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Phone: (512) 498-PLAN (7526)


How will the EquiFax breach affect you?


Like throwing a stone into a pond, the Equifax data breach has long-lasting repercussions. Already, because of what’s being considered one of the largest data breaches in recent history, 143 million consumers may be affected. Data compromised in the breach has the potential to impact any form of credit taken out in the U.S. — including mortgages, credit cards, and car loans.


The credit-reporting agency, Equifax, recently revealed that a data breach lasting from mid-May through July 2017 gave hackers access to their consumers’ names, Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates, and, for some, driver’s license numbers. The Federal Trade Commission confirms that credit card numbers were stolen from an estimated 209,000 people and documents with personally identifying information for roughly 182,000 others. Hackers also accessed personal data for customers in the UK and Canada. Equifax says their agency didn’t discover the breach until July 29, 2017, after most of the damage was done.

Anyone who may be affected by the breach is encouraged to act fast. Lisa Lindsay, executive director of the collaborative group Private Risk Management Association (PRMA), says “Consumers will need to evaluate what they want to do next with regards to protection and what risk management options they want to take such as purchasing cyber and fraud insurance. Those impacted by the breach could be at risk for additional attacks.”

Equifax’s website has a section where you can determine if you were one of the people whose data was compromised. Go to: We encourage you to check and whether you are, or aren’t, some action steps follow.


  1. Protect yourself against potential identity theft by visiting to review your credit report for fraudulent activity. At this site, you can get a free report from each of the three credit repositories (bureaus) once a year. If you stagger them out, you can effectively monitor your credit for free annually.
  2. Place a fraud alert or credit freeze to make it more difficult for anyone to open unauthorized accounts in your name. If you elect to do a credit freeze, you need to contact each bureau individually and process that freeze with them. There is a small fee in Texas to do this, it was about $10 for each. Keep in mind, if you freeze your credit, you will need to unfreeze any time you apply for credit of any kind. During the time when you are applying for credit and the freeze is lifted, you can place a 90-day fraud alert on your credit. This should limit lenders from granting credit under your name without first verifying that you are the one who applied for the loan. See the bottom of this email for contact information for each bureau.
  3. Stay educated and get more resources from the FTC’s Privacy, Identity, and Online Security site at


  • Activity from the Equifax breach could still show up months later.
  • Even with a clean credit report, freezing your credit or setting up fraud alerts will make it harder for an identity thief to open a credit card or take out a loan in your name.
  • Pay special attention around tax season in April. This is when your Social Security number is more likely to be stolen for a refund.
  • You may also choose to purchase additional cyber or fraud insurance. But check with your provider first - Identity theft coverage, which may include credit monitoring, is often lumped into homeowners’ insurance policies.

Credit Reporting Companies
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285 or
Experian: 1-888-397-3742 or
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289 or

Your security is a priority.  

We appreciate you and want to help protect you.

Your PlanningWorks Team

Financial Priorities Young Families Should Address

Financial Priorities Young Families Should Address

Wise money moves for parents under 40.


Provided by PlanningWorks


As you start a family, you start to think about certain financial matters. Before you became a mom or dad, you may not have thought about them much, but so much changes when you have kids.


Parenting presents you with definite, sudden, financial needs to address. By focusing on those needs today, you may give yourself a head start on meeting some crucial family financial objectives tomorrow. The to-do list should include:


Life & disability insurance coverage. If one or both of you cannot work and earn income, your household could struggle to meet education expenses, medical expenses, or even paying the bills. Disability insurance payments could provide some financial support in such an instance. Some employers provide it, but that coverage often proves insufficient. Every fifth American has a disability, and more than 25% of 20-year-old Americans will become disabled before reaching retirement age. One in eight working people will be disabled for five years or longer during their pre-retirement years. Could you imagine your household going that long on only a fraction of its current income?1,2


Generally, the earlier you buy life insurance coverage, the cheaper the premiums will be. The biggest savings await those consumers who buy coverage before age 30 and before they marry and have kids. After 30, high blood pressure and cholesterol problems may begin to show up on blood tests, and other health problems may surface. As an example, a single, child-free 25-year-old in good health purchasing a 30-year term policy with a $500,000 death benefit will pay a monthly premium of about $75. The premium jumps to around $115 for the typical 35-year-old married parent in good health.3


Estate planning. Is it too early in life to think about this? No. Life insurance, a will, a living trust – these are smart moves, especially if you have children with any kind of special needs or health concerns of your own that may shorten your longevity or lead to weaknesses in body or mind. Besides documents linked to insurance and wealth transfer, consider a durable power of attorney and a health care proxy.


If you are considering designating a guardian for your children in the event of the unthinkable, whoever you appoint needs to be comfortable with the possibility of taking legal responsibility for your child. That person must also have the financial wherewithal to be a good guardian, and his or her family or spouse must also be amenable to it.


College planning. What will a year at a public university cost in 2035? Vanguard, the investment company, conducted an analysis and projected an average tuition of $54,070. (The 2035 projection was $121,078 for a private college.) So, the message is clear: start saving now. Saving and investing for college through a 529 plan, a Coverdell ESA, or other accounts that offer the potential for tax-deferred growth may give you a better chance to meet those future costs.4


An emergency fund. Ideally, your household maintains a cash cushion equivalent to 3-6 months of salary. Build it a little at a time, set aside a bit of money per month, and you may be surprised at how large it grows during the coming years.


Address these priorities now, and you may lower your chance of financial stress in the future.


PlanningWorks may be reached at 512 498-7526 or


Refreshed Client Site Homepage and Goals Tab are Here

On August 22 we released an update to your Personal Financial Management site. We know your life is busy, so this update was designed to make it even easier to see what's most important to you.

Here's what changed on your website:

  • modern and streamlined homepage that places real-time account, budget, and goal tracking information front and center.
  • New goal tracking tools allow you to analyze and monitor the progress of your financial goals in real time.

And in an effort to streamline your user experience, we removed a few features from the site, including:

  • The Tour Guide Video
  • Mobile Set-up Tile
  • Awards Manager

Additionally, a new "bell" Alert icon has replaced the Alert bar notification.

Check out a sneak peek of the redesigned homepage and new Goals tab.

Note that existing accounts, documents and reports on your website were not affected by this update. I hope you're as excited as we are about the new features! Please let me know if you have any questions.

As a reminder - the link to login to your website can be found at - click the button at the top that says "PlanningWork$ eMoney"

Before You Claim Social Security

Note from Lisa & Mikiel:
In our experience, cash flow planning is the largest part of retirement planning. We have special software tools that allow us to calculate and consider all aspects of Social Security planning that may benefit you. Please give us a call at 512 498-7526 or email us at for more information.
Before You Claim Social Security
A few things you may want to think about before filing for benefits.
Whether you want to leave work at 62, 67, or 70, claiming the retirement benefits you are entitled to by federal law is no casual decision. You will want to consider a few key factors first.
How long do you think you will live? If you have a feeling you will live into your nineties, for example, it may be better to claim later. If you start receiving Social Security benefits at or after age 67 (Full Retirement Age), your monthly benefit will be larger than if you had claimed at 62. If you file for benefits at 67 or later, chances are you probably a) worked into your mid-sixties, b) are in fairly good health, c) have sizable retirement savings.
If you sense you might not live into your eighties or you really, really need retirement income, then claiming at or close to 62 might make more sense. If you have an average lifespan, you will, theoretically, receive the average amount of lifetime benefits regardless of when you claim them; the choice comes down to more lifetime payments that are smaller or fewer lifetime payments that are larger. For the record, Social Security's actuaries project the average 65-year-old man living 84.3 years and the average 65-year-old woman living 86.6 years.1  
Will you keep working? You might not want to work too much, for earning too much income can result in your Social Security being withheld or taxed.
Prior to age 66, your benefits may be lessened if your income tops certain limits. In 2017, if you are 62-65 and receive Social Security, $1 of your benefits will be withheld for every $2 that you earn above $16,920. If you receive Social Security and turn 66 this year, then $1 of your benefits will be withheld for every $3 that you earn above $44,880.
Social Security income may also be taxed above the program's "combined income" threshold. ("Combined income" = adjusted gross income + non-taxable interest + 50% of Social Security benefits.) Single filers who have combined incomes from $25,000-34,000 may have to pay federal income tax on up to 50% of their Social Security benefits, and that also applies to joint filers with combined incomes of $32,000-44,000. Single filers with combined incomes above $34,000 and joint filers whose combined incomes surpass $44,000 may have to pay federal income tax on up to 85% of their Social Security benefits.2
When does your spouse want to file? Timing does matter. For some couples, having the lower-earning spouse collect first may result in greater lifetime benefits for the household.3  
Finally, how much in benefits might be coming your way? Visit to find out, and keep in mind that Social Security calculates your monthly benefit using a formula based on your 35 highest-earning years. If you have worked for less than 35 years, Social Security fills in the "blank years" with zeros. If you have, say, just 33 years of work experience, working another couple of years might translate to slightly higher Social Security income.3
Your claiming decision may be one of the major financial decisions of your life. Your choices should be evaluated years in advance, with insight from the financial professional who has helped you plan for retirement.
PlanningWorks may be reached at 512 498-7526 or
This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.
1 - [7/27/17]
2 - [5/8/17]
3 - [12/15/16]

2017 Retirement Plan Contribution Limits and Deadlines

In order to get a Traditional IRA deduction or make a Roth or spousal contribution for 2016 - you must do so by the April filing deadline - regardless of whether you file an extension or not. Please see article below for more information.

In order for us to process contributions prior to filing, we would need all paperwork and/or checks completed in our office by 3:00pm CST on Thursday, April 13. Call us if you have any questions or let us know how we can help.

-Your PlanningWorks Team

2017 Retirement Plan Contribution Limits

Minor inflation means small, but notable, changes for the new year.

Each October, the Internal Revenue Service announces changes to annual contribution limits for IRAs and workplace retirement plans. Are any of these limits rising for 2017?

Will IRA contribution limits go up? Unfortunately, no. Annual contributions for Roth and traditional IRAs remain capped at $5,500 for 2017, with an additional $1,000 catch-up contribution permitted for those 50 and older. This is the fifth consecutive year those limits have gone unchanged. The SIMPLE IRA contribution limit is the same in 2017 as well: $12,500 with a $3,000 catch-up permitted.1,2

There are some changes pertaining to IRAs. The limit on the employer contribution to a SEP-IRA rises $1,000 in 2017 to $54,000; this adjustment also applies for solo 401(k)s. The compensation limit applied to the savings calculation for SEP-IRAs and solo 401(k)s gets a $5,000 boost to $270,000 for 2017.1

Next year will bring an adjustment to IRA phase-out ranges. Your maximum 2017 contribution to a Roth IRA may be reduced if your modified adjusted gross income falls within these ranges, and prohibited if it exceeds them.1


*Single/head of household $118,000-133,000 ($1,000 higher than 2016)


*Married couples $186,000-196,000 ($2,000 higher than 2016)


If your MAGI falls within the applicable phase-out range below, you may claim a partial deduction for a traditional IRA contribution made in 2017. If it exceeds the top limit of the applicable phase-out range, you can't claim a deduction.1


*Single or head of household, covered by workplace retirement plan  $62,000-72,000 ($1,000 higher than 2016)


*Married filing jointly, spouse making IRA contribution covered by workplace retirement plan  $99,000-119,000 ($2,000 higher than 2016)


*Married filing jointly, spouse making IRA contribution not covered by workplace retirement plan, other spouse is covered by one $186,000-196,000 ($2,000 higher than 2016)


*Married filing separately, covered by workplace retirement plan  $0-10,000 (unchanged)


Will you be able to put a little more into your 401(k), 403(b), or 457 plan next year? No. The maximum yearly contribution limit for these plans stays at $18,000 for 2017. (That limit also applies to the Thrift Savings Plan for federal workers.) The additional catch-up contribution limit for plan participants 50 and older remains at $6,000.1

Are annual contribution limits on Health Savings Accounts rising? Just slightly. In 2017, the yearly limit on deductible HSA contributions stays at $6,750 for family coverage and increases $50 to $3,400 for individuals with self-only coverage. You must participate in a high-deductible health plan to make HSA contributions. The annual minimum deductible for an HDHP remains at $1,300 for self-only coverage and $2,600 for family coverage in 2017. Next year, the upper limit for out-of-pocket expenses stays at $6,550 for self-only coverage and $13,100 for family coverage. HSAs are sometimes called "backdoor IRAs" because they can essentially function as retirement accounts for people 65 and older; at that point, withdrawals from them can be used for any purpose.3,4

Are you self-employed, with a defined benefits plan? The limit on the yearly benefit for those pension plans increases by $5,000 next year. The 2017 limit is set at $215,000.1

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.


1 - [10/27/16]

2 - [10/28/16]

3 - [4/29/16]

4 - [8/19/16]

Are Millennial Women Saving Enough for Retirement?


Are Millennial Women Saving Enough for Retirement?

The available data is more encouraging than discouraging.


Provided by PlanningWorks


Women 35 and younger are often hard-pressed to save money. Student loans may be outstanding; young children may need to be clothed, fed, and cared for; and rent or home loan payments may need to be made. With all of these very real concerns, are they saving for retirement?


The bad news: 44% of millennial women are not saving for retirement at all. This discovery comes from a recent Wells Fargo survey of more than 1,000 men and women aged 22-35. As 54% of the millennial women surveyed were living paycheck to paycheck, this lack of saving is hardly surprising.1


The good news: 56% of millennial women are saving for retirement. Again, this is according to the Wells Fargo survey. (A 2016 Harris Poll determined roughly the same thing – it found that 54% of millennial women were contributing to a retirement savings account.)1,2


The question is are these young women saving enough? In the Wells Fargo survey, the average per-paycheck retirement account contribution for millennial women was 5.7% of income, which was 22% lower than the average for millennial men. One influence may be the wage gap between the sexes: on average, the survey found that millennial women earn just 74% of what their male peers do.1


In the survey, the median personal income for a millennial woman was $28,800. So, 5.7% of that is $1,641.60, which works out to a retirement account contribution of $136.80 a month. Not much, perhaps – but even if that $136.80 contribution never increased across 40 years with the account yielding just 6% annually, that woman would still be poised to end up with $254,057 at age 65. Her early start (and her potential to earn far greater income and contribute more to her account in future years) bodes well for her financial future, even if she leaves the workforce for a time before her retirement date.1,3


More good news: millennial women may retire in better shape than boomer women. That early start can make a major difference, and on the whole, millennials have begun to save and invest earlier in life compared to previous generations. A recent study commissioned by Naxis Global Asset Management learned that the average millennial starts directing money into a retirement account at age 23. Historically, that contrasts with age 29 for Gen Xers and age 33 for baby boomers. If the average baby boomer had begun saving for retirement at age 23, we might not be talking about a retirement crisis.4


In the aforementioned Harris Poll, the 54% of millennial women putting money into retirement accounts compared well with the 44% of all women doing so. The millennial women were also 14% more likely to voluntarily participate in a workplace retirement plan than male millennials were, and once enrolled in such plans, their savings rates were 7-16% greater than their male peers.2


In 2015, U.S. Trust found that 51% of high-earning millennial women were top or equal income earners in their households. That implies that these young women have a hand in financial decision-making and at least a fair degree of financial literacy – another good sign.4


Clearly, saving $136.80 per month will not fund a comfortable retirement – but that level of saving in their twenties may represent a great start, to be enhanced by greater retirement account inflows later in life and the amazing power of compound interest. So, while young women may not be saving for retirement in large amounts, many are saving at the right time. That may mean that millennial women will approach retirement in better financial shape than women of preceding generations.

Tips on caregiving for loved ones

A caregiver’s priority is to do what their loved one would want them to do. Here are two more tips for making caregiving for loved ones easier. The article from which these tips are sourced from is located here:

  1. Talk with your loved one about their preferences for receiving care
    1. Are they OK with living in an assisted-living or nursing home?
    2. Would they rather live at home?
    3. Is it important for them not to “be a burden” on their children?
  2. Ask your loved one to write a letter
    1. Ask them to write a letter expressing their desires and reasons for wishes
    2. Wills cover wishes and instructions, but this letter can be a reminder to the caregiver of the feelings and sentiment behind their loved one’s wishes

June is Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month

Alzheimer’s is not an inevitability in older age. It's a disease that can be defeated with awareness, funding, and research. June is Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month! Please enjoy this video produced by Alzheimer’s Research UK. ‪#‎sharetheorange‬

Remember your goals; in times of good and bad

There’s no question that periods of increased market volatility can be unsettling for investors. However, the decisions you make now—choosing to stay the course or move to the sidelines—can have long-lasting implications. In fact, making emotionally-based decisions in regard to short-term market events is one of the fastest ways to derail your long-term investment strategy.

That’s because it’s impossible to accurately time the financial markets. As a result, investors tend to opt out at the worst time, when markets are falling, and buy back in at higher prices when markets begin to rise. On the other hand, those who remain invested and focused on their long-term investment goals, have an opportunity to buy additional shares at lower prices when stock prices drop, which helps to generate long-term portfolio growth.

A time-tested approach to managing investments through periods of uncertainty is to focus on asset allocation:

  • An appropriate asset allocation, aligned with your goals, timeframe, and tolerance for risk allows you to concentrate on your long-term objectives instead of getting sidetracked by short-term market fluctuations.
  • Helps eliminate the potential for emotional decision-making that could have an adverse impact on your long-term investment strategy.

If you’re concerned about the impact of current market conditions on your portfolio, We encourage you to contact PlanningWorks at 512 498-7526 to review your current allocation, and discuss your long-term goals and risk tolerance.

Asset allocation, which is driven by complex mathematical models, should not be confused with the much simpler concept of diversification. Asset allocation does not guarantee profit or protect against loss.

The Power of Compounding

Did you know that money saved today is more valuable than money saved tomorrow? That’s due to the amazing power of compounding. To determine how quickly your savings may double, simply divide 72 by your current annual rate of return for a rough estimate. For example, if you make a one-time investment of $7,500 today at an annual growth rate of 7.2%, based on the Rule of 72 (a simplified way to estimate how long an investment will take to double at a fixed annual rate), that one year of savings will potentially grow to:

After 10 years = $15,000
After 20 years = $30,000
After 30 years = $60,000
After 40 years = $120,000

That’s a compelling reason to begin saving early in life! Here’s another: a 40-year-old who begins saving $5,500 a year for retirement at a hypothetical 7.2% annual rate of return in a tax-deferred savings vehicle, like an IRA or 401(k), would accumulate $415,076 (vs. $312,914 in a taxable savings account) by age 65. A 25-year-old saving the same amount at the same growth rate would accumulate $1,328,204 (vs. $817,630 in a taxable savings account) by age 65. To reach the younger saver’s tax-deferred savings total, the 40-year-old would have to save about $17,600 a year—more than three times the annual savings amount of the investor who began saving at age 25.*

While the Rule of 72 is a reasonably accurate shortcut for estimating growth rates that fall between 6% and 10%; the higher the projected growth rate beyond 10%, the less accurate the calculation becomes. To calculate earnings growth rates above 10%, use an online compound interest calculator, or set up an appointment with PlanningWorks to discuss strategies for pursuing your long-term retirement savings goals. PlanningWorks can be reached at 512 498-7526 or

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CONTACT US: 7200 N. MoPac • Suite 320, Austin, Texas 78731 • (512) 498-7526
Toll Free (800) 234-8043 • Fax (512) 684-8519 •

Investment Advisory services offered through, Smart Money Group, LLC a SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Securities offered through Calton & Associates, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC OSJ 2701 N. Rocky Point Dr., Suite 1000, Tampa, FL 33607 (813) 605-0918 Smart Money Group, LLC, PlanningWorks, Inc. and Calton & Associates, Inc. are separate entities.

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