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  • Just How Good Are You?

    Tuesday, April 16, 2013

    There are things we all know we should do or at least we’ve been told we should do them. But just how good are you at getting them all done? Here’s a quick test. How many of these can you answer “yes” to?

    • You have your teeth cleaned every six months.
    • You pay every bill on time and in full every month.
    • You hit the gym at least 5 days a week… and do a full exercise routine.
    • You visit your doctor for a full physical twice a year.
    • You keep track of your intake of calories, fats, and proteins… every day.
    • You drink eight glasses of water every day.
    • You take your car in for an oil change every 3000 miles… or 7000 miles.

    Did you do pretty well? How about this one?

    • You pay close attention to retirement plans you left behind at former employers by studying the investment choices and making rational changes in line with your long term needs.

    If I got you on that one, then you should consider a retirement plan rollover to a MutualWealth Management IRA.

    More and more of us work for multiple employers throughout our careers and we end up with multiple retirement plans left behind. Even if you only had one employer you may have several plans that were offered at different times throughout your career. You don’t have to be retired to do a rollover. If you have terminated employment any retirement plan at that employer is eligible to roll over to an IRA.

    The most important reason to roll over to a MutualWealth IRA is for our professional services including helping you to establish investment goals, management of the day-to-day investment decisions, ongoing monitoring, record-keeping and keeping you informed.

    There are a lot of other things to consider before doing a rollover. For instance, company stock held in a retirement plan such as an ESOP or 401(k) generally should not be rolled to an IRA because you may end up paying more tax on it than necessary.

    If you’re over age 55 but under 59 ½ when you retire you can access retirement plan assets without the 10% early withdrawal penalty. This isn’t available in an IRA.

    Another feature not available to IRAs is that if you work past age 70 ½ you can defer taxable required minimum distributions until you do retire (unless you own more than 5% of the company).

    On the other hand, a MutualWealth IRA has advantages in addition to our services that aren’t available in company retirement plans. The possible investment choices are much greater and include individual stocks and bonds; you can withdraw money prior to age 59 ½ for education expenses for you or a dependent without the 10% penalty; and an IRA can allow you to stretch the tax deferred growth of your assets out over generations of your heirs.

    Let’s face it. We just don’t do all the things we’re supposed to do. It’s too easy to put off complicated decisions like a retirement plan rollover. MutualWealth can help weigh the pros and cons so you make the right choice. That’s another way we help you live a better life.

    David Riggs is Vice President and Trust Investment Officer with
    MutualWealth Management Group.

  • If I Knew Then What I Know Now

    Tuesday, December 18, 2012

    I hope I have become wiser as I have aged.  For I have surely aged!  I work in Human Resources & Training at the bank, and we had a great manager’s round table discussion the other day, and I had possibly the best question that has ever come up in one of our sessions.  A young, very new manager asked: “If you knew then, what you know now (about managing people), what would you do differently?”

    And every manager in the room had an answer.  This was a great reflective question.  We had engaging and wise comments shared, and so, I am going to turn this question inward, twist it a little, and share: “If I knew then, what I know now, about preparing for my financial future, what would I do differently?”

    Yes, I was a not-so-smart-but -thought-I-was-da-bomb-college-graduate-newlywed-burgeoning-career person, way back when, and as I am now aiming for some financial goals so I can live comfortably in a few years, here’s how I answered my own question:

    If I knew then, what I know now, I would do these things differently, to plan for a more secure financial future:

    • Spending a retirement payout instead of rolling it over.  When I changed jobs, I’d have NOT spent my retirement plan money on a one-time vacation to Florida.  I’d have rolled it over to an IRA, or something….  I took a tax hit then, and have 4 years less retirement savings.  Geesh…
    • Accepting or applying for multiple credit cards.  I would not have kept taking credit cards from stores, and big banks, and using them.  It took me a long time to dig out, and using the credit cards became a very bad habit;
    • Not officially closing those open credit cards after paying them off.  I would have closed those credit cards and notified the stores/banks, not just cut them up as I paid them off.  Those all show up  (or they did) on my credit report, and could have adversely affected my credit score;
    • Immediately rolling dividends back into stock.  I got a tiny bit of a stock inheritance from a great uncle.  I spent those first dividend checks.  If I could go back, I would have rolled those over back into the stock starting the moment I got it. 
    • Taking the time to learn, really learn, about my company benefits.  What all did I leave on the table? 
      • A company match in a 401(k) – that’s FREE money I might have walked away from;
      • Understanding and utilizing Flexible Spending Accounts to reduce my taxable income – especially when I was paying for child care;
      • Staying with a company until I was fully vested in a pension or other retirement plan – I left 6 months shy – twice in my career.  Darn it!
      • Understanding my health plan and what was covered and not covered.  Did I miss some benefits?

    Hindsight is 20/20.  So, hopefully I’ve learned.  If nothing else, maybe my ‘shoulda coulda wouldhave’s’ will help someone else make better decisions.

  • Live a (Financially) Healthier Life

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012

    Healthy, wealthy, and wise….And the most important of these is, (you fill in the blank). 

    For me, it’s health.  Those that have read my prior blog posts know I’m in that nefarious “over age 50” category.  Physically, it’s true.  Mentally, possibly but it’s debatable, especially If you know me!  I believe being healthy deserves a closer look – it is closely tied to our financial freedom in many ways, and it deserves a post on our bank blog!

    Our bank just completed a two-year health & wellness Get Fit Program.  Health-conscious team captains were asked to lead employee teams that included family members.  We kept track of healthy things that got our heart rate up from walking and running to playing volleyball just to name a few.  Getting an annual physical (yes, men, this means you, too!), keeping a nutrition log, even coaching a child’s sport team earned us points.  Our employees focused on doing healthy things hoping some of those things they did would become habits.  Prizes were awarded a few weeks ago and our winning team will get some extra paid time off, cool logo wear, and the ‘bragging rights’ for this year’s event culmination.

    Not only did we create new, healthier habits, we put up some pretty fantastic results too.  At week 26 this year, we had 8 participants who had lost 10% of their total body weight and 4 more that lost 20% of their body weight.  One employee stopped smoking, and 10 employees reduced one prescription (under physician care) previously needed due to health issues.  Those are winning statistics, for me, and much more important than who won.

    We will all have to seek ways to continue our healthy habits.  I know the bank will support endeavors to keep this mindset at the forefront.  We are generally a sedentary workforce, so any efforts can only bring positive results. 

    From the financial side of things, how can being healthier help?  Let’s see, that former smoker is saving money they formerly spent on cigarettes, right?  If they smoked 1 pack a week, that translates to $260/year in savings.  If they smoked 1 pack a day, that equals $1300.  It does start to add up.  Similarly, the folks that were able to reduce one prescription medication as a result of being healthier gained back some financial rewards, too.   I cannot analyze the numbers on that, but the facts prove the healthier lifestyle puts money back into the pockets of our employees.

    As one of 80+ million Americans in the age 45-64 category (U.S. Census, 2010), health has become more important to me.  Hindsight is indeed 20-20, and I only wish I had paid more attention to my health when I was younger.  Now, I have to reduce weight, increase & maintain regular healthy activity, and pay much more attention to my eating habits.  Had I done this as a 30-40 year old, I might be sitting differently.  There are more people in my age group, 31% more according to the U.S. Census, 2010, than in 2000 and we account for more than a quarter of the US population.  When our large demographic gets ill, or when we fail to take good care of ourselves, that can be detrimental in cost – of health care, to name just one. 

    Getting back to “just me”… I’m thinking more now about retirement and wanting to have fun when I do retire.  I’m putting money into my 401(k), trying to pay down debt, preparing for ‘the teenager’s’ college expenses by contributing to a 529 plan and  keeping some amount of ‘nest egg’ cash available to me for emergencies.

    I look forward to both taking it easy in my “golden years” and enjoying travel time, family time,  volunteer time and  of course one of my favorites - future fabulous (old) girls’ trips.   I won’t be able to have much of that fun if I’m overweight, tired, out of shape, and fighting more possibilities of disease that run in my family – diabetes, heart issues, cancer.  Keeping myself healthier – er, getting myself healthier now can pay off for me when I get to retirement.  Excuse me, I need to get up and get moving before it’s too late!

  • Financial Confessions from an Old Geezer

    Wednesday, August 8, 2012

    It’s back-to-school time.  Early August, really?  Back in my day (aka “old geezer comment coming next”), we didn’t start school until after Labor Day!  What is it with the here and now – it’s changing faster than ever, and it is simply hard to keep up!   (Especially for us geezers, right?)

    I’ve shared with you that we have a teenager in the house.  She will be actively driving come next spring.  She is polishing up her defensive driving skills in the meantime.  I am asking my teen to put some money away to purchase a car at some point.  I will help, but I certainly won’t be buying that Porsche she has a photo of on her smart phone. 

    Chances are good, that if we become a three-car family, there are some options we will look at – saving money for an old clunker (after all, I drove a 1963 VW bug back in 1979), seeking out a car loan for a little newer vehicle (also possibly translated as a “safer” vehicle), and my lender recently even enlightened me that I could roll a vehicle loan into my mortgage loan – for convenience, of course.  I have a little time to consider the options, and see how well my teenager is saving money for her future transportation. 

    College expenses are going to be hefty, also, though we have a few more years.  Finding money to set aside to help our daughter – go get those scholarships, young lady! – is tough.  The 529 College Savings Plan is there to help us, help her.   She will also need to have some “skin in the game” for school – it’s no longer “like it was, back in the old days.” But we will do what we can, by taking advantage of setting aside some money, and planning – for her future.

    Also creeping up on me is my own retirement.  While it is off on the horizon just a bit, I need to be accountable to have set aside enough money so I can live a retirement lifestyle I’ve dreamed of – you know, traveling with spouse, family, and friends!  I want to live that dream, and so I have to prepare.  I do my best to set aside money and contribute to my employer’s 401(k) plan.   By putting some money there, my company matches me, in essence, giving me “free” money on top of my own contributions.  But is it enough?  That’s hard to say, so I, on occasion, I also talk to a financial adviser.

    I encourage my spouse, who works in a small family business, to set aside some money in an IRA.  We cannot rely on Social Security, if it will even be there, and so, it is important we spend time planning for our financial future.   The future.  It will be here before we know it.  My goal is to be a financially prepared, old geezer.

  • Is It Time to Call in the Professionals?

    Tuesday, March 6, 2012

    I don’t know about you, but for me, cars have become way too complicated. When I headed off to Indiana State University for my freshman year it was in a five-year old, used Ford Maverick. I really liked that car. It was bright green with a vinyl, black and white checkered bench seat in the front (which made it easier for snuggling with my girlfriend and eventual wife).

    It had a 3-speed on-the-steering-column manual-shift transmission. Every once in a while the shifter would get stuck making it impossible to move out of second gear. The solution was simple: hold down the clutch, coast to the side of the road, turn off the engine, get out, open the hood, reach in and jerk on one of the bars connecting the shifter to the transmission. This got the stick unstuck and allowed me drive on shifting through all three gears.

    That was something I figured out on my own with just an 8th grade shop class knowledge of cars. There was plenty of room under that hood. I could set a tool box in there and actually change spark plugs myself.

    Now I don’t know if the Ford I’m driving today even has spark plugs. If it does, I’d never be able to locate them in the tightly packed jumble of components under the hood let alone get my hands in far enough to put a tool on them. The transmission in my current car is both manual and automatic! How in the world does that work? If something got stuck, I’d have to call the auto club. 

    I suppose I could learn how to work on my car but I think my life is better spending that time with my family, working in the community, and doing my job.

    There are times in our lives when it’s better for us to turn to professionals. Just like me hiring a mechanic when I have car trouble, if you need legal work done, you see a lawyer; if you’re really sick, you call a doctor; and if your tax return is complicated, you hire an accountant. If you’re at a point in your life where it takes too much time, energy and special knowledge to manage your investments yourself, you should call MutualWealth Management Group.

    For most of us that time comes when we have to take full control of a retirement plan from an employer and that time may come well before you retire. When you change jobs you may have a retirement account at your old employer that probably should be rolled over to an Individual Retirement Account. Some people have retirement accounts scattered among several former employers.

    There are plenty of other situations when you should call us for professional investment help such as when you sell a business or property, inherit money, change marital status, receive a large legal or insurance settlement, or (don’t laugh because it happens) win big in the lottery or at the casino.

    MutualWealth manages investments for people in personal accounts, retirement accounts, and trust accounts. Our fee is based on the value of your account; we are never paid commissions for “selling” investments. The only thing we sell is ongoing service based on your individual needs. So if you’re at the side of the road in your financial life and you don’t know which bar under the hood to jerk, call MutualWealth Management Group.


    David Riggs is Vice President and Trust Investment Officer with MutualWealth Management Group.

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