Evaluating a Pension Buyout

Key Takeaways:   Calculating the “hurdle rate” of return is an important first step in determining whether staying in the pension or taking a lump sum is the best option for you. Beyond the math, there are other big-picture variables that should be considered before deciding. The pension vs. lump sum decision should be made […]

Year-End Financial Planning & Investments Among Market Volatility

By: Andy Reynolds, CFP®, MBA COO/Partner – Ballast, Inc. With the recent stock market volatility, many investors have, and understandably so, buried their heads in the sand, shredding investment statements without looking and focusing outside of their financial life. While many choose to simply not look, the volatility provides significant opportunities for financial improvement, several of […]

Employee Stock Ownership & Options

Key Takeaways:   Company stock plans & stock options have many customizable details Employees should understand their stock plan’s features & tax consequences With correct utilization, employee stock can meaningfully increase compensation     When evaluating a job offer, it is best not to focus only on salary or an hourly wage.  We have the […]

Cash Flow Autopilot

The Ballast Atheneum has focused on many aspects of cash flow planning, including budgeting, retirement savings vs. paying down debt, costs of vehicle ownership, and cash flow planning vs. long-term care.  This article shares a case study that we try to create for working clients.  We have implemented this Retirement Autopilot for many people and […]

Alternative Uses of Social Security Income

Key Takeaways:   Many unique situations could justify taking Social Security earlier. The psychological benefits of a new income stream can relieve anxiety around a new planning strategy. To take Social Security before age 70, the financial and non-financial benefits of claiming Social Security early should outweigh the benefits of deferral.     If you […]

Most Couples Shouldn’t BOTH Delay Social Security

Key Takeaways: Two-income households have more complex Social Security timing decisions The higher-earning spouse generally benefits from delaying payments The lower-earning spouse generally benefits from starting payments early We’ve written a previous breakdown on the Social Security timing decision.  Briefly, between ages 62-70, if you delay taking income, your monthly benefit grows.  We discussed that […]

Tax Savings on Company Stock

If you work for a publicly traded company, chances are you can own company stock inside your 401(k) retirement plan.  We’ve seen many workers nearing retirement who have accumulated substantial shares of company stock.  These workers are often unaware that they have an option with the tax treatment of these shares that could potentially result […]

Putting a Value on Your Social Security Benefits

Key Takeaways: Most retirees don’t think of Social Security as an asset and therefore exclude it from their balance sheet. The present value of Social Security payments over an average life expectancy can easily be several hundred thousand dollars. We can’t predict what will happen with Social Security down the road, so it is important […]

Social Security: Whether to Wait to Start Taking Retirement Benefits

Key Takeaways: You could be facing up to a 30% reduction in your PIA by taking Social Security retirement benefits at age 62. By waiting until age 70, your retirement benefits will be roughly 32% higher than your PIA. The breakeven for taking Social Security retirement benefits at age 70 compared to age 66 is […]

Social Security Income: Not-So-Simple Basics

  When I first started writing this article, my introductory sentence was “Social Security on the surface is a very simple concept.” However, as I began to write about all of the “simple” information, I have to conclude that Social Security is not very simple at all if you are not continually dealing with it. Below, I […]

Pre-RMD & Social Security Roth Conversions

Key Takeaways: Roth conversions should be especially considered if retired and not yet 70 years old. Withdrawing pre-tax funds and paying taxes before Social Security and Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) may result in less tax paid on those funds over the long term. Careful retirement income tax planning prior to age 70 may present significant […]

Taxes in Retirement – Case Studies

Key Takeaways: Your sources of income will change, but you will still owe taxes in retirement. In general, your principal (or “cost basis”) will be returned to you tax-free. A diversified portfolio protects in down markets and provides flexibility when planning for taxes.     When you’ve spent your adult life working and saving, retirement […]