Retirement Planning Checklist

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After a life of long hours and hard work, there’s nothing sweeter than the acknowledgment that retirement is right around the corner. While it can become so easy to give into the next step of life, there’s nothing worse than entering retirement with little to no plan. At Anchor Wealth Management, we do everything that we can to ensure that our clients are prepared and empowered with both their investments and their finances, especially at this stage of wealth.

Today we are going to cover a few of the items that we believe are crucial to look into and get in order when it comes to your retirement. This checklist will allow for you to organize along the way so that when the day that you retire is finally here, you are prepared.


Pay Off Your Debt

Sure, this sounds like the opposite of retirement, but it’s genuinely one of the most looked over factors of finances and retirement. Debt is one of the worst things that you can acquire, and it doesn’t make sense to stop working when you’re still paying bills of money that you owe.

If you’re getting ready to start budgeting for retirement or you want to realistically look at what you need to do before you can retire, one of the things that we strongly suggest including is your debt. It may not be fun at first to include this as a part of the process, but paying it off will honestly pay off in the long-run.

When you’re living a life of zero debt, you no longer have to worry about whether or not you’re going to be able to afford payments or if your money will stretch to the end of your life. Once you’ve paid off your home, cars, loans, and credit cards, you’ll realize just how much sweeter your retirement will be.


Budget Correctly

Now that you’ve got your finances in order and you’re starting to look at the overall budget that you need, we want to make sure that you do it correctly so that you are prepared. To truly understand what it is that you’ll need to live each month, you need to calculate your expenses. Sure this is a place where you could guess and hope for the best, but who wants that to be their reality once they’re retired?

Look through your expenses for the last 3 to 6 months and determine what you would need to get by on a month to month basis. From there, you can put a little bit more aside so that you’re able to live comfortably. If you’re not sure how long you should be calculating for, our team can help you plan accordingly so that you feel comfortable with the budget that you’re setting.


Create a Sound Plan

While it sounds like common sense, you’d be surprised at how few people have planned out their retirement so that they can act accordingly. By creating a plan for when your retirement will happen and what you plan to do at that point, you can budget correctly, save accordingly, and have a timeline of where next steps are coming into place.

Retirement plans will take quite a few factors into account, so if you’re feeling intimidated or overwhelmed by the pieces of information that you need to consider, stop in and sit down with a member of our team — we’ll make sure that you have everything you need included in your plan.


Manage Your Retirement Funds

Regardless of how little experience you have with finances, the last thing that you want to do with your retirement funds is let it sit and go forgotten. It’s great to get used to funds flowing into your retirement fund and accounting for that in all forms of income that you have. However, don’t let the fact that money is being taken out of your paycheck allow you to feel confident about what you have in your retirement funds.

Now, by no means are we saying that you should be staying on top of your account every day or even every other week, no. This is something that you could get away checking as often as twice a year or even once a year, to make sure that you know where you stand and can adjust the amount of money that you’re setting aside for retirement, accordingly.



Expect the Unexpected

If life went smoothly for all, there would be no need for retirement funds or saving at all. Unfortunately, there is always something unexpected that comes about and messes things up. One of the things that we work towards avoiding are the unexpected factors that can come in and disrupt the budget that was built for retirement. That being said, we always suggest preparing for the unexpected.

Regardless of how early or late you may be contributing to your retirement, health is something that will always be unexpected and should still be accounted for. If there is a set age that you are planning on retiring at, it’s always good to consider what condition your health might be in at this point. And of course, this is only something you can guess. The point we really want to make is that if you get to a point where you feel as though you’ve put enough money aside for your retirement, there’s nothing wrong with a little gravy to ensure you’re well taken care of.


Ask for Help When You Need It

Retirement and adequate planning are not easy, even when you have an idea of what you’re doing. If you have questions or you need help, don’t be afraid to ask! We can’t say it enough; our team is here to educate and empower you to prepare for your future. We will always be here ready to help and provide you with the information that you need to make the best financial decisions for you. The only way to know that you’ve made all the right choices is to ask the questions and take the necessary actions along the way.

Preparing for your retirement can never happen too early. If you have any questions regarding retirement plans or financial planning for the future, don’t hesitate to reach out. As we mentioned before, empowering our clients to take action and change their future is something that we strive to do. Make sure to contact Anchor Wealth Management with any questions or inquiries you may have!

When Is The Right Time To Begin Planning For Retirement?

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When you think about retirement, what are your dreams? Maybe it means enough savings to take month-long vacations that involve tropical beaches, or maybe it means having sufficient savings to pay the bills and take the occasional trip to visit your grandkids. Whatever your post-career dreams are, retirement planning is the way to bring those dreams to fruition. If retirement is still decades away, saving for your future may not feel as pressing as taking care of your current expenses. One concern we commonly hear about here at Anchor Wealth Management is how to find that balance between current financial needs and future ones. This is where financial planning steps in to help.


Retirement Planning

If talk of 401k savings and investment planning makes your head swim, there is no need to worry. Retirement planning, at its core, is a roadmap designed to take your finances as they are now and get them where you want them to be by the time retirement rolls around. Because it takes both the present and the future into account, retirement planning can be started at any point. However, the earlier you get started, the better! Yes, even if you are still fresh out of high school, now is a great time to start planning for retirement. No matter where you are, the sooner you get started, the quicker you can get your finances in order and actually reach where you want to be.


How It Works

There are a few key things that set retirement planning apart from simply stocking up money in your savings account. The primary difference is that your financial advisor will take the time to discuss what your financial goals are and what matters to you, both now and for the future. With that knowledge, they will then help you develop a comprehensive plan that will help you make decisions intended to get you where you want to be, financially speaking. Another big difference between strictly saving versus following a financial plan is that financial planning takes into account the vagaries of life. Your financial advisor will look at things like the quantity and types of debt you carry, income and expenses, whether you have children, and so on. From there, they will be able to advise you on investments, paying down debt, recommendations for life insurance, and so much more.


Making A Savvy Start

Financial planning is intended to be a comprehensive plan that takes your life and your dreams into account. This means that retirement plans will look different from one person to the next. It also means that there is no one point at which everyone should universally start planning for retirement. The short and easy explanation is that starting sooner is more beneficial and makes it easier to attain your retirement goals. However, life brings with it a huge range of changes and different needs. Retirement planning specifically (and financial planning in general) helps you handle those changes and make decisions accordingly.

If you are unsure where to begin with retirement planning, the best bet is to talk to a financial advisor. They will provide you with a framework of suggestions based on your specific circumstances. However, there are a few things that are pretty universally beneficial. First, paying off your debt is going to be beneficial in both the short-term and in the long run. This means making a concerted effort to pay down any credit card balances, loans, and so on.

After you have paid down your debt, excluding your home, the focus can shift more heavily to 401k and IRA accounts as well as other investment options. At that point in which you’ve accomplished this, even paying your mortgage more quickly can be beneficial, but do check the terms of your loan to see if there are any penalties for paying off your loan faster.

Experienced Assistance

At Anchor Wealth Management, we are fiduciary financial planners and Dave Ramsey SmartVestor Pros with years of experience providing financial guidance in the Northern Illinois area with offices in both Lanark and Rockford as well as licensure in 18 other states. No matter where you are in the retirement planning process, we can help you create a comprehensive financial plan based around your needs and dreams, teach you about the process, and guide you along your journey. Allow us to be your anchor in turbulent financial waters; contact our team today to schedule a meeting.


Disclosure: investors should carefully consider investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. This and other important information is contained in the fund prospectuses, summary prospectuses and 529 Product Program Description, which can be obtained from a financial professional and should be read carefully before investing. Depending on your state of residence, there may be an in-state plan that offers tax and other benefits which may include financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors. Before investing in any state's 529 plan, investors should consult a tax advisor. If withdrawals from 529 plans are used for purposes other than qualified education, the earnings will be subject to a 10% federal tax penalty in addition to federal and, if applicable, state income tax.

Where To Begin With College Planning

The number of news segments covering the costs of college tuition these days can make the whole university process seem daunting — especially given the number of times the phrase “rising costs” is used. Most parents’ biggest concern is not how far away their children will go for school, it is how to pay for the expenses. Scholarships and grants can help, as can the financial aid system; however, none of that assistance is guaranteed. Whether your child is a year old or a year away from going away to college, financial planning is a valuable tool to help you figure out how to prepare for your child’s college expenses.


Financial Assistance For College Expenses

According to recent data provided by CNN Money, the average private college tuition is $45,370. However, thanks to the range of financial assistance out there, the average private college student only paid $26,080. Public colleges and universities are often even less expensive, particularly if the student qualifies for in-state tuition. Even still, that can be a lot of money to spend on education.

There are a plethora of different options for financial assistance out there to help students pay for college. Some of those options — specifically some scholarships, work study aid, and federal loans — will be based on income. Other options, including many scholarships and grants, are doled out based on academic merit, athletics, and other individualized criteria. In essence, there are plenty of options for financial assistance to help lower the cost of tuition. The big caveat is that many of those options hinge on other qualifications and are, therefore, uncertainties. Figuring out how to pay for college should rely on more than just hopes and prayers.


Financial Planning For College Expenses

Often, one of the most complicated parts of saving for a child’s college expenses is the level of uncertainty involved. First, you may not know for years whether your child will go to a state school or a private university, and whether they will go somewhere in-state or not — all of which can have a big impact on the bottom line. Further, current trends can help give an idea about tuition increases, but it is by no means a verifiable amount. As many financial planners and parents of current college students will no doubt tell you, it is important to start saving as early as possible. But what does that really entail?

This is where a financial planner can help. Yes, starting a 529 college savings account can be a good place to start, in the literal sense. Financial planning can help you create a budget for your future college student, determine how much you should be saving, and more importantly, determine how much you can afford to save based on your current financial situation. While saving for your child’s college expenses can be a big part of your financial future, it is not the only facet of your financial plan. Start saving, but do not neglect your current financial needs or your retirement savings. A financial planner can also help you adjust those goals as your child gets closer to their high school graduation, and to alter your plans accordingly.

Find a Fiduciary

The most important thing financial planning provides is a road map of sorts to your financial future. Your financial planner will take into account where you are currently and what your financial goals are. From there, they will work with you to develop a plan that will help you pay down debt as well as save and invest appropriately. After all, it does not make sense to send yourself deeper into debt as you try to save for an event more than a decade down the road!

When you start your search for financial planners near you, seek out those who have earned the designation “fiduciary.” Where a financial adviser working for his broker-dealer as a broker will often sell a product and earn a commission, a fiduciary will not.

If you are ready to start saving for your child’s education, the Anchor Wealth Management team is here to help. Meet with a fiduciary financial advisor in Lanark or Rockford; contact us today to schedule.


Investors should carefully consider investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. This and other important information is contained in the fund prospectuses, summary prospectuses and 529 Product Program Description, which can be obtained from a financial professional and should be read carefully before investing. Depending on your state of residence, there may be an in-state plan that offers tax and other benefits which may include financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors.. Before investing in any state's 529 plan, investors should consult a tax advisor. If withdrawals from 529 plans are used for purposes other than qualified education, the earnings will be subject to a 10% federal tax penalty in addition to federal and, if applicable, state income tax.

Financial Planning: Your Anchor In Turbulent Financial Waters

We all use money day-in and day-out for a great many facets of life, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to financial planning expertise. It’s a bit like learning a language. Just because you grow up reading, writing, and speaking English as your native language, that doesn’t automatically mean you’re an expert on the vocabulary, grammar, and conventions. Even with years of natural language learning, it takes additional focused study to become an expert in the field. The same concept goes for financial planning — just because you earn and spend money regularly, that doesn't belie financial expertise. Specific training can provide more in-depth and focused information, which can help you create a better financial plan. In the same way that you would work with a trained writer to create an important document, working with a financial consultant can help you develop a better plan for your finances both now and for the future.


Professional Financial Planning

It’s easy to reduce financial planning down to working with an advisor to create an investment portfolio. But, financial planning is far more than that. At the core, each financial plan is something akin to a road map that accounts for where you are at present, where you want to be, and how you’ll get there. In that regard, working with a trained financial advisor is all about creating the right financial plan based on your wants, needs, and goals. Financial planning, when done correctly, is incredibly individualized — and why working with a professional for that guidance matters.

Financial planning isn’t just about providing help with investments or planning for retirement. Are you looking for ways to pay off your debt? Financial planning can help. Do you want to save up a down payment to buy a house? You guessed it, a financial advisor can help you create a plan to do so. The focus is often on saving for retirement, but financial planning as a whole can help you do so much more!



Seeking Assistance

Of course, just because all financial planning should be individualized doesn’t mean it is. Choosing a financial consultant can have a major impact on your financial future, so it’s important to choose wisely. First and foremost, work with someone who takes the time to get to know you and what your goals are. Second, you’re allowed to ask how they charge and how they get paid. Some financial planners earn commission, and that can easily influence the options they suggest. In opposition, a Fiduciary financial advisor, like Anchor Wealth Management owner Adam Ludwig, is one that is legally bound to act in the client’s best interest. Ensuring your financial planner is also a Fiduciary is a good way to trust that the guidance you get is about your needs, rather than the bottom line.

Whether you’re looking for ways to pay off debt or save up for your child’s future college expenses, a financial consultant can give you the tools you need to achieve your goals. Contact the Fiduciary financial planning team at Anchor Wealth Management here in Lanark for experienced and personalized financial guidance. Give us a call to schedule a meeting today!

What Can Financial Planning Help You Do?

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Think back to when you were fresh out of high school. Whether you were starting your first full-time job or heading off to college — or some combination of the two — it is probably a safe guess that your idea of financial planning at that point was not particularly well developed. For so many 18 and 19 year olds, financial planning simply means having enough money in the bank to buy groceries and pay rent. At that age, it can be hard to think about nebulous future events like retirement because adult life has barely begun. And yet, that is a great time to start developing a true financial plan. Fortunately, there is no age limit on creating a financial plan. But, to what purpose?


What Is Financial Planning?

When talk about financial planning comes up, many people immediately jump to thoughts of choosing stocks and learning how to ‘play’ the stock market game. It’s not that at all! Well, stock market investing can be a part of financial planning, but it’s not everything and it’s not even necessary. Financial planning, at its most basic, is exactly what it sounds like — it’s a plan for your money. More specifically, financial planning is typically something done with the help of a financial consultant who will work with you to determine what your monetary goals are, both short- and long-term, and help you develop a plan to make those goals a reality.


What Can Financial Planning Do?

The long and short of it is that financial planning can do just about anything. A frequent focus is planning for retirement, but that’s not the only thing you can do with financial planning. It’s less about what you want to do with your money and more about what you want in life, what your values are, what is important to you, and how to strategically use your money to benefit you and your family based on your goals/values. With that in mind, financial planning can do a lot of different things. Specifically, it can help you:

  • Get out of debt

  • Prepare financially for retirement

  • Save for a large purchase, like a house

  • Create college savings for your kids

  • Adjust to changes in your financial situation

  • Make life-impacting financial decisions

Of course, that isn’t a comprehensive list. The idea behind financial planning as a whole is to find a financial consultant who will work closely with you to get to know your needs so they can offer personalized advice and planning. A financial plan should be all about your needs, so in essence, it can do just about anything.


Fiduciary Financial Planning

When you start looking into financial consultants in your area, we definitely suggest looking specifically for fiduciary financial planners. Fiduciaries are financial advisors, but they are a specific subset who are legally bound to act in the best interests of their clients. Generally, this means providing financial advice and services according to what will be best for their client rather than what will help them earn the most commission. Here at Anchor Wealth Management, our financial planning team has your best interests at heart, even without the fiduciary title — though, owner Adam Ludwig is a Fiduciary too. If you’re looking for a financial advisor in Lanark, or even if you just want to learn more about what financial planning has to offer, contact us today!

Most Common Retirement Planning Concerns And How To Address Them

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Retirement can be one of the most enjoyable stages in your life. You work hard throughout your career so you can eventually live your life without the nine to five grind every day. As with any major life change, the shift into retirement can be a bit anxiety inducing. There are looming questions: will I outlive my money? how will I pay for healthcare? what if I still have debt?

If you ponder these questions now and again (or maybe quite often), you are not alone. These are common concerns about retirement. The good news is that thinking ahead puts you in a good position for when you get there. Address these concerns now with a healthy financial plan and retirement will be a breeze.

Do You Have The Basics Covered?
Read: The Three Basics To Financial Planning


Four Retirement Concerns And The Solutions

Worry: Will I be able to pay for healthcare?

Solution: Stay insured, use a Health Savings Account, and purchase long-term care insurance. conducted a survey in 2015 that says 28 percent of people worry their medical expenses will be too high during retirement. Begin by tracking current health care expenses. This gives you a general number to plan around, but it won’t be set in stone. Many people pay more visits to the doctor as they age, so this should be calculated as a starting point. 

Medicare and Medicaid are healthcare insurance supplements for older citizens, but they only cover about half of the necessary costs for most people. The most important piece of advice is to stay insured. If an employer-sponsored plan is no longer available, check out the plans through the Affordable Care Act’s health care marketplace.

Another tip to prepare for health expenses is to open a Health Savings Account (HSA) now. This is an additional fund you may use for healthcare costs and other medical expenses throughout retirement. Many employers offer a high-deductible insurance plan with an HSA. Start saving in the HSA as soon as possible to reduce the burden of additional medical costs in your later years.

Finally, you may want to consider purchasing long-term care insurance to cover the expenses that may be required if you ever fail to care for yourself. However, this step is not a necessary one, and if you are under the age of 60, may not be the best use of your income. Work with your financial advisor to determine whether long-term care insurance is the right fit for your retirement plan.

Worry: Will I outlive my savings?

Solution: Use a personal retirement calculator, contribute up to the maximum amount for savings accounts, and meet with a financial planner to build the best plan for a long retirement.

Today people are living longer than any other generation before. That doesn’t mean everyone is going to outlive their savings, though. Since we know the life expectancy continues to extend, financial experts help individuals estimate how much money is necessary to cover a long retirement. There are a plethora of strategies to use to save more money and reallocate assets to make sure you’re on the right track. A quick financial planning meeting can help ease these worries. For starters, you can use a retirement calculator to determine if you’re on the right track; get in touch with the Anchor Wealth Management team for personalized financial planning tools. Additionally, make sure to contribute the maximum amount possible to your retirement accounts, including any catch-up funds if you are over the age of 50.

Meet With A Financial Planner Today

Worry: Will I have a steady income stream?

Solution: Work as long as you can to suspend withdrawing from Social Security early, save independently as if you won’t receive Social Security, and take advantage of pensions and other benefits available.

Almost one-fifth of Americans are worried they will not have a steady income throughout retirement, according to the Bankrate survey. The unknown status of Social Security availability in the future is one primary reason for this worry. Truthfully, nobody can guarantee that Social Security will be accessible or be enough to cover all expenses. Therefore, it is recommended to save additionally on your own — as if you will not have any Social Security payouts — and then you can use S.S. as a bonus if it works out in your favor. Remember: a few more years on the job can suspend the need for Social Security and other fund withdrawals.

Additionally, take advantage of any available benefits or pensions that can supplement what you save independently. Many people make lifestyle adjustments during retirement to live in a more frugal way — this is not necessary. Proper planning means you’ll have the right income to sustain your current lifestyle, even after your working days are done.

Worry: Will I owe too much debt?

Solution: Pay off consumer debt before you enter retirement.

Bankrate says 10 percent of Americans worry about debt in retirement. Unfortunately, the average amount of debt for a 65-year-old has risen in the past decade. On average, a 65-year-old carries $48,000 worth of consumer debt into retirement. The easiest way to ease this anxiety is to pay off as much — if not all — of the debt even before investing for retirement. Our goal, at Anchor Wealth Management, is to help you create a financial plan that moves you toward paying off all of your debt except for your mortgage before focusing on investments. Head into retirement debt free because statistics show that people who enter retirement already indebted increase their debt by about 60 percent between the ages of 50 and 80. 

There are many ways to tackle debt pay-off. Stay tuned to our blog for some suggestions in a future post. Or you can visit with a financial coach for a personalized strategy.

Ultimately, retirement is about letting go of life’s worries and enjoying the things you’ve always wanted to do. Help yourself enjoy your golden years by planning ahead for a good financial foundation.

Anchor Wealth Management is a local financial services firm with offices in Lanark and Rockford. We can help you create a personalized retirement plan. This plan can ease any worries you may have about your future. Our team specializes in doing right by people, so we’ll tailor our advice to your life specifically. We begin with the end in mind to make sure we build the right plan to get you where you want to be. 

Learn more about our team.

Financial Planning In Lanark: Start With These Three Basics

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Wealth management is an important part of life, both now and in planning for the future. For some, financial planning begins with their first high school job. Others may start planning with their first career. Still others may wait to intentionally manage their wealth later in their years. It is never “too late” to start planning for the future. However, starting sooner with professional financial planning is most beneficial to ensuring you have the best plan based on both your current financial situation and what you hope to achieve going forward. 

Developing a strong financial plan incorporates three basics: pay off your debt, save for an emergency, and craft a financial plan to take you from now through retirement. Meeting with a professional financial planner can not only help you with investing, but also to create the financial plan to pay off debt, create emergency savings, and prepare for the future. 

Pay Off Consumer Debt

In our world, there are two different kinds of debt. Investment debt is debt you have because you made a strategic financial investment, such as a home mortgage. Consumer debt, on the other hand, is a debt accrued from capital purchases. This type of debt typically comes from payday loans, credit cards, and other consumer finances.

The ultimate goal is to be totally free of debt, though paying down your mortgage will take longer than, say, paying off a credit card. Getting debt free can be overwhelming initially. We suggest starting with your smallest debt, rather than that with the highest interest rate. The positive feelings that come from paying off each of your smaller debts can help spur future successes, creating a snowball effect and helping you become entirely debt free. 

Work diligently to pay off all debt so you can free yourself from those chains. Once you completely zero your debt balance, work hard to keep it that way so you can effectively manage your wealth for the future. If you are unsure how to best go about paying off your debt, the Anchor Wealth Management team is happy to help you devise the right plan for your needs. 

Save For An Emergency

After your debt is paid, with the exception of your mortgage, the next step toward financial freedom is to save an emergency fund. A secure sum is usually the total sum you would need to survive for three to six months without additional income. 

For example, a family that has a total household income of $100,000 brings home approximately $75,000 after taxes and spends $3,000 to $4,000 in living expenses every month. In this example, $15,000 to $25,000 is a healthy amount for an emergency fund. 

The emergency fund is in place for any unforeseen expenses or career change. Meet with your Anchor Wealth Management advisor to learn more about paying off debt, developing emergency savings, and other tools designed to help you create the right financial plan for your needs.

Plan Your Retirement Contributions

You’re close to financial independence once you pay off all debt besides your mortgage and have a healthy emergency savings fund. The last basic piece to financial planning is to prepare for retirement. It is also the point many people struggle with; preparing for retirement should be treated as a marathon, rather than sprinting too hard, too quickly—particularly if investing in retirement means putting yourself in debt.

Every year, there is a stated maximum that may be contributed to retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s or IRAs. In 2018, people younger than 50-years can contribute $18,500 at most. However, people older than 50-years can save “catch up” funds; this amount is $6,000 annually. 

Generally speaking, folks younger than 50 should save $18,500 in a retirement fund in 2018. Folks older than 50 should save $24,500. However, that is not a hard-and-fast figure, especially if investing that maximum would cut into the pace at which you can pay off debt. Working with a financial planner can help you devise the correct amount to contribute toward investments and retirement savings.

Meet With A Financial Planner

By and large, the Anchor Wealth Management team suggests paying off debt and saving a three to six month emergency fund before it is time to dig into investments. Of course, that does not mean you cannot work with a financial planner before those specific goals have been achieved. The Anchor Wealth Management team is happy to work with you no matter where you are in your financial plan. If you are unsure how to get started, we can help you develop the right plan to pay off debt and build your savings before crafting the right investment plan for your needs. Visit our offices in Lanark and Rockford to meet with a financial planner and begin down the path of financial success. With more than a decade of financial planning experience, our team can help you navigate your financial waters.

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