Secure Act 2.0

Congress’ passing of the Secure 2.0 Act at the end of 2022 provides savvy planners with many new ways to benefit from retirement savings.

Join Matt Robison and I this week as I walk through some of the changes and sprint through others to give you an overview of how this monumental piece of legislation impacts your bottom line.

  1. Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) age changes – If you were born after 1960, you don’t need to worry about that until you are 75 (it used to be 70.5, this year it changes to 72 and in the next couple of years it will reach 75. Not something you need to worry about now, but it is a benefit.)
  2. ROTH 401k Employer Contributions – Without getting into the weeds of the laws, the big change in the Secure Act 2.0 allows employers to contribute to an employees ROTH 401k as opposed to being restricted to only matching funds in a traditional 401K account. This strategy requires employees to pay the tax on the match up front, and allows that employer contribution to grow tax-free forever which could add up to a lot of money. 
  3. 529 to Roth IRA – You can now do a one-time rollover of “extra” 529 money into your Roth IRA.  Plenty of caveats abound, but it’s a great new use of found money.
  4. Honorable Mentions to be aware of in the coming months/years:

a. 401k contributions and catch-ups are increasing. As you’re planning your 401K contributions, be aware of the 2023 limits, they will be increasing over time.

b. Starter 401ks for small businesses will be getting easier to implement. 

c. Student loan payments often keep people from being able to contribute to a 401k. The new law allows matching employer contributions to the 401K for folks paying down student debt. 

d. Auto enrollment for 401Ks has been expanded.

The bottom line is there are no changes that you need to make today but be aware of the Secure Act 2.0 in order to get the most out of your retirement plan.

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One Thing

January’s over and I’d be willing to bet that if you bothered to make a resolution, you probably already broke it, am I right?

Resolving to make some significant change in your life can feel overwhelming, not to mention is often unsustainable. Planning to lose weight by cutting out sugar? How long did that last? Vowing to save more money but then your power went out for days, pipes froze and you fulfilled the plumber’s savings resolution instead?

There is an old adage about eating an elephant, and how the only way to accomplish the monumental task is one bite at a time. That’s where my one thing comes into play.

Think about the last time you felt great in your job. Or a moment with family that made a lasting positive impression. Or a financial decision that led to a small (or large) success. Break those moments down into feelings and actions. What parts of the moment, specifically, made you feel happy? Can you replicate any of those small actions that led to happiness? For instance, let’s say a funny car ride with your kids was a highlight of your recent time spent with them. What were you laughing about? Why was everyone in a good mood? Did someone win a sports game? Had you just wrapped up a work project freeing your mind for some family time? How can you recreate that moment in small ways? Is there one thing you can do to help make funny car rides a more regular thing? It could be something as simple as having silly trivia websites bookmarked on your phone or grabbing everyone a treat from a coffee shop before your journey. 

Tune in to learn more about how one thing can make a momentous improvement in your life this year. 

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Feel Good About Investing

People make financial decisions for a plethora of reasons. While we may understand that it makes more sense, financially, to invest extra cash in the market, sometimes pulling the trigger on a lump sum can lead to anxiety and regret.

So how can you feel better about making that investment? Using a strategy called dollar cost averaging (DCA). Let’s say you have $10k in cash and want to invest but you’re feeling skittish based on the current state of the market. Mathematically, it makes the most sense to go ahead and put all that money right into a low cost index fund but math doesn’t help everyone sleep at night. If you know that watching the market will create stress for you, you can invest that $10k at $1k per month over the next year. 

What are the pros to this strategy? First, if you put $1k in and the market goes up, you make money and you are happy. If it goes down, you now get to invest the next $1k while the market is on sale (i.e. the cost is down). It is a win-win, emotionally.

The best way to ensure your financial future is to make sound decisions that feel good. Listen to this week’s podcast to learn more about DCA and whether it is right for your portfolio management.

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Private Schools

While college tuition is a common financial planning line item amongst my clients, I also find myself having more and more conversations about private elementary and secondary education. Tune in this week as Matt Robison and I discuss what goes into choosing a private school vs public education. Spoiler alert: it’s not just a budget analysis!

Public vs. Private 

  1. Location: Where you live is likely a deciding factor when choosing whether public or private schools are the right choice for your family
  2. Location: How far are you willing to drive?
  3. Location: How will your choice affect the relationships you’ve built in your community?

Funding Considerations

  1. Where will the tuition money come from?
  2. Should you use a 529 for early education?

Maybe your child needs more than the public school has to offer in the form of greater challenges or additional resources. Perhaps social and emotional factors weigh in on your decision to choose private over public schools. There are so many factors to consider and Matt and I understand that first-hand. Listen Up to hear more.

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Interest Rates

The Fed raised the interest rates for the sixth time in nine months prompting many of my clients and listeners to ask “what does this mean for me?”

Matt Robison and I sit down to talk about the ramifications of the doubled federal interest rate on this week’s podcast. In a nutshell, the rate increases impact your financial planning in a few negative and positive ways:

  • Mortgage Rates – Now is not the time to buy a home
  • Home Equity / Construction Loans – You might want to think twice about borrowing for renovation projects
  • Savings – You will FINALLY earn some interest on your cash
  • CD’s – Some brokerage products are offering 3%-4% interest, something we haven’t seen in almost 20 years
  • Stocks – It’s like Black Friday: with the 25% market decline now is the time to buy stocks

Tune in to hear more about the interest rate impact on your financial future.

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Kids and Money (Part 2)

Last week we opened up a dialogue to help parents talk to their kids about money. Join Matt and I this week as we dive in a little deeper and explore:

  • Enabling failure (say what?)
  • Chores and Allowances
  • Apps – making life easier or harder?
  • Investing, Saving and Giving

The common thread between this week and last week, and all the topics we covered in both, is conversation. If you don’t talk to your kids about money, they won’t know what to do with it – how to use it effectively and safely – much in the same way we have to talk to them about their bodies. They aren’t teaching financial values in school, that is up to you, and I hope I’ve helped you start the conversation for lifelong financial success.

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Kids and Money

“Dad, how much money do you make?” “How much did our car cost?” “What did you pay for our house?”

Kids rarely have filters. As uncomfortable as it can be to answer questions about human sexuality, we also feel a degree of that discomfort when it comes to answering their questions about money.

This week, Matt Robison and I tackle this discussion in part I of a two part series on talking to kids about money. There is no one-size-fits-all, as you will hear in our exchange. But you will learn more about such topics as:

  • When and how to include numbers in the answers to kids’ inquiries
  • What brings your child joy based on how they choose to spend money 
  • Family values in spending
  • Conveying your financial message without the underscore of fear or guilt

You’ve probably asked – or received, if you didn’t think to ask – your pediatrician for advice regarding talking to kids about their bodies. Gaining some tips from a financial professional as well as fellow parent (i.e. me) will hopefully help you pass on your wisdom in a productive and loving manner.

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Taxes: How Much Do You Really Know?

Handing your W2’s and 1099’s to your preparer might be the extent of your participation when it comes to income taxes. Having a general understanding of how taxes work can give you a new perspective on just how much of a share is owed to Uncle Sam.

Join Matt Robison and I this week as we discuss the basics of taxes. Get a crash course on:

  1. Income: Wages (W2 or other), interest income capital gains and qualified dividends 
  2. Adjusted Gross Income (AGI): Wages – above-the-line deductions

What are above-the-line deductions?: Contributions from HSA, contributions to traditional IRA, student loan interest (unless your income is too high), self-Employment costs (such as health insurance, retirement plan contributions, 50% of self-employment taxes), alimony, and certain education expenses 

3. Taxable Income = AGI – standard or itemized deductions

  • Standard deduction ($12,950 Single, $25,900 Married, Filing Jointly (MFJ)

Itemized Deductions:

  • State, Local, Other Taxes
  • Mortgage and Investment Interest Expense
  • Charitable Giving
  • Medical Expenses (above a limit)
  • More….

4. Total Tax = Taxes on Taxable Income

  • Taxes: Income tax, capital gains tax, AMT, NIIT, Medicare Surcharge, etc

5. Payment or Refund: Total Tax – Credits – Taxes Paid

  • Credits: Child Care Credit, Dependent Care Credit, Lifetime Learning Credit, etc
  • Taxes Paid: From your paycheck or estimated tax payments

Well, that’s as simple as I can make it in just 5 steps!

AGI (step 2) is very important because that number gives you your tax bracket. But did you know that we have marginal tax brackets? 

If you’re like a lot of people, you probably think marginal means that if you are MFJ and your AGI is $150,000, you owe 22% in Federal Income Taxes, ($33,000) right? WRONG! 

  • The “marginal” means that for the first $20,550, you owe 10% in taxes. [$2,055]
  • You then owe 12% on the next $63,000 (the next tax bracket) [$7,560]
  • Then, 22% on the next $66,450 (the bracket you are in) [$14,619]
  • That’s a total of: $2,055+$7,560+$14,619 = $24,234. Not $30,000 !
  • It means a difference of almost $6,000 in your favor

So now you have your tax bill. Using the same example as above, you owe $24,234 in federal taxes. This is your total tax. Now come the credits (hopefully!). Credits differ from deductions in one major way, they are dollar for dollar. Deductions reduce your total tax bill by reducing your Taxable Income. Credits, on the other hand, come straight off your total tax bill. Some credits include the Child Tax Credit, Child & Dependent Care Credit, or the Lifetime Learning or American Opportunity Credit.

Obviously credits are the way to go! Once you’ve deducted your credits, you then subtract any payments you’ve already made (withholdings or direct payments) and this will determine what you owe or are owed in the form of a refund. 

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Student Loan Forgiveness

The government’s announcement and forthcoming forgiveness of student loan debt is a hot topic right now. Many people have asked me if they qualify, including a regular guest on this podcast, Matt Robison. Join us this week as we discuss the who, what and how’s of student loan forgiveness. 

What will you learn from this episode?

  1. Who is eligible: For the 2020 or 2021 tax years, individuals who make less than $125k in income, taxpayers who are married and file jointly and have less than $250k in income and current dependent college students using parents income with the above income eligibility qualify for student loan forgiveness.
  2. What is eligible: All federal college loans are eligible as long as they are issued no later than June 30th, 2022 to include Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans, Direct Grad PLUS Loan, Direct Parent PLUS Loan, Direct Consolidation Loans and Some Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) are eligible (these loans were discontinued in 2010 but if there is a balance and the loan is not held commercially, it is eligible)
  3. How: The Department of Education says it’s going to work “quickly” and “efficiently” to set up a simple application process for borrowers to claim debt relief. As of publication, USA Today says the application will be available early this month. That said, nearly eight million borrowers may be eligible to receive relief without filing an application because their relevant income data is already available in the federal system.
  4. What if you have multiple loans? No matter how many types of federal loans that an individual possesses, there will only be one payment for either $10,000 or $20,000 or less if the loan balance is lower.
  5. $20,000? How do I qualify for that? Only borrowers with a Pell Grant will have $20k discharged, which represents about 60% of student borrowers. Not sure if that’s you? Sign into and click “My Aid” to find out.
  6. Can I get a refund if I made payments during the time the loans were federally deferred? You bet! Contact your loan servicer and request a refund. Borrowers should obtain proof of loan payments that they made during the pandemic starting from March 13, 2020. Once you’ve got that, request a payment refund from your loan servicer.

Learn all this and more on this week’s podcast. It could save you $10,000 or more off your student loan debt. 🦎

Learn more about Mike and my services at and connect at

Are you ready to create your ideal lifestyle? Let’s Connect.