What Are Some Smart Ways to Refinance?

Recently, fixed mortgages were near their lowest rates in almost 30 years. And if you are one of the many people who took out mortgages in the few years prior to that, you may be wondering if you should look into refinancing.

If your mortgage was taken out within the past five years, it may be worthwhile to refinance if you can get financing that is at least one to two points lower than your current interest rate. You should plan on staying in the house long enough to pay off the loan transaction charges (points, title insurance, attorney’s fees, etc.).

A fixed-rate mortgage could be your best bet in a rising interest rate environment, if you plan to stay in the house for several years. An adjustable mortgage may suit you if you will be moving within a few years, but you need to ensure that you will be able to handle increasingly higher payments should interest rates rise.

One way to use mortgage refinancing to your advantage is to take out a new mortgage for the same duration as your old mortgage. The lower interest rate will result in lower monthly payments.

For example, if you took out a $150,000 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 7.5 percent (including transaction charges), your monthly payment is now $1,049. Refinance at 6 percent with a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage of $150,000 (including transaction fees), and your payment will be $899 per month. That’s a savings of $150 per month, which you can then use to invest, add to your retirement fund, or do with it whatever you please.

Another option is to exchange your old mortgage for a shorter-term loan. Your 30-year fixed-rate payment on a $150,000 loan was $1,049 per month. If you refinance with a 15-year fixed mortgage for $150,000 — including transaction costs — at 6 percent, your monthly payment will be $1,266. This payment is only $217 more than your previous mortgage, but your home will be fully paid for several years sooner, for a savings of more than $150,000! And some banks around the country are beginning to offer 10- and 20-year mortgages.

Either way you look at it, it’s an attractive idea.

If you’re considering refinancing your mortgage, consult your financial professional and determine whether refinancing your home would be a good move for you.

The information in this newsletter is not intended as tax, legal, investment, or retirement advice or recommendations, and it may not be relied on for the ­purpose of ­avoiding any ­federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek advice from an independent professional ­advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the ­purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Broadridge Advisor Solutions. © 2020 Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc.

What Is a Roth 401(k)?

The arena of employer-sponsored retirement plans has been dominated by 401(k) plans that are funded with pre-tax contributions, which effectively defers taxes until distributions begin. However, Roth 401(k) is funded with after-tax money just like a Roth IRA, allowing retirees to enjoy qualified tax-free distributions once they reach age 59½ and have met the five-year holding requirement.

It might be smart to invest in a Roth 401(k) if you believe that you will be in a higher tax bracket during retirement. This is always a possibility, especially if you end up with fewer tax deductions during your post-working years. On the other hand, if you expect to be in a lower tax bracket during retirement, then deferring taxes by investing in a traditional 401(k) may be the answer for you. If you have not been able to contribute to a Roth IRA because of the income restrictions, you will be happy to know that there are no income limits with a Roth 401(k).

Employers may match employee contributions to a Roth 401(k) plan, but any matching contributions must go into a traditional 401(k) account. That is, employer contributions and any earnings are always made on a pre-tax basis, and are taxable when distributed from the plan.

If an employer offers a Roth 401(k) plan, employees have the option of contributing to either the regular (pre-tax) or the Roth account, or even both at the same time. If you do not know which type of account would be better for your financial situation, you might split your contributions between the two types of plans. It’s important to note that in 2020, your combined annual contributions to a 401(k) plan cannot exceed $19,500 (up from $19,000 in 2019) if you are under age 50, or $26,000 (up from $25,000 in 2019) if you are 50 or older. These amounts are indexed annually for inflation.

If your employer offers a Roth 401(k) plan and allows in-plan Roth conversions, you can make transfers to a Roth 401(k) account at any time. Conversion is a taxable event. Funds converted are taxed as ordinary income in the year of the conversion.

Upon separation of service, you can roll over your Roth 401(k) assets to another Roth 401(k), a Roth 403(b), or a Roth IRA. Assets cannot be rolled over to a traditional 401(k) account. If you transition from an employer that offers a Roth 401(k) account to an employer that does not, your only option would be to roll the assets directly to a Roth IRA or to leave your money in your former employer’s plan (if allowed).

The required minimum distribution guidelines of a Roth 401(k) work like those of traditional 401(k) plans. You must generally begin taking distributions after reaching age 70½, either as a lump sum or on a required minimum distribution schedule based on your life expectancy. However, unlike traditional 401(k) withdrawals, Roth distributions would be free of federal income taxes.

If you see the advantages of having tax-free income in retirement, then you might consider a Roth 401(k). It allows you to contribute more annually than you could to an IRA, and the tax-free distributions won’t add to your income tax liability. Of course, before taking any specific action, you might want to consult with your tax professional.

The information in this newsletter is not intended as tax, legal, investment, or retirement advice or recommendations, and it may not be relied on for the ­purpose of ­avoiding any ­federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek advice from an independent professional ­advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the ­purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Broadridge Advisor Solutions. © 2020 Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc.

Growth Stocks vs. Value Stocks

Investors are often confused about the differences between growth stocks and value stocks. The main way in which they differ is not in how they are bought and sold, nor is it how much ownership they represent in a company. Rather, the difference lies mainly in the way in which they are perceived by the market and, ultimately, the investor.

Growth stocks are associated with high-quality, successful companies whose earnings are expected to continue growing at an above-average rate relative to the market. Growth stocks generally have high price-to-earnings (P/E) ratios and high price-to-book ratios. The P/E ratio is the market value per share divided by the current year’s earnings per share. For example, if the stock is currently trading at $52 per share and its earnings over the last 12 months have been $2 per share, then its P/E ratio is 26. The price-to-book ratio is the share price divided by the book value per share. The open market often places a high value on growth stocks; therefore, growth stock investors also may see these stocks as having great worth and may be willing to pay more to own shares.

Investors who purchase growth stocks receive returns from future capital appreciation (the difference between the amount paid for a stock and its current value), rather than dividends. Although dividends are sometimes paid to shareholders of growth stocks, it has historically been more common for growth companies to reinvest retained earnings in capital projects. Recently, however, because of tax-law changes lowering the tax rate on corporate dividends, even growth companies have been offering dividends.

At times, growth stocks may be seen as expensive and overvalued, which is why some investors may prefer value stocks, which are considered undervalued by the market. Value stocks are those that tend to trade at a lower price relative to their fundamentals (including dividends, earnings, and sales). Value stocks generally have good fundamentals, but they may have fallen out of favor in the market and are considered bargain priced compared with their competitors. They may have prices that are below the stocks’ historic levels or may be associated with new companies that aren’t recognized by investors. It’s possible that these companies have been affected by a problem that raises some concerns about their long-term prospects.

Value stocks generally have low current price-to-earnings ratios and low price-to-book ratios. Investors buy these stocks in the hope that they will increase in value when the broader market recognizes their full potential, which should result in rising share prices. Thus, investors hope that if they buy these stocks at bargain prices and the stocks eventually increase in value, they could potentially make more money than if they had invested in higher-priced stocks that increased modestly in value.

Growth and value are styles of investing in stocks. Neither approach is guaranteed to provide appreciation in stock market value; both carry investment risk. The return and principal value of stocks fluctuate with changes in market conditions. Shares, when sold, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Investments seeking to achieve higher rates of return also involve a greater degree of risk.

Growth and value investments tend to run in cycles. Understanding the differences between them may help you decide which may be appropriate to help you pursue your specific goals. Regardless of which type of investor you are, there may be a place for both growth and value stocks in your portfolio. This strategy may help you manage risk and potentially enhance your returns over time.

 

The information in this newsletter is not intended as tax, legal, investment, or retirement advice or recommendations, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Broadridge Advisor Solutions. © 2017 Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc.

Retirement Plan Limits

How much money can I put into my IRA or employer-sponsored retirement plan?

IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans are subject to annual contribution limits set by the federal government. The limits are adjusted periodically to compensate for inflation and increases in the cost of living.

IRAS

For the 2016 and 2017 tax years, you can contribute up to $5,500 to all IRAs combined (the limit is adjusted annually for inflation). If you have a traditional IRA as well as a Roth IRA, you can only contribute a total of the annual limit in one year, not the annual limit to each.

If you are age 50 or older, you can also make a $1,000 annual “catch-up” contribution.

EMPLOYER-SPONSORED RETIREMENT PLANS

Employer-sponsored retirement plans such as 401(k)s and 403(b)s have an $18,000 contribution limit in 2017 (unchanged from 2016); individuals aged 50 and older can contribute an extra $6,000 each year as a catch-up contribution. (Section 403(b) and 457(b) plans may also provide special catch-up opportunities.)

SIMPLE PLANS

You can contribute up to $12,500 to a SIMPLE IRA or SIMPLE 401(k) plan in 2017, and an extra $3,000 catch-up contribution if you are age 50 or older (unchanged from 2016).

Distributions from traditional IRAs and most employer-sponsored retirement plans are taxed as ordinary income, except for any after-tax contributions you’ve made, and the taxable portion may be subject to 10% federal income tax penalty if taken prior to reaching age 59½ (unless an exception applies). If you participate in both a traditional IRA and an employer-sponsored plan, your IRA contributions may or may not be tax deductible, depending on your adjusted gross income.

 

The information in this newsletter is not intended as tax, legal, investment, or retirement advice or recommendations, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Broadridge Advisor Solutions. © 2017 Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc.

Money Market Funds

Just like individuals, the government, corporations, and banks often need to borrow money for a short time to make ends meet. Unlike most individuals, however, the scale of this borrowing is phenomenal.

The money market is the name given to the arena where most of this short-term borrowing takes place. In the money market, money is both borrowed and lent for short periods of time.

For example, a bank might have to borrow millions of dollars overnight to ensure that it meets federal reserve requirements. Loans in the money market can stretch from one day to one year or beyond. The interest rate is fundamentally determined by supply and demand, the length of the loan, and the credit standing of the borrower.

The money market was traditionally only open to large institutions. Unless you had a spare $100,000 lying around, you couldn’t participate.

However, during the inflationary era of the 70s, when interest rates sky-rocketed, people began to demand greater returns on their liquid funds. Leaving money in a bank deposit account at 5 percent interest made little sense with inflation running at 12 percent. The money market was returning significantly higher rates but the vast majority of people were prohibited from participating by the sheer scale of the investment required.

And so, the first money market mutual fund came into being. By pooling shareholders’ funds, it was possible for individuals to receive the rewards of participating in the money market. Because of their large size, mutual funds were able to make investments and receive rates of return that individual investors couldn’t get on their own.

Money market mutual funds typically purchase highly liquid investments with varying maturities, so there is cash flow to meet investor demand to redeem shares. You can withdraw your money at any time.

For a minimum investment, sometimes as low as $500, money market mutual funds will allow you to write checks. The check-writing feature is most often used to transfer cash to a traditional checking account when additional funds are needed. These funds are useful as highly liquid, cash emergency, short-term investment vehicles.

Money market funds are neither insured nor guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Although money market funds seek to preserve the value of your investment at $1 per share, it is possible to lose money by investing in money market funds.

Mutual funds are sold by prospectus. Please consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses carefully before investing. The prospectus, which contains this and other information about the investment company, can be obtained from your financial professional. Be sure to read the prospectus carefully before deciding whether to invest.

The information in this newsletter is not intended as tax, legal, investment, or retirement advice or recommendations, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Broadridge Advisor Solutions. © 2017 Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc.