On this episode of Make It Last, Victor & Mark discuss building a financial house and the tools you need that will get you through retirement. This episode will help you make sure your retirement plan can withstand the test of time.
Inflation who? They’ll wrap the show up with a game of “Inflation Trivia!” Listen to see how well Victor scores…
Make It Last with Victor Medina is hosted by Victor J. Medina, an estate planning and Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Certified Financial Planner professional (CFP). Through his law firm and independent registered investment advisory company, Victor provides 360º Wealth Protection Strategies for individuals in or nearing retirement.
Full Transcription Below
Mark Elliott: Welcome to “Make it Last” with Victor Medina. I’m Mark Elliott. Now, Victor has two companies ‑‑ the Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth.
Medina Law Group started back in 2006. You can find out more on the website medinalawgroup.com.
Palante Wealth came from the clients of Medina Law Group going, “How you’re going to help us with all of our retirement stuff?” Then hence, Palante Wealth came to be in 2014. palantewealth.com. P‑A‑L‑A‑N‑T‑E, palantewealth.com.
Victor, also, is the author of three books on retirement planning under his acclaimed Make it Last series. He’s been featured on national television, “The Wall Street Journal, the “Huffington Post,” “US News & World Report.”
Look. Victor’s probably going to say some things today that you’re like, “Wow. I didn’t know that. I’d like to learn more”, or “Wait. I don’t have a retirement plan. I don’t know how to build my financial house. What do I do? How do I come up with some help in this area?”
Well, it’s easy. You just call the team, 856‑506‑8300. There’s no cost. There’s no obligation. There’s no pressure. There’s no judgment. 856‑506‑8300. Glad you’re with us today.
Victor, there’s a lot of moving parts when it comes to retirement. Most of us think about our investments. That’s our retirement world. One of the things is a cool analogy is to compare our retirement planning with building our home. We’re going to build a financial house today on the program. I know you told your kids the story, the fairy tale, the three little pigs, and the big bad wolf, right?
Victor Medina: Yeah. [laughs] They know it.
Mark: Back in the day, the wolf would huff, puff, and blow every house down except for the last one. It was made of…what was it made of? We had straw.
Mark: We had straw. What else we had? We had sticks. Then, we had brick.
Victor: We had brick.
Mark: Exactly. The brick house the wolf couldn’t blow it down because it was strong. That’s what we’re talking about today. How do you build a financial house to get you to, and even more importantly through retirement?
Let’s get into this, Victor. It’s an easy way for us to understand what you do. How you help people when it comes to retirement planning? Is it really starts with building that strong, sturdy financial house, doesn’t it?
Victor: It does. It’s interesting too because those people that know me, and our clients have heard me talk about the story that was me rebuilding the house that we live in. The house that we live in is an old home built in 1878. We took the thing down to the studs. We actually found brick in between the studs.
That was part of the reason why it was so quiet and stable. The people that were building the houses, the reason why this thing doesn’t move left or right is because they put bricks in between it. Way before they had any kind of plywood.
It is important to have a sturdy house for retirement because unlike opportunities to rebuild things when you’re facing retirement, it’s super important to make sure that the plan that you have in place is one that can withstand time because you can’t go back to work, and you can’t go in and add to the pile.
This decision is a crucial decision, and one that needs to factor in all these things about what happens if the stock market takes a tumble in the future? What happens if your care costs increase?
All of these elements that they’re factoring into their planning that everybody needs to be thinking about, they need to build it to withstand the threat of the big bad wolf of retirement. It’s really important to make sure that they’ve got a sturdy house.
Mark: All right, so you think about it. We want to build a strong fiscal, financial house for our retirement. Where do we start?
Victor: First of all, I think that the idea that someone is thinking about this as something they should do rather than going into it blindly or assuming that they’re going to pull money from some account when they need the money, that needs to be congratulated, and needs to be rewarded and heralded.
The idea that you will want to put a plan in place or want to build a house around it, doesn’t land for everybody. Not everybody recognizes the need for a way of creating the retirement that is stable and can withstand the rest of time that they need to live.
It first begins with the decision that they care more about creating a plan than they care about the specific products that are involved in there. We have a way of approaching it with our practice that supports that because, for everybody that comes through the process, we create a plan for them.
Now, the plan is eight‑page document that goes through income, investments, taxes, and estate planning, each of those four elements, and I think that they are all of equal value.
I want to make sure that you have great income, and I want to make sure that your investments are supporting the income, and I want you to avoid paying taxes. You have to have your estate plan in place. Each one of them has a role, but it is the idea that they are all in one place for you to look at.
The plan is this eight‑page document that reviews all these areas. What it does is help you understand how you can gain a successful retirement. What that means for you is that you have the opportunity to rest easy knowing that you have a great plan in place.
Where do you start? You start by making an assessment of where you currently are, identifying where you want to get to, which by the way isn’t as simple as saying, “Well, I don’t want to be poor,” or “I want to vacation.”
It is about outlining your goals for retirement, and then being able to determine the way that you’re going to get there, which I think probably dovetails into another concept around building homes. You need a blueprint, right?
You need some way of building this so that you know how to create it competently. The way that it will stand up. You’re going to have the inspectors of life come in and give you your approvals or not.
You definitely need that plan to be able to know how to put these things together because that’s the way that you create, and make all of these elements work together.
Mark: You don’t start with the roof when you’re building a house, you better start with the foundation. We’re going to talk about what goes in the foundation? What goes in the walls? What goes on the roof and all those things when you’re building that sturdy, fiscal, financial house for your retirement?
Here’s the deal if you want to talk more about this, your retirement, income plan, investment strategies, tax‑efficient strategies, health care, legacy, estate planning, Social Security’s in the income part, and Medicare’s in the healthcare part.
A lot of moving parts you’re like, “Well, I’ve never done planning like that. I’ve just looked at my investments and tried to figure out, “Hey, could I do what Victor said to start with? Pull out that 30, 40 50, 60 thousand dollars out of my accounts every year and I should be good?” That is not a plan.
Palante Wealth is about holistic planning for your retirement. If you would like to call the team and say, “Hey, I’d love to get started. I’d like to hear where you think I am. Am I on the right track? Do I need to make a tweak here or there? I like the idea of actually having a written plan for my retirement,” call the team.They’re here to help. It’s 856‑506‑80300, 856‑506‑8300.
Again, no cost for this at all because the team, they’re here to help. They don’t know if they can help till they hear your situation. Why not call? Find out. Let’s get started, 856‑506‑8300.
We’re building your strong, sturdy financial house for your retirement. As you said, it starts with a blueprint. The retirement plan that you create for your clients at Palante Wealth starts with a blueprint, probably. You don’t come in and say, “OK. In 10 minutes, you’re done. Here’s your plan. Good luck to you, and hope everything works out.”
Victor: Not at all, Mark. It’s like showing up with lumber and a hammer, and start swinging things and say, “Well, I think that there should be a room over here. Why don’t we just start building a square?” Nobody would go about doing that.
It’s this idea that a lot of people start with that element of like, “Well, I want to go pull money out,” “I just want to start moving forward,” or whatever else without really taking an opportunity to assess. You’re right. What we do in our practice is we help people create their blueprint.
These blueprints are not uniform. They’re not cookie‑cutter. They are built to the specifics of the clients that we have inline because they’re each going to have different goals. They’re each going to have starting resources that are different. They’re going to have different obstacles that they’ve got to overcome.
For that reason, each blueprint is custom‑tailored for them. Each plan that we create is something that is specific to the client that we are working with at that time. While there are some general principles that need to be followed in order to have a successful plan. You have to understand physics. You have to understand that it needs plumbing. Here’s how heating works.
All of those are uniform in the way that you would build a house. The way that they get implemented is going to change from client to client.
We want to follow some principles. We want to make sure, for example, that people have enough income to get through all of their days. They’ll be able to afford the lifestyle that they have or recognize that they’ve got to make some adjustments in those areas.
The blueprints always consist of the HVAC, the plumbing, the electrical, and the framing off of it. This is the similar in the way that we would do our plan. We’ve got the income and the investments. We’ve got the tax planning and the estate planning. None of these can be ignored. None of them can be overlooked. Nothing can be passed aside.
You can’t just look at a house and say, “Well, that house doesn’t need electricity.” I don’t want to put that in any part of the blueprint. It’s an essential part of making all of these things work together. We do that for all of our clients. It’s the base part of how we create a plan. It’s also important to know that things change.
When I was rebuilding my home because it was an older home, as you start to do a little bit of the demolition, you figure out that there are some areas that weren’t what you expected when you start to peel away the onion.
We had a window that was missing underneath the patio. That all of a sudden it was going to rain that evening, we had to patch that thing quickly, but we need to be able to have some flexibility built into that.
The idea of the plan isn’t that you just follow it without regard to what you find, but it is a guiding principle to making sure that you create something that is structurally sound, is stable, sturdy, and gets you through retirement.
Mark: You were mentioning the HVAC. I actually have a friend of a friend. This is a true story. They’re building their second home. They thought, “It’s not going to be as nice as our full‑time home, but we want to a nice place we can go, get away.”
They said, “We’re not going to hire anybody to do it. We’re just going to get the contractor to do this, and the HVAC people do…We’re just going to separate it. We’re going to be in charge.” They get it done, and because nobody was talking to anybody they get done and they found out, “Oops, we did forget heating and air.”
They had to go in and do it on the outside of the house, because it would cost a fortune to go back in, tear through, and build it in. When it comes to retirement planning, all those areas we’ve talked about. The income, investments, taxes, the legacy planning and all of that, the estate planning.
If we overlook any of these areas, there could be major problems. Couldn’t there?
Victor: Yeah, it really can. I’ll relay my true story as well, which is when we had the plumber coming in and looking at what was going on. I talked to my general contractor, whose name is Eric. I said, “Eric, your guy, Theo,” because it was his plumber.
“Your guy, Theo, comes in, he just stares for about an hour, and then he walks out of the house.” I said, “I don’t know if he’s doing any work. He comes back in, and he looks up, and he looks left, he looks right, and he walks out.” Eric says, “You do realize the medium that he’s working in. He’s creating the stuff that’s going to handle your toilets and your shower.
“There can’t be any detail that he overlooks. He needs to understand where all of this is going to be flowing and the directions are going.” It’s a good jumping‑off point to underscore this idea, that no, details can’t be overlooked in part of the planning that you do.
It’s one of the reasons why you need an expert in that area to help. There’s a reason why the general contractor brought in his own demolition team to do that kind of stuff. He brought in a master plumber to do the plumbing, and a master electrician to do the electrical work.
They didn’t try to handle on their own because he recognized the risk involved if there had been a detail overlook, that would have been identified by somebody that was an expert in that area. Just to anchor it back into the way that I built my home.
The experts that this contractor brought in were experts in dealing with older homes ‑‑ because I already said that our home was built in 1878. They were people who were accustomed to dealing with construction in that time. Similarly, you need somebody who’s an expert in retirement if you want retirement planning.
In other words, the kind of home that you’re building isn’t the vacation home or isn’t the second home that’s going to be on the shore or someplace else that’s completely different. You have a very specific home that you’re trying to build in retirement, and it makes sense that you bring in people who are really versed in those areas.
You want to be in a situation where you’re like, “I know exactly what this looks like, and we can help guide you the way.” You need somebody who does that in your financial work specifically to retirement.
Mark: The Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth serve the Pennington greater Mercer County as well as Bucks County. Victor has clients in New Jersey, and in Pennsylvania as well. If you would like to learn how the team might be able to help you, don’t know if they can because they don’t know your situation. They’d love to find out.
They’re here to help. The Medina Law Group, Palante Wealth, they’re here to help you. Give them a call. Let’s get started. There’s no cost for this. 856‑506‑8300 is the number. Again, 856‑506‑8300.
Mark: We’re talking about building your fiscal financial house, comparing it to building your house that you live in. That’s what we’re talking about today. Well, one of the most important pieces of the house is the foundation. Not the most exciting to think about when it comes to retirement, but it might be the most important piece.
That’s where we’re headed next. Stay with us. This is Make It Last with Victor Medina of the Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. We’re back in one minute.
Mark: Welcome back to Make It Last with Victor Medina of the Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. You can find out more about Medina Law Group by going to medinalawgroup.com, M‑E‑D‑I‑N‑A. medinalawgroup.com. Palante Wealth is P‑A‑L‑A‑N‑T‑E, palantewealth.com.
Victor is a practicing estate planning and certified elder law attorney, so that’s Medina Law Group. Victor also has Palante Wealth which is about holistic planning for your retirement. Victor’s a certified financial planner professional, a registered investment advisor.
You want to find out more, it’s palantewealth.com. Victor is also the author of five books on retirement planning under his acclaimed Make It Last series, and got some even for women on there as well. Don’t you? You got a lot of information.
Victor: I do. I think that informing the public is one of the most important activities we do. Because at the end of the day, we want the opportunity to work with every family. In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, I wouldn’t be a business owner if I didn’t want to grow.
I know at the end of the day I can’t help everyone. One of the ways that we do share this information as widely as possible, is by writing these books, hosting this radio show and podcast so the people can listen to it, and spreading the information.
I want everybody to have the opportunity to take advantage of the best advice that I know that’s available, and I’m trying to share it as widely as I can.
Mark: When you know better, you should be able to do better, but until you know better maybe it’s a little bit difficult to make decision. A lot of different ways Victor in the team are here to help you. If you have questions, it’s 856‑506‑8300.
Victor, would your wife, Jennifer, who’s a school psychologist, if I said, “Jennifer, is Victor handyman? Does he do all the little odds‑and‑ends jobs around the house, or do you have to call somebody in to do it?” What would she say?
Victor: She’d say actually, “Yes.” I look for modesty whenever I can, but I am a pretty handy person. I installed my own hardwood floors in the first house that we went into. I can work with electricity. I have one thing I don’t do, Mark, I don’t do plumbing.
I’m nervous about messing that up. I know water can create a lot of damage. By the way, some of that other stuff that needs to flow can create damage, so I stay away from plumbing. Put me in front of carpentry, put me in front of electricity, you’re going to get a good job.
Mark: All right. When you’re doing those kind of jobs around the house, the right tools make a difference. Is that fair to say?
Mark: When it comes to retirement, the right tools for what you need to provide for the lifestyle that you’re hoping for in retirement and the things you want to do, the bucket list items and all of that, it is important to have the right tools in your retirement toolkit.
Now, Victor, we could certainly go to Google and put in retirement tools. There would be millions of search results. There’s a lot of information to sort through. You’re not sure of the sources. Do I trust them? Do I not, how do I figure this out? Which is why you should call Victor with any questions you have.
856‑506‑8300. There is an online toolkit from the federal government. It includes resources to help you learn about Social Security, about Medicare. Makes sense, those can be very confusing decisions to make. Also, it has the basics about retirement savings plans.
The online toolkit from the federal government is Social Security, Medicare, and the basics about retirement savings plan. Is anything missing from that list?
Victor: [laughs] I don’t know. Could you walk around and fix your entire house with just a hammer, and a screwdriver, and a measuring tape? Probably not. You probably need a few more tools to make that be successful. I think in the retirement planning world, it extends to a couple of different areas that I’ll mention quickly here.
You could imagine that we could have a very long discussion on the different kinds of tools. This is as much as you would have in a completely full toolbox, where you’re talking about different kinds of hammers, never mind just having a hammer.
It’s going to be the same way in the financial world. Let’s talk about a couple of additional tools that I think are important, and one of them speaks near and dear to my heart. Of course, that I started my career as an estate planning attorney. We still have an active estate planning practice where I’m working involved as a certified elder law attorney with all of our client’s plans.
When we design those, one of the legal planning elements of retirement is very important when we think about making sure you’ve got good base legal documents as you enter retirement, so that you don’t create a potential problem in the future.
You might be thinking like, “What does that have to do with retirement? I’m trying to figure out how to be successfully retired.” Imagine this. If you don’t have a valid power of attorney, you’re probably going to blow about $10,000 on a guardianship. That’s really going to impact your nest eggs.
Having good legal documents is actually a financial problem you’re solving, something you’re doing.
The other element of it in terms of finances, specifically using legal planning, is how to avoid the impacts of long‑term care. What’s growing right now is a lot of people being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and cognitive issues.
The impact of that is that they’re staying more and more in assisted living facilities, and having that costs a lot of money. When you’re married, unfortunately, the rules require both spouses to essentially be poor. Legal planning can help preserve the assets so that you’re able to maintain a quality of life for that healthy spouse.
The one element that I would first highlight on retirement tools that are missing is legal planning. The toolkit that is available in estate planning, and specifically asset protection planning.
The next thing we look at, and it’s not discussed at all in there in terms of different savings plans, are within their different kinds of insurance products. Generally, when you get an insurance product, Mark, the reason why you’re getting it is to shift to the risk of something with a big catastrophic loss that’s involved in it.
For example, if you’re going to end up dying and losing out on pension income, the catastrophic loss is immense on that, so we want to ensure against that. I don’t know if someone’s going to die or when they’re going to die, but I want to ensure against that.
When I do, and I put a little insurance policy in place, what I’m able to do is make money appear when somebody dies to control for that risk.
The insurance products also does a good job on getting guarantees that aren’t available by a general marketplace like Wall Street investments. Sometimes we use insurance products as part of a strategy to get and manufacture a paycheck in retirement.
When you look at all of this stuff together, you’re blending this like, “OK, what am I pulling from off of it?” Realize that most of the tools that are out there, don’t come with any wisdom attached to it.
What they’re doing is, they’re saying, “Well, here are the basics on this plan, here’s the basics on Social Security, what you do with Medicare.” They don’t give you any real advice about how to successfully navigate through that because they’re not coming from the perspective of somebody that has navigated the lives of other people, and helped them to plan.
All of my clients are in retirement, and doing it largely successfully off of it. Meaning that they are putting their plan in place. It’s working the way that we want it to.
When we had that big hiccup because of the pandemic, and all the accounts had this big backslide because the markets corrected, none of my clients called me. We had a plan in place already to deal with the ups and downs that we’re going to be facing for the next 20, 25 years of their retirement.
We need to add that layer of experience and wisdom in order to make all of these things work together, and I think that’s all part of what would make a great toolkit in retirement.
Mark: I would think the one thing that you could also add would be taxes, probably, tax planning.
Victor: Tax planning, absolutely, especially because in retirement, the IRS is your biggest partner. They’re a business partner of yours. They get to say how much of your winnings they’re taking, and you can’t control what they’re going to change along the way.
I remember this old Will Rogers quote, “The difference between taxes and death is that death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.” For some reason, we got to figure out how to navigate that because we can’t predict the future.
Absolutely, dealing and planning around taxes is important, and I’ve hit on part of all four of the elements of every plan that we create for a client. When you come in you’re looking to do retirement planning, we’re looking at your income, your investments, your taxes, and your estate planning.
We think those are the four pillars that create a great retirement plan, and all elements of what would make a great retirement toolkit.
We do that for every one of our clients. We call it our Make‑It‑Last checkup plan, and what it allows us to do is diagnose what’s working right, where we need attention, what our recommendations are, and it helps us chart a course for the future.
Mark: Well, I tell you this, Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth are here to help you have a better idea. Where you could put your head on the pillow at night, maybe sleep a little bit better. Ease some of that stress, 856‑506‑8300 is the number if you’d like to talk with Victor and the team about your situation, 856‑506‑8300.
Victor, we all probably have some tools in our retirement toolbox: 401(k)s, IRAs, might have some real estate, could have life insurance policies. We could have annuities. We could have some bonds, stocks, and ETFs, all those things, all these different tools.
Do you ever ask somebody, “Hey, you’ve got this tool in your toolbox, what’s it for?” That would stump me. I think, to me. [laughs]
Victor: I know exactly, right? It stumps a lot of people. Shoot, it stumped my parents when I first did planning for them. I said, “You’ve got these six different things. Just walk me through how you decided why you wanted that, and what made sense.” I get a lot of this, “Well, it made sense at the time. I liked the sales person.”
What we find is that we’ve had this junk drawer of investment products. It’s just this mess of things that we’ve acquired over time, and there’s not really any cohesion between. There’s no real thought saying why it’s earned its place in our retirement toolkit.
I carry a tool bag every time I do any job around the house, it’s always a little handy, but if I know that I have to hammer something, I actually don’t bring just the hammer over there.
I bring all of my tools because I don’t know what problem I’m going to encounter at that time, and then what I’m fixing it allows me to pull from any of those to make sure I get a job done right.
It should be the same thing with your retirement. Everything in your retirement toolkit, every element that you have, your retirement hammer, your retirement screwdriver, your retirement…it should earn its place in that bag.
I know the bag that I carry around, it’s small. It’s not the biggest bag in the world so every tool in there has earned its place, and it would be the same thing.
When you’re looking through and you’re like, “Oh, I have this tax sheltered annuity, and then I came in and I had this as small investment account from a rollover IRA from a job that I had 30 years ago, and then I bought these CDs because they were giving me a free toaster.”
It goes beyond that. You really need some really smart planning where you’re going to have each one of these things, figure out how it works together towards your intended success. Like you get to retirement, how is it going to generate income for you?
How’s it going to generate growth to fight inflation? How are you going to navigate taxes? Does it navigate taxes on its own? How do we protect the asset to make sure if you need to go into a nursing home, we don’t have to spend that thing?
Each one of these needs some time and considerations as we put them together. Now, you feel confident to walk into a room and it’s not a junk drawer. It’s a really well‑oiled machine. Each part is working in perfect concert with the other.
Mark: Here’s the deal, when Victor sits down with people and the teams of Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth to talk about your income plan, your investment strategies, your tax strategies, your estate plan, those types of things, Victor’s got a big toolbox.
My toolbox is not like Victor’s around the home because I’m not a handyman. That’s the question, what is your toolkit look like? What are you trying to accomplish with your retirement? 856‑506‑8300 is if you have any questions whatsoever about where you are on your road to retirement. 856‑506‑8300.
The interesting thing, last question this segment because I think this is an interesting one. I think it’s one of the more unique challenges that you have at Palante Wealth, putting these retirement plans together because everybody’s a little bit different in this area. How do you find the right balance between growth and safety?
Victor: It is a good question. Every time somebody comes in, Mark, I’ll ask them, how much of this do you want to lose? Can you afford to lose? I don’t think there’s a person that comes in there that ever tells me I can afford to lose it all, but I do know that people have different risk tolerances.
For them, based on what other guarantees they have coming in, income, pensions, like my dad, my parents, they’re both retired schoolteachers. They have a lot of risk tolerance because they’ve got series of checks that gets delivered every beginning of the month.
When we’re balancing the difference between growth and safety, I don’t think that it is as binary as choosing like, I want one over the other. I would actually start to slot them within time periods. For example, you want growth as a future planning activity.
Meaning, it’s important when you look at on a scale of 7, 10, 15 years plus as part of your overall plan. At that point in time, you balance towards that growth, but when you’re looking to create income, when you’re looking to make draws from a retirement nest egg, now you’re looking at that element of safety, safety plus growth.
Of course, certain investment products are better suited for those conditions, but it’s not as simple as just saying, “I want one over the other.” It’s like, “Which do you need at the time?”
If we start to think about it from the perspective of how long of retirement you’re going to be in, let’s say you’re going to be in a 25 or 30‑year retirement, now we get a little bit more granular with the recommendations.
For example, we can say, “It would really make sense if you had X percentage that’s allocated for a seven‑year plus strategy and if we had Y percentage for our time between now and the next seven years.”
That starts to answer a lot of those questions in terms of how much goes in each one of those buckets. I would actually allocate them across time horizons, and not necessarily be an either/or decision. You probably want both/and is the answer.
Mark: Another thing that Victor has created for you with no charge at all, is if you would like a report on a checklist, you go to 920checklist.com, you put in your email. You’ll get downloaded this checklist, and think about it, how do we know what steps we need to be taking?
When do we need to do those? How do we do it? How do we put this all together? Victor has created this checklist for retirement.
All you have to do is go to 920checklist.com and you can download it right there. 920checklist.com. There’s no cost. There’s no obligation for that. 920checklist.com. If you’d like to download that checklist, a lot of great information inside of that.
Of course, who want to sit down with the teams and talk about your situation. 856‑506‑8300 is the number. 856‑506‑8300. It’s time to get started. There’s no cost. There’s no pressure for this. 856‑506‑8300.
When you are packing up your retirement toolkit, one thing you want to leave behind is your feelings toward certain financial tools. Victor is going to explain that when we come back. Stay with us, this is Make It Last with Victor Medina of the Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth.
Mark: Plenty with us today for Make It Last with Victor Medina of Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. I’m Mark Elliott, and here’s a deal, it’s about retirement. That’s what we talk about every week on this program.
Do you have an income plan for retirement? How much do you need today? How much do you need 5 years from now, 15 years from now, 25 years from now? Do you understand all of that? That’s a big question. It really starts with retirement is income. How much do you need month after month to maintain your lifestyle?
Investments. Where do you go into that? You have the Wall Street world of investments. You have the insurance world of a little safer, but you can still get growth there. The investment world is where our 401(k)s and IRAs are, so how do we know what we should be doing and tweaking at what times and all of that?
Taxes, super important. We all believe taxes are going up. We know the Trump tax law will end December 31st of 2025, and in 2026 where we revert back to 2017, if the Biden administration does nothing, so taxes in the future are going up.
Should we be doing, and maybe moving some of our money from 401(k)s and IRAs into the Roth world. Pay the taxes now as opposed to later when taxes are higher.
Estate planning, do you have all your legal documents in place? Do you know where things are going, and how you want things to be done? That’s what the teams at Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth can certainly help you do. Again, the number if you have any questions 856‑506‑8300. 856‑506‑8300.
We’re talking about the retirement toolkit and we’ve decided that I am no handyman around the house, Victor is. His tools at home are much more in‑depth than mine, where I have a hammer and a couple of screwdrivers. Good luck to me. Everybody’s a little bit different to in our retirement toolkit world.
There are thousands of different financial tools out there. In a way Victor, it seems like there should be a solution for just about every situation or problem that we might face, but sometimes we have an emotional reaction to certain tools or products. We reject them based on what we’ve heard or just what we assume. Can that be a dangerous line of thinking?
Victor: It absolutely can be a dangerous line of thinking…and before I go to the reasons why, I just want to make it OK if you’re in that position. If you have a particular belief you’re like, “Oh, I think annuities are terrible. Oh, I don’t want to be in the market at all.” “Oh, I think all the banks are horrible because they don’t give me any interest.”
If you’re coming into that with that thought process, it’s OK. I understand why and how you likely got brainwashed. Because you met one person that had a particular ax to grind, and then they taught you about that in some fashion, maybe it was on TV, maybe it was in a book that you read, and then you understood why they had that position.
I have taken the opposite position of that, which is that I don’t hate anybody, I’m agnostic, I’m Switzerland when it comes to retirement planning. I will use whatever my client needs in order to be successful.
One of the benefits of being an independent financial advisor, the way that I am is, I’m not beholden to anybody for any particular product like, I am essentially able to choose from anything that’s out there as long as it works for my client.
Having that perspective, now allows me to look at everything and sure we want to be examining it, want to make sure that it works, but I can be open to any solution as long as it works for a client. What will happen from time to time is you’ll come in with a statement, let’s say, and I actually did this for client that came in.
They came in with a portfolio. They were about a half million dollars or so in terms of where their net assets were, and they needed a retirement plan. In there, there were products and they were some variable annuities in there. There were some investment accounts. There were some fixed annuities.
My conclusion for her situation is, “One of the things that you currently own, you should keep. These two other things, we should change, and here is the reason why.” Now, if I came in with a particular ax to grind, I would say everything that you own stinks, and you should buy everything that I recommend, but I didn’t do that because that’s not what we do at Palante Wealth.
What we do is we figure out the plan that works for a client. I think it should be the same thing for everyone in terms of their open‑mindedness. Right now in the world of retirement planning, the most successful retirement plans pull from all of the best products that are out there, and there’s no one particular demon that you shouldn’t be considering as part of it.
There are principles that you should follow. For example, you shouldn’t pay a lot for your investments. We should be avoiding high fees.
There’s probably a category of high fee investments that are bad. You shouldn’t have those, but we have replacements for them, in their categories we have low‑fee mutual funds, we have low‑fee annuities, we have low‑fee bank products if we needed them.
The idea would be, that if you keep it open mind from the recommendations that are coming, you actually might have a better retirement. You might think about somebody who’s close‑minded, who’s just bullheaded about what they’re doing, you know those people, if they keep their mind closed to new ideas, they’re probably not going to end up so great.
They’re going to close a door on something that might really help them just because they’re so strong‑willed about not accepting a recommendation. What we work on a lot in my firm, we work on for every client is empowerment through education.
It’s part of the reason why there’s five books published, it’s part of the reason we’ve got videos that are available on YouTube, part of the reason why we do the radio show, is what we have discovered is that the more that we educate, the more transparent we are about the education process, the more we empower people to act and follow the recommendations.
We’re going to take people who hate annuities, and have them understand that one part may be appropriate for them in their portfolio. We might have people hate being in the market and recognize that they may need a portion up to 70 percent in equities in order to meet their goals, and they become OK with it.
Because we’ve invested all of that time to make somebody comfortable before they actually pull the trigger. We talk about it all, educate people on it completely, so that before you move forward with anything, before you accept any recommendations in there, you’ve actually asked all the questions that you need.
Answers too. Gotten everything in line. Be like, “You know what? You’re right. That’s what I need. Let’s move forward with that.” As long as we keep an open mind, we might actually get one of the best results that we could.
Mark: In the investment world, Victor and the team operates under the fiduciary standard. You probably heard that term before. It’s really an important term.
Maybe 20, 25 percent of advisors around the country actually operate under the fiduciary standard, which means that Victor is morally, legally, ethically obligated to do what is in the clients best interests.
There’s groups that actually keep an eye on him to make sure that’s how he operates, which he does, obviously, but that’s really important ‑‑ the fiduciary standard.
Again, the Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth serve the Pennington and greater Mercer County areas as well as Bucks County, so there are clients in New Jersey and in Pennsylvania.
They are here to help you with any of retirement questions you may have, estate planning, taxes, investments, income. Where is it coming from? How do I do it? 856‑506‑8300 is the number.
This could be a 15‑minute phone call. You might say, “Yeah, I don’t think they’re the right team for us.” Victor will say, “OK. Well, good luck. Here’s what I think. Maybe here’s some options for you,” because it’s not always a great fit, but it’s a two‑way street because this is long‑term relationship. This is getting you through retirement, not just to retirement.
There’s a lot of moving parts here. If you’re not really sure about some of these areas, it’s a great time to call the team and find out more about your situation. 856‑506‑8300.
Glad you’re with us today for Make It Last with Victor Medina of the Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. I’m Mark Elliott. We’re talking about the retirement toolkit.
One thing back to the emotional thing. Have you ever had this happen, Victor, where somebody comes in and says, “Look, I know that stock may not be the greatest, but…” or “That stock may be the greatest. My granddad gave it to me, so I don’t want anything to happen to it.”
You’re like, “Well, I bet granddad gave you that stock that you could use it for something that you needed down the line. He didn’t give it because that stock meant the world to him, or maybe it did, I guess.” Do you ever have that where somebody gets emotionally tied because somebody handed down something to them? They’re like, “Well, I can’t mess with that.”
Victor: I have. It’s come up two different ways. One of the ways is exactly that. It’s been in the generation, “Granddad gift to me.” This is their last memory of that.
The other way that I’ve actually had it shown up is sometimes I’ll have a widow come in, not to be so gender specific, but they often happens with women where their husband passed away.
Their husband was chiefly responsible for financial management in their household, and they don’t want to upset anything that the husband had done with the plan, this is the way he had it set up.
We have to actually spend a lot of time with both of those groups, the first one that we have to understand in terms of all of the emotional attachment to it is that we don’t have to own all of it in order for it to carry the same weight off of it.
I’ll often say to them, “Look, it’s OK that in this world that you keep, let’s say 5 percent of what is in your total nest egg, in order for you to keep that particular holding, and then we’ll manage the other 95 percent towards success.”
That’s OK for me because I know that by putting a great plan in place for the other 95 percent, I’m going to help them be successful. They didn’t submarine our plan, you know the phrase that I use, Mark.
I say, “Listen, what about if you keep five percent, you’ve drilled a hole above the waterline, that’s OK. You want to keep more than that, you want to keep 50 percent of your money in this one holding, you’re drilling a hole below the waterline, and I’m not staying in the boat with you, because we’re not going to make it to shore.”
I think that we’re OK with that at certain levels. When it comes to the actual strategy that we inherit, and they don’t want to move from the strategy because it had helped them be successful in the past, I actually spend a little bit more time with those families.
What I say to them is, “I think that the biggest goal that that person had, was for you to be OK. That’s what they were worried about, they wanted to make sure that you were OK, and they were putting their best ideas in place, that had not created too many problems. That’s why you still have the money that you have for you to be OK.
“At the end of the day, you’re going to have to sort of figure out whether or not being OK also includes changing the strategy because I would imagine that if we were having this conversation, and this person was still around and we gave them the same education…” because a lot of people are already inclined to the education we’re giving.
They understand the purpose for the plan that we’re putting in place, they started agreeing with it, but they’re hesitant because it’s changing what it was that there was in place before.
I’ll say to them, “Look, if it comes down to it, if this person was still here, do you think that they would probably agree with you? That they would feel the way that you do? That these ideas make sense?” The answer is usually yes.
I say, “Well, then let’s do this. Let’s try it for a little while because the overall goal for your husband was for you to be OK. That’s what they care about, and I have the same care. My team has the same care for you, we want you to be OK.
“What we believe at the bottom of our heart, is that if you follow these strategies, you’re going to be OK. You’re going to be the best form of what you can be safety‑wise, making sure it’s there for you be able to navigate changes that happens in the future. This is going to help you be OK. If you want us to do that, we’ll let you do it.”
Some people get to that point in time, quite candidly, Mark. Some people don’t. Sometimes, they’ll come back later. I need them to be OK with our strategies. I never want it to be a heavy‑handed approach. I want them to be largely an idea that they accept, that they agree to.
That emotional thing always overrides the rational thought until we get to the rational thought, more important than the emotional one. Once we attach the emotion to the rational decision that we’re making, it’s always going to overwhelm it. We’re willing to invest the time that it takes in order to get them to that spot because we firmly believe that they’re going to be better for it.
That’s one of the best things of working with us, working with the law firm, working with the financial services firm. Nobody here bills by the hour. Nobody cares how long it takes to get it done, except obviously we want it done sooner because we know you’re going to be better.
You don’t have to worry about, for example, getting bills for portions of an hour. We’re going to spend as much time as it takes to get you comfortable with the plan that we have in place before we move it forward. We know that your emotional attachment to what we’re proposing.
The fact that you believe that you’ll be better for it, it’s as important as emotional attachment that you had before you came in. We’re willing to invest as much time as it takes to get you there.
Mark: It’s well said. I appreciate that. Think about it. We’re talking about the retirement toolkit today on the program. You think about all the things you have, whether it’s IRA’s, 401(k)s, real estate, whatever it is, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, insurance tools, whatever.
What’s the purpose? Is it doing what you need it to do for you to retire the way you want to? Do you have questions about income, investments, estate planning, taxes? Would you like to work with somebody that actually specializes in this area of retirement planning?
Retirement planning is much different than being…there’s nothing wrong with insurance agents or stockbrokers. They all have their purpose. Retirement planning is a different deal because now we’re trying to make sure that everything lasts for the next 20, 30 years, and make sure that we don’t run out of money before we run out of life.
How we’re going to leave things at the end of the day? The estate planning, and all of those types of things? That’s a lot of stuff on your plate.
Mark: Glad you’re with us today for Make It Last with Victor Medina, Medina Law Group, and Palante Wealth. Medina Law Group’s here to help you with all your legal things you need, right? The estate planning, the transfer on death, the powers of attorney, all those things that we need to put in place. How we’re going to leave things?
Of course, Palante Wealth is all about trying to come up with that plan for you in retirement. I’m 60. I think I’m going to retire at 63, Victor. I’m going to come to Palante Wealth. Then, when I hit 80, I’ll come to the elder law side of things. That’s not how it works. You put the plan in place. It’s like a living, breathing document because we adjust as we go, correct?
Victor: Yeah. They need to work together. It doesn’t help too much to have one area where it’s really shored up, and another area that is not. You start to lean on it, and then you have a disaster. It really is important to put everything together at once, and then do that stuff that you talked about, which is the regular interaction.
I kind of talk about it like tuning a piano. You can’t tune the lower half of it, you got to make sure the whole thing is in tune. Then, you check on a regular basis or it’ll all sound terrible. It really is important to do it all at once.
Mark: 856‑506‑8300 is the number. If you have any concern about, where you are? When can I retire? Do I have enough? Will my money last as long as I do? Will my loved ones will be OK if something happens to me? Really big questions, 856‑506‑8300. I’m Mark Elliott. Glad you’re with us.
We’re going to play a little trivia today. We’re going to play inflation trivia. Victor, you’re ready to handle some inflation, I guess, it’s going up.
Victor: I am. I didn’t do well on this last time. I’m not feeling confident. I don’t know why you choose to humiliate me like this, but let’s go ahead and do it.
Mark: With Victor’s attitude right now, I’m expecting this…
Mark: Sorry, you’re wrong. I hope I hear this…
Mark: All right. Inflation, we’re going to go back in time, because that’s inflation. We’re going to work our way around this. It’s one of those things that inflation is moving. Probably after ’08, Victor, we probably had less than two percent for quite a while. Would that be fair to say?
Victor: Yeah. There was a low number for a long period of time. I know that when I was doing modeling for this, I would model inflation at three percent.
Until recently, when I put that on the screen, people yelled back, “There’s no way. I read the inflation numbers. It’s under two,” and then nowadays, when I put it at three percent, they said, “What, are you crazy? It’s four or five. This is nuts.”
I said, “Well, look, we got to have perspective on both ends of it. Let’s go ahead and model a real number.”
Mark: Yeah, I think in the spring of 2021, it got up to five percent, and then we got to the fall, it got up to six. It might even get to seven, who knows?
Here we go. We’re going to play a little inflation trivia. I think you should have fun with this. Obviously, Victor and I are going to have fun with this. We hope you get something out of this as well.
Victor, first question. The median home value in 1950 was…The average price of a house in 1950, $3,468, $6,115, $73,154, or $9,998?
Victor: It’s almost like a trick question, especially, because where we are in New Jersey, houses that are $300,000 and up. Those numbers sound made up. I put it with the highest one. The one that’s nine thousand‑dollar number.
Mark: Well, you were close.
Mark: It was $7,354. That’s OK. 1990, we’re still going back 30 years here, right? I mean, the median home value in the US was $79,100. In 40 years, it went from $7,354 to $79,000. By 2020, the median home price is now over $330,000. It does depend on where you live. Doesn’t it?
Mark: You’re on the coast. Boy, you get super.
Victor: Yeah, I know. I’m happy with that last one when I said that the average home value is $300,000 and up, that gave me in the year 2020. At least, I knew that number. No chance on what it was in 1950, though. Jeez, that’s surprising.
Mark: My parents bought a house when I was in second grade. I’m trying to guess, and I’m going to go with 1965ish, OK? They paid $17,500 for it.
In the year 2000, they had an open house of my house that I grew up in. I went to look. I was like, “This would be cool.” They were asking a hundred grand for it. I’m like, “You can’t ask that much. It was only $17,500.”
Victor: I’ll do the same thing when I meet with clients. We’ll talk about the value of their home. We’ll talk about capital gains on the home, that kind of stuff. I’ll say, “Well, what did you buy the home for?”
If it was something that they bought to raise their kids, and have lived in since, it’s always a chuckle, because it’s always, at least, a 10th of what the value is now or 10 percent of the value is now. If it’s $400,000, and they bought for 40 grand, at least, when they went in there, it’s always a chuckle when we get to that topic.
Mark: Yeah. It’s a fun thing to think about inflation. It’s easy to think how much was your first car? How much was your first home?
Here you go. Healthcare costs tend to increase at a slightly different pace than inflation. I think we would all agree with that. The American Medical Association, though, Victor says healthcare costs increased by about blank percent per year, four‑and‑a‑half percent, 5.3, 5.7 or 6.4 percent per year.
Victor: This is where I feel confident about, because I got to have to know this number to help people model their cost off a bit. I think in my mind, it’s slightly different number. I know that it’s in the four. We’re going to go with 4.5 percent.
Mark: Congratulations. These numbers come from the American Medical Association. It says the average is four‑and‑a‑half percent. 2019, Kaiser Family Foundation study reported that healthcare spending in the US was about $3.8 trillion, or about $11,500 per person by 2028, expected to climb to $6.2 trillion nationally, or about $18,000 per person.
I think if you ask retirees who do have to go to the doctor in the hospital, they would have probably said more like 6.4 percent.
Victor: Especially when they’re looking at prescription cost, because a lot of folks who are doing mail order, their plans are Part D, and have them paying for some of those above and beyond. I think they would look at the cost of that, especially what they know it would be generics, and having that increase. I think they would go with the bigger number.
Yeah, I agree with the AMA. Well, it’s their number. I’m saying, when we do our planning, we model around four percent. That seems to be the right number for overall health cost.
Mark: Well, here’s one that I know you’re super excited about. You have three kids, you have a senior in high school, a ninth grader, and a third grader, which means college is on the horizon. Here you go. How much has the cost of college tuition increased since the 1960s? I don’t think we like any of these numbers, 247 percent, 361 percent, 378 percent, or 403 percent?
Victor: I’ll tell you. I looked at the cost of college now where my oldest boy, Aidan is looking at. It is almost twice what it is when I went to college just maybe 30 years ago. If we go back another 30 years to the 1960s, I want to say that it doubled again. I’m going with 403 percent or whatever that number was.
Mark: That’s pretty close, but it was 361.
Mark: Actually, 361. Here’s the thing though. In 1963, the annual cost of tuition at a four‑year public college was $243. Annual cost of tuition was $243. When I went to college in the early ’80s, I think I was 90 bucks an hour. It’s what I think I was.
Victor: Like a credit hour?
Mark: Mm‑hmm. We take 12 or 15 hours. You just added that up. I think it was four grand or something like that.
Victor: What follows on with that, of course, is the increase in student loans to pay for, because there’s been almost no checks and balances to that as this increased.
It’s not because the value of college education is increased. It’s because it’s this unregulated market that just going to allow this, the need for the college degree as an entry‑level ticket to go and do anything else in life. It’s just made it table stakes.
That cost had to increase, and along with it for some people that just can’t pay out of pocket, student loans. I’ve got clients coming in that are helping those start to pay for their kids with student loans, because the kids didn’t come out with jobs that could handle it. Now, they have to carry that cost as part of their plan. It is a real big deal.
Mark: From 1989 to 2016, college cost increased to almost eight times faster than wages.
Next question. In our inflation trivia with Victor Medina, 1974 President Ford declares inflation as public enemy number one. True or false?
Victor: I’m going to go with true.
Mark: Now, here’s the funny part of this, Victor. President Ford urged the public to wear W‑I‑N pins, WIN. It stood for Whip Inflation Now. People, of course, even back then had a sense of humor. They turned the pins upside down. They read, N‑I‑M, meaning, Need Immediate Money.
Victor: That’s pretty good.
Mark: I like that. I like that. Now, they didn’t win the game, because inflation only continued to increase during the ’70s. That’s interesting.
Next one, at an average rate of inflation, which we’ve talked about, history recall a hundred‑year average is about three percent. At an average rate of inflation around three percent, how often will prices double?
Victor: I’ll give you this. I had to do this math to get the CFP, and my Series 65, the answer is every 20 years. I could do that right now. Go ahead, hit the bell.
Mark: Yeah, I didn’t have to go to the office.
Victor: No, I could do that.
Mark: Doesn’t it mean that basically, most retirees will see the price of everything double during the rest of their life?
Victor: That is extremely astute for you to say, and it’s exactly our point. Well done, Mark. You are representing the Social Security class, a commensurate with your age. Congratulations.
That’s exactly right. When we talked about inflation, I talked about people what their budget is and they say, “Well listen, I want to spend I don’t know, $5,500 a month or $8,000 a month.” Whatever that number is. What I will tell them is look 20 years from now, which is still within a reasonable retirement zone.
If you’re going to start, retiring at say 67, you’re going to be 87 at that point in time. I just want to be comfortable that the number that we have to generate there is twice that same number. It’s been basically, it’s going to end up being exactly the double of that because we do model our inflation at three percent, which is why I knew the answer to this question backwards.
Mark: It’s kind of crazy. From 1913 to 2020, the US has seen inflation of 2,555 percent. Makes sense though, what things would it cost in 1913 to today.
Final one. We’ve got two minutes left. This is the extra credit. You’ve done really well because some of the numbers were so close together. It was pretty difficult. You’ve done a very nice job, Victor. Congratulations.
Mark: I’m going to give you a little extra credit. After adjusting for inflation, what is the highest‑grossing movie of all time? “The Wizard of Oz,” “Titanic,” “Gone with the Wind,” or “Jaws”?
Victor: Adjusting for inflation, I was hoping you put “Avatar” on there because for some reason, that always is touted as being in there. I’m going to do with the other James Cameron movie. Let’s go with Titanic.
Mark: Titanic is a good guess, but what do you think…
Mark: I got to give you that. What do you think is the oldest of those? It would not be Titanic. It would not be Jaws. Be The Wizard of Oz or Gone with the Wind. It’d be Gone with the Wind, right?
Victor: Is that right? I thought Wizard of Oz in 1930s maybe.
Mark: I don’t know. They’re both old, but…
Mark: Here you go. Adjusted for inflation, and this is back in 2017. The top five highest‑grossing movies of all time are Gone with the Wind, $1.6 billion, “Star Wars,” $1.4 billion, “Sound of Music,” $1.13 billion, and then Charlton Heston, “The Ten Commandments,” $1 billion.
Victor: Wow. By the way, our crack team just looked this up. In fact, it was The Wizard of Oz that was released just a brief period of time before Gone with the Wind. They were both filmed in 1939. Wizard of Oz came out in August of ’39, and Gone with the Wind in January of 1940s, so just a few months apart.
Mark: I like that. All right. We’ve got about a minute left, 45 seconds. Why don’t you wrap this up today, and tell people how to get a hold of you? They got any questions, and you’re here to help.
Victor: Thank you. Listen, we’ve spent this time talking about why you might need help for retirement. If you’re in that position where you could stand to get a second opinion on what’s going on, or you just want to be able to sleep well at night knowing that you have your ducks in a row, then you’ve got everything in place to help make it last.
One of the first things that you can do is start a conversation with us. We invite you to do that so that you can get to the point in time where you are comfortable about your retirement. Easiest way to do that is to call us at 856‑506‑8300.
As Mark continually says on the show if you’re a long‑time listener, there’s going to be no cost to this. There’s going to be no pressure. There’s no obligation to move forward.
What we really care about is beginning the conversation with you so that we can get to a point in time where we can look at your income, investments, tax, and estate planning, and get you comfortable that you’re going to be able to make everything last in your retirement.
It might be that we do that in our conversation when we meet. It might be sometime later in the future.
Victor: The only way that you’ll know whether or not we will be the right planner for you is to take that first step. If you’ve been a good listener to us, I’d urge you to go ahead and pick up the phone 856‑506‑8300, and start that process.
Mark, let’s see if I can wrap up the other part of it. It has been a great show doing it with you today. Thank you so much for being my co‑host, and my partner in crime on this radio show.
Mark: I always enjoy it. Everybody, we hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend. Have a great week. Victor and I will be back next week with more retirement and financial chatter. Have a great week everyone.
Woman: Taxes are just a fact of life. You can’t avoid it even in retirement. What if I told you there are ways to minimize what you pay in taxes? Victor Medina and his team can help. To learn more, visit 920taxes.com to get your free copy of Victor Medina’s tax guide. 920taxes.com. That’s the numbers 9‑2‑0, taxes.com.
Mark: Palante Wealth Advisors are an independent financial services firm that utilizes a variety of investment and insurance products. Medina Law Group is an independent estate planning and elder law firm.
Investment advisory services offered through Palante Wealth Advisors, LLC in New Jersey and Pennsylvania registered investment advisor. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. Investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principle.
Any references to protection, safety or lifetime income generally refer to fixed insurance products, never securities, or investments. Insurance guarantees are backed by the financial strength and claims‑paying abilities of the issuing carrier.
This radio show is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be used as a sole basis for financial decisions nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular need of an individual situation.
Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth Advisors are not permitted to offer, and no statement made during the show shall constitute tax or legal advice.
Our firm is not affiliated with or endorsed by the US government, or any governmental agency. The information and opinions contained here and provided by third parties have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth Advisors.
Transcription by CastingWords