142 episodes

Benjamin Brandt wants to teach you how to retire! Listen in as Benjamin Brandt CFP©, RICP© answers the questions on the minds of the modern retiree, often joined by the top experts in the retirement planning industry. Ask Benjamin a question here: https://retirementstartstodayradio.com/ask-a-question/

Retirement Starts Today Radio Benjamin Brandt CFP®, RICP®

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Benjamin Brandt wants to teach you how to retire! Listen in as Benjamin Brandt CFP©, RICP© answers the questions on the minds of the modern retiree, often joined by the top experts in the retirement planning industry. Ask Benjamin a question here: https://retirementstartstodayradio.com/ask-a-question/

    Time for a Gap Year? Ep # 191

    Time for a Gap Year? Ep # 191

    Have you ever considered going back to school? Early retirement can be a fantastic time to explore new learning opportunities. 
    In this episode of Retirement Starts Today, we’ll take a look at a Market Watch article that describes the burgeoning culture of adult learning for those at or near retirement age. We’ll continue by exploring many higher education programs across the United States that are aimed at people aged 50 and above.
    Make sure to stick around for the listener questions segment where I answer a question about using home equity as long-term care insurance. You’ll hear my opinion on the matter and learn how much home equity you may need to make this strategy work. 
    Outline of This Episode [1:36] It’s time to rebalance [4:22] Have you considered taking an adult gap year? [8:32] Real-world examples of retirement age students [12:51] Using your home’s equity as long term care insurance [17:19] How much home equity would you need? It’s time to rebalance We all know that the market has had an incredible run this past year. Many people’s portfolios are up 30%. When you’re seeing these kinds of returns it can be especially difficult to take those earnings and put them into the calmer side of your portfolio, but as you approach retirement it’s a good time to edge closer to a 60-40 split.
    If you are within a year or two of retirement, you should know where your first few years of retirement income are coming from. That means that this is the time to be prudent and squirrel away some of those profits in any boring type of account so that you can fund the first few years of your retirement without worrying about the ups and downs of the markets. 
    Now is the time to take a gap year If you have ever had the inkling of going back to school early retirement is a great time to start. Many people are turning to higher education as a way to find fulfillment after long and successful careers. 
    The rise of Covid and the ease of learning through technology are augmenting this trend. The pandemic has caused stagnant enrollment rates in many colleges around the country. This has led those institutions to find new ways to make money. Many universities are turning to alternative programs and continuing education as a way to reach a broader audience. 
    What kinds of learning opportunities are out there? There are learning opportunities offered through many different types of programs at different universities, private subscription programs, and even free online programs. 
    These are a few of the programs are offered by different universities:
    UT Tower Fellows Program Encore!Connecticut Duke Lifelong University Stanford University’s Distinguished Career Institute The University of Virginia You don’t have to turn to a university to continue your education. There are many types of subscription learning programs available as well. 
    Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes One Day University GetSetUp Oasis Everywhere If you don’t want to invest any money into continuing your education you can take advantage of free or low-cost programs through these websites:
    Coursera  EdX  The Great Courses LinkedIn Learning  MasterClass  Skillshare TED Talks   Udemy Learning is easier than ever before There are so many amazing educational opportunities to enjoy. The pandemic has caused a giant leap forward in virtual learning. With modern technology, you can learn anything at any time from any place. Since people are living longer, retirement can last for 30 years or more. This leaves plenty of time for an encore. So, if you ever had the notion to go back to school to either pursue your options for a second act or simply to explore new educational opportunities, the world is your oyster. Have you ever considered going back to school? What would you want to study?
    Resources & People Mentioned Market Watch

    Deducting Your Home Office in a Work from Home World, Ep # 190 

    Deducting Your Home Office in a Work from Home World, Ep # 190 

    Since 2020 was the year of working from home, you may be wondering how you can deduct your home office expenses from your taxes now that tax time is upon us. For this reason, we explore an article written by Jeffrey Levine at Kitces.com. Learn the home office deduction rules and discover if they will apply to your situation.
    Outline of This Episode [2:12] The specifics of the home office deduction [9:19] How to calculate the home office deduction [11:55] Should he open an additional IRA? Who is eligible for the home office deduction? Many small business owners can claim a home office deduction as a tax break. However, not every person working from home can claim this deduction. For instance, the deduction is not accessible for employees who work from their own home offices. People owning partnership interests, on the other hand, are potentially eligible for this deduction. There are specific rules that need to be followed in order to determine whether your home office qualifies.
    What are the rules to claim the home office deduction? In order to claim the home office deduction, there are requirements that must be met.
    The home office must pass the exclusive use test. This test dictates that in order to claim a home office deduction, the portion of the home that is deemed the home office must be used entirely for business purposes.
    Something that limits a person’s ability to claim a home office deduction, but not necessarily eliminates it, is the ability to claim a separately identifiable space within their home that is used exclusively for business purposes.
    Another stipulation of a home office deduction is the regular use requirement. Occasional office use is not enough, even if the business is the only use for that particular space. It must be used regularly in order to qualify for the home office deduction. 
    Another requirement is that the home office must be considered the taxpayer’s principal place of business for a particular business activity. This means that this is the space where the majority of business is done. Deciding on this can be tricky if you have a home office as well as one in an office building. When deciding on a principal place of business, individuals should consider both the amount of time they spend at their various business locations, as well as the relative importance of the tasks performed at each location. 
    Because of the pandemic, many have had to shift work that they typically did in an office building to spaces in their homes. For the year 2020, people in this situation may be able to claim a home office deduction.
    How to calculate the home office deduction There are two ways that you can calculate the home office deduction. The regular method will calculate the actual expenses of using your home office space. The simplified method will calculate the square footage of your home office and multiply it by $5. The maximum deduction using the simplified method is $1500. 
    If you are considering using the home office deduction it is important to work with your tax professional to ensure that you are within the detailed guidelines. Make sure to click on through to the article to learn all the details about claiming the home office deduction.
    Resources & People Mentioned Kitces article on home office deduction Connect with Benjamin Brandt Get the Retire-Ready Toolkit: http://retirementstartstodayradio.com/ Follow Ben on Twitter: https://twitter.com/retiremeasap Subscribe to the newsletter: https://retirementstartstodayradio.com/newsletter Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on
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    The Future Is Foggy, Plan Accordingly, Ep #189

    The Future Is Foggy, Plan Accordingly, Ep #189

    If 2020 has taught us anything it is that the future is not always certain. This has brought about feelings of insecurity and anxiety in some people. That’s why this week, I share an article from Harvard Business Review which describes how people can use micro-planning and biomimicry to combat feelings of uncertainty brought on by this post-pandemic world. 
    After the retirement headlines, I’ll answer two listener questions. John asks about maxing out his HSA after 50 and Val is trying to decide between a pension and a lump sum payment. Don’t miss out on the latest episode of Retirement Starts Today; press play now!
    Outline of This Episode [1:22] How to plan your life when the future is foggy [3:19] The six steps to learn from biomimicry [7:35] How much can a person contribute to an HSA when they are over 50? [9:28] Should Val take a lump sum or an annuity? Micro-planning can help you take command of your life again Did Covid-19 toss your 5-year plan out the window? Many of us have had our future plans shaken up due to the effects of the pandemic. The lack of control that the long-term insecurity creates can bring about feelings of unease. 
    One way to take back control of your life is by harnessing the power of adaptability through micro-planning. Micro-planning is a way to take a larger plan and break it down into yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily check-in practices.
    Biomimicry is the inspiration behind micro-planning In tumultuous times, micro-planning is more manageable than big-picture planning, and it offers the sense of power and stability that we need. The idea behind micro-planning is based on biomimicry, a practice that learns from and mimics the strategies found in nature to solve human challenges. Biomimicry uses nature as a model to imitate or use as inspiration for designs or processes with the goal of solving human problems. 
    Six steps you can follow to feel more in control of your future Prolonged stress can cause us to function at less than optimal levels, so it is important to mitigate stress when we can. These six elements of micro-planning can help us manage this stress, function at higher levels, and give us a sense that we are taking back control of our lives. 
    Set a purpose - Identify the common thread that connects the different roles you have had. What do they have in common? Think about the most fulfilling career experiences you’ve had to date and notice their commonalities.  Plan your year - Make a plan for the year that aligns with your purpose and identifies between one to three focus areas of desired growth. Keep the list of focus areas short in order to promote a better chance of success. Plan by quarters - At the beginning of each quarter, reassess your successes and failures and set goals for the next quarter. Be careful to choose no more than five to keep the list manageable. You may want to shift your plan at this stage based on your reflections on the previous quarter.  Break the quarters into months - Each month break your goals for the quarter down into specific projects, and then break the projects down into even more specific and manageable phases. Create weekly lists - At the start of the week, create a weekly to-do list, making sure to plan time for movement, sleep, time outside, hydration, and healthy food. Doing this makes sure that you are physically and mentally caring for yourself in support of your intellectual goals.  Make use of your days - Use a journal to track your energy on a daily basis. Doing this gives you powerful information as to how to optimize your workflow and helps make annual planning more mindful. Make sure to note daily what you are grateful for, as well. Journaling in this way gives you an immense sense of control, which has been proven to shrink the amount of time it takes to get tasks done. What have you been doing to he

    What You Need to Know About Your My Social Security Account, Ep # 188 

    What You Need to Know About Your My Social Security Account, Ep # 188 

    Are you signed up for the My Social Security account from the Social Security Administration? In this episode, we’ll review a Kitces.com article written by Jeffrey Levine about this important resource. We’ll review the history of My Social Security, how to sign up for it, how its benefit calculations account for inflation, and how Americans can interpret its information in order to understand their social security benefits. Don’t miss this excellent opportunity to review a very important topic. Press play to listen.
    Outline of This Episode [2:28] How to access your My Social Security account [5:22] What can you do with your My Social Security account? [10:04] A question about my podcast host [11:28] Rusty needs to create about $50,000 of income each year - how should he do it? Background information on My Social Security From 1990 to 2011, the Social Security Administration mailed paper copies of Social Security statements to most American workers. These statements summarized their personalized retirement and disability benefits. However, budget cuts in 2011 paused these mailings, and now workers under age 60 no longer receive mailed statements at all. The only workers to receive Social Security statements by mail are those who were both 60 or older in 2017 and had not yet registered for an online SSA account. 
    How to access your My Social Security account The primary way Americans can access their annual Social Security statements is online via their My Social Security account. To set up a My Social Security account users will be required to provide some basic information on an online form. This information includes first and last name as shown on their Social Security card, Social Security number, date of birth, home address, and email address. 
    After filling out the form, individuals will be required to complete an identity verification process. They can either verify their identity using their smartphone to photo-capture their state-issued ID card, or they can type in their information into the online form. The second method of verification uses financial information such as credit card information, Social Security benefit amount information, a Form W-2 Wage and Tax Statement, or a Schedule SE from their most recent Form 1040.
    What can you do with your My Social Security account? Once you have set up your My Social Security account and can see your Social Security statements you should do a few things. 
    Verify your reported work history. Review the current estimates of your anticipated Social Security benefits. Explore how the benefits align with your retirement income needs. In the Social Security statements, there are three pages of important information, but most people are concerned with the information on pages two and three. Page two has a summary of your estimated retirement, disability, family survivors, and Medicare benefits. Page three of the statement lists earnings on file for each year from the time an individual began working. Listen in to hear why you should carefully check the income information from the past years. 
    Get your My Social Security account set up to begin your retirement planning Have you set up your My Social Security account yet? This is a great first step to get you on your way to creating your retirement plan. Make sure to listen to the listener questions segment to hear ways to create income in retirement. 
    Resources & People Mentioned Kitces article My Social Security Connect with Benjamin Brandt Get the Retire-Ready Toolkit: http://retirementstartstodayradio.com/ Follow Ben on Twitter: https://twitter.com/retiremeasap Subscribe to the newsletter: https://retirementstartstodayradio.com/newsletter Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on
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    Fidelity & Schwab Donors Set Record for Charitable Giving in Response to Pandemic, Ep #187

    Fidelity & Schwab Donors Set Record for Charitable Giving in Response to Pandemic, Ep #187

    Despite the economic downturn, 2020 turned out to be a fantastic year for charitable giving. In this episode, we’ll look at how people chose to give and you’ll learn about the efficiency of giving through donor-advised funds (DAFs). 
    In the listener questions segment, you’ll learn how to survive a bear market in retirement. We’ll investigate the length of the average bear market and see how you can prepare for the worst in your retirement years. 
    Outline of This Episode [1:42] 2020 was a banner year for giving [4:48] Planning ahead can help alleviate a hefty tax bill [10:49] What is the average length of recovery from a bear market? [17:04] Look into Guyten’s Guardrails Shwab and Fidelity both showed an increase in giving You would think that with the economic downturn of the last year that people would tighten their bootstraps and cease giving to charities, but it turned out that the opposite was true. The two largest brokerage firms, Schwab and Fidelity, recorded increases in charitable donations. 
    Donations were made in response to the Covid pandemic and the social justice protests that marked the year. The biggest recipients of these charitable gifts were organizations that provide food and other necessities
    Donor-advised funds are an important vehicle for charitable giving Fidelity Charitable and Schwab Charitable both use donor-advised funds as a vehicle for charitable giving. Donor-advised funds (DAFs) have become popular since they are simple and make for an easy way to give strategically. These charitable investment accounts allow a donor to make a charitable contribution, receive a tax deduction, and then distribute the money over time. Have you thought of changing the way that you make charitable contributions?
    What are the benefits of using DAFs? DAFs have become more popular in recent years due to changes in tax laws. The new standard deduction for charitable giving increased to $24,800 for a married couple. By creating a DAF, donors can contribute a lump sum every few years and then administer the funds to the charities they choose over time. Many advisors recommend donor-advised funds as a receptacle for their clients to strategically deduct charitable contributions. Listen in to hear a real-world example of how a DAF can be used. 
    Planning ahead can create a tax deduction We must all pay our taxes, but we never want to overpay -- no one wants to leave the taxman a tip. If you are charitably minded, a donor-advised fund is an excellent way to implement a multi-year tax strategy and take advantage of the standard deduction. Think about how lump sum giving every few years could change your tax situation. It pays to plan your taxes ahead in retirement.
    Resources & People Mentioned Investment News article on charitable giving Guyton’s Rules for Withdrawal Rates Guyton’s Guardrails are discussed in - Episode 181, Episode 153, Episode 149, Episode 93 Connect with Benjamin Brandt Get the Retire-Ready Toolkit: http://retirementstartstodayradio.com/ Follow Ben on Twitter: https://twitter.com/retiremeasap Subscribe to the newsletter: https://retirementstartstodayradio.com/newsletter Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on
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    Why We’re Experiencing Zoom Fatigue and How To Fix It, Ep # 186

    Why We’re Experiencing Zoom Fatigue and How To Fix It, Ep # 186

    If you’ve been working from home over the past year you may wonder why you feel even more exhausted than normal. This could be due to Zoom Fatigue.
    In this episode, we’ll explore an article from CNBC that references a Stanford study about this phenomenon. In the listener questions segment, I’ll answer questions about RMDs and Roth conversions. Let’s get to the bottom of your exhaustion--press play now. 
    Outline of This Episode [1:22] Zoom fatigue affects people on a psychological level [3:26] Solutions for Zoom fatigue [6:17] Future tax rates and RMDs [10:44] How to pay for Roth conversions? Why are we so exhausted after video conferencing? Over the past year, many of us have been using Zoom and other video conferencing applications to replace in-person meetings. The constant video conferencing has led to increased fatigue at the end of the day and a researcher with Stanford University wondered why. Jeremy Bailenson researched this issue and recently published a paper about how video conferencing affects people on a psychological level. 
    4 reasons for Zoom fatigue Jeremy concluded that there are four different contributors to Zoom Fatigue:
    The extended level of eye contact is unnatural. The screen causes us to look at each other for an extended period of time. In a face-to-face meeting, we wouldn’t be behaving in such a way. Non-verbal signals during video conferences require more effort than in-person meetings. During in-person meetings, our nonverbal cues happen quite naturally and without any effort. However, we have to exaggerate our non-verbal communication in a video chat which requires more thought and increases our cognitive load Watching yourself in the little box on the screen for prolonged periods is unnatural and causes self-critique.  Being forced to sit still in one place for long is exhausting. Since we are on camera we have little room to move around naturally.  Ways to battle Zoom fatigue To alleviate these issues, Bailenson has the following tips:
    Hide self-view.  Shrink the participant’s video window to make other people a bit smaller.  Spend some time adjusting your setup ahead of an important meeting.  Turn off your camera and take a five-minute audio-only break during a long meeting. Set cultural norms in your workplace that it’s OK to turn off the camera sometimes. Zoom fatigue is a new version of burnout that is important to mitigate. You want to retire when you are ready rather than because you are feeling burnt out due to video conferencing. Try using these tips to help you combat the exhaustion you feel after video conferencing. 
    Resources & People Mentioned CNBC article - Zoom Fatigue and How to Fix It A 15 question scale for evaluating Zoom fatigue You can participate in the study on Zoom Fatigue Connect with Benjamin Brandt Get the Retire-Ready Toolkit: http://retirementstartstodayradio.com/ Follow Ben on Twitter: https://twitter.com/retiremeasap Subscribe to the newsletter: https://retirementstartstodayradio.com/newsletter Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
250 Ratings

250 Ratings

Ima listener ,

AWESOME!

Ben is a great host and wealth of knowledge! Highly recommend the listen!

xklgh/slkgj ,

One of the best

I really look forward to this podcast among the group of retirement related podcasts that I regularly listen to. Benjamin has a straight forward delivery of great information without seeming to be subtly steering you to a paid group like some other podcasts. Of course he is using the podcast to grow his advisory business. Nothing wrong with that. The way he presents information is clear and upfront and helpful. No hard sell or scare tactics to motivate you. I am not a customer of his but if I was looking for an advisor I’d look for someone like Benjamin.

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Excellent job with the show notes. It’s hard to capture and retain everything said in the podcast so the notes and background are very much appreciated!

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