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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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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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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Financial Resolutions

December 28th, 2012

I believe that just about everyone has some sort of financially related To Do item sitting on their To Do list.  And they have every intention of taking care of it.  However, so many other more time critical things seem to keep the financial items from getting to the top spot of the list.

If you are going to resolve to get some of your financial To Dos To Done, what actually matters – how it got done or that it got done?  I will come back to that thought in a minute.

When people come to see me they have accumulated a list of tasks, and it is so easy to see how  that happens in our busy lives.

You take a new job – a nice jump up the career ladder.  Something needs to be done with that old 401(k).  But what?   You’re busy with the new job right now.   So you put it on The To Do List.

Your income is higher now with the new job, should you have more life insurance?  Or is the life insurance at work enough?  You did buy some whole life from that guy that came to the house when you first got married.  Is that still the right policy for you or not?  So you put that on The To Do List.

Your kids are getting older, and you haven’t saved as much as you had intended for college.  How much can you afford to put away for their college vs. how much should you be saving for our own retirement?  Well, the kids are in middle school, you have a couple more years, so you put it on The To Do List.

At work they keep changing your investment choices and you don’t know what to pick.  You don’t have the tools to see all of your investments together and create a diversified portfolio that incorporates all of your accounts, but you know that you need to do it one day.  But you don’t have the time right now.  So you put that on The To Do List.

Sometimes when potential clients meet with me in the free Get Acquainted meeting they tell me that they feel bad about not taking care of these things themselves.  I stress to them, that I do not want them to feel that way.  I tell them that when I have electrical problems at the house, I call an electrician.  And when I have serious plumbing problems I call a plumber.  I have had a handy man come to the house a few times to work though lists of little things that were annoyances.  Sometimes you call in a professional to help you with your list.  And it feels great to work on that list.

So if you are making a resolution to get your financial To Do items To Done, make a plan to either do them yourself, or to contact a professional to help you do them.  Because when you mark them off the list, what actually matters – how it got done, or that it got done?

Resolve to take action today!

Have a Wonderful New Year!

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Michele Clark in the News: US News and World Report “Your Retirement Benefits”

December 12th, 2012

US News and World Report quoted me in their article “Your Retirement Benefits: What to Expect in 2013” on their website this week.

I shared my thoughts on 401(k) fee disclosures.  401(k) providers are required to disclose the fees for the plan.  All things being equal, if two funds are simlar but one has lower fees than the other, choosing the fund with lower fees will allow the investor to keep more of their money invested for their future.

The article is full of information on a variety of topics.  It covers information about changes to contribution limits, the Roth IRA income limit increase, the saver’s credit, the pension insurance limit for 2013, the increase in Social Security taxes (expiration of the tax cut), and Medicare premiums and coverage.

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