Thanks to all of my subscribers and other readers, Retirement Income Visions™ is celebrating its two-year anniversary. Since its debut on August 16, 2009, Retirement Income Visions™ has published a weekly post each Monday morning, the theme of which is Innovative Strategies for Creating and Optimizing Retirement Income™.
As stated in the initial post two years ago, Retirement Income Visions™ Makes Its Debut, the importance of retirement income planning as a separate and distinct discipline from traditional retirement planning was magnified during the October, 2007 – March, 2009 stock market decline. Although the stock market experienced three positive and encouraging days this past week, the market volatility the last three weeks has only served to emphasize the need for a comprehensive retirement income plan.
Add to the mix the increasing instability of the Social Security and Medicare programs and the rapid decline of traditional pensions as a source of retirement income. Not to mention increasing life expectancies, soaring health care costs, and an economic situation ripe for inflation. Retirement income planning is no longer an option – it has quickly become a downright necessity.
Since inception, Retirement Income Visions™ has used a themed approach, with several weeks of posts focusing on a relevant retirement income planning strategy. This past year was no exception. The weekly posts, together with the customized Glossary of Terms, which currently includes definitions of 99 terms to assist in the understanding of technical subject matter, has contributed to a growing body of knowledge in the relatively new retirement income planning profession.
Going back a year, the six August 16 through September 20, 2010 posts completed a 36-part series on Roth IRA conversions. This was a very timely topic with the January 1, 2010 availability of this strategy to all taxpayers regardless of income level, combined with the ability to defer 50% of the reporting of income from a 2010 Roth IRA conversion to 2011 and the other 50% to 2012.
The September 27, 2010 post, Plan for the Frays in Your Social Security Blanket, began a 25-part educational series about Social Security. The first two parts discussed some of the historical events in connection with changes to the Social Security system affecting benefit amounts and delay in the commencement of receipt of benefits. The October 11, 2010 post, Do Your Homework Before Flipping the Social Security Switch, began a five-part series regarding various considerations in connection with electing to begin receiving Social Security benefits before full retirement age (“FRA”).
The November 15, 2010 post, Wait Until 70 to Collect Social Security? examined the opposite end of the spectrum, i.e., delaying the start date of receipt of Social Security benefits. The follow-up three-part series, Pay-to-Play Social Security, presented the “do-over” strategy, a little-publicized strategy for increasing monthly benefits in exchange for repayment of cumulative retirement benefits received.
The “file and suspend” and “double dipping” strategies for potential maximization of Social Security benefits were addressed in the next two two-part posts from December 13, 2010 through January 3, 2011, Breadwinner Approaching Social Security Retirement Age? – File and Suspend and Working? Remember Your Social Security Spousal Benefit When Your Spouse Retires.
Income taxation and associated planning strategies was the subject of the subsequent respective two- and four-part January 10 through February 14, 2011 series, Say Goodbye to Up to 30% of Your Social Security Benefits and Increase Your After-Tax Social Security Benefits. The February 21, 2011 post, Remember Your Future Widow(er) in Your Social Security Plan made the point that the decision regarding the start date of Social Security Benefits, in addition to fixing the amount of your retirement benefit, may also establish the amount of your spouse’s monthly benefit.
Retirement Income Visions™ Social Security series culminated with the three-part February 28 through March 24, 2011 series, Your Social Security Retirement Asset. These three posts discussed the importance of Social Security as an asset, perhaps one’s most important asset, in addition to its inherent role as a monthly retirement income stream.
With the media’s emphasis in 2010 on the two-year deferral of inclusion of income from a 2010 Roth IRA conversion as the motivating factor for pursuing this planning technique, I felt that there wasn’t enough attention given to the potential long-term economic benefits available through use of this investment strategy. Roth IRA Conversions – Don’t Let the Tax Tail Wag the Dog began a six-part series on this important topic on March 21, 2011 that ran through April 25, 2011. The May 2 and May 9, 2011 Roth IRA Conversion Insights two-part series followed up the Roth IRA conversion economic benefit discussion.
The importance of nonretirement assets in connection with retirement income planning was discussed in the May 9, 2011 Roth IRA Conversions Insights post as well as the May 23 and May 30, 2011 respective posts, Nonretirement Investments – The Key to a Successful Retirement Income Plan and Nonretirement vs. Retirement Plan Investments – What is the Right Mix? This was followed up with two posts on June 6 and 13, 2011 regarding traditional retirement funding strategies, Sizeable Capital Loss Carryover? Rethink Your Retirement Plan Contributions and To IRA or Not to IRA?
The June 20 and June 27, 2011 posts, Do You Have a Retirement Income Portfolio? and Is Your Retirement Income Portfolio Tax-Efficient? addressed the need for every retirement income plan to include a plan for transitioning a portion, or in some cases, all, of one’s traditional investment portfolio into a tax-efficient retirement income portfolio. This was followed by the July 5, 2011 timely Yet Another “Don’t Try to Time the Market” Lesson post.
The July 11, 2011 Shelter a Portion of Your Portfolio From the Next Stock Market Freefall began a new timely and relevant ongoing series about indexed annuities. This post was published just ten days before the July 21st Dow Jones Industrial Average peak of 12,724.41 that was followed by the beginning of a steady stock market decline coinciding with the final days of U.S. debt limit negotiations and Standard & Poor’s unprecedented U.S. credit rating downgrade, culminating with a closing low of 10,719.94 this past Wednesday. As implied in the titles of the July 18 and July 25, 2011 posts, Looking for Upside Potential With Downside Protection – Take a Look at Indexed Annuities and Limit Your Losses to Zero, this relatively new investment strategy has the potential to be a key defensive component of a successful retirement income plan.
As I did a year ago, I would like to conclude this post by thanking all of my readers for taking the time to read Retirement Income Visions™. Once again, a special thanks to my clients and non-clients, alike, who continue to give me tremendous and much-appreciated feedback regarding various blog posts. Last, but not least, thank you to my incredible wife, Nira. In addition to continuing to support my weekly blog-writing activities, she also endured my year-long family tree project that I recently completed. Well, sort of. Is a family tree ever completed?