Month: December 2018

A Realistic New Year’s Resolution

Some New Year’s resolutions are more realistic than others. A realistic goal for everyone is to make a financial calendar for the upcoming year. This should include universal deadlines such as April 15th, and dates particular to you, such as insurance renewal dates, salary raises, and financial reviews. Starting the year off with knowledge of all important financial dates for the year can help you plan ahead, and ensure you aren’t caught off guard or scheduling too many events around the same time. Here are some important dates for everyone to remember.


January 1st is the first day you contribute to traditional and Roth 401(k)s, IRAs and SEPs for the new year. It may be helpful to mark a few dates throughout the year with contributions goals. January 15th is the due date for estimated taxes from the fourth quarter of the previous year. March 31st is the last day to enroll in Medicare to start coverage on July 1st to avoid a late enrollment fee, and the last day to submit claims for eligible medical expenses from the previous year for many flexible spending accounts.


April 1st is the last day to take your first IRA required minimum distribution without a penalty. Tax day is April 15th, which is the last day to file income taxes or apply for an extension, as well as the last day to contribute to a traditional or Roth IRA and HSA for the previous year. June 15th is the two month filing extension deadline for federal taxes, which is automatically given to Americans living abroad. Estimated taxes for Q2 are due June 17th.


Estimated taxes for Q3 are due on September 16th. September 30th is the last day to determine beneficiaries after an IRA owner’s death. Extended trust and estate taxes are due October 1st.


Employers typically announce upcoming open enrollment periods to choose benefits for the next year in October. October 15th is the six-month filing extension deadline for federal taxes, the last day to undo a conversion from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, and the last day to contribute to an SEP IRA for the self-employed and self-business owners. There are usually many financial actions you must do by the end of the year, making it very busy and even stressful. December 31st is the last day to take RMDs from an IRA, 401(k), and inherited IRA, set up most types of retirement accounts so contributions count for the current year, and for itemized deductions, stocks, and gifts to count for taxes for the current year.

Knowing about end-of-year deadlines ahead of time can make the holiday season less stressful and more focused on family and celebration and making a financial calendar in the beginning of the year will put you in the right mindset for achieving your financial goals. We’re here to help you keep track of all things retirement. Click here to schedule your no cost, no obligation financial review and start your year off right.

How Retirement Could be Different in 2030

As I wait for the ball in Time Square drop to kick off the start of the new year, I can’t help but think of the changes that will come in the next decade, especially with regards to my retirement. With advancing technology and changing times, it’s hard to predict how things will evolve each year. I worry if I have prepared enough for my retirement, and think about ways in which the world will change when it finally comes time for me to leave the workforce in the next few years. If we take a look at technology and think about the different ways that we are currently advancing, we can try to visualize some ways that retirement might look different in 2030 and be better prepared for the years ahead.

For starters, by 2030, your health should be better monitored. With the rise of fitness tracking devices and rumors of microchips, in 2030 they could possibly track blood pressure, take electrocardiograms and even send 911 alerts if they sense you’re having a medical emergency. Personalized medicine has also been on the rise and should be in full swing by 2030. Medical professionals could possibly provide tailored care for each person’s own unique genetic makeup. This could end up taking some of the uncertainty out of medical bills and help you better estimate the money that you will need to save.

With this, your drug store readers may become a thing of the past, virtual reality glasses becoming more popular and more easily attained, and hopefully with a lower price tag in the next few years. By 2030, your car might even drive itself and drones could drop packages right at your doorstep. If you’ve seen the news lately, you might have heard that both advancements are being tested currently. In the next decade, retirees should no longer have to worry about driving and if you forgot to stop at the pharmacy to pick up your medication, it might be as easy as summoning a drone to your doorstep.

Safety measures will also improve if keys and checks become obsolete. Mobile devices will soon be able to unlock your door and mobile pay will continue to grow. Along with your locks, the rest of your house may also soon rely on technology. Smart homes will become smarter and you may be able to control everything from lights to heat with your phone.

Whatever changes do come in 2019 and beyond, it’s important to be prepared. We are here to create a personalized plan that takes all aspects of your retirement into account. Click here to schedule your complimentary financial review and start the new year prepared.

Wrapping Up 2018

While it’s easy to get caught up in the holiday spirit, running out to grab last minute gifts, baking dozens of gingerbread men and trimming your tree, don’t forget about your retirement plan. The end of the year is an important time for retires, and there’s a few things you should wrap up before it ends.

One thing that comes with the end of a year is deadlines. An important deadline that can be costly to miss is your required minimum distribution. If you’re over the age of 70 ½ and have an IRA account, you have to withdraw a set amount by the end of the year. The tax penalty can be up to 50% of the amount you were supposed to take. Avoid this penalty by taking your RMD now, don’t put it off until after the holidays.

In the spirit of the holiday, and on the topic of RMDs, you might be thinking about giving to charity and a qualified charitable distribution can be a tax-friendly way to do so. The amount of your QCD can be used towards your RMD and will not count as income, making it a tax deduction in addition to the standard deduction. This is something to consider if you were looking to donate to charity anyways.

If you haven’t retired yet, spending down your flexible spending account or FSA could be a good way to end your year. You can make pre-tax contributions into an account that can be used to pay medical expenses.  Basically, you can pay health expenses with tax-free dollars. The only issue is that you have to use it all before the year ends unless your plan allows you to carry any over. Don’t let this money disappear, figure out some way to use it in the last weeks of 2018.

Like an FSA, you could consider contributing to your health savings account. If you have a qualified high-deductible health insurance plan, you can utilize an HSA. You make pre-tax contributions into an account that you can then use to pay eligible medical costs. This differs from an FSA because you have unlimited time to pay yourself back. Until you’re retired it might be smart to pay these health costs out of pocket, but once you reach retirement, your account will have grown, and you can cover larger expenses that are bound to come up.

The best way to end the year is by sitting down with your financial advisor to wrap up your portfolio. We cover everything from investing and finances to lifestyle and estate planning. Click here to schedule your complimentary, no obligation financial review and start 2019 off right.

Evaluate Your Accounts Before Year-End

Before the year ends, it’s important to take a look back and reflect on 2018. You can look at how your investments changed, review your portfolio and note any changes that happened in the past year that affected you financially. This can be as easy as taking 15 minutes to check-up on your portfolio and make sure that you are on the right track for 2019. By evaluating your accounts and investments before the year ends, you can be confident in your finances and feel ready to take on the new year.

You can start by checking your investments performance. Look at your retirement plans like 401(k)s and IRAs. You can go online to get your statements or look for a year-end statement in the mail. Once you have all of your paperwork, start evaluating. Compare your funds with indexes that include similar investments to yours. For example, you want to compare bond funds to bond funds, not bond funds to balanced funds.

After looking over your performance, check out the fees that you paid in 2018. A goal that many people may have for the upcoming year is to lower fees. Since there are so many options for low-cost investments available, it should be wrong to pay high percentages in fees. But it’s important to talk any changes over with your financial advisor before you make decisions.

The last step in this 15-minute investment check should be to rebalance your portfolio. If some of your investments performed great, you might be weighted too heavily in one area. Now is the time to rebalance because you never know what might happen. If something happens the market and those funds drop, you risk losing big. It’s best to keep a mix of stocks, bonds and other investments in your portfolio. If you’re approaching retirement, this balance becomes more and more important.

We want to help you create a strong financial plan that will start your 2019 off right. We will sit with you and evaluate your accounts and create a complete retirement portfolio that you can feel secure in. We will take into account your goals and resolutions for 2019 as well as your lifestyle goals for retirement and your estate plan. Click here to schedule your no cost, no obligation financial review.

Strategies to Help Survive Volatile Markets

A volatile market can make anyone nervous, but it can be especially nerve-wracking for retirees and soon-to-be retirees who are concerned about protecting their nest egg for the long-term. And, one thing will always hold true: No one can predict the market’s ups and downs. This is why it’s important to create, no matter how positive or negative the stock market looks, a comprehensive retirement strategy that will help you survive a volatile market.

First, develop monthly income from sources other than those that rely on the stock market. This monthly income should hopefully be able to cover your living expenses. The rest of your money could be in investments that could potentially show big returns or could end up dropping if the stock market crashes. This income can be used for activities like travel or entertainment. If the market is not doing as well as you’d like, you can cut back on these bonus activities and still not worry how the bills are getting paid.

One of the best sources of guaranteed income comes from Social Security because it can withstand the stock market and inflation. It’s important to maximize this benefit so that you can have as much income each month as possible. But, because Social Security alone will likely not be enough to cover all of your expenses, you may have to look for other retirement income options to help supplement.

After your living expenses are covered, you can start planning for that extra income. There are many different stocks you can invest in and also different ways that you can get your payments. Some people choose to use a systematic withdrawal strategy while others use Required Minimum Distributions to determine their added annual income. It’s always best to talk to a financial advisor to see what options might be best for your unique situation.

Now, if you’re not yet retired but are quickly approaching retirement age, you might want to protect yourself more from a market crash. Especially if you are fully invested in a target date fund. If there is a gap between your retirement date and full retirement age, you’ll need to fund that time. Think about how you could protect yourself by investing in funds that won’t be affected by the crash. You should build up enough funds to cover the gaps for at least a few years.

We want to help you make smart financial decisions so that you are prepared for whatever the stock market brings. We will work with you to create a strong financial plan that can withstand volatility. Click here to schedule your complimentary review and strengthen your financial plan.

Peak Financial Freedom Group
2520 Douglas Boulevard, Suite 110
Roseville, CA 95661


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Investment advisory services are offered through Fiduciary Solutions, LLC, a California Registered Investment Advisor. Insurance products and services are offered through PFFG Insurance Agency LLC, a licensed insurance agency (CA Insurance License #0N14013). Peak Financial Freedom Group LLC is a financial planning and umbrella marketing organization, which enables the provision of multiple financial services under one brand. Peak Financial Freedom Group LLC, PFFG Insurance Agency LLC, and Fiduciary Solutions LLC are affiliated entities with common ownership and control. Jim Files is licensed as an investment adviser representative with Fiduciary Solutions LLC (CRD # 1620449) and is a licensed insurance producer with PFFG Insurance Agency LLC (CA Insurance License #0F06511). Dan Ahmad is licensed as an investment adviser representative with Fiduciary Solutions LLC (CRD # 1491561) and is a licensed insurance producer with PFFG Insurance Agency LLC (CA Insurance License #0732913).

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