Make Sure You’re Ready

According to a recent survey, 80% of Americans say that saving for retirement is critically important. However, only 56% are actually putting money away for their golden years.

retirement ocean chairs. 500jpg.jpg

In 2006 U.S. Senators Gordon Smith and Kent Conrad introduced a resolution that was passed by Congress, creating National Retirement Security Week in the third week of October (this year October 18-24.) On September 2, 2020, the National Association of Government Defined Contribution Administrators (NAGDCA) updated its legislative priority to advocate for October to become National Retirement Security Month.

The purpose of observing National Retirement Security Week/Month is to raise awareness and help individuals take concrete steps towards a secure retirement. Over and above elevating public knowledge on the subject, there is also an effort to encourage employees to speak to a retirement plan consultant or expert and participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan if available.

At Note Advisors, we are here to help you build and increase your retirement funds. While it can seem like an overwhelming process, here are some basic ways that you can start to secure your retirement future.

Start saving money

Statistics show that 32% of Americans did not start saving for their retirement until they were in their 30s. Another 13% waited until their 40s. The longer you wait, the greater the amount you will need to save each month, but it’s never too late. Start saving now.

Automate Your Savings

Have your contributions automatically deducted from your paycheck to guarantee that you are saving.

Boost Contributions as You Age

If you are over 50 years old, you can save an extra $6,000 per year tax deferred.

Don’t Rely on Social Security

Social Security was never meant to serve as a total retirement income replacement source It was meant to supplement pension income. Further, nearly a quarter of public sector employees are ineligible. Social Security benefits replace roughly 40% of pre-retirement income among average earners. While this is a meaningful supplement to other income sources, it’s hardly enough to maintain a comfortable lifestyle on its own.”

If You’re Young, Invest More Aggressively

Choosing a more aggressive investment strategy early will quickly grow your nest egg and also give you time to recoup if the market takes a dip.

Meet Your Company Match

If your company offers to match your contribution up to a certain percentage do it. It’s free money and that match can be tax-deductible for your employer as well. Diversify Add a tax-advantaged retirement account like a Roth IRA to your retirement portfolio, so that some of your saving grows tax free. 

No Company Retirement Plan?

While 28% of Americans take full advantage of their company’s retirement saving options, 20% aren’t offered a plan by their employer, or are independent contractors. If you fall into that category, consider alternative solutions, like an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). 

Speak with a retirement plan consultant or expert

Nearly 60% of Americans say they have a workable knowledge of how retirement plans operate, but 30% say they don’t have a clear vision of their own plan. If you are unsure about planning your retirement, we at GCW Capital are here to help. Contact us today and let’s work together to develop a retirement strategy that meets your needs and will fund your future.

Has Your Company Suspended 401K Contributions?

The pandemic has had a major economic impact on employers as well as individuals. According to a national survey by the Plan Sponsor Council of America, as of April more than 20 percent of large organizations had already suspended matching 401(k) contributions.

The beauty of a 401(k) is that it offers tax advantages and makes regular contributions seamless. Having a match on top of that is icing on the cake—but not having it doesn’t negate the other benefits.

When money is tight, you may have to rethink and reprioritize. You don’t want to jeopardize your future, but you also don’t want to make imprudent decisions like racking up a huge credit card bill or defaulting on other commitments in order to continue contributing. 

On the other hand, if your budget still allows you to make regular contributions, you definitely should. In fact, as counter-intuitive as it may seem, now could be the time to increase your contribution to make up for the lost match. 

It’s a balancing act. So, before you decide what to do, ask yourself these questions. 

How Stable is Your Job?

When the company you work for, whether large or small, is looking at its balance sheet to find ways to economize, you want to be realistic about the future of that company. Are there layoffs ahead? Cutback in hours? If you think your position could be impacted, now is the time to make sure you have enough cash on hand to be able to make it financially.

Emergency fund jar.jpg

Do You Have an Adequate Emergency Fund?

Today’s uncertainties have brought the importance of emergency funds front and center. The standard recommendation to have enough cash easily accessible to cover three-to-six months essential expenses may even be an understatement. If your emergency fund is less than adequate, building it up should be a primary focus. 

Look at your budget. Can you redirect some dollars to this important fund? If there’s no other way to do it, you could reassess how much you’re currently contributing to your 401(k) in order to balance present financial stability with future security.

Have Your savings to Date Been Adequate?

A common employer match is 50 cents on the dollar for the first six percent of your salary. This means that if you have only been contributing up to the match, you’ve been contributing nine percent between you and your employer. That’s good, but below the 10-15 percent recommended for someone in their 20’s (an older person just beginning to save may need to contribute even more). If you’re behind in your savings already, you’ll likely have to work harder in the future to catch up.

Retirement savings.300.jpg

How Close Are You to Retirement?

This is a crucial question. If you’re far from retirement, you may feel like you have plenty of time ahead to save. However, the reality is that the earlier you start saving—and the more aggressively you save—the more time you have to benefit from potential market appreciation and compound growth. Stop saving now and you will have lost the power of time. Conversely, if you’re close to retirement and still have a way to go to meet your savings goal, every dollar you save now is essential.

There’s More to Your 401k Than the Match

While getting an employer match is a definite plus—and an opportunity you never want to pass up—there’s more to it than that. Obviously stopping contributions, or temporarily reducing your percentage, would put more dollars in your pocket and potentially help ease your cash crunch. On the other hand, it’s a trade-off, not only in terms of your future security, but also your current tax situation.

Roth IRa 401k.jpg

If you have a traditional 401(k), your contributions are tax-deductible, which lowers your taxable income. Decrease or completely stop those contributions and you potentially increase your tax liability. You also decrease your long-term, tax-deferred earnings potential. If you have a Roth 401(k), you don’t get an immediate tax benefit, but the ability to take tax-free withdrawals in the future is huge.

It Doesn’t Have to be All or Nothing

If you need some extra money now for essential expenses or to boost your emergency fund, reducing your contribution (rather than stopping it completely) could make sense in the short term. Still it’s important to promise yourself that you will recommit to saving more as soon as things turn around. 

Match or no match, when it comes to long-term retirement saving, contributing as much as you can to a 401(k) is one of the best things you can do.

This blog was excerpted from an online article by Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, CFP®, Board Chair and President, Charles Schwab Foundation; Senior Vice President, Schwab Community Services, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.; Board Chair, Schwab Charitable

Mid-Year Tax Reviews Can Save You $$$

Every tax season, U.S. businesses owners and individual taxpayers undergo an amazing ritual. At the beginning of the year, we start collecting forms from various entities: banks, creditors, investment companies, our employers, etc.

After we have gotten all of our paperwork, we then figure out whether we’re going to waste a weekend slogging through all this paperwork, or if we’re going to outsource it to someone like a strip mall tax preparer or a CPA. Whatever we decide, our singular focus is to figure out one thing: “How big is my refund going to be?” 

If the answer is negative, meaning we owe the IRS money, that ruins the whole weekend. Whatever the result, all we know is that once we have finished—which is usually around March 15th for businesses and April 14 for most individuals— we don’t think about taxes for another year. 

Is that the right approach? Perhaps not.Here are 5 reasons why you might want to review your tax situation mid-year.

Tax Review Reason #1: Adjusting employer withholdings.

In early 2018, the IRS prescribed new withholdingtables for employers, based upon the changes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. While most people will pay a lower tax bill, there are those who might pay more. However, the withholding tables are largely adjusted to withhold less in taxes which can result in a nasty double whammy for some taxpayers of paying more in taxes, but having less withholdings in their paycheck. 

You can avoid this situation by simply taking 10 minutes to check for yourself on the IRS’ withholding website. Here, you can walk through some pretty simple questions about your personal situation, income, and possible deductions. After answering these questions, the IRS will give you some suggestions on whether you need to adjust your employer withholdings. 

Tax Review Reason #2: Seeing the tax impact of specific life events.

life changing event.jpg

Sometimes, it seems that our taxes just stay the same, regardless of what we do. That is not necessarily true. Here are a few examples of specific life events that should encourage you to do a mid-year tax review.

  • If you have a child going to college, you may qualify you for a tax credit and deductions for tuition expenses. Check out the IRS Website for details.
  • If you have purchased a home for the first time and are starting to itemize deductions because of the mortgage interest and real estate taxes you are now paying.
  • If you have installed energy-efficient appliances that provide you eligibility for tax credits. Click here for more information.
  • If you are recently retired and need to figure out how your withholdings work now that your employer is no longer taking that money out of your paycheck.

Tax Review Reason #3: Sound tax advice.

If you ask a tax professional questions about your financial situation at this time of year, you are consulting them when they are not singularly focused and stressed over getting through tax season. 

You can have an enlightened conversation about this year’s tax return with the knowledge base of last year’s returns and the calm of an off-season consultation. 

Tax Review Reason #4: Learn more about your options and properly plan

Sound tax advice.jpg
  • Planning to sell some stock? Depending on your situation, there’s probably more than one right way to do this. There are also there are many tax-inefficient ways. Talking with a financial professional before you make these decisions might help you save money on taxes.
  • Looking to increase your charitable contributions this year? Perhaps you can get more bang for your buck if you bunch itemized deductions every other year.
  • Just retired, but not ready to take money out of your IRA? Perhaps it is worth doing Roth conversions while you’re in a low tax bracket, so you won’t get a nasty surprise when you have to start taking required minimum distributions and find out you’re in a much higher tax bracket. Proper tax planning might help you figure out the best decisions for your situation.

There are so many different aspects of your life with some sort of tax impact. And it’s important to make sure you’re doing this while you still have time to make changes. For example:

  • If you need to adjust your withholdings, it’s best to do it mid-year, so you have more paychecks for those changes to take effect. **
  • If you’re looking to contribute to an IRA**, it’s probably best to spread out those contributions over the course of the year. When you do tax planning mid-year, you can always come back at year-end to see what else needs to be done, but the reverse isn’t necessarily true.

The point should be to enjoy your BEST life while remaining as tax efficient as possible. And that’s best done with proper tax planning. 


What’s next? Talk to your financial advisor. That’s us!! Note Advisors is a one-stop-shop for all of your tax review and planning needs. 

In fact, GCW Principal, Shawn Glogowski, is an Enrolled IRS Agent, which means he is licensed to practice before the IRS and, if needed, can legally advocate with them on your behalf. 

Why not get your mid-year tax review going now, before it’s too late.


Parts of this blog were excerpted from an online article by WestChase Financial Planning.

401(k)? IRA? Both?

If you are fortunate enough to have a 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan, it can be the backbone of your retirement savings. Yet there is a good case for adding an IRA to your retirement funds as it not only provides the chance to save more, it can also offer more investment choices than in an employer-sponsored plan. 

The question is, which IRA is right for you?

There are two types of IRAs: a traditional tax-deductible IRA and a Roth IRA. For 2020, the annual contribution limit for both is $6,000 with a $1,000 catch-up if you’re age 50-plus. However each IRA does have an income ceiling that will determine whether one or the other is right for you.

  • Traditional tax-deductible IRA—–This is a good option for someone who does not have a 401(k) or similar plan, a traditional IRA is fully tax-deductible. Upfront tax deductibility plus tax-deferred growth of earnings are two of the pluses of this type of IRA. However, if you participate in an employer sponsored retirement plan such as a 401(k), tax deductibility is phased out at certain income levels based on your Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI). For tax-year 2020, the levels are $65,000-$75,000 for single filers, $104,000-$124,000 for married filing jointly.
  • Roth IRA—With a Roth IRA, you don’t get any upfront tax deduction, but you do get tax-free growth plus tax-free withdrawals at age 59½ as long as you’ve held the account for five years. And there’s no restriction if you participate in an employer plan. However, there are income phase-out limits based on your MAGI that determine whether you’re eligible to open and how much you can contribute to a Roth. In 2020, the limits are $124,000-$139,000 for single filers, $196,000-$206,000 for married filing jointly.
IRA ROTH 401K.jpg

There are a couple of other things to considerwhen choosing between IRAs, the main one being whether you believe you will be in a higher or lower tax bracket when you retire. 

That’s because withdrawals from a traditional IRA are taxed at ordinary income tax rates at the time of withdrawal; qualified Roth withdrawals are tax-free. Also there’s no required minimum distribution (RMD) for a Roth, but with a traditional IRA, you’ll have to begin taking an RMD at age 70½, or 72 if you were born on or after July 1, 1949.

Whether or not you choose to open an IRA, if your employer offers a Roth 401(k), you might also consider adding this to your retirement savings strategy. There are no income limits to participate in a Roth 401(k), and you can have both types of 401(k) at the same time. 

Having both doesn’t mean you can contributemore than the total annual 401(k) contribution limit, but you can split your contributions between the two, giving you a combination of both taxable and tax-free withdrawals come retirement time. Making your 401(k) and IRA work together.

The goal of all this is to give you the greatest opportunity to save, with the greatest flexibility. Contribute enough to your 401(k) to capture the maximum company match, then, if you’re eligible contribute to a tax-advantaged Health Savings Account (HSA). If your 401(k) has limited investment options consider opening either a traditional or a Roth IRA and contribute the annual maximum. 

Next, if you can, put more money in your company plan until you max it out. And if you get to the point where you can save even more (kudos!), put that money in a taxable brokerage account. The bottom line is you can’t really save too much, only too little. 

Use all the savings and investing vehicles available to you, including both an IRA and your 401(k), to save as much as you can, as early as you can—and, at the same time, get the maximum tax break. You won’t regret it.

This blog was excerpted from an online article written by Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, CFP®, Board Chair and President, Charles Schwab Foundation; Senior Vice President, Schwab Community Services, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.; Board Chair, Schwab Charitable.