Make the most of your last years in the workforce

If you're one of millions of workers expecting to retire within the next decade or so, then there's never been a better time to double down on your potential for putting assets aside for retirement. For many people retirement can actually come upon them much sooner than they expect, and time can fly when you're caught up in the day-to-day of a long career.

But just because you are busy with your work today doesn't mean you shouldn't set additional time aside with your financial or insurance professional to seriously discuss the status of your retirement assets and your goals moving forward. With many years still to go, it's important that you get this reassurance now or correct any saving or spending habits that can impact your retirement years. Waiting too long – even a few years – could set back your retirement future.

Maximize high-growth savings accounts
U.S News & World Report stated the best place to start increasing your savings potential just before retirement is your 401(k).1 Many employers offer matching contributions for a portion of what you put into 401(k) accounts, which means your 401(k) will grow that much more quickly.

Paying down debts and freeing up assets can improve your financial retirement confidence.

Even if your employer doesn't offer this matching benefit, you can still take advantage of the considerable tax savings. Tax-deferred growth in your 401(k) allows your assets to grow with compound interest without being taxed during the process.

It's important to note that high-growth potential can sometimes be misconstrued and result in workers putting their money in high-risk financial vehicles. While risky investments may pay off, there may be too much downside if you are putting aside these assets late in the game.

You may want to simply find ways to put aside more, rather than risk having your assets hit hard with stock market volatility.

Examine all assets and debts
The years before retirement are crucial to wrapping up your career and transitioning into living on a fixed income. But if you have large outstanding debt obligations, like a mortgage or credit card bills, then that transition may not be as smooth as you would prefer.

Likewise, large assets like your home can provide substantial equity and savings potential if you choose to tap into them, according to CNBC.2 If you don't foresee yourself being able to retire as early as you'd like, then you may consider downsizing to a less expensive or more cost-efficient home, or take out a reverse mortgage to access the built-in equity of your current residence.

By paying down all debts and freeing up available assets, you may improve your financial retirement confidence, just as you leave the workforce.

Annuities can also provide a reliable,* supplementary retirement income. (Annuity withdrawals, prior to age 59 ½, however, may incur a 10% tax penalty.)

 

*Annuity guarantees rely on the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurer.

1 Mears, Teresa. "Saving Strategies for People Between Age 55 and Retirement." U.S. News & World Report. May 14, 2015. http://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/articles/2015/05/14/saving-strategies-for-people-between-age-55-and-retirement

2 Osterland, Andrew. "Consider using your home to fund retirement plans." CNBC. May 13, 2015. http://www.cnbc.com/id/102593664

If you are unable to access the article(s) referenced above, please call 1-877-805-0151 to request a copy.

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Josh Mellberg
July 27, 2017 @ 6:00 am

U.S. Workers may not be capitalizing on employer contributions

Employees who take advantage of the matching contributions on employer-sponsored 401(k) plans are a step ahead of workers who don't receive the same benefit. With matched contributions, whether full or partial, employees can increase their retirement assets much more quickly.

Meanwhile, even employees who contribute are not taking full advantage of contribution matching, and as a result, may leave thousands of dollars on the table each year.1

A press release from Financial Engines noted roughly 25 percent of eligible employees are not capitalizing on matched contributions.

Altogether, these lost savings potentially add up to $24 billion annually, or $1,336 per employee, based on available data.1

Employers can do more to simplify retirement options.

Overall, younger U.S. workers and those living on lower wages are less likely to contribute to 401(k) plans. Greg Stein, director of financial technology at Financial Engines, indicated employees may miss out on their own retirement by passing up this opportunity.1

"The match is one of best deals employer plans offer," said Stein. "It's an instant return on the retirement plan and demonstrates why it's so important to communicate the benefit of participating fully, and how much money is at stake."2

Saving as much as possible
Matched plans encourage employees to fund retirement because employers also provide a contribution typically 50 to 100 percent of as much as 6 percent of an employee’s salary.  Still many employees don’t take advantage because they typically elect to contribute 3 percent, the default contribution limit, the amount many companies adopted when they first added this feature.2  However, employees can legally increase their contributions to 10 percent or higher.

Additionally, Money Magazine reported employers can do more to simplify plan options and make it easier for U.S. workers to make optimal decisions. Inertia is one of the major obstacles for saving for retirement.  When considering how much to contribute each paycheck, many typically choose the first rate listed.3

When employers added features like automatic enrollment or automatic escalation of contributions, they were able to boost participation and help their workers contribute more.

For additional financial retirement stability, workers can purchase annuities to help supplement retirement income.

 

 

 

1"Americans likely leaving $24 billion in unclaimed 401(k) company matching contributions on the table annually, Financial Engines finds." Financial Engines (Press Release). May 12, 2015. http://corp.financialengines.com/press/press-releases/2015/051215_Financial_Engines_Americans-Leave-Billions-Unclaimed-401k.pdf

Barrett, Jennifer. "Employees missing out on $24 billion in employer matches." CNBC. May 12, 2015. http://www.cnbc.com/id/102667848

3Kadlec, Dan. "These simple moves by your employer can dramatically improve your retirement." Money Magazine. May 12, 2015. http://time.com/money/3854692/retirement-401k-simple-choices-merrill-lynch/

If you are unable to access the article(s) referenced above, please call (800) 995-6498 to request a copy.

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Josh Mellberg
July 25, 2017 @ 6:00 am

What I Learned from Losing Money in the Stock Market

Everyone wants their money to grow so they can have reliable income for retirement. In order to turn a profit, many will attempt to earn a higher return by purchasing stocks. However, there are many risks associated with doing so, and some can hinder your financial situation as you approach retirement. Here are some of the concerns when it comes to investing in the stock market:

  • Get-rich-quick schemes: There are few ways to lose money faster than by attempting a “get-rich-quick” strategy, and there is no promise that you will increase your wealth by purchasing stocks. While it is possible to increase your assets by building a portfolio of stocks, you should be wary of any book or person who tells you their stock will help you amass wealth quickly.
  • Following a hot tip: It can be tempting to follow through on a stock market tip from a friend or relative about a particular stock, but the truth is that most individuals don't have enough information to make such recommendations. In some instances, you could have a friend who has real knowledge about a certain stock, but by recommending its purchase, he could be in danger of violating security laws regarding insider trading.
  • Making a "sure bet": Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a “sure bet” in the stock market. If you have some expertise in one industry or subject, it's important not to overestimate your knowledge of how that could play out in the stock market.

Remember that large companies and firms on Wall Street have extensive knowledge regarding financial markets and have a team of experts on hand to make decisions – and even they don’t bat 1000. Even if you can understand balance sheets and income statements, it doesn't mean your stock market analysis will be profitable.

Investing after a loss
If you've ever experienced a loss in the stock market after purchasing a stock, you may be unwilling to put more of your hard-earned money back into stocks. However, there are other alternatives to purchasing stocks to help grow your retirement income without stock market risk. One such option is a fixed index annuity.

Annuities are contracts that are purchased from an insurance company in either a lump sum or a series of premium payments. You receive income or can withdraw funds immediately or at a designated point later on, based on the terms of the annuity.  The income can last for the rest of your life, either as a benefit of the base contract or with the purchase of an income rider. Compared to the stock market, there is little risk and you can watch your money grow at a steady rate that is guaranteed* to help bring you a reliable source of retirement income.

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Josh Mellberg
July 21, 2017 @ 6:00 am

What you need to know about Social Security Income

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There are some advantages to getting older, and retirement is referred to as the “golden years” for a reason. After working in the labor force for most of your life, retiring is something to look forward to, and it can also be more satisfying with adequate preparation.

There are many ways to save for retirement, including employer plans, such as a 401(k) or pension plans, but many seniors also count on being able to use Social Security benefits once they reach age 62 or older. This income is beneficial for millions of Americans, and as thousands of baby boomers hit retirement age every day, it's essential to know how to plan for Social Security benefits. Here's what you need to know:

It's supplemental income
Social Security isn't enough to live on alone in retirement for most people. Instead, it should be considered supplemental income in addition to your other assets. According to the Social Security Administration, these benefits were "never meant to be the only source of income for people when they retire*."
However, Social Security benefits can bring about 40 percent of an average wage earner's income after retirement, though most financial experts advise that seniors will need about 70 percent of their pre-retirement earnings for a comfortable retirement.* This means that Social Security can provide you with a monthly check for the rest of your life, but you need to plan ahead so you aren't dependent on these benefits alone.
Waiting can pay off
Most Americans become eligible for Social Security benefits at the age of 62 after working for at least 10 years. However, the retirement age is generally accepted to be 65, which means you might not need to start collecting benefits while you're still working. Waiting to receive your money can actually prove to be beneficial, as you will receive a bigger payment if you wait. You can use your Social Security benefits however you want, whether it's to supplement your retirement lifestyle or traveling.
No matter when you decide to start receiving your Social Security benefits, it is essential that you determine your personal financial strategy for retirement income. There are many different financial options out there, but not all can provide you with guaranteed** retirement income and payments for life like an annuity. With J.D. Mellberg, you can work with financial advisors and insurance agents in the country, who can help bring you more income and financial confidence.

 

 

 

*If you are unable to access the article referenced above, please call (800) 995-6498 to request a copy.

**Annuity guarantees rely on the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurer.

Sources:

1 http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10024.pdf

 

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Josh Mellberg
July 20, 2017 @ 2:55 pm

If Retiring Soon, Aim To Optimize Your Income

Suppose you've had a retirement strategy in place for decades and stuck to your strategy for the most part. When it comes time to finally retire, it could be beneficial to up your “strategy ante” even further as the date nears.

Even though financial professionals stress retirement funding early in life, some of the more tangible benefits of this approach may come later in life. That's because as you age, your wealth accumulates, and the major decisions you make just before leaving the workforce are all the more crucial.

An annuity can be a great way to help optimize retirement benefits.

All your working life has led up to the moment of retirement, when you can finally relax and enjoy a more financially confident environment. To accomplish this, you should optimize your savings potential prior to retirement.

Delay benefits

One of the biggest decisions that could affect the overall arc of your retirement funding is when to actually accept Social Security benefits. If you begin taking benefits as early as age 62, you won't receive the full amount of the benefits you qualify for.  For every year you delay taking benefits, you may earn nearly 8 percent more per year.

By delaying Social Security benefits until you reach full retirement age 70, you'll receive the largest payout possible.  This approach will help provide you with more reliable, steady income throughout your retirement.

Retire separately

Though you may thinking it would be ideal if you and your spouse retire simultaneously, the better strategy could actually be to do so a few years apart, according to Time magazine. That's because if you retire, then your family can still live on the work income and perhaps just a small portion of the retired spouse’s total retirement assets.1

This strategy allows one of you to retire but not deplete your retirement funds as quickly. Depending on your career path, financial situation, age and health, speak with your spouse to decide how you should approach retirement. If you're older and have already reached the full retirement age, then it may make sense for you to retire first, whereby your spouse, who may be a few years younger, can stay in the workforce a little longer and continue to contribute to retirement accounts.

An annuity can also be a great means to help optimize your retirement benefits by providing a guaranteed* stream of income for your life.**

 

 

 

This article is meant to provide general information on issues that many people consider in making the decision as to whether or not they should buy annuities; and if they do decide to buy, which types of annuities and which annuity benefits and additional riders will best suit their goals and needs. This information is not designed to be a recommendation to buy any specific financial product or service.

*Annuity guarantees rely on the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company and are not guaranteed by any bank or the FDIC.

**Some annuities may have a lifetime income guarantee as part of the base policy; others may have riders available that provide this benefit. Riders may also be available for benefits like an annual increase to help combat inflation or for as much as doubling your income in case of a qualifying health event. These annuities are not long-term care and are not substitute for such coverage. Optional riders may be available with a charge.

Joshua Mellberg and J.D. Mellberg Financial are not associated with, nor endorsed by, any government agency, including the Social Security Administration.

Josh Mellberg is insurance licensed in all 50 states (AR364647/CA0G91919/TX1567166) and all employees of J.D. Mellberg Financial have the appropriate licenses for the products they offer.

1“If You Want to Retire in 10 Years, Do These 5 Things Now.” Money. Accessed on February 4, 2015. http://time.com/money/3606172/pre-retirement-moves/

 

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Josh Mellberg
May 25, 2017 @ 11:08 am

Retirement Strategies – What Might Work For You?

When it comes to retirement income planning, people may have some idea of where they should put their money. Whether it's in a savings account, employer retirement plan or other options, retirement approaches vary, and not all of these approaches lead to consistent, lifetime retirement income. You may feel that finding the right financial strategy is challenging, without professional guidance. Below are some of what we find to be retirement strategies that don’t work well.

Roth IRAs
These individual retirement accounts are popular after-tax retirement income vehicles, and many choose them because of the potential for tax-free income in retirement and ongoing ability to withdraw your own contributions without paying taxes or penalties. You get no tax credit for contributing to the Roth IRA, but the earnings are never taxed when withdrawn. They work best for retirement if you expect your tax rate to be higher during retirement than your current rate or if you start them at earlier ages, so the principal can grow over time. However, there is a downside to a Roth IRA, as there are eligibility limits, which means that if you make too much money, you cannot contribute to a Roth account.  Also, the earnings are not always liquid. While money can grow in these accounts tax-free, there are regulations which limit the availability of the account value. This means that account holders may not be able to access their money for a long time or use it when they need it. With so many unknown circumstances in life, the Roth account may not have the flexibility you want. If you cash out before the regulatory time-frame of five years or before the age of 59 ½, there are fees and expenses, which can leave you with less money for retirement than you first intended.

Stock market
You want your money to grow, but putting too much into the stock market can be risky. Stock market volatility can be even more detrimental to your retirement funding as you get closer to leaving the workforce. Even when you diversify your investments in the stock market hoping to earn regular, large returns to go toward retirement income, the stock market “averages” don’t often average out. The losses in 2004 and 2008 have taught those nearing retirement some caution about further trust in market outcomes. And, of course, most of these stock options don't have guaranteed growth or any type of guarantees at all – you can lose money, including loss of your principal.

Fixed annuities
Other options to earn a consistent return for retirement income include annuities. One such alternative is a fixed-rate annuity, which is purchased in a lump sum or they can be paid for on a periodic basis from an insurance company, and the buyer begins to receive payments at a specified date in return. Fixed annuities have no exposure to stock market risk and buyers are guaranteed* a rate of return, giving them reliable income that could last throughout their lifetime.**

 

This article is meant to provide general information on issues that many people consider in making the decision as to whether or not they should buy annuities; and if they do decide to buy, which types of annuities and which annuity benefits and additional riders will best suit their goals and needs. This information is not designed to be a recommendation to buy any specific financial product or service.

*Annuity guarantees rely on the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company and are not guaranteed by any bank or the FDIC.

**Some annuities may have a lifetime income guarantee as part of the base policy; others may have riders available that provide this benefit. Riders may also be available for benefits like an annual increase to help combat inflation or for as much as doubling your income in case of a qualifying health event. These annuities are not long-term care and are not substitute for such coverage. Optional riders may be available with a charge.

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Josh Mellberg
May 24, 2017 @ 10:30 am

Top Retirement Income Planning Mistakes To Avoid

With many U.S. workers concerned about their retirement finances, it may be beneficial to review some of the most common retirement income planning mistakes and ways you might be able to avoid them. Every day, thousands of Baby Boomers reach retirement age, and not all of them are prepared to leave the workforce. Here are some potential retirement mistakes to know and avoid:

Misestimating age of death
Many seniors will cover their retirement finances until the age they expect to die. However, life expectancy has risen over the years,1, 2 and some may find themselves running short of money. A mistake in forecasting cash flow needs, particularly later in life, may leave some seniors vulnerable when they need financing for daily life or medical care costs. While Social Security benefits and employer-sponsored pension plans will pay out over the entire course of someone's life, seniors may still need supplemental cash flow for living costs and other expenses. One source of this supplemental income could be the purchase of an annuity in conjunction with their other income. In addition to other retirement resources, annuities* can help provide greater financial confidence for seniors, by providing them lifetime payments. **

Not planning for inflation
Over time, prices are likely to rise, which means seniors may need to have more assets put aside to accommodate for inflation costs. Medical costs, in particular, are commonly underestimated in retirement income strategies. A recent study by Fidelity found that a 65-year old couple will need $220,000 to cover their medical expenses throughout retirement.3 While this is a drop from the $250,000 estimated in 2010, it is still a significant chunk of change that could vary depending on a person's medical conditions. Because this substantial cost could increase over the years, seniors need to plan ahead so they are still financially stable in their later years.

Relying only on Social Security
After paying into the Social Security system for many years, seniors who leave the workforce may think they will have enough income during retirement with Social Security. Unfortunately, these benefits are often not enough to maintain seniors’ desired lifestyle, which means they may need or want another source of steady income to maintain their lifestyles. For this reason, it is essential to have a supplemental income source for Social Security benefits, like an annuity. You can purchase an annuity* that can then provide additional income during your retirement years.

Not starting sooner
Most people will agree that it's best to start saving for retirement as early as possible. This provides the most time to build up a nest egg, as well as give investments time to grow and recover from any stock market down years. While starting early is a good step, it's also necessary to review and revise your retirement strategy over the years to help maximize assets in preparation for retirement income in the future.4

 

 

*Annuity guarantees rely on the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurer.
**Some annuities may have a lifetime income guarantee as part of the base policy; others may have riders available that provide this benefit.  Riders may also be available for benefits like an annual increase to help combat inflation or for as much as doubling your income in case of a qualifying health event.  Optional riders may be available for a charge.

Sources:

1  “Calculators: Life Expectancy.” Social Security Administration,  Accessed 6/24/2015. http://www.ssa.gov/planners/lifeexpectancy.htm
2 Kadlec, Dan. “The 7 Biggest Retirement Planning Mistakes.” Time E-Magazine, 4/17/2012 http://business.time.com/2012/04/17/the-7-biggest-retirement-planning-mistakes/
3 “Retiree Health Costs Hold Steady.” Fidelity, 6/11/2014. https://www.fidelity.com/viewpoints/retirement/retirees-medical-expenses
4 Glassman, Barry. “The 5 Biggest Retirement Planning Mistakes You Can Avoid.” Forbes.com, 5/07/2014. http://www.forbes.com/sites/advisor/2014/05/07/biggest-retirement-planning-mistakes/

 

 

 

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Josh Mellberg
May 11, 2017 @ 6:00 am

Some Things You May Not Know About Your IRA

With all the retirement terms surrounding nest eggs, savings accounts and tax deferment, it can be a challenge to know everything about all your financial investments and retirement income planning options. One area of confusion is the individual retirement account, or the IRA.

IRA’s and 401(k)s are both qualified retirement plans. A 401(k) is a plan that some employers make available to their employees. On the other hand, an individual may open an IRA on his or her own. There are two main types of IRAs: traditional and Roth IRA. This article focuses on the traditional IRA, which has different features than a Roth IRA.  IRAs are often used by those who have maxed out their employer contribution plans.  They can be opened in conjunction with other retirement income vehicles, but many individuals confuse their value and purpose. While you might have some basic understanding of your IRA, here are some things you may not know:

There are contribution caps
A good way to build up your retirement assets, is to contribute a portion of your earnings throughout your entire working life. This will give you more time to create a nest egg with the potential to last as long as you live.  However, there are contribution caps for IRAs. Each year, the IRS creates these IRA limits, which means you may not be able to contribute as much as you want.

Contributions must be cash
When you make annual contributions to your IRA, it must be done in cash. This is true in all cases except for rollover contributions.

Losses may be tax deductible
There are several tax advantages to IRAs, such as deferral of taxes on the growth of the account, or its annual earnings. However, upon distribution, you will need to pay any taxes due on the amount you receive from the account.  On the other hand, IRA investments that lose value can be potentially tax deductible. They cannot offset the gains and taxes you must pay, but you can deduct losses in certain circumstances.

There are required distributions
Once you reach 70 ½ years old, you are required to start taking distributions from your IRA. This is similarly true for other qualified retirement plans, like your 401(k). How much you are required to take out will depend on a specific formula, but you could incur tax penalties if you do not start to take distributions by this age.

An annuity can be used in an IRA
An annuity is an insurance product that can be used for an IRA. However, there are no additional tax deferral benefits than what are inherent in an annuity. In addition, the future benefits of an annuity are based on the financial strength and claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

 

*This article is not intended to provide legal, tax or investment advice. See a licensed professional in these areas for applicability to your situation.

 

 

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Josh Mellberg
May 9, 2017 @ 6:00 am

Inflation in Retirement

Can you remember when gas only cost a buck or when soda pop cost just a few cents? If you look at prices now, you can clearly see the effects of inflation over the years. As time goes on, the cost of everything becomes more expensive and you can buy less and less with a dollar. While inflation isn't something you can control, it's also something you shouldn't ignore when it comes to your retirement income planning.

Throughout your working life, you've probably accumulated a nest egg, contributed to your employer's 401(k) and sought to figure out how much you will need in retirement. However, the money you have saved today could actually be worth less in the future due to inflation. So, how can you help protect your assets from rising inflation?

Annuity strategy
Many people were hesitant to invest in the stock market after the recession, and as such have put their money into lower-yielding savings accounts or the like. People approaching retirement typically want the same thing – potential growth without direct downside market risk or huge fees. Fortunately, there is another alternative with less risk. Annuities may be a great answer to help seniors who want to help offset inflation.

An annuity is a contract between you and an insurance company in exchange for a lump sum payment or series of payments resulting in regular, ongoing disbursements. This type of contract helps gives you predictable income when you need it most. Social Security and pension plans may also pay you for the rest of your life, but there's a good chance these are not enough to live on, and therefore need to be considered supplemental income. When you purchase an annuity, your payments can start right away or at a later point in time.

There are several annuity options available for you.  We at J.D. Mellberg have proprietary insurance contracts and strategies that less than 1 percent of agents and advisors across the country have access to, which means we may be able to bring you 15 percent to 20 percent more income.

Inflation protection
To help protect your assets from inflation, you can include an optional annuity rider for a charge that allows your payments to be increased to help guard against inflation, which means you'll receive more money later in life when you need it most.

Get in touch with one of our professional agents today to find the best retirement income strategy for your needs. Be confident you will not outlive your money with lifetime payments from an annuity.

 

 

 

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Josh Mellberg
May 4, 2017 @ 6:00 am

Habits of Successful Retirees

What's the difference between retiring and retiring successfully? Habits.

When it comes to the way we eat, how often we exercise or putting away money for retirement, daily and yearly habits are what make us successful. However, not all habits will bring you down a path toward financial stability. Here are some habits of successful retirees that can help you with retirement income planning:

Live with some urgency
To have an active and successful retirement, you can't sit idly by as if life goes on forever. Instead, successful retirees seize each and every day to stay healthy and happy. You can apply this to all aspects of life, from what you do during retirement to the way you save money throughout your working life. A sense of urgency can call you to action, so you're more likely to prepare for a great retirement.

Retire by your financial assets, not age
It is largely accepted that the average retirement age is 65 in the U.S. However, not all Americans will leave the workforce at age 65 – many will continue working for more years, while others may retire before then. While you might have a certain age in mind, it can be more worthwhile to create a financial strategy that helps enable you to retire based on your finances instead of your age. This helps ensure that you have enough money for the rest of your life.

Take some risks
In many cases, it is best to minimize risks – this is especially true with your finances. However, you don't always want to live your life on the safe (and boring) side. By purchasing an annuity you can receive guaranteed* payments for the rest of your life. Once you know your retirement income is in order, you can be free to take some risks in other areas of your life and pursue your lifestyle goals.

Seek professional assistance
Believe it or not, many Americans approaching retirement haven't properly planned their finances for later in life. One way to help ensure you have a retirement income strategy that is best for your needs is to get in touch with one of our agents at J.D. Mellberg. We have proprietary insurance contracts and strategies that less than 1 percent of agents and advisors across the nation have access to, which means may be able to bring you more income in retirement. Our team will help you find a strategy based on your financial goals to help ensure you can live a comfortable retirement.

 

*Annuity guarantees rely on the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurer.

 

 

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Josh Mellberg
May 2, 2017 @ 6:00 am