Category Archives: Retirement Planning

Social Security Website and Recommended Review of Your Social Security Statement – Confirm those Credits

We wanted to give a shout out to the Social Security Website. Over the last few years we have continued to be impressed with their improvements.

Since we are here, it is a good time to remind everyone to go check your Social Security Records to make sure they have received proof of your income for the last few years. There is a 3 year window to get your credits added to your statement, otherwise they may be lost…

Social Security Web Page


Use this link to find out the maximum full retirement age benefit – $2788/Month

How about find how remarrying will affect your benefits? Here is the answer!

If I retire early, will my benefits be reduced ? Just need 40 Credits! Here is the link to the calculator page to get a more precise estimate.

All answers were found on the site above… Well done guys !

Have a Great “Social Security Handy Website” Day!

John A. Kvale CFA, CFP

Founder of J.K. Financial, Inc.
A Dallas Texas based fee only
Financial Planning Total Wealth
Management firm.

Q 1 2018 Newsletter Video Audio Podcast Review By John Kvale

Welcome to our Video and Audio Podcast Review of our Q 1 2018 Newsletter. For those on the road or just unable to grab the time to read, our podcast type review gives you the behind the scenes insight to our thoughts, observations and deep views of the entire Newsletter.

Click here for direct link to an electronic version (an early peek-good ole fashion paper versions are on their way to you shortly) and here for our Newsletter page

Let’s get going!


Q 1 2018 Newsletter


Medicare – IRMAA – Means testing

In this long overdue article we dig deep into the background of Medicare and the means testing of recent years. IRMAA, Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount – AKA higher premiums thresh holds are analyzed and presented for 2018.

In the best part of this article we discuss what to do in order to lower your higher means testing Medicare Premiums.

Have We Already Had a Bear Market?

A Bear Market is generally defined as a drop of 20% or greater. In late 2015 – 2016 almost every asset category except the most popular dropped by 20%. In this article we discuss why this may be good news for the future of the current market.

VIX – A Fear Gauge Goes to Sleep

VIX a volatility (fear measure) rises when fear is rampant and slowly drifts lower when fear is absent. Over the last 26 years the VIX index has closed below 10 a total of 9 times. In 2017 this fear index closed below this level 52 times. We warn not to take these placid seas for granted.

First Time Personal Reflections

In this off the cuff article, we give thanks for all the wonderful things we have, what good things have come during the year and a general Thanks To All of YOU our clients and friends.


Ready or not … 2018 here we come!

John A. Kvale CFA, CFP

Founder of J.K. Financial, Inc.
A Dallas Texas based fee only
Financial Planning Total Wealth
Management firm.

Top 10 Posts You May Have Missed in 2017

This is our 148th … all original, all in-house, post of the year … we will have one more on Friday!

With over 3200 different visitors, one of you MAY have missed something good.

Not to worry, we scrolled back through 2017 and are happy to announce the following … Drum Roll please …….

 “Top 10 Posts of 2017” by Popularity and Pertinence- Enjoy

Job Change and Retirement Checklist – January 2017^D930EF057D0BC16336F1561C33AD98DBA5725D9F6C77E7D905^pimgpsh_thumbnail_win_distr

In this post we discuss 10 important, handy and often forgotten items to grab at retirement or job change.

Will the European Union Survive – February 2017

Recounting thoughts from a few terrific speakers at a national convention in the late Winter, we posted their comments and our thoughts, only to be totally lit up from both positive, and negative thoughts of the EU Survival.

What to do if you overfunded your 401k? – April 2017

In this article, fresh off tax season we recount how you can accidentally overfund your 401k, what to do to fix it, and the end result if a fix is not possible (hint, not the end of the world!)

Why you need to know your credit Score – May 2017

In an updated post from several years prior, we discuss the trends in technology being used to cross reference high risks from a company standpoint – In English, your credit report is being used more often for risk analysis. Keep it clean, and here is how to check it, and protest.

How to share your Financial Life without Giving up control –  May 2017

Sometimes it may be a desire to let your children or other family member know your situation, other times it may be just plan necessity .. either way it can be uncomfortable opening up your financial life. In this article we discuss how you can open as little, or as much, in a professional, comfortable, soft way.

Equifax Breach and What to Do about it – September 2017

Stay calm! It may seem like a distant memory, but when news broke of the large Equifax data breach, many were tip toeing to the edge of the window seal.  In this timely post, we discuss the breach, staying calm, and what to watch for moving forward!

Found Money – Log into that Old 401k Account – October 2017

With multiple parties having “Found” money in old accounts, especially former 401k accounts, we remind to take a moment and check out an old account, it might just make your day!

Social Security Increase for 2018 – October 2017

Upon the announcement of an increase in Social Security, we shared the news, and the background, along with the calculations and index for those skeptics.

Medicare Part B Means Testing – December of 2017

In this post we discuss the Means testing of Part B Medicare background, thresholds, and coming changes in 2018.

IRMMA Letter, and Solutions – December 2017

In a follow up to our Medicare Part B discussion and a preview to our coming Newsletter we take a deep dive into an  IRMAA (Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount) our new term of IRMMAtized and more importantly, what to do about it, and helpful hints on lowering your future premiums, along with the links to forms you will need.

Have a Happy “Cliff Notes Posts” 2017 Review Day!

John A. Kvale CFA, CFP

Founder of J.K. Financial, Inc.
A Dallas Texas based fee only
Financial Planning Total Wealth
Management firm.

IRMAA Letter, Worse than a “Dear John”, but WE have Solutions!

Last week we discussed the coming big article in our Q1 2018 Newsletter concerning the new Medicare Tiers and Means Testing. In that article we discuss the income levels that will trigger higher premiums.

If you have been targeted of higher means, you will receive an IRMAA letter! You have been IRMAATized

IRMAA Letter

Short for Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount –

Definition – You have been Mean’s Tested and the Social Security Administration (SSA) is asking you to pay more for Medicare Premiums.


The SSA is likely looking at your income from two years ago.

Good News- There is a solution if this is an unusual income amount or you have had a life changing event. This SSA Form 44 from the SSA is what you will need.

Life Changing Events According to SSA:

  • Marriage
  • Divorce/Annulment
  • Death of Your Spouse
  • Work Stoppage
  • Work Reduction
  • Loss of Income-Producing Property
  • Loss of Pension Income
  • Employer Settlement Payment

There are literally check boxes with these subjects in it. Of course life has curve balls that may not allow you to “Check the Box” … We have had continued success with folks going to the SSA office and presenting their case directly to the agent.

We would suggest the timely but productive visit if there is anything out of the ordinary with your proving of “Life Changing Event”!

Bring Proof

“ I understand that signing this form does not constitute a request for SSA to use a more recent tax year information unless it is accompanied by:

  • Evidence that I have had the life-changing event indicated on this form;
  • A copy of my Federal tax return; or
  • Other evidence of the more recent tax year’s modified adjusted gross income”

This information is stated just before a signature section on the SSA Form. Heed the warning and bring whatever proof in order to speed processing.

There you have it … many more options to correct the situation than a “Dear John” letter!

Have a Great “Non IRMAATized” Day!

John A. Kvale CFA, CFP

Founder of J.K. Financial, Inc.
A Dallas Texas based fee only
Financial Planning Total Wealth
Management firm.

Time of the year to check your retirement contributions!

As we enter the home stretch of the year, we wanted to remind all to confirm the desired contribution level is being met for your company retirement plan.

Retirement Contribution Levels

401k and similar corporate plans – $18k + $6k if over age 50

Now is a good time to confirm our desired level of contribution is actually occurring. If not, this is the perfect time to adjust.401k-illustration-1637162

  • Bonus offset
  • Pay Raise
  • Company ownership change
  • 401lk/similar plan Provider change
  • Investment options adjustments

All of the above and others, are reasons contribution levels may vary from our desired level.

Take a few minutes to check your latest paycheck and confirm your YTD deferrals …. Contact us with any questions, we are glad to help !

Have a great “Confirmed Retirement Contribution” Day!

John A. Kvale CFA, CFP

Founder of J.K. Financial, Inc.
A Dallas Texas based fee only
Financial Planning Total Wealth
Management firm.


January 2017 Podcast Video, Financial Planning Tip and Economic Review- By John Kvale

How Many times have you entered something with the date of 2016 ? If you are like me, SEVERAL…

Here is your January 2017… yes, new Month and new Year, Monthly review!

As a reminder, last month we started with an Audio Podcast format for those that are unable to SEE the video or just prefer to listen to the audio… this makes the review slightly longer, but more descriptive.


January 2017 Video


Financial Planning Tip –

Job Change/Retirement Checklist

Thanks to all of the fantastic comments, shares, views and thank you’s .. here is a brief summary of the actual super popular post:

  • Grab that Last paycheck– .
  • RSU -Options- Grants – Don’t let them expire
  • Employee Stock Purchase Plan-Make sure you have control
  • Deferred Comp–May be a taxable event, find out when
  • Pension – Be Knowledgeable
  • Health Coverage– Don’t go a day without
  • 401k– Old take control
  • New 401k– Be aggressive
  • Severance– Understand it
  • Social Security Withholding – Watch the double withholding

The underlying theme is making sure you know where everything is and any time deadlines you may now have due to the change… Your Vault is a great place for all this information !

Capital Market Movement

Rate Watch Still

Interest Rates have moved smartly higher and seem to be holding… signaling higher growth? This is the 10 year treasury rate, the benchmark in many cases for length of rates.


Happy 2017!

John A. Kvale CFA, CFP

Founder of J.K. Financial, Inc.
A Dallas Texas based fee only
Financial Planning Total Wealth
Management firm.
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When to contribute to a Roth, when not to contribute to a Roth, benefits and limitations

Recently we have received several questions about the Roth IRA. While many studies show only about 1 in 4 would benefit from a Roth, there are times when a Roth is the best choice. There are distinct differences in Roth’s versus other pre-tax plans which make appropiate tax planning very important when implementing a Roth contribution.

Roth Versus 401k or other Pre-tax Plans

The most important factor in determining to contribute to a Roth or not is understanding one key component:

A Roth is a bet your tax rate will be higher at retirement or in the future rather than currently!

Due to the tax benefits, all other items being equal, a Roth is most beneficial when one expects to be in a higher tax rate later or at retirement. Under normal circustances most families are in a LOWER tax bracket at retirement than during their working years, making a pre-tax plan more appropriate.

As a refresher, a Roth is an after tax contribution that grows tax deferred until used. No tax deduction up front makes for less immediate tax benefits but greater benefits during retirement or later in life when draws are taken on a tax free basis, under current tax laws.

Roth plans have less stringent RMD (Required Minimum Distribution) requirements than many other IRA/401k type plans. Pre-tax plans have mandatory distribution requirements due to their “never taxed” status. Since the contributions to funds and growth in pre-tax plans are without taxes, the IRS wants to get their taxes. 70.5 is the latest age one can defer the distributions of a pre-tax plan in most cases. Contrasting that to a Roth; Since taxes were originally paid on the contributions, distributions are not mandatory in most cases as the IRS receives no benefit under current law and thereby deems no mandatory distributions unless a Roth has been received as a beneficiary in which is it subject to similar mandatory distributions of pre-tax plans.

When a Roth is correct? 

Since a Roth is a bet taxes will be higher in retirement or later in an earning career, lower income periods of employment/careers tend to be the most beneficial for making contributions. Think early in a career or on off years of regular work for most tax beneficial Roth contribution times.

In a year of negative or low income the conversion of IRA to Roth may be an optimal strategy. Under certain situations a regular IRA may be converted to a Roth showing the income from the IRA. This would essentially pull forward the taxes from the IRA to the current year, which may be beneficial during very low or even better during a negative earning year. There are very few limitations on converting a IRA to a Roth as the IRS is benefiting early from the pull forward to taxes. These conversions, done correctly are without the normal early IRA 10% penalty.

Since a Roth is after tax and growth is tax deferred, the earlier the better for maximizing a Roth’s full potential. Tax deferred growth over longer periods of time will have greater benefits than short periods of time. In fact, VERY short periods of tax deferred growth in a Roth make it MUCH less appealing, if even appropriate at all!

Roth contribution limits

Single filers cannot make a Roth contribution once their income is greater than $133k in 2017 and married filing joint cannot make a contributions with incomes greater than $196k.

Roth contribution limits in total are $5500 regular plus $1000 catch up for those greater than age 50. Some employers offer Roth 401k plans which allow higher contribution amounts similar to the $18k and $6k catch up of regular 401k plans, however mandatory RMD distributions do come with these types of plans.

Conversion from IRA as mentioned above has no limits on income or earnings to qualify. Since the IRS is receiving tax dollar early, all other things considered, the rules are much more flexible for converting an IRA and creating a tax liability earlier than may otherwise have occurred (as mentioned above, carefully timed conversions may lead to very little tax liability if other outside factors have lowered the tax exposure.)

In closing, we agree with the studies that most do not need a Roth and many may never have the option for a Roth at all. This being the case, there are always certain circumstances that may make a Roth or a Roth conversion an ideal tax planning tool to offset unique income years as mentioned above.

Have a Great Day!

John A. Kvale CFA, CFP

Founder of J.K. Financial, Inc.
A Dallas Texas based fee only
Financial Planning Total Wealth
Management firm.