Summer is a great time for getting things done! The kids are out of school, a vacation or two has you refreshed, and the extra daylight makes you feel ready to accomplish anything. Of course, being a financial advisor, one big thing I’d like to see on your to-do list is a mid-year financial checkup.
We work hard to earn money for today’s expenses and tomorrow’s retirement, but lack of direction threatens the financial health of even the most disciplined earners and savers. I’ve put together a couple of my favorite mid-year money moves to help keep you on the path to success.
There are two kinds of people in the investing world: those who have a plan and those who don’t. If you’re one of those who doesn’t, you need one! Many new or would-be investors think investing is all about choosing stocks that will rise meteorically shortly after purchase, then cashing out.
The reality is, that kind of investing is not only extremely risky in the short term, but also risks missing out on significant sums of money in the long run. Investment management company BlackRock conducted a study that compared those who invest $10,000 and stay invested, versus those who try to time the market by selling at peaks and buying during valleys. The firm wanted to see which investor would come out ahead over a 20-year period.
Because timing the market with total accuracy is virtually impossible, market-timers are likely to miss at least some of the highest-performing market days. An investor who missed just the five best-performing days in two decades ended up with $24,083 less than the investor who bought into the market and never pulled out. That’s a clear indication that a favorite saying amongst financial planners is true: Time in the market is more important than timing the market.
Many start thinking about their tax situation somewhere around April 1. Realistically, giving yourself less than a month to maximize your tax efficiency isn’t just overly burdensome, it severely limits what you can actually accomplish. There are tax moves you must make before the end of the year, or they won’t count for that year’s taxes.
That makes mid-year a great time to start thinking about those moves to give yourself plenty of time to plan for them. Just a few months from now will be “Roth Season,” in which many convert their 401(k)s or IRAs to their Roth equivalents.
While 401(k)s and IRAs are tax-deferred retirement accounts, you pay taxes on Roths up-front. That costs more money now, but could save you much more money down the road. As I often point out, we’re currently enjoying the most tax-efficient window in history. Odds are, when you retire taxes will be higher, and you maybe in a higher tax bracket to boot.
Saving money in a 401(k) now will reduce your tax burden as opposed to a Roth, but at what cost? A $6,000 contribution to your 401(k) today could be worth $200,000twenty years from now. Is it better to pay taxes on $200,000 then, or on $6,000now? For many, Roth conversions could be a great financial move, but they need proper planning.
Since you pay taxes on Roth accounts up front, you will need to have that tax money available, and the amount you owe will vary based on which bracket you’re in. By starting to map out your tax liability now, you can begin to determine an optimum Roth conversion strategy to execute this fall.
By taking a little time this June to review your finances, you could set yourself up for a more secure financial future. At Asset Preservation Wealth & Tax, we’re constantly reviewing our clients’ finances to make sure they’re on the right track; it’s a missed opportunity if you don’t do the same.
Stewart Willis is the founder and president of Asset Preservation Wealth & Tax, a financial planning firm in Phoenix, Arizona. Investment advisory services offered through Foundations Investment Advisors, LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser.
The commentary on this blog reflects the personal opinions, viewpoints and analyses of the author, Stewart Willis, providing such comments, and should not be regarded as a description of advisory services provided by Foundations Investment Advisors, LLC (“Foundations”), an SEC registered investment adviser or performance returns of any Foundations client. The views reflected in the commentary are subject to change at any time without notice. Nothing on this website constitutes investment, legal or tax advice, performance data or any recommendation that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. Personal investment advice can only be rendered after the engagement of Foundations for services, execution of required documentation, including receipt of required disclosures. Any mention of a particular security and related performance data is not a recommendation to buy or sell that security. Foundations manages its clients’ accounts using a variety of investment techniques and strategies, which are not necessarily discussed in the commentary. Any statistical data or information obtained from or prepared by third party sources that Foundations deems reliable but in no way does Foundations guarantee the accuracy or completeness. Investments in securitiesinvolve the risk of loss. Any past performance is no guarantee of futureresults. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Foundations and its advisors are properly licensed or exempted. For moreinformation, please go to https://adviserinfo.sec.gov and search by our firm name or by our CRD # 175083.
A Roth conversion may not be suitable for your situation. The primary goal in converting retirement assets into a Roth IRA is to reduce the future tax liability on the distributions you take in retirement, or on the distributions of your beneficiaries. The information provided is to help you determine whether or not a Roth IRA conversion may be appropriate for your particular circumstances. Please review your retirement savings, tax, and legacy planning strategies with your legal/tax advisor to be sure a Roth IRA conversion fits into your planning strategies.