Have you recently entered the workforce? Or maybe you are established in your career but worried that your employer-sponsored retirement fund isn’t going to be adequate. An IRA, or individual retirement account, might be just the ticket. But what exactly is this, how does it work, and what type is right for you?
James McEnerney is Director of Marketing at The McEnerney Group. We spoke to him about IRAs in order to bring you answers for some of the most frequently asked questions.
First Things First: What Is an IRA?
At its simplest, says James McEnerney, an IRA is a type of savings account. What distinguishes it from other accounts is that contributions to your IRA are made on a pre-tax basis. When you make a deposit into your IRA, you can subtract that amount from your taxable income for the year — and ergo, pay less tax as you save for your future.
What Other Advantages Are There?
Not only that, but the amount in your IRA will grow tax-deferred, explained James McEnerney. This means that taxes on interest and capital gains are deferred until the money is withdrawn. If you wait until retirement to withdraw your investment, you will probably be in a lower tax bracket. So in addition to saving yourself money now, you’re also doing your future self a financial solid.
What Kind of IRA Should I Choose?
There are several different types of IRAs, James McEnerney says, and we’ll tackle those in future blog posts. For now, we’re looking at the traditional type, which is also the most common. Unless otherwise specified, most of the time when people talk about an IRA, they’re talking about this kind.
Who Is Eligible to Open an IRA?
Anyone who is employed, but who does not have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan such as a 401(k), is a good candidate for an IRA, says James McEnerney. These accounts can also be opened to augment a 401(k), but the tax deductions will change depending on your employment status and other retirement accounts.
Those who are self-employed can also open an IRA, as long as the money they invest is considered “earned income” — income from alimony, child support, rental income, unemployment, or dividends from investments do not qualify as earned income.
In order to open an IRA, you must also be younger than 70 and a half.
Are There Limits to the Amount I Can Invest in an IRA?
Yes. In 2020, you can contribute up to $6,000 annually. If you are 50 years of age or older, the amount goes up to $7,000, says James McEnerney.
What About My Spouse? Can They Contribute?
You must have earned income to contribute to an IRA, explains James McEnerney. However, if your spouse does not have earned income, but you two are legal married and file a joint tax return, you — as the income earner — can open a spousal IRA and contribute to it.
Where Do I Get One?
If you already have an account established with a brokerage or mutual fund company, you should speak with them about opening a traditional IRA. This is ideal, since you can also invest your IRA balance into stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and the like to create even more wealth. You may also be able to open an IRA with your local bank.
James L. McEnerney, Jr., Certified Financial Manager, has over 30 years’ experience as a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch and is now part of The McEnerney Group, an independent family wealth management firm.
Did you know that financial scams and schemes targeting older Americans total nearly $2 billion worth of losses each year? It’s a disheartening statistic, especially when the victims are living off of a meager pension or retirement fund. Certified financial manager James McEnerney has some tips that seniors can use to protect the wealth they worked so hard all their lives to acquire. Let’s take a look!
1. Always Be Skeptical
Cultivate an attitude of skepticism whenever a stranger contacts you regarding a financial matter, James McEnerney says. Whether they are selling a product or service, soliciting a charitable donation, or asking you to confirm personal information — account numbers, PINs, passwords, or your Social Security number — it is always better to be safe than sorry.
2. Get It In Writing
If you think the individual contacting you is legitimate but you’re not sure, ask to see written documentation, suggests James McEnerney. A reputable company or organization won’t balk at this, but a fraudster probably will.
Make it a habit to say “I do not buy from or donate to anyone who contacts me out of the blue. Send me something in writing.” If you get an email that purports to be from your bank, PayPal, or online merchants, do not reply to the email. Instead, open a new web browser tab and go directly to the website in question for information.
3. Protect Your Own Paperwork
Never leave receipts, bank statements, credit card statements, or other documents lying around. Keep them under lock and key if you must keep them, or feed them into a paper shredder.
James McEnerney also advises that you opt of out receiving hard-copy benefits checks or paychecks. Have the money direct deposited in your account, so that would-be thieves will never find anything valuable in your mailbox.
4. Beware Pie in the Sky Propositions
You know the old saying: if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. This goes double when you are contacted about a sweepstakes, contest, freebie, or other windfalls, explains James McEnerney. If a caller says that you have won something, but asks you to pay money to process the funds, cover fees, or confirm your prize, that’s a huge red flag.
Similarly, crooks posing as door-to-door contractors might try to talk you into signing up for services by offering a limited-time-only promotion or flash deal. They want you to sign up then and there — but that’s the last thing you should agree to. Never let any solicitor pressure you into a decision when money is involved, urges James McEnerney
5. Confer with a Trusted Friend
Ask someone close to you for help figuring out if any person, situation, or correspondence is on the up-and-up. This could be one of your adult children, your financial manager, your pastor, your attorney, or someone on the staff of your assisted living facility.
If you receive a call or email that makes you think fraud is afoot, don’t hesitate to call the police, either. James McEnerney explains that this just might save others from falling victim to a swindle.
A Few Closing Thoughts
Scammers and con men are incredibly smart, and their schemes are constantly evolving in order to keep pace with improving security measures. However, if you exercise caution, stay suspicious, and always ask for things in writing, you’ll have a fighting chance of not falling prey to senior fraud, explains James McEnerney.
If you are a member of the Baby Boomer generation, you have likely noticed that many of your peers have either retired or are making plans (read: counting down the days!) for retirement. In fact, some 10,000 of those Americans who were born between 1946 and 1964 retire each and every day!
Unfortunately, a large percentage of those brand-new retirees do not have adequate funds saved for their golden years. Especially concerning to them — and to their financial managers — are the high costs of health care, and how they will manage those costs just as their demand for health care is beginning to increase.
Financial advisor James McEnerney, who specializes in retirement planning, wants to pass on some money-saving health care tips to help Boomers keep more of their hard-earned cash in their retirement accounts.
1. Make Friends with the Pharmacist
Would it surprise you to learn that paying out-of-pocket for prescription medication might be cheaper than using your insurance? Prepare to be surprised, says James McEnerney. Ask the pharmacist what the out-of-pocket cost is, compared to your copay. Medication discount cards, like GoodRx, can also lower the payment you make at the pharmacy counter.
2. Other Ways to Save on Scripts
It pays to comparison shop — and that’s as true for pharmaceutical drugs as it is for snow boots, car insurance, or prime rib. Call around to see which pharmacies in your area have the lowest prices on the meds you take regularly. Some prescriptions are free at supermarket chains. Just don’t go crazy buying snacks and treats with the money you’ve saved!
3. Check Out Programs That May Help
If you have Medicare, you may also be eligible for a program called Extra Help, which kicks in toward the cost of your medication. You may even qualify to get your pills for free, thanks to the Partnership for Prescription Assistance. James McEnerney advises that you ask your physician about similar initiatives.
4. Get Your Fitness for Free with James McEnerney Kansas City
Silver Sneakers is another program that will slash your health care costs by keeping you fit. It’s for adults aged 65 and over, and it provides a free gym membership. That could translate to a savings of $7,000 annually — a pretty big chunk of change!
5. Get Your Sweat On(line)
Not the gym type? It’s easier than ever to exercise at home, and to choose fro a huge variety of workouts, thanks to the Internet. Spend some time browsing free workout videos on YouTube and subscribe to any channels you find promising.
Want more continuity from workout to workout? Don’t feel like wading through dozens of amateur-hour YouTube vids to find an instructor you like whose videos are of decent quality? Online fitness classes offer unlimited access and professional-caliber instruction for $15 per month, on average. You don’t need a financial guru like James McEnerney to tell you that’s a bargain compared to a local in-person instruction.
6. Be a Frugal Four-Eyes
Do you wear glasses? Shop for them online to save big bucks. All you need is your prescription and pupillary distance, which you can have your spouse or friend measure. Zenni Optical has rock-bottom prices, good quality, and a huge selection of hip, trendy, and fun spectacles. Warby Parker’s prices are a little higher, but they send you frames to try on at home before committing.
7. Bid Hasta La Vista to High Medical Bills | James McEnerney Kansas City
American hospitals and health care centers are notorious for charging exorbitant amounts for every little line item on a hospital bill — $1400 for a band-aid, $15 for a single Tylenol and an extra $10 for the plastic cup it’s served in — and for being incredibly difficult to reason with. If you have an outrageous medical bill from a recent ER visit or inpatient stay, James McEnerney says it might make sense to hire a medical bill negotiator. They will first go over your itemized bill with a fine-tooth comb to find mistakes and discrepancies. Then they’ll fight insurance denials and work to negotiate discounts.
As we embark on not just a brand-new year, but also an entirely new decade, financial advisor James McEnerney says that this is an excellent time to take stock of your assets — and to develop a plan for growing them. Here are some of his best tips for making the 2020s your most fruitful, financially successful decade yet.
Certified Financial Manager James McEnerney explains that while it can be useful to look back on the previous decade to get an overview of how far you’ve come financially, as well as to learn from any mistakes or missteps, your primary focus should be on the future. Think ahead to December of 2029, and take some time to envision the economic reality you hope to embody at that juncture. What do you want to have achieved, career-wise? Are there financial goals you want to set for yourself?
Naturally, there will be plenty of milestones to achieve en route to those larger, long-term goals, says James McEnerney. But conceptualizing the big picture is a worthwhile exercise, one that will shape your short-term decisions.
Consulting with your wealth management advisor can help you clarify your vision for the future, according to James McEnerney, who works as the Director of Marketing at The McEnerney Group. A financial professional can draw on their own experiences to suggest strategies you may not have considered, or steer you away from risky enterprises that don’t contribute to your overall objective.
James McEnerney also advises that you take a multi-pronged approach to wealth. One obvious facet of improving your financial health is increasing your income; to that end, don’t shy away from professional challenges or growth opportunities. Some calculated career risks now could pay off handsomely in the coming decade.
James McEnerney Kansas City
Another crucial part of the equation? Smart management of your existing assets. Take an honest look at your portfolio to determine if those assets are truly optimal. An investment that was an excellent choice eight or nine years ago might no longer be the best use of your wealth today. As you revise your financial goals going into the 2020s, so too should your investments undergo periodic evaluation.
Lastly, McEnerney recommends taking a step back and a break from number-crunching to cultivate a more holistic approach toward well-being. Asa former lacrosse champion, avid golfer, and dedicated family man, James McEnerney knows that all the money in the world is worthless if you can’t enjoy some of its spoils. In your quest to bring determined, insightful focus to your finances, don’t ignore the figurative fortunes that make for a fulfilling life: good health, loving relationships, meaningful work, and spiritual connection.
There are those who become successful in life and do not feel the need to give back to their communities, nor to those less fortunate than themselves. James McEnerney of Kansas City is decidedly not one of those people.
James McEnerney of Kansas City annually takes up a co-chair position for Christmas in October. Christmas in October, James McEnerney of Kansas City explains, is a charitable organization whose mission, as stated on their website, is “to bring volunteers and communities together to improve the homes and lives of low-income, elderly, disabled, and veteran homeowners.”
It’s a sad fact of life that all too often, what should be our most revered citizens-the afore-mentioned elderly and veterans-and the ones that need our help most (our low-income and disabled neighbors) are subjected to harsher living conditions that many who are better off would never abide for themselves. James McEnerney of Kansas City explains that Christmas in October is the kind of volunteer organization that should be found more widespread throughout America and that he is proud to be a part of what they offer the community year after year.
James McEnerney of Kansas City explains what the process entails and how the workers operate: every year, those in need may apply for help from the organization, either by sending in a digital application or by calling a phone number. If the applicant is chosen for the Christmas in October program, a team of people, led by a “House Captain”, rolls out to the chosen house on a scheduled date (in October, of course!). The team then works their hardest to renovate, clean, and improve the living conditions for those who reside there.
James McEnerney Kansas City
It is truly a heartwarming spectacle, according to James McEnerney of Kansas City. Watching the community come together to help each other, regardless of status, race, or class, is what being a good neighbor is truly all about. Wheelchair ramps are installed, unhealthy living conditions are brought up to a healthy, livable standard, and waste is removed in a safe manner.
The Christmas in October mission has been operating for the past thirty-six years and shows no signs of slowing down. It’s not just individual people like James McEnerney who are donating their time and money to the cause, either: local businesses, churches, unions, companies, and more also help the cause on an annual basis, proving that the human spirit is still going strong.
In the charity’s own words, taken from their website: “Our sponsors and volunteers are the heart and soul of Christmas in October. To all of you we give a heartfelt thank you for your generous donations – from grants to donated materials and supplies, volunteer hours, discounted service fees, in-kind donations, and financial contributions.” This heartfelt “thank you” proves the true extent of the lengths to which the community and people like James McEnerney of Kansas City go every year to help their fellow man and woman.