Blog

Welcome to Reston Wealth Management’s blog where Alex Voorhees, CFP® discusses various issues related to wealth management in a one minute or less read.

We will discuss a number of topics, including taxes, budgeting, investments, market updates, Social Security & Medicare, and estate planning.

Our goal is to explain OLD concepts that our readers may have heard before in a NEW and SIMPLE way.

 

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

The answer is typically, yes. If you’re looking for specifics, skip to the bottom. If you’re like me and want to know why, read on. The Social Security Act was made into law in 1935 under the Roosevelt administration....

 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

We often hear average life expectancy numbers and use them to make assumptions about our own life expectancy. There are a few problems with that. These estimates do not consider - 1. Your family history 2. Possible advances in modern...

 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Banks typically use two key ratios in determining how much home you can afford to buy. The first ratio is the front-end ratio. This is the principal & interest of the mortgage plus taxes & insurance. Banks typically look for this ratio...

 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Once you turn 60 years old, Social Security will start sending you an estimate once per year, roughly 3 months before your birthday. But what if you are under 60 or don’t have a recent statement? You can also check online –...

 

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

We have all likely heard of “compound returns” and it’s wonderful, mysterious, abilities. However, during times like these, when stocks are down, it’s difficult to remember just how wonderful it is. While each...

 

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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

One of the disappointments to come out of the Secure Act was the major overhaul to how IRAs are inherited by non-spouse beneficiaries. Prior to the new law, children, grandchildren, and others could inherit IRAs and stretch IRA...

 

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

In this third post on the Secure Act changes, I want to talk about a new ruling that could greatly benefit late retirees or part time retirement workers. Prior to the law passing, Traditional IRA contributions could not be made past...

 

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Following up on last week’s post about the required minimum distribution (RMD) being pushed back to age 70 ½, I want to discuss an interesting rule that actually stays the same under the new law. Qualified Charitable...

 

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

In December of 2008 The National Bureau of Economic Research announced that the US had been in a recession. Four months later, in March of 2009, the market bottomed and things began to turn around. If you remember that time, early 2009...

 

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

“In bear markets, stocks return to their rightful owners” – J.P Morgan. Bear markets have a tendency to drive out owners of stock that should have never had owned stocks in the first place. That is because these...

 

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The market swings that have come out of the Covid-19 epidemic have made most of us a little dizzy. It is during times like these that our emotions might not work in our favor. While history is always changing and never the same, it is...

 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The easiest time to forget why you are investing is when the market is in freefall – like it has been for the past few weeks. It’s during these times that we need to ask ourselves some important questions. Regardless of...

 

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

At the end of 2019, the Secure Act was passed, and with it came many new rules to navigate in regards to retirement accounts, like IRAs. Over the next 4 weeks, I am going to unpack 4 areas that I think are most important to pay...

 

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

I’ve had internet and cable for the past 10 years and every 2 years when my contact expires, they raise my rates 20-30%. I promptly make a quick call and try to get them reduced. Over the past 10 years, I’ve made about 5 of...

 

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Scarcity is simply not having enough resources for a given need. That resource can be financial, but it can also be time, energy, and others. The danger of scarcity is that it creates a tunneling effect where we spend enormous amounts...

 

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

We believe that every investor should have an investment policy statement. The purpose of the document is to first answer why are you investing in the first place. This should be more personal as it includes specific goals for your...

 

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

This time of year is a great time to re-evaluate your home and auto insurance. First, your personal financial situation has likely changed. And second, there are always new options becoming available and you should be informed about...

 

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

George Kinder is a pioneer of the “Life Planning” process, which is designed to address the purpose behind your money. It answers “What are your values?” When you know that, you will know whether you are using...

 

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The Health Savings Account (HSA) is really the best of three worlds. You get a tax deduction for making the contribution, the money grows tax-deferred, and it is withdrawn tax-free as long as it is used for qualified medical expenses....

 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

An executor is the person that is in charge of making sure that what you said in your will actually happens. Knowing the responsibilities of an executor helps in two ways. First, it helps you better understand the type of person that...

 

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

If you know a federal employee who has been with the government for a long time, you can share with them some little known information and call it a late Christmas gift! The VCP, Voluntary Contributions Program, is only available to...

 

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Did you end up owing come tax time in 2019? If so, you may want to consider updating your W-4 to get back on track for the 2020 tax year. The IRS recently made a big overhaul to the format of the W-4 so navigating it will be quite a...

 

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

On the Eve of the New Years, we often take time to think about the past year and also look forward to the year to come. The same should be true for our finances. Often times we get caught up in day-to-day finances such as an expected...

 

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

When we think about risk, specifically as it relates to the stock market, we often have either positive or negative emotions based on our own experience or the experiences of people close to us. I hear things like “Never put your...

 

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Take a look at your 401(k) investment options and you’ll likely find many target date funds. In fact, you may already be invested in it and not know it. These funds are designed to make investing for retirement easy. If you plan...

 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Okay, I said “budget” but hang in there. Following up on last month’s series on how to budget for irregular expenses I wanted to offer several solutions that easily allow you track these and more. Budgeting is simple...

 

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Lastly, I wanted to touch on a few books that I found thought-provoking. While I do like personal finance and investing related reads, I really enjoy reading books that go beyond just my profession. The books listed below have...

 

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Next up on the list are books about investing principles. I purposely put my investment book recommendations second because I think it is imperative to have a good grasp on your personal finances before thinking about investments....

 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

This time of year I start thinking about what books I want to read in the coming year. In 2019, I read a few books for pleasure and few books related to personal finance. Over the next few weeks, I wanted to share a few books that I...

 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Unfortunately, the answer is “it depends.” However, I hope to share with you enough information for you to find out how it personally affects your benefit. Social Security benefits are based on your 35 highest years of...

 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

In this last post of the series, I will discuss saving for known irregular expenses. These are expenses that you incur 1-4 times a year but not every month. These expenses are often forgotten and surprise us each time. Similar to how a...

 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Healthcare costs are one of the necessary expenses that have become increasing expensive over the years. Budgeting for these expenses vary greatly by person because of their individual health and the quality of the health insurance...

 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

They always seem to catch you by surprise and disrupt your life, taking time off work or away from family – and costing you a chunk of change. Car repairs and routine maintenance are a necessary cost of car ownership and...

 

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

One of the chief complaints I hear when families start tracking their expenses was that no month looks the same. That, and the word “budget” – which is why I excluded it from the title of this article! Over the next 4...

 

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

If you’re nearing or in retirement, you might have come across an article or two mentioning the “bucket strategy” for retirement planning. This strategy involves dividing your retirement savings into several buckets...

 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

If you turn on the news frequently, you’ll likely hear market pundits talking about GDP or Gross Domestic Product. But what exactly is it and why is it important? GDP is a 10,000 foot view of the economy. And while it...

 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Over the past 91 years, the benchmark for US large cap stocks, the S&P 500 or similar indexes, have returned an average of 9.49% when accounting for price and dividends1. However, if that’s the return you expect on a regular...

 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

There is a lot of talk out there about paying mortgages bi-weekly instead of monthly. Many feel that it better ties into their cash flow if they are paid bi-weekly instead of monthly or bi-monthly. This results in 26 payments over a...

 

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

A long standing assumption was that a retirement nest egg of $1,000,000 would cover retirement needs. However, that has been challenged in recent years by arguments that different people have different resources and different spending...

 

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

You have likely, at some point or another, heard about someone who created or was the beneficiary of a trust. You likely have asked yourself at one point or another whether or not it was necessary for you to create a trust. Below is a...

 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Probate is the way in which property is passed along to the heirs of a deceased person after debts have been paid. Probate is almost always involved regardless of your estate plan. However, the extent in which it plays a role can vary...

 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

After recently buying a new home, I was surprised by the difference between multiple homeowners insurance quotes. I like to dig into the details so I jumped on the phone with each of the companies and found several differences in what...

 

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

By now you likely know that Equifax reached a settlement agreement to provide compensation to individuals impacted by the data breach back in 2017. If your identity was actually stolen and you suffered a financial loss there are...

 

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

One of the chief complaints that I get when talking about buying a pre-owned car is that you don’t know what you’re going to get. And while that can be true, some used-car retailers now provide complete inspections and a...

 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Whether it’s because of a career change, being laid off, or retiring prior to Medicare age, I have had clients ask me about what options they have for health insurance. The most common option is to enroll in a private plan...

 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Many companies provide their employees with multiple health insurance plan options. Often times one of those options is a high-deductible plan with a health savings account or HSA. If this is an option, it is worth considering whether...

 

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

During the past 2 weeks we have covered the basics of sequence of withdrawals and several strategies to implement before retirement. Today, I will discuss several strategies to use for current income during your retirement years. Part...

 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

In last week’s post we reviewed the types of accounts you can own and the steps to take to estimate current vs. future income. This week we will review how to use that information to begin making changes to where you save. Part 2...

 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

In this three part series I will be discussing the importance of sequence of withdrawal – in other words, which accounts to use first for income needs. Part 1 – Background on planning principles In general there are three...

 

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

I recently wrote about Income-Related Monthly Adjustments to your Medicare premiums. In this post I want to discuss circumstances where we have seen successful appeals and how you can go about doing that. As a refresher, your Medicare...

 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

There are almost too many options to choose from when it comes to monitoring and protecting your credit history. To simplify, I will discuss three common FREE options. Let’s be honest though – we all know nothing is really...

 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

In the previous 3 weeks, we have discussed several strategies for withdrawing from retirement accounts without incurring the 10% penalty. In these cases, it didn’t matter as much what you were using the funds for. However, the...

 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

One of the most common reasons that individuals have to tap retirement funds before age 59 ½ is the death of a spouse. These situations can put enormous financial stress if proper life insurance is not in place. It’s...

 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

One strategy that can free up significant amounts of cash fairly quickly is a 401(k) loan. Many plans permit loans from your 401(k) that can be paid back over varying lengths of time, sometimes as long as 5 years, or even 10 years if...

 

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

If you find yourself in a situation that requires a withdrawal from your retirement accounts, there may be ways to do so without incurring the typical 10% early withdrawal penalty. Over the next few weeks, I will discuss a few of these...

 

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Once settled on your home, you will want to take care of changing your address and updating billing. Suggested Billing Changes Old mortgage company – They should refund you your escrow account and any unused interest. Utilities...

 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

When putting an offer on a home, there are a few things to consider aside from price Timing – If you like a home but are not planning to offer list price, it is usually advisable to wait a few days after it comes on the market to...

 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The process of selling your home can be broken into a few stages before final settlement. Staging – At this point, your realtor should bring a stager through the home. It was at this point that my wife and I looked at each other...

 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Finding the right people to help with the home buying process can make all the difference. Realtor – The best realtors are the ones who have been referred, are well organized, and take time to get to know you. When interviewing,...

 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

With a growing family this past year, my wife and decided to sell our first home and buy a place with a little more space. Along the way, we did some things right and some things that were valuable “learning lessons.” So as...

 

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

You may have already decided that you’re taking Social Security as soon as you’re eligible, age 62 for most. Or you may be confident about waiting as long as possible, age 70. However, several factors should be considered...

 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

If you’re still working – either in the middle of your career or approaching retirement – you may not be inclined to notice changes to Social Security. However, they can certainly have a tremendous impact on you, not...

 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

In short, yes. However, the degree to which they are taxed varies by income. This is different from your paycheck, where for everyone, the entire pay minus deductions are subject to taxes of some sort. The term for the portion of your...

 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

As tax season rolls around, many may find that their charitable gifts didn’t make the same impact to their taxes as they have in the past. One main reason for this is the higher standard deduction that started in 2018. Because of...

 

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Most people know it is important to have cash on hand for emergencies or a large planned purchase. In fact, I suggest having at least 3-6 months of expenses plus any big purchases you plan to make in the next 12 months on hand. The...

 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

It’s no secret that student loans have grown exponentially over the past 30+ years, as tuition has risen at a much faster clip than inflation. Because of this, many students are left with loans for years after graduation. Most of...

 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

A question that comes up often is whether or not it’s wise to become more conservative as you approach or are in retirement. I respond by asking three questions focused on risk tolerance – What are you comfortable with? How...

 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Individuals in the process of buying a home with a mortgage know the process of getting a loan approval comes with a maximum loan amount. However, many mistake this for what they can actually afford. No. The maximum loan amount is what...

 

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

We all have preconceived notions about money, and we ought to take some time to ask where they come from. For many of us, the answer is our parents. Our early childhood experiences influence many of the opinions we have about savings,...

 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

By now you know that we preach the value of a financial plan. While it does serve the purpose of answering the question “Am I on Track?” it also helps create a blueprint for making wiser financial decisions. While in...

 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

There are various psychological biases that play out with investing. Many are well known such as the “hindsight bias” where we tend to view past events as predictable after the fact. However, one lesser known but damaging...

 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

I wanted to start this New Year with a series on behavioral finance; hopefully making a resolution to push back on few biases that we may have that can hurt us in the long-run. According to a study from a few years ago, the average...

 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Is Social Security taxable? Sorry, you’re going to get your least favorite answer – it depends. For most individuals who work, 100% of wages are subject to taxation before deductions. When you start taking Social Security...

 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

In the era of ultra-low interest rates, many car dealers offer financing for new cars at 0% for several years. This essentially allows you to pay the purchase price and nothing more but spread out the payments over time. While these...

 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Following the series on teaching children about money, I found myself trying to find new ways to compare finances to things we interact with regularly. So at the risk of sounding cheesy, I’ll start with the example of a football...

 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

During the last 3 weeks, we have focused on teaching children where to save first, the various types of accounts, and the magic of compound interest. Now it’s time to help them choose investments. If needed, start by explaining...

 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it…he who doesn’t, pays it.” – Albert Einstein. If this is true, then we ought to explain to our children how to earn it,...

 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Last week I reviewed the priority of saving and listed several different types of accounts to save in. This week, I want to provide clarity around the types and common purpose of various accounts. In general, there are three broad...

 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

As an opening to this series on Teaching Children about Money, I want to share my desire for educating the next generation. A common pattern that we see with many of our clients is that they were taught very little about money from...

 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Real Estate can be a great diversifier in an investment portfolio. When evaluating whether a rental property is good investment for you, consider at least two questions. What is your liquid vs. illiquid ratio? – Liquid assets are...

 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Roth IRAs are a popular retirement planning tool. But they can be used as a generational planning tool as well. Roth IRAs provide several important advantages that include, but are not limited to, tax-free growth and not being subject...

 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Last week I discussed an example of using a Roth conversion ladder as a strategy for early retirement. However, this does not make sense for everyone, especially for those with higher earnings and thus higher tax brackets prior to...

 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

59 ½ is an oddly specific age. But it’s the age that has several retirement rules around it that often dictates when people decide to retire. Because of those rules, many individuals feel like they can’t afford...

 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

When a last will and testament is drafted, usually the testator, the person drafting the document, selects an executor. While this may seem like an honor, the role of serving as an executor comes with numerous responsibilities. Their...

 

Monday, September 24, 2018

Did your child just graduate college? You may want to make them aware of a few tax strategies to take advantage of during the “half year.” The “half year” refers to the time after graduation and before the end...

 

Monday, September 17, 2018

“At your current earnings rate, if you continue working until…” Those words are often passed over but are extremely important, especially if you plan to retire early. Social Security calculates your estimated benefit...

 

Monday, September 10, 2018

For those on Medicare, starting Medicare, or researching Medicare for the future, you may have come across an acronym, IRMAA. It stands for your Income-Related Monthly Adjusted Amount. Medicare premiums are based on income and if your...

 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Over the past few years, there has been a major push toward the lowest possible expenses for index funds by the major investment companies. While there are advantages to having low or zero expense, expenses are not the only thing to...

 

Monday, August 27, 2018

Those with company stock in their 401(k) may be able to take advantage of a little known tax strategy called Net Unrealized Appreciation (NUA). While it varies by plan, usually once you are retired, you are eligible to take an in kind...

 

Monday, August 20, 2018

One roadblock that keeps many people from retiring early is the burden of health care expenses before Medicare. While there is certainly reason to be concerned, there are several strategies you can use to mitigate these costs. I will...

 

Monday, August 13, 2018

There has been a growing frustration among individuals searching for new long-term care insurance. The issue? Premiums have grown tremendously over the past few years. One solution that has become increasing popular is a tax-free 1035...

 

Monday, August 6, 2018

Because of the great tax advantages that these accounts provide, coupled with staggering growth in tuition costs, many people wonder how soon they can start funding 529s. We’ve had a growing number of clients even ask if they can...

 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Should you take benefits at age 62, full retirement age, age 70, or somewhere in between? The decision is already complicated enough without getting into the details of unique widow benefits. If you are a widow and meet certain...

 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Managing your Business Cash Reserves Welcome to the part 2 of 2 in this short series on managing the cash flow of your business. In the previous post we discussed how to create a priority of saving outline. At the end of the post I...

 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

How to prioritize personal savings as a Business Owner Welcome to part 1 of 2 in this short series on managing the cash flow of your business. In this first post, we will discuss taking a look at your larger financial picture that...

 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Importance of Asset Location Asset location is a term used to describe how investments are distributed across various saving vehicles. For example, you may have an IRA, a Roth IRA, a Trust or Joint investment account, a 401(k), etc...

 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

IRA’s and Charity in 2018 A Qualified Charitable Contribution (QCD) A Qualified Charitable Contribution (QCD) is a direct transfer of funds from your Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA), made payable to a qualified charity....

 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

With the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act going into effect, there are several tax and investment opportunities regarding Roth IRA’s. I am going to discuss two; Conversions and Recharacterizations. As a refresher, a Roth IRA is a...

 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The words ‘bear market’ have been bandied about a lot lately. When you read or hear them, remember to respond the same way you would if you saw an actual bear in the woods – by staying calm and keeping your wits about you. A changing...