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Doing this simple thing once a year can help you save more for retirement – USA TODAY

Posted: October 21, 2019 at 5:46 pm


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Katie Brockman, The Motley Fool Published 7:00 a.m. ET Oct. 21, 2019

Buzz60s TC Newman has tips and tricks for saving money - just in time for the holidays! Buzz60

When you're trying to balance multiple financial responsibilities at the same time, saving for retirement may seem like a lesser priority than your other tasks. In fact, 42% of workers say they don't want to think about retirement planning until they get closer to retirement age, a survey from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found.

Although retirement planning is not the most exciting topic to think about, you should be thinking about it long before you actually leave your job. If you put off saving or don't know whether you're on track, by the time you realize you're behind, it might be too late to do anything about it.

However, if you want to ensure you're as prepared as possible for retirement, there's one simple thing you can do every year: Give your savings a checkup.

6 in 10 Americans are behind on retirement savings: Here's how to catch up

If you're saving anything at all for retirement, it's easy to feel like you're on the right track simply because you're doing something. But if you're blindly throwing money in your 401(k) or IRA without knowing whether that's going to be enough to retire comfortably, you may be putting your financial future in jeopardy.

Saving for the future isn't a set-it-and-forget-it situation. To make sure you're doing enough to prepare, you'll need to check in on your savings at least once a year, then make any necessary adjustments to ensure you'll reach your goal by retirement age.

What exactly does a yearly checkup look like, though? To start, double-check that your retirement goal hasn't changed. Even if you've already calculated the amount you should have saved by the time you retire, that number isn't set in stone. Your annual living expenses could increase, meaning you'll need to save more for retirement to keep up your current lifestyle. Or you might decide you're going to move to a more expensive city once you retire, which can completely change how much you'll be spending each year in retirement.

Run your numbers through a retirement calculator to get an estimate of how much you should be saving, as well as what you'll have to save each month to reach that goal. If your overall retirement goal has changed, you might find you need to be saving more or less each month. It's better to find that out early while you still have time to adjust your plan rather than wait until you reach retirement age and realize you don't have enough saved to live comfortably.

A new apple is debuting at grocery stores: It's expected to be a game changer

Say you're performing your yearly checkup and realize you'll need to start saving more than you can afford if you want to reach your goal. It may be tempting to give up, thinking that there's nothing you can do now to catch up. But it's still important to save what you can, even if it's not much.

The hard truth is that depending on just how far behind you are, it might not be possible to save as much as you need. If you're in your 50s with nothing saved, for example, you likely won't be able to save $1 million in the next 10 or 15 years. However, that doesn't mean you can't save anything, and having even a little saved for retirement is far better than nothing.

If you're behind on your savings, you'll need to set a new, more realistic retirement goal. Think about your future expenses in retirement and consider whether there are ways to reduce them. If you'd planned on taking several expensive vacations, for instance, consider nixing those and finding more affordable ways to entertain yourself in retirement. Or if you're currently living in an expensive city, it might be worthwhile to think about moving to dramatically lower your everyday living expenses. Of course, you can't predict all your future costs, especially when retirement is still decades away. But by planning on living a more frugal lifestyle, you can get by on less during your golden years.

Next, see if there are ways you can start saving more now. If you don't already, begin tracking your spending to determine if there are areas of your budget where you can cut back. Even if you feel like you don't have a penny to spare for retirement, you might be surprised by how much room you have in your budget if you look for it. Saving even a few dollars per week in each spending category can potentially amount to hundreds of dollars per month, so it may not be as painful as it sounds to cut costs.

Finally, make sure you're investing your money wisely. When you don't have much extra cash to put toward retirement, every dollar counts. If you're throwing your money in a savings account earning 1% annual interest, your savings won't go nearly as far as if you're investing it in a 401(k) or IRA earning a, say, 8% annual rate of return.

Managing your money can be tough, but it's even more challenging when you don't know whether you're on the right track to reach your goals. To ensure your financial situation is as healthy as possible, make sure you're regularly giving yourself a checkup. It can only help you save more for retirement, but it can also give you peace of mind that your finances are in order and that you're doing everything possible to be successful.

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The Motley Fool is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news, analysis and commentary designed to help people take control of their financial lives. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

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Doing this simple thing once a year can help you save more for retirement - USA TODAY

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October 21st, 2019 at 5:46 pm

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Are millennials destined to live longer and retire poorer than their parents? – MarketWatch

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The latest research paints a grim picture of what retirement could look like for millennials and we should all be concerned. In the developed world, no country has a higher concentration of millennials than the United States. They represent Americas future, but many have gotten off to a worse start than previous generations.

Millennials earn less annually on average ($40,500) than similarly aged individuals just a decade ago ($43,300). They have less wealth than previous generations at the same age and more debt than young workers owed 30 years ago.

The Urban Institutes Retirement Security in 2050 report takes a close look at how todays retirees compare to projections about millennials when they begin to hit retirement age 30 years from now. It is anticipated that millennials will have higher average annual lifetime earnings ($50,000 versus $37,000 for those who have already reached retirement). Retirement incomes are also projected to rise from an average of $60,000 a year now to $73,000 for millennials.

But while these forecasts may be cause for optimism, the fate of some millennials probably wont be as rosy. Current retirees face an already-alarming 24% poverty rate. As bad as it is today, that number is projected to rise to 30% for Generation X and millennial retirees, according to the Urban Institute. Those without college educations and with lower lifetime earnings will be the ones who find their outcomes much less secure.

Millennial workers tend to have high levels of education, typically associated with better savings rates and longer careers, due to less-physically demanding jobs. Working more years also postpones retirement dates and allows a longer time horizon for savings accumulation.

Yet many millennials dont have a great comfort level with financial matters. More than half of women in the millennial generation say they feel overwhelmed by their financial situations, with 29% of men agreeing with that sentiment, according to research by the Society of Actuaries.

Read: Why is it still so hard for women to save for retirement?

Millennials also face many obstacles. The Brookings Institution explores the negative impact for many of this generation who started their careers during the Great Recession (from which GDP growth has still not recovered) and increasingly work in contingent jobs made popular by the gig economy, which often offer fewer benefits, including no way to save for retirement. Many also took out substantial student loans to pay for higher education. A typical graduate with $30,000 in school debt stands to risk having $325,000 less in savings when it is time to retire.

Millennials are increasingly choosing to delay major life milestones like Homeownership, marriage, and having children. Although they will work longer, they will also live to be older than their parents and grandparents meaning their retirement savings will have to last longer.

Minorities face significant additional disadvantages when it comes to preparing for retirement. Only just over one-third of blacks and Hispanics have retirement accounts, compared with nearly two-thirds of white Americans, according to the Brookings Institution. Even when they have access to employer-sponsored retirement plans, less than half of Hispanics are expected to participate, as compared with two-thirds of blacks and three-quarters of whites.

Not only are Hispanics less likely to have retirement accounts, but they are also projected to work fewer years than whites, leaving less time to accumulate savings. Estimates suggest 82% of whites will work for more than 30 years, compared with 58% of Hispanics.

Although nonwhite families have seen some progress, experiencing larger income and wealth gains than their counterparts, they still have less income and wealth. More concerning is that whites are still projected to be more likely to experience upward income mobility than other ethnic groups.

According to the National Institute on Retirement Security, only 55% of millennials are eligible to participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, compared with 77% of Gen X and 80% of baby boomers. For those who do have access to retirement savings plans, they will largely depend on defined-contribution plans that mean they will have to make their own decisions about saving and investing for the future.

This lack of access to simple retirement planning options helps explain why 66% of millennials have nothing saved for their so-called golden years. While many large employers already make defined-contribution plans available to their employees, too many small businesses do not.

State and local governments have begun to come up with their own innovative solutions to make saving easier. To date, 11 cities and states have created new retirement savings programs featuring ideas like auto-enrollment individual retirement accounts (IRAs), multiple employer plans (MEPs) and marketplaces.

The private sector has stepped up to the plate by creating simpler, lower-cost retirement savings options that reach more workers. They have also begun to leverage technology to make the process of planning and saving more convenient for millennials who have become accustomed to such solutions to everyday challenges. The financial industry is also increasing available lifetime income solutions to help make sure that the retirement nest egg lasts for the rest of the retirees life.

Increased access to savings plans is essential, especially for gig economy workers and minorities who are far less likely to be able to use an employer-sponsored retirement program.

Fortunately, millennials still have the advantage of time to get themselves on track for a secure retirement and avoid retiring poorer than their parents. The key is to get started now. Every $1,000 that a worker sets aside at age 35 becomes $3,240 by retirement. Waiting five years and putting that same money into savings at age 40 reduces the return to just $2,670 by the time retirement comes around.

There will be plenty of opportunities to adjust a plan, but theres no way to turn back the clock and start saving in the past. When it comes to retirement savings, there are no do-overs.

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Are millennials destined to live longer and retire poorer than their parents? - MarketWatch

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Millennial millionaire who retired at 30 explains the sacrifices he made to get there – Fox Business

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A study found millennials are dipping into their retirement savings to either buy their first home or to pay down personal debt.

When he achieved financial independence at the age of 30 in 2015, Grant Sabatier knew his story was extreme.

The now-34-year-old had saved more than $1 million in just five years - after starting with a balance of $2.26 in his bank account.

Im an outlier, Sabatier told FOX Business. I am the exception to the rule.

Sabatier is a follower of the F.I.R.E. Movement -- which stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early. However, he still works and makes money by writing financial advice for his blog, Millennial Money and through speaking engagements and sales of his book, Financial Freedom.

I think the traditional concept [of retirement] is really outdated and I think within the next 10 years we wont even talk about it the same way that we talk about it now, Sabatier said. All it means for me is, once I became financially independent at 30, I started paring off all those things in my life that I didnt enjoy doing and started focusing my life around the things that I really wanted to do.

I still work really hard, [but] its mission-driven work as opposed to making money work, he added.

Grant Sabatier (pictured) saved more than $1 million in just five years and became financially independent. (Cory Vanderploeg;Courtesy of Grant Sabatier)

Most importantly, Sabatier gets to do the things that make his life richer -- but not in the financial sense.

Ultimately, money only matters if it helps you live a life you love, Sabatier said. Are you designing your life in a way that your work and your money is supporting that? And are you enjoying your life? Thats the most important thing. Its not about the million dollars, or when can you traditionally retire.

After saving for five years, Sabatier started a personal finance blog called Millennial Money and wrote a book called Financial Freedom. (Houston Bass; Courtesy of Grant Sabatier)

However, this mindset around money wasnt how Sabatier viewed financial independence when he got started in 2010.

That year, he had moved back in with his parents after hed been fired from his job. He said he was really ashamedbecause his parents had invested so much in him and he felt like he had let them -- and himself -- down.

So he decided to set the extremely arbitrary goal of saving $1 million as quickly as he could, which he realized about two and a half years in, would be about enough to live on for the rest of his life.

Even though he still technically works, Sabatier said that for him, "retirement" just meant that he stopped doing the things he didn't enjoy. "I think this idea of work, the idea of retirement, all these things are so fluid now," he told FOX Business (Courtesy of Grant Sabatier)

At that point, he decided he wanted to save the $1 million within five years -- but that turned into the only thing he did for the next two and a half years.

I just stopped doing everything, he said. All I was doing was making money and saving money I was just singularly focused on that goal.

Even though Sabatier still makes money through his blog, his book and speaking engagements, he told FOX Business that he donates or invests most of it to other people and projects in order to "keep my taxable income as low as possible," he said. (Courtesy of Grant Sabatier)

However, that came at its own cost. During those few years, he said he almost broke up with his girlfriend, who is now his wife, he didnt take good care of his health - gaining50 pounds -and he lost several friendships along the way, too.

Even though he was excited about hitting his goal, he admitted he had made a lot more sacrifices than in hindsight I probably would have made. However, the experiencewas a "net positive" overall because now he can do whatever he wants.

"But certainly I should have just chilled out a bit," he said.

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I realized somewhat later on that it wasnt about the million dollars or about becoming financially independent. What I was really seeking was just more peace in my life and more space and time and the ability to take a deep breath, Sabatier explained. I also didnt realize that so much of that freedom that I was craving, I already had access to so much earlier on.

Most of the things that make me happiest in life are pretty inexpensive or even free, he added. And so, once I started designing my life around how to have more time to do those, I realized that I needed a lot less money than I ever thought I would.

"I think the personal finance world and the money world, they always ask how much money do you need, how much money do you spend, how much money do you make, how much money do you want? When the first question should be, what kind of life do you want (Courtesy of Grant Sabatier)

Now, Sabatiers goal is passing that message on to other people throughout the F.I.R.E. Movement, including alongside one of the founders, Vicki Robin, who co-wrote the book Your Money or Your Life.

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If somethings not making your life better or richer, you should discard it, Sabatier said. And pursuing F.I.R.E. can just become money addiction in another form. People are so religious about their spreadsheets and their savings rates that it just ends up becoming just like any form of money addiction.

A lot of the work that I do or try to do in the movement is to humanize it a little bit more, he added. Lets make sure its always life before money. Its always life before money. Thats all building on Vickis work.

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Millennial millionaire who retired at 30 explains the sacrifices he made to get there - Fox Business

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October 21st, 2019 at 5:46 pm

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Im 69, worth $5 million and want great health care and a good climate but refuse to move to California. Where should I retire? – MarketWatch

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Dear Catey,

Were 69 and 68 respectively, and are presently retired in Las Vegas. Our net worth is about $5 million, so money is not an overriding issue.

We moved to Vegas to be near family, and for the vibrancy we didnt have in Cleveland. Seven years later, the family is gone and weve had some health issues. Las Vegas is fun and a great place to vacation, but as you get older, the availability and competence of a medical system means much more than shows and casinos.

My wife likes the weather, but that said, summers here are hellish. California is out for the political and its ridiculous tax situation. Phoenix seems to have the big city feel and the amenities that come with that, but not only do you get oppressive heat, you get sandstorms.

I know no place is perfect, but any suggestions you make would genuinely be appreciated.

Thanks for your consideration,

D.S.

Dear D.S.,

Good health care and weather and more reasonable taxes are three of the most common requests I get from readers of this column. Plus, it sounds like youd like a large-to-medium-sized city with lots to do and a more politically moderate spot than California to spend your golden years.

Its a challenging checklist but I think Ive got some options for you. (Admittedly, its hard to beat California weather, so you might have to endure some humidity, but I wont place you in a spot with cold winters.) Heres what Id suggest.

Honolulu

Great beaches, friendly locals, and plenty of museums (dont miss the Honolulu Museum of Art) and restaurants are just some of the perks of living in Honolulu. Another bonus: Though the city is cosmopolitan, it has a slower pace of life than many large cities in America.

The weather and the health care will likely be big pluses to you too. Honolulu boasts two five-star rated hospitals, and landed on The Streets list of best cities for health care in retirement. And the weather tends to stay between about 50 and 90 (though winters can be a bit rainy) and theres a low risk of hurricanes here.

While its certainly not cheap to live in Honolulu (median homes will set you back more than $650,000), with your nest egg, you can likely swing it. Added bonuses for you: Its a more tax-friendly spot for retirees than California, though its still not as great as a spot like Florida. One potential downside for you is that it might be a bit far from friends and family.

Sarasota, Fla.

OK, admittedly, summers are humid and brutal (with that $5 million nest egg, you can get out of town during August though) and there is a hurricane risk, but hear us out on Sarasota: It consistently lands on best places to retire lists for good reason. Its got tons of cultural offerings, including a ballet and opera, as well as art museums and plenty of performing arts options. It also has great beaches, and a plethora of restaurants.

And it checks a lot of boxes on your list too: Theres a five-star hospital in town, and The Street named it as one of the best places to retire for health care, writing five hospitals in Sarasota and another in Bradenton provides the kind of security that even competing Florida retirement communities are hard-pressed to match. Plus, the tax situation in Florida is pretty great, as the state does not have income tax.

While its not exactly cheap to live here, its more reasonable than Honolulu.

Dallas

The Big D, as Dallas is known, has good health care, with two five-star hospitals, the North Central Surgical Center and the Baylor Scott and White Heart and Vascular Hospital. And the weather checks a lot of boxes too, with mild temperatures for most of the year (though summers are hot and humid, but with your sizable nest egg, you can travel during the worst of it if you like).

U.S. News & World Report recently ranked Dallas-Fort Worth one of the 10 best places to retire, noting that it offers both big-city excitement and quiet, suburban living as well as an interesting mix of Texas pride and cosmopolitan offerings. Youll find thousands of restaurants (barbecue and Tex-Mex are particularly good), tons of shopping (its the birthplace of Neiman Marcus) and a bustling arts and culture scene, which includes the renowned Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center.

Though money isnt a huge hurdle for you, the cost of living in Dallas is only a bit above average, and the tax situation is much more reasonable than in California (one big perk of Texas is no state income tax).

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Im 69, worth $5 million and want great health care and a good climate but refuse to move to California. Where should I retire? - MarketWatch

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Signs That Your Trading Will Ruin Your Retirement – October 21, 2019 – Yahoo Finance

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You have a significant retirement portfolio. You're an experienced investor. You've done pretty well at picking stocks. You probably even own a few of Zacks Top Retirement stock picks like:

Independent Bank (IBCP), AT&T (T) and Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste (ASR).

If that sounds like you, should you actively trade your own retirement assets?

Perhaps ...if you're the "one in a million" investor who can expertly manage risk and maintain unflinching emotional control in volatile markets. But for most, there may be better strategies to achieve long-term retirement investing goals.

Active stock trading requires a very different investing approach and risk - reward mindset than investing for retirement.

Managing Retirement Investments: Stock Picking vs. Diversification

While stock picking can potentially result in outsized returns, its outsized concentrated risk can pose significant hazards for retirement investors.

A study done by Hendrik Bessembinder of equity markets over nine decades found that just 4% of the best-performing U.S.stocks generated all the market's gains. The rest were flat - the gains of the next 38% were wiped out by the bottom 58%, which lost money.

For even the most expert stock pickers, the chances for long-term achievement are thin.

Is Successful Investing a Mind Game?

Investors feel they can make sensible choices, however research demonstrates that the opposite is what often happens. A DALBAR study analyzed investors from 1986 to 2015 and found that the average investor significantly underperformed compared to the S&P 500. Over 30 years, the S&P 500 produced a return of 10.35%, while the average investor return was only 3.66%.

It is worth noting that this period included the 1987 crash and enormous bear markets in 2000 and 2008, and the positively trending market of the 1990s as well.

This study indicates that one key explanation behind investor underperformance is attempting to time volatile markets - and that irrational emotional biases are likely to compound investor botches.

Interestingly, even savvy traders tend to underperform because they can't help but allow emotions to drive investment decisions. They may be overconfident and misjudge risk, latch onto a price target, or perceive a pattern that isn't there. This "behavior gap", over the long-term, can be catastrophic with potential underperformance of hundreds of thousands of dollars sabotaging your retirement.

The Bottom Line for Retirement Investors

When it comes to managing your assets for retirement, you must look at performance over the course of years and decades - not weeks or months. Because most traders generally tend to focus on the short term, they may not have the right mindset to achieve successful long-term outcomes.

Does that mean you should quit trading? Not really. One plan is to take 10% of your investable resources and trade to create alpha and look for outsized returns.

However, the major part of your wealth - those assets reserved for retirement - ought to be invested utilizing a more careful, conservative, risk management strategy to produce steady, compounded returns so you can securely achieve your retirement objectives.

Did you know that one in six people retire a multi-millionaire?

Read our just-released report: 7 Things You Can Do Now to Retire a Multi-Millionaire.

This report can help you maintain and increase assets heading into retirement while avoiding costly mistakes. Click here for a free report>>Independent Bank Corporation (IBCP) : Free Stock Analysis ReportGrupo Aeroportuario del Sureste, S.A. de C.V. (ASR) : Free Stock Analysis ReportAT&T Inc. (T) : Free Stock Analysis ReportTo read this article on Zacks.com click here.Zacks Investment Research

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Signs That Your Trading Will Ruin Your Retirement - October 21, 2019 - Yahoo Finance

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Im retired. Do I have to pay tax on my retirement income? – NJ.com

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Q. Im retired. I have a pension of just under $30,000 and additional retirement income from my 401(k) and gains on investment accounts. The total is less than $100,000. Can I claim the pension exclusion?

Happy senior

A. Weve got good news for you, but the exact amount of income you can exclude will depend on the total income and the year.

Pensions and retirement account distributions can be excluded from income in New Jersey.

Up to $60,000 could be excluded for 2018, $80,000 for 2019, and it rises to full $100,000 by 2020, said Martin Hauptman, an attorney with Mandelbaum Salsburg in Roseland.

He said many retirees will pay zero income tax under this new tax law.

Importantly, the exclusion is only available to those with New Jersey taxable income of $100,000 or less, Hauptman said,

If you go even $1 over the $100,000 income limitation, you will owe New Jersey income tax on all of your income - except Social Security- not just the income over $100,000, he said.

Hauptman notes that New Jersey taxable income does not include Social Security income, but it does include all other sources of income such as wages, pensions, retirement plans, interest, dividends and more.

Email your questions to Ask@NJMoneyHelp.com.

Karin Price Mueller writes the Bamboozled column for NJ Advance Media and is the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com. Follow NJMoneyHelp on Twitter @NJMoneyHelp. Find NJMoneyHelp on Facebook. Sign up for NJMoneyHelp.coms weekly e-newsletter.

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Im retired. Do I have to pay tax on my retirement income? - NJ.com

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Earn More in 2020 and Keep Your Social Security Benefits – The Motley Fool

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Social Securitycurrently pays benefits to more than 60 million Americans, and the majority of them receive money from the old-age side of the program. The most common age for people to claim their retirement benefits is 62, and many of them still keep their jobs and decide to supplement their income by claiming their Social Security.

You don't have to stop working to receive your retirement benefits from Social Security. However, there are some provisions that will affect some workers who take early retirement benefits while still earning a paycheck. Specifically, if your earnings from work are above the limits that Social Security sets each year, then you might have to forfeit some of your benefits back to the Social Security Administration. Fortunately, those earnings limits typically go up every year, and workers in 2020 will be able to make a little bit more money before they'd have to give anything back.

There are a couple of aspects to the Social Security earnings test that recipients should understand -- ideally before they claim early retirement benefits. First, the provision only applies to those who are younger than full retirement age. If you've already reached that key age, then you can earn as much as you want and still get your full Social Security benefits.

Image source: Getty Images.

Also, there are two sets of earnings test numbers that apply to people of different ages. If you'll remain younger than your full retirement age throughout 2020, then you'll be able to earn up to $18,240 over the course of the year without having to give up any of your benefits. That figure is up $600 from 2019's numbers. Above the $18,240 mark, you'll have to give up $1 in annual benefits for every $2 you earn over the threshold. So if your earnings come to $20,000 for the year, then that's $1,760 over the limit, so you'd have to forfeit half that, or $880.

Those who will reach full retirement age at some point during 2020 face a different set of numbers. You can earn up to $48,600 in 2020 without triggering forfeiture provisions, and the reduction is $1 in benefits for every $3 above the threshold. The $48,600 figure is $1,680 higher than the corresponding number for 2019. One other thing to keep in mind is that only the portion of earnings you have before reaching full retirement age counts toward the limit. So if you hit full retirement age in June 2020, then you can earn as much as you want during the second half of the year without any adverse effects on your benefits.

Giving back money to the federal government always sounds like a bad move. However, with the earnings test, there is a silver lining if your benefits get taken away.

Here's how it works: For every month's worth of benefits you have to pay back to the Social Security Administration, you'll be treated as if you had claimed your retirement benefits a month later than you actually did. When you reach full retirement age, your benefit amount will get adjusted upward to account for the extra time the SSA credits you with after forfeiting benefits. Over time, those higher payments can eventually catch up with the amount of money you lost.

The best strategy to follow with Social Security when you're still working depends on how much money you make. If your earnings are squarely below the limits, then you can make an informed decision based on your financial needs and other factors. However, if you make more than the limit, you might want to think twice about taking early benefits at all. The more of your Social Security you end up having to give back, the less it makes sense to make your Social Security claim early in the first place.

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Earn More in 2020 and Keep Your Social Security Benefits - The Motley Fool

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Retiring KPRC 2 anchor Bill Balleza looks back on his nearly 50-year career – Houston Chronicle

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After 39 years of anchoring KPRC (Channel 2)s evening news, Bill Balleza is ready to do absolutely nothing when he retires in January.

No deadlines. No suits. Nothing.

He might sport a beard and let his hair grow, but aside from that, he has no plans.

Im going to spend the next part of my life not having to report to work, said the 72-year-old San Antonio native, who announced his retirement Wednesday.

I dont have any more chapters. Ive worked in this business the better part of 50 years, my whole lifes work. Ive loved it. I dont plan to do anything else, Balleza said as he settled in at the news desk in the KPRC studio.

Balleza is one of Houstons longest-running and most respected TV anchors. Hes covered nearly every major news event, including the death of Pope John Paul II from the Vatican in 2005 and the Conclave to elect Pope Francis in 2013. He also covered the Murrah Federal Building explosion in Oklahoma City and the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in New York one month after the 9/11 attacks. He earned an Emmy Award for his reporting on the deadly explosion of a fertilizer company in West in 2013.

Theres such an endorphin rush when you are on assignments like that, he said. You get these great people stories on deadline. There is nothing like that feeling in the world. Thats the biggest high. Thats what its all about for me. Im going to miss that.

Home: Southwest Houston

Style: Classic

In your closet: I own 10 suits, 20 shirts, 30 ties, and I buy Allen Edmonds shoes. Thats it.

Best book: Anything by Elmore Leonard. Ive never been much of an academic reader, but I love those kinds of funny crime stories.

Favorite movie: I love the Rambo war, high-action, high-adventure, extremely violent movies. Thats the kind of thing that drew me to the Marine Corps.

Must-have food: Mexican or Cajun

Favorite local restaurant: Pappas Bros. Steakhouse

Favorite travel destination: Europe. I love Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany

What brings you joy? Family. My kids, my grandkids, my wife. Yeah. Thats everything to me.

With his clean-cut, classic style, you would never know Balleza was a bad boy destined for a troubled life before he stepped in front of a TV camera.

The oldest of six children, Balleza got expelled from the ninth grade twice for fighting and being involved in gangs. He was kicked out of high school a final time in the spring of his senior year after he got into a brawl with the football coach. At that time, Ballezas father banished him from the familys house, so he was forced to live at the downtown YMCA in San Antonio.

My dad wasnt expecting great things from me. In fact, I wasnt expecting great things from myself either, Balleza said.

With no other options, Balleza enlisted in the U.S. Marines, where boot camp changed his life.

It was overnight. In fact, I really owe my life to the Marine Corps because I was heading in the wrong direction, he said. You think youre such a tough guy, then they show you just how tough you thought you were. They straightened me out.

Balleza thrived in the military and was such a good marksman he was sent to sniper school in Virginia. He went on to serve in the Vietnam War.

Im one of those guys who came back from Vietnam with no PTSD, nothing to get over or reconcile. Its so weird to say, but I enjoyed it. I enjoyed being in the Marines and being in Vietnam. I would do it all over again, he said.

He thought hed make a career out of the military, but his first wife, Irene, had other plans and secretively submitted a letter on his behalf to San Antonio College. He was admitted under the G.I. Bill on the condition he take the GED and the ACT tests after his military tour.

Though he had been an academic disaster his entire life, Balleza made the deans list every semester in college and eventually earned an associates degree in broadcasting because it required as little math as possible, he said. A school counselor told him hed never find work in TV because no people of color were hired in the media at the time, but he got a job as a TV cameraman at a San Antonio station while in college.

I fell in love with broadcasting. It was just something about it that really caught my interest and captivated me, he said.

Community activists nationwide began challenging the TV industrys lack of representation of Mexican Americans, and soon Balleza had offers to join newsrooms across the country. Although he had a scholarship to attend Trinity University in San Antonio for a bachelors degree, he took a job as a TV reporter in San Francisco. After two years, Balleza returned to Texas as a reporter and anchor at KHOU (Channel 11).

Not having a bachelors degree was unsettling, so he tried taking classes at the University of Houston while working at KHOU. A professor discouraged him, saying that having a professional anchor in the classroom was a disruption for the students. Besides, he told Balleza, getting a degree at that point would be useless.

I spent a lot of my initial years here in Houston talking to junior high and high school students about doing well and staying in school. I told them I dont have the degree, and by a miracle, it worked out for me. But it doesnt for most people. Its like the NBA. Its a miracle.

In 1980, Balleza joined KPRC as an anchor, replacing the retiring Ron Stone. Hes been co-anchoring the evening news with Dominique Sachse for nearly 20 years.

Im trying not to think about Bill leaving because I dont want to cry, Sachse said at the station. Its the end of an era. We count our blessings that we got in this business when we did. It was this beautiful, glorious, exciting and prosperous environment. I know Bill feels the same way. Our timing was perfect.

Balleza wanted to leave on his own terms and before he was told he was too old, he said, though his body has been sending him signals for a while.

After almost 30 years of doing the 10 oclock news and walking down that sidewalk toward the building, my knees hurt. My back hurts. I just had my third back surgery in August. I didnt want to get really old on air, he said.

But hes candid about how he cheated a bit with a face-lift six years ago.

I was upfront about it on social media. I had a jowly face, a double chin, and I wanted it corrected. I was scared to death the day of the surgery, but I was in the sink washing my face, and I looked up in the mirror to remind myself why I was having this done. I had these jowls hanging down under my neck and on my cheeks. Then in one day that all went away.

Since announcing his retirement, Balleza has heard from many viewers and followers on social media, telling him how much theyve trusted his work over the years.

That means everything, he said.

Retirement also means hell have more time for his passion making wooden boxes.

I like cigar boxes, jewelry boxes, keepsake boxes because they are small and I can give them away right away. So Ill be making a lot more boxes when I retire.

His grandfather was a home builder who taught Balleza a love for woodworking. Over the years, hes made cabinets, entertainment centers, desks and more for family and friends and even for the Habitat for Humanity houses that his station supports. Balleza mills his own lumber and works with a variety of woods, including walnut, cherry, maple and mesquite.

He wants to have his own woodworking studio one day. Now that he and wife, Missy, are empty-nesters with three adult children and two granddaughters, theres time.

As he prepares to sign off of TV news, Balleza hopes hes remembered for his work.

I want people to know I loved this city, cared about this city, cared about the people in it. And that I cared enough to try to make things better. Nothing more.

joy.sewing@chron.com

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Retiring KPRC 2 anchor Bill Balleza looks back on his nearly 50-year career - Houston Chronicle

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October 21st, 2019 at 5:46 pm

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Stella Abrera of American Ballet Theater to Retire in Spring – The New York Times

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Four years ago Stella Abrera danced the lead in Giselle for the first time at American Ballet Theater. For her farewell performance with the company, on June 13, she will take on the role again at the Metropolitan Opera House. Her retirement, after 24 years with the company, was announced on Monday.

It feels like a good time, like the right thing, Ms. Abrera said in an interview about her decision to retire.

Giselle is particularly meaningful to her. When she danced the lead in 2015, she was stepping in for an injured Polina Semionova. It happened to be the companys alumni night. About 200 ex-A.B.T. dancers were in the audience, so they all very much knew what was up, she said. I had to put all the fears aside and get on that stage and do what I had been dreaming of doing my whole life.

In his review for The Times, Alastair Macaulay commended Ms. Abreras performance. Some of her dancing was luminous, and all of it was stylish and heartfelt, he wrote. Her work in Act II received special praise: She made it clear that dance was a spiritual act.

Ms. Abrera, 41, joined Ballet Theater in 1996. Five years later she was promoted from the corps de ballet to the rank of soloist. A serious injury in 2008 made further advancement difficult, but she fought her way back to health and was made a principal dancer in 2015. Ms. Abrera, who was promoted on the same day as Misty Copeland, became the companys first Filipino-American principal.

In recent years, Ms. Abrera has had lead roles in Kenneth MacMillans Romeo and Juliet, Frederick Ashtons Monotones I and Twyla Tharps Bach Partita, among other productions.

Ms. Abrera said that after retirement what she would miss most is the connection with her fellow dancers. Theres nothing like creating a bond with people who you work with in live performance, she said. Its a sense of community unlike any other.

Ms. Abrera said she would remain involved with dance: I plan on continuing to contribute to the dance world from a different angle than with point shoes. She added that shes also excited to explore other dance projects as a performer.

She is to perform once more during American Ballet Theaters fall season. Shell appear on Tuesday as The Spirit of the Corn in Alexei Ratmanskys The Seasons.

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Stella Abrera of American Ballet Theater to Retire in Spring - The New York Times

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3 Tax Mistakes That Could Ruin Your Retirement – The Motley Fool

Posted: October 20, 2019 at 8:46 am


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No matter how much you try to avoid it, Uncle Sam will always take a chunk out of your paychecks.

The same is true in retirement, although taxes in retirement can potentially have greater consequences than when you're working -- because you'll likely be living on a fixed income in retirement, spending more than you anticipated can throw off your entire plan. And if you're not prepared for them, taxes can take a serious bite out of your retirement budget.

To ensure your retirement savings go as far as possible in your golden years, there are a few tax mistakes you should do your best to avoid.

Image source: Getty Images.

It's easy to forget about taxes when you're saving for retirement. When you get caught up in determining how much you expect to spend in retirement and how much you should be saving, taxes may not figure into that equation.

However, the only way to completely avoid paying taxes on your retirement account withdrawals is to store all of your savings in a Roth IRA, where your contributions are taxed upfront but you can withdraw your money tax-free. If you have money in a different type of retirement account -- such as a 401(k), 403(b), or traditional IRA -- you can expect to pay income taxes on the money you withdraw from your retirement fund.

There are a few ways to trim your tax bill in retirement so you're not caught totally off-guard. One option is to invest primarily in a Roth IRA. You'll still pay taxes when you make the initial contributions, but it may be easier to plan for retirement when you know that the money in your account is that amount you'll be able to spend.

Another way to prepare for retirement taxes is to start thinking of your savings goals in terms of pre-tax dollars. For example, say you estimate you'll need $50,000 each year to pay all your bills in retirement, and you base your retirement plan around that number. Even if you save according to your plan and you can afford to withdraw $50,000 per year, you'll actually end up with less than that once taxes are taken out. Instead, you might want to increase your annual spending estimate to, say, $65,000, so that you'll have roughly $50,000 each year to spend after taxes. Of course, the actual numbers will vary based on your tax bracket and your state's tax rate, but figuring taxes into your retirement plan can help avoid any surprises.

Yes, you'll likely still owe taxes on your benefits even when you've been paying Social Security taxes throughout your entire career. There are different thresholds for how much you'll pay in taxes, and it depends on your income. If your benefits are your only source of income in retirement, you may get away with not paying any taxes. However, the majority of people will have to pay taxes on at least a portion of their benefits.

The first step to determining how much you'll owe in Social Security taxes is to estimate your combined income, which is half of your annual Social Security benefit amount plus all your other annual retirement income (money from a pension, savings from your retirement fund, etc.). So if you're receiving $25,000 per year in benefits and are earning $40,000 per year in other retirement income, your combined income is $12,500 + $40,000, or $52,500.

Here's how much of your benefits may be subject to taxes depending on your combined income:

Source: Social Security Administration.

Keep in mind that these tax rates are only for federal taxes, and some states will make you pay state taxes on your benefits as well (although 37 states don't tax Social Security benefits at all). By being aware of what you may pay in taxes on your benefits before you retire, it can help ensure your retirement plan is as accurate as possible.

Assuming you'll need to pay taxes on your retirement account withdrawals, the exact amount you'll owe depends on your tax bracket.

Income taxes are the same in retirement as they are when you're working, but the difference is that in retirement, you get to choose how much income you're earning. You can withdraw however much you want from your retirement fund each year, and that amount determines what tax bracket you fall under. If you're spending roughly the same amount in retirement as you were when you were working, you likely won't notice much of a difference in your tax bill. But if you decide to splurge during your first few years of retirement and withdraw a lot of cash, you may push yourself into a higher tax bracket.

There are a couple of things you can do before you retire to ensure your taxes don't get out of control. First, make sure you understand what tax bracket you'll be in when you retire. That will impact how much you pay in income taxes each year, which then affects how much you actually have to spend.

Second, adjust your withdrawal strategy so you stay within your desired tax bracket. It's smart to have a withdrawal strategy when you retire so you don't blow through your savings too quickly, but it can also help limit what you pay in taxes. Spending even a few thousand dollars over your bracket will result in a heftier tax bill, which can potentially throw off the rest of your retirement plan.

Taxes aren't the most exciting part of planning for retirement, but they are a vital aspect of your retirement plan. And the more accurately you account for them, the more financially secure you'll be in your golden years.

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3 Tax Mistakes That Could Ruin Your Retirement - The Motley Fool

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