Gain harvesting is where investors can sell taxable investments with long-term capital gains and not owe capital gains taxes. For 2018, you must have taxable income below $38,600 if single, $77,200 if married filing jointly and $51,700 if head of household to not owe taxes on long-term capital gains and qualified dividends. Any long-term capital gains above this taxable income threshold will be subject to the regular 15% tax on long-term capital gains, while the gains below the threshold are tax-free. Income is often much lower in retirement, especially before taking the required minimum distributions from retirement accounts at age 70.5, so many retirees have room to realize gains without tax consequences. (more…)
Many U.S. citizens live abroad for a period during their schooling, career or retirement. Foreign countries, even ones sharing borders with the United States, have different currencies than the U.S. dollar. When you exchange or otherwise convert U.S. dollars into a foreign currency, you may be able to buy more or fewer dollars in the local currency, depending on that day’s exchange rate movements. These currency fluctuations in relation to the U.S. dollar can be substantial. As a result, it’s important that you develop a plan when converting large sums of money from one currency to another to reduce your chances of losing a lot of value. (more…)
In this article, we discuss the Smiths’ and the Jones’ different lifestyle spending needs, and the annual savings necessary to maintain their lifestyle in retirement. Let’s walk through the steps these families should take each year to help them stay on track to achieve their goals.
1. Determine the cost of your annual lifestyle spending needs, and how much of that will continue into retirement.
- Smiths – They currently earn $150,000 a year. After excluding retirement savings and expenses that wouldn’t continue into retirement, such as the cost of commuting to work, they determine that their annual spending is $90,000.
- Joneses – They currently earn $500,000 a year. After backing out retirement savings and expenses that wouldn’t continue into retirement, this couple finds their annual spending is $250,000. This higher spending need is in part due to living in an expensive city and having a mortgage on their home and vacation property. About 10 years ago, this couple’s income was $175,000, with spending needs of $115,000.
Take-away: To determine your lifestyle spending needs, you need to exclude retirement savings and expenses that wouldn’t continue into retirement. Expenses that remain include utilities, taxes, food, entertainment, travel, etc. Many households carry a mortgage for the first 10-15 years into retirement. If you don’t think you’ll pay off your mortgage by the time you retire, make sure to include this housing cost in your spending estimate. You need to be aware of how much your lifestyle spending changes over time to make sure it’s sustainable in retirement. It’s far easier to spend more money than to cut back on your lifestyle. (more…)
Families often ask us how best to fund their obligations or monthly cash flow from their various account types. When making this decision, it’s best to revisit your goals and consider the tax and estate planning implications.
Withdrawals from taxable and after-tax retirement accounts like a Roth IRA can be made tax-free, or by paying less tax than a withdrawal from a pre-tax retirement account taxed at your ordinary income tax rates. This leads to less tax owed now.
For a beneficiary, it’s most advantageous to inherit taxable and after-tax retirement accounts, such as a Roth IRA. Beneficiaries receive more after-tax dollars than if they inherited a pre-tax IRA because of the step-up in basis, which eliminates capital gains in the taxable account, and because withdrawals from the inherited Roth IRA are tax free. (more…)
When someone passes away, their executor – usually their surviving spouse or child – must make funeral arrangements. This includes decisions around transporting the body, choosing a funeral home, arranging for a casket or cremation, and choosing a burial site. Importantly, they need to pay for each of these services along the way. This can be time consuming and stressful – all at a point when loved ones are already overwhelmed with grief.
Prepaid funerals, if purchased correctly, can help mitigate this burden. You pay up front, either in a lump sum or through a payment plan. Upon your passing, your family can contact the funeral company, who will take care of next steps.
Not all prepaid funeral arrangements are the same. Some options that seem to be good end up being bad decisions. Here are some questions to consider when evaluating prepaid funeral options. (more…)