Avoiding the Medicare Surcharge: What You Need to Know About IRMAA

Reaching Medicare eligibility solves one of the most expensive retirement problems for many retirees: healthcare. Once you’ve made the adjustment and selected all the various Parts and plans, the convenience and affordability of Medicare are one of the benefits of turning 65. However, Medicare is means-tested. If you make over a certain amount of income, surcharges on the Medicare Part B and Part B premiums kick in.

Making it a little more painful, it’s not a flat increase. The surcharges go up as incomes get higher and at the highest level can amount to hundreds of dollars a month in additional costs.

The key to avoiding or minimizing the surcharge is to control income levels. In early retirement, this may be reasonably easy to do. But if you’ve amassed a retirement nest egg in a traditional tax-deferred 401(k) or IRA account, once you hit 72 and required minimum distributions (RMDs) kick in, you can find yourself with a very hefty bill.

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GMB Ep #127 – Should You Adjust Your Bond Holdings Since Interest Rates Are Rising?

 

If you’ve been paying attention to the financial markets lately, you’ve probably noticed that interest rates have been increasing, resulting in a decrease in bond prices. Other recent developments, such as Elon Musk’s Twitter acquisition and the decreased performance of popular growth stocks, have a lot of people questioning if it is time to adjust their portfolios. In today’s episode, Grant reviews the relationship between interest rates and bonds, how investors should react to increasing interest rates, and some of the stock price behaviors related to acquisitions.

 

 

Show Notes

[03:30] Market Updates – Grant recaps some of the interesting developments in the financial markets.

[05:26] Growth Stocks – In recent months, some of the popular growth stocks, such as Netflix and Amazon, have not been performing very well. Grant shares his thoughts on the implications of this trend.

[07:18] Bonds and Interest Rates – Grant dives into how the value of bonds fluctuates based on the interest rates and some of the methods used to evaluate bonds.

[13:31] Responding to Interest Rates – How investors should respond to increasing interest rates and why this is not a good reason to sell your bonds.

[20:25] Bond Funds – How bond funds work, differences between stock funds and bond funds, and how to evaluate bond funds.

[27:14] 60/40 Portfolios – Grant shares his thoughts on whether 60/40 portfolios are a good asset class to invest in.

[29:46] Twitter Share Prices – Grant discusses Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, and what this means for investors.

 

Resources

What’s Driving the Recent Volatility? A Quick Guide

The Federal Reserve has been very clear about its intentions to move more aggressively in fighting inflation. It currently defines “more aggressively” as a likely series of 50 basis point rate hikes, beginning with the May Federal Open Market Committee meeting. This will mark the first time in 22 years that the Fed has doubled the normal 25 basis point increase.

In remarks at a panel discussion at the IMF on April 21st, Chairman Powell reiterated that it is appropriate “to be moving a little more quickly” on rate hikes. He also indicated that he believes that financial markets are “acting appropriately generally,” meaning that they are adjusting to the expectations of higher rates.

Markets are forward-looking, so prices today reflect what markets think will happen in the future. A good example of this is mortgage rates: The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 5.29% as the last week of April opened. For contrast, in early March, it was 3.76%.

Markets are having trouble interpreting this information. The problem is that so far, we’ve heard the Fed’s intentions, but without corresponding data showing whether or not rate hikes are working, markets can’t assess the likely path. And that leads to volatility.

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What’s the Fed Up To? Rates, Inversions, and Quantitative Tightening

The U.S. Treasury yield curve inverted last week. An inversion is when the shorter-term yield in a pair of U.S. Treasury maturities is higher than the longer-term yield, reversing or inverting the normal relationship. The significance of a yield curve inversion is that inversions have a history of predicting recessions.

The yield curve inverts because investors believe that the economy will slow in the future. The Fed attempts to control inflation by increasing interest rates, which makes business investment more expensive. Markets appear to think that the Fed will overshoot with rate increases, which will stifle rather than slow economic growth. The Fed will then have to begin decreasing rates again.

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A Plan for Managing Stock Sales: 10b5-1s and SEC Rules

Corporate insiders at publicly traded companies are privy to information that can have a major impact on the share price, such as a Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approval or rejection of a new drug. As a result, corporate trading policies restrict the number of days corporate insiders can buy or sell shares. Often, these policies limit the number of open trading windows to less than 60 days per year.

Overall, insider trading restrictions include blackout periods and exposure to material, non-public information (MNPI).

These trading constraints hamper corporate executives’ ability to manage their holdings, posing a stock concentration risk within their overall investment portfolios.

There is a solution to this problem: Rule 10b5-1

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March Market Commentary: In Like A Lamb, Out Like a Lion?

March Recap and April Outlook

Ukraine’s fierce response to and subsequent repulsion of Russian troops surprised everyone, not least Vladimir Putin. As March came to a close, negotiations were beginning to be more realistic, and the evidence on the ground was that Russia was retreating and reassessing.

The Federal Reserve held the monthly FOMC meeting and raised the key short-term interest rate by 25 basis points. What wasn’t expected was Fed Chairman Powell’s subsequent remarks about the pace of rate increases. Powell has worked to be transparent and proactive in communicating the Fed’s intentions.

The change in the pace of rate increases was clear in his language that “There is an obvious need to move expeditiously to return the stance of monetary policy to a more neutral level, and then to move to more restrictive levels if that is what is required to restore price stability.”

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Cash Flow Planning When You’re Thinking About Retirement

Pre-retirement planning is one of the most challenging stages of your financial journey. You’re still fully engaged in your career, but you’re also looking ahead to a not-distant future when your life and your source of income will radically change.

Retirement means you’ll be making choices about where you want to live, what your retired life will look like, if it will include work, travel, charity, a hobby – all the things you always wished you had time for will now be yours to choose from.

But you’re also going to need to ensure you have enough saved to fund the retirement you want, and that the income stream you’ll be able to generate from all your sources of income in retirement is tax-efficient.

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Planning for 2022: The IRS Has Increased Several Key Deductions and Exemptions

The spike in inflation we’ve seen this year has impacts beyond having to pay more for goods and services. The IRS uses consumer price inflation (CPI) to determine certain increases to exemptions and deductions for federal tax purposes. These are automatic and calculated from the rise in CPI. That means that the increased inflation this year may actually end up saving you money. While the changes are for 2022 and you won’t be paying the associated taxes until 2023, it’s a good idea to be aware of the new limits.

You may be able to make changes as you go that can help you maximize the benefit. For example, the amounts for Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and the commuter benefit increased, so you may want to have more taken out of your paycheck. This saves you money by paying with pre-tax dollars.

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More Money More Problems? Complex Compensation Requires a Different Kind of Advisor

The benefit of becoming a high earner is apparent: more money. You can go beyond creating financial security for yourself and your family and start making choices that may have been out of reach. Not having to worry about covering the basics can also provide you with a measure of peace of mind. It can help you operate from a mindset of abundance, and not scarcity, which can free you to actualize your financial and personal goals.

But before you get to that state of satori, you need to get all the money you’ve earned into your financial plan in a reasonably efficient way, while minimizing the taxes you’ll pay across your lifetime, and creating a diversified financial plan.

And if that’s not complicated enough, being a high earner very often means your compensation is unpredictable, lumpy, or you’re no longer a W2 wage earner. Whether you have deferred compensation, restricted stock, stock options, an annual bonus, or you own your own business, high income levels can equate to situations in which you have very complex compensation.

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The Federal Reserve vs. Inflation: Round One

Wednesday’s long-anticipated announcement by the Federal Reserve that the key Fed funds rate would increase by 25 basis points and the accompanying statement by Chairman Powell had the immediate impact of reassuring the markets. St. Patrick’s Day may not have brought pots of gold, but after thirteen no-good, very bad weeks for the S&P 500, we’ll take a push back into positive territory.

Will it last? Given the invasion of Ukraine, the impact of sanctions, the downstream effect on supply chains and food supply, and the geopolitical uncertainty unleashed by Russia’s aggression, the Fed’s job in fighting domestic inflation is much harder now.

We walk through the Fed’s move and Powell’s language, the impact of the rate increase, and what investors can do to prepare their portfolios and budgets.

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