When to Claim SSA Benefits

When the economy takes a downward trend and the retirement you planned did not quite work out in the manner you thought, what can you do? Most of us look at this scenario as an opportunity to engage in the workforce. Much confusion exists about working while claiming your Social Security Benefits. 

“Can I work and receive my SSA benefits?” This is the typical question we receive when planning for retirement with our clients. I look the client straight in the eye and answer “depends”. Well, that wasn’t very helpful. However, the SSA regulations applied to this scenario are complex and may be confusing to many of us. To properly apply the rules, think in terms of life sections: 1) before reaching your full retirement age (FRA) as defined by law; 2) the year you reach FRA; and 3) the period after you reach FRA.

Let’s address the first section of life which is before you reach FRA. The earliest a person can receive SSA benefits, without being a survivor or disabled, is age 62. To determine your FRA, you must consider the year of your birth. For example, if you were born in the period of 1943-1954, your FRA is 66. The amount of SSA benefits you are entitled to at age 62 is reduced permanently to 75% of your projected full retirement benefits. For example, if you would have been entitled to $2,000 a month of SSA benefits at FRA, by claiming your benefits at age 62, your lifetime initial benefit will be reduced to $1,500 per month. The loss of $500 per month of lifetime benefits, depending upon your longevity, may become a significant amount. By working and delaying your claiming of benefits closer to your FRA, you will have opportunity to receive a larger percentage of your benefits. For example, if you claimed your benefits at age 64, you would be entitled to 86.7% of your full retirement benefit. The closer your age to your FRA, the greater percentage you may claim of your full retirement benefit.

The next section of life is the year of reaching your FRA. Let’s assume you were born July 1, 1955. Your FRA would be 66 years and 2 months. Therefore, you could work in your full-time position earning up to $50,520 in the period of January 1 to June 30, 2021. You would be allowed to claim your SSA benefits and receive the full retirement amount even though you worked more than that allowed for those beneficiaries who wish to retire before FRA. This is where the confusion lies. Think about the individual who decided to retire early at the age of 63. This person may earn only $18,960 in 2021 without impacting their SSA benefits. However, for every $2.00 earned over the $18,960 limit, their SSA benefit will be reduced by $1.00.

Lastly, let’s explore the impact on the SSA benefits and the amount of earnings an individual may earn initiating with the month after reaching FRA. A person who has delayed claiming SSA benefits until reaching FRA, may continue to work full-time and not subject their SSA benefits to any reduction. There are some tax implications that will be imposed on your SSA benefits when you file your individual income tax return but we will address this issue in a future column.

Thinking about the three phases of before, reaching and after retirement age will help you make a better decision on the timing of your SSA benefits. We typically perform an analysis that helps you understand the economics and the qualitative issues of claiming your benefits at the proper time. This complex set of laws can be difficult to grasp. Seek out a complimentary consultation to determine the date of claiming your SSA benefits and maximizing your retirement income. See you on the golf course!

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Predict Your Future By Creating It

Many of you will read the title of this article and wonder what it means. President Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” One of the roles I relish, when working with our clients, is the ability to help people reach their goals in life. Often clients will look at me during the planning process and possess only two items of information: 1) where she currently resides financially; and 2) where she wishes to be at retirement. The chasm between these two points of life may seem bottomless and unreachable. Before you shake your head that you agree with the previous statement, let me share a proven method of predicting your future.

First, you must clearly define your desires for your future. It is often said that “no archer can hit a target that doesn’t exist.” The process of future design begins with your imagination. Do you wish to relocate in retirement? Do you dream of a second career? What about your volunteerism you wish to enhance during retirement? Will you need specialty medical assistance and support in retirement? What type of home do you wish to reside in retirement? There are many considerations and you should list all of them that you wish. There are no wrong answers! 

A plain piece of paper and your favorite writing instrument will open your mind to the world you want to develop. Once the list is completed, for now, you should breathe a sigh of relief. You have now performed more planning for your future than most people. More time is spent by individuals planning their vacation than planning their future!

Second, you should evaluate your current financial statement. What have you saved for the future? Do you possess an emergency fund? One of the quantitative misunderstandings by most people is that your life in retirement will cost you less than your current lifestyle when working. This is not necessarily true. Think about it. Your medical costs may rise due to age or you may locate where you wish to spend most of your day in your hobby. These types of activities require funds and it is a fact that most retired individuals will continue to require 90% – 95% of their currently living expense in retirement.

When planning for our clients’ future, we assume the same lifestyle in retirement as experienced in their career. Why? It is better to assume more income is required and save more than enough for a lifetime than to be deficient. No one wants to simply exist in their retirement. Therefore, it is critical that a projection assuming taxes, cost of living increases, medical needs, housing costs, etc. be developed into your plan for the future. Success in retirement depends on the ability to weather any financial storm that may arise.

Lastly, you must bridge the chasm with an active savings plan that allows you to maximize growth for the future. Time is your friend when investing. Start early and be consistent in the savings process. If you are starting a little later than intended to save for retirement, there is hope for you. With a proper review of your current circumstances, you can make strategic changes in your savings plan that will give you the most probable opportunity for success. As retirement planning specialists, we have witnessed the fear people experience when the vision for the future is not clear. 

Seek out a complimentary consultation to see if you qualify for a “second opinion” of your plan for retirement. If you don’t have a plan, lets get one started. Live for today but plan for your future. Might as well, that’s where you will be spending your time in retirement. See you on the walking trail!

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The Millennial Perspective: Who To Trust?

Millennials have been through the ringer in their short time on this Earth. Many of these events have had big effects on the financial system and institutions in our country. There also happens to be an extremely large gap in financial literacy in U.S. schools. As a result, we find that a good portion of millennials lack trust in said system, institutions, and even the educated professionals working in them. So, what reasons do we have to distrust these professionals and is there any chance of gaining or regaining that trust?

Think about how you handle your finances. Do you take advice from family and friends, or do you use a service, such as wealth management? When it comes to managing finances, a lot of millennials will turn to their friends and family for advice. This could be for a number of reasons, the most common reason you may come across is the cost of using a professional service. I’ve already discussed in previous articles why millennials can’t afford many of the things older generations could at our age. We make less money and things cost significantly more. So, would this be considered an “essential” cost for our generation? Probably Not.

The way we see it is, we simply don’t have enough money to manage, so why would a large portion of us spend money to manage what’s not there to begin with? We likely know that it may be helpful to work out a personalized budget with someone who is certified to do so. Knowing this, why would millennials still stick to family and friend advice versus a professional? The stigma.

There is a stigma working against financial professionals and it’s been determined that they are all in it for the money. They’re just salesmen that are out to make a buck and who cares about your personal finances. This just simply is not true in many, if not most, cases. It’s also why financial literacy is so important. With proper education, trust in the professionals can be built from a young age. You can learn what to look for when searching for a certified professional to know you are getting help from someone trustworthy. A good place to start, is looking at credentials. Are they a “CERTIFIED FINANICAL PLANNERô”, someone certified to have knowledge to help navigate finances? Are they a “fiduciary”, someone legally obligated to do what is best for the client? If so, these professionals would be a good option to help you with your finances and get on the right path.

Another reason millennials may not trust the financial systems in our country has become particularly relevant this past week. You may have heard about the chaos ensuing on Wall Street with a social media platform called Reddit, various stocks, such as Game Stop, and a trading platform called Robinhood. From what I have seen personally, not many of my fellow millennials know a lot about how the stock markets work, but they all seem to agree that Wall Street gets richer while the poor get poorer. So, a crew of Reddit users wanted to fight back and raise the stock of some soon-to-be shorted companies. As a result, these stocks went up in record numbers. Game Stop rose almost 2,500%! In the midst of all of this, Robinhood shut down trading shares for these particular stocks on January 28, 2021. If you had already invested in them, you could no longer invest more and if you had not invested in them yet, you may have missed your chance. The whole point of the Robinhood app is to allow the “common man” to participate in the stock market freely. As you can imagine, this made a lot of people angry. They felt as though the app created to help them was now working for the other side. There is a lot more that goes into this whole story, but to sum it up, the action that Robinhood took to stop people from trading these stocks is a solid reason why millennials don’t trust the financial system in our country and feel like the system works against those who do not already have a large sum of wealth.

I’m not saying that millennials should change their view of the financial world completely, but it’s worth educating yourself on certain things so that you can have a better understanding of how it all works. We all have different financial journeys. What works for your family and friends may not work for you. Do not be afraid to ask for help to build a plan that is designed for and works for you. There are professionals out there that want to help you and it is absolutely worth setting up a consultation just to talk things through and find the right fit for you. 

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The Millennial Perspective: Ending New Year’s Resolutions for Good

“My New Year’s resolution is…” I cannot tell you how many times I have said that phrase and I do not think I have ever really fulfilled those resolutions. Goal setting is a fundamental part of life, but it can also be a source of great disappointment and anxiety due to the restrictions we often place on ourselves to achieve these goals. Because of this, myself and many others are switching things up this year. Sure, we all have baggage that we carry with us into the new year that we would like to resolve, but sometimes the way it is stated is not helpful or healthy. Rather than setting resolutions we are setting intentions.

Instead of saying, “I need tolose 20 pounds,” or, “I need to go to the gym every day,” try saying, “I will do my best to lose 20 pounds,” and, “I will do my best to go to the gym every day.” We are not robots. We cannot be perfect. Setting such grand expectations for ourselves can lead to undue stress and with everything else going on day-to-day, why should we cause stress for ourselves? Remember my article about stress last year? Worry about the things you have control over and do the best you can do when you can. Besides, stress can often disrupt our day-to-day actions and the make your goals even harder to achieve. I am not saying you should not set goals at all because you must have something to work towards. Goals are the end game, the bigger picture. Intentions are the day-to-day actions you take to work towards that goal, like mini goals.

I have found that writing my intentions down every day, or however often, helps to serve as a reminder. Again, you must keep in mind that nothing is perfect. Your day may not go exactly how you want, and those intentions might change as the day progresses, and that is okay. If I wake up and intend to take a walk outside, but the forecast suddenly changes, as it often does in Oklahoma, I am not going to beat myself up about it because I cannot control the weather. I will just scratch that off my list and do laps in my living room! Or I can take it as a sign that it just was not meant to happen today, and I will use that opportunity to do something else on my list instead.

It is okay to slip up sometimes. It is okay to skip a workout and eat the cookies at the work luncheon. You can do these things and still reach your goal. There is no need to beat ourselves up when we give into to a few temptations here and there or just simply have a dreadful day. Changing the way our minds think of the things we wish to achieve is huge. It can turn your whole attitude towards an action around. If I say I need to do something that makes it feel like it is a chore and a burden which, in turn, makes me not want to do that thing. When I recognize that I cannot be perfect and messing up from time to time is inevitable, then it feels more like motivation. I am more motivated to do the things I intend to do to achieve my goal when I take a positive and realistic approach. That is what setting intentions to achieve a goal is all about. So, give setting intentions a try this year. Change it up and see how it works for you. You might surprise yourself and be thankful you did it in the end.

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Last-Minute Strategies To Lower Your Taxes

It’s that time of year when the sand has almost passed to the bottom of the hourglass. Most individual taxpayers are calendar-year filers which means that many opportunities to reduce your 2020 income tax bill will lapse after midnight on December 31, 2020. To help you achieve your goal of paying the least amount of income tax as possible, you may want to consider some simple, yet effective strategies

Taxes for personal property and real estate may be deducted on your individual income tax return if you elect to itemize for 2020. If you own property, you will have received a notice of taxes due on the property from the previous assessment by the County Assessor’s Office. You may wish to pay the full amount of taxes every other year to “bunch” up the deduction allowing you to accumulate deductible expenses in excess of the standard deduction. 

Income taxes paid to state and local governments are included in your itemized deductions. If you are self-employed, or receive income from sources that do not withhold taxes for you, you may be required to remit income taxes on a quarterly voucher. Typically, your fourth and final state income payment for 2020 is due on January 15, 2021. However, you may elect to remit payments in December to the state and local governments and claim the expense in 2020. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 limited the amount of state and local income taxes for deduction to $10,000.

Charitable contributions to qualified charities will increase your itemized deductions for 2020. Consider those charities that you typically support and be generous this year. As long as the charity is a qualified exempt organization and you remit payment before December 31, you should be allowed to include the deduction on your return. Don’t forget that you should request a receipt to document your charitable intent and the receipt of the payment by the organization.

Have you thought about cleaning out your closet or gifting your old car to a worthwhile charity? Good news! You may qualify for an in-kind donation. Additional rules and requirements must be followed to document the deduction but you will have helped a great cause and your closet or garage may look better, too.

Another easy method of lowering your tax bill is to defer any income that is possible. If you are self-employed, you may delay your billing for services until January, 2021 and, thereby, deferring payment to be earned income until the next tax year.

Remember in 2020 that personal exemptions are no longer allowed. Instead, a much larger standard deduction is availed to individuals and married filing joint taxpayers of $12,400 and $24,800, respectively. If you are a single parent with a child in your household, you may qualify for a little larger standard deduction of $18,650.

The key to tax reduction is to be proactive. Don’t procrastinate on this important task. By spending a few minutes planning, you may significantly reduce your tax bill for 2020. One statement we share with our clients is that “you should always seek to pay the least amount of income tax you legally owe”. 

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Gifts, Charitable Donations and Taxes

It is the time of year that we think of others. By “others” I am referring to our favorite charities, loved ones and the IRS. Sounds interesting to place the IRS in the same sentence as charities and love ones, doesn’t it? I offer that this particular government agency should always be a part of any discussion for gifts and donations.

Many people confuse the requirements that qualify charitable donations for deductibility purposes. A particular section of the Internal Revenue Code specifies the types of recipients (donees) that qualify for charitable deduction. Typically, a contribution to your local church may qualify for a charitable deduction in the year it was given. This means that you can generally contribute to your church’s building fund or other designated use funds for your church and claim the contribution on your individual income tax return for the year. Substantiation should be received from the charitable organization, in written form, that discloses the date of receipt of the gift, the amount received as a gift (unless it is other than a check or cash which would require the donor to assign a reasonable fair market value), the name and address of the charitable organization and a statement as to no services or goods given to the donor for the donation.

Unique for most taxpayers, that do not itemize deductions on their individual returns, the tax law changes signed by President Trump in March, 2020, allows for a deduction of $300 of charitable deductions for cash contributions to qualified charities. This deduction is claimed “above the line” which will lower the adjusted gross income of the filer resulting in lowered taxes owed. Highly recommend everyone to take advantage of this opportunity to help qualified charities during this difficult pandemic.

You may not realize but your Christmas gifts to loved ones actually fall within the requirements for reporting purposes to the IRS. You guessed it – gift taxes may apply! Talk about Scrooge, right? Consequently, the IRS wishes to know of any transfers of property for less than full value to another party to determine the amount of gift given to the party. Good news is that the IRS doesn’t require that you report the clothing, toys or other gifts given to your children if the total given for the year is less than $15,000 per donee for 2020. 

If you add up all of your gifts to Cousin Eddie, a reference to one of my favorite Christmas movies, and the amount is greater than $15,000 for 2020, you will need to consult with your tax advisor as to the filing of a gift tax return by April 15, 2021. Although a gift tax return may need to be filed, you will, generally, not remit any tax due to a unified gift and estate tax exemption of $11,580,000 per person. So, be generous this year!

Individuals are typically calendar-year taxpayers. This means that you lose some opportunities to lower your 2020 income taxes after December 31, 2020. It is critical that you review your current tax deductions for 2020 and accumulate those needed receipts to provide your tax preparer. Be proactive this year and contact your tax preparer now to book your appointment for receiving tax preparation services.

Lastly, remember those that have suffered during the pandemic. Families in our community may have little to enjoy the basic living needs of life much less Christmas with their loved ones. Disregard the IRS for a moment and let’s focus on our community. Reach out to families that may need a hand up, not a hand out, this Christmas Season. Put some joy in your life by giving to those in need.

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Elections Have Consequences

No, I am not referring to the presidential election. I am concerned about your financial future! You have opportunities, during times of disruption in life, to make decisions that will forever impact your family’s security. I am referring to retirement plan, life insurance and Individual Retirement Account elections.

For example, many of our clients are participants in the Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System (OTRS). When counseling these outstanding educators and administrators about their future, we provide guidance on the appropriate decisions that must be addressed. One of those decisions is to receive a larger current monthly benefit payment or to consider your spouse’s needs should you predecease him or her. It is difficult to make decisions when all of the facts are not known. Our role is to model different scenarios that will help them consider the probabilities of certain acts occurring in the lives of the couple.

Once an election has been filed with the OTRS, you are barred from changing the election for spousal survivor benefits. What a tragedy if your family were subjected to a considerable decrease in financial security at a time when you need it most. This is an important decision that should not be made without consultation of an experienced retirement planning specialist.

Another election is the use of your lifetime assets for immediate cash flow needs. This year has been different for all of us. Congress and the president have given individuals, under the age of 59½, the option of taking funds from their IRA without incurring a premature distribution penalty of 10% of the amount received. Although this relief granted IRA owners is generous, your lifetime retirement assets should be the last resort for purposes of funding an immediate need. For example, you may incur federal and state income taxes on the distribution amount which may be taxed, at a minimum, for a total of 20%. There are many other options where interest rates are lower than this percentage.

One of the most damaging elections one can commit is failing to review beneficiary designations. Let me explain with a story. One of our clients had divorced his long-term spouse and remarried. When experiencing a life change such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child, change of a career, etc., it is important to be aware of the collateral impact of other factors in life. In this instance, our client was asked, on several occasions, to provide us copies of all of his beneficiary designations for his retirement plan, life insurance, bank accounts and other joint tenancy property so that we may confirm their current status.

Citing his understanding of estate law and, now much bravado over his finances, he failed to bring us the beneficiary statements for review. Unfortunately, he suffered a terminal heart attack after a year of marriage to his second wife. While administering his estate, his son, the successor trustee of the decedent’s trust, discovered a shocking document! His father had not changed the beneficiary designation on a substantial life insurance policy. The sadness and desperation in the voice of this man was evident. I recommended he consult with the trust’s attorney but informed him, under federal and Oklahoma law, the beneficiary designation will stand counter to any verbal wishes or intentions of his father.

There is a happy ending to the story. Well, happy for the decedent’s first wife. The assets he attempted to shield from her during the divorce awarded her upon his death. Our newest client was a lady that we had known for many years that just inherited $2,000,000 tax free! Just like a fable in a children’s novel, there are always happy endings. The question is, will you be the one that is happy? See a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional to help you create a happy ending to your future security story.

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The Importance of Year-End Tax Planning

This is an optimal time to review your potential income tax liability for 2020. Most individual filers under U.S. jurisdiction are calendar-year, cash-basis taxpayers. This means that many of the options to lower your tax liability for 2020 are eliminated simply by the passage of the year. Just like Cinderella in the historic Disney movie of the same name, your world immediately changes for tax filing purposes at the stroke of midnight on December 31 each year.

A few simple strategies you should consider before the end of the year are presented in this article. First, review your withholding on your year-to-date pay stub to determine if adequate amounts have been withheld. This is a simple fix if you need additional withholding before the end of the year. Provide your employer or Human Resource Department a new Form W-4 to reflect your additional or less withholdings. Also, consider that you may experience a refund for federal taxes and owe a balance for state taxes. To mitigate this issue, provide your employer with a Form W-4 specific to each tax agency. This would be accomplished by conspicuously marking one of the Forms W-4 with “Oklahoma Only” or the name of your appropriate state at the bottom of the form below your signature. 

Another area of planning that is simple, yet considerably effective, is your deferral to your retirement plan, Health Savings Account or IRC Section 125 “Cafeteria Plan” to lower your current federal and Oklahoma taxable incomes for withholding purposes. Remember, most plans provide a matching component for your employer-retirement account that aids in the growth of your retirement assets without consideration of market activity. 

If you are utilizing a cafeteria plan for pre-tax qualified medical expenses, consider making an appointment with your medical providers to determine if you could schedule any procedures before the end of the year to mitigate the need for paying more deductible after the start of a new year. Many families have met, or are close to meeting, their insurance deductible by this time of year. Don’t allow this opportunity to pass if you are needing a medical procedure. Be proactive and seek out your medical providers’ attention to complete the procedure prior to December 31. The keys to success is to complete the procedure and the billing date of the procedure is properly noted in 2020.

Personal strategies such as increasing your tax deductible charitable donations may help you reduce your current year tax liabilities. Review your current level of itemized deductions and see if you can “bunch” your deductions every other year to allow you to itemize when you can exceed the standard deduction. By itemizing your deductions you may save additional state income taxes, depending upon your particular state’s law.

If you are wishing to reduce your estate by making inter vivos gifts to heirs, consider completing the gifts prior to yearend. You can gift each heir or donee $15,000 without the requirement of filing an annual gift tax return (Form 709). This is good news for both the donor and the donee. The donor will reduce their gross estate by the amount of the gift, provided the person lives for three years beyond the date of the gift, and the recipient owes no tax on the receipt of the gift. This is a win/win!

What happens if someone gifts you $1,000,000? Do you owe taxes on the gift? No! Isn’t the U.S. Tax Code a beautiful thing? As a recipient of a gift, of any size, where the intent of the donor was to transfer property or cash to you, without the requirement for reciprocal value or services, you will not owe income tax on the gift. I know what you’re thinking. You may have found a reason to eat Thanksgiving Dinner with your estranged, but rich, Uncle Charlie to discuss this important strategy for lowering his estate. Enjoy the giblet gravy!

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Why Did I Do That?

Humans are a curious bunch, aren’t we? Our brains work in one mode – survival. The programming of our brain is based on the strategies of fight, flight or freeze. Perhaps you have noticed these strategies at work when you find yourself in a dark alley, alone and facing a group of suspicious characters. Or, more often than not, you find yourself facing these strategies when investing your hard-earned money for the future.

Let’s examine one scenario that I have witnessed far too often when people are planning for their future. Having no particular knowledge of markets, money supply, economics or fiscal policy, and armed with only a social media account full of other lemmings (pardon the characterization) that are in the same situation as you, jumping out of the markets because of a perceived correction coming. Misery truly loves company! 

The better approach would be to apply a method of managing your assets in a proven strategy that considers risk and the role it plays in our overall economy. Rebalancing your account to manage the level of risk to that you are glad to accept knowing that return on investment can only occur when risk is accepted. For example, you may have heard we are holding a presidential election in the United States in a few weeks. Many people are hypothesizing the end of the economy due to this quadrennial event. What if you approached this event with a calm mind and an eye for a long-term approach to your investments? Great! You would be one of those investors who believe a short-term market decline does not derail decades of savings.

What I am referring to in the above scenarios is called behavioral finance or, in laymen’s terms, why smart people make dumb investment decisions. I am not calling you names again but wanted to be very honest in how this has been applied by individuals who ultimately regret their short-term poor judgment. One of my favorite quotes describing the secret behind the success of the famed investor, Warren Buffett, “We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful.” Many investors are much smarter in their approach to lifetime income and savings by understanding the function of the markets in our country. If others are fearful and selling their investments, the wise investor may wish to buy during the downturn of the economy knowing that the prices will possibly be lower due to the oversupply of sellers.

If you are not retiring within a few months of the election, or even if you are, think about rebalancing your portfolio to an acceptable level of risk. Understanding that bond markets function inversely to equity markets, the strategically allocated portfolio will possibly suffer less volatility than a portfolio consisting of positions to chase returns. The person who utilizes a long-term approach to investing for her future with a sound strategy of diversified investments will be served better than those attempting to time markets and reap larger returns than that provided by the efficient movement of the economy.

Don’t make mistakes using short-term thinking when dealing with your lifetime income assets. Consider a consultation with a Certified Financial Planner professional to obtain a second opinion of the risk and strategic allocation of your assets. You may live with a little less stress about your future. Be confident. Be opportunistic when others are fearful. Look to the future. Live your life by your own design not the same mindset as the lemmings running for the cliff. See you on the golf course!

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The Millennial Perspective: A Family to Call Their Own

Many millennials, wrongly. get a bad reputation for “ruining” everything. One of the acts we have been blamed for is ruining the traditions and norms for starting a family. However, there are many reasons why millennials are starting families later in life than previous generations. In a previous article, I wrote about the cost of higher education and how it compares to wages in the United States. In that article I discussed how tuition and the cost of goods rise nearly every year, but average wages stay the same and, in most cases, don’t keep up with inflation. One factor that weighs mightily, as one of the primary reasons my generation delays starting a family until later in their twenties, or even their thirties, is money. 

Starting a family can be difficult from the start. In this age where everything is digital, dating can be difficult for some. It seems to become more difficult to meet people unless you are matching on a dating app, but dating apps aren’t ideal for everyone. This is one reason that millennials are finding significant others and starting from point A later in life than previous generations. Weddings can be really cheap, but they can also be really expensive and for those that wish to have a big wedding, the money can be a set back and delay the process. This can delay everything that follows, including having children. Children are also very expensive and many millennials will opt to find the perfect time, though everyone will tell you the timing is never perfect, when they have a stable cash flow which can come later in life because of low wages in starting jobs with or without a college degree

Another reason that millennials may wait to start a family is school. Juggling a child and attending college can be difficult for many people, but the money factor also ties back into this equation. Oftentimes you will note that millennials will wait until they have finished school to even consider having a child and starting a family. You may also find that millennials may not hold a desire to have children. This can also be for many reasons which are personal to those individuals, but in passing, I have met couples that wish to travel more in life which could be difficult with children. Some have concerns about the state of the world and do not wish to bring a child into it. 

On top of everything, we are now dealing with COVID-19. Pregnant women are on the high-risk list and have been from the start because scientists and doctors are not sure what the long-term effects could be on an expectant mother and the child. This can be scary when starting a family or even adding to one, so out of an abundance of caution for their future many people are opting to hold off on having children at this time. 

At the end of the day, it is important to remember that everyone, no matter their generation, has their own reasons for why they do the things they do or don’t do. Times change as do ethics and even if something isn’t done exactly the way it used to be that doesn’t mean that the younger generations are ruining anything. Regardless of the reason they have, that choice is their own and there is nothing wrong with that. The liberties exhibited by millennials are those they learned from their ancestors – you. I would say, with great modesty, the millennial generation will build the future of this country and make their lineage proud.

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