What's On Your Bucket List?

The movie, “The Bucket List” is a great movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. It is about two terminally ill men who have a list of things they want to do before they “kick the bucket.” I think everybody needs a bucket list.

When is a good time to create your bucket list? Now! Especially if you are approaching retirement. Sit down and brainstorm ideas, no matter how silly they are. Skydiving? Drive a race car? Take grandkids to Disneyland? There are no right or wrong answers.

Sometimes a bucket list can lead to a big change in life. My wife is the queen of bucket lists. On her list was completing a marathon. This started something in her life and now she’s an Ironman triathlete. Recently, she climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, something that definitely was NOT on my bucket list.

Once you have your bucket list, create a timeline that describes when you want to accomplish items on your list. Put your longer trips and more difficult adventures earlier. Your shorter, less taxing things should go later. For example, skydiving might be easier in your 60s than your 80s. Fourteen-hour plane flights are easier to do when younger.

This list can help you create a budget. These are the fun things you want to do and some may cost more than others. For example, my wife’s Mt. Kilimanjaro trek was much more expensive than doing a marathon. Marathons aren’t very expensive, so she can do several a year. A trip like hiking in Africa is much more expensive. It may take several years to save up for this trip.

Having your bucket list and timeline can help ensure that you complete what is important to you. It also helps you budget for your lifestyle in retirement. When will you write down your bucket list? Start now! Don’t worry if it changes over time, that can be a good thing. Just ask my wife, the Ironman.

Relief for Hurricane Victims

There’s a little bit of good news for survivors of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. President Trump signed into law the Disaster Tax Relief and Airway Extension Act of 2017 on September 29. This provides relief provisions for the victims of these hurricanes, which are basically the same provided for victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Qualified Hurricane Distributions (I guess we can call these QHDs) are made from an eligible retirement plan to an individual whose primary residence is in one of the disaster areas during the specified dates and has suffered economic losses:
·      Hurricane Harvey with distributions between August 23, 2017 and January 1, 2019
·      Hurricane Irma with distributions between September 4, 2017 and January 1, 2019
·      Hurricane Maria with distributions between September 16, 2017 and January 1, 2019

Each individual can withdraw a maximum of $100,000 per plan. This means a married couple can withdraw up to $200,000 from plans. IRAs, 401(k)s, and other retirement plans are eligible.

Once the distribution has been made, the individual has up to three years to repay the distribution. The repayments can be made into any retirement plan belonging to the individual as long as the initial distribution could have rolled over to that plan receiving the payment. For example, if you had a 401(k) at both your current employer and a previous employer, you could do a distribution from the previous employer’s 401(k) and repay it to your current employer’s 401(k).


Pre-tax funds withdrawn from qualified plans will be taxable, however they will not be subject to the 10% early distribution penalty. Also, there is no mandatory 20% withholding for qualified hurricane distributions.

For most people, a $100,000 distribution would be a significant taxable event. The new law helps by spreading the tax burden over three years. For example, if someone took $60,000 from their qualified plan, they would include $20,000 of income for 2017, $20,000 for 2018, and $25,000 for 2019. It is also possible to pay tax on the total amount in the year of the distribution.

If you have been affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, or Maria, the Disaster Tax Relief and Airway Extension Act of 2017 offers significant options for you to repair the damage to your home.

Equifax hack

As you probably have heard, the credit reporting agency Equifax announced that it suffered a data breach affecting 143 million U.S. Consumers. This hack exposed names, Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates, and drivers license numbers. These are all critical pieces of information used by identity thieves.

Did this affect me?
You can see if you were a victim of Equifax's hack by visiting www.Equifaxsecurity2017.com
This is probably one of the largest data breaches in history, since most U.S. adults have their credit history on file with Equifax. Because of this, we recommend freezing your credit.

Freeze your credit
You should freeze your credit at each of the three credit bureaus. This freeze locks your credit file with a special PIN. This PIN will be required for anyone to access your credit file.
The following phone numbers and links can be used to freeze your credit:

Depending on your state, it can cost from $0 to $10 to freeze your credit at each agency.

Congratulations College Graduate!

You now have your first job out of college. Or maybe you know someone who is in this situation. What do you do?

This is an exciting time in your life. You’re probably going from very little income to what seems like a lot of money. How do you manage unfamiliar situation?

Your first step is to create a budget. A good rule is 50/20/30. Learning this rule can help you with financial success!

The first 50% will go towards your fixed expenses. This includes things like rent, car payments, and insurance.

Next comes an allocation of 20% towards your savings & debt. Start building up your emergency fund (6 months of expenses). If you have accumulated student loans, you will start paying them from this part. If your employer offers a 401(k) with a match, make sure to put in enough to get the maximum match. You don’t want to leave free money on the table! A Roth IRA may also be a great savings vehicle for you.

The last 30% goes to your living expenses. This includes food, entertainment, and clothing. If there are big ticket items you wish to buy, like a TV, save some money out of this budget item until you have enough to purchase it.

Many people run into problems because they don’t have an emergency fund. The emergency fund insulates you from unexpected ‘life events’ like a car accident. By having this fund, you don’t have to go into debt to handle the situation.

Your budget isn’t etched in stone. It will change over time. But if you can stick to the 50/20/30 principles, you should be able to live comfortably without the stress of money.