Ep 46: The Most Important Birthdays In Retirement Planning

On This Episode

There are certain age milestones where you should really pay attention to your retirement planning progress. On this episode, we’ll look at the most important birthdays as you approach retirement and cover the exact things you should be checking off your to-do list at each age.

Subscribe On Your Favorite App

More Episodes

Check out all the episodes by clicking here.



PFG Private Wealth Management, LLC is an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. The topics and information discussed during this podcast are not intended to provide tax or legal advice. Investments involve risk, and unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial advisor and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed on this podcast. Past performance is not indicative of future performance. Insurance products and services are offered and sold through individually licensed and appointed insurance agents.

Here is a transcript of today’s episode:


Mark: Hey, everybody. Welcome into another addition of the podcast. This is Retirement Planning Redefined, with John and Nick and myself, talking investing, finance, retirement, and birthdays.


Mark: We’re going to get into important birthdays in the retirement planning process. As we get older, I don’t think any of us really want birthdays, but these are some things we need to know. They’re pretty useful. Some of this is pretty basic. Some of this stuff’s got some interesting caveats in it as well. So you might learn something along the way. It can go a long way towards that retirement planning process.


Mark: We’re going to get into that and take an email question as well. If you’ve got some questions of your own, stop by the website, pfgprivatewealth.com. That’s pfgprivatewealth.com.


Mark: John, what’s going on, buddy? How you doing?


John: A little tired. Got woken up at 2:00 in the morning with two cranky kids.


Mark: Oh yeah.


John: So if I’m a little off today, I apologize.


Mark: There you go. No, no worries. You get the whole, they climb the bed, and then you’re on the tiniest sliver?


John: I got one climb into bed, I think kicked me in the face at one point.


Mark: Oh, nice.


John: Another one climbed into bed missing out on the other one, because they share a room. Then I had the sliver. I woke up almost falling off the bed.


Mark: There you go. And usually freezing because you have no blankets.


John: Yeah, yeah.


Mark: That’s usually the way it goes. Nick’s sitting there going, “I don’t know what you guys are talking about.”


Mark: What’s going on, buddy. How you doing?


Nick: Yep. No. Pretty low maintenance over here.


Mark: Well, that’s good. Hey, don’t you have a birthday coming up?


Nick: I got a couple months still.


Mark: Okay, a couple months.


Nick: Yeah, I just got back from a trip a few weeks ago. Some buddies that I grew up with, a group of us have been friends for a really long time, I guess, going back to middle school. We’re all turning 40 this year, so we rented a house in Charleston, and all survived.


Mark: Nice. There you go.


Nick: Yeah. It was good.


John: This is how you know Nick’s turning 40. He came back with neck pain.


Mark: Exactly.


Nick: Yeah.


Mark: Hey, when you start to get a certain age, you start going, “When did I hurt that?” It’s like, “I didn’t even do anything.” Yeah. You don’t have to do anything.


Mark: Well, you know what? That’s a good segue. Let’s jump into this.


Mark: We’re going to start with age 50. I turned 50 last year. First of all, the thing that sucks is you get the AARP card. I don’t know about all that. That’s annoying as a reminder that you’re 50.


Mark: But the government does say, “Hey, let me help you out a little bit here if you need to catch up on some of the retirement accounts, help building those up.” Talk to me about catch up contributions, guys.


Nick: Yeah. Essentially what happens is when you hit 50, there’s two types of accounts that allow you to start contributing a little bit more money. The most basic one is an IRA or a Roth IRA, where the typical maximum contribution for somebody under 50 is 6,000 a year. You can add an additional thousand to do a total of 7,000 a year. The bigger one is in a 401(k) or 403(b) account, where you’re able to contribute, I believe it’s an extra 6,500 per year.


Nick: This is also a good flag for people to think about where, hey, once that catch up contribution is available, it’s probably a good time, if you haven’t done any sort of planning before, to really start to dial in and understand your financial picture a little bit more. Because if you talk to anybody that’s 60, they’ll tell you that 50 didn’t seem too far back. So that’s a good reminder to dig into that a little bit.


Mark: Yeah. It adds up. It’s not necessarily chicken feed. You might hear it and think, “Well, a thousand dollars on this type of account over a year, or 6,500 on the other type of account, whoopedidoo.” But if you’re 50 and you’re going to 67, let say, for full retirement age, and we’ll get to that in a little bit, that’s 17 years of an extra seven grand. It’s not exactly chicken feed, right?


Nick: No. It’s going to be big money down the road.


Mark: Yeah, exactly. So that’s 50.


Mark: John, talk to me about 55. This one’s really similar to 59 and a half, which most of us are familiar with, but most people don’t understand the rule at 55. So can you break that down a little bit?


John: Yeah. We don’t see people utilize this too often, but an example would be let’s say you’re 50, 55, 56, and for whatever reason, you leave your current job. You have an opportunity, at that point…


John: Let’s give a bad scenario. You get laid off. If you didn’t have a nest egg saved up in savings, there’s an opportunity to actually access some money from your 401(k) plan without penalty. What you’ll do is, basically, you take the money directly from the plan, and you just have it go to your bank account, and the 10% penalty’s waived.


John: Now, some people need to be careful with this. Once you roll it out to an IRA, this 55 rule here, where the 10%’s waived, ceases to exist. It has to go from the employer plan to you directly in that situation. It’s a nice feature if someone finds themselves in a bad situation, or they need access to money, and the 10% penalty’s gone, but you still have to pay your income tax on that money [crosstalk 00:05:03]


Mark: Of course. Yeah. That caveat being, it’s only from the job that you’ve just left, right? It can’t be from two jobs ago kind of thing. It’s got to be that one that you’ve just walked away from, or been asked to leave, or whatever the case is. That’s that caveat.


John: Correct.


Mark: It’s basically the same rules, Nick, as the 59 and a half. It’s just is attached to that prior job. But 59 and a half is the more normal one. What’s the breakdown there?


Nick: Yeah. Essentially what happens is, at 59 and a half, you are able to take out money from your qualified accounts while avoiding that penalty without any sort of caveats. One thing to keep in mind is that usually you’re taking it out from accounts that…


Nick: For example, if you’re currently employed, the process of taking it out of the plan where you’re employed can be a little bit different, but it’s pretty smooth and easy if you have an IRA or something like that outside of the employer plan.


Nick: One other thing that happens in most plans, for people at 59 and a half, is, and we’ve seen it a bunch lately, where a lot of 401(k) plans have very restricted options in fixed income and those sorts of things, where most or many plans allow people to take inservice rollovers, where they’re able to still work at their employer, but roll their money out of the plan to open up some options for investments outside of the plan.


Nick: That’s not always the best thing for people. Sometimes the plans are great. Fees are really low. Options are great. So it may not make sense, but oftentimes people do like having the option to be able to shift the money out without any sort of issue.


Mark: Okay. All right. So that’s the norm there. You got to love that half thing. You always wonder what the senators or whoever was thinking when [crosstalk 00:06:56]


John: Finally, they got rid of the 70 and a half [crosstalk 00:06:58]


Mark: Yeah. They get rid of that one. Yeah. We’ll get to that in just a minute as well.


Mark: John, 62, nothing too groundbreaking here, but we are eligible finally for Social Security. So that becomes… I guess the biggest thing here is people just go, “Let me turn it on ASAP versus is it the right move?”


John: Yeah. So 62, you’re now eligible. Like you said, a lot of people are excited to finally get access to that extra income. You can start taking on Social Security.


John: Couple of things to just be aware of is, any time you take Social Security before your full retirement age, you will get a reduction of benefit. At 62, it’s anywhere, depending on your full retirement age, roughly 25 to 30% reduction of what you would’ve gotten had you waited till 66 or 67.


Mark: They penalize you, basically.


John: Yeah.


Nick: Yeah. Actually, if you do the math, it ends up breaking down to almost a half a percent per month reduced.


Mark: Oh wow.


Nick: Yeah. It really starts to add up when you think about it that way.


John: Yeah. We always harp on planning, so important if you are thinking about taking it early, once you make that decision, and after a year of doing that, you’re locked into that decision. So it’s important to really understand is that best for your situation.


John: Other things to consider at this age, if you do take early, Social Security does have what they call a earnings penalty slash recapture. If you’re still working and taking at 62, a portion of your Social Security could be subject to go back to them in lieu of, for a better term, [crosstalk 00:08:27]


Mark: It’s 19,000 and some change, I think, this year, if you make more than that.


John: Yeah.


Mark: Yeah.


John: Yeah. Anything above 19,000 that you’re earning, 50% goes back to Social Security. [crosstalk 00:08:36]


Mark: Yeah. For every two bucks you make-


John: 5,000 goes back to Social Security. So that’s really important.


John: Something that I just want to make, last point on this, is that earnings threshold is based on someone’s earned income, and it’s based on their own earned income, not household. That comes up quite a bit, while people say, “Well, I want to retire and take at 62, but my husband’s still working. Am I going to have a penalty if I take it?” The answer is no. It’s based on your own earnings record.


Mark: That’s where the strategy comes into play too. Because if you are married, then looking at who’s making more, do we leave one person’s to grow, as we’re going to get into those in just a second, to grow towards that more full number.


Mark: Again, that’s all the strategy. It may make sense for one person to turn it on early, and the other person to delay it. That’s, again, part of the strategy of sitting down and talking with a professional, and looking at all the other assets that you have, and figuring out a good move there.


Mark: Nick, let’s go to Medicare. 65 magic age.


Nick: Yeah. Actually, my dad turns 65 this year. So we’ve been planning this out for him. He is a retired fireman, so he has some benefits that tie in with his pension.


Nick: One of the things that came up, and just something that people should think about or remember, even if they are continuing to work past 65, is it oftentimes makes sense to at least enroll in Medicare Part A. You can usually enroll as early as three months before your birthday. The Medicare website has gotten a lot easier to work with over the last year or two.


Nick: Part A, the tricky thing is that you want to check with your employer, because usually what happens for the areas that Part A covers, which is usually hospital care, if you were to have to be admitted or certain procedures, it’s figuring out who’s the primary payer, who pays first, who pays second. So making sure that you coordinate your benefits. Check in with HR, if you’re going to continue to work.


Nick: If you are retired and are coming up on that Medicare age, make sure that you get your ducks in a row so that you do enroll. Most likely you’re going to start saving some money on some healthcare premiums.


Mark: Technically, this starts about, what, three months early? It’s a little actually before 65. I think it’s three months when you got to start this process, and three months before and after.


Nick: Yep. Yeah. You can typically enroll three months before your birthday, and then through three months afterwards. There can be some issues if you don’t enroll and you don’t have other healthcare, at least for Part A. There can be penalties and that sort of thing.


Nick: Frankly, with Medicare and healthcare in retirement, this is a space that we typically delegate out. We’ve got some good resources for clients that we refer them to, because there are a lot of moving parts, and it can be overwhelming, especially when you start to move into the supplements and Advantage plans, and all these different things.


Mark: Oh yeah. And it’s crucial. You want to make sure you get it right. A lot of advisors will definitely work with some specialists, if you will, in that kind of arena. So definitely checking that out when we turn 65.


Mark: Again, some of these, pretty high level stuff, some of this stuff we definitely know. But we wanted to go over some of those more interesting caveats.


Mark: Let’s keep moving along here, guys. Full retirement age, 66 or 67. John, just what? It’s your birthday, right?


John: It is your birthday. That’s the time that you can actually take your full Social Security benefit without any reduction, which is a great thing to do. Then also that earnings penalty we discussed earlier at age 62, that no longer exists. Once you hit your full retirement age, 66 or 67, you can earn as much as you want and collect your Social Security. There’s no penalty slash recapture.


John: When that happens, people have some decisions to make. If they’re still working, they can decide to take their Social Security. I’ve had some clients that take it, and they use that as vacation money. I’ve had some other ones take it, and they take advantage of maxing out their 401(k) with the extra income. Or you can delay it. You don’t have to take it. You get 8% simple interest on your benefit up until age 70.


John: So full retirement age, you got a lot of big decisions to make, depending on your situation. But you want to make sure you’re making the best for what you want.


Mark: Definitely.


Nick: Just as a reminder to people that that 8%, and you had mentioned it, but it does cap out at age 70. So there’s no point in waiting past 70, because it doesn’t increase any more.


Mark: Right. Thanks for doing that. It wasn’t on my list, but I was going to bring it up real fast. So yeah. People will sometimes email and they’ll say, “Hey, I want to keep working past 70. How’s that affect Social Security.” It’s like, “Well, you’re maxed out, so you got to just go ahead and get it done.” You can still work if you’re feeling like it. Your earnings potential is unlimited, but it’s just a matter of you’re not going to add any more to it. So I’m glad you brought that up.


Mark: John, you mentioned earlier, they got rid of the other half. Thank God. The 70 and a half thing, just because it was confusing as all get out. They moved it to 72.


Nick: Yeah. Required minimum distributions, as a reminder for people, are for accounts that are pre-tax, where you were able to defer taxation. 401(k), traditional IRA, that sort of thing. At 72, you have to start taking out minimum distributions. It starts at around 3.6, 3.7% of the balance. It’s based on the prior year’s ending balance. It has to be taken out by the end of the year.


Nick: An important thing for people to understand is that, many times, people are taking those withdrawals out to live on anyways. So for a lot of people, it’s not an issue at all. However, there are a good amount of people that it’s going to be excess income.


Nick: Earlier mentioned, hey, at age 50, really time to check in and start making sure that you’re planning. One of the benefits of planning and looking forward is to project out and see, hey, are these withdrawal going to cause you to have excess income at 72, where maybe we’re entering into a time that tax rates could be higher, tax rates could be going up, which is fairly likely in the next five to 10 years. So if we know and we can project that, then we can make some adjustments to how we save, should you be putting more money into a Roth versus a traditional, and how we make adjustments on the overall planning.


Nick: So making sure that you understand how those work, and then the impact that it has on other decisions to take into account for that situation, is a huge part of planning.


Mark: Definitely. Those are some important birthdays along the way. You got to make sure you get this stuff done. 72, there’s the hefty penalties involved if you don’t do that. Plus you still got to pay the taxes. All this stuff has some crucial moments in that retirement planning process, so definitely make sure that you are not only celebrating your birthday, but you’re also doing the right things from that financial and that retirement planning standpoint along the way.


Mark: Again, if you got questions, stop by the website, pfgprivatewealth.com. That’s pfgprivatewealth.com. You can drop us an email question as well, if you’d like. That’s what we’re going to do to wrap up the show right now.


Mark: We got a question that’s sent in from Jack. He says, “Hey, guys. I’ve thought about meeting with a financial advisor to plan my retirement, but I’ve never used a budget or anything like that before. So I’m wondering, should I budget myself for a couple of months before I meet with a professional?”


Nick: Based upon experience, putting expense numbers down on paper is one of the biggest hurdles for people to get into planning. But with how this question is phrased, I would be concerned, because it’s kind of like the situation of starting a diet. You start a diet. You’re going to eat really good for two to three weeks. You’re trying to hold yourself accountable. You’re functioning in a way that isn’t necessarily your normal life.


Nick: One of the things, as advisors, that we want to make sure that we understand are what are you really spending. It’s great to use a budget, but if you’re budgeting to try to look good in the meeting, which we’ve seen happen, you’re painting a false picture, and you’re not letting us know what the finances actually look like.


Nick: So I would actually say to put down the real expense numbers in place, let’s see what it really looks like, and then if we need to create a budget after we’ve created a plan, then that’s something that we can dig into.


Mark: Yeah. John, let me ask you, as we wrap this up, sometimes people associate seeing a professional financial advisor with a budget. Also, people have a cringe to the B word. They think, “Well, I don’t want to live on a fixed budget,” or something like that.


Mark: That’s not necessarily what we’re talking about, right? That’s not probably what Jack is referring to. He’s just trying to figure out, I guess, more income versus expenses, right?


John: Yeah, yeah. The first step is to analyze your expenses. That could be what he’s referring to as far as, “Hey, should I take a look? Should I get my expenses down before I meet with someone?”


John: I’d agree with Nick, even if that’s what you’re looking at, versus the budgeting, I would say no. I think the first step is sit down with an advisor, because they can assist in categorizing the expenses correctly based on today’s expenses, versus what expenses are going to be at retirement.


John: I think it’s important just to get going rather than trying to prep. Because we’ve seen a lot of people that have taken … They’ve been prepping for years to meet. That’s years where they haven’t done anything, and they’ve, unfortunately, lost out on some good opportunities, otherwise, if they just said, “Hey, I’m going to sit down first, see what’s going on.”


Mark: Yeah. It gives you that built-in excuse.


John: [crosstalk 00:18:26]


Mark: It gives you that built in, “Well, I’m not quite ready.” Well, you might never be ready if you play that game. Especially a lot of times when it’s complimentary to sit down with professionals, have a conversation. Most advisors will talk to you, no cost or obligations. So why not right? Find out. Just get the ball rolling. That’s the first step. It’s usually the hardest part too.


Nick: Yeah. One thing that we typically tell people is that we are not the money police. We are not here to tell you that you can’t use your money the way that you want to use it.


Nick: The way that we view ourselves, and what our role is as an advisor, is to help you understand the impact of decisions. Whether those decisions have to do with spending money, saving money, whatever, it’s to make sure that you understand the impact of your decisions so that you make better decisions. That’s it.


Mark: There you go. Yeah. It’s your money, at the end of the day, your call, but certainly having some good, well, coaches in your corner, if you will, advisors to help advise, that’s the whole point. But I like that. Not the money police.


Mark: All right. That’s going to do it this week, guys. Thanks for hanging out. As always, we appreciate your time here on Retirement Planning Redefined. Don’t forget. Stop by the website.


Mark: If you need help before you take any action, we always talk in generalities, and try to share some good nuggets of information, but you always want to see how those things are going to affect your specific situation.


Mark: If you’re already working with John and Nick and the team at PFG Private Wealth, fantastic. Then you already have a lot of this stuff in place. But if you have questions, or you’re not working with them, or you’ve come across this podcast in whatever way, or maybe a friend shared it with you, definitely reach out and have a chat. pfgprivatewealth.com. That’s pfgprivatewealth.com. Don’t forget to subscribe on whatever podcasting platform app you like to use.


Mark: We’ll see you next time here on the show. For John and Nick, I’m your host, Mark. We’ll catch you later here on Retirement Planning Redefined.