• Request a no-obligation consultation with Kenneth Stephenson today!
    MENU
    Call Us Call Us
    Home » Get Educated » Published Articles

    Published Articles

    The following material is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be considered specific investment advice, does not take into consideration your specific situation, and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any securities or investment strategies. Additionally no legal or tax advice is being offered. If legal or tax advice is needed a qualified professional should be engaged. Investments involve risk and are not guaranteed. These articles contains information that might be dated and is intended only to educate and entertain. Any links or websites referred to are for informational purposes only. Be sure to consult with a qualified financial advisor and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein.

    Money Matters Corner by Kenneth D. Stephenson
    Published: August 2013

    IS IT TIME TO SAY GOODBYE TO THE 4% RULE?

    The old rule that says you can take 4% out of your retirement plan each year and live on it for 30 years is being shot down these days by some industry experts. This rule was originally devised in the early 90’s by William Bengen. Mr. Bengen analyzed historical returns on an investment portfolio of 60% stocks and 40% bonds and said that this would sustain you through a 30-year span. In recent years this rule has been thrown into doubt. Michael Finke, a professor in the department of personal financial planning, at Texas Tech University says, “Mr. Bengen’s rule doesn’t acknowledge the new economic reality of prolonged low returns. Now many of you out there are saying, “What low returns?” Yes this year’s market has been breaking through and creating new highs for the market. But how long can that last? All markets cycle and this one will at some point or another. Just look at the last decade for how quickly things can go the other way.

    This rule does not factor in how important the returns are in the early years of retirement. In my practice we call that the “Sequence of Returns” risk. If a downward market hits you hard in the early years it can blow up your whole plan. The other potential problem with this rule is the bonds aspect. We have seen this summer what can happen if you’re in the wrong kind of bonds when the FED raises interest rates. As rates rise this may become more of a problem. In the past folks could depend on bonds being a safe haven. But can you in the future?

    Dr. Wade Pfau recently spoke at the Retirement Income Summit and discussed the 2 approaches you can use to create income in your retirement plan. He described the systematic 4% rule approach and also a defensive approach which means creating guaranteed income plans. Mr. Pfau said that “Volatile assets are not appropriate for basic needs in retirement.” He says you should divide your money up into 2 categories, discretionary and essential needs. You can take more risk on the discretionary and you could have your essential retirement needs guaranteed by setting up your own pension-like income stream. It’s your choice but you need to know your options. Your decision may not impact you until late in retirement, but if you make the wrong one it’s too late at that time. Have you met with a retirement income specialist?  

    Give our office a call if you need help with this or any other related subject. 2nd opinions are FREE. Kenneth Stephenson owns Complete Financial Solutions, Inc. His office is located at 7629 Purfoy Road, Suite 105, Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526 Phone is 919-552-4286 or visit CompleteFinancialSolutions.org (ASK ME ABOUT SOFA)
     


    Money Matters Corner by Kenneth D. Stephenson
    Published: July 2013

    RETIREMENT IS A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT

    If you wanted to run a marathon there would be several months preparation time. You can’t just wake up one day and say, “Hey I’m going to run a marathon next weekend,” and be able to go out and run 26.2 miles. There is no way. It’s the same way with retirement. You aren’t going to wake up at age 65 or whatever age you deem as your retirement age and say I am ready to retire now. There must be some preparation to make sure that the next 30 -35 years are comfortable for you. So over the next few columns I’m going to discuss some of the most important things you can do to make sure your retirement is what you dreamed it to be.

    The first step in the preparation is to decide who you want to help you prepare. There are many different advisors to choose from and you need to know that there are options. Not all advisors focus just on retirement. Some advisors are more like general practitioners and they work with people from age 25 all the way up to retirement age and beyond. There are also advisors that specialize in helping people to and through retirement. These specialize in the area of retirement planning. In other words they may only work with people over age 50. There are different phases to your financial life. The first phase is the accumulation phase. During this phase you can take more risk with your investment portfolios. After all you are getting a paycheck so you don’t have to rely on your savings and investments. When you retire you move into the preservation and income phase. If you need to draw income from your portfolio during your retirement years then it’s important to work with someone that specializes in these structured lifetime income plans every day.  In summary you’ve got to prepare. Know what type of advisor you are working with. You also have to realize where you are currently. If you retired you are no longer in the accumulation phase. You are in the preservation and income phase. You still want your money to grow with caution. Too many retirees were invested in 2008, like they were still in the accumulation phase. 

    Give our office a call if you need help with this or any other related subject. 2nd opinions are FREE. Kenneth Stephenson owns Complete Financial Solutions, Inc. His office is located at 7629 Purfoy Road, Suite 105, Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526 Phone is 919-552-4286 or visit CompleteFinancialSolutions.org (ASK ME ABOUT SOFA)
     


    Money Matters Corner by Kenneth D. Stephenson
    Published: July 2013
    SOCIAL SECURITY

    Social Security can be a great benefit in your retirement years. There are decisions surrounding this benefit that everyone needs to think about. First of all, how do I even access my statement? You can now go to socialsecurity.gov and setup your own login so you can review your social security benefits anytime you want. I think that is a good thing, even though it up may take a little effort on your part. Once it’s setup you can then check it out any time you want. You don’t have to wait and wonder when your next statement will show up in the mail.

    The big question that I get as a retirement planner is the “when should I take social security?” There is a lot that goes into that answer. This is the time you may want to sit down with a retirement income specialist to weigh your options. There are many things to think about here. For example do you have longevity in your family, do you have other money you can take income from if you delay social security benefits? If you can delay, your benefits are increased by 8% per year. I think that’s a pretty good investment. If you don’t have other sources of income you may have to take social security at age 62. If you are not sure we can help. We can show you how much you would benefit by waiting. Most people are shocked at how much extra they will get by waiting.  My financial practice specializes in retirement income and how to take it. Social Security is just one piece of the overall plan. But it’s an important piece not to be taken lightly.

    This last Sunday, on our radio show our featured guest was Brandon Smith of the Social Security administration. He highlighted some of the things that are important for you to think about when it comes to Social Security. If you want to listen to that show or any other, go to RetirementHarvest.org and scroll down to past shows. Make sure and tune in to the “Retirement Harvest Show” every Sunday morning at 8:00 -8:30 a.m. on 106.1 FM.  You can also call our office if you have any questions about any of your retirement needs.

    Give our office a call if you need help with this or any other related subject. 2nd opinions are FREE. Kenneth Stephenson owns Complete Financial Solutions, Inc. His office is located at 7629 Purfoy Road, Suite 105, Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526 Phone is 919-552-4286 or visit CompleteFinancialSolutions.org (ASK ME ABOUT SOFA)
     


    Money Matters Corner by Kenneth D. Stephenson
    Published: June 2013
    WHY DID MY BONDS LOSE MONEY LAST MONTH?

    Bonds are a class of investments that many advisors and certainly many media outlets do not understand. If you have fixed income or bond investments you may have seen losses at the end of May. The most basic thing to understand is that bonds CAN lose money. Most people say things like I moved from stocks to bonds so I’m protected. No, you may see less risk but you still have risk and you can still lose money. Secondly I hear people say that if interest rates go up then all bonds will lose money. Again that statement is not true. It depends on what type of bond class you are in. Some bonds still perform well when interest rates are moving up. The key is to know how much risk you currently own in your portfolio. If you are talking about bonds, then what kind of bonds do you own. Once interest rates start to move upward then long term treasury bonds will probably get hammered. There are many classes of bonds that you can own such as treasury, municipal, corporate, hi-yield. None of these are guaranteed investments and they can all lose money. If you are not sure what kind you own, or how much you stand to lose, then you need your portfolio stress tested. If you would like your portfolio stress tested and a clear picture of how much you could lose with your current portfolio, please give us a call. We’ll stress test your portfolio, and you’ll at least know what you own, how much risk you currently have and as a bonus tell you how much your investments are costing you. Give our office a call if you need help with this or any other related subject. 2nd opinions are FREE. Kenneth Stephenson owns Complete Financial Solutions, Inc. His office is located at 7629 Purfoy Road, Suite 105, Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526 Phone is 919-552-4286 or visit CompleteFinancialSolutions.org (ASK ME ABOUT SOFA)
     


    Money Matters Corner by Kenneth D. Stephenson
    Published: June 2013

    I'M ABOUT TO RETIRE...HOW DO I TAKE INCOME FROM MY RETIREMENT PLAN?

    This is a common question for everyone.  There are a lot of options but I’m going to take a more generalized approach so that we don’t get too deep in the weeds. There are 2 ways to take income from your retirement portfolio. You can take what I call “Maybe Income” or you can set up a guaranteed plan that will payout like a pension. There’s not a right or wrong here but there is a comfort level that you need to feel. The “Maybe Income” approach means that you take systematic withdrawals from your account such as 4% which is the normal percentage that you hear most often. This approach can work great as long as the market cooperates. If the market has a big downturn however it could blow up your retirement plan. For example, let’s say that you have an account that is worth $300,000 at retirement. You decide to go with the systematic approach.  This will produce $12,000 annually or $1,000 per month. If the market drops 40% like in 2008 now your account balance is roughly $180,000. If you must have the $1,000 per month for your monthly bills, now you have a real problem. You are pulling out 6.6% from a smaller balance. This is called the Sequence of Returns Risk.

    The “Guaranteed Approach” means that you setup a plan usually through an insurance company that will pay those payments for life no matter what happens with the market. Many of these plans actually will allow you to take about 6-7% out per year which would give you more income that is guaranteed for life. You need to make sure you are working with an advisor that is not only an income specialist but a conservation and preservation specialist to put these plans together.  According to “Smart Money” magazine in May of 2012 the advisor that helps you accumulate your assets may not be the best advisor to help you distribute it throughout retirement. This is a key time for any retiree and a mistake can be devastating. Give our office a call if you need help with this or any other related subject. 2nd opinions are FREE. Kenneth Stephenson owns Complete Financial Solutions, Inc. His office is located at 7629 Purfoy Road, Suite 105, Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526 Phone is 919-552-4286 or visit CompleteFinancialSolutions.org (ASK ME ABOUT SOFA)


    Money Matters Corner by Kenneth D. Stephenson
    Published: May 2013

    ARE YOUR ESTATE PLANNING DOCUMENTS IN ORDER?

    As a holistic retirement planner and income specialist we focus on 5 areas around our clients. The areas are income, investments, taxes, healthcare, and estate planning. Today I’m going to hone in on the estate planning area. This area can be overlooked but it’s extremely important. One of the first things we do for our clients is to review their designated beneficiary forms. This would seem to be a simple form to complete. However we see many mistakes made on this form. If not filled out properly then your intentions won’t be followed. The beneficiary form is a form that should always be filled out when opening a retirement account, life insurance, etc. There is also a TOD form for a non-retirement account that should also be filled out properly. The problem is many people fly through this form without thinking of the consequences. If there are mistakes it could cause your assets to be held up in probate for months.

    We also find that many folks don’t have simple legal documents such as wills, healthcare power of attorney, financial power of attorney or living wills. These are the basics but somehow we put these off, simply because it’s easier not to think about it.  None of us want to discuss death so we avoid it, if we can. The problem is by avoiding it we are setting ourselves and our loved ones up for a ton of headache later. Is that really what your intentions are? These basic documents can be reviewed and setup with just a couple quick meetings. Again, you have to take action and I hope I have motivated you to do just that. We can help you review these documents and we’ll have our attorney sit with you to determine what you need and also what you don’t need. More complex estates may need a trust but simple estates may be just fine with the basic documents. Give our office a call and we’ll setup a review meeting at no cost. You can’t beat that offer. If there’s anything we uncover that we think you need, you can decide whether you want to implement or not. We also covered this in more detail on our June 2nd radio show. You can go to our website and click on the media tab to hear archived shows.  Give our office a call if you need help with this or any other related subject. 2nd opinions are FREE. Kenneth Stephenson owns Complete Financial Solutions, Inc. His office is located at 7629 Purfoy Road, Suite 105, Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526 Phone is 919-552-4286 or visit CompleteFinancialSolutions.org (ASK ME ABOUT SOFA)


    Money Matters Corner by Kenneth D. Stephenson
    Published: May 2013

    IT'S ALL ABOUT INCOME!

    Retirees these days are realizing that it’s no longer about stockpiling money. For retirees today it’s all about income. I just read 2 recent articles from Time magazine on this very subject. Here are 2 key quotes that I got from these stories.

    #1 “Forget being RICH, all we want is Peace of Mind.”

    #2 “Lifetime Income Key to Retirement Happiness.”

    Why is that? I would argue that when we can pay all our essentials or basics and then add a little income on top of that for what I call “Joy Expenses” we feel secure and happy. Secondly people are living longer than ever before so we need to plan for this income for 35+ years. That’s why it’s imperative that you work with an advisor that understands how to build these type plans. It’s no longer just about accumulation. I’m sure the accumulation that you’ve seen on your statements over the past year feels good. The market has been roaring, but I can tell you this market will eventually cycle the other way. If you are retired or soon to be retired it’s more important to own income driven investments rather than higher risk investments. Once you have the income solved, then you take more risk with the money, not needed for your basic living expenses. There are many tools and investments that we use to drive income. How we structure these depend on what each of our clients want. Some want it all guaranteed and some are willing to use low risk, income driven instruments.

    The key to pulling this together successfully is to make sure you are working with a preservation and income specialist. There are really 2 types of advisors you can choose to work with. Most advisors are accumulation advisors not income advisors. Sure they may have a few products that can push income, but it’s not something they do on a daily basis. Their focus is on growing your assets and usually with much more risk. You as an investor must know where you are and what type of advisor you’re working with. If you are retired or soon retiring you are no longer in the accumulation phase of your financial life. You have to know where you are to map a plan to where you’re going. If you’re not sure where you are or how you’re invested then we can help. Our practice focuses on retirees and soon to be retirees by building a holistic plan that begins with an Income plan.
     
    You can catch Kenneth on his weekly radio show “The Retirement Harvest Show” on Sunday mornings at 8:00 a.m. Kenneth Stephenson owns Complete Financial Solutions, Inc. His office is located at 7629 Purfoy Road, Suite 105, Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526 Phone is 919-552-4286 or visit CompleteFinancialSolutions.org (ASK ME ABOUT SOFA)
     


    Money Matters Corner by Kenneth D. Stephenson
    Published: May 2013

    HOW SHOULD I TAKE MY COMPANY PENSION?

    If you are one of the lucky ones that has a pension benefit at work then you may want to know your options when you retire.  In my last column we discussed Social Security options and how many people don’t know or understand all the options as far as when to take Social Security, etc. There are also options of what to do with your pension at retirement. Usually when you have that final exit meeting with your H.R. department, they’re going to give you information on the different options that your company can offer.

    Most of the time you can choose to take the pension as a lump sum or you can leave at the company and choose an income benefit. There are pros and cons to both choices which you need to understand.  First of all, you need to know that many company pension plans are underfunded, and this could be cause for worry. Pensions are backed by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Association and as you can imagine many experts say the PBGC is over –extended  because there are so many unhealthy company pensions that the PBGC is having to cover.  For some, that’s enough reason to choose the lump sum rollover. Another benefit that many people like with rolling the lump sum out to an IRA is that they will now have control and flexibility. If it’s left at the company and you take one of the lifetime income options you have given up that lump sum forever and you lose control.  Keep in mind if you choose to do a lump sum then it needs to go directly to an IRA so you won’t have a taxable event. These plans are taxable so I would not advise taking a lump sum unless you’re rolling it to an IRA. If you do choose the lump sum option, and you need income, then you’ll need to get with an advisor that specializes in Retirement Income Planning. This is a key step to make sure that your pension funds your retirement income needs as you intended.

    The other option is leaving it with the company and just picking one of the options they give you for taking income. The most popular choices are a single lifetime income payout or a joint lifetime payout if you’re married.  Even with these choices it would be advisable to seek advice from a Retirement Income Advisor.  There will be many options and things to consider. Sometimes even if you’re married it’s better to take the single lifetime payout which will be higher than the joint and then buying life insurance on the pension owner. If the owner dies then the life insurance proceeds can be used to create income for the surviving spouse. This is just one of many strategies that can be implemented.  Please call my office for any of your retirement income questions.  Kenneth Stephenson owns Complete Financial Solutions, Inc. His office is located at 7629 Purfoy Road, Suite 105, Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526 Phone is 919-552-4286 or visit CompleteFinancialSolutions.org (ASK ME ABOUT SOFA)   
     


    Money Matters Corner by Kenneth D. Stephenson
    ​Published: April 2013 

    DO YOU KNOW YOUR NUMBER?
     
    This past week we had a few bad days in the stock market. With the volatility that we’ve had the past few years it always brings fear in our mind when this happens. The stock market has recently passed the highs of 2007, and for investors the last year or so has been mostly good times. Some analysts think the market could continue the upward climb, while others say that a correction could be coming soon. I don’t have a crystal ball and neither does anyone out there. There are key indicators, or fundamentals but these are not always accurate either. The recent drop in gold prices show us how quickly things can go in the other direction. Many people ask me, is there anything I can do to feel more comfortable?

    I believe one of the most important things you can do is to “Know Your Number.” What do I mean by that? Do you know how much your current investment portfolio would lose or gain in a down or up market? There are tests on your portfolio that we can run to get a pretty good idea of what your number would be? In other words if you have $100,000 in the market and the market drops by 20%, by what percentage would your investments drop based on your holdings. This is a very important number to know, especially if you are in retirement or close to retirement. The worst time to have large losses, is right before retirement or right after you retire, especially if you’re depending on that portfolio for income. We meet with retirees and soon to be retirees every week and their biggest concern is always the same. Do I have enough money to generate the income I need throughout my retirement years? As people live longer that can be 30 years or more.

    If you would like a “stress test” on your current investment portfolio then give my office a call. You can reach Kenneth D. Stephenson at 919-552-4286 or visit his office at 7629 Purfoy Road, Suite 105, Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526. You can also visit WWW. CompleteFinancialSolutions.org or tune into “The Retirement Harvest Show” on 106.1 FM every Sunday morning. 
     


    Money Matters Corner by Kenneth D. Stephenson
    ​Published: April 2013 
    WHAT TYPE OF ADVISOR ARE YOU WORKING WITH?

    If you are working with a financial advisor, planner, consultant do you know the questions to ask to find out what type of advisor they are? Financial advisors are can be licensed differently and can be held to a different standard. You need to know some of the questions to ask if you are currently working with an advisor or plan to in the future. These are some of the questions you should always ask at a minimum.
     

    1. Are you held to a fiduciary standard or a suitability standard? Fiduciary demands that you put the client’s interest first no matter what. The suitability standard says that an advisor must do what is suitable for an investor, based on that investor’s circumstances. Notice that the “suitability standard” does not demand your broker do what is best for you, only that it is “suitable.”  It also does not preclude conflicts of interest.
    2. Is the advisor independent or are they captive with one company? An independent advisor will usually have the entire menu of products to choose from. A captive would only have the products that their “captive company” offers which are not necessarily the best.  
    3. How is the advisor compensated? Advisors are usually compensated by fees or commissions. You need to know the difference. Some products pay higher commissions and can cause a conflict of interest even though they may be deemed “suitable.”  
    4. What are the advisor’s specialties? Do they mainly work in the accumulation phase of life when more risk is the norm, or do they specialize in the preservation and distribution phase which normally begins after age 50 headed to and through retirement.  
    5. How much experience do they have in the industry? You have to decide what’s important to you here. Also ask for 3-5 references of current clients.
    6. If you are a conservative investor or retiree you should ask the advisor what happen with the various investment options they offer in down periods such as 2008 and 2002?    
    This is a professional that is needed more than ever as the baby boomer generation continues to retire in record numbers and as the younger generations need to have better plans in place, since our current social security system and pensions are in disarray. These questions will help you filter out and find the right professional advisor for you.  Give our office a call if you need help with this or any other related subject. 2nd opinions are FREE. Kenneth Stephenson owns Complete Financial Solutions, Inc. His office is located at 7629 Purfoy Road, Suite 105, Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526 Phone is 919-552-4286 or visit CompleteFinancialSolutions.org (ASK ME ABOUT SOFA)                                         
    Money Matters Corner by Kenneth D. Stephenson
    ​Published: April 2013

    WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DIVIDENDS AND CAPITAL APPRECIATION?

    We are often asked about dividends and why worry about it or do we need them? Total return for a stock consists of 2 components: income paid (dividends) and capital appreciation (stock price increase). Studies show that dividends comprised over 50% of the total return of the stock market over the past 70+ years. High dividend yielding stocks have experienced strong price appreciation over the last four years but recently they have lagged. We expect this to be short lived but we shall see if we return to that level of benefit for the long term investor.

    When we are selecting a high dividend paying stock here are a few of the criteria we search for. (Consistent Dividend Paying History, Strong Free Cash Flow, Return on Invested Capital, High Yield but not too high). Strong dividend paying stocks may have a place in your portfolio. If you would like a FREE analysis or 2nd opinion on your current portfolio please give us a call and we’ll “Stress Test” your portfolio. Give us a call at our office 919-552-4286 or visit our website. You can also check us out on WRDU 106.1 FM every Sunday morning at 8 A.M. for our radio show called “The Retirement Harvest Show.”  Kenneth Stephenson owns Complete Financial Solutions, Inc. His office is located at 7629 Purfoy Road, Suite 105, Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526 Phone is 919-552-4286 or visit CompleteFinancialSolutions.org (ASK ME ABOUT SOFA)


    Money Matters Corner by Kenneth D. Stephenson
    ​Published: March 2013

    WHEN SHOULD I TAKE SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS?

    This is a question we get quite frequently since we work with a lot of retirees and one of the things we focus on is retirement income planning. In order to do a great job for our clients, Social Security planning becomes a big part of that income plan. Since this can involve a rather advanced explanation I’m going to keep it more general for this column. Here are some of the key issues around Social Security. When should the higher earner claim benefits? It’s usually better for the higher earner to delay claiming benefits so the lower earner can claim the highest possible benefit for life. Another thing to keep in mind is in order for the lower-earning spouse to collect benefits based on the higher earner’s, history, the higher earner must apply for benefits first. However if the higher earner spouse has reached full retirement age, he or she may file for the benefits and then file to suspend benefits until later. One last point I want to make is that if you are married and you’ve reached full retirement age, you have a couple options. You may claim benefits either on your work history or your spouse’s. Or, you can draw the spousal benefit and allow your own benefit to accrue Delayed Retirement Credits until you turn age 70. Once you reach full retirement age you can also apply for a restricted benefit based on your spouse’s earnings as long as your spouse is already receiving benefits. As you can see there are many options and some we have not covered such as a divorced spouse’s benefits. If you are nearing retirement and you need help figuring this out please give us a call. We have a Social Security analyzer software tool that can simplify this process while at the same time giving you all the choices in an easy to understand way. Kenneth Stephenson owns Complete Financial Solutions, Inc. His office is located at 7629 Purfoy Road, Suite 105, Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526 Phone is 919-552-4286 or visit CompleteFinancialSolutions.org (ASK ME ABOUT SOFA)


    Money Matters Corner by Kenneth D. Stephenson
    ​Published: March 2013

    WHAT CAN I DO FOR MY FAMILY THAT WOULD HAVE THE MOST IMPACT?
     
    So Valentine’s Day has passed and love is in the air, right?  I am often asked what kinds of things can I do for my family? For me after 20 years in this industry that’s an easy question. It’s also easy because we’ve had at least 4 death claims and a couple near death claims just in the past year.  As a preservation focused financial planner, I believe Income Tax Free Life Insurance is the single most impactful decision you can ever make for your loved ones. There are other nice things you can do such as college funding, pass on investments, real estate, etc.  These are great but an Income Tax Free death benefit from a life insurance policy is a very clean and worry free benefit to your family. There are no taxes or potential problems associated with it.

    Yet, why don’t people make this a big part of their planning process? I don’t have the answer. You see many people have a little bit of life insurance and in their mind they think it’s enough. When I ask someone about it there’s always the same old answer. “Oh I have a hundred thousand or I have a million dollar policy.” They think that nice round number passes the test.  Consider this: A family of 4 with the father under the age of 40. Maybe they both work or maybe his wife stays home and takes care of all the kid’s activities. If the father makes 100,000 and that family is depending on him then how much life insurance does he need? If he wants his wife to have the same lifestyle then you need to multiply 100,000 by 20 or 30 years. That means he needs 2-3 million in coverage and that doesn’t include inflation.  I would venture to say that most people fail this test miserably. This is only one example and I will give you more in future articles. I am lucky enough to see firsthand when these life insurance checks are delivered how much they mean to a family. Please stop thinking that a nice round number passes the test and let’s fix this problem if you TRULY love your family. Give my office a call for a FREE consultation. Kenneth Stephenson owns Complete Financial Solutions, Inc. His office is located at 7629 Purfoy Road, Suite 105, Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526 Phone is 919-552-4286 or visit CompleteFinancialSolutions.org (ASK ME ABOUT SOFA)
     


    Money Matters Corner by Kenneth D. Stephenson
    ​Published: February 2013

    WHAT ARE SOME OF THE SMART THINGS TO DO WITH MY TAX REFUND? 

    It’s an exciting time of year for those of you that are soon receiving a tax refund. I often get asked the question of what should I do with it. Our first thought may be to go out and reward ourselves with a big new purchase. However there are other ideas that will also reward you long term but it may not be as exciting. You can still celebrate by, maybe using 25% for what you want to do and the rest for the right thing to do. It may be as simple as going out for a nice dinner or night on the town. It could be to go on a weekend getaway. Set limits on the percentage that you will use for your reward and then use the other 75% for something that will pay off long term. This gives you the chance to still celebrate without doing things that you regret later.
    Here are a few thoughts of being smart with the money.

    1. Contribute to a Roth IRA. Of course you’ll need to make sure you’re eligible to contribute.

    2. Payoff high interest credit card debt.

    3. Make an extra payment on your mortgage. If you do this each year you will be shocked on how much you save in interest and how many years you cut off.

    4. If you’re maxed out on retirement contributions at work or in your IRA you could start a life insurance policy that will pay TAX FREE income back to you at retirement. There are no contribution limits here like there are with IRAs.

    5. Give to your church or favorite charity. 

    This is my top 5 and there are many more. The important thing here is to stop and think before you spend it with regrets later. If you need help with starting an IRA or any other strategy or you just need some advice on what you can do, feel free to give me a call.  Kenneth Stephenson owns Complete Financial Solutions, Inc. His office is located at 7629 Purfoy Road, Suite 105, Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526 Phone is 919-552-4286 or visit CompleteFinancialSolutions.org (ASK ME ABOUT SOFA)


    Money Matters Corner by Kenneth D. Stephenson
    Published: January 2013

    WHAT'S FAR WORSE THAN THE FISCAL CLIFF AND NEW TAX INCREASES?

    There is another fiscal cliff for retirees that could be easily fixed but a large percentage of people turn their heads and hope it does not happen to them. I am talking about a fiscal cliff that 50% and rising of our population will one day find out about after it’s too late. That fiscal cliff is LONG TERM CARE. Yes that boring subject that only happens to my neighbor or to my great aunt. It will never happen in my family.

    I know from personal experience that it can happen and will most likely happen to at least 1 spouse if you are married. This is a fiscal cliff that takes no prisoners and neither does the costs as it continues to rise. It will wipe out hundreds and thousands of dollars out of an estate before you know what hits you. But yet it could be avoided. There are many ways to cover this expensive risk these days and I’m not just talking about insurance, even though that’s a better option than doing nothing. If the parents don’t do something about it then the children that stand to inherit one day certainly should consider it. Yet we sit around and watch and discuss a fiscal cliff that we can do nothing about while there’s another fiscal cliff lurking. The alarming part is most people totally ignore it. Come on folks we have to get smarter and learn about these new strategies to avoid a fiscal cliff that will make a few tax hikes look like nothing compared to the LTC fiscal cliff. These days we can show you how to make long term care coverage an asset for your portfolio not a liability. If you are over age 50 or have parents over age 50 then you need to begin planning if you have not. It’s never too late to plan either. Don’t kick the can down the road like our friends in Washington seem to always do. Do something about this personal fiscal cliff now before it’s too late. Give us a call at (919) 552-4286 to review options you have to avoid your own personal fiscal cliff or click here.

    Kenneth D. Stephenson is the owner of Complete Financial Solutions, Inc. located at 7629 Purfoy Road, Suite 105, Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526.


    Money Matters Corner by Kenneth D. Stephenson
    Published: December 2012

    CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE RMD REQUIREMENT FOR RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS?

    People age 70 ½ must begin taking payouts from IRAs and company plans by the end of the year. You would start with your IRA balances on December 31, 2011 and divide each of them by the factor for your age, which you can find from a table put out by the IRS in Publication 590. The sum of these amounts can be taken from any IRA account you pick or you can take the amount associated with each IRA account.

    If you turned 70 ½ this year, you can delay the distribution for 2012 to April 1, 2013. If you decide to do that the payouts would still be determined by the balances on December 31, 2011. Be careful if you decide to defer the distribution to 2013. You would be taxed on 2 payouts in 2013 because you would still have to take your 2012 payout by the end of the year in 2013. The two payments in one tax year could push you into a higher tax bracket or cause your Social Security to be taxed or taxed at a higher rate. If you would like a FREE IRS table for your own calculations please call our office at (919) 552-4286 or click here.

    Kenneth D. Stephenson is the owner of Complete Financial Solutions, Inc. located at 7629 Purfoy Road, Suite 105, Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526.


    Money Matters Corner by Kenneth D. Stephenson
    Published: December 2012

    DOES OVER-SPENDING AT CHRISTMAS REALLY MATTER?

    This time of year is a favorite time for most all of us. We get to spend time with our families and all the ones we love. Most of us eat way too much and of course there’s the exchanging of gifts. In my opinion, Christmas has become more about Black Friday and how the retailers have faired than the true meaning of Christmas. 

    In this column I wanted to cover the subject of over spending at Christmas and why it matters. I am going to explain it by using a concept I call the Compound Effect. We’ve heard that Albert Einstein said “compounding of interest is the 8th wonder of the world.” I recently read the book “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy which really goes into detail about how the concept can be used in our everyday activities. In the book he explains that everything we do that is good is compounded and everything we do that is bad is compounded.

    I’m only going to discuss how the compound effect can work for and against you when spending money. Let’s say for example that you put $1000 on a credit card over the holidays and only pay the minimum payment of $20 per month. The interest rate is 20%. It would take 109 payments to pay the balance off. At the end of 109 payments or 9 years it’s paid off but you’ve actually paid $2,180.00. Wow that’s eye opening. Now let’s say instead of spending the $1000 you put it in an account that earns on average 7%. (Yes there are investments right now that can do that!) In 23 years that $1,000 would be worth $5,000.00. In this example you actually have made 7,180.00. The 2,180 + 5,000= 7,180 more that you have because of saving versus spending.

    We can use this concept every time we start to buy something. Next time you are about to buy a 4.00 Starbucks, ask yourself is it worth $20.00. That’s what you are really giving up. The out to eat lunch that cost $10.00 is really worth $50.00 if invested properly. It’s time for us to take responsibility by saving more for our own retirement without depending on Social Security and the government. I think that is something we can all agree on.  To email Kenneth directly click here.

    Kenneth Stephenson owns Complete Financial Solutions, Inc and can be reached at 919-552-4286 or at 7629 Purfoy Road, Suite 105, Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526


    Money Matters Corner by Kenneth D. Stephenson
    Published: November 2012

    WHAT EXACTLY IS THE FISCAL CLIFF?

    1. The expiration of almost every tax cut enacted since 2001.

    2. A reduction in government spending first proposed during the 2011 Debt Ceiling Crisis called the Budget Control Act of 2011.

    These measures were designed to help balance our budget deficit; however, if enacted, they will more than likely begin to slow the U.S. economy.
    The Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke defines the Fiscal Cliff as the many major fiscal events that could happen simultaneously at the close of 2012 and the dawning of 2013.

    The Tax Provisions that will expire on Dec. 31st, 2012, should we fall over the Fiscal Cliff include:

    If all these tax increases and spending cuts take effect; the grand total being in the region of $7 trillion over a decade, the government could save nearly $600 billion starting next year. However, the same measures would reduce U.S. GDP by an amount which may plunge the economy into recession. As a result, the slow but steady economic growth of the last three years may be replaced by contraction.

    Kenneth D. Stephenson owns Complete Financial Solutions, Inc. He can be reached at (919) 552-4286 or  to email click here.

    These articles are provided for informational purposes only. While we believe the information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included.

    Complimentary Report
    "Your Retirement Income Planning Checklist”
    Learn important variables to consider as you create a sound retirement income strategy for the days ahead.

  • How's Your Retirement Harvest?
    Meet Kenneth Stephenson

    Kenneth and his team focus on a five-step planning process which includes structured retirement and Social Security income planning, investments, tax efficiency in retirement, healthcare planning, and estate planning.

    » Learn more about Kenneth
    Kenneth’s New Book

    Click here to get your copy of , "Retirement Harvest, Your Guide For the Fall and Winter of Life".

    » Get Your Copy
    Visit Our RIA

    Quest 10 Wealth Builders, Inc. is the investment arm of the company and is a Registered Investment Advisor in the state of NC.

    » learn more about quest 10
    Investment advice is provided by Quest 10 Wealth Builders, Inc., a Registered Investment Adviser with the NC Secretary of State Securities Division. Insurance and annuity products are sold separately through Complete Financial Solutions, Inc. Securities transactions for Quest 10 Wealth Builders, Inc. are placed through Fidelity Investments and Trust Company of America.

    *Guarantees provided by insurance products are backed by the claims paying ability of the issuing carrier.

    The 10 Things to Know About Planning Your Retirement Income Report is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide tax or legal advice. By requesting this report you may be provided with information regarding the purchase of insurance and investment products in the future.