This Week's Must Read

Wealthy people usually aren’t born that way. Most spend their lives amassing their fortunes by working hard, spending little, saving a lot and investing wisely. It may sound like a simple strategy, but the fact that the vast majority of Americans fall short of millionaire status proves that it’s easier said than done.

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Because federal tax law reaches deep into all aspects of our lives, it’s no surprise that the rules that affect us change as our lives change. This can present opportunities to save or create costly pitfalls to avoid. Being alert to the rolling changes that come at various life stages is the key to holding down your tax bill to the legal minimum. Check out these issues that confront the newly retired.

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If you’re wondering (and who’s not) how much you should have saved for retirement by now in order to have the same lifestyle in retirement, this table should satisfy your curiosity. It’s adapted from research by J.P. Morgan Asset Management and based on your current age and income level.

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For Americans, few decisions are as financially consequential as choosing when to take Social Security. Or as hard.  While you can tap retirement benefits as early as age 62, the federal government offers big financial incentives to wait. The rules are complicated, however–books have been written on Social Security’s intricacies. And choosing to delay activation raises some arguably existential questions: If you maximize your benefit by waiting until age 70, what are you supposed to live on in the meantime? And what if you die earlier than you expected?

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What’s the biggest threat to a comfortable retirement? Ignorance. The decisions you make leading up to retirement, including how much to save, how to allocate your investments, when to take Social Security and how to anticipate your retirement expenses can make a big difference in your old age. And the decisions don’t stop on Day One of your post-career life. Once you’re in retirement, you’ll need smart strategies for taking withdrawals and investing your resources so they last as long as you do.

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When it comes to tax planning, procrastination can be costly; the deadline for implementing most investment-related strategies to help reduce your tax bill for this year is December 30, 2016.  We have assembled a number of valuable tips you may be able to implement before the year ends to help reduce the amount you send the IRS.

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Supersizing the savings you have invested for retirement likely sounds too good to be true. You may have heard that some people managed to amass a $1 million-plus IRA balance and wondered how they did it. While I don’t know about everybody’s strategy, let me turn your attention to the wonders of compounding and time.

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Maximizing Medicare

Medicare pays for much of the cost of hospital stays and doctor’s office visits for people age 65 and older. This government health insurance program has also more recently added preventive care and prescription drugs to its covered services. Here’s how to make the most of your Medicare benefit.

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