Notes From the Fieldby Martin Weil

Posts Tagged ‘financial planning’

June 15, 2015

A Client of Mine Just Announced He Is Retiring

It’s OK To Live A Little In Retirement is the first thing I sent him. Fortunately, he and his wife have been great savers and are in a position to enjoy the fruits of their labors. This can often be harder than you would expect as chronic savers can sometimes find it hard to shift gears and relax the purse strings on discretionary spending.

June 14, 2015

Historical Quote of The week

The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.

Barry Ritholz cites this John Kennedy quote as the lead-in to his Washington Post article about preparing for a bear market while things are still going great. He advises a thorough review of your finances with an eye towards reducing debts and raising some rainy day cash. Good advice.

April 24, 2015

Commonsense Financial Advice for Millennials

Item 1 – “Make a realistic budget”

This is not rocket science, but these guidelines bear repeating.  Great for 20-somethings but they work for just about every age.


December 19, 2014

ABLE Accounts – Congress Agrees on Something

ABLE Accounts, which are tax-advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities and their families, will be created as a result of the passage of the ABLE Act of 2014. Income earned by the accounts would not be taxed. Contributions to the account made by any person (the account beneficiary, family and friends) would not be tax deductible.

For anyone with a disabled family member or loved one, this is a huge step forward.  Envisioned as a variation on 529 college-savings plans, these accounts should make life simpler for those facing the enormous financial challenges of providing for a lifetime of support for a disabled person. The ABLE law specifies these accounts are for those persons with “significant” disabilities and with onset of disability prior to age 26. Annual contributions will be capped at $14,000.

Passed almost unanimously by both houses of Congress, the bill goes to the President for his signature. Look for implementation sometime in 2015.

September 22, 2014

Risks to Wealth



Pointer by The Big Picture

January 31, 2014

Q: I am 54 with $1M. How long will my money last?

Martin's Answer:

The standard advice is that you can draw between 3-5% per year from an invested portfolio and have that portfolio last 30 years.  There is much debate over what is a “safe” sustainable withdrawal rate but most studies conclude that a 4% draw will survive whatever the markets throw at you over a 30 year period.  In your case that would mean $40K a year, increased annually only by inflation.

There are multiple calculators (search “How long will my money last”) that will give you a straight line estimate for different withdrawal rates.  These are helpful guides but are far from definitive.  The reality is that an investment portfolio of any sort will increase and decrease in value and these unpredictable fluctuations can have a dramatic impact on how long your money will actually last.  The more aggressive the investment portfolio, the more volatile your range of outcomes.  More upside to how long the money lasts, but also more downside.  Generally this is why individuals who are relying on a portfolio to support their current ongoing needs are best advised to invest in a low risk portfolio, one that minimizes the risks of major loss while protecting their savings against purchasing power erosion from inflation. This conservative approach may seem counter-intuitive to some who believe that taking more risk will allow them to earn more and thus take a higher annual % withdrawal.  When withdrawal rates are north of 5%, this is a temptation but it is in effect gambling with the odds against you.

Most people want to know whether their savings will last for their lifetimes because it is not much good if they spend money to last 30 years but they last 35.  To answer this broader question with any confidence requires two pieces of information:  How much you are routinely spending in total out savings and how long you will live.

As for how long you might live, we can only assume “the worst” and that is that you will outlive your expected median life expectancy of 84. Most with educations and some financial means in the US will.  Realistically that implies you will have expenses to support for perhaps 35 years from today.  Some of your present expenses may decrease in time.  Medical for example should decline when you are eligible for Medicare.  And you most likely will receive Social Security benefits at age 67 or after thus reducing the required draw from your assets. But other expenses may increase.

The best approach in my estimation is to have a rough plan for what the future holds financially for you and for this you may want to enlist the advice of a CFP in your area.

Originally posted on Nerdwallet

Have a question you'd like Martin to answer? Send to and we'll let you know when it's been posted. To find answers to your specific and/or confidential questions, please call Martin at 1-877-442-8777 for a no obligation phone consultation.

July 29, 2013

Simple Investment Advice for Gen Y

If you do nothing else about your retirement, start saving early.  You should also save a lot and stay out of debt

This is the best advice possible from Above the Market and much the same as my own tax person told me when I was 20-something, a long time ago. The sooner you start, the easier it is to save a lot of money. The author’s simple demonstration shows that saving $2,000/yr starting at age 19 for just 7 years equals the sum a person would have accumulated by age 65 if they waited to start until 26 and made contributions for 40 years. Counterintuitive for sure, which is why of course, I knew better at the time, as I suspect many 20-somethings do today.

June 28, 2013

Same sex spouses, call your tax advisor

Legally married same-sex couples should plan on calling their tax-preparers in the wake of the Supreme Court’s historic decision striking down DOMA. Advantages that should now accrue to all legally married couples include those Federal tax benefits (and drawbacks) associated with filing a joint tax return, eligibility for spousal and survivor Social Security benefits, and the Federal estate and gift tax benefits available to married spouses. This latter change may require a discussion with your estate tax planner as well.

USA Today lists some of the advantages. Reuters has a list of cautions. While the Supreme Court ruling has simplified many of the uncertainties at the Federal level for same sex couples, other issues remain. Divergent state laws will continue to pose unique challenges for same sex couple financial planning.

April 4, 2013

Rare praise for the WSJ

I don’t usually read much in the WSJ that I would count as good financial advice for the typical investor.  But I have to acknowledge Brett Arends for this list of “Five Really Dumb Money Moves to Avoid.”

The shorter version:

  1. Don’t go overboard reaching for yield in a low-yield world
  2. Fund your retirement before spending for private university for the kids
  3. Don’t own more of your employer’s stock than you have to
  4. Don’t take Social Security early
  5. Don’t buy long-term US Treasury bonds at today’s yield.

Not a bad list at all, though a sharp observer will note the conflict between item #1 and item #5.  The article does a decent job fleshing out a prudent path between these two contradictory recommendations.

January 15, 2013

7 Financial Resolutions Worth Keeping

The WSJ, of all places, offers this pretty good basic advice for 7 ways to get your financial house in order in 2013.

For accumulators:

  1. Track your spending
  2. Put savings on autopilot
  3. Talk with your spouse about money
  4. Long term care insurance in mid-to-late career

For retirees

  1. Don’t take SS benefits early
  2. Make sure you maximize tax advantages when withdrawing
  3. Consider an immediate, or deferred,  annuity

Thanks to Rita McGrath

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