How Much Of Your Social Security Benefit Is Taxable?

4th in a series

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

For the past 40 years or more you have paid into the Social Security system with the promise that someday when you retire, you will receive a guaranteed monthly income for the rest of your life. Along the way, your employer has kicked in a matching contribution equal to 100% of your contribution.

At the end of your working life there should be a giant pile of cash with your name on it. And there is (figuratively speaking anyway). But it comes with a giant string attached.

In this case, the catch is that up to 85% of your monthly benefit is considered taxable income once it’s paid out to you. What’s more, depending on the state you live in, you may owe state income tax on those benefits as well. (Bad news fellow Minnesotans. We live in one of those states).

The following post will explain how much of your benefit is taxable and what, if anything, you can do about it.

How To Know When To Start Collecting Social Security Benefits

2nd in a series

Photo by Olu Eletu on Unsplash

“When Is the best time to start taking Social Security benefits?” Retiring clients ask me this question more than just about any other. I often answer them with two questions of my own, “How long do you think you will live”? And, “Can you afford to delay receiving benefits?”

How Social Security benefits work

Most people receive their full social security benefit somewhere between age 66 and 67, also known as Full Retirement Age (FRA). Generally, benefits may be taken as early as age 62, but it comes with a price.

How Your Social Security Benefits Are Calculated

1st in a series

August 14th marks the 83rd Anniversary of Social Security. To mark the milestone I will be posting additional content throughout the month of August regarding social security benefits and how it effects your retirement plan.

To kick things off, check out this short video describing how your social security retirement benefits are calculated and why it may pay to wait.

 

 

 

The Lesson I Learned From A $2,000 Cup of Coffee

Photo credit: Jason Wong. Unsplash.

On July 12th I was at work when I received a phone call from my wife. Her first words were, “Don’t freak out, but…”.

That’s never a good way to start a phone call, but I bit my tongue, sat back, and listened.

According to the website, worldbackupday.com, 30% of people never back up their computers, phones or other devices. And 29% of disasters are caused by accident.

Ooops! I was about to become a statistic.

How’s Your Memory?

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Maybe you know someone with an incredible memory. A few lucky people have what are called “autobiographical memories”. They can recall just about every detail about every day of their life. These people are rare, but they exist. Marilu Henner is an example.

Unfortunately, that’s not me. I am guessing it’s not you either. Most days I spent about 10 or 15 minutes trying remember where I put my car keys.

If you are age 50 or older, odds are you have some doubts about your ability to recall names or to recite a list of facts and figures. Remembering the names of people you meet at parties or events can be a major challenge. Recalling a list of items is next to impossible. Memorizing your passwords and log in information? Forget about it.

Too often we assume that we are stuck with the memories we have, with no ability to improve our memory skills and no control over what we perceive as an inevitable byproduct of getting older.

Now we are getting a little closer to something that sounds like me. Maybe you too.

But what if you could boost your memory recall by more than fivefold in less than 10 minutes?

What if I told you that you could recite from memory a list of 15 words and be able to remember it forward, backwards and every way in between? And what if you could recall this list perfectly with out traditional memorization techniques using nothing more than the God-given memory you are living with right now?

Like flipping a switch

At a recent client event called “The One Hour Memory Switch” workshop we did just that.

Matt Goerke, creator of The Memory Switch Program argues that there is no such thing as a bad memory just an untrained one. Using specific techniques anyone can develop better memory skills.

The tree list

At the beginning of the workshop Matt gave us a list of 15 words. He called it his “tree list”.

After giving us the words he asked how many we could recall in order. About 80% of the 100 or so people in attendance could recite between 0 and 2 words. A handful of savants were in the 3 to 5 range. I had four words, but the last two were completely wrong. Apparently, they were from a different list.

Less than 10 minutes later nearly everyone in the room was able to recite all 15 words on the list. The key was to associate each word with its number on the list. For example, the number “1” is tall and straight, like a tree. Hence, the name “Tree List”.

Using mnemonic devices and other skills Matt shared with us, we were able to recall the entire list less than 10 minutes after we started this exercise. Even as I write this, days later, I can recall the list forwards and backwards usually getting 14 of 15 on the list exactly right and in perfect order. If you went to this workshop, I bet you can too.

A strong memory late into life

Remembering names and reciting long lists can impress friends and be fun at parties, but the more important takeaway was that a good memory doesn’t have to decline as you age.

For most if us the key is to use it or lose it. Learning new skills such as a foreign language or a musical instrument, staying physically active, and the simple act of reading more can all contribute to improved memories and brain health.

Even doing ordinary, everyday things in a new way has been shown to improve a person’s cognitive abilities. Try taking alternate routes to work, performing daily activities with your left hand (if you are right-handed) and reducing your reliance on electronics forces your brain to work harder and create more pathways, stimulating and improving your memory along the way.

Learning new skills and memory techniques will also help. Matt offers a 17 lesson audio course that is available on his website, MemorySwitch.com. I purchased the program at Matt’s presentation and will review it in a future blog post.

At $250 it’s not inexpensive, but how much is it worth to develop a skill that saves time, adds to my bottom line or improves the quality of my life?

If I can learn how to remember my clients’ names when I see them around town or know their kids’ names and their birth order, or to be able to remember the names of people I meet when I do public presentations, it will be worth every penny.

Heck, if I could just remember where I put my car keys, I would be thrilled.