Michele Clark
Clark Hourly Financial Planning - Chesterfield, MO Advisor
17295 Chesterfield Airport Road, Suite 200
Chesterfield, MO 63005 USA
Work 636.375.1813
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Michele Clark in the News: Wall Street Journal Article About Retirement

September 6th, 2013

In the Wall Street Journal article “Five Ways You Can Really Mess Up Your Retirement” Brett Arends discusses some of the biggest mistakes that recent retirees make.

I shared my experience of working with recent retirees who have not ever felt the need to track expenses in the past because their income surpassed their expenses.  However when they retired, they were stunned by how fast they saw their checking account balance go down once they stopped receiving income from their employer which in the past had replenished their accounts on a regular basis.  They then call me for help with retirement cash flow planning.

To read what other advisors and I had to say about errors new retirees make, you can read the article on the Wall Street Journal website.  If you do not have a subscription to the Wall Street Journal website, let me know that you would like to read it, and I would be happy to send you a reprint. Send me an email at: michele@clarkhourlyfinancialplanning.com

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Emergency Fund: The Foundation for Financial Success

September 3rd, 2013

Unexpected financial expenses seem to crop up at the least opportune time. The car needs a new transmission, you lose your job, or a parent or child becomes ill and you need to reduce your hours at work in order to care for them, taking an unexpected reduction in income. All of these expenses, and others, can drain savings quickly.

Why have an emergency fund?

You can resort to using credit cards to pay for emergency expenses however, worrying about paying down your growing credit card balance can lead to further stress during an already difficult period. You will experience “one step forward and two steps back” where it’s hard to see any progress.

How to create an emergency fund.

The better choice is to establish an emergency fund now. Determine how much money you want to set aside in the emergency fund and set up an automatic deposit into that account once a month for a small amount, so that you establish the habit of adding to the emergency fund. If you have finished paying off a monthly loan of some kind, consider immediately setting that money aside for the emergency fund so you don’t use it for daily expenses. Set up an account with your bank that is not easily accessible so there is less temptation to use the money.

Remember a large screen TV or a vacation is not an emergency. If large items such as these, are on your wish list, start saving for them separately and only use your emergency fund for true emergencies.

How much should you have in an emergency fund?

The rule of thumb is to keep six to twelve months of living expenses in savings for emergency funds.

Whereas a dual income family could get away with six months of income in savings, if you are a single income household, you would want twelve months of income saved.

If you and your spouse work for the same company, there is a greater risk of you both losing your jobs at the same time, therefore it would make sense to keep twelve months.

Having an emergency fund will reduce your stress during periods of difficulty because you can tackle the situation and not worry about the financial aspect.

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Retirement Planning: When You Haven’t Tracked Your Spending

August 19th, 2013

Planning for retirement is not a subject you dwell on every day until you realize it’s closer than you think. However, there are various components for you to consider when planning for your “golden years.” An important piece of this planning requires you to calculate your current spending so you can make wise financial decisions for your retirement years.

How much do you spend?

Some families track their spending using software, online tools, a homemade spreadsheet, or simple paper and pencil. If you have been tracking your spending, congratulations! You have some solid spending history to use when estimating how much you will need to spend each year to pay your bills and do the things you want to do to enjoy your retirement.

What if you do not track your spending?

Many families that are easily able to pay their bills and accumulate healthy balances in their savings and investment accounts have never felt the need to track their spending. However, as they get within a few years of retirement they realize they do not have any spending history to use for projecting whether they can afford to retire soon. They do not know if their investments will provide enough income to support them with the same lifestyle they have always enjoyed. Fortunately there is a solution.

How to calculate your current spending?

Before you decide to turn off your income from employment, you want to be confident that you know how much money you need for retirement. What you don’t want to do is not have enough income at the time of retirement to provide for you and your loved one. Therefore, it is best to use pure facts when calculating your current spending.

  1. You make A.
  2. You give B to the government for taxes.
  3. You save C.

The rest is what you spend.

A – B – C = what you spend

It’s that simple. Don’t let the fact that you have not been tracking your spending delay your retirement planning. You can use this simple calculation to estimate how much you spend currently. And track your spending going forward so that you can more accurately estimate your spending needs in retirement.

Tracking your monthly spending today is important to do in the last few years before retirement. If you haven’t started, it’s okay. Start now. When you have an accurate picture of your expenses today, you’ll be better off in your future.

 

 

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2013 Garrett Planning Network Retreat

August 12th, 2013

The Garrett Planning Network 13th Annual Retreat was recently held in Kansas City, Missouri. I am a member of the Garrett Planning Network. It is a group of about 300 financial planners that offer financial planning on an hourly basis, each member owns their own firm. I have written about the Garrett Planning Network before.

I attended the conference and earned continuing education credits by going to various educational programs, which I need so that I can keep my designations and licenses such as:

  • CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™
  • CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR℠
  • NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor

During the four day conference I attended various educational programs such as:

  • State of the Industry
  • The 7Twelve Portfolio: A Better Balanced Portfolio
  • Long Term Care Planning – Past Present Future
  • Estate Planning Update
  • And others

Ron Rhoades, JD, CFP ®  of ScholarFi, Inc., gave one of the Keynote addresses on the state of the Industry:  Will Fiduciary Duties be expanded – by the DOL or the SEC? In the fast-paced presentation, professor Rhoades covered various trends about the CFP Board, marketing of financial services and future effective business models.

Craig L. Israelsen, Ph.D. gave a keynote address on the 7Twelve Portfolio: A Better Balanced Portfolio. Laurence B. Siegel, another keynote speaker, spoke on Wake up and Smell the Coffee! Investors are Poorly Prepared for Retirement – A Balance Sheet Solution.

Throughout the year, the Garrett Planning Network, has three or four conference calls each month.  One of the most beneficial outcomes of my annual trip to this retreat, is getting together with this group in person. On Thursday I was with a group of Garrett Planning Network members and Sheryl Garrett as Sheryl rang the closing bell at the BATS Global Markets stock exchange, the third largest exchange in the world. We took a tour of the exchange.  It was inspiring to learn about the volume of trades that goes through there.

Another a highlight for me, is that I met Gail Marks Jarvis and she signed a copy of her new book for me. She is a very knowledgeable journalist for the Chicago Tribune and really roots for the consumer.  One discussion point that really connected with me was something she mentioned at the book signing table.  She talked about the fact that investors do not care about percentages they care about dollars.  Their dollars.  I agree wholeheartedly.  It is something that I have kept in mind for years when I talk with someone about what allocation model is best for them.

Garrett Planning Network is a terrific group of professional financial planners who, like me, work with clients on an hourly basis.  We share ideas and act as a resource for each other all year, so it is so nice to get together once a year and see each other again.

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How do I Calculate the Required Minimum Distribution (RMD)?

July 3rd, 2013

FINRA has a Required Minimum Distribution Calculator that you can use to figure out how much your RMD will be. This calculator assumes that if you are married, your spouse is less than 10 years younger that you.  If your spouse is more than 10 years younger than you, then you must use a different withdrawal factor which requires you to pull less out of your IRA each year, thereby making your IRA last longer since your spouse is younger than you are and presumably the IRA will need to provide income for both of you.

What you need to do:

* Gather your IRA and 401(k) statements that show the end of year (December 31st) balances.

* Add the balances together (only per person;  Do not combine the balances of the spouse’s accounts together. If you are married you should have a “spouse 1 balance” and a “spouse 2 balance”.)

* Using the link below to put in your balance and your age at the end of the year, and the calculator will give your RMD figure.

http://apps.finra.org/Calcs/1/RMD

IRS RMD Worksheet

Are you more of the paper and pencil type?  Then this worksheet, from the IRS website, that walks you through the calculation might be your style.  http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/uniform_rmd_wksht.pdf  Use this worksheet unless you have a spouse that is more than 10 years younger than you are.

IRS RMD Tables

Or do you need to use one of the alternative tables because you have an inherited IRA or your spouse is more than 10 years younger than you?  Use this IRS IRA Required Minimum Distribution Worksheet with a link to the tables: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/jlls_rmd_worksheet.pdf

Avoid the Penalty

Remember the penalty for not taking your RMD. So be sure to take your required distributions.

Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) blog post series

Required Minimum Distributions generate many questions so I am creating a series of blog posts to address these questions:

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