Category Archives: Income Planning

Things to Consider If You Have Over-Contributed to an IRA

A 60-second read by Victor Cannillo:

#1 – We highly recommend you hire a Certified Public Accountant to help you resolve the issue.

Here are some points to consider:

  • There are limitations on the total amount that may be contributed to an IRA. Currently, it’s the greater of either $5,500 ($6,500 if the person is 50 or older) or your taxable compensation for the year.

  • The IRS considers each individual person to have a single IRA.  The maximum contribution limits apply to all of your IRA accounts.  If you have more than one IRA account open, you can contribute to one account or all of your accounts as long as the total contributions meet the yearly limit.

  • If there are excess contributions to your IRAs, there is an annual additional 6% tax penalty (paid with the filing of Form 5329) on those excess contributions until you withdraw them from your account.

  • Normally, if the excess contribution for the tax year is withdrawn with any related earnings before the tax return deadline (including extensions), you are not subject to the 6% additional tax. Also the earnings on the excess IRA contributions as determined by the custodian will be subject to tax for the year the excess contribution was made. Those earnings are also subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty if the person’s age is under 59 and a half for the year of the contribution.

  • You will need to consult a Certified Public Accountant to determine what tax returns need to be filed.

If you have more specific questions on this matter, we recommend speaking with a tax professional.

For any other questions, please reach out to your Baron Team.

5 Financial Actions to Consider at Year-End – 2017 version

A 90-second read by Anthony Benante:  What 5 things should you be thinking about at the end of the year when it comes to your finances?

1. Review your personal budget and commit to a savings plan for 2018

a. On January 1, write down the balance in your checking account. Do this on the first of the month for the next three months. After you incorporate your income for the period, as well as take note of any cash withdrawals from other accounts, you can get a general sense of what your monthly spending is.

b. We work directly with our clients at Baron to help understand how their budget and all of their financial assets work together.  If you would like a budget sheet (either electronic or hard-copy), let us know. 

2. Review your long-term investment strategy

a. Is the long-term strategy in place for you still right for your specific circumstance? Are you going to be making any large purchases coming up in the New Year? Are you thinking about revisiting your risk tolerance – becoming more aggressive or conservative?

b. At Baron, we use a customized approach to design client portfolios.  We not only consider potential return, but also risk, as well as how the investments complement each other.  Having a long-term investment strategy is critical for investing success and provides a guide for when markets act unexpectedly or make a major directional move.

3. Rebalance your investment accounts

a. Rebalancing brings the portfolio into alignment with the original target weights of each asset class. It also helps to reduce long-term portfolio volatility.

b. Client portfolios at Baron are rebalanced on a contingent basis.  This means the actual holdings are regularly compared to the recommended strategy.  Triggers are in place to help identify when investments deviate too far from strategy and trades are placed. This keeps client portfolios close to their strategy.  Most individuals do not follow this disciplined approach. 

4. Review your tax situation for the year and take advantage of tax trading in your investment accounts, if possible

a. Understanding how your investments may impact your tax circumstance is important.  The last trading day for 2017 is Friday December 29th.  That is the last day you can make any changes to your portfolio for your 2017 tax return.

b. Throughout the year, we review Baron clients’ tax situations and see if any strategic trades can be made to help reduce tax burdens.  As year-end approaches, we look to minimize tax impacts when possible.  However, our main focus is adhering to portfolio strategy, while minimizing taxes when possible.

c. A new tax  bill has been passed and there will be changes for 2018.  Check in with your accountant or tax preparer to see if they recommend any changes prior to year-end or to your tax plan for 2018.

5. If you are 70 ½ or older, or if you have inherited a tax-deferred account, make sure you understand how required minimum distributions (RMDs) apply to you

a. If either of the above applies to you, you will need to take an RMD.  Contact your advisor or custodian to help understand the amount and how to take your RMD.  It is important to take your required minimum distribution in order to prevent any penalties from the IRS.

b. At Baron, we advise our clients on the timing, the structure (lump sum or regular distributions throughout the year) and the correct dollar amount needed to be withdrawn from retirement accounts requiring RMDs.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact the Baron Financial Group team.

 

An Overview of myRA

Editor’s Note: As of July, 2017, the Treasury Department has announced that the myRA program will no longer continue.  For more information,  read our update to this post.

A 45-second read by Victoria Cannillo: You have most likely heard of a Roth IRA or a Traditional IRA, but what about myRA? myRA was introduced in 2014 as an option for people who don’t have access to an employer-sponsored retirement savings plan or other retirement savings options. According to the myRA website, you can contribute up to $5,500/year into the account ($6,500/year for those older than 50). Once the account reaches an account balance of $15,000, or when the account is 30 years old, the savings will be transferred or rolled-over into a private-sector Roth IRA.

For 2016, the maximum income allowable to participate in the program was $132,000 for single-tax filers and $193,000 for couples filing together. Read more specifics about the program, here.

Some pros and cons of myRA to consider:

Pros:

  • No cost to open an account and no fees
  • Flexible contribution amounts (a traditional IRA has a $1,000 minimum)
  • Investments are backed by the United States Treasury
  • Tax benefits are similar to a Roth IRA, such as earning interest tax-free

Cons:

  • There is only one investment option – a treasury bond (accounts are invested solely in Government Savings Bonds)
  • Once the account balance reaches $15,000, it stops accumulating interest, so your maximum for savings is limited
  • Doesn’t seem to offer many long-term options at this time

Reach out to your Baron team if you want help in understanding what kind of IRA would be best for you.

Not all CDs are the same…

A 90-second read by Anthony Benante: When investing in a Certificate of Deposit (CD), you may have more options than you think.  You can purchase a CD at a local bank or you can purchase CDs in your investment accounts (such as a taxable account, IRA or Roth IRA, etc.).  These are typically known as Brokered CDs.  Even though the CDs you get from the bank and the CDs in your investment accounts are called Certificates of Deposit, you should know that there are differences.  In either case, we would recommend that the CDs you invest in are fully covered by FDIC insurance.  If you would like to learn more about FDIC insurance coverage, feel free to ask us or you can go online to www.fdic.gov.

Purchasing CDs from your local bank: If you were to purchase a CD from a local bank that is FDIC insured, you would receive interest and would get your principal investment at maturity. If you receive regular statements, the value of your CD would most likely never change because it is not tradeable.  If for some reason you wanted access to your funds prior to maturity, you would most likely be subject to a penalty, such as 90 days’ worth of interest (but this should be verified individually). Other factors to consider are that local banks can offer “teaser rates” (rates higher than the market) for CDs to attract deposits, but those rates may not be available after your CD matures.  Unless you want to consistently move your money from institution to institution, using time and effort, you will be subject to the rates being offered only by your bank.

Continue reading Not all CDs are the same…

Where is the Best Place to Put My Emergency Funds? How Much is Enough?

A 60-second read by Anthony Benante:  You want to put your emergency funds in an account where the funds are easily accessible and not exposed to risk.  Examples include traditional bank accounts that carry FDIC insurance (savings, checking, etc.).  The current FDIC insurance limit is $250,000 (as of October 2016), so you should structure your accounts appropriately to ensure your emergency funds are protected.  You don’t want your emergency funds exposed to volatility, because it is possible you may need access to the funds when markets are experiencing volatility. If you put emergency funds in a risk asset (an investment that can change in value, such as a stock), it could wind-up causing you two financial problems, as opposed to having one financial solution.

How much you put in your emergency fund really depends on your specific situation, the stability of your job, your monthly budget and the consideration of all financial resources available. Typically, you want to put 6 to12 months of your salary away. If you are in a risky job or the majority of your income is from commissions or bonuses, the emergency fund may need to be more. Please contact us at Baron if you would like help in determining an appropriate amount for an emergency fund that would be best for your specific circumstance.

What is the Best IRA for a Young Investor?

 A 30-second read by Nicholas Scheibner:  Before deciding which kind of IRA to open, the first thing you would want to do is check with your employer about 401(k) offerings. If your employer provides any company match into a 401(k) you will want to contribute to that account before you start an IRA. That way, you are able to take advantage of the “Free Money” provided by your employer. A Roth IRA is usually best for someone who is in a lower tax-bracket.  The idea is that you want to pay taxes in the lowest bracket possible.  So if you are making a lower income than you may in the future, you would want to pay taxes now, using a Roth.

Also, if you expect to be making less income now than in the future, a Roth is a good way to “prepay” taxes. You can’t avoid paying taxes, and the decision between a Roth and a Traditional IRA is, “pay taxes now or pay taxes in retirement?” Since a Roth provides tax-free withdrawals in retirement, the account provides for “tax diversification” that compliments your 401(k), traditional IRA, and taxable brokerage accounts.

If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact the Baron Financial Group team.

The difference between buying versus leasing a vehicle

A 60-second read by Victor Cannillo:  The difference between buying versus leasing your next vehicle can be the difference of tens of thousands of dollars over a lifetime.  Auto expenses can be one of your biggest annual expenses, so there is a lot to consider. Most buyers only focus on their monthly payment fee, and therefore lean towards leasing. But it is important to remember that monthly payments are only one part of the cost to having a car. Continue reading The difference between buying versus leasing a vehicle

Class of 2016: It Isn’t Too Early to Start Thinking about Your Retirement

A 60-second read by the Baron Team:  Congratulations 2016 College graduates! Throw that mortarboard as high in the air as you can and before it circles back down to earth, start thinking about saving for your retirement. You are most likely going to be responsible for setting yourself up for a successful retirement, so your best bet is to invest early and often.

Invest in yourself first. Most people think investing is the key to wealth, but while certainly important, you have to have some money first to invest. So as soon as you begin your first job out of school, start saving a minimum of 10% of your annual income for retirement. This will ensure that you invest in yourself first.  You should plan on saving this much or more for the rest of your working career.

Continue reading Class of 2016: It Isn’t Too Early to Start Thinking about Your Retirement

New Jersey Public Employees – Things to Know About Your Retirement Income

 A 30-second read by Nicholas Scheibner:    As public employees for the great state of New Jersey, there are some important factors to consider when it comes to your retirement income.

Regarding Your Pension:

New Jersey Pensions fall into two categories: “I contribute to my pension” or “I do not contribute to my pension”

  • For those employees who say, “I do not contribute to my pension” the entire portion of your pension in retirement will be taxable to New Jersey.
  • For those employees who say, “I do contribute to my pension”, when you retire, a portion of your pension will be taxable and a portion of your pension will be excluded from New Jersey state tax. Note: This is the reason your gross income is higher on your New Jersey tax return if you contribute to a pension. The federal government allows pension contributions to be deducted, but NJ State does NOT allow your pension contributions to be deducted.

Regarding Social Security:

Your Social Security may be greatly reduced if you have only worked as a public employee your entire life. The calculated estimates can be difficult, so it is important to speak with your financial planner about the possible impact a pension may have on your social security income.

As always, if you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact the Baron Financial Group team.

Does Your Advisor Offer Institutional Pricing?

A 60-second read by Anthony Benante: Baron Financial Group is an institutional investor.  As an independent RIA (Registered Investment Advisor) with no allegiance to any investment company, we seek the most attractively-priced investments for our clients. We look at every situation, and when we have the opportunity to invest in institutionally-priced mutual funds that make sense for our clients, we take advantage of the opportunity. The result of this is a direct benefit to the clients’ bottom line. And here’s why:

In the world of mutual funds (which are pools of assets such as stocks and/or bonds), there can be different pricing for the same underlying investments.  For simplification, you could think about these different pricing levels as institutional and retail. Whether you buy institutional class shares or retail-priced shares from a mutual fund, the investment itself will be exactly the same. The major difference between the two is their fees and this can directly impact investor performance. For example, retail-priced shares can have higher expense ratios, while institutional class shares have ongoing lower expense ratios (an expense ratio is a measurement of what an investment company charges to run a mutual fund). Retail customers may experience the effects of higher expense ratios because they typically have lower purchasing power.  Retail investors may also be subjected to upfront fees (fees when you purchase shares) as well as back-end fees (fees when you decide to sell your shares). There can also be yearly marketing fees called “12b-1” fees that you might have to pay. Finally, there may be a minimum to what you have to buy.

Institutional class shares, on the other hand, tend to offer 25 to 50 basis points (a basis point is 1/100th of 1%) of pricing advantage because of their lower fees. There are no initial upfront percentage fees (note that there can be a small nominal transactional fee to purchase these funds) and no maximum sales fees are allowed. With lower expense ratios, more of your money is actually being invested. The result of this can be better performance and better returns for longer periods.  Ask an advisor at Baron Financial Group to find out if institutional class mutual funds are right for you.