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.

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.

Make your retirement savings last

You’ve worked hard and saved for the future — now you need to make sure your savings last the rest of your life. By understanding the risks you face, you can make smart choices about how much to withdraw and how to handle unexpected financial challenges.

The financial implications of a long life

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, people today can expect to live more than 30 years longer than they did a century ago. Individuals who reached age 65 in 1950 could expect to live an average of 14 years more, to age 79; now a 65-year-old might expect to live for roughly an additional 19 years.1

A long life can be a wonderful thing. But it does add a challenge to retirement planning prompting you to ask yourself: how long will my savings last? 

Here are some strategies to consider that may help your savings last longer for you.

Ways to save for retirement

Determine a sustainable retirement withdrawal rate

A smart, conservative withdrawal plan can help. Working with a financial advisor to decide how much to withdraw, which accounts to take the money from, and when to do so can help secure a comfortable retirement for you and your spouse or partner, and help ensure your retirement income lasts as long as possible.

How much can you afford to withdraw from your savings each year will depend on your individual needs. Many retirees have an unrealistic idea of the amounts they can withdraw annually without running out of money. Aggressive withdrawals are generally unsustainable — especially when the markets are down.

Plan for health care expenses in retirement

The cost of health care in America is rising astronomically. Combined with longer lives and less insurance coverage, this presents a potentially huge expense for retirees. What can you do?

A good approach is to factor health care costs into your retirement expenses. The average couple age 65 with median prescription drug expenses needs to save $265,000 to have a 90% chance of having enough for health care expenses in retirement, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.2

By accounting for these expenses in your retirement plan, understanding your options for Medicare or other health care solutions, and/or securing long-term care insurance, you may be able to avoid tapping your other savings.

Prepare for the unexpected

While no one can predict the future, you can prepare by taking a few simple steps. For example, always keep enough cash to last six months easily accessible. With this cash reserve available, you may not have to deplete your main savings in the event of an emergency, or be required to liquidate longer-term investments.

Your Ameriprise financial advisor can help you develop a plan for making your savings last as long as possible, protecting your assets from health care expenses and preparing you for unexpected events with easily accessible savings accounts. To learn more, find an Ameriprise financial advisor in your area.

Disclosures

1 National Center for Health Statistics, Health Status and Determinants, Mortality, 2015.
2 Source: Savings Medicare Beneficiaries Need for Health Expenses: Some Couples Could Need as Much as $350,000, published by EBRI, January 31, 2017, Vol. 38, No. 1.
Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC.

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.

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.

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.

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.