Decide When To Start Social Security Benefits

question-marks-2215_640Whether you should take social security retirement benefits at the earliest possible date or defer benefits until reaching normal retirement age (or even age 70), depends on several factors. For example, you’ll want to consider your overall health and life expectancy, your plans to earn income before reaching normal retirement age, anticipated returns on your other investments, and, surprisingly, your guess about the future of the social security program. As you can tell, the decision isn’t one-size-fits-all.

For instance, say your savings won’t cover ongoing expenses and you need to rely on social security income to make ends meet. In that case, deferring social security benefits may not be an option for you.

But if your financial circumstances offer more financial flexibility, deferring your benefits can be an advantage. For each year, you delay (up to age 70), the payouts increase. In addition, if you plan to earn significant income between age 62 and your normal retirement age (65-67, depending on the year you were born), putting off your social security benefits may make sense. That’s because any benefits in excess of specified limits ($15,720 in 2015) will be reduced. You’ll lose $1 of benefits for every $2 in earnings above the limits. Note that you won’t lose any social security benefits (regardless of earnings) once you reach full retirement age.

On the other hand, let’s say you’ve accumulated a healthy balance in your 401(k) and expect that account to generate a good annual return. Under this scenario, you might be better off leaving your retirement savings alone and taking your social security benefits early to cover living expenses.

Or perhaps your family has a history of health problems and you don’t realistically expect to live into your 80s. Again, taking social security benefits at age 62 might be a good choice.

For help with this important decision, please give us a call.

8 step checklist to monitor and manage your business’ health

You get an annual checkup from your physician to monitor and manage your personal health. Shouldn’t you do the same for your business? To keep your operation in top shape, consider an annual business review. The benefits of such a review are evaluating current performance and better planning of future operations.hook-405091__180

Some things you should evaluate in an annual business review include the following:

1. Revisit your business strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. Is your competitive position improving, or are you losing ground?

2. How did you perform relative to your business plan? Did you meet or exceed your objectives? Are sales, profit margins, and cash flow improving?

3. Get a pulse on your customers. An annual customer satisfaction survey is a great way to assess performance, obtain insight on potential new products or services, and to let your customers know how much you value their business.

4. Evaluate your team. Are you developing a superior team, employing their unique talents, and training them to improve performance? Do you reward on merit or simply on seniority?

5. How effective is your marketing? Are your current methods and channels working well, or are you simply doing what you’ve always done?

6. Meet with your insurance agent. Is your coverage adequate and appropriate for changes in your business activities and acquisitions?

7. Review your business tax strategy. Identify opportunities for tax savings. Are you using the right form of business entity? Are you aware of recent changes in the tax code that might benefit your business?

8. How is your score-keeping? Do your measurements track your progress or do they measure things that don’t matter? What are the key performance measures that drive your business?

If you are serious about improving your business, consider a yearly assessment of your operation. For any assistance you need, give us a call.