Most Americans are getting a failing grade in financial literacy, especially revolving around retirement. Victor and Mark share the top topics people are struggling with so you can understand!
They’ll also discuss all of the tools you need that will get you through retirement. These tools will help you live the retirement of your dreams!
How do we know what we should be doing in the investment world? Taxes are going back up in 2025 if the Biden Administration doesn’t do anything about it, so what does that mean for your retirement savings? How about estate planning? Do you have all your documents in place? Do you know how you want things to be done? Listen to get answers to these questions and more!
Are You Paying Too Much In Taxes In Retirement? Click here to find out.
We help you take control of your financial future, visit www.palantewealth.com to learn more!
Also available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, & Google Podcasts
Make It Last is hosted by Victor J. Medina, a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA®) and a Certified Financial Planner (CFP™). Founder of Medina Law Group & Palante Wealth Advisors, Victor and his companies are dedicated to empowering people through education about estate planning and their finances.
Full Transcription Below
Mark Elliot: Welcome to “Make It Last” with Victor Medina. I’m Mark Elliot. Victor, of course, has two companies ‑‑ Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. Victor focuses on traditional estate planning, asset protection, retirement distribution, proactive income tax planning.
Here’s the deal. It’s about the Make It Last plan. You need an income plan, your paychecks are going to stop when you get into retirement, where’s your income coming from? Your investment strategies, super important as well.
We know taxes are getting ready to change, at least by 2026 if the Biden administration does nothing. Tax‑efficient strategy is super important. Then the estate planning. All of that is a part of the Make It Last plan. Again, if you want to talk with Victor and the teams, they’re here to help. 856‑506‑8300. There’s no cost, there’s no obligation. 856‑506‑8300.
Victor, we’re going to talk financial literacy. Now I am 62, which means I should be financially literate.
Mark: The problem is, I am not. I think a lot of it is that in high school it was maybe a general business class. The algebras and calculus and all that stuff, geometry, I wasn’t into that. I was a sports guy, loved to play sports.
Didn’t really see the point of these two letters equal this letter. I didn’t see the point in that, but the actual stocks and bonds and mutual funds and the insurance world and all those things.
I never really was taught that and my dad was a longtime coach, so I didn’t really get that information. I guess I’m behind the eight ball. The numbers are out from the American College of Financial Services. 89 percent of female participants flunked a 38‑question quiz. 72 percent of men failed the quiz. I have no doubt, I would fail the quiz. [laughs] I have no doubt you would pass the quiz.
What’s your thoughts on this?
Victor Medina: I think I would have failed the quiz before I was a financial advisor as well. It should be mandatory in the classrooms that we should have some form of education requirements, that you have some basic level of financial literacy. The school of my oldest and my middle go to, but my oldest is a senior now this year. He has a Horizons project.
It’s interesting because at the end of the year, what they try to do is give them some life skills along the way. Say, this is how you’re going to cook an egg, how you do laundry. They have a component of that is about financial literacy. I volunteer to come teach some aspects of it.
Even in the world of financial literacy, there is what I would consider to be good thoughts and good ideas and ones that are popular but may not help as part of your overall planning and what people should be doing. We have these more advanced strategies that we work with people in retirement about embracing where taxes are is that we pay the lowest amount off of it.
Not following the conventional wisdom to delay it as long as possible. There’s a lot of things that go wrapped into that. The basic financial literacy does become a function of what your life status is and what you’re exposed to. You talk a little bit about your dad. What is it he did?
I got to be honest, my parents did well. They weren’t people that spoke to me about financial literacy. I absorbed it watching them. They would never sit down and have those conversations. I suppose there’s an occupational hazard for what I do because my boys do get them. I took a road trip recently with the older two. We actually spent some of the dinners and the drives in between the cities.
We did a tour of Texas. It was about three hours between the cities that we went to Houston, Austin, and the Dallas. We took some of that time to be talking about some of these concepts because I find it’s important. It’s important to share that information with them.
I’d love to give them this test, by the way, to see how far along the path they are, how good of a teacher I am, let’s say. How much I have left to go? I would love for them to see how they are on that because it doesn’t surprise me that the majority of people don’t pass it because this is not something that we stress as an education point in our community.
Mark: Are there any topics, maybe, or areas of the financial world that you find most people struggle with when you’re helping them come up with that Make It Last plan for their retirement?
Victor: I would split this up into two different answers, Mark. The first answer that I would have is that as we create a Make It Last plan, there are concepts about advanced tax planning and embracing.
Let’s say conversions out of an IRA that run counter to the conventional wisdom because they’ve delayed this. They deferred it. They hate taxes. They don’t want to pay any portion of it. Then we can illustrate for them why they might want to pay some today because they’re at lower rates. That’s something that we have to educate people on that are already financially literate.
They know how to save. They know compounding. They understand diversification. They get all of those concepts, but when I start to introduce things like proactive income tax planning where we are going to proactively move money out of the IRA before you’re required to do so, and why that’s beneficial.
When I talk about tax allocation strategies where we take assets, and we locate them in the right account so that they’re being taxed the right way. That’s an advanced topic that I got to spend some time on. I find that that’s pretty consistent because we do things at a high level.
I think that if we were going to back up to that, and we were thinking about concepts ‑‑ like if I’m talking to my kids or I’m talking to other people, I had a nice enough friend of my oldest give me a call because she was concerned about financial literacy. This is a great example of it. She was raised in a community that was not stressed.
She came from a lower socioeconomic status, and so she had been the first person to go to college. Plus, her heart, because she was wanting to learn. She knew this was what I did, so she asked Aidan, “Hey, can I talk to your dad?” She wanted to have the right ideas in place.
I think that in today’s world some of the things that get overlooked is living below your means, and well below your means so that you have excess in your cash flow. We’ve got income, we’ve got expenses, we want the excess there. Then, how we save and invest that so that it grows to something in the future.
There’s a book called “The Psychology of Money” by Morgan Housel, and one of the lessons in there is how the rewards that come from really great discipline around finances are things that are seen as a function of time, done in the future. Staying with that for a long period of time is going to be very difficult for people that are making these short‑term sacrifices for a long‑term benefit.
To answer your questions, those are the two things that I would see as being relatively consistent is that people pre‑retirement need some of this basic level of their understanding, and people post‑retirement and the plans we create are learning about these advanced topics along the way.
By the way, if this is you if you’re listening now and you’re like, “Well, what advanced topics is he talking about? Is there anything that I’m missing? Will I have an opportunity to learn more about that?” We can help you create a plan and see if there’s anything we can introduce as part of your planning that can help you with your retirement, that can enhance your picture.
We just need you to reach out to do that. Give us a call at 856‑506‑8300. That’s 856‑506‑8300. Just reach out to us and say, “I’d like to learn more about these advanced planning strategies.” We can make an introduction and see if we can’t help and see what your plan is for you like what we can fix and how we can help you.
Mark: Absolutely. I like that idea to maybe help us make better decisions. We can’t do anything about what we’ve done already, but we certainly can make some adjustments to maybe put us in a better position going forward.
Victor, when you were growing up, did your mom and dad drive you on vacations? No, you said she was a single mom.
Victor: She did get remarried when I was five. I was with an intact family with my stepdad. We did do a few road trips. There was a period of time when we were out camping, and we made that a regular thing to do. We weren’t big flying family except when we went to Puerto Rico to visit family there. We did some driving. We did some driving, yeah.
Mark: That’s perfect then. I remember my mom getting mad at my dad, because he would not stop and ask for directions. “I know where I’m going. We’re going to get there.” That’s how men are. We’re going to get there. That was before, obviously, we could put our maps on our phone. We had an actual map. Men and women think differently. There’s no question.
Researchers in this study from the American College of Financial Services said men often claim to have higher levels of knowledge and then test poorly. Women self‑reported knowledge is more aligned to their actual literacy scores. Women are being more honest about what they don’t know when it comes to finance.
What’s your take on that?
Victor: Yeah, pretty consistent with my experience. [laughs] They’re not always the ones that become our clients. I will find every once in a while that I have particularly boastful husband that comes and absolutely knows everything.
I have to be quite delicate about the way I reintroduce him to facts as opposed to what his opinions are. This overvaluing, this bravado that comes in, I think my wife would be the first person to tell you that I probably exhibit some of that in the home repair area. I really know my stuff around replacing outlets or something along those lines.
I’m probably as guilty as anyone else. I really do appreciate the folks that are honest about what they don’t know because it does give us the opportunity to focus on those areas. We are a big believer both in the legal and financial world of our planning for people of investing in education so they can get empowered to take action.
It’s strange. If we’re talking about legal documents, they’re not lawyers, they don’t write them. If we’re talking about retirement planning, they’ve haven’t gone through retirement before, so they don’t know those strategies at all.
If we can get some heads up about what they know already or where they feel ‑‑ real honest assessment, Mark, of where they are ‑‑ then we can focus on those areas that we can build up in their knowledge base.
That as we start to move forward with this plan, that they understand what’s going on, and they can grab hold with it and say, “Yes, this is the direction that I want to go.” That’s the big part about what we do with our planning, is we really focus on those areas that they need.
It’s always customized to them, and spending that time educating people so they understand why we’re making the recommendations or what they need to be doing. If they’re in charge, we’re just helping them. It’s their retirement. They’re are the conductors, and we’re there helping them play that music.
The more that we can do that, the better of the clients tend to be. I really do enjoy that candid transparency and honesty when it comes to that.
Mark: I would think that when your team sit down with a couple, for example, or you sit down with an individual, may be single, widowed, widower, divorced because you deal with couples, and you deal with individuals as well.
Again, it’s 856‑506‑8300. I would imagine there’s a different planning process when you’re dealing with a couple compared to an individual.
Victor: There are two things that factor into that. The first is the real practical nuts and bolts, meat and potatoes, things that we need to deal with because they file taxes differently. When it comes to long‑term care planning, it’s less likely that they’re going to have a caregiver and their spouse available, and so we have to think about things very differently.
I think that there’s also the softer side of what it is that we do, and I think this is part of the reason why so many couples do enjoy working with us, is that we’re able to speak the language of the person that we’re across from. Sometimes that means that we’re focusing on some elements for one of the pair and then other elements for the other.
It’s not always breaking down around gender lines. I know that there’s a lot of comfort that our clients get if the person who’s been the financially savvy spouse comes in and does planning with us, because then they know that we’re going to be able to take care of the non‑financially savvy spouse as we go on. It’s the same thing on the legal planning.
They’re comforted by the idea that they’ve had this relationship with us and that they’re going to be OK. The most heartwarming of memories that I have on this is I had a relationship with a client and we were dealing with them.
There was a sudden death by the husband. He was a little bit some health issues when we met, but not anything that would have thought that we were going to have passed away early. We just put that plan in place, and maybe say about two years, and he unexpectedly dies.
When that happens, the wife picks up the phone and said, “One of the things that we always walked away from, when you spent the time in the meetings and you were explaining things, I said I understood and I was just happy to go forward. Every time I would ask my husband about it, he said, ‘Listen, no matter what happens, the first thing that you do is you call Victor. He’s going to be able to take care of you.'”
She said, “So, that’s what I’m doing.” [laughs] I got the phone call before some of the members of the family, to be quite honest with you. That, for me, is always a cherished memory because it meant that, in their mind, the man of that family, I was an essential part of their peace, to their ability to survive going forward.
It’s an honored position that I’m in. It’s an obligation that we treat with reverence because of the way that we’re factoring in.
With the idea of how you talk to different people and different married couples, I will tell you that being able to navigate discussions with husbands and wives differently and making sure that they both feel validated and what they have to share and that their goals are equally heard and attended to as part of the planning is definitely a difference in the way that we deal with them.
Something that we absolutely make sure that we get done because both people do need to be heard in that process and a plan needs to be created for both of them.
Mark: That’s fantastic when you have clients that believe that you’re there to help them because that’s what you are. You created Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth to help people. To come up with that plan so they would have a little more confidence and clarity moving forward.
You can’t guarantee that we’re all going to live to 100 with perfect health and to just go to sleep one night and pass away. Everybody’s situation is unique to them. The idea is you need the Make It Last plan. It’s about income, investments, taxes, estate planning. It’s all so important. Quit putting it off.
We don’t know what tomorrow brings. Call the teams, they’re here to help. There’s no cost for this. It’s 856‑506‑80300. 856‑506‑8300. Why would you not take advantage of this?
It’s maybe an hour of your time or a 15‑minute phone call to see if you should go forward, 856‑506‑8300. We’re just getting started today with Make It Last with Victor Medina. Medina Law Group of Palante Wealth, a lot to get to. Stay with us. We’re back right after this.
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 just by going to medinalawgroup.com, M‑E‑D‑I‑N‑A, medinalawgroup.com, Palante Wealth as PA‑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 is 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 and was 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 really think that informing the public is one of the most important activities we do, because at the end of the day, while 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 that people can listen to it, and spreading the information. I really want everybody to have the opportunity to take advantage of the best advice that I had know whether it’s available.
I’m trying to share it as widely as I can.
Mark: When you know better, you should be able to do better. Until you know better, maybe it’s a little bit difficult to make decisions. A lot of different ways, Victor and the team are here to help you. If you have questions, it’s 856‑506‑8300.
Victor, would your wife Jennifer, who is a school psychologist, if I said, “Jennifer, is Victor a handyman? Does he do all the little odds and end 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 really nervous about messing that up. I know water can create a lot of damage, and by the way, some of that other stuff that needs to flow can create damage, so I stay away from plumbing, but 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 really important to have the right tools in your retirement toolkit.
Now, Victor, we could certainly go to Google and just 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 just 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. Make sense. Those can be very confusing decisions to make, and also has the basics about retirement savings plan.
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: I don’t know. Could you walk around and fix your entire house with just a hammer, a screwdriver, and a measuring tape? Probably not. You probably need a few more tools to make that be successful.
In the retirement planning world, it really 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 as much as you would have in a completely full toolbox where you’re talking about different kinds of hammers, never mind 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. 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 elderly attorney with all of our clients’ plans.
When we design those that one of the legal planning elements of retirement is very important when we think about making sure you’ve got good based 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, and that’s going to impact your nest egg.
Having good legal documents is a financial problem or financial problem that you’re solving, something you’re doing now. 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 cost 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 tool kit 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 there, 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, let’s say, pension income, the catastrophic loss is immense on that. 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 that control for that risk.
The insurance products also does a really good job on getting guarantees that aren’t available by general marketplace, like Wall Street Investments. Sometimes, we use insurance products as part of a strategy to get a manufacturer paycheck and retirement.
When you look at all of this stuff together, you’re blending, it’s 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 basically saying, “Here are the basics on this plan. Here’s the basics on Social Security, which 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, have them a 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 that’s working the way that we wanted to.
When we had the big hiccup because of the pandemic and all the accounts had this big backslide because the markets corrected, none of my clients called me, because 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. 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. Yeah. Especially because in retirement, the IRS is your biggest partner. They’re business partner of yours. They get to say how much of your winnings they’re taking. You can’t control what they’re going to change along the way.
I remember 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. 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 a retirement planning.
We’re looking at your income, your investments, your taxes, and your state 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. 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: I tell you this, Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth are here to help you have a better idea where you can 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 kinds of things. All these different tools. Do you ever ask somebody, “Hey, you’ve got this tool in your toolbox? What’s it for?” Because that would stump me.
Victor: I do.
Mark: [laughs] I think, to me.
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 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, kind of made sense at the time. I liked the salesperson.”
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 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. 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. 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. Then I came in and I had this small investment account from a rollover IRA from a job that I had 30 years ago. Oh, and then I bought these CDs because they were giving me a free toaster.”
It goes beyond that. You 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. You get to retirement, how’s 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 considerations, as we put them together, now you feel confident walking through [inaudible 25:53] . It’s not a junk drawer. It’s this 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 in 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. 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. It’s one of the more unique challenges that you have at Palante Wealth, putting these retirement plans together. 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 and ever tells me, “I can afford to lose it all.” I do know that people have different risk tolerances. For them, based on what other guarantees they have coming in income pensions.
My dad, my parents, they’re both retired school teachers, 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 I want one over the other.
I would 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.
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.
It’s not as simple as 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 25‑ to 30‑year retirement ‑‑ now we get a little more granular with the recommendations. For example, we can say, “It would really make sense if you had X percentage that’s allocated for our seven‑year‑plus strategy.”
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 into each one of those buckets, but I would allocate them across time horizons and not necessarily made either/or decision. You would 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. 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, you 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.
Mark: When you are packing up your retirement toolkit, one thing you want to believe behind is your feelings towards 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: Glad you’re with us today for Make It Last with Victor Medina of Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. I’m Mark Elliot. Here’s the 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 it?
That’s a big question. It starts with retirement is income. How much do you need month after month to maintain your lifestyle? Investments, where do you go onto that? You have the Wall Street world of investments. You have the insurance world. A little safer, but you still get growth there.
The investment world is where our 401(k)s and IRAs are. How do we know what we should be doing and tweaking, and 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. In 2026, we revert back to 2017 if the Biden administration does nothing.
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 rough 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.
We’re talking about the retirement toolkit. 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 is a little bit different too 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 on what we assume. Can that be a dangerous line of thinking?
Victor: It absolutely can be a dangerous line of thinking. Before I got into 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 want to give me any interest,” if you’re coming into it 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. They taught you about that in some fashion. Maybe it was on TV. Maybe it was in a book that you read. 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. I am essentially able to choose from anything that’s out there as long as it works for my client.
Having that perspective allows me to look at everything. Sure, we want to be examining it to make sure that it works, but I can be open to any solution as long as it works for the client.
What will happen from time to time is you come in with a statement that’s saying…I’ve done this for a client that came in. They came in with a portfolio. They were about half a million dollars or so in terms of where their net assets were, and they needed a retirement plan. In there, there were products. There were some variable annuities in there.
There were some investment accounts. There were some fixed annuities. In my conclusion for her situation is, “One of the things that you currently own, you should keep. These two other things, we should change. Here is the reason why.”
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. There’s no one in 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 an open mind from the recommendations that are coming, you might have a better retirement.
You might think about somebody who is close‑minded, who is just bullheaded about what they are 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 the door on something that might really help them just because they’re so strong‑willed about not accepting a recommendation. We work on a lot in my firm. What 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 reasons why we’ve got videos that are available on YouTube, it’s part of the reasons why we do a radio show. Is what we have discovered, is that the more 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 probably be appropriate for them in their portfolio.
We might have people who 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 pull the trigger.
We talk about it all. Educate people on it completely. That before you move forward with anything before you accept any recommendations in there, you’ve asked all 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 get one of the best results we could.
Mark: In the investment world, Victor and the team operates under the Fiduciary Standard. You probably heard the term before, but it’s really an important term. Maybe 20, 25 percent of advisors around the country operate under the Fiduciary Standard, which means that Victor is morally, legally, and ethically obligated to do what is in the client’s best interest.
There’s a group that keeps an eye on him to make sure that is how we operate, which he does, obviously, but that’s really important, the Fiduciary Standard. Again, the Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth served the Pennington and Greater Mercer County areas as well as Bucks County. There are clients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
They’re here to help you with any retirement questions you may have ‑‑ estate planning, taxes, investment, income, where is it coming from? How do I do it? 856‑506‑8300 is the number. Again, this could be a 15‑minute phone call, and you might say, “Yeah, I don’t think you’re the right team for us.” Victor will say, “OK. Well, good luck. Here’s what I think. Maybe, here’s some option for you.”
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, I think it’s a great time to call the team and find out about your situation. 856‑506‑8300.
Glad you are with us today for Make It Last with Victor Medina of the Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth, I’m Mark Elliot. We’re talking about 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, or that stock may be the greatest? My granddad gave it to me. 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. That’s part of the last memory of that. The other way that I’ve 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. They don’t want to upset anything that the husband had done with the planning. This is the way he had it set up. We have to 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, five percent of what is in your total nest egg in order for you to keep that particular holding. 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 with 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 said, “Listen, we’re in a boat. 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. I’m not staying in the boat with you because we’re not going to make it to shore.”
We’re OK with that at certain levels. When it comes to the actual strategy that we inherit…They don’t want to move from the strategy because it had helped them be successful in the past. I 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. 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 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.
We gave them the same education because a lot of people are already inclined to the education we’re given. They understand the purpose for the plan that we’re putting in place. They’re starting agreeing with it, but they’re hesitant because it’s changing what it was that was in place before.
I’ll say to them, “Well, look, you know, if it comes down to it, if this person was still here, you think that they would probably agree with you? Like they would feel the way that you do, that these ideas make sense?” The answer is usually yes.
I say, “Well, OK. 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. I have the same care. Our 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 gets to that point in time, quite candidly, Mark, and some people don’t. Sometimes they’ll come back later, but 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 agreed to.
That emotional thing always overrides the rational thought, until we get to the irrational thought, more importantly, 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 into 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 a 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 because we know that your emotional attachment to what we’re proposing, and the fact that you believe that you’ll be better for it is just 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. You think about it, we’re talking about the retirement toolkit today on the program, and you think about all the things you have, whether it’s IRAs, 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 just being…There’s nothing wrong with insurance agents or stockbrokers. They all have their purpose, but retirement planning is a different deal because now we’re trying to make sure that everything lasts for the next 20, 30 years. Make sure that we don’t run out of money before we run out of life.
How are we 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 if you don’t have somebody to be a teammate, a coach to help guide you along the way. Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth and Victor Medina are here to help you.
856‑506‑8300 is the number. Again, there’s no cost, there’s no obligation, there’s no pressure. There’s no judgment. We’ve all made mistakes. 856‑506‑8300 again is the number. I don’t know why you wouldn’t pick up the phone because there’s no cost. Let’s find out more about where you are. Victor and the team are here ready to help. 856‑506‑8300.
We’re back with our final segment right after this. This is Make It Last with Victor Medina of Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth.
Mark: Welcome back to Make It Last with Victor Medina of Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. I’m Mark Elliott.
Our final segment we’re going to do something we’ve done before on this program. It’s a fun segment. Victor and the team, they have seminars, they have people that come in. They have clients, obviously. People always come in with questions or concerns.
We have a mailbag section that comes from people coming into the office or people emailing, or asking, or calling and having questions, or people that attend the seminars, have questions. We steal them, and then we use them on the radio show. It’s fun. That’s really what you get all the time, Victor.
People come in because they have questions or concerns. I think you would agree with that, right?
Mark: That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to answer some mailbag questions here in our final segment of Make It Last with Victor Medina. All right. You ready to go, Victor? The first question comes from Richard in Hopewell.
Richard says this, “Victor, I’m just burnt out at work. I hadn’t planned to retire early. I guess you saw that a lot last year, but I’m seriously considering it now. How can I figure out what my timeline for retirement should be?”
Victor: This is a very common question that comes up in seminars, like ones we’ve been conducting. What will happen is that people just want the answers to questions, especially from a specialist, like what we do for retirement planning, that will take into consideration everything we know and be able to answer the question, “Can I retire? What will it look like?”
Maybe they’re asking the question, “Will I be OK?” One of the things that people can do if you’re in Richard’s situation to figure out what your timeline for retirement can be is to combine a couple of different things and then ultimately work with an advisor like us in creating a plan so that you know that you can be OK when you go and do it.
One of the first things you got to do is figure out what your expenses are going to look like in retirement and then start to match them against your income sources.
You’re going to have two different kinds for income sources. You’re going to have stuff that’s guaranteed, that’s going to come in the form of Social Security or, if you’re lucky enough, for a pension. Then you’re going to have to fill the rest of that from where your investments are.
Now, here’s where people get a little bit lost because they’re traditionally looking at withdrawal rates from an investment account that is still subject to all kinds of market volatility.
Sometimes it gives them the wrong number for how much they’re going to be able to withdraw and whether or not they’re going to be OK. That’s where retirement specialist comes in, because the tools that are in our tool belt are a little bit different.
We can start to look at things that might be able to fill that bucket on a guaranteed basis for life, which is usually an insurance product that has certain disclaimers and disclosures around that, claims paying ability being something that is essentially on the financial strength of that company.
The point is this, that we can go into and find products that will help you get to that period of time. Now, if you’re able to jumble those numbers together, look at your budget, look at the income sources, look at your longevity, and figure out that you’re going to be OK, that will tell you whether or not or when you will be able to retire with that timeline looks like.
If you’re not there right now, then there may be things that you need to do. Adjust what your expenses are going to be. Work a little bit longer. Save more or some combination of the two, maybe in some part‑time work when you get into retirement in a different field, just to add to some dollars coming in.
You combine those things together, and then you’ll start to get some answers for it. That’s where we’ll come in as retirement planning specialist for people, is to give you a plan on the income, the investments, the tax, and the estate planning.
Those four panels being the most important elements of a strong retirement, that will get you to the answers that says, “Yeah, you’re going to be OK, and you can go ahead and do it.”
Mark: Richard, if you’d like to find out more, because that’s a big question when you’re trying to figure out, “Hey, can I retire, and when can I do it?” 856‑506‑8300, again, is the number, 856‑506‑8300. There’s no charge for this. Come in. Talk to the team, and then you figure out where to go from there. 856‑506‑8300.
Next question comes from Sharon. Sharon is from Hamilton. Sharon says this, “Victor, my husband retired last year, and he seems really unhappy. He needs something to occupy his mind and keep him busy. I think he should get a part‑time job so he can stay busy. I’m not sure he likes that idea. Could there be anything wrong with that idea, Victor?” [laughs]
Victor: When my parents retired, Mark, my mom retired before my dad. The other way, excuse me. My dad retired before my mom. What had happened was she then ended up retiring because he was such a pain being at the home alone that they need to figure out what to do together.
I’m very sympathetic to the idea that this person, the husband in this situation, needs something occupied by and keep him busy. Is there anything wrong with the idea? Clearly, the very clear answer is no. What are we really talking about here? It’s a very frequent challenge, Mark, that people have.
As you’re facing a retirement, your whole identity has been wrapped up in your working life. I don’t want to say it’s 100 percent, but you were defined by the fact that you had to get up five days a week and go to a job, and you were really successful at that job. They kept getting you advanced along the way. You were recognized for all those things.
When you make the decision to retire, essentially, all that stuff is getting stripped away from you. One of the more important things that we can do for having people get successful in retirement, especially sticking with a plan that we have, is to go ahead and help them discover a purpose around what their retirement is going to be.
They need to find ways that they can contribute, have significance, do those things that are going to make them feel like the time that they are spending in retirement is valuable and not wasted.
A lot of that can be thinking about it ahead of time, doing some planning ahead of time, because you can imagine people have these romanticized notions of what will happen when they’re retired like, “Everything’s going to be great. I’ll not go to work any longer, and I’ll be the happiest, little chickadee going, walking around.”
When they go into that, because they have a plan on what they were going to do to fill the time, or reach significance, or give things back, or contribute in different ways, what happens is it doesn’t match their preconceived notions with their story in their head about what that was going to be. They end up feeling really unhappy about it because they’re unfulfilled.
Will part‑time work in this situation? Staying busy help potentially because it will at least get you busy off of it. Then what we have to plan for is what happens when that stops. If your physical infirmity causes you from not being able to have a part‑time job, you’re going to be back in that same position and potentially unhappy again.
We need to fill it with the other half of it. It’s like, how do you gain significance when it’s not tied up into your employment? That’s a really important element before you make a retirement decision because there are a lot of people, they just stopped going to work the next day. Then they look up, and they’re like, “Well, what do I do with myself now? This isn’t what I expected it to be.”
One of the things that we do, Mark, for our clients and to help them off of that is we host client events for them that will teach them about new things, keep their mind engaged. We’ll do things. For example, we’ll bring in a photographer that will help them with travel photography and get beyond the amateur level.
We’ll bring them through and do different kind of activities that they can get involved in and have somebody come in and keep educating them and do a broad‑based thing where it might be about wine or cheese, just ways of engaging their ideas, their mind so they feel like they’re getting something and being productive retirement, optimizing the time that they’ve got.
Mark: Sharon, if you’d like to reach out and ask more questions and see how this all works, 856‑506‑8300. Next question comes from Sarah. Sarah is from Doylestown.
She says this, “Victor, I’m 61, and I can start my Social Security next year, obviously, because I’ll be 62, but I’m not ready to quit working yet. The question I have is, should I go ahead and start taking Social Security so I can possibly get more money to save for my retirement?”
Victor: That’s a really good question. Good on you for thinking about ways of using a benefit like Social Security to help add to your retirement. I applaud that kind of thing. It’s very innovative. We have a couple of things though that are going to be issues for you if you select this kind of plan.
The first one is that if you start to claim Social Security benefits at your earliest age but before your full retirement age…It’s usually these days about four and a half or five years between those two periods of time, you just have to wait until about 67 until you get your full retirement age and you’re still working.
One of the things that you’re going to do is you’re going to have an offset on what the Social Security benefits are going to be. You’re actually not going to receive the full amount because they’re penalizing you for drawing from the federal government while you’re still working and still earning money.
They’re onto your cool idea. They’ve put some laws in place that will limit what that benefits going to be. I think that the real question for when to start Social Security as an early option versus waiting until a longer period of time often comes in with people with health considerations.
In this situation, there’s nothing in the question that suggests that she’s got some terminal condition, so she’s not going to live a longer period of time.
When we start to have people that have those situations you start to look at, and say, “Listen, even if it’s offset by the amount you’re working, maybe it’s worth drawing on your social security, because you may not live long enough to recoup the rest of it that’s out there.”
The other last element of it for this particular question and anyone else that’s in this situation of trying to figure whether or not you should claim social security early is, how does it fit with your overall plan?
I know it sound a little bit like a broken record when talking about coming back to the plan, but it’s so essential to understand how these pieces work together.
If we just look at this in a vacuum and grab social security because it’s extra money and I want to save it, without understanding what will happen, by locking in that benefit ‑‑ because that’s one of the things that you do by locking it early at 62 ‑‑ is that we lock in a lower benefit.
If we waited to 67, it would go up. If we waited from age 67 to age 70, would go up eight percent every year till we finally maxed out off of it. How are you going to make up the extra money that you need to live on if we’re locking at a lower number? That’s where we get into understanding how all of these pieces come together.
If you want more information on how to establish a good income plan, one has money that lasts as long as you do, you can visit a website we’ve created to download some free information. Promise we’re not going to hound you off of that, we’re just going to have to enter in your name and your email address.
We’ll send you this guide, but it’s called it’s @920 income, I‑N‑C‑O‑M‑E, 920income.com. That’s going to help you determine how you’re going to get money to last as long as you do and it’s central to this particular question of should you go ahead and elect Social Security early because it is part of looking at everything in totality to say, “Well, how are you going to get all of the income?”
Social Security at 62 is not going to be what you need to live off of when you stop saving it and stop working. That number is probably too low for you to live off of, how you’re going to get the rest of it. That’s really the question.
Mark: Yes, sure @920 income.com to get more information about all these moving parts when it comes to income planning and retirement. It is about income, really, when you try to figure out, “Hey, will my money last? Can I retire?” It’s really comes down, a lot of times, to an income question. 920income.com.
We’ve got about a minute and a half left. I’m going to give you one quick question. This comes from Charlie, Charlie out of Plainsboro. “We’ve had a family business for three generations, Victor, and one of my sons plans to keep it going. I’m planning to step back and let my son take over, and about 10 years, how can I figure out my exit strategy when it is my time to retire?”
Victor: With a minute and a half and just answer really quickly, it’s probably Plainsboro, is probably a farm out in that area, but I will tell you that one of the things that you have to consider because you said one of your sons is which is going to happen with the other two off of it or whatever the other two kids are because in order to keep things balanced, we’ve got a number of consideration.
They’re keeping everybody else held because we probably do want the son to take over and run with it. You probably don’t want to shortchange the other two kids that are otherwise entitled to your estate, that you probably want to give them something from there.
We also want to make sure that we’ve got a successful transition because there are going to be things that are related to how taxes are carried over the value of that business. If you gift it, it’s going to have a different consideration than if he buys into it.
All of these things are going to get jumbled together, probably need a little bit more sophisticated of a plan to structure the next 10 years to keep everybody happy as what you’re doing and to increase the chances that you don’t have to step back in. This is a successful transition when you want to walk away.
Mark: Charlie, we appreciate the question. We appreciate all the questions. If you have questions or concerns about where you are at your road to retirement, the teams at Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth are here to help you. They don’t know your situation yet. The first step is pick up the phone, give them a call. 856‑506‑8300, 856‑506‑8300.
It comes down to income a lot. You’ve got that white paper opportunity, the report on income, 920income.com. You can download that and they’ll send it right to you, 920income.com. Again, the number of those, 856‑506‑8300. Victor, enjoy the rest of the weekend. Have a great week. We’ll do it again next week.
Woman: Taxes are 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 principal. 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 needs 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 herein, 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.
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