Retirement savers are getting little support in Washington these days. This week two Republican congressmen submitted bills aimed at blocking Labor Dept. rules that smoothed the way for state retirement savings plans—these programs, now being set up, would allow small business owners to auto-enroll employees into IRAs. (Workers could opt out.) State plans have bipartisan backing and would provide a valuable benefit, since most workers without employer plans don’t save for retirement. The congressional bills follow last week’s move by President Trump to delay the fiduciary rule. These efforts may not get traction, but it’s all the more reason to keep your own plan on track, and maybe nudge up your savings rate.
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THIS WEEK'S RETIREMENT NEWS, INSIGHTS AND ADVICE
Don’t Let Trump Mania Divert You From Retirement
These days, it’s hard to avoid a deluge of Trump-related news. What will he do next? How will it affect your finances? But as contributor Walter Updegrave explains, it’s important not to let the headlines drive your financial decisions. Instead, pay attention to these more useful guidelines. Money
How Much Do You Need to Fund Retirement? Think Again
Brace yourself. A new study finds that you may have to ratchet up the amount you need to save for retirement by several percentage points. One key reason: future investment returns are expected to be lower. There are strategies that can help, says writer Robert Powell. Better get started now. USA TODAY
3 Ways to Protect Your 401(k) if Trump Kills the Fiduciary Rule
You’ve been hearing a lot about the so-called fiduciary rule, which requires financial advisers working with retirement accounts to put your interests first. It’s far from clear if Trump or Congress will delay or block the rule, which was scheduled to take effect in April. But whatever happens, you should pay attention to these tips for choosing a trustworthy adviser. BLOOMBERG
33 Smart Ways to Cut Your Taxes Right Now
It’s that time again, when you have to dig out your shoebox of receipts and start thumbing through your file drawer. Consider this an incentive. There are some last-minute moves you can make, including a few retirement strategies, that can lower your taxes for 2016 and help you get a jump on next year. Money
The ‘Right’ Rebalancing Strategy Depends on Your Life Stage
Once February rolls around, you’ve got your annual statements in hand (those pesky taxes), which makes it a good time to review your portfolio and make rebalancing decisions. And just as important, tweak those moves to reflect your stage in life. Morningstar’s Christine Benz lays out the considerations for younger investors vs. retirees. MORNINGSTAR
What You Need to Know About Required Minimum Withdrawals
Many baby boomers are hitting a landmark date for the first time. The year you turn 70 ½, you must begin taking your required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your 401(k)s and IRAs. (Actually, in the first year you have until April 1 of the following year.) The rules are complex, and if you mess up, you’ll face a steep penalty. Laura Saunders walks you through the essentials. WALL STREET JOURNAL
Think Changes to Obamacare Won’t Affect You? Think Again
The proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act, now being debated in Washington, will clearly have a big impact on those with Obamacare plans. But those changes will also affect those on Medicare, Elizabeth O’Brien points out. For starters, free preventive screenings, such as mammograms and colonoscopies, may go away. A repeal may also raise your prescription drug costs. Money
The 15 Worst States for Retirement
Okay, what’s good or bad about a state is highly subjective. It all depends on your goals, tastes, and tax bracket. But it can be helpful to see what other people value in these locations—or don’t. This list focuses heavily on cost of living, but health care and quality of life were also factored in. Personally, I like New York and Connecticut, but maybe retirees feel differently. THINKADVISOR
Reframe Yourself to Create Your Dream Career After 50
When they reach their 50s, many people feel frustrated in their job or are finding their career trajectory cut short. It doesn’t have to be that way, says career coach John Tarnoff. Simply by changing your perspective, you can gain fresh insights and carve out a new career path. My favorite: consider the impact of your job, not just the duties. NEXT AVENUE
YOUR RETIREMENT QUESTIONS ANSWERED
What’s the Maximum Social Security Benefit in 2017?
Q. What is the maximum benefit you can get from Social Security this year? And how hard is it to qualify for that amount?
A. To answer your second question first, qualifying for the maximum Social Security benefit is very difficult—it's the equivalent of winning a benefits Powerball. To get the highest benefit possible at your full retirement age (FRA), your income needs to have been at or above the Social Security earnings ceiling (the amount of income subject to payroll tax) each year for at least 35 years since age 22. READ MORE
WORDS OF WISDOM
“Success is more a function of consistent common sense than it is of genius.”
--U.S. entrepreneur and engineer An Wang