You've heard it before and you'll hear it again: saving and investing play a huge role in your financial well-being. Stashing money under the mattress, however, is simply not enough—in fact, it's a sure way to lose money, considering the effects of inflation. Depending on your specific goals, there are numerous ways to achieve financial freedom.
Health insurance is usually at the forefront of most people's minds when they think about insurance. It's important to remember, however, that there are many types of insurance policies designed to protect you and your family throughout major life events. Our goal at Fortegy Financial is to get to know you and your unique circumstances and then guide you in making the most appropriate choices to cover your needs.
In today's world where financial uncertainty looms and where we find ourselves bombarded with information, it is more important than ever that experienced advisors watch and manage your accounts in a proactive, hands-on manner.
For our fee-based clients, we charge a flat fee (a percentage of the account value) and use our discretion to make and act upon investment decisions according to several factors. Variables that we take into consideration when maintaining your portfolio include your unique personality and outlook on risk, as well as your personal circumstances such as age, retirement plans, and anticipated life events.
A large part of our internal philosophy and business model at Fortegy Financial is to maintain strong lines of communication with our clients. We request regular meetings throughout the year with our fee-based clients to review accounts and to discuss other circumstances that may have an effect on your financial life. Otherwise, we would not be able to do the great job that we do for our clients!
The IRA (individual retirement account) is where most people consolidate their retirement dollars. Each client's circumstances are unique. Therefore, after we get to know you and are familiar with your specific situation, we can better advise you on how to manage your IRAs and other retirement (qualified) monies, such as those within a 401(k), profit-sharing plan, defined benefit plan, and so forth.
The beauty of qualified accounts and pension plans is that the money that goes into your account does so not only on a pre-tax basis, but also grows tax-deferred until retirement. The compounding effects of this can be substantial, and with the uncertain future of programs such as social security and diminishing employer-offered defined benefit plans, it is extremely important that you take advantage of your opportunity to utilize such accounts.
Lastly, qualified accounts allow us to protect our clients by liquidating assets that may have reached a peak (or to mitigate market volatility) without tax consequences. When IRA owners take money out of their accounts (distributions), they are taxed at their current income tax bracket rate.
Annuities can be powerful tools when used appropriately for the right situations. They are products created by insurance companies to offer financial confidence and tax-advantageous investing through possible strategies, such as:
- Guaranteed future income streams
- Tax deferral of potential earnings
- Distributions of nonqualified money are only partially taxable
- Guaranteed death benefits
- Older investors may earn a high rate of return with immediate annuities
*Annuities are long-term, tax-deferred investment vehicles designed for retirement purposes. Guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the issuer. Withdrawals made prior to age 59½ are subject to a 10-percent IRS penalty tax, and surrender charges may apply. Gains from tax-deferred investments are taxable as ordinary income upon withdrawal. The investment returns and principal value of the available subaccount portfolios will fluctuate, so the value of an investor's unit, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than the original value. Optional features available may involve additional fees.
529s are federally recognized college savings accounts that are not subject to personal or business liabilities. Investors are encouraged to verify the 529 program offered through their resident state to compare whether or not the incentive to use that program is worth it.
The main purpose of a 529 account is to save money for educational purposes while the earnings potentially grow tax-deferred (and tax-free if the money is indeed spent on eligible educational purposes). The flexibility of these accounts, however, also leads account owners to utilize them as intergenerational planning tools, because at any time, the owner may change the beneficiary to a qualified relative as he or she sees fit.
It is also very important to note:
- When a family files for financial aid, only 5.6 percent of the money held within a 529 account is counted as being available to cover expenses. So, if parents own a 529 plan valued at $100,000, only $5,600 will be deemed as being available from the account to pay for that year's cost of attendance, and the rest of the money accrued in the account will not have a negative impact on the family's ability to qualify for financial aid.
- The money is available for use even if it is not used for educational purposes, although the government will impose taxes on the earnings along with a 10-percent penalty, unless the beneficiary receives a scholarship, becomes disabled, or passes away.
Medical, dental, and vision contracts are designed to cover the cost of treatments in these areas. The primary types of health plans include traditional indemnity, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), preferred provider organizations (PPOs), and managed care. Understanding the differences in these plans is key, since the costs and features will vary amongst them. When beginning to look at health insurance, it is best to start by considering what is most important to you in a policy. Items such as which doctors you want to utilize, your prescription needs, and the cost of office visits or hospital stays are all things to consider and will help us pick the best type of policy for you.
Income replacement, also known as disability insurance, is available in short- or long-term options. It will cover the policyholder in the event that he or she suffers an injury or illness that prevents him or her from working by providing monthly monetary support to pay for necessities.
Long-term care contracts cover the cost of in-home or facility care and enable people to maintain an affordable lifestyle without using up their life's assets. It is important to remember that the cost of this type of care can be astronomical! It will quickly exhaust personal savings and will not be funded by the government. Therefore, planning ahead for assisted living is essential.
The obvious reason to purchase life insurance is for the death benefit to provide financial security for the policy's beneficiary(ies); however, there are many different types of contracts available with different features.
Term life insurance provides coverage at a fixed rate for a fixed number of payments but for a limited period of time. This limited time period is why term life contracts are less expensive than permanent contracts. After that period expires, coverage at the previous rate of premiums is no longer guaranteed, and the client must either forgo coverage or obtain further coverage based on the client's current age and health.
Permanent life insurance contracts are valid for the life of the insured, the death benefit is assured at the end of the policy, and the policy may accrue a cash value. Some additional benefits of a permanent policy include a tax-free death benefit to qualifying beneficiaries and the ability to leverage estate taxes and liquidity. These are only a couple of the advantages to a permanent policy. Your advisor can help you better understand which arrangements will best benefit your estate planning needs.
Purchasing insurance of any kind can be an overwhelming experience. As your advisors, we help take the guess work out of it. We will help you shop for the best coverages to suit your budget, make sure you understand how your policies benefit you, and simplify the application process. Also remember that since Fortegy Financial is an independent firm, we have no ties to any insurance companies. This means that we will be choosing the policies that are the best fit for you, not the ones that benefit someone else.