has taken is to raise tariffs on so many countries at the same time. This year, the United States has raised tariffs on China, India, Mexico, Canada, and members of the European Union. These have reciprocated U.S. action and have quietly been making better agreements with each other.

China created the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement and as of July 1, it lowered tariffs on approximately 10,000 goods coming from trade partners, including South Korea, India, and other regional countries. China is considering similar agreements with Mexico, Canada, Brazil, and Europe. Japan recently signed its own “free-trade” agreement with the European Union.

The forceful approach could backfire just as it has in the case of Harley Davidson® and Whirlpool®. Farmers, for example, are also feeling the pinch. With fewer international buyers, the value of many crops has fallen. They have been offered a bailout, but seem more interested in farming than handouts.

Can We Emerge As Winners?
The United States is engaging in a risky tactic in order to obtain something quite reasonable: fair trade and protection of our intellectual property.

To make it happen, we need to start winning by focusing on more friendly trade partners. The more good agreements we get, the easier it will be to get the final countries to negotiate a fair deal.

Trade allows Americans to focus on what we do best. This specialization allows for higher innovation and new technologies. It leads to less expensive food and better prices on items that we want. Specialization also makes us more productive so that we can earn more working. All of this translates into a higher standard of living for most Americans and a more peaceful society.

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