Equitable accumulators, cash management accounts, and Social Security: with today’s market volatility, how can you squeeze a few more dollars of income out of your retirement savings? Any reason not to use a robo-advisor for decumulation, in other words, spending down those savings? Plus, a pension retirement spitball follow-up, and is it possible to avoid tax liability on a lump sum withdrawal from a 401(k)? Finally, is Joe’s marriage the canary in the Coors Light Party Ball for YMYW?
- (02:12) Should I Use an Equitable Accumulator for Added Income in Market Volatility? (Steve, Ramona, CA)
- (07:49) Do CMA (Cash Management Accounts) Have Required Minimum Distributions? (Greg – voice message)
- (09:43) Should I Take Social Security Early to Save Some of the Cash I’ve Been Living On? (Kurt, Encinitas)
- (13:09) Robo-Advisor vs. Real Advisor to Spend Down Retirement Savings? (Jim, Santa Cruz)
- (17:23) Pension Retirement Spitball Follow Up (Sean, Los Angeles)
- (23:39) Can I Avoid Tax Liability on a Lump Sum 401(k) Withdrawal? (Pat)
- (24:56) Comment: Joe’s Marriage – The Canary in the Coors Light Party Ball? (Juan)
Free financial resources:
Joe: Go to YourMoneyYourWealth.com, click on Ask Joe and Al On The Air. Ask any financial questions, any question whatsoever, anything you want to talk about. That’s what we’re here for.
Al: Even non-finance related.
Joe: I don’t care. Just something to-
Al: Something to talk about.
Joe: Yeah, something interesting that we can chat about.
Al: We can probably get a lot more questions that way.
Joe: Yeah. You know what? Volatile markets, Alan, it’s like crickets. Bull market, it’s like we get 400 emails a day. I think people are freaking out a little bit. Kind of hiding under the covers.
Al: Seem to be.
Joe: Well, now is the right time to start asking questions, right?
Al: Well, it is. The tendency, of course, in a market like we’re at right now is to either sell or just try to stay put and ride it out. And the truth is, staying put is better than selling. But actually now, if you got extra capital, now is a great time to buy. The market’s down roughly 20% since the beginning of the year. And it’s the exact opposite of what everyone wants to do. Everyone is worried the market is going to go down more. And by the way, it may go down more. But if you think about if the stock market is priced 20% cheaper today than it was at the beginning of the year, it’s a good buy, even if it does go down further, because we know it’s going to go back up later at some point.
Joe: How many times have you looked at your account, Big Al?
Al: I don’t pay much attention to it.
Joe: I have not looked at mine at all.
Al: Because it’s managed properly and I think that’s way healthier.
Should I Use an Equitable Accumulator for Added Income in Market Volatility? (Steve, Ramona, CA)
Joe: All right, what do we got here? We got Steve writes in from Ramona. He goes, “I’m retired, almost 70 years old. I have an IRA of $1,400,000 in an Equitable accumulator that has a payout for me if I achieve it-“
Al: – activate-
Joe: activate. Thank you. Sorry. “If I activate the Equitable accumulator, it’s $21,000 a year. I was thinking of using my accumulator for added income to my Social Security first before taking from my IRA at this point. Would that be a better move with the market as it is right now?”
Al: So that sounds like an annuity.
Joe: Yeah, I’m sure it’s- Equitable is a life insurance company.
Al: It is. And accumulator sounds- with a payout- sounds like an annuity.
Joe: Sounds like an annuity to me. And so we need a lot more information, Steve, because is it in a retirement account? Not in a retirement account? So you purchased this annuity and it’s going to give you $21,000 a year. But what is really your internal rate of return? Did you buy the annuity for income? Did you buy it for accumulation, as it says here, the accumulator?
Al: Yeah, it seems like it would be implied.
Joe: So I wouldn’t necessarily worry all that much about the market and kind of switch your plan.
Al: Well, I get what he’s thinking. The asset that- the stock market is down.
Joe: So let me put on the accumulator and get $21,000-
Al: – instead of pulling from the stock market.
Joe: Yeah, I think that makes sense if that’s what you purchased the annuity for. The information folks, that we need to kind of give you a little bit better spit ball here-
Al: Yeah, that was fairly weak.
Joe: It’s like I got this accumulator. Should I turn it on?
Al: Okay, here’s the other 10 questions we need answered.
Joe: So we would like to know basically, what your goals are in regards to spending? So that means, Steve, are you spending $50,000 a year or is it $150,000 a year? We would also like to know what is your other fixed income sources? So you have Social Security. What is that covering? Is that $20,000 or is it $40,000?
Al: Do you have a pension?
Joe: Do you have a pension? What other assets do you have? And then when you start putting the puzzle together, then we can kind of spitball and say, all right, well, here, this makes sense to turn on your accumulator, accelerator, whatever the hell it’s called.
Al: Yeah. Accumulator.
Joe: And that could bridge the gap, so you can continue to let your retirement accounts be fully invested where you’re not pulling any dollars from it. And then that would be a safe bridge to XYZ. So then we could give you maybe a little bit better spitball. Here is-
Al: We also need to know what your IRA balance is because that’s going to factor in to-
Joe: Well, he did give us that. He’s got an IRA of $1,400,000. Of course, he’s got to brag about that.
Al: That was right up front. I glossed over that.
Joe: Before I say anything else, I just want you to know I have retirement account of $1,400,000. Should I turn on the accumulator?
Al: You’re right, I missed that.
Joe: Okay. Congratulations on the $1,400,000, but we need a little bit more information. I don’t know. Anything else on that one?
Al: Well, just one other probably unrelated comment for Steve, but just a general comment, which is, if you have an IRA and your IRA is going to be your main source of income in retirement, do not have all of it in equities. So if the market goes down, you can pull from safe money like bonds, for example, and when the market goes up, then pull from the stocks. So you can pull from either side depending upon which way the market is going. If you go 100% equities, you’re forced to pull money out while the market is down, which is then very hard to recover. When the market is down and you’re taking money from it, it’s very hard to recover.
Joe: Another thing, let me talk about what potentially this Equitable accumulator is. It sounds like he’s going to get a guaranteed income of $21,000 a year for the rest of his life. However, what was the balance that he put into it? So you needed to put a lump sum into this annuity, and annuity continues to grow. And then once you put on the accumulator, once you turn on the income, he’s saying it’s going to be $21,000 a year. So was that a $200,000 investment? Was it $1,000,000 investment? So those are other things that you have to look at, because usually what happens, you don’t receive a rate of return on those types of annuities until you get all of your principal back. So, for instance, let’s say you put $200,000 into the product and they say we’re going to promise you $10,000 a year guaranteed for life. Or use the $20,000, for that matter, you put in $200,000 they’re going to give you $20,000 guaranteed, but that $20,000 comes out. You start with $200,000. So you have 10 years until you make a dime on it.
Al: You just get your money back.
Joe: You got your money back over that 10-year time period.
Al: And usually you leave it in for a while before you start taking the money out. So you didn’t get any money then.
Joe: Right. So let’s say you put the money in and then it grows for 10 years. Then you turn on the accumulator.
Al: So it basically takes 20 years to get your money back.
Al: So you don’t have a rate of return until the 21st year.
Joe: Exactly. So you have to look at this. You got to do the math a little bit and look at the internal rate of return because it’s an insurance product, you’re insuring against longevity risk. And if that’s what your goal is and you don’t mind a very low rate of return, then that’s probably the right product and turn it on.
Do CMA (Cash Management Accounts) Have Required Minimum Distributions? (Greg – voice message)
Joe: We got a voicemail.
Greg: “I have a CMA account. Are RMDs required to be taken from a CMA account? Thank you.”
Andi: Short and sweet.
Joe: I have no idea.
Al: Cash-managed account. Usually those are non-qualified.
Joe: How do we know it’s a cash-managed account?
Al: Well, I don’t know what else it would be.
Joe: It could be- I don’t know, it could be like another acronym for another company’s SMA.
Al: Okay, so I’m going to answer it as a cash-managed account.
Joe: If it’s inside of a retirement account, yes, you need to take a required distribution. If it’s not in a retirement account, the answer is no.
Al: Yeah, I agree with that. And I think of CMAs as cash-managed accounts. It’s typically something- certain, like big brokerage firms, have accounts. It’s your cash account that you pay bills out of, but it also gets swept out to investment accounts so you get a little bit higher interest rate. I’ve never seen one that was a retirement account. But if it means something else, then your answer is actually foolproof.
Joe: I mean, if you have a CMA account and we’re assuming it’s cash managed account. Some people, they write in, they go, I have the accumulator. It’s like, what the hell’s an accumulator? The accumulator is something that the insurance company created to call their annuity. Or I got the Megatron. What the hell is a Megatron? People start making stuff up on strategy. And so then they trade market, and it’s like, well, no, that means nothing. That’s marketing. Here’s what it actually is. So if it’s cash managed account, and if you have it in a retirement account, yes, you have to take an RMD.
Should I Take Social Security Early to Save Some of the Cash I’ve Been Living On? (Kurt, Encinitas)
Joe: “Should I start taking my Social Security benefit on 1-1-2023, age 68, in the amount of $36,168 annually instead of age 70 at $40,000 and save some extra cash? My break-even point would be 16.84 years. I’ve been living on cash for the past 4 years and 8 months. I’ve been doing Roth conversions since 2018, pay no federal or state taxes with an exemption of $38 to the state in 2021.” Look at the big brain on Kurt. I don’t know. So does he take it at 68 versus 70? So he’s looking at if I take it at $36,168 versus $40,464 annually and I saved some of my cash of $105,649, my break-even point would be 16 years. So he’s adding up the dollar figures of what he’s receiving for age 68, and then he’s adding up the dollars he would receive at age 70. And when does that break-even? When does it crossover?
Al: He’s computing 84. I think what’s being missed is when he receives that amount at age 70 would be a higher amount because of generally increases in Social Security. Now, of course, you’ll get it on what you take right now, too, but you’re going to have a higher increase, so there’ll be more disparity. So I think it’s a little bit less of a break-even period than you think, but it’s kind of close enough. Whatever you want to do is fine by us.
Joe: Yeah. Splitting hairs here. Yeah, I don’t know. Are you married? Because that’s another option. So if you’re married, you potentially might want to wait. Because if you have the higher benefit, because if Kurt dies, then the surviving spouse is going to get the higher of the two. And if she has the same benefit, well, then take it now. If she doesn’t have a benefit, she’s taking the spousal benefit, then you might want to take it now, too, because then she can’t claim the spousal benefit unless you claim.
Al: And if you have a kid under 17-
Joe: Yeah. If you’re like our other-
Al: Go for it.
Joe: Go for it. So there’s all sorts of different kinds of scenarios here, but-
Al: It’s kind of close enough.
Joe: Yes. We don’t look at it as a break-even. You’re looking at it as an investment. We look at it as insurance. So if I have enough cash to get a guaranteed higher payment by the federal government for the rest of my life, I might want to wait a couple of years.
Al: It’s tax-favored.
Joe: Yeah, that’s tax-favored.
Al: The most you ever pay tax on is 85% of the income from Social Security, 15% is tax-free. And you generally don’t pay any state taxes. And Kurt’s in California, there’s no state taxes. So wouldn’t you rather have a higher benefit that’s tax-free? So all things to think about, but I would honestly say the numbers are close enough. Whatever you want to do is fine by me.
Robo-Advisor vs. Real Advisor to Spend Down Retirement Savings? (Jim, Santa Cruz)
Joe: We got Jim from Santa Cruz calling. “Hello, YMYW. It’s been about 6 weeks since my last confession. Oops, 6 weeks since my last email.”
Al: The confession booth is open for business. Fire away.
Joe: “As my good friends Jack and Diane are getting close to retirement, they’re realizing that how one accumulates assets is really different from how one spends those assets. They heard about a bunch of different methods, bucket strategies, and things like that, but they’re looking for something simple. Diane is now wondering about robo-advisors. She’s noticed that Vanguard has Vanguard Digital Advisors. Fidelity offers Fidelity Go and Schwab offers Schwab Intelligent Advisors. Each offers more or less automatic rebalancing diversification within the account. These accounts seem to be designed for wealth accumulation, but Diane wonders how they would stack up for decumulation. Rather than constantly moving money from one bucket to another, they can simply make the withdrawal and let Schwab or Fidelity, Vanguard, manage and rebalance. What, if any, are your thoughts on using robo-advisors to spend down retirement savings? Thanks, as always, for the great show. Jim from Santa Cruz.” I don’t know. I’ll take a stab, Al. Robo-advisors are just fine. There’s a purpose for all types of advisors, and the robo-advisor is a robot.
Al: It’s an automated advisor.
Joe: Right. And so you set it, forget it, you’re going to rebalance it. Depending on what type of robo you pick. They could go on bands, they could rebalance monthly. And then you’re going to ask for a couple of bucks out of the account. That’s fine. They’re going to send you the distributions via ACH into your checking account.
Al: And then they’ll rebalance and-
Joe: – rebalance and you’re off and running.
Al: So the complaint people have on robo-advisors is it’s a robot. I can’t talk to anybody. So it’s like, I’ve got a question besides a distribution, why can’t I afford this, or can I retire now? Or I’m short, how much do I need to cut my spending? So these are all things that you get from an advisor. Or life changes. Gosh, my parents passed away. I got a little bit of money. What should I do with it? That’s the complaint on robo-advisors. But if you don’t need any of that, then go for it. It’s a lot cheaper.
Joe: It’s a cheaper alternative. Another thing to look at too is that let’s say Diane or Jack wants a certain dollar figure out, how are they going to get the distribution? Are they going to take it pro-rata from the entire account? So what I mean by that, maybe they have 20% large cap, 20% small cap, 20% international, 20% short term bonds and whatever. So are they going to take an aggregate of all the different accounts as they’re creating that income on a monthly, quarterly, annual basis?
Al: Yes. I’m guessing not. I’m guessing they’ll just pick one source and then periodically rebalance. But I don’t know that for sure.
Joe: So those are the things that you want to make sure that you understand. Because you probably don’t want it pro-rata because you probably want to sell the asset that’s up, not necessarily down. Or you want to have a strategy in place that when we have a bear market like we’re experiencing now, you’re not selling stocks that are down 20%. Or if you have individual stocks that are down 40%, 50%. So the strategy with a real human advisor is that you’re going to be able to probably get a little bit more sophistication in the overall strategy, especially on the decumulation. You’re going to be looking at how much money should be pulled from the retirement account versus a brokerage account versus the Roth account to really mitigate or manage your taxes long term.
Al: Yes. And that’s what you would get from a good advisor. So you’re missing a bunch of stuff, but if your situation is not that complicated and you’re in a low enough tax bracket, yeah, go for it.
Joe: Okay, cool. Nice to talk to you again, Jim.
Pension Retirement Spitball Follow Up (Sean, Los Angeles)
Joe: All right, let’s switch gears. Let’s go to Sean from Los Angeles. He goes, “Hello. I’m following up on initial question, which you responded to in podcast 379-.” Oh. He even puts the time down.
Al: At 31:26.
Joe: “- at 31 minutes, 26 seconds.”
Al: So if you want to go back and listen to 379, get a frame of reference.
Joe: – “Leave partially vested pension to grow or withdraw and convert to Roth. Sean, Los Angeles. First, I want to thank you for the podcast and featuring my question. I keep her calculations ready for use in my Google Sheet Excel app, 72 rule, RMD rule, 25 multiplier rules.” All right. There you go. “I have a follow-up on my conundrium.”
Andi: I like Joe’s version better. A conundrium. It sounds very exciting.
Joe: It is very exciting. He’s got troubles. You got to force it out there.
Al: I think a conundrium, that’s trouble, too.
Joe: I’m hooked on phonics, Al. Don’t worry about it. “I was told the wrong information by the first person I spoke with at the UCRP. There is no mandatory distribution at age 60. Rather, they are trying to allude to RMDs, which occur much later. I have a stable job, make $200,000 a year. Still hope to retire in 15, 20 years. Have $500,000 in the workplace 410(k), $168,000 in the Roth, and $70,000 in savings. I’ve decided it’s a no brainer to keep it in the UCRP plan even as separated employee. I can confirm it’s accrued 6% monthly, not yearly. PS. I’m not sure if that is confidential or can be shared to the public.” Well, it’s too late now. Dude, you put that in the front of the email, not in the middle of it. By the way, this is strictly confidential and don’t talk about it on the air. Whop. Sean, we don’t read this crap before the show. It’s like Andi hands it to me and I start reading. I didn’t mean to call your situation crap. I apologize. “PS. I’m not sure if that’s okay-
Al: You already read that.
Joe: Okay. Thank you. I got nervous, Al. Now we’re in a conundrium.
Al: Yeah, right? He’s got a conundrium. We got a conundrum.
Joe: “On the help line, they openly also quote this number, which I confirmed on my statements. I’ve decided to keep it before both the interest accrual and the .001 chance I may return to UC to keep the service credits intact. I really appreciate how you all approach people’s dilemmas. It’s not an all-in-one approach, but rather a sensible approach based on individual cases. Unlike the old popular Ramsey, which I feel-
Al: One size fits all.
Joe: What the hell does espouses mean?
Al: You don’t even have to say that word.
Joe: I know.
Al: Ramsey feels that one size fits all.
Andi: He promotes.
Joe: But what’s espouses?
Andi: To promote.
Al: It’s like yeah, promote. It’s another way to say promotes.
Joe: When’s the last time you said espouses?
Al: I say esposo in Spanish. Male spouse. I say esposa. That’s my wife. No, I’ve never said espouses.
Andi: The official definition is ‘to adopt or support’ is to espouse.
Al: So that’s more supportive than promote. So that’s why it’s there.
Joe: Got it.
Al: Because your spouse is supposed to support you.
Joe: All right. We’ll find out shortly.
Al: Is there a question?
Joe: No, I guess not. We just spent-
Andi: It’s just a comment. Hey, we tell them that they should write in and give us their questions. Or comments or suggestions or requests or tell us stories. So he was following up because he knew that you would be fascinated to know what the real story was in his situation.
Al: Well, do you think there’s something that you earn 6% a month?
Al: Me neither.
Joe: It’s 6%.
Al: Something’s missing in translation.
Joe: Yes, it’s 6%, but it’s probably accrued monthly, right?
Al: Well, he seems to think it’s 6%.
Joe: It’s half a percent a month.
Al: Right. But I think he thinks it’s 6% per month.
Joe: I mean, that’s a pretty good rate of return.
Al: I’d say that’s a Ponzi scheme.
Joe: Sean, do this. Just take a look at your statement, right? And then look at the interest that accrued for the entire year and then divide into the overall balance.
Al: But I agree with you. It would be .5% a month. But I think he’s trying to correct us. It’s 6% a month, and it can’t be. Look again.
Joe: No wonder why UC is $400,000 a quarter. A semester.
Al: Yeah, that’s why the price has gone up. Those pension plans are really expensive.
Joe: They’re not even employees, we’re paying them 6% a month.
Al: That would be something, wouldn’t it?
Joe: It would be great. I would jump all over that. But 6% is still awesome.
Al: It’s a great rate.
Joe: Great rate.
Can I Avoid Tax Liability on a Lump Sum 401(k) Withdrawal? (Pat)
Joe: “81 year-old widow living in an assisted living facility has a 401(k), withdrew a lump sum to pay for monthly assisted living now has a huge tax liability. Any way to circumvent this tax?” Okay. Well, would assisted living qualify as a medical expense?”
Al: Partial. So the three levels are independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing. So generally, skilled nursing is 100% medical deduction, and independent living is usually pretty minor. So assisted living is somewhere in between. But it may only be, I don’t know, 25%, 30%. So hopefully you didn’t pull out a big lump sum to pay the fees for the next several years because now you’re really stuck. You take out enough for that year. And you’re going to get some tax deduction. But if that’s your only money to pay for this facility, then you have to pay that tax.
Now, fortunately, if that’s their only money and they don’t have a lot of other income, they’re usually in a lower bracket. So you get some deduction from medical expenses and maybe you’re in a lower bracket, especially after the standard deduction. But, yeah, if, in fact, the lump sum was pulled out to do the next 5 years, then that would have been a mistake because now you’re in a high bracket.
Comment: Joe’s Marriage – The Canary in the Coors Light Party Ball? (Juan)
Joe: What’s Juan doing now? What’s his comment here? “Juan Loves a throwback, hosted by Andi Built 2 Last.”
Andi: That’s his nickname for me, which I think is really cool. Thank you, Juan.
Al: So he likes the older shows, as opposed to new pod?
Joe: I don’t know. He writes in, he’s like “Hey-“ and he throws himself in third person, which is like one of my biggest pet peeves.
Andi: That’s probably specifically for your benefit.
Joe: “Juan loves a throwback, hosted by Andi Built 2 Last versus a new pod. But is there a canary in the coal mine/Coors Light Party ball?”
Andi: A canary in the Coors Light Party Ball.
Joe: Remember those party balls? Remember those things? It was like just pure foam. You never had a party ball, Al.
Al: No idea what you’re talking about.
Joe: I figured you didn’t know what that was.
Al: I was thinking-
Joe: It was like a mini keg. So these Coors Light party balls, you would buy them and it was a ball.
Al: All right. I know what that is then.
Joe: They had a pump on it.
Al: I’ve seen those. Is that kind of like a current growler?
Joe: A lot bigger, but it’s like all foam. There you go. There’s a party ball for you, Big Al.
Al: Got it. Yes. I’ve used those. I didn’t know that’s what it’s called.
Joe: Got it. Okay.
Andi: There’s even a disco ball version.
Al: But I figured since it was Coors Light party ball, it was probably something like that.
Joe: Got it.
Al: But if you’re going to ask me to explain it, I would have to plead ignorance.
Joe: Got it. “Jose broke hearts everywhere by forfeiting the crown of San Diego’s most eligible bachelor recently.”
Al: That’s you.
Joe: Yeah, I did. “Now he’s lucky to squeeze in a quick 9 holes versus 18 and E9 of yesteryear.” A little emergency 9. “The Peloton is likely now trapped with fur coats and designer ladies’ clothing. No bueno.”
Al: Is that true?
Al: You still use it.
Joe: I’m grinding on that thing, man. “Keep your chin up, Jose. It’ll only get easier/cheaper once you start having kids. So there’s that.” Yeah. I just did 300 rides, Big Al, on the old Peloton.
Al: Good for you.
Al: You are grinder.
Joe: Yeah, speaking- I got a little one. It’s too late, Jose. We had a COVID baby.
Andi: A COVID baby!
Joe: Well, that’s what happens when you get caught up and you can’t go anywhere and you’re in the house and-
Al: – you’re gonna have a baby.
Joe: Yeah. Then next thing you know, like, a lot of people had babies over the Summer, last Summer.
Al: Yes. It’s funny how that seems to happen.
Joe: It’s like, Wow, busy. All right, that’s it for us. Keep your questions coming. I know the markets are a little volatile. You’re probably a little nervous. It’s okay. Things will always kind of work out in the end. I know this time you probably feel it’s different, but it’s not. It’s just different scenarios that create different anxieties that caused the markets to react in certain ways. So if you have questions, if you have concerns, if you have thoughts, anything, you just want to vent , just write into us, and we’ll read them on the air, and hopefully that can calm some nerves. YourMoneyYourWealth.com, click on that Ask Joe and Al, and we’re going to answer them right here. We’ll see you next time.
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