M.A. Kluemke and Associates

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Springfield, IL 62701

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M.A. Kluemke and Associates Blog

 

Retirement planning in your 50s, 60s, and 70s

11/8/18

By Mark Kluemke

 

Not so long ago I wrote about financial planning during your 20s, 30s, and 40s. Well, now I’m going to talk about what you should be thinking about during your 50s, 60s, and 70s.

 

The 50s

You’ve been saving your whole life, but now is the time to talk with your financial planner. Your possible retirement date is in sight and you should develop greater clarity about what your retirement looks like. When are you going to retire and where will you spend your retirement years? Make adjustments as needed so you’re able to reach these objectives and be ready to turn those savings into income.

 

A financial planner will look at important financial factors such as whether you might outlive the money you have saved for your future. He or she will consider not only inflation but also take into consideration the impact of taxation as well as best and worst case scenarios when it comes to your investments versus expenses - as well as unknowns.

 

If you’re behind on your desired asset levels in your 50s, now is the time to catch up.

 

The 60s

Before you can enjoy your retirement, you need to know what your income and expenses will be. A financial planner will develop a plan for turning your assets into income in the most tax efficient way. He or she will also be able to advise on when is the best time to start taking social security and maximize your pension if you have one.

 

Is it time to downsize? A smaller home may help reduce your property taxes, utilities, and other household expenses. You may wish to travel instead of being burdened with the maintenance of a larger home.

 

If you don’t already have a long-term care plan, you need to consider how you would cover the cost of long-term care going forward.

 

The 70s

In the event that your spouse passes away, don’t make any immediate changes to your future financial plans. Work with your financial planner to ensure your retirement plan is still on track. If there was a life insurance policy and you need to decide how to best invest the proceeds; your trusted financial planner can assist you with that.

 

You will need to make updates to your estate plan so that if you become incapacitated your family can make informed decisions for you. It’s also important, following any major changes, to ensure your assets can pass down to your family as you had intended. You may wish to include them in your meetings with your financial professional while you are still alive.

 

If you haven’t already downsized, perhaps now is the time to think about joining a retirement community. You don’t have to give up your independence, but you would have access to assistance and even full-time care if or when you needed it.

 

If you have any questions about the above or anything relating to financial planning, please do not hesitate to reach out to Erin or me at 217.679.1043 or email mark@makluemke.com.

 

Now is the time to plan!

10/5/18

By Erin Gutzman

 

If you’re wondering whether you should talk with a financial advisor, ask yourself the following and if you don’t already have an answer, now is the time.

How will you spend that first paycheck?

Congratulations if you just landed your first job! Now is the perfect time to sit down with a financial advisor. Get off to the right start when it comes to planning your financial future.

Do you have a retirement plan?

The next question to ask is how much money do you need to retire?  A financial advisor will be able to give you guidance to help you retire at the lifestyle you are accustomed to.

Are you prepared for a life-changing event?

Perhaps you’re getting married, having a baby, or an elderly parent has moved in with you. Whatever the case may be, you will need to make financial adjustments to accommodate this change in your life and a financial advisor can help you.

Do you want your kids' to graduate college debt free?

If you want to provide for kids' higher education you need to start planning now. Don’t think that the money will magically appear once they graduate high school. You need to start working towards that goal today.

Have you inherited money?

If you’ve recently inherited money and have no idea how to manage it a financial advisor can help you determine your next move.

Do your parents need help?

It’s something that we talk about often with our clients who are faced with the need to support their parents as well as children who are still dependents. We have an aging population and that means many of us will possibly need to take responsibility for our aging parents in our own homes. Have you addressed both the financial and emotional burden this may present? A financial planner can help identify solutions to ensure you are able to take care of multiple generations of your family if and when the time comes.

What happens to your money when you die?

If you are yet to plan for your death would your loved ones be able to afford your funeral costs, could your partner continue to support your family on a single income, and would your children still be able to go to college? It is difficult to think about, there’s no denying that.  Denial prevents a person from preparing for the unseen, which can devastate a family both emotionally and financially. A financial advisor can help plan for these circumstances so that you are able to provide for your loved ones once you are gone.

So, if you had trouble answering any of the above questions all it takes is one phone call to set up an appointment with Mark or me and we'll help get you on the path to answering these.

 

40 is great, but 30 is better, and 20 is best… when it comes to saving for retirement!

9/26/18

By Mark Kluemke 

 

We have news for you. Your financial goals will, and should, shift along with your situation and your needs.

Saving for retirement occurs over decades and – in our experience – it’s never too early to begin planning your financial future. We all know this, but it seems ever so hard to do. And here’s why. In your 20s (or prior) you’re joining the workforce; you’re learning to stand on your own two feet, and for many, you’re starting to pay off student loans. In your 30s you’re getting married, purchasing a home, and may have kids. In your 40s you’re saving for (someone else’s) college, making upgrades to the house – or moving on to the next one, and likely getting in a few family vacations. When you’re in your 50s you’re starting to imagine what retirement looks like and how it’ll be spent. Don’t wait until your 50s to start saving. We can help. For now, here’s a checklist of money to-dos, but we recommend you sit down with a financial advisor to develop a strategy for your later years as soon as possible.

The 20s

Make a budget – know what your income is and don’t spend more than that. Build your savings and put some of this aside for retirement. You’ll thank your later self believe us.

Track expenses – don’t just make a budget, but also track your expenses.

Pay down debt – whatever it is, pay your debt off as quickly as possible.

Build a solid foundation – have an emergency fund consisting of at least three months of expenses.

Have proper insurance coverage – make sure this is in place prior to looking at long term savings. You need automobile and homeowners insurance with appropriate liability limits. You need life insurance to replace income and pay off debt.  Often overlooked is disability insurance, which protects your income if you are unable to work

Estate planning – whatever your situation, get a power of attorney and a living will in the instance you become incapacitated.

The 30s

Career progression – be sure to negotiate compensation and benefits when you switch jobs.

Keep hold of that retirement money – make sure you review your options with your 401(k) or 403(b) if/when you switch jobs. The days of working for the same company your entire career are long gone (or at best few and far between).

Continue to work with your financial planner – if you haven’t already begun doing so, make sure you’re working with a financial planner.

Update legal documents – if you’re getting married and/or having a baby update your legal documents.

Life insurance – now’s a good time to review your life insurance and update any existing policies.

Buy a house within your budget – don’t overstretch your finances, grow slow and steady.

Start them young – teach your kids financial literacy – and set an example by saving for college.

The 40s

Max out – it’s time to max out your retirement contributions. At this time you’ll probably be earning well so make the absolute most of it. If you haven’t started a retirement plan pick up the phone now and book an appointment with Erin or me today.

Tax planning – everyone’s favorite topic. We’re jesting of course. But seriously be proactive when it comes to your tax planning.

New, but older dependents – if you’re expecting to take care of your parents you need to consider the financial implications and put a plan in place. Don’t be afraid to have some difficult discussions.  It doesn’t benefit anyone to ignore it and hope it will go away.

You’re going to need to take care of yourselves too – it’s time to look at long-term care plans.

Retirement income – plan your retirement income. We spend most of our lives saving for retirement but don’t give enough thought to how we will spend our retirement savings, which is arguably just (if not more) important.

Catch up on contributions – if you need to do so, catch up on your retirement contributions while there’s still time.

The 50s and 60s – we’re saving that for our next blog!

If you want to learn more about when and how to plan for your future it doesn’t cost anything to call, book an appointment, and meet with us. We’re confident that it will be a good use of your time.

 

Are you feeling the squeeze of the sandwich generation?

8/31/18

By Erin Gutzman

 

You may be part of the sandwich generation and not even know it. If you’re supporting both an aging parent and children (in many cases, adult children) then the title applies to you. Often you have the demands of both dependents’ financial needs on top of your own to think about.

This situation is challenging at the best of times. If ever there was an example of how a financial advisor is worth their weight in gold, this is it. As financial advisors, it is our role to maneuver the moving parts as people go through their lives – with different demands on their finances – and to provide an appropriate plan.

According to a report by Pew Research Center, 42% of Generation X and 33% of baby boomers are supporting a minor or grown child and have a parent who is aged 65 or older. Essentially, of Americans in their 40s and 50s, 15% are providing financial support to a child and an aging parent at the same time.

This situation brings with it cash flow problems, asset management concerns, lack of insurance coverage – or unexpected costs, not to mention tax implications.

My biggest piece of advice, without being able to sit down and review your finances is try not to withdraw savings from your retirement accounts. It’s a tough one, I admit that, but put your needs first. It’s the old adage; if you’re not taking care of yourself, you cannot take care of others.

What a financial advisor can do for you is consider different scenarios before they unfold. Consideration will be given to your current financial needs and your future financial needs when you are no longer responsible for your children and a parent (or two). 

For anyone in their 30s, 40s, or 50s who is yet to experience the squeeze, but identifies they may in the future, the time to plan is now. Even if you do not expect to be part of this generation, it’s still a good idea to include this conversation in your planning meetings – and most importantly to discuss this with your family.

Some of the things you’ll want to discuss with your financial advisor include long-term care insurance (for your parents and yourself), asset management and tax implications.

If you have any questions about your personal finances or want to look at ways to plan for the future, speak with Erin on (217) 679-1043 or email erin@makluemke.com.

 

Understanding Long Term Care

7/31/18

By Mark Kluemke

 

Believe it or not, approximately 70% of Americans who live to the age of retirement will need long-term care services at some point in their lives. Generally, women have longer life expectancies than men and they are more likely to require long-term care. 

The cost of care, which depends on factors such as where you live and the type of care you receive, is expected to dramatically increase in the future. According to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey 2017, the national median cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home facility is $235 per day or $7,050 per month.

So now that you know you could be impacted by long-term care and the cost involved, how do you address it?

 

Self-insure

To self-insure is to cover the cost yourself — you must have sufficient income to pay the rising costs of long-term care. Keep in mind that even if you have sufficient resources to afford long-term care now, you may not be able to handle rising future costs without drastically altering your lifestyle. 

Medicaid

Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that covers medical bills for the needy. If you qualify, it may help pay for your long-term care costs. In order to qualify, you generally have to have few assets or will need to spend down your assets. State law determines the allowable income and resource limits.

To receive Medicaid assistance, you may have to transfer your assets to meet those limits. This can be tricky, however, because there are tough laws designed to discourage asset transfers for the purpose of qualifying for Medicaid. If you have engaged in any “Medicaid planning,” you may wish to consult an advisor or an Elder Care Attorney to discuss any new Medicaid rules.

Long-term care insurance

A long-term care insurance policy may enable you to transfer a portion of the financial burden of long-term care to an insurance company in exchange for the regular premiums. Long-term care insurance may be used to help pay for skilled care, intermediate care, and custodial care. Most policies pay for nursing home care, and comprehensive policies may also cover home care services and assisted living. Insurance can help protect your family financially from the potentially devastating cost of a long-term disabling medical condition, chronic illness, or cognitive impairment.

Long-term care riders on life insurance

A number of insurance companies have added long-term care riders to their life insurance contracts. Usually for an additional fee, these riders will provide a benefit — normally a percentage of the face value to help cover the cost of long-term care. A common question by consumers when they are considering a traditional long-term care policy is “What happens if I never need to use it and I’ve paid all of those premiums?” This product would pay a benefit at your death or if you needed care.

Counting on your health insurance or Medicare to pay for your care could be a costly mistake. Medicare for instance only pays for skilled care. Skilled care is the treatment of medical conditions such as what you might receive at a hospital. Custodial care will assist people the activities of daily living such as eating, dressing, bathing, using the restroom, and moving from place to place.  This type of care may take place at home, in the community, in an assisted living facility or nursing home.

If you would like to talk with us about how to address long term-care, we would be glad to provide you a customized approach that works for you and your family.  It’s worth investing the time now because it could potentially save you in the long run.    

Any guarantees are subject to the claims-paying ability of the underlying issuer.

 

Parents, Don't Leave it to Last Minute to Save for College

7/13/18

By Erin Gutzman

 

If you're like my husband and me, you want your kids to go to college. At the same time, the cost of college is probably one of your biggest financial concerns.

By starting a savings plan early, even before your kids begin elementary school, you can reduce the burden of taking on debt to pay for their higher education.

I’ve heard a lot of excuses from parents of kids my daughters’ age that they don’t save for college. These have included:

“We don’t have the money to save,”

“I don’t know where to invest,”

“Our kids will get scholarships, so we don’t need to save as much for college,

”Our kids won’t be eligible for student aid if we save for college.”

My answers are:

“It’s better to have a savings plan even if you have to add a little at a time,”

“It’s better to save than it is to borrow,”

“If properly structured, your savings will not impact your kids’ eligibility for student aid,”

“It’s most likely that you will have to pay something towards the cost of your kids’ college expenses.”

When you start planning for your kids’ higher education you don’t just see an increase in savings, but you also get peace of mind. Whether your kids are in kindergarten, elementary, or middle school it’s better to start now than never.

Get in touch and we’ll walk you through the pros and cons of a 529 plan – a tax-advantaged savings plan specifically designed to encourage saving for future college costs. We can also discuss other alternatives such as a regular investment account, Roth IRA, or even life insurance.

 

National Insurance Awareness Day

6/28/18

By Mark Kluemke

 

Today is National Insurance Awareness Day, which provides the perfect opportunity to discuss the role insurance plays in financial planning.

Insurance is an important component of financial planning. Different insurance policies help protect you and your loved ones, especially when the unexpected occurs: accidents, illness, disability and death.

Liability insurance, often referred to as umbrella insurance, takes effect when the personal liability and lawsuit coverage in other existing policies is exhausted. The cost of one million dollars worth of protection may only be a few hundred dollars a year, which protects your hard earned assets.

Life insurance, which is payable when the policyholder dies, provides a surviving spouse, children, and any other dependents with the funds necessary to help maintain the standards of living to which they are accustomed. The policy may also help pay the mortgage, other debt or for the education of children and/or grandchildren.

Whole life or universal life insurance is often offered as death benefit protection with a cash value component, which you may be able to use as a financial tool. Term insurance is less expensive in the short run but is limited to a certain number of years. For many, a combination of the two provides for current and future needs.

When it comes to insurance, one size does not fit all. We can help determine the kinds and amounts of life insurance that are right for you and your family by taking into consideration your specific situation.

If you’re an employee who is injured away from the job, or fall ill, and cannot work how will you cover your expenses? If you are a business owner and have no income or have to bring in someone to fill the void you leave after an accident or illness how will you and your business survive? This is where long-term disability and business overhead coverage comes in. While we're on the subject, you’ll also want to consider long-term care insurance. As we age, the possible cost of nursing home or assisted living is something you may want to consider when planning your financial future.

Ultimately, you need to work with a financial professional that understands your needs as well as the role various policies will play within your financial future. 

If you have any questions about your personal finances or want to look at ways to plan for the future, speak with Mark on (217) 679-1043 or email mark@makluemke.com.

 

Take control of your finances and your wellbeing

 6/18/18

 By Erin Gutzman

 

If you feel like money stress is having a negative impact on your health and wellbeing, you’re not alone. For so many people, money is the biggest cause of stress in their lives. We can help. Meeting with a professional is a great way to take control. It allows you to feel more at ease when you know where you stand and you have someone there encouraging you.

 

Here are four steps you can start with today:

 

Know your credit score

Understanding your credit score is the first step to improving it. Your payment history makes up 35% of your credit score, which means if you miss a credit card payment, or pay less than the minimum amount it will have a negative impact on your credit score.

Once you know your credit score you can start to tackle the problem, if there is one. Keep your credit to debt ratio low. Pay off the required amount each month, but if you can pay more all the better.

 

Is your credit report in good health?

You should check for any fraudulent activity or incorrect information, which can damage your credit report. Under federal law you’re actually entitled to a copy of your credit report annually from all three credit reporting agencies; Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. If you notice an error you can dispute it. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to request your free report.

 

Have a rainy day fund

Grow your rainy day fund a week or month at a time. Small deposits will build up and you’ll have extra cash if you need it in an emergency. Remember to also focus on paying off any remaining debt.

 

Keep track of your spending

Keeping track of your spending is vital if you are going to pay off debt and save for the future. You need to know your income versus your expenses. A $5 a day latte can add up fast. Perhaps you would like to save for a vacation or make improvements to your home. Prioritize what you are spending your money on and try not to be impulsive. If you need to scale back on your expenses you need to know where you can make cuts.

 

Improving your financial health will help reduce money-related stress in a big way. Now that your finances are back in order it’s time to think about the future. You need to make sure you have enough money to live the life you want or are accustomed to during retirement. People who make wise decisions with their money when they are young tend to thrive in retirement. Contact me at 217 679-1043 or email erin@makluemke.com today and I’ll help you plan for your financial future so you can look forward to retirement.

 

 

Older Americans Month

5/25/18

By Mark Kluemke

 

May is Older Americans Month and this year’s theme is Engage at Every Age, which emphasizes that you’re never too old (or young) to take part in activities that can enrich your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Now is a great time to get a load off your mind and make preparations for when you’re an older American. No matter where you are in your life, there is no better time than now to start.

Here are a few things you should keep in mind:

The average age at which Americans retire today is 62. Make sure you’re one of the people who is prepared for retirement when you get there.  So even though you may think you’ll hit your 70s before you retire, there’s still time to make sure that doesn’t happen. Some are forced into retirement earlier than expected due to health problems or disabilities. So, if you think you don’t need to start saving for retirement now, think again.

For every 10 years that you delay saving for retirement, you will need to save three times as much each month to catch up on retirement savings. You’ll be shocked at how quickly your savings grow; you’ll have earnings on the money you save. Another reason to start planning for retirement now rather than putting it off.

If you’re not already thinking about retirement you could be missing out on free money. Yes, that's what I said; free money. Who doesn't love free money? We understand how hard it is to prioritize all the demands on your paycheck, but if you do have a 401k, or other retirement savings plan at work, you may have an employer match program that you're not currently taking advantage of. This is where your employer will put into your account a certain amount; it could be as much as a dollar for every dollar you save. But you’ll only get it if you enroll in your employer’s retirement savings plan.

If you have any questions about your personal finances or want to look at ways to plan for your retirement, speak with Mark on (217) 679-1043 or email mark@makluemke.com.

 

National Financial Literacy Month

4/26/18

By Erin Gutzman

 

Studies have revealed that financial illiteracy is a major problem in the US. Many people have personal debt and little to no savings. Those who lack financial literacy may benefit from working with a financial advisor in order to create a financial plan for their future.  This will allow the individual to protect current assets while planning for retirement.

April is National Financial Literacy Month and Erin has a few tips on how you might improve your finances.

 

  • Make better-informed and productive everyday money decisions; know your income versus your expenses and stick to a budget. Pay off debt, put savings aside, and plan for retirement.

  • Save time and money by engaging the services of a financial advisor who is known to be an expert in their field. Ask for referrals from family and/or friends and find out about their experiences working with a financial advisor.

  • Set yourself up for financial success. Ensure you are able to reach and maintain your personal financial dreams. Set goals you can meet, but increase these over time as your personal finances improve.

  • Face debt head on and make a plan.

  • Plan for your golden years, for rainy days, and for the unexpected. Leave a legacy for those you love.

  • Be kind to your community; if you are able to give back there’s always someone out there worse off than yourself, whether that’s through the donation of old clothes, nonperishable food items, or monetary donations.

 

If you have any questions about your personal finances, want to look at ways to plan for your retirement, create a college fund for your children, or create a legacy, speak with Erin on (217) 679-1043 or email erin@makluemke.com.

 

Four Financial Numbers You Should Know

4/17/18

By Mark Kluemke

Each month, we send an e-newsletter to both clients and non-clients who wish to receive it.  We cover various topics each month.  We would like to share one of the topics from our March newsletter in this blog.  If you enjoy it and would like to be a regular recipient of our monthly e-newsletter, please let us know at info@makluemke.com.

Daily life is full of numbers and some matter more than others.  Here are four that could help you understand and potentially improve your financial situation:

Retirement Plan Contribution Rate

There is no magic number, but one common guideline is to save 10% to 15% of your salary.  If you start late, you may need to save even more.  If it seems overwhelming to contribute that much, at least contribute enough to reach any employer match that is offered.

Credit Score

When you apply for credit, such as a mortgage, a car loan or a credit card, your credit score will be a factor in whether you qualify and the interest rate you will pay.

Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI)

Your DTI ratio is another number that lenders may use when deciding whether to offer you credit.  A DTI that is too high may mean you are overextended.  To calculate your DTI, you add up your major monthly expenses and divide it by your gross monthly income.

Net Worth

Your net worth provides a snapshot of where you stand financially.  To calculate your net worth, you add up what you own (assets) and subtract what you owe (liabilities).

 

 

Planning for retirement

4/9/18

By Erin Gutzman

Your yearly expenses in retirement will be approximately 80% of your annual pre-retirement costs, according to many experts. Others estimate your expenses will be 100% of your pre-retirement costs, or more, as you’ll have more time to spend money. Generally speaking, some of your expenses will increase while others will decrease.

A major factor is inflation. Make sure you are taking inflation into consideration while building your retirement income plan. At a three percent rate of inflation, something that costs $1 today will be $1.56 in 15 years (source: http://www.calculator.net/inflation-calculator.html). Initially, we may look at this and say it’s not a big deal, but when you add that into every purchase, it begins to add up. Areas such as health care costs seem to climb at an even faster rate.

Don’t just use a rule of thumb or arbitrary number that you have heard you need for retirement.  Find out what you need based on a personalized approach to your situation. Today is a good day to have a better understanding of where you are and where you want to go.

 

 

Financial planning for newlyweds

3/7/18

By Mark Kluemke

 If you are recently engaged and preparing for your wedding, you’ll be planning your life together as a married couple in so many ways. One of the major changes you will need to address is what you want your financial future to look like, together.

It’s important to set your financial priorities as a couple. Know what each of you wants. One of you may want to purchase your dream home, while the other may want to focus on saving for retirement. Seeking the support of a financial advisor will help you set your priorities so you can make decisions together. It is extremely important for both of you to be on the same page where money is concerned.

 Ensure that you discuss your finances on a regular basis. Discussing money is never easy, but you need to be comfortable talking about debt, bills, savings and goals in order to secure your financial future. It is vital that both of you know where you stand financially and that you also have common financial goals.

 With the expense of a wedding, the honeymoon, perhaps your first home as a married couple; the costs add up and saving takes a backseat. However, it’s important to save just a little bit each month to get you back on track. Try taking 10% of your combined income each month and putting it away in an emergency account before investing in a retirement account that may limit access to your funds. Once your liquid savings is sufficient, it may be time to ensure your retirement savings is on track.

 Address any debt that you have as a couple; if debt existed before you married your credit rating can be negatively impacted. In addition, you are likely paying interest charges and other fees. Make a plan to address your situation.

 Be realistic about your situation as there may be some tough financial times ahead. The purchase of your first home together, starting a family, or perhaps launching a business venture, all of these actions will impact your finances in a big way.

Whatever you do, make sure you are open with one another about your finances, about your debt, credit score and the stability in your job. Keep in mind; your family backgrounds could influence your feelings about money as well. As a newly married couple, communication is key. Make sure you are on top of your finances now and that you are planning for a successful financial future.

 If you need help or have questions, please call us for at 217.679.1043 or e-mail info@makluemke.com

 

Giving back to the community - Bright Star Equestrian Centre

2/2/18

By Erin Gutzman

In September, at the Illinois Women in Leadership annual symposium Erin met Bright Star Equestrian Center executive director, Dana Ingle. Now she is volunteering for the non-profit and serves as the relationship manager on the board of directors. Giving back to the community is very important to Erin, as she explains in her latest blog.  

Prior to meeting Dana, I had never heard of Bright Star or equine assisted therapy. This chance meeting allowed me the opportunity to learn about a program that is greatly improving our community. 

I believe that giving back and teaching our children to help others is vital in order to grow a positive community and to move where we want to be in the future. Bright Star helps people with special needs and those recovering from emotional trauma improve physically, mentally, and emotionally through encounters with horses in a safe and supportive environment. I listened to stories of both children and adults who had been impacted and I just knew I needed to be involved.

I’m fortunate to be able to help at Bright Star and I’m hoping to make a huge impact so that the organization can grow and reach more people.

I’ve taken my daughters out to meet the horses and my oldest is now looking forward to volunteering as well. In addition, Bright Star is hosting monthly fundraisers that include country line dancing, so I plan to get everyone, including my husband, out on the floor dancing.

There are so many people in our community that could benefit from Bright Star’s services. If you would like more information about the organization please contact me at (217) 679-1043 or visit brightstarequestriancentre.com.

 

Why we choose to educate

1/5/18

By Erin Gutzman

The answer to this is in our mission statement. Here at M.A. Kluemke & Associates, we are committed to helping people plan for and achieve their retirement goals.  To do this, we teach people about how money works not only on a one-on-one basis, but also in classroom settings. 

Because the foundation for our service is education, we are pleased to offer our exclusive Retirement Planning Today® classes. These no obligation educational classes are available for individuals and couples. The classes are designed to get you thinking about what is or will be important to you in your retirement.

You can register for two, three-hour sessions for $59 (you may bring a spouse or partner for no additional charge) and discover more about planning a secure retirement than many people learn in a lifetime. Our next dates are coming quickly. You can select from Saturday, January 27 and February 3, 9am to 12pm or Tuesday, January 30 and February 6, 6.30pm to 9.30pm. Both are to be held at Lincoln Land Community College.

Course topics include:

  • Life Planning for Retirement
  • Retirement Needs & Expenses
  • Retirement Income Sources
  • Investments
  • Retirement Plan Distributions
  • Risk Management & Asset Protection
  • Retirement Roadblocks & Mistakes
  • Estate Planning

In addition to our general public classes, we also provide classes that can be brought to your worksite for both you and your employees. We care about the welfare of your employees and know that answering some of their retirement questions will result in a more productive and dedicated staff.  These classes are also flexible enough to fit in with your schedule and needs.

We also understand that our clients, and potential clients, come from all walks of life whether white collar, blue collar, doctors, lawyers, business owners, mothers, fathers, or recent graduates.  While their backgrounds may be different, they each share the same overwhelming feeling that can often come with the process of planning for retirement and each deserve personalized financial planning attention.  Through client education, we’re able to establish meaningful relationships so that we can effectively provide counseling and the resources needed to identify goals, create a vision for the retirement years, and develop a blueprint that sets out a plan for the next chapter of life – a retirement that’s fulfilling.

If you need help or have questions, please call us for at 217.679.1043 or e-mail info@makluemke.com.  For updates regarding our classes, please visit our online calendar.

 

 

How much will retirement cost you?

 

12/21/2017

 

By Mark Kluemke

 

Estimating how much income you will need in retirement – and determining whether your current savings and investments can meet your long-term needs – is a good start to creating a retirement plan.

 

Add up your estimated monthly income from any pensions, Social Security, and 401(k) and IRA savings and investments. Then add up your estimated monthly expenses. If you don’t already have a clear idea of your expenses this is something you’ll need to determine before you can move forward. The best way to gain a clear idea is to track your expenses over a number of months including loan repayments, property taxes, health insurance, groceries and utilities. As a rule of thumb you should have somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of your pre-retirement annual income after you finish working. It may be that you need an even higher percentage each year for the first decade of your retirement. New retirees often want to travel and that means extra expenses.

 

Unfortunately, many do not consider longevity when they set savings goals. According to the Social Security Life Expectancy Chart, today a 65-year-old man is expected to live another 18 years and a woman of the same age 20 years. People are living longer, which makes retirement planning more challenging. You don’t want to outlast your savings.

 

There’s also no way of predicting your investment returns or inflation, so you have to plan with conservative scenarios so that you are well prepared.

If the gap between your savings and basic expenses in retirement needs closing don’t panic. You can take steps to close the gap and get back on track.

 

Five financial resolutions for the New Year

11/29/17

By Erin Gutzman

 

It’s November, yes, but now is the time to begin thinking about New Year resolutions. Why not make a positive impact on your financial future at the same time?

 

Here are our top five financial resolutions for 2018.

 

Set goals

Have a clear idea of your financial goals for the year ahead. Have a plan, and write it down. If you’re not disciplined with your money, it’s time to make a concerted effort to get on top of your bad spending habits, lack of saving, and non-existent retirement plan. However, be realistic about your goals. One step at a time is key. If your credit card needs paying down, but you also want to save for a new car, our advice would be to focus on the credit card payments first. You could also look to negotiate with your current card company or switch providers to a lower interest rate or zero interest. If you’re looking to open an IRA, get informed of your options. The key is to start saving as soon as possible and build good habits.

Collect your change

Every time you spend cash round up the cost and put the change into a jar at home. So, for example, if something costs you $89.77 put the remaining $10.23 (from a $100 bill) into the jar. By the end of the year, or even after six months, you’ll have a nice amount of cash to put in your savings account, or pay down some of your credit card debt.

Close unnecessary accounts

Many banks charge fees, so it makes sense to close any unused accounts. It’s not necessary to have several credit or checking accounts. If you’re worried about consolidating your finances, speak to an expert. A financial planner can help you navigate your liquid assets and plan for the future.

Enroll in an automatic savings plan

What a great idea I hear you say! An automated savings plan forces you to follow through with saving because the cash is drawn directly from your bank before you spend it. People are always amazed how much they accumulate using this method. Pay yourself first by automatically saving before paying for lifestyle expenses.

Prioritize your debts

If you’re looking to pay off some of your debt, or reduce your credit card payments, the best way to start is to make a list of your liabilities. Then organize these by amount owed and annual interest rate. A general rule of thumb is that those with the lowest balances should be paid off as quickly as possible. Once paid off, add that payment to your next debt on the list. If balances are equal, pay off the one with the higher interest rate first. Keep in mind that minimum balances for all debts must be paid in order to keep accounts in good standing and that there are certain situations, such as paying student loans that may require a different strategy. When in doubt, consult a financial professional for advice.

 

If you have any questions about the suggestions above please get in contact with us – we’re here to help.

 

Self Employed & Small Business Retirement Planning

10/26/17

By Mark Kluemke

 

Self-employed and/or small business owner doesn’t mean zero options when it comes to retirement.  Maybe you don’t currently have a plan in place, but did you know that you have options similar to those offered at larger companies available to you?  Here are a few retirement plan options to consider.

A 401(k) plan can help you make salary deferrals.  If you are self-employed or only have a spouse working for you, a one-participant 401(k) also known as a Solo 401(k) may be just what you need.  Your plan can be established with both a Roth and a traditional pre-tax option.  Being self-employed or a small-business owner puts you in the unique situation to be able to contribute as an employer as well as an employee.  Keep in mind that these plans do have the same requirements as other 401(k) plans, so be sure to speak to a professional about elective deferrals, employer matching contributions, and profit sharing contributions to ensure that you are not exceeding your limits.  This plan can be cost effective too as there’s minimal administration.

Another option is a Simplified Employee Pension or SEP IRA.  Those utilizing a SEP IRA can put aside as much as 25% of their net income and many of these plans come with a small to non-existent administrative fee. Other fee structure depends on what investment vehicle is being used to fund the SEP.  A SEP IRA also comes with the flexibility of funding your plan when you file your taxes – allowing for adjustments based upon your annual needs.

Self-employed individuals can also open a Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE IRA).  A SIMPLE IRA allows you, as the employer and employee, to contribute to a traditional IRA plan.  This can be a great option for small business owners or self-employed workers as they do not have the start-up or operating costs of a conventional retirement plan.  There is no filing requirement for the employer with a SIMPLE IRA, but there are contribution requirements which are established at the time of the account set up.

These are just a few options available for those who are self-employed or run a small business.  To find out more and learn which plan(s) work best for your specific situation, speak to one of our financial advisors.  We can share the ins and outs of each plan and help you create a retirement plan that suits your present status and will grow to meet your future financial needs.

 

Life Insurance Awareness Month

9/29/17

By Erin Gutzman

 

As September comes to an end, we wrap up Life Insurance Awareness Month.  This is an important topic to us as life insurance is not only a way for you to protect yourself and your loved ones in the event of your untimely passing, but it is also plays a key role in your overall financial fitness.  As financial advisors, we are constantly speaking with others about ways to create a financially sound future – one that alleviates stress and creates an environment for retirement freedom.  So, we want to discuss some life insurance options, and by doing this, we hope you find your own reason to research further and select a policy that works best for your unique situation.

Life insurance proceeds could be used in a variety of ways, not just to pay for funeral expenses, but also bills, outstanding debt like credit cards, car loans, mortgages, continued operations of a family business, and even future financial needs such as college or retirement.  In your current situation, maybe you believe that life insurance is not a major priority, but here are some common scenarios including those who are single, married, parents (both married and single), retired, or business owners that show why life insurance is a tool to insure financial stability in the event of a death in the family.

As a single individual, you may feel as if there’s no one who depends on you financially.   You should think about purchasing life insurance while you are young and healthy. This can protect your future insurability in case your health changes later in life. A policy that you personally purchase is portable and follows you when you switch employers.  Generally, group life insurance obtained through your employer does not.  Even when you retire, your former employer will likely reduce your coverage. 

For married couples, one common misconception is that life insurance is not necessary until children come into the picture.  This is not true as your passing would still impact your spouse.  Would your significant other be able to maintain their current lifestyle without your income?  Could they cover all accumulated debts and funeral expenses?  What about rent or mortgage and utilities?  These day-to-day expenses on one income or no income could become unmanageable without a life insurance plan in place to pick up where you left off.

Parenthood creates a whole new lifestyle with plans that extend on to the future of your children including education, marriage, and the financial burden that comes with providing for extra household members.  Whether married or single, what will your children do once you’re gone?  Maybe you have children, but they’re now grown and have families of their own.  Either way, policy holders are preserving the future plans of those they leave behind and ensuring that they do not create financial burdens that could alter other family pathways – no matter what these may be.

Life insurance for the retired creates a unique situation in that retired individuals should consider the size of their estate and estate-taxes after passing. A life insurance policy would allow heirs to pay these taxes, funeral costs, and any other debts without needing to liquidate assets.  Life insurance proceeds are also generally income tax free and won’t add to estate tax liability if structured properly.

When owning a business, not only do you need to protect your family, if applicable, but also your business partners and employees.  One example of how incorporating a life insurance policy could benefit business partners, as well as your family, would be by including a buy-sell agreement.  This agreement allows the remaining business owners to buy the company interests of the deceased owner at a predetermined price and ensures that the owners can continue with the business and the family gets needed funds.

These are just a few examples, but there are several more.  Get sound advice and guidance by speaking to a professional whose business is knowing the many caveats of Life Insurance policies and select the one that covers all your bases with confidence. www.makluemke.com

 

Meet Erin Gutzman

9/18/17

 

In my previous position, I traveled to various worksites to help employees understand life insurance and disability benefits and I very much enjoyed working one-on-one with employees to help them understand the impact their benefits could have on their lives.  It seemed like a natural transition to take this idea of helping people to create security in their futures by moving towards the financial planning field. 

The most challenging aspect of working in this field is the notion that financial advisors are simply looking to sell something. At M.A. Kluemke and Associates we take a holistic approach to ensure we are taking the time to get to know our clients and that we keep their best interests front and center. 

I believe I have a unique perspective as I have been on both sides. Before I became a financial advisor, I was a client at this firm. My husband and I enjoyed the process and learned so much, that I wanted to tell everyone I know that they too should go through the financial planning process. It truly is eye opening. I was so impressed by the approach that it led to a new career path, and now I want to give people the same type of experience I had.

The most rewarding aspect is seeing the real difference planning can make in a person’s life. Retirement doesn’t just happen as we can’t always depend on working for one company for 30 years and then retiring with a pension. People often work for several companies and may or may not have access to a pension. By planning ahead, our clients have the security of knowing what steps they are going to take so that they may have a happy retirement. Seeing this process come together for clients is the best part.

People may think that they haven’t amassed enough wealth to consult a financial advisor. This is absolutely not the case. With careful planning earlier in life, we look at the whole picture. We ensure our clients have a solid foundation first. In fact, we help people to ensure there is enough life insurance in case someone dies prematurely, we look at disability insurance to protect the asset of being able to work for a living, and we work with other professionals to review legal documents and to ensure there is enough liability insurance. 

While I am more than willing to help clients at any age or stage in life, my primary focus is to educate the younger generation on the importance of starting early to plan for their future. I can relate to people with young families, as I am in that position myself. We can sometimes become so busy with the day-to-day activities and sports, that we don’t take the time to protect our future. 

Getting started is quite simple. We pick a time to get together, so that I can show the person what I do and so that we can get to know each other a bit. During our process, we like to get to know people and what motivates them. It’s not just about numbers and money.  We try to look at both the facts and the feelings, because each situation is different.  When we work with a person or a family, we determine goals, assess where they are currently, and ultimately, we help our clients accomplish what is important to them.

 

About Erin:

Erin Gutzman successfully completed her final certifications as a financial advisor earlier this year. The University of Illinois - Springfield alumni, wife, and mother of two has been with M.A. Kluemke & Associates since 2016 and specializes in retirement and financial planning that centers on partnership and individual needs to meet long-term goals.

If you would like to discuss with Erin your long-term financial goals call 217-679-1043 or email erin@makluemke.com.

 

Budgeting Basics

8/28/17

By Mark Kluemke

 

Putting together a comprehensive budget can seem like a daunting task and can leave some of us feeling overwhelmed.  Here are a few pointers to help you get started and make sense of what to include into your budget and why.

Step One: Find your reason

To get started, you must establish the reason you are creating the budget in the first place.  Maybe you hope to buy a home in the next few years, perhaps you are saving for a vacation, college fund, or want to start setting aside money for your retirement.  Whatever the reason, discover this and you will be better equipped to identify how to budget to reach this goal.

Step Two: Team work

For those working with a significant other, partner, roommate, friend, etc. to meet a financial goal, speaking to them and working together on creating a budget is of major importance.  Listen carefully and identify individual priorities, then take these into account when piecing together the big picture.

Step Three: Create a system

What medium would work best for everyone involved?  Would this be a specific program, spreadsheet, document, notebook, etc.?  It doesn’t have to be overly complicated, but it should be in a form that is easy to understand and accessible to everyone involved.

Step Four: Collection

Round up all your bills, income records, and various expenses.  This isn’t fun, but unless these items change, you should only have to do this the first time around. Don’t forget that you will have to update this information should it change in the future.  Organizing this information will give you a concise idea of what is coming in and going out.  *Important Note: Be as honest as possible.  You’re only hurting yourself if you underbid how much you spend on entertainment and other expenses.

Step Five: Flexibility

Based upon your goals and the numbers, it may be necessary to set limits and even make a few sacrifices to reach your financial goals.  This could mean eating out less, cancelling subscriptions, downgrading cable packages, or slowing down on expensive purchases.  Remember that these sacrifices ultimately go towards reaching a bigger, more rewarding end game.

Step Six: Stick to it

Set up a monthly budget which will allow enough time to include plans such as alternative sources of income or upcoming expenses.  Consistency is key.  If you want to stay on track and create the habit of staying on top of your finances, you will need to commit to regularly creating and adjusting your budget(s) to reach all your goals.

We hope that these simple steps will help direct you down the path of financial accountability.  If you would like more help in creating a budget or planning for your future – including retirement – please visit us at www.makluemke.com or contact us by e-mailing info@makluemke.com and speak to one of our financial advisors.

 

Why Network?

6/21/17

By Erin Gutzman

 

After attending the recent June 8th Women Empowerment Networking event, I wanted to take a moment to share some of my own thoughts on networking and why it is important on a personal and professional level.

I think that when people hear the word networking, they tend to think sales.  While I could see why the two appear to be linked, I would like to think that networking is not about getting in front of other people to sell to them, but rather to get to know what others are doing.  By networking, you get the chance to meet face-to-face with people and discuss their business and create the opportunity to identify whether or not you can help them improve upon any problem areas they may have.  You are, in essence, forming an alliance and building mutually beneficial, lasting relationships.

Along with identifying needs and building relationships, networking also allows you to develop your public speaking, problem-solving, and other important interpersonal skills.  These skills will translate into other aspects of your personal and professional life, equipping you to with the tools necessary to take on larger and more complex future challenges. 

Networking can also further your career.  This regular interaction puts you in contact with people in various positions, many of which may likely be, could become, or will refer you to a future colleague, supervisor, or employer.  The more people that you meet and build relationships with, the more connections you build to other people and businesses and doing so creates pathways to a variety of opportunities to help yourself and others.

In the financial planning process, in order to meet individual needs, we occasionally seek out and refer our clients to other professionals, whose specialization falls outside our own.  For example, a client may need to consult an attorney, a tax specialist, mortgage lender, or another type of professional.  Networking is a valuable resource that helps us to further advise our clients and connect them with the people they need to best resolve their issues.

The next time you have the chance to get out and network, remember these key points and take advantage of the situation.  Remember to enjoy yourself as you share what it is that you do and hope to do should the right opportunity present itself – you never know where the next handshake and friendly conversation could take you.

 

Check the background of this financial professional on FINRA's BrokerCheck
Check the background of this financial professional on FINRA's BrokerCheck