Saving for retirement and education at the same time

It’s a familiar balancing act for many U.S. families: saving for retirement and college, two of life’s most important milestones.

Arguably the most sizeable and emotionally significant goals, retirement and college often arrive around the same time. As a result, parents might feel they have to choose between saving for retirement and paying for college. This doesn’t have to be an either/or decision. Your advisor can help you define what you want for yourself and understand the tradeoffs so that you can make informed, practical decisions.

Financial attitudes and behaviors are shifting

According to our Modern Money study, today’s parents are helping children with more financial milestones than past generations, including college. 

Perhaps because just over half (51 percent) of respondents believe it will be harder for the next generation in their family to feel comfortable financially — and 53 percent believe children should be financially independent at a later age than they themselves were — 33 percent of parents have delayed their own retirement or would do so to help their children pay for college.

Give yourself flexibility and the best chance of success

It’s key to prepare well and find the right balance for you and your family. Your advisor can provide clear, objective advice to help you:

  • Prioritize your retirement and other goals.
  • Understand the benefits and tradeoffs of funding college for your kids.
  • Maximize your savings and investment opportunities.
  • Talk openly with your family.
“You only get one shot at saving for retirement, so it’s critical to keep it front and center. Develop a plan so you don’t sacrifice your financial future to fund other priorities.”
-Marcy Keckler, Vice President, Financial Advice Strategy, Ameriprise Financial

Here are steps to get started:

  1. Establish your priorities and take action

    • Prioritize saving for retirement, if that is most important to you. You can use loans for education, but not for retirement.
    • Put time on your side. Start saving as early as possible during your working years to maximize the time horizon and opportunity for your assets and investments to grow. Automatic payroll deductions through your employer’s 401(k) plan, for example, can help you save consistently over time.
  2. Maximize savings and investment opportunities

    • Save more than you think you may need for retirement. Later in life, you could consider reducing your savings rate to allocate more money for college.
    • Maximize your retirement savings through vehicles such as your 401(k) account (consider contributing at least the amount your employer will match) and, if your employer’s 401(k) plan allows, set your contributions to increase automatically every year. If you’re able to do so, also consider funding a Roth IRA or traditional IRA annually.
    • Establish college savings accounts such as a 529 plan or tax-advantaged account that provides access to broad investment choices.
  3. Have a money talk with your family

    • Help your children think strategically about college. Discuss the majors and careers that interest them, and which schools may be the best fit. Encourage cost-effective options like completing required courses at a community or online college before transferring somewhere else for advanced coursework.
    • Be open about the cost of college, your family’s budget and your student’s potential income after college. Regularly talk with your children and check for understanding: Do they know what’s at stake, for example, with student loans, including how and when these need to be repaid and who is accountable for repaying them?

Talk with your advisor

Regardless of when you start, it may be possible to save for retirement and college simultaneously. Your Ameriprise advisor can provide you with the insights and personalized advice you need to make informed decisions that balance these two life priorities.

Disclosures

The Modern Money study was created by Ameriprise Financial, Inc. and conducted online by Artemis Strategy Group December 11-25, 2018 among 3,008 U.S. adults between the ages of 30-69 with at least $100,000 in investable assets. For further information and details about the study, including verification of data that may not be published as part of this report, please contact Ameriprise Financial or go to Ameriprise.com/modernmoney.
Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC.

What does a financial advisor do?

What is it like to work with a financial advisor? Many people who work with an advisor feel better about their financial future. In fact, 90% of Ameriprise clients who have had the Confident Retirement® conversation feel more confident about retirement.1

To help illustrate how a relationship with an advisor works and the benefits that may result from personalized advice, here are some answers to commonly asked questions about advisors and financial advice. 

What if I only need advice in one specific area of my finances?

Financial advisors provide a spectrum of financial advice, ranging from simple strategies that focus on one aspect of your finances to taking a more comprehensive approach through more complex strategies. 

Some people don’t have the time to manage their investments or they want to feel more confident about making financial decisions. Others like to do some research themselves but want to work with an advisor to gain more control over their investment strategy as conditions change. 

Advisors will deliver personalized advice based on your unique goals, investment time horizon and risk tolerance, to name a few factors. 

What are the advantages of an ongoing relationship with a financial advisor? 

In addition to understanding the analytical side of pursuing financial goals, financial advisors also consider how events in your personal life, the economy and the markets impact your overall strategy. 

In delivering personalized advice, an advisor brings together three valuable elements: 

  1. Insight into your specific situation;
  2. The ability to develop an investment strategy for today while factoring in measures to adjust to changing circumstances; and 
  3. Knowledgeable advice and guidance to help you achieve your personal goals. 

Can an advisor help me manage emotional reactions to unexpected or unforeseen circumstances?

A financial advisor can help you maintain a long-term perspective on market-driven or current events without losing sight of the bigger picture. Similarly, personal events that can impact your ability to stay on track with financial goals, like disability, job loss, or health issues, can prompt emotional reactions and decisions that could derail your progress.  An advisor can help streamline and prioritize decision-making during turbulent times so that you can stay the course financially.

What resources do Ameriprise financial advisors rely on when delivering personalized, goal-based advice?

In addition to their own skills and experience, advisors at Ameriprise have access to a depth and breadth of expertise. The Ameriprise Investment Research Group (IRG) provides ongoing commentary and longer-term perspective and analysis of the domestic and global economies as well as the condition of the capital markets. 

These market and economic experts support advisors and clients with an objective view of market events, enabling our advisors to work with their clients in reviewing their investment portfolios regularly and while tracking progress toward goals, help them make real-time adjustments as needed.

Can an advisor help me navigate tax strategies?

Whether you’re focused on saving for retirement or a child’s college education, there are a variety of tax strategies and solutions that can help. A financial advisor, along with your tax advisor, can help you incorporate tax-advantaged products and investments into an overall, long-term investment strategy.

 How can advisors help me if I’ve fallen behind in reaching my financial goals?

The Ameriprise Confident Retirement approach is designed to help clients feel more confident, connected and in control of their financial future. Through personalized advice and digital tools to help you stay on track with your goals, you and your advisor can devise a strategy that can help you “catch up” to where you want to be, and when you want to get there. 

How much does a financial advisor cost? 

Just as with other professional services, the fee you will pay for personalized financial advice based on your goals will depend on the degree of advice right for you.  

Together with your advisor you’ll discuss the financial advice you’ll receive and the related fees, before you pay anything.

Find out more

Financial advisors take the time to understand what’s truly important to you so they can help you achieve your financial goals, today and tomorrow. By offering professional tools and advice, your advisor can help you feel more confident about your financial future. Meet with an Ameriprise advisor today to learn how they can help you meet your financial goals, today and tomorrow.

Disclosures

Ameriprise Financial Confident Retirement Client Survey results from May 2012 through May 2018. All results are reflective of top-two box responses (strongly/somewhat agree). The Confident Retirement approach is not a guarantee of future financial results. 
Investment advisory products and services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc., a registered investment adviser.
Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC

Understanding retirement accounts

There are many types of accounts that can help you save for a lengthy retirement — and most people rely on more than one account to reach their retirement goals. Understanding the features and benefits of each will make it easier to choose the right ones.

Employer-sponsored plans with employee contributions

A good starting point for retirement saving is your employer-sponsored plan. Employer plans usually accept automatic contributions from your paycheck, and the money you contribute has the potential to grow tax-deferred.

In addition, if your employer offers to match your plan contributions, you should consider taking full advantage of this opportunity. An employer match will supplement your savings without any extra effort on your part. If you’re not sure if you have an employer match, you can ask your HR or benefits department for your employer summary plan description.

 
401(k) plan
403(b) plan
Governmental 457(b)
SIMPLE IRA
Which type of employer can offer the plan?
For-profit or nonprofit organizations
501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations and public schools
Any state or local government entity
For-profit, nonprofit or government organizations with fewer than 100 employees
Who is eligible to participate? (Some employers may be less restrictive)
Employees age 21 or above, with at least one year of service
Generally, all employees are eligible
Eligibility is generally at the employer’s discretion
Employees with at least $5,000 of compensation in any two previous years of service and who anticipate compensation of at least $5,000 in the current year
How much of your salary can you contribute for 2020?
$19,500, or $26,000 if you are age 50 or above
$19,500, or $26,000 if you are age 50 or above (additional catch-up contributions may also be available)
$19,500, or $26,000 if you are age 50 or above (additional catch-up contributions may also be available)
$13,500, or $16,500 if you are age 50 or above
Additional considerations
May have a loan provision
May have a loan provision
May have a loan provision
No loan provision
 
Roth 401(k) contributions may be allowed
Roth 403(b) contributions may be allowed
Roth 457 contribution may be allowed
No Roth contribution option
 
Employer match may be available
Employer match may be available
Employer match may be available
Additional employer contributions required
 
10% IRS penalty on early withdrawals (exceptions apply)
10% IRS penalty on early withdrawals (exceptions apply)
No penalty on early withdrawals
25% penalty on early withdrawals for the first two years, 10% penalty thereafter (exceptions apply)

Pre-Tax vs. Roth deferrals

Some employer plans offer you the option to make Roth 401(k) or Roth 403(b) contributions instead of the standard pre-tax contribution to your 401(k) or 403(b) account. Determining which contribution option to choose depends in part on your tax bracket now and in retirement, in addition to the amount of time you have before you retire.

  • Pre-tax contribution. When you make a pre-tax contribution to a retirement plan, you receive a tax benefit right away, but you will have to pay taxes on the money when you withdraw it. In general, a person in a higher tax bracket who anticipates being in a lower tax bracket at retirement may find a pre-tax deferral more favorable.
  • Roth contribution. You won’t receive a current tax benefit, but qualified distributions are tax-free in retirement. In general, a person in a lower tax bracket who anticipates being in a higher tax bracket in retirement may find a Roth contribution more favorable.

There are other factors to consider as well so be sure to talk with your Ameriprise financial advisor and tax professional before making a decision.

Employer-funded plans

Some employers offer plans where all eligible employees automatically benefit, without having to make contributions from their salary. Even though you do not need to personally contribute to these plans, you’ll still need to select beneficiaries, may need to choose the investments and will want to factor them into your overall plan for retirement.

 
Profit sharing
SEP
Pension/defined benefit
Which type of employer can offer this plan?
Primarily for-profit organizations, though nonprofits and government employers may also establish
For-profit, nonprofit or government organizations
For-profit, nonprofit or government organizations
Who is eligible to participate?
(Some employers may be less restrictive)
Employees with two years and at least 1,000 hours of service per year, if there is immediate vesting (with a vesting schedule, one year and 1,000 hours of service)
Employees age 21 or above who perform service in at least three of the prior five plan years, and who receive at least a required minimum amount of compensation in the current year ($600 in 2020)
Employees with one year and 1,000 hours of service
What is the maximum that can be contributed for 2020?
100% of compensation, up to $57,000 (employer’s deduction is capped at 25% of eligible payroll)
25% of compensation, up to $57,000
Contributions must not exceed the amount required to fund the maximum annual benefit (For 2020, the lesser of $230,000 or 100% of average compensation for highest three consecutive years)
Additional features
Loans may be available
No loan provisions
Loans are allowed but typically not available
 
May have a vesting schedule
Immediate vesting
May have a vesting schedule
 
Employer contributions are discretionary
Employer contributions are discretionary
Employer contributions are mandatory
 
Employee typically directs investments
Employee always directs investments
Employer directs investments

Individual retirement accounts (IRAs)

If you’re already participating in an employer-sponsored plan but are able to save more, or if you don’t have access to an employer plan, you should consider contributing to an IRA. IRAs allow you to hold a wide variety of investment and offer different tax benefits depending on your income level and the type of IRA you select.

Traditional IRAs can offer a particular tax advantage if you expect to be in a lower tax bracket when you retire. If you qualify for pre-tax contributions, your current taxes may be reduced and the taxes you pay when you withdraw the money may be less than you would pay now. However, as you consider a traditional IRA, keep in mind that at age 72 you must take required minimum distributions (RMDs)

A Roth IRA may be an advantageous way for you to invest if you are in a lower tax bracket, especially if you anticipate being in a higher tax bracket in retirement. The earnings in your Roth IRA are tax-free upon withdrawal (if certain requirements are met). This can be a powerful advantage. Assuming that you expect your tax bracket to be higher in retirement than it is now, there may be a significant benefit to giving up the current tax deduction and making do with less today in order to gain the tax-free growth and withdrawal.

 
Traditional IRA
Roth IRA
Who is eligible to make contributions?

Individuals with earned income

Non-working spouses of individuals with earned income

There is no age limit for contributions made for the 2020 tax year or later due to the SECURE Act changes

Individuals of any age with earned income (subject to modified adjusted gross income limits)

Non-working spouses of individuals with earned income (subject to modified adjusted gross income limits); no age limits

What is the maximum you can contribute for 2020? (Limits apply to combined Traditional and Roth contributions)
Lesser of $6,000 ($7,000 if you are age 50 or above) or 100% of earned income
Lesser of $6,000 ($7,000 if you are age 50 or above) or 100% of earned income
How are contributions and distributions (withdrawals) taxed?

Contributions may be tax-deductible, depending on whether or not you or your spouse have a retirement plan at work and your modified adjusted gross income.

Any growth from contributions will be tax-deferred until withdrawn.

Distributions of pre-tax contributions and earnings are taxed at your ordinary income tax rate, but are not subject to the 3.8% tax on net investment income.

Contributions are non-deductible.

Earnings are income tax- and penalty-free if:

  1. Distributed five years or more from the first day of the first year that funds were first contributed or converted to any Roth IRA for the individual, and
  2. At least one of the following applies: age 59½, death, disability, first-time home purchase (up to $10,000).
Additional considerations

Required minimum distributions beginning at age 72.

Distributions to an individual who has non-deductible contributions in any of his or her IRAs will consist of taxable and non-taxable amounts on a pro rata basis.

Distributions of taxable amounts prior to age 59½ are subject to a 10% IRS penalty (exceptions apply).

No required minimum distributions.1

Contributions are distributed first and are always non-taxable.

Early withdrawals of earnings may be subject to tax and a 10% IRS penalty if distributed prior to age 59½ (exceptions apply).

1Inherited Roth IRAs are subject to required minimum distributions

There are other factors to take into account as well so be sure to talk with your financial advisor and tax professional before making a decision about what IRA is right for you.

More ways to save

While employer-sponsored plans and IRAs offer important opportunities for retirement savings, they may not be enough to provide the retirement you want. Personal savings will likely play a critical role in funding your retirement as well. It is important to think about all of the vehicles available as you plan for a secure retirement.

Take the next step

An Ameriprise financial advisor can help identify which accounts are right for you, and allocate investments to each account. As your needs and circumstances change over time, your financial advisor will adjust your plan to help ensure you stay on track.

Disclosures

Ameriprise Financial, Inc. and its affiliates do not offer tax or legal advice. Consumers should consult with their tax advisor or attorney regarding their specific situation.
Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC.

5 financial mistakes to avoid

1. Putting all your (nest) eggs in one basket

A well-diversified portfolio allows the positive performance of some investments to balance out the poor performance of others. This mix of investments in different asset classes (e.g., stocks, bonds, real estate) can help keep your retirement goals on track even when one investment experiences a rocky period. Diversification is especially important as you near retirement because you have fewer years of income to rebuild savings if some investments post losses.

Your financial advisor can recommend diversification strategies based on your goals, time horizon and risk tolerance. To help you remain on course, your advisor will connect with you regularly to review your progress and your portfolio.

2. Leaving your estate plan for your heirs to figure out

You can make things much easier for your loved ones in the future by talking through estate planning today. Your advisor can work with you and your estate planning attorney to make sure that your financial wishes will be carried out when you die.

Estate planning includes:

  • Creating your will and/or trusts
  • Documenting your health care directive and power of attorney designation
  • Ensuring that your beneficiary designations are up to date for all your financial accounts, including retirement accounts, annuities and insurance
  • Keeping a list of all your online accounts and passwords in a secure place that your attorney or beneficiaries can access quickly if needed

Your advisor will provide you with personalized advice that aligns with a comprehensive estate plan, and will help bring your family members together for the sometimes-difficult discussions.

3. Waiting too long to think about health care needs

Protecting your assets means planning carefully for health care needs, including the expected and the unexpected. The first step is to make sure you have enough medical coverage, plus a long-term care strategy.

The process begins by finding out which Medicare benefits you’ll be eligible for down the road and researching options for supplemental insurance. For example, hybrid life insurance policies combine life insurance with long-term care benefits that may help you pay for the costs of a nursing home, assisted living or in-home care — expenses Medicare does not cover. In general, these hybrid policies may be more affordable than traditional long-term care policies.

4. Maintaining 401(k) accounts in multiple places

If you’ve changed jobs several times during your career, you might have multiple 401(k)s at different employers. It may make sense to consolidate some of these accounts — but before you do, discuss a few critical factors with your advisor:

  • The investment options for each account
  • Your risk tolerance and time horizon
  • The right balance between taxable and tax-deferred accounts
  • How you’ll take distributions when you need them
  • Whether to leave savings in your former employer’s qualified retirement plan if you have employer stock that has grown significantly in value

You might be able to roll your 401(k) savings into an IRA, an option that may provide you with greater control of your retirement assets and more growth potential while maintaining tax benefits. Consolidating your retirement savings can also help you and your advisor plan more strategically for retirement.

5. Paying too much in taxes

Does it make sense to pay taxes now to lessen your future tax liability? Could charitable gifts lower your taxable income? Are there tax deductions you’re not using to your advantage? Your financial advisor and tax professional can work together to help you create a tax strategy for your evolving investment choices.

Schedule a retirement check-in

Wondering whether there are other steps you could be taking — or not taking — to help ensure a confident retirement? Working together with you throughout the year, your Ameriprise financial advisor can help you navigate your options and stay on course to achieve your financial goals.

Your goals are individual. We believe financial advice should be too.

Confidence in your financial future begins with confidence in your financial advisor.

LEARN MORE

 

Disclosures

Diversification can help protect against certain investment risks, but does not assure a profit or protect against loss.
Be sure you understand the potential benefits and risks of an IRA rollover before implementing. As with any decision that has tax implications, you should consult with your tax advisor prior to implementing an IRA rollover.
Ameriprise Financial, Inc. and its affiliates do not offer tax or legal advice. Consumers should consult with their tax advisor or attorney regarding their specific situation.
Ameriprise Financial cannot guarantee future financial results.
Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC.

How tax diversification can fuel your savings goals

Tax season is an opportune time for you and your financial advisor to review the tax treatment of your retirement assets. Strategically distributing your assets among three tax categories can help you keep more money in your pocket. 

This category includes:

  • 401(k)3,11, 403(b)and 457(b) defined contribution plans
  • Traditional IRAs3,6,10
  • Pension plans3
  • Deferred annuities3

The majority of U.S. retirement assets are held in tax-deferred employer plans, which offer the benefits of pre-tax contributions (lowering your annual taxable income) and tax-free growth to accumulate more savings for retirement.

Beginning at age 59 1/2, your withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income, but you won’t pay the 10% early withdrawal penalty.

While it’s wise to take advantage of available employer contributions and annual tax savings, funding your future exclusively with tax-deferred investments can result in a heavier tax burden in retirement.

This category includes:

  • Roth IRAs1,3
  • Municipal bonds/funds2
  • 529 savings plans8
  • Cash-value life insurance policies1,9

Consider some tax-free investments, especially if you expect to be in a higher tax bracket in retirement. You generally won’t pay taxes on withdrawals if certain requirements are met.

Because these investment vehicles aren’t subject to annual required minimum distributions, you can accumulate tax-free earnings for as long as you like.

This category includes:

  • Bank accounts5
  • Brokerage accounts
  • After-tax mutual funds

Taxable assets help support your cash management strategy. Accumulating one to three years of living expenses in liquid assets can help you ride out volatility in a down market without selling other investments at a loss.

While the earnings and sale of taxable assets are subject to current taxes, you may be able to receive preferential tax treatment on long-term capital gains and qualified dividends.

We can help

Meet with your tax and financial advisors to implement a tax-diversification strategy. Doing so could provide you with greater financial flexibility and control today and increase your income in retirement.

Disclosures

Necessary requirements must be met. Consult with your tax advisor.
2 Certain tax-exempt income may be subject to the alternative minimum tax, or state or local taxes. Taxable capital gains or losses may be incurred.
Withdrawal before age 59½ may result in a 10% IRS penalty on taxable earnings.
4 Dividends and long-term capital gains may be taxed at a lower rate. Interest may be taxable even if not received, for example, if from a CD or OID. For certain short-term debt instruments, interest is taxed at maturity.
5 Bank deposits are FDIC insured up to $250,000 per depositor.
6 Funded with after-tax dollars.
7 May elect to tax increase in value currently.
8 When used for qualified higher education expenses; otherwise, you may have to pay income tax plus a 10% penalty to the extent of earnings.
9 Death proceeds generally are not subject to income tax. Loans from a non-Modified Endowment Contract (MEC) policy are not subject to income tax unless the contract lapses or is surrendered. Loans from an MEC policy are subject to income tax to the extent that there is gain in the policy. Partial or full surrenders from a life insurance contract may be subject to income tax to the extent of earnings.
10 Assumes that contributions to the IRA are deductible.
11 Special rules apply to appreciated employer securities in qualified retirement plans.
Ameriprise Financial, Inc. and its affiliates do not offer tax or legal advice. Consumers should consult with their tax advisor or attorney regarding their specific situation.
Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC

Market volatility: Keeping market moving headlines in perspective to achieve your goals

During your busy day, an alert sounds on your smartphone with geopolitical news that could affect your investments. You might wonder about the potential impact to your portfolio and how much time you have to react — or whether you should react.

Current market headlines: News or noise?

Is it news or just noise? Columbia Threadneedle Investments Global Chief Investment Officer Colin Moore helps clarify daily market headlines. (0:39)

By working with your Ameriprise advisor, your decisions can better reflect the goals, risk tolerance and time horizon you factored into your investment strategy at the outset and as you’ve adjusted along the way.

A well-diversified portfolio can offer you the perspective and time to make objective, goal-focused decisions. By looking beyond the headlines and the emotions they can provoke, you could potentially limit the negative impact to your long-term investments.

Think long-term

Sound investment decisions are based on informed and rational reactions to financial updates and analysis, not just the headlines. However, keeping news in perspective can be easier said than done. Our hyper-connected world continuously informs us of developments that may cause us to panic, even when we’ve built a well-planned investment strategy with a financial advisor. “Most of what we get today in the news is just noise,” says Colin Moore, global chief investment officer at Columbia Threadneedle Investments. “It’s not a material change in economic direction, and therefore you shouldn’t really be reacting to it.”

While daily headlines and news can give the impression that short-term events have a large impact on your portfolio, it’s important to keep headlines in perspective. What happens at one moment in time could reverse or materially shift just a few weeks or months later. For example:

  • In the first eight weeks of 2019, the technology, energy and industrials sectors generated the best performance out of the 11 sectors that make up the S&P 500 Index.
  • However, these sectors were the worst-performing segments of the market during the severe equity market sell-off during the fourth quarter of 2018 — arguably fueled by fears of a recession, higher interest rates and trade tensions.

When should you respond to market-moving headlines?

Most big news events don’t have a large impact on the global economy, even if they’re a cause of significant short-term turmoil — but some do.

When you’re unsure about whether a portfolio adjustment is warranted, begin by asking yourself three questions. If the answer is yes to any of these questions, there could be a longer-term effect on asset values. If the answer is no, the news story — and its effect on your portfolio — will most likely pass.

  • Is a superpower involved? If the one of the top five — the United States, Russia, China, Germany, United Kingdom — is involved or has the potential to be quickly drawn into a situation, there’s potential for longer-term concern.
  • Is there a risk to oil prices? Oil is the most important commodity in the world, providing fuel that keeps industry and transportation systems moving and economies growing. Prices could spike upward if turmoil causes a significant disruption to supply.
  • Is there a risk to the global financial system? The global economy could begin to seize up if an event looks likely to undermine confidence in systemically important banks. Also watch for whether key global currencies and banks can’t take deposits, lend money, facilitate payments or support cross-border trade.

Check your investment goals and strategy regularly

When a headline concerns you, remain grounded and realistic by asking yourself:

  • “Will my investment objectives be materially affected by ups and downs in the market?”
  • “Am I still comfortable with the amount of diversification and risk in my portfolio?”
  • “Do I have time to recover losses before I begin using my investments for retirement income?”

Partner with your advisor

During a period of market movement, talk with your Ameriprise advisor to see if any action is needed. Your advisor can help you make objective decisions based on your long-term financial goals and a diversified investment strategy. Together, you can cut through the noise of news headlines and stay on track to achieve your goals.d stay on track to achieve your goals.

Disclosures

This information is being provided only as a general source of information and is not intended to be the primary basis for investment decisions. It should not be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual investor. Please seek the advice of a financial advisor regarding your particular financial concerns.
Diversification does not assure a profit or protect against loss. Investing involves risk including the risk of loss of principal.
Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC.

3 strategies to help reduce investment risk

History shows that when people invest and stay invested, they’re more likely to earn positive returns in the long run. When markets start to fluctuate, it may be tempting to make financial decisions in reaction to changes to your portfolio. But people who base their financial decisions on emotion often end up buying when the market is high and selling when prices are low. These investors ultimately have a harder time reaching their long-term financial goals.

How can you avoid making these common investing mistakes? Consider these investment strategies, which can help you reduce the risks associated with investing and potentially earn more consistent returns over time.

Strategy 1: Asset allocation

Appropriate asset allocation refers to the way you weight the investments in your portfolio to try to meet a specific objective — and it may be the single most important factor in the success of your portfolio. 

For instance, if your goal is to pursue growth, and you’re willing to take on market risk to reach that goal, you may decide to place as much as 80% of your assets in stocks and as little as 20% in bonds. Before you decide how you’ll divide the asset classes in your portfolio, make sure you know your investment timeframe and the possible risks and rewards of each asset class.

Risks and rewards of major asset classes

Stocks

  • Can carry a high level of market risk over the short term due to fluctuating markets
  • Historically earn higher long-term returns than other asset classes
  • Generally outpace inflation better than most other investments over the long term

Bonds

  • Generally have less severe short-term price fluctuations than stocks and therefore offer lower market risk
  • Can preserve principal and tend to provide lower long-term returns and have higher inflation risks over time
  • Bond prices are likely to fall when interest rates rise (if you sell a bond before it matures, you may get a higher or lower price than you paid, depending on the direction of interest rates)

Money market instruments

  • Among the most stable of all asset classes in terms of returns, money market instruments carry low market risk (managers of these securities try to keep the per-share price at $1 and distribute returns as dividends)
  • Generally don’t have the potential to outpace inflation by a large margin
  • Not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency (there’s no guarantee that any fund will maintain a stable $1 share price)

Different asset classes offer varying levels of potential return and market risk. For example, unlike stocks and corporate bonds, government T-bills offer guaranteed principal and interest — although money market funds that invest in them do not. As with any security, past performance doesn’t necessarily indicate future results. And asset allocation does not guarantee a profit.

Strategy 2: Portfolio diversification

Asset allocation and portfolio diversification go hand in hand. 

Portfolio diversification is the process of selecting a variety of investments within each asset class to help reduce investment risk. Diversification across asset classes may also help lessen the impact of major market swings on your portfolio.

How portfolio diversification works

If you were to invest in the stock of just one company, you’d be taking on greater risk by relying solely on the performance of that company to grow your investment. This is known as “single-security risk” — the risk that your investment will fluctuate widely in value with the price of one holding. 

But if you instead buy stocks in 15 or 20 companies in several different industries, you can reduce the potential for a substantial loss. If the return on one investment is falling, the return on another may be rising, which may help offset the poor performer.

Keep in mind, this doesn’t eliminate risk, and there is no guarantee against investment loss.

Strategy 3: Dollar-cost averaging

Dollar-cost averaging is a disciplined investment strategy that can help smooth out the effects of market fluctuations in your portfolio.

With this approach, you apply a specific dollar amount toward the purchase of stocks, bonds and/or mutual funds on a regular basis. As a result, you purchase more shares when prices are low and fewer shares when prices are high. Over time, the average cost of your shares will usually be lower than the average price of those shares. And because this strategy is systematic, it can help you avoid making emotional investment decisions.

How dollar-cost averaging might work in rising and declining markets

In the illustration below, the cost of the investment ranges between $10 and $25 from January through April. A fixed monthly investment of $100 buys as many as 10 shares when the price is lowest but only four shares when the price is highest. In this example, dollar-cost averaging results in a lower average share price during the period, while the market average price — for someone who bought an equal number of shares each month — is higher.

Dollar-cost averaging at $100 per month

Rising market
 
 
Month
When the price is
You buy
January
$10
10.00 shares
February
$15
6.67 shares
March
$20
5.00 shares
April
$25
4.00 shares

Declining market
 
 
Month
When the price is
You buy
January
$25
4.00 shares
February
$20
5.00 shares
March
$10
10.00 shares
April
$5
20.00 shares

Your Ameriprise financial advisor can help you feel more confident about your financial future, so discuss these strategies with your advisor to see if they may be right for you.

Disclosures

Asset allocation, diversification and dollar-cost averaging do not assure a profit or protect against loss.
Investment products are not federally or FDIC-insured, are not deposits or obligations of, or guaranteed by any financial institution, and involve investment risks including possible loss of principal and fluctuation in value.
There are risks associated with fixed income investments, including credit risk, interest rate risk, and prepayment and extension risk. In general, bond prices rise when interest rates fall and vice versa. This effect is usually more pronounced for longer-term securities.
Stock investments have an element of risk. High-quality stocks may be appropriate for some investments strategies. Ensure that your investment objectives, time horizon and risk tolerance are aligned with stocks before investing, as they can lose value.
Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC.

When should you start collecting Social Security?

Social Security is often associated with a retirement program, but you can use your benefits for other reasons. If you become disabled, you may use Social Security, or if you lose a family member, you may be eligible for survivor benefits. 

Learn more about Social Security benefits for you and your family







TOOL: IRA Rollover Evaluator

Should I roll over to an IRA?

Rollover evaluator

If you have multiple retirement savings accounts held in more than one place as a result of job changes or other personal circumstances, the rollover evaluator will help you understand the pros and cons of keeping your retirement savings in an employer-sponsored plan such as a 401(k) or 403(b) versus rolling it over into an IRA.

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Rethinking your 401(k)

For most Americans, an employer-based 401(k) is the primary vehicle used for retirement savings. While the pervasive wisdom is to put your savings on autopilot, doing so indefinitely could mean missing valuable opportunities to boost your retirement income. Check out these 5 retirement investment tips to help you maximize your 401(k).

1. Increase your retirement savings

Even if you choose to max out your pre-tax 401(k) contributions for the year, you could boost your savings by making after-tax contributions to your 401(k). While after-tax contributions do not decrease your taxable income, the investment earnings generated inside the 401(k) do compound on a tax-deferred basis.

2. Scrutinize your retirement investment options

Spend time understanding not only your 401(k) investment options, but how you want to allocate those funds. While some people prefer to use an age-appropriate mix of stocks and bonds in their retirement account, that may not be appropriate for others.

Some employer 401(k) plans also allow investing through a brokerage window, with more investment choices like individual stocks or exchange-traded funds. This may be a good option if you’re not satisfied with the fund choices based on your individual situation.

With all investment options, take a close look at the fees, as they can significantly affect investment growth over time.

3. Strategize future taxes

Those who earn too much to open a Roth IRA and anticipate an even higher income in retirement may want to consider a Roth 401(k) option to lower your future tax burden. As with a Roth IRA, you’ll be investing post-tax money, and you won’t be taxed when you withdraw funds at retirement as long as the withdrawal is a qualified distribution.

Be sure to consult with a tax accountant as well as your financial advisor for a holistic approach to your tax strategy.

4. Contribute side earnings

If you’re covered by an employer’s retirement plan and earn income on the side through your own venture, you can put additional tax-advantaged retirement money aside through an Individual 401(k). Your total “employee” contribution must be coordinated with the amount you put into your company plan, but you can still contribute 20-25% of pre-tax business earnings as the “employer’s” portion to your Individual 401(k) account.

5. Diversify your holdings

Sophisticated investment strategies can help you reduce taxes and enhance your returns. One example to consider, if your employer plan allows, is rolling your 401(k) into an IRA before your retirement.

Possible advantages of doing so can include greater diversification, different beneficiary options, more secure access to your account and different distribution options. There can also be potential adverse considerations such as loss of certain credit protections, possible freeze in employer matches and higher fees. Make sure you speak with both your financial and tax advisor before choosing a course of action.

Not sure which options are right for you? A financial advisor can help you understand the pros and cons and take your whole financial picture into consideration.

Disclosures

Do not use this information as the sole basis for investment decisions; it is not intended as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual investor.
Be sure you understand the potential benefits and risks of an IRA rollover before implementing. As with any decision that has tax implications, you should consult with your tax adviser prior to implementing an IRA rollover.
Diversification does not assure a profit or protect against loss.
Ameriprise Financial, Inc. and its affiliates do not offer tax or legal advice. Consumers should consult with their tax advisor or attorney regarding their specific situation.
Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC.

SECURE Act: How could it impact your retirement planning?

The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement — the SECURE Act — was signed into law Dec. 20, 2019. Many provisions took effect Jan. 1, 2020. The SECURE Act retirement planning changes that are most relevant in the near term include: 

  • A later age for required minimum distributions (RMDs): age 72 from 70 ½ previously. 
  • A change to the IRA stretch strategy for non-spouse beneficiaries who inherit retirement accounts. 
  • Elimination of the 70 ½ age limit for workers who contribute to a traditional IRA. 

Required minimum distributions 

The SECURE Act increases the RMD age to 72 from 70 ½ and applies to anyone who turns 70 ½ in 2020 or later. 

If you don’t need income from your retirement plan or IRA accounts, the SECURE Act enables you to defer taxes from those accounts. If you want to work longer, the later RMD age provides more time for retirement-income planning.

Additional details: 

  • You turned 70 ½ in 2019: The SECURE Act does not change your RMD timing. You must take your first RMD by April 1, 2020. 
  • You will turn 70 ½ in 2020 or later: Under the SECURE Act, you must take your first RMD by April 1 after the year you reach age 72.  

First half 2020 birthday example: Turn 70 in spring 2020 and 70½ in December 2020

New rule – SECURE Act 
Former rule 
Under the SECURE Act, this person must take their first RMD by April 1, 2023 — the April 1 following their 72nd birthday in 2022. They receive two extra years because of the bill.
Under the former rules, this person would have had to take their first RMD by April 1, 2021 — the April 1 of the year following their 70 ½ birthday in 2020.

Second half 2020 birthday example: Turn 70 in fall 2020 and 70 ½ in spring 2021

New rule – SECURE Act 
Former rule 
Under the SECURE Act, this person must take their first RMD by April 1, 2023 — the April 1 following their 72nd birthday in 2022. They receive one extra year because of the bill.
Under the former rules, this person would have had to take their first RMD by April 1, 2022 — the April 1 of the year following their 70 ½ birthday.

IRA stretch strategy in estate plans  

Prior to the Secure Act, beneficiaries who inherited retirement accounts (such as a traditional or Roth IRA) could take the RMDs over their lifetime. The SECURE Act changes that financial strategy for most non-spouse beneficiaries who inherit their retirement account on or after Jan. 1, 2020. As a result: 

  • Most non-spouse beneficiaries must take the account proceeds (and pay the corresponding taxes) within 10 years of inheriting the account. This can be done with any number of distributions.  
  • Spouse beneficiaries, non-spouse beneficiaries who are no more than 10 years younger than the IRA owner and non-spouse beneficiaries who are disabled or chronically ill will continue to be able to stretch their IRAs over their lifetime.
  • If a minor child inherits the IRA, the 10-year period begins when the beneficiary reaches the age of majority (the age at which a minor child legally becomes an adult, generally between 18 – 21 years old).
  • A beneficiary who inherits an individual retirement account before the end of 2019 can still draw down the account over their lifetime. However, if a beneficiary inherits an IRA before the end of 2019 and dies Jan. 1, 2020, or later, that beneficiary’s beneficiary will be subject to the 10-year rule. For example:  
    • Allen’s son, Joe, inherits Allen’s IRA on Nov. 12, 2015. Joe takes RMDs over Joe’s life expectancy. 
    • On Feb. 12, 2020, Joe dies. Joe’s spouse, Fran, inherits the remainder of the IRA Joe inherited from Allen. Fran must take out the remainder of the IRA within 10 years. 

Traditional IRAs

The SECURE Act eliminates the 70 ½ age limit for contributions to a traditional IRA.

  • There is no change for Roth IRAs, which do not have an age limit. 
  • As always, you must have earned income to contribute to a traditional or Roth IRA. The SECURE Act does not change that requirement.  
  • Special rules apply to ensure individuals who make contributions after age 70 ½ cannot also receive a qualified charitable distribution (QCD) exclusion for those amounts. 

We are here to help you 

How could the changes impact you? An Ameriprise advisor can help you understand what the SECURE Act means for you and provide personalized advice to adjust your retirement income plans.

Disclosures

Ameriprise Financial, Inc. and its affiliates do not offer tax or legal advice. Consumers should consult with their tax advisor or attorney regarding their specific situation.
Investment products are not federally or FDIC-insured, are not deposits or obligations of, or guaranteed by any financial institution and involve investment risks including possible loss of principal and fluctuation in value.
Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC.

Rolling over 401k while still employed

Most people only think about rolling over their 401(k) savings into an IRA when they change jobs. For many people, that is an ideal time to shift funds because they can consolidate several retirement accounts from previous employers in one place and take advantage of more investment options. Though there could be reasons not to do so as well.

When leaving an employer, there are typically four 401(k) options:

  1. Leave the money in your former employer’s plan, if permitted
  2. Roll over the assets to the new employer’s plan if one exists and rollovers are permitted
  3. Roll over to an IRA
  4. Cash out the account value

But, leaving an employer isn’t the only time you can move your 401(k) savings. Sometimes it makes sense to roll over your 401(k) assets while you continue to work and make further contributions to your company plan. These rollovers may help you more effectively manage your retirement savings and diversify your investments. It is important to really weigh the pros and cons when considering this. But first, do some checking to see if you’re eligible. Not every 401(k) plan allows you to roll over your 401(k) while you are still working.

Reasons you may want to roll over now

  • Diversification. Investment options in your 401(k) can be limited and are selected by the plan sponsor. Rolling your funds over into an IRA can often broaden your choice of investments. More choices can mean more diversification in your retirement portfolio and the opportunity to invest in a wider range of asset classes including individual stocks and bonds, managed accounts, REITs and annuities.
  • Beneficiary flexibility. With some IRAs, you may be able to name multiple and contingent beneficiaries or name a trust as the beneficiary. Other IRAs may allow you to impose restrictions on beneficiaries. These options aren’t usually available with 401(k)s. But, keep in mind, not all IRA custodians have the same rules about beneficiaries so be sure to check carefully.
  • Ownership control. You are the owner and have access rights with an IRA. The assets in your IRA are also not subject to blackout periods. With a 401(k) plan, the qualified plan trustee owns the assets and assets may be subject to blackout periods in which account access is limited.
  • Distribution options. If your IRA is set up as a Roth IRA, there is not a set age when the owner is required to take minimum distributions. With 401(k) plans and traditional IRAs, the owner will have to take required minimum distributions by April 1 of the year after they turn age 70 ½.

Reasons you may want to wait

  • Temporary ban on contributions. Some plan sponsors impose a temporary ban on further 401(k) contributions for employees who withdraw funds before leaving the company. You’ll want to determine if the gap in contributions will significantly impact your retirement savings.
  • Early retirement. Most 401(k)s allow penalty-free withdrawals after age 55 for early retirees. With an IRA, you must wait until 59 ½ to avoid paying a 10% penalty.
  • Increased fees. IRA investors may pay more fees than they would in employer-sponsored plans. One reason: The range of more sophisticated investment options you may choose can be more expensive than 401(k) investments. Your advisor can help identify what extra cost a rollover may incur and if the benefits of the rollover justify those additional costs.
  • Can take loans out. Your 401(k) may permit you to take out a loan from the account, but this is typically only for active employees. And you may have to pay in full any outstanding loan balances when you leave the company. You cannot take loans from IRAs.

Next steps

Your advisor can help you determine if an early 401(k) rollover fits in with your retirement savings plan. They can also help determine what investments are best for you if you do decide to roll over your funds.

Disclosures

Investment products are not federally or FDIC-insured, are not deposits or obligations of, or guaranteed by any financial institution, and involve investment risks including possible loss of principal and fluctuation in value
Be sure you understand the potential benefits and risks of an IRA rollover before implementing. As with any decision that has tax implications, you should consult with your tax adviser prior to implementing an IRA rollover.  
Diversification can help protect against certain investment risks, but does not assure a profit or protect against loss.
Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC.

Determining your retirement age

Being aware of key retirement ages can help you prepare for the future.

Catch-up contribution age. You can make catch-up contributions to many retirement plans beginning in the year you turn 50.

 

403(b) and 401(k) withdrawal age. You can start taking penalty-free withdrawals from qualified retirement plans such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s and profit sharing plans after you left your employer in the year you turned 55 or later.

IRA withdrawal age. You can begin taking withdrawals without penalty from IRAs and qualified retirement plans.

 

Social Security benefits age. You can start taking reduced Social Security benefits.

 

Medicare sign up age. You should sign up for Medicare hospital insurance (Part A) 3 months before your 65th birthday, whether or not you want to begin receiving retirement benefits.

 

Social Security benefits age. You can start taking full Social Security benefits depending on your birth year. Any delay in applying for Social Security benefits, up to age 70, can qualify you for increased retirement benefits.

RMD age. You must begin taking Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from most retirement accounts.

 

Disclosures

Investment advisory products and services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc., a registered investment adviser.
The initial consultation provides an overview of financial planning concepts. You will not receive written analysis and/or recommendations.
Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC.