8 Sins Christians are Starting to Ignore

8 Sins Christians are Starting to Ignore

8 Sins Christians are Starting to Ignore

There are certain sins that Christians are always good at pointing out – usually in others. And there are obviously sins that we are shocked and appalled by, and usually see these sins as worse than others. But the reality is, all sin separates us from Christ. There aren’t degrees of separation – you are either reconciled to God or you are a stranger to him (see Colossians 1:21-22), there is no in-between.

We can trick ourselves into believing that it’s the really “big” sins we have to avoid, all the while ignoring deadly sin in our own lives. Make no mistake—all sin is wrong, all sin needs to be confessed and all of us need to walk away from our sinful tendencies and through humble, dependent faith, walk in righteousness.

Here are 8 sins we tend to ignore but can’t afford to ignore any longer.

1. Selfishness/Self-Righteousness

How often did Jesus call out the Pharisees in the New Testament? All. The. Time. And it was always for self righteousness or selfishness. If you have to compliment yourself on something good you’ve done, then you aren’t doing it right. So many of us like to display our faithful acts so that others will know what good Christians we are. Christ doesn’t care what everyone else thinks of your generosity. He cares about your heart and your motivation. If you need other people to know about the good things you do, feel, or think in order to feel validated, then you need to re-evaluate.

8 Sins Christians are Starting to Ignore

    • 2. Patriotism

      For the record, I do NOT think patriotism in and of itself is a sin. I put this here because all too often we put faith and Christian values in the same box as political party and patriotism. The bible is clear about the fact that Jesus’ name will be declared to ALL nations and peoples of the world. We shout, “‘Merica!” and talk about how much better we are than everyone else, but that’s not biblical. We project Christianity on to the American flag and assume that God acts American, but that’s not how it works. Celebrate American values and understand how blessed you are to live here, but remember that at the end of the day you are a citizen of heaven, and heaven will be full of people from all over the world.

  • 3. Fear/Worry

    Jesus is very clear about worrying. He flat out tells us not to worry. Faith requires trust. 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. . .” God is love. He loved us enough to send his son to die to atone for our sins. His love is perfect; therefore, we should have nothing to fear. I know fear is inevitable sometimes. It is a major struggle for me. We are not perfect, but fear and worry are not part of the equation with Christ. These attitudes that imply a lack of faith. All we can do is remember that God is sovereign and always in control.

  • 4. Pride

    We talk about pride all the time in church. We consistently discuss how detrimental and dangerous it is, but it seems like we don’t recognize what pride actually is. We don’t realize that every time we refuse someone forgiveness we are acting in pride. Every time you argue with a friend, family member, or spouse and insist that you will not be the one to apologize first then you act out of pride. Remember the grace that Christ extends to you and try to extend that same grace and forgiveness to others.

    8 Sins Christians are Starting to Ignore

      • 5. Gluttony/Coveting

        This sin is closely related to pride. We bury ourselves in debt in order to make sure we have the best and newest things. The disciples often lived off of the generosity of others and Jesus was a poor carpenter. I’m not saying that wealth is inherently bad. It’s not. If you can afford that Mercedes, by all means, buy it. But if you can’t; if you are spending hundreds of dollars each month paying off debt, then you could be committing a modern form of gluttony. You need to look inside yourself and search your heart. If your nice things were taken away, would you still be satisfied and able to find joy in Christ? Why are you really in debt? Who are you trying to impress, God or men?

    • 6. Gossip

      I’m from the South, and there is an unspoken rule here that you can say whatever you want about someone as long as you follow it with, “Bless her heart!” I am as guilty of this as anyone. We like to talk about other people’s lives as if we live in their heads and know everything about them. This is something “churchy” people are constantly accused of, and is often the result of a judgemental attitude (covered below). Why won’t the woman who had an abortion come to your church? Because she’s afraid of the looks you’ll give her and the distance at which you will keep her. The same could be said for the pregnant 16 year old or the man who cheated on his wife. Sure, it’s nice to escape our own issues by talking about someone else’s for a while, but let’s try to remember to speak with grace and that our sin is just as sinful as anyone else’s.

    • 7. Hatred

      In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus  tells us what we already know – that murder is wrong – but he follows that up by saying that anyone who has harbored hatred towards someone has committed murder in his heart. Hatred is connected intimately with fear. We fear people we don’t understand and that fear causes us to hate them irrationally. The general attitude towards all Muslims based on the acts of a small sect is a perfect example of this. We also tend to harbor hatred against those who have hurt us. We constantly need to be searching our heart and monitoring our thoughts and feelings.

      8 Sins Christians are Starting to Ignore

      • 8. Judgment

        This one is the kicker. This is what will be the death of our faith and our influence. I know that Paul tells the churches to expel sinners from their midst. He encourages us not to indulge someone in sinful behavior. We use those verses to justify judgement of others and I believe this is a gross misinterpretation of scripture.

        The truth of Jesus is in our equality. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. Christians have accepted Christ and avoided condemnation based on faith and the grace of God. We do not avoid condemnation based on our own actions. Every time we think less of someone else, we forget that we are also sinners.The only way to avoid this sin is to acknowledge our own weaknesses and to embrace humility. In fact, that could help us avoid a multitude of sins.

Retirement Planning Is Your Biggest and Scariest Financial Resolution for 2017

One of your top financial resolutions for 2017 is to get serious about your retirement. If only you knew how to do so.

According to an end-of-the-year survey by Capital One Investing, more than one-third (32%) of investors will dedicate at least one of their New Year’s resolutions to personal finance, up from 27% in 2015. Though the top goal is creating an emergency fund (24%) which we’ve discussed in depth this year — a whole lot of you want to invest more in retirement savings (23%) and getting smarter about investing (23%). More than one-third of investors will increase contributions to their retirement plan, with 83% reporting they have access to a plan (up from 75% last year).


However, Prudential Investments found that although 80% of people they surveyed before the end of the year considered retirement their priority, the average grade they give themselves for the retirement preparation is a “C.” A very honest 12% give themselves a failing grade.

“Understanding the hurdles keeping people from a secure financial future is critical to helping them meet their goals,” says Stuart Parker, president of Prudential Investments. “This research reinforces the need for people to seek advice and the need for the investment community to give advisors the best tools and solutions available.”

So what are the key issues that are keeping you from sticking to your retirement resolutions? Well, 63% of you find investing complex and confusing, 66% think it’s harder to invest now than it was during your parents’ generation and 64% of you are overwhelmed by the number of available choices. Roughly 42% of you don’t know how your assets are allocated once you do invest, and 43% of you don’t know what it is you’re investing in.

One of your top financial resolutions for 2017 is to get serious about your retirement. If only you knew how to do so.

According to an end-of-the-year survey by Capital One Investing, more than one-third (32%) of investors will dedicate at least one of their New Year’s resolutions to personal finance, up from 27% in 2015. Though the top goal is creating an emergency fund (24%) which we’ve discussed in depth this year — a whole lot of you want to invest more in retirement savings (23%) and getting smarter about investing (23%). More than one-third of investors will increase contributions to their retirement plan, with 83% reporting they have access to a plan (up from 75% last year).

But don’t worry: you’re far from alone. A whopping 74% of you think you should be doing more to prepare for retirement, while 40% don’t know what to do to prepare. Though 24% of workers think they’ll need $1 million or more to retire, 54% have less than $150,000 saved in employer-sponsored plans. It doesn’t help that 20% of workers don’t believe they’ll ever be able to retire, while 35% say they’ll never be able to save enough, so it doesn’t matter when they start saving. That kind of retirement nihilism is leading to all sorts of bad decisions, with 57% of Americans saying they would use savings to cover a financial emergency.

That’s not helpful when 51% of all retirees retired earlier than expected, with 50% retiring five or more years earlier than expected. If you’re among the 2% of that group who retired early, because they were tired of working, congratulations. However, if you’re among the 52% who retired because of your health problems or those of a loved one or the 30% who were either laid off or bought out, it can be scary out there. Among those of you who haven’t retired he, 57% say health care costs could bite into retirement savings, another 57% say changes to Social Security might alter their plans and 45% say the potential for dealing with an illness or disability has them worried about their savings.

None of that has scared you into saving, though. According to a recent study of 1,000 U.S. workers by financial services firm Edward Jones, 45% of non-retired U.S. workers aren’t saving for retirement at all. Of that group, only 36% plan to do so in the future and almost 10% say they aren’t planning to save for retirement at all. While 58% of respondents 18 to 34 years old have not yet started saving, 90% say they have or plan to start saving for retirement before they turn or turned 30. However, as a testament to the power of procrastination, 26% of 35- to 44-year-olds say they plan to start saving in their 40s.

“When it comes to retirement savings, there’s a big difference between planning to save and actually doing so,” said Scott Thoma, principal and investment strategist for Edward Jones. “While intentions to save for retirement are legitimate, individuals tend to satisfy more immediate, short-term spending goals and push off their long-term saving goals. This behavior can be incredibly detrimental for individual investors, particularly as they enter the critical savings periods of their 30s and 40s when they have — and unfortunately waste — a tremendously valuable asset — time.”

This is not only a terrible approach to retirement planning, but it’s also one that has U.S. workers worrying themselves into some bad habits. When the U.K.-based deVere Group asked new clients between ages 50 and 65 what their top financial worry is, 52% said that they were concerned that they would have to “downsize” their lifestyles at some point in their retirement. Another 19% said they worried about having to work longer than they had planned to, while 15% feared not having enough funds to help children, grandchildren and/or elderly parents. In another survey, CreditCards.com found that 50% of U.S. workers between ages 50 and 65 actually lose sleep worrying about whether or not they’ve saved enough for retirement.

“Whatever situation you’re in, it’s never too late to start growing, maximizing and safeguarding your retirement income — there are always things that can be done,” says Nigel Green, founder and chief executive of deVere Group. “But the time to act is now as the longer you put off planning for your retirement, the harder it becomes.”

Especially once children enter the equation. While 39% of singles told Edward Jones that they are not currently saving for retirement, that number ballooned to 51% of those in households of three or more. Along those lines, 58% of workers without children have already started saving for retirement, while just 49% of parents had done the same.

“Parents are recognizing the need to save earlier in order to account for additional costs, like education,” said Thoma. “We cannot emphasize enough the importance of saving for retirement early and often – it leads to higher future income in retirement, with less stress and uncertainty while working to achieve those goals.”

Considering all the expenses retirees will be facing, you’d think there would be more urgency behind retirement planning. The Voya study found that 61% of workers were significantly concerned about their inability to pay for health care expenses in retirement. Meanwhile, 58% were also significantly concerned that they would end up with fewer Social Security benefits than expected. That’s not great news, when 45% of retirees plan to rely on Social Security as a major source of their income in retirement and 66% of workers planned to start taking Social Security at age 66 or younger — well short of when full benefit payouts begin at age 70.

So what should retirees do to get a better start? Well, Thomas Walsh, an investment analyst with Palisades Hudson in Atlanta, says employer-matching retirement programs are always helpful, with many matching up to 3% or 4% of each paycheck at 50% or even 100% of the contributed amount. Advisors call it free money, which is basically what a worker is getting. However, having a small amount taken out of your paycheck each month isn’t the path to a comfortable retirement.

“As your salary increases, try to maintain the same standard of living while increasing your retirement plan contributions,” Walsh says. “Not only will the amount deducted from your paycheck escape income tax until retirement, the investments held in your account grow tax-free until the funds are later needed as well.”

Those additional tax savings also benefit from compounded growth over time — basically reinvested earnings making you more money — and can make a substantial difference in your future retirement income. However, if you’ve maxed out your employer’s retirement plan and still need a place to save, there are other options.

“Participating in an employer retirement plan does not disqualify you from contributing to a traditional or Roth IRA,” Walsh says. “Tax-deductible IRA contributions will be subject to a reduced income phase-out, but even nondeductible contributions offer a tax-efficient means of growth compared to a brokerage account.”

The benefits of maintaining both employer and private retirement plans will only increase as you age. Many employer retirement plans allow those who have reached age 50 to make an additional bonus contribution, or a “catch-up contribution.” For example, a 401(k) plan allows participants age 50 and over to defer an extra $6,000 into their retirement account each year. However, this additional contribution has no effect on the amount you’re able to contribute to your personal IRA.

“In fact, if you qualify for an IRA contribution, you’re permitted a similar catch-up contribution of $1,000 for a total IRA contribution of $6,500,” Walsh says. “This can add a substantial amount to your retirement funds at a time most are envisioning what their golden years will look like.”

But what targets are you aiming for? That can be a little tougher to discern. According to the advisors at T. Rowe Price, saving 15% of your earnings — including employer contributions — starting at age 30 can earn you upwards of $1.7 million by the time you retire. Now, that assumes 7% annual returns on your investments, a $50,000 salary at age 30, a 3% annual salary increase, a 4% annual withdrawal rate beginning at age 65 and 3% annual inflation. It also assumes that you wouldn’t forfeit about $570,000 by saving just 10% a year.

But what if you aren’t that young and haven’t really put away a whole lot for retirement. Don’t worry. For folks who begin socking away 15% at age 45, that still adds up to $457,000 based on those same variables. That’s helpful, since a recent Google survey study conducted by GOBankingRates indicates that 33% of U.S. workers say they have no retirement savings. Another 23% who have less than $10,000 saved. According to GOBankingRates survey responses, J.P. Morgan Asset Management checkpoints and Census Bureau data on median incomes by age range, a 30-year-old making the median $54,243 should have about $16,273 saved. However, roughly 67% of workers that age are well behind that goal.

Considering that 75% of workers over 40 are behind on their retirement savings, according to GOBankingRates, they can use any help they can get. Even throwing 15% of income into to 401(k) and IRA accounts, paying down debt and using the catch-up provisions that allow for bigger contributions to retirement plans by people over 50 can help investors salvage their retirement. That’s going to help the 58% of workers 18 to 34 who have not even started a retirement fund, which GOBankingRates and J.P. Morgan says should happen by age 24.

However, advisors at Voya Financial found last year that 74% of Americans have never calculated their monthly retirement income needs. Meanwhile, 51% of retirees have never tried to determine if their current savings will be enough to last through retirement – though 39% assume what they have will not last 20 years. A full 13% of current retirees don’t know how much savings they have in the bank in the first place.

HSBC says that 72% of pre-retirees ages 45 and older would like to retire in the next five years; however, 37% won’t hit that mark, largely (77%) because they don’t have the cash to do so. DeVere Group, meanwhile, found that 78% of workers from all over the world underestimate how much they’ll need to save for retirement.

“They know that saving for their retirement is now, without question, a personal responsibility for each and every one of us,” says Nigel Green, chief executive of DeVere Group. “However, what is alarming is that the vast majority do not know just how much they will need to save. This black hole in the detail — not knowing how much they will need in something as fundamental as funding their retirement — is extremely concerning indeed.”

There are other variables at play as well. HSBC found that 67% workers are unable to predict how much they are likely to spend on health care in retirement, including 63% of those living in households with an annual income over $79,999. UBS, which only surveys investors with at least $1 million in investable assets, found that only 50% in investors have factored healthcare costs into their overall financial plan, and only 23% have saved for their future care. About 88% of wealthy investors say factoring in health care costs is harder because people are living longer, while 76% note that the price of modern healthcare is significantly higher than it was for previous generations.

“The life expectancy factor is the trickiest one, because there is no way to confidently predict how long we will live, and we actually tend to underestimate our own longevity,” says Mike Lynch, vice president of strategic markets for Hartford Funds. “While in the past, life expectancy was shorter, today we are living longer, healthier and more actively than previous generations before us. That’s the good news and the bad news, because our retirement dollars may need to last longer and work harder than we realize.”

As a result, Voya Financial points out that 59% of working Americans are very or extremely concerned about outliving their retirement savings — with 74% having never calculated their monthly retirement income needs — just taking that first step can be tough. Voya notes that retirees will need 70% of their current annual income to continue their current lifestyle in retirement.

That’s proving to be a tough obstacle Though GOBankingRates notes that 13% of workers have $300,000 or more saved for retirement, about 30% of those age 55 and over have no retirement savings and 26% have less than $50,000. In fact, only 26% of Baby Boomers nearing retirement age have $200,000 or more, while 31% of Boomers over 65 can say the same.

That still beats the 52% of Generation X (ages 35-54) who still have less than $10,000 in retirement savings after the recession wiped out 45% of their net wealth on average, according to Pew Research Center. Roughly 31% of Gen Xers have no retirement account at all, though 40% of Gen Xers over 40 have more than $50,000 in retirement accounts. Among that group 7% have between $200,000 and $300,000 socked away, while 15% have $300,000 or more. Meanwhile, though 60% of Millennials (18-34) have started a retirement fund, 72% have saved less than $10,000 or nothing at all. A full 42% have no retirement savings, though that percentage shrinks to just 36% of those older than 25.

If you’re looking for bare minimums, GOBankingRates and J.P. Morgan have calculated them out. If you’re age 40 and making the $66,693 median salary, you should have more than $100,000 saved for retirement. Unfortunately, only 20% of people at that benchmark do. For the 50-year-olds making a median of $70,832 a year — the peak of their earnings — there should be close to $212,496 socked away. Only 22% have hit that mark. As for 60-year-olds coasting into retirement at $60,580 a year, only 26% have the recommended $260,500.

The best advice anyone can offer is to start now. Don’t worry if you didn’t start saving early on: Just get to saving. Edward Jones noted that 90% of its study’s youngest respondents said they planned to or began saving in their 30s or earlier. However, only 64% of respondents ages 35 to 44 actually began saving in their 30s. Roughly 22% of all respondents say they began saving between the ages of 40 and 50.

Getting an Inheritance? Don’t Make These Mistakes

It turns out you’ve got a pretty good shot of landing an inheritance.

According to the Washington, D.C-based CFP Board, one-third of Americans can expect get a “significant” inheritance in their lives. If you fall into that fortunate category, congratulations. The Board says inheritance cash has multiple benefits, from providing the ability to pay off long-term debt to financing a family member’s college education.

But as hard as it might be to believe, there can be a downside or two with an inheritance, primarily because many recipients squander the inheritance and don’t want wind up using the money wisely.

Windfalls can turn into mixed blessings when people indulge themselves or rush into their decisions about what to do with their inheritances, states Jill Schlesinger, a financial planner and senior CFP Board ambassador.

Schlesinger lists the most common – and most financially painful – mistakes made by people who squander an inheritance. It all starts with bad decisions. Here’s a look:

Mindless spending: Some people begin mindless spending on “just a small indulgence,” Schlesinger notes. “A series of those kinds of purchases can morph into a spending splurge that might rob people of their ability to reach their overall goals for the inheritance.”

Forgoing professional financial advice: Even Americans who manage their 401(k)’s or their taxes well on their own can benefit from help, Schlesinger adds. “That’s because a windfall, whether it’s an inheritance or even lottery proceeds, is different,” she says. “Those who receive an inheritance should consider assembling a team, including an estate attorney, an accountant and a certified financial planner.”

Rushing big decisions: People receiving an inheritance should be careful not to make any big life decisions, like selling a house or quitting a job, too early in the process, Schlesinger explains. “An inheritance often coincides with loss, and many people aren’t thinking clearly when their emotions run high,” she says.

Doing nothing: Sometimes people who receive a lump sum become so worried about “investing at the top,” that they do nothing, she adds. “These individuals should consider dollar cost averaging, the investment strategy that divides available money into equal parts and then periodically puts the money to work in a diversified portfolio over time,” Schlesinger states.

Being too charitable: Schlesinger notes that people love their kids, friends and charitable organizations – so much so that they sometimes neglect to take care of themselves after a financial windfall. “Push the pause button,” she advises. “There is plenty of time to provide generous support after a plan is established.”

Overall, approximately 50% of inheritances are “squandered,” says Darren T. Case, a tax and estate planning attorney at Tiffany & Bosco, P.A. in Phoenix. “And they’re squandered almost immediately,” notes Case. “Often times this is due to the beneficiary simply being unprepared to receive the inherited windfall.”

Like Schlesinger, Case advises heirs who inherit a financial windfall to get good help right out of the gate, and bring in a professional, if necessary.

“From an estate planning standpoint, avoiding a blown inheritance often starts with family discussions about inherited wealth, which very much differs psychologically from earned wealth,” he says. “However, assuming that the family meeting never occurred prior to the beneficiary receiving the inheritance, one recommendation to beneficiaries is to come up with a plan of what to do with the inheritance with a reputable financial advisor, and also strongly consider waiting a significant amount of time prior to making any decision.”

Other financial professionals advise against heirs taking a lump sum payment in an inheritance.

“A large percentage of net worth for most people is tied up in retirement accounts,” offers Brent R. Sutherland, a financial planner with Ntellivest in Pittsburgh.

When the owner of a traditional retirement account (an IRA or work retirement plan) passes away, the beneficiary has three options in which to receive their inheritance, Sutherland says:

1) As a lump sum distribution.

2) As payments spread over five years

3) As payments spread over the course of their lifetime.

“A lot of people make the mistake of taking the lump sum distribution, not knowing that all those funds get treated as ordinary income, which often bumps them into the highest tax bracket,” he says. “In this situation, a significant portion of the inheritance is lost immediately via the Internal Revenue Service.” Sunderland says the beneficiary is usually always better off taking a smaller distribution over longer periods of time. “This way, the money can continue to grow tax-deferred while also helping keep the beneficiary in a lower tax bracket,” he adds.

In addition, the way inheritances are set up, there may be other tax considerations that most people just don’t know about, and can wind up costing them even more money.

“One of the biggest mistakes people make with inherited assets is spending them right away without considering the tax implications,” notes Anthony D. Criscuolo, a portfolio manager with Palisades Hudson Financial Group in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Criscuolo says that, depending on the type of assets one inherits, hasty action could mean handing over a substantial portion of your inheritance to the tax man. “For instance, if you inherit an IRA, distributions are subject to ordinary income tax,” he says. “Many people who inherit such accounts may regret acting hastily, without understanding the tax hit involved in an immediate withdrawal of funds.”

When you receive an inheritance, take the time to consider whether it changes your overall financial position, your future tax situation or your retirement plans, Criscuolo advises. “Depending on what you receive, you may be able to adjust your portfolio’s asset allocation, pay down high-interest debt or make new investments that were previously out of your reach,” he says. “It’s important to make a long-term plan and to avoid the temptation to make big purchases, such as a vehicle or a home, right away.”

“Instead, take your time, and consider hiring a financial professional to help you make the most of your windfall,” he adds.

HSA accounts: The good news and bad news

Why HSA accounts can be a blessing and a curse

High-deductible health plans spell trouble for many people’s financial and health outlook.

If you don’t know what a health savings account is, it’s time to find out.

These accounts, which are available only to people who have a high-deductible health plan, offer a trifecta of tax benefits for people who use them to save money for medical expenses: you put money in pre-tax, the money grows tax-free and is distributed tax-free as long as you use it on qualified medical expenses. But for many people, the disadvantages of such plans will outweigh the advantages.

A key tenet of President-elect Donald Trump’s stated health-care plan is to expand access to these savings accounts, but there’s already a growing trend among employers to move employees to high-deductible insurance plans. That means consumers need to understand both those insurance plans and the pros and cons of health savings accounts.

Here’s why: A trend toward high-deductible health plans spells trouble for many people’s financial and health outlook — unlike a traditional insurance plan, a high-deductible plan necessitates having money set aside for initial health costs — but it’s also true that some retirement savers are going to like what they see with health savings accounts.

That’s because they are probably the most tax-beneficial account on the planet and, for those who have good health, good luck and the financial wherewithal to pay their health costs out of pocket while they work, a health savings account or HSA could be a stellar way to save for that huge health-care bill we’re all going to face in retirement.

You’ve seen the numbers, right? One estimate is that a 65-year-old couple retiring in 2016 will need $260,000, or about $13,000 per year for 20 years, according to Fidelity Investment data.

With an HSA, you contribute pre-tax money, like a 401(k) or other defined-contribution account. You invest the money, and it grows tax-free. The icing on the cake is that if you use the money for qualified medical expenses, you don’t owe any tax on that money at all. Ever.

“One of the major benefits of the HSA is the tax-deferred growth and tax-free distributions if proceeds are used for qualified medical expenses,” said Brent Ulreich, senior financial planner at Hefren-Tillotson Inc. in Pittsburgh, Penn. “Even after you leave employment, funds left in your HSA can be used to pay for medical expenses throughout retirement.”

But there are drawbacks. One major hitch is that to open an HSA, your health insurance plan must have a high deductible. In 2017, only health plans with a deductible of at least $1,300, for single people, or at least $2,600 for family coverage, qualify.

Given that only 37% of folks said they can afford to pay for a $1,000 emergency from their savings account (that’s from a 2016 Bankrate survey) the question is how many people are financially prepared to pay for the health expenses they face under a high-deductible plan?

High-deductible plans generally have lower premiums than traditional plans, but people who use such plans need to consistently stash the difference into an HSA. These accounts only benefit people who are disciplined about saving, or have enough monthly cash flow to cover their health costs.

Meanwhile, the long-term tax benefits of HSAs — letting that tax-free money grow tax-free — will only accrue to you if you don’t need to withdraw the money. That is, these plans are a huge boon to those who can afford to pay for medical expenses with cash on hand, letting the money in these accounts grow.

A study in 2006 by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that about 55% of the people who reported HSA contributions in 2004 didn’t withdraw any funds from their account that year. The study also found that HSA users had higher-than-average incomes, with 51% earning adjusted gross income of $75,000 or more, versus 18% of all taxpayers under age 65. “Many focus group participants reported using their HSA as a tax-advantaged savings vehicle, accumulating HSA funds for future use,” the study said. One focus group participant said he paid for an expensive surgery out of pocket, so he could save his HSA money for the future. (Granted, HSAs didn’t become available until 2004, so this report is an early indicator of HSA use.) Read the report

Moving toward high deductibles

The move seems to be toward such plans. Certainly, Trump’s health plan includes expanding access to HSAs and making such accounts inheritable.

Read more: Health savings accounts are crown jewel of ‘Trump care’

HSAs have long been favored by Republicans, in part because such plans are said to encourage smarter consumer behavior. Rather than almost all costs being covered by your insurer, you have those upfront costs to pay before the deductible kicks in. The thinking, at least in part, is that will encourage consumers to shop around. (Some studies suggest it encourages people to refrain from seeking care at all.)

But it turns out one aspect of the Democratic push toward Obamacare might also be encouraging employers to move toward high-deductible plans: the so-called Cadillac tax, which, if it goes into effect, will tax the value, over a specified amount, of the most generous health plans. That tax is slated to go into effect in 2020, though with the new Republican administration there seems to be a good chance it will be repealed. Under the Obama administration, employers were eyeing ways to avoid that tax by reducing the value over their plans, in part by shifting to high-deductible plans, according to a study by Richard L. Kaplan, a law professor at the University of Illinois. The full study is here

Cadillac tax or not, companies in general want to lower their health costs. A growing number of U.S. workers are covered by a high-deductible health plan paired with an HSA: 19% of workers who have employer-sponsored health insurance have that type of coverage in 2016, up from 15% in 2015, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Read their report.

Plan deductibles vary widely, but the average for workers who have a high-deductible plan combined with an HSA is higher even than the regulations call for: $2,295 for single workers and $4,364 for family coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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Here’s what Trump means for health care

Not all bad

High-deductible plans combined with HSAs do offer some consumer protections and benefits. For example:

• People with high-deductible plans are legally protected in terms of their maximum out-of-pocket expense for deductibles and copays. In 2017, that maximum is $6,550 for individuals and $13,100 for family coverage in 2017.

• Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, some preventive care—including some cancer screenings—are covered before that high deductible kicks in.

• The money you save in your HSA can be accumulated over time, unlike a flexible savings account that requires you to spend the money down each year.

• Your employer might offer matching contributions, like a 401(k).

• If you manage to save the money for retirement (that is, you don’t need to use it for medical costs before you retire), HSA accounts don’t require distributions the way that traditional IRAs do at age 70-1/2. And Trump has suggested HSAs should be inheritable.

Not all good, either

There are also some serious drawbacks. Here’s one: If you use your HSA savings for non-qualified expenses before age 65, “you’ll owe an additional 20% penalty in addition to any taxes due,” Ulreich said.

Generally, qualified expenses for HSAs are the same as those for claiming the medical expense deduction. Some examples of nonqualified costs include “unnecessary” plastic surgery, swimming or dancing lessons even if recommended by a doctor, most insurance premiums, diaper service, hair transplants, and electrolysis. See IRS Publication 502 for the complete list and Publication 969 for general rules on HSAs.

A health savings account “should always be viewed first as a savings and accumulation vehicle for the inevitability of medical emergencies, but it does offer an opportunity for an additional retirement savings strategy,” he said.

Another drawback is that the investment options in your HSA may be limited and more expensive than your 401(k). “I would say the investment options in general are not as good as what you’re going to see in a 401(k),” said Rob Austin, director of retirement research at consulting firm Aon Hewitt. “HSAs are a relatively new concept and don’t have the same assets under management,” he said.

As for allocating your perhaps limited paycheck to an HSA instead of your 401(k), be wary. In addition to cheaper and more robust investment options, your 401(k) may come with a better employer match. “Most people should probably look at [an HSA] as a complement to their 401(k) strategy if they’re looking at this as a long-term investment vehicle, and not so much as a replacement for it,” Austin said.

If you can swing it, do both, said Marina Edwards, senior retirement consultant at consulting firm Willis Towers Watson. “It could be a good strategy to save enough into your 401(k) to get the matching contributions and then allocate your additional leftover savings dollars to your HSA.”

Manage your money

With a high-deductible health plan, don’t set it and forget it. While the low premiums might be appealing, be sure to pay the difference (between those premiums and a typical health plan) into an HSA.

“The mindset when you’re going through open enrollment is, ‘Oh, this is a great deal. I’m going to pay less per paycheck,’” said Eric Dowley, head of Fidelity Investments’ HSA business. “Then they forget about it and then it’s, ‘Oh my gosh. I have to pay this.’”

Look at the difference in premiums between an HMO or PPO and a high-deductible plan. If you’re willing to pay $400 a pay period for the HMO but you’re paying $200 a pay period for the high-deductible plan, set that $200 monthly savings into a health-savings account, Dowley suggested.

If you’re lucky in health, or wealthy enough to cover your health expenses out of pocket, you can let the money grow in your account tax-free—awaiting your retirement. “To the extent that you can devote some money and set it aside for medical expenses that are going to take place in your golden years,” said Aon Hewitt’s Austin, “by all means go ahead and do that.”

But don’t embrace one of these plans at the cost of your health.

How couples are sabotaging their retirement

It’s not just how much you save, but how you save that matters

Coupling up has a lot of perks, financial and otherwise. Married people have more wealth, a nightly couch companion and automatic rescue — via an agreed-upon I’m-just-scratching-my-eyebrow signal — from the token close-talker at a party.

Yet, many twosomes don’t take advantage of the benefits. Research on the number of couples who aren’t using a “save me” signal is thin, but Harris Poll recently surveyed more than 1,800 Americans in a relationship — defined as married or living with a partner — for NerdWallet, and a third of respondents said neither they nor their partner is saving for retirement.

In fact, Americans in a relationship may be making mistakes that could seriously undermine their financial advantage, according to the survey. Here are three of the most worrisome missteps:

1. When couples save, it’s often in the wrong accounts

Here’s the general order when it comes to where you should save for retirement: Contribute to your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored plan, at least to the point where you earn all possible matching contributions. Then turn to a traditional or Roth IRA. If you max that out, you can add more money to the 401(k).

Unfortunately, many Americans in a relationship who are saving for retirement have somehow worked into that hierarchy a savings account, which showed up in the NerdWallet survey as the second most common home for retirement savings.

Thanks to low interest rates, growing your money in a savings account is nearly impossible. Money for retirement should be invested in a mix of low-cost stock and bond funds via a tax-advantaged retirement account. You can do that even without earned income: If you file taxes jointly, you can open a spousal IRA based on the income of the working spouse.

2. Couples are letting one partner shoulder the responsibility

It’s not unusual to have an income gap in a relationship; the pay gap actually widens with marriage and expands more when children come into play.

According to salary comparison site Payscale, married women without children make 21% less than married men without children. That gap widens to 31% when you compare married women with children to their male counterparts.

So it’s not surprising that in the NerdWallet survey, only 24% of Americans in a relationship said both they and their partner are saving for retirement, or that men in a relationship were more likely to report saving for retirement than women in a relationship (65% versus 46%).

Saving for retirement is a solo game until you’re married. After that, it should be a shared effort. That’s not because the nonsaver could be left with nothing in a divorce — how retirement assets are split depends on your state, but they do get split — but because that person could be giving up tax advantages and employer-matching dollars.

Even if one spouse earns less, the couple should be planning retirement account choices together. If only one of you has access to an employer match, use your shared retirement savings to contribute enough to catch that match, which is free money and a guaranteed return on your investment. If you both have an employer match, you should each contribute enough to take advantage of it.

3. Couples aren’t putting a dollar sign on their dreams

It isn’t hard to talk about the fun parts of retirement, like how and where you’re going to spend it. I’m not saying these chats aren’t important — my husband should know that I’m out if he ever buys an RV — but how you’re going to pay for those dreams should also be part of the conversation.

The trouble is that, according to the NerdWallet report, almost a third of Americans in a relationship who are saving for retirement haven’t discussed how much they need to save. This isn’t a fun part, but it also isn’t hard: An effective retirement calculator can shoulder some of the work.

How much you save makes all the difference in retirement. It means you can live in a beach house instead of a sand castle. It’s what gives you a choice about how you’ll spend retirement. Without savings, you could spend it working, and that’s if you’re lucky. Nearly half of retirees left work earlier than planned, most commonly due to health issues, according to a recent survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

When you plan for your future, you can hope for the best while being prepared for the worst.

401(k) Intro: Is Your Retirement Plan Foolish?

How to get the most from your employer’s retirement plan.

It’s no secret that when it comes to retirement, you’re on your own, Fool. Traditional pensions — where employers send retired employees a check every month for the rest of their lives — are increasingly rare. As for Social Security, the average annual benefit is around $16,000, and we’ll see what happens to that when the future funding problems become present funding problems.

No, Fool, if you want to retire, you’re going to have to do all the saving and investing yourself. For many Americans, the best place to start is with the defined-contribution plan at work, whether it’s called a 401(k), 403(b), 457, SEP, or SIMPLE IRA. Taking advantage of such accounts is a great way to sock away thousands of dollars, with all kinds of tax benefits to boot.

But just because your employer offers a retirement plan, that doesn’t mean somebody in your office will tell you what to do with it.

Enter the Fools. We’re happy to share our knowledge about employer-sponsored, self-directed retirement plans, and in this tidy little collection we very much believe you’ll find out everything you need to know about yours. In fact, for the truly lazy, we’ve packed all the real information into the first 100 words of the first step. How’s that for brevity?

But, hey, we realize that there may be some individual questions that aren’t covered in this concise little package. So if you’ve read our whole collection here and still wonder, “Hey, what’s up with my plan?” — then give our Rule Your Retirement service a try free for 30 days. You’ll get access to special retirement discussion boards, plenty of good advice about how to invest your money, and some cool, whizbang financial-planning tools.

In the spirit of the aforementioned brevity, we will henceforth use the term “401(k)” when discussing employer plans. However, we recognize that you may have a different type of plan. The vast majority of our advice will still apply to you, but check in with the HR guru in your office to find out the particulars (especially contribution limits and employer matching arrangements) of your plan.

And now it’s time to learn how to use these accounts to improve your retirement prospects. Also, consider the opportunity to rule your 401(k): Check out The Motley Fool’s new guide to getting the most out of your workplace retirement account!

7 Facts About Your Roth IRA You Didn’t Know

You may be saving for retirement via a Roth IRA without fully understanding how it works and what it can do — or you may not be using one because you don’t appreciate just how powerful it can be. Indeed, making the most of your Roth IRA might even help you retire early.

Whichever camp you’re in, you’ll likely benefit from a brief review of the Roth IRA. Here are seven facts about it that are worth knowing.

Young boy in glasses at laptop looking astonished, mouth open


Roth IRA fact No. 1: The Roth IRA is relatively new

Your grandparents probably couldn’t have saved for retirement with a Roth IRA — though it’s much more likely that they had or have pension income than it is that you will have it. Roth IRAs were introduced as part of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, with their most prominent feature being tax-free withdrawals in retirement. This is a good reminder that tax laws and possible investment strategies can change over time, sometimes getting better and sometimes worse.

highway sign that says "tax free"


Roth IRA fact No. 2: The Roth IRA isn’t the only IRA with tax benefits

There are two main kinds of IRAs — the traditional IRA and the Roth IRA — and both offer tax-advantaged ways to build your future financial security. With a traditional IRA, you contribute pre-tax money, reducing your taxable income for the year, and thereby reducing your taxes, too. (Taxable income of $70,000 and a $5,000 contribution? You’ll only report $65,000 in taxable income for the year.) The money grows in your account and is taxed at your ordinary income tax rate when you withdraw it in retirement.

With a Roth IRA, you contribute post-tax money that doesn’t reduce your taxable income at all in the contribution year. (Taxable income of $70,000 and a $5,000 contribution? Your taxable income remains $70,000 for the year.) Here’s why the Roth IRA is a big deal, though: Your money grows in the account until you withdraw it in retirement — tax free.

So while one kind of IRA offers an upfront tax break, the other offers a back-end one. In many cases the Roth IRA will provide the greatest savings, but sometimes a traditional IRA is the better choice.

Roth IRA fact No. 3: Roth IRA contributions must be made with earned money

If you’re a teenager who wants to sock away $500 you got for your birthday in a Roth IRA, you’re out of luck. Roth IRA contributions must be made with earned money. There’s no minimum age for opening a Roth, but anyone funding their Roth IRA, whether child or adult, must do so with earned income. For kids, allowance or birthday money doesn’t qualify, but cash earned through babysitting or odd jobs can. For adults, qualified earnings include wages, commissions, and even alimony payments, but not inheritances, Social Security benefits, or pension or disability income.

Close up of stack of money


Roth IRA fact No. 4: You can sock away up to $5,500 or $6,500 in an IRA

The contribution limit for all IRAs in 2017 is $5,500, plus an additional $1,000 for those 50 or older. That’s a combined maximum contribution, so if you have three IRA accounts, you might contribute $1,000 to one, $2,000 to another, and $3,500 to a third — if you’re 50 or older.

The limits increase over time, so expect higher ones in the future. In 2000, you could contribute only $2,000 to an IRA, while in 2002 you could sock away $3,000 — plus an additional $500 if you were 50 or older. The current limit has been in place since 2013.

Roth IRA fact No. 5: You can amass a surprising sum in a Roth IRA

Contributing $5,500 annually to a retirement account doesn’t seem like a recipe for riches, but you can build a surprisingly hefty war chest that way. The more you park in your Roth IRA each year, the more dollars you’ll have that can grow for you. Remember, too, that your earliest invested dollars can do the most for you, as they’ll have the most time in which to grow. Check out the following table, showing how much you might amass investing $4,500 versus $5,500 each year:

Growing at 8% For: $4,500 Invested Annually $5,500 Invested Annually
10 years $70,405 $86,050
15 years $131,959 $161,284
20 years $222,403 $271,826
25 years $355,295 $434,249
30 years $550,556 $672,902


You can see how powerful time is by looking at how much more rapidly the sums grow in later years. Note, too, how much of a difference it can make to invest an additional $1,000 each year — in this example, $5,500 instead of $4,500. If you’re old enough to contribute the $6,500 allowed for those 50 and older, aim to do so.

Fingers turning a dial labeled "profit" to "high"


Roth IRA fact No. 6: How you invest in your Roth IRA matters

While 401(k)s often limit your investment choices to a modest suite of mutual funds, you can invest in all kinds of securities through your Roth IRA. Some make more sense than others, though. For example, there’s little point to investing in municipal bonds in a Roth, since they’re typically already tax-exempt. Low-interest rate CDs and slow-growing stocks are also not ideal.

It can be effective to park Roth IRA money (at least some of it) in stocks you expect to be your fastest growers — especially if you’re a long way to retirement. If a stock averages 15% growth per year for 25 years, a single $5,000 initial investment can turn into about $165,000. Better still, fully $160,000 of it will be a capital gain — on which you pay no taxes, if you withdraw following the rules.

Real estate investment trusts are also good for Roth IRAs. They tend to generate a lot of dividend income, but much or all of that is often not eligible for the low long-term capital gains tax rate and is instead taxed at your ordinary income tax rate. In a Roth, there can be no tax at all. You can also do quite well just investing in a broad-market index fund or two, or a target-date fund, in your Roth IRA. Such a simple approach can be very effective.

The following table highlights the importance of your growth rate over time. It shows how much you might amass with $5,500 annual investments:

$5,500 Invested Annually For: Growing at 6% Growing at 8% Growing at 10%
15 years $135,699 $161,284 $199,224
20 years $214460 $271,826 $346,514
25 years $319,860 $434,249 $595,000
30 years $460,909 $672,902 $995,189


Roth IRA fact No. 7: You can convert a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA

Finally, know that if you have money in a traditional IRA, you can probably convert that IRA into a Roth IRA — a tactic that makes particularly good sense for some people, such as those with relatively small accounts and many years until retirement.

Converting a traditional IRA into a Roth means you’ll face a tax hit, as the money you’re converting has avoided taxes so far but will be going into an account funded with post-tax money. If you’re converting $150,000, you’ll be recognizing that as taxable income in the year of conversion, and it can result in a big tax hit. You’ll have to decide whether the tax hit is likely to be worth it. Conversions can be especially effective after a market crash or correction, as the sum you’re converting will be smaller.

You can roll over 401(k) funds into an IRA, too, when you change a job.

Don’t overlook the power of a Roth IRA, as it can give you more financial security in retirement — and possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax-free withdrawals!

5 Ways You’re Making Your Boss Angry

5 Ways You’re Making Your Boss Angry

Angry boss making fist

Angry boss | iStock.com

Having a good, or at least civil, relationship with your boss, is often critical to job success. If you have a horrible boss, there are ways you can make the situation better. On the other hand, you may think that you have a good relationship with your boss, and you also may like your boss as a person. However, you also might be doing things that are regularly making your boss angry.

Sometimes we know that we are not performing our best, and other times we don’t realize we are letting anyone down. There might be things that are regularly part of your routine that you don’t even consider as an issue; these infractions might not seem so small to your boss. It’s important to understand what your boss wants from you, and how you may be letting him or her down. Here are five ways you may be making your boss angry.


1. Socializing too much

It’s great if you get along with your boss or your co-workers (preferably both), but don’t mistake a good rapport with your superior as an excuse to spend too much time socializing. While some bosses might enjoy being asked about their hobbies, talking about the weather, or engaging in general chatting, many won’t, or they’ll will prefer the exchange stays brief. Also, there’s a good chance your boss will get angry if you spend too much time socializing with your co-workers. Office gossiping, or even simple conversations about things outside of work-related projects, can waste valuable time and also make some people uncomfortable.

2. Incorrectly using technology

A participant sits with a laptop computer at a hacker conference - Sean Gallup/Getty Images

A man using a computer | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Work email shouldn’t be used for sending private emails; there are too many opportunities for the wrong person to see them. Also, your boss won’t appreciate if you are using work time to send private emails. You also risk a very angry boss if you accidentally send something inappropriate to the wrong person, or if you badmouth your boss; you may even get fired.

Many company networks have firewalls and some sites might be blocked, but don’t assume that you can use social media even if the sites still work. At best, you risk annoying your boss and co-workers, but at worst you may really piss off your boss by wasting company time or saying  or otherwise off something inappropriate (think: sexist, racist,ensive).

3. Showing up late

man sleeping next to a ticking alarm clock

Employee running late | iStock.com

Regularly showing up late to work is disrespectful and wastes company time. Many companies have relaxed schedules, but be sure to check with your boss before assuming that you can come in when you want to. Even if you are only showing up five or ten minutes late, and your boss hasn’t said anything, there’s a good chance he’s noticed. If you repeatedly show up late, you risk making your boss really angry, or worse.

The same is true about meetings: when you’re regularly late for meetings, other people are negatively affected. Your co-workers may feel that you are entitled; they also might start to copy your behavior or lose respect for your boss or manager. These feelings can all affect employee morale and customer service, and if these things are affected, your boss will definitely get angry.

4. Slacking on assignments

man sleeping on office desk

Slacking employee | iStock.com

Wasting time or showing up late are bad enough, but if you are failing to do your best work when you actually are working, then your boss is sure to get mad. Perhaps you are handing in projects late because you are not prioritizing correctly, you’re turning in subpar work, or you’re relying on your co-workers to pick up your slack. If practiced often enough, these habits will certainly be detrimental to your relationship with your boss, and potentially, your ability to keep your job or move into a new one. Your boss will expect you to complete your own job duties, and do your best work every time.

5. Being disrespectful

The Office, Dwight

You shouldn’t make fun of your boss too much | NBC

You don’t have to use social media to be disrespectful at work. While posting something on Facebook about how much you hate your boss is guaranteed to make her mad, and showing up late will also piss her off, you can show disrespect in many other ways as well. Regularly questioning your boss in front of your co-workers, ignoring his requests, or making fun of him are all offensive ways to behave at work.

Bullying co-workers is also a disrespectful choice, and so is physically trashing your workspace or your office. There are so many ways to be disrespectful at work. You want to avoid all of them. If you are truly unaware how your behavior comes across, you can always ask, and then take a step forward toward better behavior.

How to Look for a New Job While You Still Have Your Old One

How to Look for a New Job While You Still Have Your Old One

Dwight Schrute working at Staples

Dwight Schrute working at Staples instead of Dunder Mifflin on The Office | NBC

A promotion and raise are years away in your current job, and you’ve decided to speed up that process by looking for a role in a new company. Or perhaps you can’t take any more of your toxic co-worker or unpredictable boss, and you’re finally heading for the door. If you’re like most people, you’re continuing to work while you start your job search, since a few months without a steady income is a no-go.

In fact, starting a job search while you still have your current gig is a smart choice, if you go about it the right way. “Companies want to hire the best of the best and [those people] are usually employed,” Sara Menke, the founder and chief executive of Premier, a boutique staffing firm in San Francisco, told Forbes. What’s more, continuing in your current job gives you more bargaining power. You won’t give off an air of desperation, and you’ll be able to use your existing role to your advantage. On the flip side, quitting before you have another job lined up can be a red flag to potential employers.

“If you don’t currently have a job, it raises a lot of questions and puts you in a defensive position, and you won’t be coming at them from a position of strength,” Andy Teach, a corporate veteran and author of From Graduation to Corporation: The Practical Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder One Rung at a Time, told Forbes.

Job hopping is now an acceptable way to climb the career ladder, and plenty of people are on the job search while they’re still reporting for their original 9-to-5. The only trick is make sure you’re doing so while remaining professional and not giving yourself away before you planned to. Here are the rules for job searching on the job.

Reality Check: What Does Retirement Mean to You?

Reality Check: What Does Retirement Mean to You?

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

The cliche retirement picture paints a graying couple sitting on a beach somewhere without a care in the world. In the reclined position, she’s pondering what novel to read next, while he’s deciding whether to look at his new gold watch again. The drinks are always cold and there isn’t a boss in sight. The only problem: this retirement is located in fantasy land.

A retirement without some kind of employment is becoming a thing of the past. According to a new report from Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS), 20% of all workers expect to continue working as long as possible in their current or similar position until they can’t work any longer, and 41% envision transitioning into retirement by reducing their hours or by working in a different capacity that is less demanding. Only one in five workers plan to immediately stop working and fully retire when they reach a certain age or savings goal.

“Today’s workers recognize they need to save and self-fund a greater portion of their retirement income. In response, they are transforming the United States retirement system from a three-legged stool into a table by creating a fourth leg: working,” said Catherine Collinson, president of TCRS, in a press statement. “The long-held view that retirement is a moment in time when people reach a certain age, immediately stop working, fully retire, and begin pursuing their dreams is more myth than reality. Retirement has become a transition that may be phased over time or happen abruptly due to intervening circumstances.”

Reality Check: What Does Retirement Mean to You?

Expectations differ across age ranges, but the majority of workers are placing paradise on hold indefinitely. The report finds that 61% of workers in their 40s plan to work past age 65, with 59% of workers in their 50s saying the same. However, even these numbers appear to be optimistic as 82% of workers already in their 60s plan to work past age 65 or do not plan to retire. In contrast, half of workers in their 20s and 30s expect to retire at age 65 or sooner.Despite the bleak outlook, retirement dreams are alive and well. American workers of all ages most frequently cite travel as their greatest retirement dream (42%), followed by spending more time with loved ones (21%) and pursing hobbies (15%). Continuing work in a current field (5%) and doing volunteer work (4%) are a distant fourth and fifth, respectively.

Your own retirement dream is ultimately your responsibility. “It is never too soon or too late to save, invest and plan for retirement. By taking proactive steps today, workers of all ages can improve their retirement outlook,” said Collinson. “By extending our working lives and fully retiring at an older age, we can earn income, bridge savings shortfalls and stay active and involved. It’s also important to remember that life’s unforeseen circumstances, such as health issues or job loss, can derail the best laid plans. Everyone needs a Plan B for the unexpected.”