Debbie has nearly 20 years of investigative experience and journalism on topics of insurance, mortgage, and financial advice.

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Money Strategies with Debbie

TDD 117 | Work-Life Balance

$1 Million In Your 401K, Silver Divorce, And Don’t Burn Out

TDD 117 | Work-Life Balance

 

How do you know if you’re working too hard? Work-life balance is difficult to maintain, but you can’t give up because it’s your future you’re putting at stake by failing to draw the line. “Dollar Diva” Debbie Bloyd talks about the signs that you’re working too hard, and how you can track back from there. She also dives into divorce, dissolving a marriage later in life and the options for retirement planning for late-life divorces. Debbie shares a multitude of information that could just change the way you prepare for your financial future, so don’t miss out.

Listen to the podcast here:

$1 Million In Your 401K, Silver Divorce, And Don’t Burn Out

Working Too Hard

I know we all work hard, at least we think we do. How do you know if you’re working too hard? People tell me all the time, “Debbie, you go nonstop. You go from morning until 10 PM, 11 PM or 12 MN and you work on weekends. You’re exhausted. You can’t keep this pace up.” You’re wrong. I’ve had this pace since I was a teenager. It is how I’m wired. Not everybody is wired. I run until I collapse for a couple of days and sleep and I get going again. My batteries recharge eventually and I love what I do. That is the key. Do you love what you do? If you do, you can do it hours and hours on end and not wear out. I get my second wind after dinner and I can work for a few more hours. I love what I do but not everybody knows when to stop.

My body starts getting sick and I have to slow down because I have to have a voice. There was a time I lost my voice so I’m like, “I need to dial back a little bit, rest up and I’ll be good to go again.” Here are some signs that you’re working too hard. You might be pushing your health to an unhealthy extreme. Too often, we’re told that there’s no such thing as working too hard and that’s what my parents said, “Work hard.” As noble as it is you want to excel in your career. If you push yourself too hard, you could end up hurting your health and your sanity in the process. Here are some signs that you’re overdoing it and I need to know this too.

If you’re feeling burned out, maybe you’ve reached the point where the task you once found exciting is now completely mundane. Worse yet, you might be in a place where you dread doing the things that you never mind doing before. If any of this sounds like you, it could be burnout. Though it might seem like a convenient buzzword and a throw around word, burnout is no joke. In fact, it has a clinical definition. It’s a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work. That’s where I’ve been lucky and blessed. Every time I think that I’m pooping out and tired, maybe it doesn’t matter that I stood up here and do this show every day, someone calls and says, “I’ve been following you for years. I can’t tell you how much you’ve helped me and I want you to help us with our finances,” or “I need my son to come and talk to you about buying a house,” or “Will you take a look at my retirement plan? I believe in what you’re talking about,” then everything is worthwhile.

You have to believe but if you’re worn out, maybe you’ve lost your beliefs. Number two, you’re not getting enough sleep and this is me. Nearly 75% of American workers don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis. Though we can get by on less sleep than others. Most adults need to aim anywhere between 7 and 9 hours a night. If you’re one of them that doesn’t get enough sleep, it can also impact your performance. It can also explain why your weight maybe fluctuating and you’re grumpy. If you don’t get your naps and enough sleep, it makes your family not happy to see you when you come home. For everyone’s sake, let’s go to bed earlier or sleep a little bit later. Number three, your productivity seems to have plateaued.

If you love what you do, you can do it hours and hours on end and not wear out. Click To Tweet

You think that putting extra time on the job would make you more productive, but surprisingly, there comes a point when working too many hours won’t do you any good. According to a Stanford University study, employee productivity declined significantly after 50 hours of work in the same week. Not only that, but it also falls off a cliff completely after the 55-hour mark. Somebody working 60 hours a week gets no more done than someone working 55. It’s one thing to strive to do your best. It’s another thing to push yourself to an unhealthy extreme. If you’ve recently come to find you’re not making strides productivity-wise despite burning the midnight oil, then it’s time to start scaling back. Working fewer hours will help you approach your job with a more refreshed standpoint and as importantly, it will help you achieve that needed work-life balance.

About Divorce

Let’s talk about divorce. Nobody likes to talk about divorce. It’s a fact of life. How many of you, don’t raise your hands out there, are divorced once, twice or three times? There are a lot of divorcees out there and they’re all different. They’re different because of the assets involved. When you’re young and you have nothing, it’s easy to get divorced but what if you’re a senior.

Silver Divorce

There’s a new word out there called silver divorce. Do you know what a silver divorce is? That is retirement planning for late-life divorces. You didn’t know there was such a thing, did you? Silver divorce is divorce among adults aged 50 and older. It’s happening more and more every day. A study by the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University shows the divorce rates for adults 50 and above have doubled since 1990. Why? Your kids get into college, your empty nesters, you look at each other and you’re like, “This is what I’ve got?”

You’ll also find out, “Do I want to live the rest of my life like this?” You’ve raised your kids and have done a lot together. Maybe both of you aren’t on the same page, you’re probably never on the same page but now it’s painfully obvious. Dissolving a marriage later in life creates many financial and retirement challenges. Assets that were once sufficient to support one household must now stretch across two households. I did a reverse mortgage for a client. We did a reverse, we took some money out, he paid off some bills and about two weeks later, he called me. He also quit his job. He retired. He had his 401(k) and everything was set up. Guess what happened? His wife filed for divorce. She decided that she was going to move to North Dakota with her aunt.

He already quit his job that he’d had for 25 years. He is now going to have to figure out how to retire with half of what he thought he had. This happens all the time. After the division of the property, the assets in the 401(k), the IRAs and other retirement accounts have often been sliced in half and diminishing a significant piece of what may represent the lion’s share of a lifetime of savings. Proactive planning can create and maximize sustainable retirement income. It’s imperative for all clients, but especially for those experienced in a silver divorce.

Unlike younger divorcees who have a long career ahead of them and ample time to recover financially, older individuals have fewer working years left to save and invest. This leads to one of the most common worries among silver divorcees, the fear of outliving your savings. What if you can’t work or what if you had been a stay at home mom your whole life, he has now left you and now you’re left with half the money and no marketable skills? It happens. While men and women both suffer financially after silver divorce, divorce late in life is particularly harsh for women. Research shows women’s lower earnings over a lifetime and longer life expectancy make them vulnerable to poverty after divorce. Think about it. You have a woman that maybe a teacher or a regular office job, she’s been married her whole life to someone different that makes more than her and all of a sudden, she has little assets saved up.

TDD 117 | Work-Life Balance

Work-Life Balance: If you love what you do, you can do it hours and hours on end and not wear out.

 

She probably couldn’t afford the house after he left and it had to be sold and divided. Where is she going to live? What is she left with? How is she going to make it on that single income? Maybe she still has kids in the home and trying to help them through college. It is a problem and women live longer. Half of her money has to last her until her mid-80s or 90s. Now she becomes a burden to her children. A woman’s lower earnings over a lifetime. Not everybody has them. I had my kids and I brought them to the office. I was self-employed. I’ve worked all the way. I have worked the whole time but I was self-employed, so I could bring them with me to the office. They didn’t stay in daycare. They weren’t in that program. They went to Mother’s Day out half a day, I picked them up and I worked in between all the kid stuff.

I was lucky but I kept working. I always felt like I could pull my weight because I kept a job but others haven’t. This is why women take more positive steps than men to improve their financial behavior after divorce. A survey by the Institute of CPA found women are more likely than men to seek a job, increase retirement savings, improve their spending habits and seek professional financial advice after a divorce. Silver divorcees need your help planning their retirement income strategy and understanding what goals are still attainable, despite potentially diminished assets. I’m here to help. It can be a challenge to unravel the assets of a decade’s long marriage but you have to analyze your health, where you want to live and how you’re going to get there. What about Social Security? What’s in the retirement plan? What about pensions and annuities?

These are all things that I have to keep in mind. Here are some issues that I need to address to all my women readers out there. If you have a mom and she’s going through this, call me and I will help. Number one, we have to assist with the record collection before your mom has to get divorced. It may be hard to obtain records after the divorce is initiated. Passwords, online accounts and paperwork can disappear when emotions run high. Your mom better have a good attorney that knows how to find things and keep things on the record because a lot of paperwork needs to be copied. You need to know what the assets are. Don’t wait until after the divorce to do this. I’m pulled into the middle of a lot of divorce cases where the woman is trying to figure out if she could refinance the house, does she need to keep that house, can she afford the house, is she going to go back to work?

These are all things that women have to decide upon when they get divorced. A silver divorce can take a long time to resolve, especially when older adults and long term marriages with significant assets are involved. They’re not playing fair. Divorce is never fair. It’s hardly ever fair. Every now and then, it’s fair. I’d say maybe 1% of the time, it’s fair. The rest of the time, someone is the loser. Assets can be frozen during a divorce. They can limit access to funds for limited expenses and living costs. What if you don’t work? What are you left with? There is a cashflow problem. There’s a way to get into the accounts if passwords are gone.

It might seem like a convenient buzzword and a throw around word, but burnout is no joke. Click To Tweet

If the dependent spouse needs to use household income to qualify for a personal credit card, this should all be done before the divorce. The next thing we need to talk about is record gathering tools lay the groundwork for discussion. What I mean is, silver divorcees can be overwhelmed by the administrative aspects of their finances. You need to keep organized records, keep the documents together, make a budget and figure out if you can afford the house you’re living in. You can call me and I’ll tell you what you can afford based on the income that you have. You need to have a checklist, household inventories, budgeting spreadsheets, and the list goes on.

There are three parts to every divorce. There’s the emotional divorce, legal divorce and a financial divorce. I’ve been through a divorce. It’s not fun. The emotional part, I can see where people can block it off, put it in a box and get through it. The legal divorce, you’ve got to sit there, you’ve got to file the paperwork. It’s arduous, boring, terrible and you can get through it. The financial divorce is the hard part. That’s when we started splitting up assets. When I got divorced. It was like, “Is there a ranch out there that needs to be sold?” Yes. “Do I want to wait for that money?” No. There’s money in a 401(k) plan fine. Is it an equal value? Is it safer? Is it going to increase more? Is the ranch worth more?

Somebody has to divide this all out. Your attorney has to look at all these assets and decide what deal does the woman want. What does the guy want? What does he want to keep? If he keeps it, is it equal to the value to the other side? Can you afford to keep it? A lot of times, women don’t have the income to support the house they are living in. They can get the house in the divorce but how are they going to pay for it? Do you even want it? Sometimes it’s better to think of a clean slate and start over. What if there are memories, kids and everything else attached to that home? The big thing is can you afford to pay the taxes on it, can you afford the upkeep, the lawn care and all that?

If you get credit cards or a house and you’re the guy, are you going to break the woman’s Social Security number apart? If my husband and I got divorced and we’re on a mortgage, someone has to refinance it and get the other person’s Social Security number off of it. If not and the other one goes out after the divorce to buy a home, they can’t qualify because that house payment is still being counted against them. Even though the divorce papers specifically say it belongs to one or the other, I’m saying financially, you’re both bound to credit cards. You’re both financially bound. Take the other ones social off the credit card and off of your debt.

If there’s a car with both of your stuff on it, separate it. Not only one of you takes the car, but you call them and you refinance that car. This is the problem when women try to refinance a house and they don’t have a job, in Texas, you got to have a job in order to qualify for a mortgage. Money in an account isn’t going to do it. If you think you can afford that house and it’s not paid off, maybe you need to think again and talk to a mortgage person. Don’t get that and say, “Yes, I want the house,” and go, “I can’t pay for the house now.” Knowing the legal and emotional aspects of a divorce helps me with clients because I’ve already been there.

TDD 117 | Work-Life Balance

Work-Life Balance: It’s one thing to strive to do your best. It’s another thing to push yourself to an unhealthy extreme.

 

It improves communication and it’s easier to talk to your clients about stuff that you’ve already gone through. If you’ve had a divorce, trust me, I’ve been there, I can help you through this. Educate your clients. That’s what I do. I have to say this is a big learning curve if you’ve never handled finances before, let me help you do that. Review the settlement divorce before you finalize the divorce. See what you’re going to get and let’s figure out if you can keep it or if it’s what you want. Sometimes I’ve seen people get things in divorces that they don’t even want and they have to figure out how to sell them or pay tax on them. It’s a huge hassle.

Divorce at any age is a huge transition but people have difficulty in making sound decisions in the heat of an emotionally charged situation. If you’ve gone through a divorce, you need help before it’s been finalized. Maybe you’ve gone through a divorce, it’s finalized and now you need to regroup. How do you get credit? How did you get this house? How do you sell this house? Let me help you through all that. I’ve done it all before. I have a lot of clients who have gone through a lot of things and personally I’ve gone through a lot of things too so let me help you. If you have questions, call me directly at (979) 220-3018. If you have to email me and you want to have me talk with attorneys and find out where things stand, my email address is Debbie@MoneyStrategiesWithDebbie.com.

True Retirement

We’ve talked before on this show of how to make $1 million but what does a true retirement look like? Not everybody has $1 million in their retirement account. Why do we call that the magic number? A million doesn’t go as far as it used to go and I know some of you out there reading are thinking, “That’s never going to happen to me.” Let me give you some steps to help you turn your 401(k) into a $1 million asset. There’s a study out there that the cost of the average retirement is $738,000. This is according to Merrill Lynch 2017 Finances and Retirement Study. If what we need is $738,400, let’s shoot for an even $1 million. The more the merrier. I’d rather you have more than you need than not enough and because we’re living longer than ever, we’re going to need more money than ever.

Since we’re living longer than ever, we’re going to have more medical issues than we’ve ever had. Maybe they come later in life, but they are expensive. For me, I’ve seen a lot of people in my office that they come in a few years before retirement wanting to know if they can afford to retire. Others come in after they’ve retired and we’re trying to move their money around to make it produce more money for them because they get a little stressed out. They now are in retirement. They know how much it’s going to cost and it’s always more than what they planned on. It’s not a magic number, this million-dollar mark, but it feels like a major milestone. We’re going to talk to get to the $1 million.

The trick is not to take all your money out at one time. Click To Tweet

Many retirees require a little bit more than $1 million. It depends on where you live and how long you live. If your home is paid off when you head to retirement. Do you have bills? Are you traveling to Europe all the time or spending half your time over there? Are you staying at home? Those things matter. Are you flying grandkids around to Disney World every summer? Are you taking huge big cruises? You’re going to need more money to do more things. You have to look out what kind of retirement do you want. That’s step one. Many retirees are going to need a lot more money than they think.

They haven’t thought about that when they’re not working, they’re probably going to be spending money, so we’re going to need more. If I didn’t work every day, I’d be out shopping. It’s best to keep me working. That’s what I’ve always said. Let’s consider $1 million is what we’re trying to shoot for. Let’s find some ways to do that. Number one, start early. You can’t control the market. People come into my office all the time and say, “What’s the market going to do?” It’s going up. It’s gone up a lot longer than people thought it would. Do you know what’s going to happen? At some point, it’s going to come down and it’s going to go back up.

The trick is I don’t know when that’s going to happen. Nobody does. Politics doesn’t enter into it. I’ve had a chart and we’ve talked about it before. Whether the Democrats are in power or the Republicans are in power, the market does what the market does. If a war breaks out, all bets are off the market goes crazy. We don’t know what it’s going to do. Don’t let anyone tell you, “We have a crystal ball and we see what’s going to happen.” I know now, the market was supposed to not be any higher in the ‘70s than what it got in the ‘70s. They said that the stock market was topped out. Look at it now. It’s higher than it’s ever been. It is seven times higher than it was in the ‘70s. It got a little higher.

If you weren’t in the market then because you thought it wasn’t going to get any higher, look what you missed out on. If you’re not in the market now because you’re afraid it’s going to drop, you’re missing out on it going up higher. You’re missing on the drop, but it’s going to come back up again. The trick is, we need to figure out what our fears are about the market dropping. If it bothers you that you could lose 20% in a market drop, I suggest you be in less volatile things, but you’re going to make less money. My philosophy is if you stay in the market, we plan for a 20% drop. You’re never going to take all your money out at the same time. That’s when you realize the loss. If you stay invested, you get to ride it back up. The trick is don’t take it all out at one time.

If you start from zero now and you maximize your 401(k), you can add up to $18,500 each year and that’s going to take you 27 years if you start early to become a 401(k) millionaire. That calculation required growth of only 5%, so that’s not much when returns are much better than that some years. If you’re like most Americans, you can’t afford to stash away $8,500 a year when your career is just starting out. Maybe you make smaller contributions. Each time you get a raise, increase your contribution by 1% or 2%. If you do it with your 401(k), increase it, set it aside, company matches it. It’s going to grow tax-deferred, and then we can figure out what to do with it after it keeps growing. Even inside your 401(k), we want to maximize it out and be invested in the right things.

TDD 117 | Work-Life Balance

Work-Life Balance: Divorce is hardly ever fair. Every now and then, it’s fair. Maybe 1% of the time, it’s fair. The rest of the time, someone is the loser.

 

One of the keys to saving more is to avoid lifestyle creep. We all know what that is. It’s keeping up with the Joneses. You don’t need to immediately upgrade your lifestyle because you doubled your income but what does everybody do? Exactly that. When they come and talk to me about buying a home, it’s the husband and wife usually and they want to know what is the most they can qualify for. I’m qualifying you based on your credit report but there’s a lot of stuff that you spend money on that’s not on your credit report. Dry cleaning, out to eat, groceries, insurance, car insurance, house insurance, some of that stuff doesn’t show up or not counting in there. Car and car insurance for teenagers and all that stuff goes out, so it’s not always on your credit report. Maxing out what you can qualify for is not always the best idea. Maxing out your 401(k) contributions and IRAs goes a lot further.

If you work at a firm that offers a company match on your 401(k), the next important step is to get that contribution up so that you make that entire full match. The next thing is to aim for the limit. Don’t stop at the company match. The limit on 401(k) contributions is $18,500. After you’re 50, you can do the makeup rule where you can even put more away so let’s max that out. It’s easy to take your company’s 401(k) plan for granted and neglect to read the fine print but you could be making a big mistake. People should look at your plan descriptions that say how many times the company matches it, when they match it, and what does that mean. What funds do you pick from? All funds are not created equal like on the outside in an IRA or an annuity.

Those funds inside your 401(k) some of them are bonds and they don’t perform as well as being in the market, so you need to look at that. If you have questions about what you have in your 401(k), I don’t get paid to help you pick those out, yet I do every single day for clients. I had a couple in that said, “Would you take a look at our 401(k)s?” The husband goes, “I understand you want to look at them but how are you going to get paid on them?” I’m like, “I don’t.” I’m just helping. The goal of me helping you is for you to come back when you retire and let me help you invest that money when it comes out of your 401(k) and we move over to an IRA. That’s when I want to be helped. I’m helping you years in advance, but I’m not going anywhere. I want to be your financial advisor now and later.

Not all index funds are low cost and not all target fund dates are created equal. When you’re looking at your 401(k) and they’re putting you in target funds, those are saying that the older you get, the more conservative those funds make you be and you may not need to be conservative. I’ve got people in their 80s that are fully invested in international technology stocks and making huge returns because they decided that if they die, their kids are going to get the money. Their kids are our age, in the 50s and 60s and their kids are going to turn around and put it in the market. Why take it out of the market to start with? Why go down to making next to nothing when you can be invested in the market and now, you’re riding on the market going up and down but you’re making more on average than setting aside savings in a bank.

One of the keys to saving more is to avoid lifestyle creep. Click To Tweet

Does the target date align with your personal goals? Those targeted fund dates don’t always align with when you want to retire. I had a gentleman in my office. He’s 52 years old and looking to retire at 55. I’m like, “What are you going to do after you retire because you’re pretty young?” He’s like, “I don’t know. I hadn’t thought about it. I just know I can retire.” I’m like, “The thing is, what are you going to do when you retire?” He’s like, “I might get another job.” I’m like, “Can you get another job making as much as you do now?” He’s like, “Probably not.” Why retire? Keep going. You got great benefits and make a lot of money. Why would you start over and make less money and still work? If you don’t have enough to do exactly what you want to do, work part-time but you may not want to stop altogether and you may not want to leave that job either. Not just because you reached the age where you can.

It’s important to spread out your risk. One of the things that I talked about doing is in your 401(k), some people want to own company stock and they want to invest in other things. Don’t only have company stock, what if that company stock tanks? We want to make your 401(k) earnings diversified inside of that fund. This usually means that you’re going to have a long time horizon, your portfolio is still going to be tilted a little bit more towards stocks than anything else. We’re going to take this on a personal basis based on what you can handle and what you can’t handle with your investments. Everybody’s different.

Once you have a diversified portfolio in place, it’s important to stay on track. Don’t worry about what the people say. The market has been going to fall for the last few years and if you believe that the last few years, you would have missed a great ride up the stock market. You would have lost all of that potential because you wouldn’t have captivated it. You would have sat on the sidelines being worried like Chicken Little when the sky was falling. The sky hasn’t fallen yet, so we might as well keep riding this up while it’s still going well. If not, you would have missed out on most of it. You may not think that you could ever forget about thousands of dollars, but it happens frequently. A lot of people when they leave their job, they forget to move their 401(k)s with them.

If you have left a job in the last few years, we need to investigate where you left it. Move it over to an IRA, get it out of those super expensive 401(k)s, get it into something that you can manage and control, and you get to be in charge of that with small fees. Remember, life is going to throw you curveballs. You could have not the time horizon that you think. I know a lot of people that have had strokes, heart attacks, have had to leave their job early. Maybe they have to start caring for a parent and they quit their job early. It takes them out of the earnings and the 401(k) game. Maybe you have a hurricane, you have tornadoes and something happens. Things happen and we have to prepare for that. Don’t think it’s going to be smooth sailing. It’s not.

There’s always something that’s going to trip you up and you have to plan for that. The last thing to remember is your taxes. The $1 million goal may not be the right benchmark for everyone. Some workers are going to need more and some are going to require less. Either way, once you start taking funds out of your $1 million 401(k) account, remember, you’re going to be taxed on those withdraws. If you want to talk to me more about your personal situation if you should take money out now take it out later, let me ask you a few basic questions. Do you think taxes are going to go up or down when you hit retirement age? They’ve gone down because President Trump did this but how long is this going to last? I’m not retiring in the next few years.

If Trump stays in for two terms, I’m still going to be working. If the Democrats get back into power, taxes are going to go back up. I don’t know. Should we take more money out now or later? That’s a question where you get your CPA and your financial planner in the same room and we make some decisions based on what your goals are for your retirement, not the numbers. My name is Debbie Bloyd. If you want me to help you, I would be more than happy to sit down. Your consultation is free. You don’t have to take everything I say to heart. I’ll give you articles. I want you to research this and you need some opinions on this. This is your life savings we’re talking about. It doesn’t matter if it’s $200,000 or you’re starting out. We treat every dollar like the money that I have. I’m careful with it. I want you to be careful with it. We need to look at it from all angles, and that’s why it needs more than one set of eyes. Please give me a call if I can help. My direct phone number is (979) 220-3018.

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