Make It Last – Ep 170 – Why Is The Bag Half-Empty?

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You already have the foundation, but what’s a house without walls and a roof? Victor gives you all the materials you need to make sure the Big Bad Wolf doesn’t blow your house down.

Why are bags of potato chips half-empty these days? Inflation might be behind it. Victor gives tips on how to battle inflation and make your money last as long as you need it to.

Finally, the show wraps up with a game of ‘Would You Rather?”

Are You Paying Too Much In Taxes In Retirement? Click here to find out.

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Make It Last with Victor Medina is hosted by Victor J. Medina, an estate planning and Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Certified Financial Planner professional (CFP). Through his law firm and independent registered investment advisory company, Victor provides 360º Wealth Protection Strategies for individuals in or nearing retirement.

For more information, visit Medina Law Group or Palante Wealth Advisors.

Full Transcript Below

Mark Elliot:  Welcome to “Make It Last” with Victor Medina. I’m Mark Elliott. Now, Victor has two companies ‑‑ the Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. Medina Law Group started back in 2006. You can find out more on the website, medinalawgroup.com.

Palante Wealth came from the clients of Medina Law Group going, “How come you can’t help us with all of our retirement stuff?” The hints Palante Wealth came to be in 2014. Palantewealth.com. P‑A‑L‑A‑N‑T‑E, palantewealth.com.

Victor also is the author of three books on retirement planning under his acclaimed Make It Last series. He’s been featured on national television, the “Wall Street Journal,” “The Huffington Post,” “US News,” and “World Report.”

Look, Victor’s probably going to say some things today that you’re like, “Wow, I didn’t know that. I’d like to learn more.” Or, “Wait, I don’t have a retirement plan. I don’t know how to build my financial house. What do I do? How do I come up with some help in this area?”

It’s easy. You just call the team. 856‑506‑8300. There’s no cost, there’s no obligation, there’s no pressure, there’s no judgement. 856‑506‑8300.

Glad you’re with us today. Victor, there’s a lot of moving parts when it comes to retirement, and I think most of us think about our investments. That’s our retirement world. One of the things that I think is a cool analogy is to compare our retirement planning with building our home.

We’re going to build a financial house today on the program and I know you told your kids the story, the fairy tale, The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf, right?

Victor Medina:  Yeah, back in the day.

Mark:  I knew it. The wolf would huff and puff and blow every house down except for the last one, which was made of…What was it made of? We had straw.

Victor:  It was brick.

Mark:  It was brick, right?

Victor:  We had straw. What else did we have? We had sticks, and then we had the brick.

Mark:  And we had brick. Exactly. The brick house, the wolf couldn’t blow it down, because it was strong. That’s what we’re talking about today. How do you build a financial house to get you to, and even more importantly, through retirement?

Let’s get into this, Victor. I think it’s kind of an easy way for us to understand what you do, how you help people when it comes to retirement planning, is it really starts with building that strong, study financial house, doesn’t it?

Victor:  It does. It’s interesting, too. Those people that know me and the clients that heard me talk about this story, was me rebuilding the house that we live in, because the house that we live in is an old home built in 1878. We took the thing down to the studs and we actually found brick in‑between the studs. That was part of the reason why it was so quiet and stable.

The people who were building the house had said, “The reason why this thing doesn’t move left or right is because they put bricks in‑between it way before they had any plywood.”

It is important to have a sturdy house for retirement because unlike opportunities to rebuild things, when you’re facing retirement, it’s super important to make sure that the plan that you have in place is one that can withstand time. Because you can’t go back to work, and you can’t go in and add to the pile.

This decision is a crucial decision. One that needs to factor in all these things about what happens if the stock market takes a tumble in the future. What happens if your care costs increase? What happens if…?

All these elements that they’re factoring into their planning that everybody needs to be thinking about, they need to build it to withstand the threat of the big bad wolf of retirement. It’s really, really important to make sure that they’ve got a sturdy house.

Mark:  You think about it, we want to build a strong fiscal financial house for our retirement. Where do we start?

Victor:  First of all, I think that the idea that someone is thinking about this as something that you should do, rather than going into it blindly, or assume that they’re going to pull money from some account when they need living money, that needs to be congratulated, needs to be rewarded, and heralded.

The idea that you want to put a plan in place, or wants to build a house around it, doesn’t land for everybody. Not everybody recognizes the need for a way of creating the retirement that is stable and can withstand the rest of time that they need to live.

It first begins with the decision that they care more about creating a plan than they care about the specific products that are involved in there. We have a way of approaching it with our practice that supports that. Because for everybody that comes through the process, we create a plan for them.

Now the plan is eight‑page document that goes through income investments, taxes, and estate planning, each of those four elements. I think that they are all of equal value, I want to make sure that you have great income. I want to make sure that your investments are supporting the income. I want you to avoid paying taxes. You have to have your state plane in place.

Each one of them has a role. It is the idea that they are all in one place for you to look at. The plan is this eight‑page document that reviews all these areas. What it does is help you understand how you can gain a successful retirement.

What that means for you is that you have the opportunity to rest easy knowing that you have a great plan in place. Where do you start? You start by making an assessment of where you currently are, identifying where you want to get to which, by the way, isn’t as simple as saying, “Well, I don’t want to be poor.” or “I want a vacation.”

It is about outlining your goals for retirement and being able to determine the way that you’re going to get there, which I think probably kind of dovetails into another concept around building homes. You need a blueprint, right?

You need some way of building this so that you know how to create it competently in a way that it will stand up. You’re going to have the inspectors of life come in and give you your approvals or not.

You definitely need that plan to be able to know how to put these things together. Because that’s the way that you create and make all of these elements work together.

Mark:  You don’t start with the roof when you’re building a house. You better start with the foundation. We’re going to talk about what goes in the foundation, what goes in the walls, what goes in the roof, and all those kind of things when you’re building that sturdy fiscal financial house for your retirement.

Here’s the deal. If you want to talk more about this, your retirement, income plan, investment strategies, tax‑efficient strategies, healthcare, legacy, estate planning, social security is in the income part, Medicare is in the healthcare part.

A lot of moving parts. You’re like, “I’ve never done planning like that. I’ve looked at my investments and tried to figure out, ‘Hey, could I do what Victor said to start with. Pull out that 30, 40, 50, 60 thousand dollars out of my accounts every year, and I should be good.'” That is not a plan.

Palante Wealth is about holistic planning for your retirement. If you’d like to call the team and say, “Hey, I’d love to get started. I’d like to hear where you think I am. Am I on the right track? Do I need to make a tweak here or there? I like the idea of actually having a written plan for my retirement.”

Call the team. They’re here to help. It’s 856‑506‑8300. 856‑506‑8300 again. No cost for this at all because the team they’re here to help. They just don’t know if they can help till they hear your situation. Why not call? Find out. Let’s get started. 856‑506‑8300.

We’re building your strong, sturdy financial house for your retirement. As you said, it starts with a blueprint. I think the retirement plan that you create for your clients at Palante Wealth starts with a blueprint probably. Doesn’t it?

You don’t come in and say, “OK in 10 minutes. You’re done. Here’s your plan. Good luck to you, and hope everything works out.”?

Victor:  Not at all Mark, because it’s maybe like showing up with lumber and a hammer, start swinging things and say, “I think that there should be a room over here. Why don’t we start building a square?”

Nobody would go about doing that, but it’s this idea that a lot of people start with that element of, “I want to go pull money out.” Or “I want to start moving forward.” Or whatever else without taking an opportunity to assess, but you’re right.

What we do in our practice is we help people create their blueprint. These blueprints are not uniform. They’re not cookie‑cutter. They are built to the specifics of the clients that we have in mind because they’re each going to have different goals. They’re each going to have starting resources that are different. They’re going to have different obstacles that they’ve got to overcome.

For that reason, each blueprint is sort of custom‑tailored for them. Each plan that we create is something that is specific to the client that we are working with at that time. While there are some general principles that needs to be followed in order to have a successful plan. You have to understand physics, and you have to understand that it needs plumbing, and here’s how heating works.

All of those are uniform in the way that you would build a house. The way that they get implemented is going to change from clients to client. We want it follow some principles. We want to make sure for example, that people have enough income to get through all of their days. They’ll be able to afford the lifestyle that they have or recognize that they’ve got to make some adjustments in those areas.

The blueprints always consist of the HVAC, plumbing, electrical, and the framing off of it. This is a similar in the way that we would do our plan. We’ve got the income and the investments, and we’ve got the tax planning and the estate planning. None of these can be ignored. None of them can be overlooked.

None of them can be cast aside. You can’t look at a house and say, “That house doesn’t need electricity.” I don’t want any put that in a part of the blueprint. It’s an essential part of making all of these things work together. We do that for all of our clients. It’s the base part of how we create a plan.

It’s also important to know that things change. When I was rebuilding my home because it was an older home. As you start to do a little bit of a demolition, you figure out that there are some areas that weren’t what you expected when you start to peel away the onion. We had a window that was missing underneath a patio.

That all of a sudden it was going to rain that evening. We had a patch that thing quickly. We need to be able to have some flexibility built into that. The idea of the plan isn’t that you follow it without regard to what you in, but it is a guiding principle to making sure that you create something that is structurally sound, is stable, sturdy, and gets you through retirement.

Mark:  All right. This you mentioning the HVAC. I actually have a friend of a friend, and this is a true story. They’re building their second home, and they thought it’s not going to be as nice as our full‑time home, but we want a nice place we can go getaway.

They said, “We’re not going to hire anybody to do it. We’re going to get the contractor to do this and the HVAC people to do. We’re going to separate it. We’re going to be in charge.” They get it done. Because nobody was talking to anybody, they get done, and they found out, “Oops, we did forget heating and air.”

They had to go in and do it on the outside of the house because it would cost a fortune to go back in and tear through and build it in. When it comes to retirement planning, all those areas we’ve talked about ‑‑ the income investments, taxes, the legacy planning, and all of that, the estate planning.

If we overlook any of these areas, there could be major problems. Couldn’t there?

Victor:  Yeah. It really can…I’ll relay my true story as well, which is when we had the plumber coming in, and looking at what was going in, I talked to my general contractor, whose name was Eric. I said, “Eric, your guy, Theo…” Because it was his plumber. “Your guy Theo comes in, and he just stares for about an hour, then he walks out of the house.”

Mark:  [laughs]

Victor:  I said, “I don’t know if he’s doing any work. He comes back in. He looks up. He looks left. He looks right, and he walks out.” Eric says, “You do realize the medium that he’s working in. Right? He’s creating the stuff that’s going to handle your toilets and your shower.

There can’t be any detail that he overlooks. He needs to understand where all of this is going to be flowing and the directions are going. It’s a good jumping‑off point to underscore this idea. That, “No. Details can’t be overlooked and part of the planning that you do.”

It’s one of the reasons why you needed an expert in that area to help. It’s the reason why the general contractor brought in his own demolition team to do that kind of stuff. He brought in a master plumber to do the plumbing and a master electrician to do the electrical work that didn’t try to handle on their own.

He recognized the risks involved if there had been a detail overlook that would have been identified by somebody that was an expert in their area. To anchor it back into the way that I built my home. The experts that this contractor brought in were experts in dealing with older homes, because I already said that our home was built in 1878.

They were people who were accustomed to dealing with construction in that time. Similarly, you need somebody who’s an expert in retirement if you want retirement planning. In other words, the kind of home that you’re building isn’t the vacation home.

Or isn’t the second home that’s going to be on the shore, or someplace else that’s completely different. You have a very specific kind of home that you’re trying to build in retirement. It makes sense that you bring in people who are versed in those areas.

You want to be in a situation you’re like, “I know exactly what this looks like.” We can help guide you the way. You can meet somebody who does that in your financial work specifically to retirement.

Mark:  The Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth serve the Pennington greater Mercer County as well as Bucks County. Victor has clients in New Jersey and in Pennsylvania as well. If you would like to learn how the team might be able to help you. Don’t know if they can because they don’t know your situation.

They’d love to find out. They’re here to help. The Medina Law Group. Palante Wealth. They’re here to help you. Give them a call. Let’s get started. There’s no cost for this. 856‑506‑8300 is the number again. 856‑506‑8300.

We’re talking of building your fiscal financial house comparing it to building your house that you live in. That’s what we’re talking about today. One of the most important pieces of the house is the foundation.

Mark:  Not the most exciting to think about when it comes to retirement, but it might be the most important piece. That’s where we’re headed next. Stay with us. This is Make It Last with Victor Medina of the Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. We’re back in one minute.

Mark:  Glad you’re with us today for Make It Last with Victor Medina. I’m Mark Elliott. Victor has two companies going. Medina Law Group. Practicing estate planning and certified elder law attorney is Victor.

You can find out more at medinalawgroup.com. They’re about the clients and their flat fees. They’ll explain all of that. They’re super transparent. You think about traditional estate planning. Legacy. How you’re going to leave things? That’s the Medina Law Group.

Victor started that company back in 2006. He had clients going, “Why can’t you help me with the rest of my retirement? Why is it just estate planning and that stuff that’s super important? I’ve got a lot more going on with my retirement.” He said, “I don’t know. Maybe I can.”

All of a sudden, Victor is a Certified Financial Planner. A professional. He’s a registered investment advisor. That is the other company, Palante wealth. It is about holistic retirement planning. It is about income strategies, investment strategies, taxes, and is course estate as well.

There’s a lot of moving parts. Victor and the team can certainly help you with all of these areas. palantewealth.com is the website for that company. Palante Wealth, P‑A‑L‑A‑N‑T‑E. palantewealth.com. Glad you’re with us.

Victor, I know you’re a healthy guy, probably. I’m 61. I’ve been divorced for a long time, so I play golf. I like my cars. I have fun with cars. I have an ’08 Corvette. Yellow, six‑speed, loud, fast. It’s fun. That means because I am by myself, I may not eat as well as I should.

Now when I get my chips with my French onion dip, I have to reach into the bag, and I got to go all ways to get a chip. I know that eating chips and drinking Mountain Dews are great for my heart, so I’m trying to help myself health‑wise. When I reach in those bag of chips are not full like they used to be. What’s going on here?

Victor:  You eat. How do we relate this into a financial concepts? Very, very smooth transition of it. I was going to tell you…

Mark:  Maybe not go the health route.

Victor:  I was going to say when I used to weigh about 48 pounds heavier than I do now. I made a lot of diets changes in order to make that progress. I can tell you something. When you buy a bag of carrots, that actually the whole bag is full of carrots, and it’s not empty. If you want to think about switching that out, you would get more carrots in the bag.

Mark:  I’d get more than my money. [laughs]

Victor:  Those do go well with the French onion dip potatoes and babies because that’s in the bag.

Mark:  That’s true. I do. I’ve done that.

Victor:  Related to financial ideas. When we’re thinking about having less there than when we originally started what expected, probably the most closely related financial concept is inflation. That is one of these ideas that people typically don’t factor into their planning because we’re so focused on the present.

We’re so focused on what’s going on today so when we go shopping what something should cost today. We’ve been living with those small little changes when it has been increasing over a period of time that we can remember years and years ago it used to be less expensive.

We don’t have a firm grasp from what it was 10 years ago or 15 years ago. We probably maybe understand that it was less expensive. The increase that creep of the cost of things is this idea around inflation. The bad idea that things will be more expensive in the future.

That’s what this idea is around, is that we have to plan for things being more expensive. It has to be factored into your overall strategy because if all you do is sort of peg income amount. That thing that you need to live on one number as though it was never going to change, which you find as you grow older and older in retirement, your purchasing power goes down.

If you fixed your income at $4,000 a month, as you get further into retirement 10, 15 years down the road that $4,000 doesn’t go as far because the stuff is more expensive, and so it’s not enough money for most people. We have to do some planning around that.

Mark:  You think about my grandparents retired in the ’70s, and that’s when I was in high school. I graduated in 1977. I was young, Victor, I was only 17. When I went off to play for the Dodgers in the minor leagues for three and a half years where I was washed up at the age of 20, but they had hyperinflation.

They also had high interest rates at the bank. They could put money in a CD and get 8, 10, 12, 15 percent, but inflation was sky high, too. For the retirees, it was probably easier than the workers back then. Today, I think it’s reversed.

I think it’s harder for retirees because interest rates are so low that inflation is maybe even a bigger impact than it was for my grandparents back in the ’70s and ’80s. How do you see that? Do you agree with that, or am I off base?

Victor:  No. I think I agree with that because the solution back, if we flipped it around the other way, was that you could sit on your investments, and the interest rate that was being thrown off really gave you your big money outpace without inflation number was and so those two things were closely linked.

The benefit of doing it that way is, of course, that you could put your investments and all these really safe and conservative things, they were throwing off interest, because fixed income, debts, and bonds are typically more conservative and more secure.

When we flip that around and we look at retirees today, it’s a bigger risk, because what happens is that in order for you to gain money on your money, more of it has to be at risk. The reason for that is because the bonds aren’t throwing off anything and we don’t have high interest rates, so that in order to generate the income that we need, we have to have some stuff that is at risk.

This is where a more sophisticated investment strategy in retirement comes into play. Because when you’re earning money, you are working, and you’re saving for retirement, you can leave things at risk and it doesn’t really matter what’s going on the market because you don’t need it right now and over time it’ll grow. You can just ignore what’s going on in the account until you face retirement.

When you’re in retirement, though, if you kept the same investment strategy, the effect of the roller coaster of the values of these accounts, actually has a very significant impact on your ability to last through retirement.

Because if you enter into a down cycle early in retirement, that is that the account values go down as part of a normal cycle, but they go down. You still need to sell some of that stuff off in order to generate your income. If we’re in low‑interest rate environments, we have to sell off those securities in order to make the money that we need.

We can’t just live off of the interest. Where that becomes dangerous is that if we’re selling it off while it’s low, we’ve taken away some of the growth momentum to make this money last as long as you need it to in retirement.

Now, the solution for that is to not think about your account as one investment portfolio that’s all doing exactly the same thing so as this monolithic strategy. You actually want to break these things apart and start to diversify your investment products as much as you are diversifying the asset strategies that are in there, and the sectors in which funds that you’re in.

You want to think about mixing things in from the bank world, from the insurance world, and from the stock market world. Each of them tied to different time segments so that it is available for you when you need it in a very secure fashion.

Then, yes, you are still having things that are invested to grow over a long period of time because, again, we have to fight that inflation thing that we just talked about but I don’t need that money today. See, I can create the income that I need in the midterm, and leave my growth‑oriented stuff to deal with growth‑oriented stuff does over a long period of time.

Doesn’t matter what the accounts are going up, and down, and over there in that bucket because I don’t need that bucket today. The buckets that I need today are very secure. That’s that shift that we have to do in retirement of an investment strategy in a way that we have to overcome the obstacles that our grandparents didn’t have in terms of having high‑interest rates. We have to do something different with it in order to be successful.

Mark:  Here’s where inflation plays out. Just like Victor said, if you think about it, let’s say that you needed 5,000 a month to retire and you go, “You know what? I think I can do that.”

The question is at the age of…Let’s say you retired at 60, you needed five grand. At 65, you need $5,800. At 70, you need $6,700 a month. At 75, you need $7,500 a month. That means you started out needing 60,000 a year in income to maintain your lifestyle, but 15 years later, you need almost $95,000. Do you have increasing income set up in your retirement plan?

That is certainly where Palante Wealth can help you because inflation is just a part of life. Got to deal with it. Whether it’s two percent, three percent, whether we get hyperinflation. We don’t really think it’s going there, but we do think inflation is going up.

Jerome Powell was on “60 Minutes,” I think it was in late March, early April or whatever, talking about, “Hey, we’re going to try to get inflation to two percent.” We know the Medicare or the healthcare world, we’re talking five, six, seven percent inflation so different areas of things that we use are inflating higher than others.

It’s really about you and your retirement plan. How do you put it all together? Palante Wealth can certainly do that for you, but they don’t really know how to help you until you give them a call. It’s easy to do. There’s no cost. It’s 856‑506‑8300. Retirement planning starts with income.

How are you going to replace a paychecks that are no longer coming in, and how do you make your money last as long as you do, while still doing the things you’ve always dreamed about doing in retirement? 856‑506‑8300.

Glad you’re with us today for “Make It Last” with Victor Medina of the Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth, I’m Mark Elliot. We’re talking about inflation. Are there any income sources, Victor, that are inflation‑proof? Is there a way to make all of our income inflation‑proof?

Victor:  I don’t know if we can get to all of your income, but we do have different categories of things that are inflation‑proof, or at least be inflation‑proof in their strategy. Let’s go through a couple of them so that people understand what we mean by that.

It turns out that it may not actually match all of the inflation numbers, but Social Security has a form of inflation protection, because it has routinely had a cost‑of‑living adjustment, that gets the number to increase.

Now, it doesn’t increase as high as if you delayed Social Security, where you’re earning that eight percent by delaying from age 67 to age 70 every year. It doesn’t do that big of a jump, but it will have adjustments on a year‑to‑year basis, and historically has.

In recent five years or so, there’s only one year where it didn’t, where it’s making that change that adjustment upward to compensate for the idea that things are more expensive. That cost‑of‑living adjustment, or COLA adjustments, is a form of inflation protection.

Similarly, you can get inflation protected Treasury securities, or different kinds of investments that are keyed to increase based on the rate of inflation. There’s ways of protecting it that way, but the best thing that you can do to inflation‑proof your income planning is to actually build it into the plan.

Too many people look at their number, and when you’re looking at trying to figure “Oh, do I have enough money to make it?” you look at the $5,000 per month that you need, and you extrapolate that out 30 years, and you say, “Well, I have enough to make it.” That’s not really the right way to make the calculation.

We have to increase that amount by an inflation number, not just once, but every year in the years that you plan to be alive and retired, and then be able to stress test what your income plan looks like, and whether you can be successful.

Because again, that inflation amount is a compounding number, 3 percent this year plus 3 percent next year is actually 3.3 percent going forward. It keeps increasing on that number. The idea there is really to think about it as a growing problem, and one that is thought of and planned at the beginning part of your retirement planning and conceptualize so that you can make sure that you can avoid the narrow‑minded view of just looking at the number flat, you want to see it as an increasing thing.

Now you really have the right answer to whether or not you have enough money to last because you’re taking into account inflation. When we do that planning for our clients, and if we were to do that planning for you, for example, what we would do is we would say, “OK, look, we’re going to put the inflation number higher than the historical average.”

We’re going to stress test this in a little bit more of a conservative fashion. Because here’s the thing, if I get that number wrong, if I under account for it, and you don’t have enough money, I don’t want you coming to live with me, because I miss‑figured it. I’m going to have to put that number higher to make sure that you make it all the way through retirements.

The same thing with longevity, by the way, Mark. If you take the client out longer than even they expect to be alive just so that they don’t move in with you if they run out of money. That’s the whole strategy as an advisor. You don’t have the client live with you.

Mark:  Yeah, [laughs] exactly. I think a lot of people that come in and sit down with you and your teams at the Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth don’t want to be a burden on their kids. That is certainly a part of this, and inflation can certainly cause that, but we think of inflation, where Jerome Powell, the Fed Chair said, “Hey, we’d like to get it to maybe around two percent.”

We know areas are higher, but historical averages about three percent. Is that a challenge to people? People are going two percent or three percent. That’s not very much at all. Then it’s a compounding effect is that you have to walk them through to say, “Wait, inflation is a factor, and it is something we plan for when putting these plans together.”

Victor:  That’s exactly right. It doesn’t look like much even from one year to the next, especially the first few years that are in there, but if you start to show someone that the income that they’ll need 20 years down the road is a number that is almost unfathomable to the number that you started with, it gets real very quickly.

When you start to have to budget for an $80,000 a year number, when you start with a $50,000 a year number, it’s a very significant increase. Of course, we want to make sure that you’re comfortable through retirement.

You don’t have to change your quality of life. As you were talking about, we want to make sure that you’re not a burden to your kids. We don’t want your quality of life to suffer to the point where you’re either moving in with kids or you’re lowering your standards.

From the beginning, we want to make sure that that is part of what we’re planning around. It’s a landmine that we’re trying to not step on as we do this planning, it’s because that number can grow to a very significant impact.

By the way, that’s another reason why we want to think about the product mix investments in retirement a little bit differently because you can start to mix and match different forms of guarantees from insurance companies.

Or look at different guarantees from bank products that you can’t get from the stock market as ways of blending all of these things together to be able to get successful in retirement. Again, that’s part of an overall plan that you should be putting together.

Mark:  We’re talking inflation, and we’re going to come back and talk more about it, and retirees suffer probably the most from higher inflation. Victor is going to take a look into the past to inform ourselves of what we can do now to help ensure our retirements can bear the brunt of inflation.

Before we go, though, I want to remind you the Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth serve the Pennington, Greater Mercer County areas as well as Bucks County. There are clients in New Jersey, there are clients in Pennsylvania as well, for Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth.

If you’d like to learn more about estate planning, retirement planning, call the team. They’re here to help. Just don’t know if they can till they hear your situation. 856‑506‑8300 again. No cost for this call.

Mark:  Welcome back to Make It Last with Victor Medina of Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. Victor focuses on traditional estate planning, asset protection, retirement distribution, proactive income tax planning.

In 2006, when he started Medina Law Group, because Victor is a practicing estate planning and certified elder law attorney, the people were going, “Why can’t you help us with our retirement planning? There’s a lot more than just estate and legacy planning.” He’s like, “Well, I think I can.”

All of a sudden, he is a certified financial planner professional. It wasn’t overnight. It takes time. There’s a lot of studying involved, a lot of testing. He’s also a registered investment advisor that became Palante Wealth.

There’s Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. They go hand in hand. You think about when it comes to retirement, Victor’s teams are going to be able to help you with your income plan, your investment strategies, taxes. We got to be efficient when it comes to taxes and estate planning.

The companies are intertwined to help whether you’re in your 30s or 40s, because certainly the companies can do that as well. Also, when it comes to retirement. We’re talking inflation today. I mentioned that my grandparents retired in the ’70s. Well, that was the Jimmy Carter time, double digit interest rates, double digit inflation.

In the ’70s, retirees typically lived on a fixed income, right? Inflation was nearly 20 percent at one point in the late ’70s. That’s crazy to think about 20 percent, because we’re right now around the 2, 2.5 percent or so. We don’t have very high inflation. Everybody is thinking that inflation is going to be going up.

If you were a retiree on a fixed income and inflation bounces way up, what are you going to do? Do you pull more money out, which gives you a chance to run out of money sooner than we would prefer? Or do you change your lifestyle and take out less money?

That’s not where we want to be either. Inflation forecast is at an eight‑year high. Victor, at the end of the day, we know we’re pre‑retiree, we’re 60 going to retire at 65, for example. How concerned should we be about inflation impacting our retirement?

Victor:  You said the magic words, Mark, when you talked about retirees being on a fixed income because that is that part of the mathematical equation that causes so much problems for retirees, specifically with respect to inflation. The answer, by the way, to your question is 11, on a scale of 1 to 10, you should be concerned about it.

That explains why, and then maybe we can talk about how we’re going to do that. The idea that the cost is increasing. It means it’s more expensive for you to buy stuff. As that happens, then there is increasing revenues to the companies that are selling things that allow them to pay employees higher wages because they’re getting more revenue.

This inflation thing chases itself around so that people that are in the working world aren’t nearly as affected by it. Once we get down to the nitty‑gritty of a retiree who’s on a fixed income, they’re not the beneficiary of any of those increasing costs, right?

They don’t get a higher salary, because they’re making their own salary in retirement. They’re creating their own paycheck, which means that it becomes more difficult for them to keep pace with this as things start to get more and more expensive.

If we have successive years of higher inflation, especially in the beginning part of the retiree’s journey, if you face higher inflation costs at the beginning of that, what ends up happening is a mathematical calculation off of it is that it’s a more significant impact.

If you have inflation at the tail end, if you’re 104 right now, and we’ve got next three years of the highest inflation that you’re going to see, probably not going to be as affected by it, because the way that the math factors into that is that it doesn’t have the compounding impact that it would if you had higher inflation the beginning portion of your retirement journey.

Where now you’re taking more and more money out of account, it’s growing smaller, and that means that you have less amount available. It’s a very significant concern for the retirees, specifically, because they are either on a fixed income or are creating their own fixed income beneficiary of increasing anything.

Mark:  When inflation might be relatively low in general, but the inflation rate for medical costs is much higher, around six percent in 2020. One of the challenges for retirees is…It’s one of the number one reasons that retirees or even working people have to file for bankruptcy, is a major health incident, that they didn’t have the insurance coverage, and it just bankrupted them.

Let’s face it. We don’t want to be in that position. The inflation is really impacting the healthcare world. How do we look at that? How do you help people deal with that?

Victor:  That’s a great point, Mark, because I remember one of my prior careers in the legal world, as I actually used to be a labor negotiator for public school districts, and I would sit across from teachers’ unions.

I would say to them, “We can’t as the board continue to cover your healthcare costs without you contributing it, because look, these things are going up 10, 11 percent per year. Tell me, where are we supposed to get the money from?”

It was eye opening to them early 2000s, when we were having this negotiation, never mind what it looks like for retirees that are going to have to face that increasing healthcare costs. It breaks down into two risks that are associated with increased healthcare costs.

There is the general increase healthcare costs for normal what you need, if you need to go to the hospital acute care that you may look at making sure you have an appropriate supplement, a Medicare Advantage plan, or some way of covering the extra costs that won’t be covered by Medicare.

That’s one component of it, and it’s certainly something that we help clients with by making sure that they’re in the right supplement and discussion in around which Medicare Part D premium they have for the prescription, all that kind of stuff. You put that in place.

The bigger risk, in terms of the size of the impact of it, is in long term care costs. Because when you think about long term care costs, and here I get to put on my lawyer hat with a self‑certified elder law stuff where we’re talking about asset protection.

You look at that, you’re looking at the need to either have somebody in your home and home health care, or need to potentially go to an assisted living facility, or even a skilled nursing facility, nursing home or what we might call the old folks home.

Those are all really expensive propositions, anywhere between $5,500 a month on the low end for an assisted living facility in our area to maybe up to $14,000 per month. How do you prepare for something like that? The answer is as soon as you possibly can, because it’s very difficult to prepare for that when you need that care itself.

You think about doing that ahead of time. Traditionally, the way that you do that is either by thinking about getting some form of insurance. Again, it is specifically either a life insurance policy that has long‑term care riders attached to it, or an income‑based annuity that has long‑term care benefits.

By the way, both of those are subject to very specific things that a client has to meet in order for that to be appropriate for them, or you think about doing it from the legal perspective where you create trust to help safeguard assets so that we don’t have to spend them down.

We can use programs like Medicaid, or the VA Aid and Attendance program to help pay for care. There are options, but the point that you have to take away from this is that these options aren’t as helpful, if at all, if you wait until you’re sick to need them. It’s stuff that you have to put in place while you’re still healthy to get the best benefit.

To make sure that, again, that you don’t stand on a step on one of these landmines out of a long‑term care costs. Just blow up everything that you were trying to do with your retirement plan.

Mark:  856‑506‑8300, if you’d like Victor’s teams to help you walk through all of these challenges that we more than likely, hopefully, won’t face, but that’s typically how it works. 856‑506‑8300. Now, what are the challenges and you mentioned the cost of living adjustments for Social Security.

If you’re Social Security recipients say since 2010. 2010, 2011, 2016, there was zero percent cost of living adjustments. 2018 was two percent. 2019, 2.8, ’21, 1.6. This year, if you’re on Social Security, hey, you got a $20 a month on average, 1.3 percent.

My challenge with all of this inflation stuff, is that social security and the real inflation rates for retirees they’re not coinciding. The government looks at inflation as what? The clerical worker in New York, Philly, or Chicago, but not retirees.

To me, if they were talking inflation for cost of living for social security, shouldn’t be the impact inflation has on retirees? Doesn’t seem like it is.

Victor:  It isn’t linked to that. Especially, because most retirees aren’t viewed as, as relying exclusively on their social security to live. You have a much higher outlay of this injustice of not increasing social security amount to match the true cost of inflation if we had people relying on social security exclusively.

No one is capable of doing that, and living any kind of life from retirement if they want. It’s a component of it, but they’re relying on their own assets, their own nest egg, about how they’re going to create their paycheck.

Which means that we can’t necessarily even rely on social security. We might have to make up [laughs] the additional amount of social security increase didn’t cover for inflation as an overall calculation for how, in fact, we are going to make up these increasingly higher bigger checks as we get through retirement. I’m with you on that one.

Mark:  You think about it. Your kids, you’ve got three of them. Aiden 17, Lucas 14, Dylan eight. My guess is, Aiden is probably not going to the same doctor Dylan is at eight. Is that correct?

Victor:  No. In fact, he doesn’t want to go to the same doctor. Right?

Mark:  [laughs] Right. You think about that. As we age, we go to different doctors. When we get to my age of 61, now you’re going to the heart specialists, the cancer specialist. You’re going to the specialist. That’s what you need.

In the financial world, there’s the stockbrokers that can certainly help you grow your money. There are the insurance agents that can help you get a car, home, auto, life, all those things, but neither one of those are retirement planners. Retirement planning is a totally different ballgame.

Victor, how do we find the right help to put a plan to protect against inflation and all those other major risks we have and may face in retirement?

Victor:  You nailed it. That you’re looking for somebody that’s a specialist in that area. Somebody focuses on that exclusively. If I were going to go through this, if I were the retiree and I was trying to search out a financial advisor and trying to figure out who I wanted to work with, I would find somebody that was focused exclusively in retirement.

It is its own specialty to make sure that you’re focusing on the distribution strategies, to make sure that you make money last. Beyond that, there are ways of them characterizing themselves. The way that we as financial advisors decide that we want to operate. That is a good indication, people that you want to work with.

Which is you want to work with somebody that is subject to the fiduciary standard. That is being obligated to put your best interest ahead of their own, ahead of their companies, ahead of their own profits.

You need that standard to say, “Look, all things being equal, we’re going to make sure we’re going to make recommendations, that are going to benefit you, the client, over us the advisor,” and that’s a super important element of it.

In addition to that, we want someone that is wholly independent, not working for, sort of a Big Brother company that is looking over and telling the advisor what their menu of options are, so they can pick what the best one is, but it’s not really that whole universe of them.

We want somebody that is independent so that we can pick from every single strategy in making sure that is, what is absolutely the best for that client. It’s totally tailored‑made for them. We’re looking for independence. We’re looking for the fiduciary standard.

We’re looking for the retirement planning and then the one, the cherry on top, is if they have additional specialties, like the ability to help you with your legal planning and making sure [inaudible 41:48] and income and inheritance taxes along the way. Now you’ve gotten all of that under one umbrella.

When something is wrong in Gotham, there is one bat phone that you pick up because there is one Batman to solve it. You don’t want to have to pick up multiple phones to make sure that stuff is coordinated.

Clients get the benefit of having it all under one house and not having to manage all of these different relationships. One phone call, one plan with one planning team to make sure that you got it all set.

Mark:  That’s the idea. Victor and the teams are here to help. Medina Law Group, Palante Wealth, 856‑506‑8300. I think we all get inflation, the impact. That things are going to cost more as we move down the road. You can’t get that $3,500 Corvette anymore, that when it was brand new back in the day, right? [laughs] Everything is going up.

The house that our parents bought, it’s not the same price anymore. It has doubled or tripled. It might even be more than that. Inflation is a big part of retirement planning. Victors and the teams, that’s where they start really, income.

Got to know income, how do we increase income, investments, taxes, estate planning, all of that. It’s all important. We’ve got to have the holistic viewpoint, how it all ties together. 856‑506‑8300 is the number.

Mark:  Welcome back to Make It Last with Victor Medina of Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. If you want to find out more about the estate planning, the certified elder law attorney, Victor Medina, that side of things.

The estate planning and powers of attorney, and all of that, you can always go to the website, medinalawgroup.com, M‑E‑D‑I‑N‑A, medinalawgroup.com. They’re flat fees, there’s no hourly charge. It’s all about the client. Medina Law Group. You could say the same about Palante Wealth.

Palante Wealth knows about holistic planning for your retirement ‑‑ the income, the investment, the taxes. Those are all the parts of retirement planning. You want to find out more about Victor on that side of things, the financial planning side, palantewealth.com, P‑A‑L‑A‑N‑T‑E, palantewealth.com.

All right, Victor, you went on a trip recently with your family, went up to the old alma matter up in Boston, Northeastern for your undergrad, for your law school. Your older son Aedin is going to be a senior this coming year, correct?

Victor:  Correct.

Mark:  You’re doing a little research, stopping at some schools to see if any of them excited Aiden. He liked your alma matter. We’re going to play a little game of “Would you rather?” which is what retirement is all about. Would you rather do this, or would you rather do that? It’s fun.

Here’s my first would you rather. Would you rather Aiden have a full scholarship to Northeastern or would you rather pay the entire fee?

Victor:  That’s not even fair. Of course, I would rather [laughs] have him have a full scholarship. I don’t know how it’s going to happen because his best chance for it is he’s a swimmer. They actually don’t have a division one’s men’s swimming team.

I’m not sure that’s ever going to happen but go ahead. Let’s play in the fantasy world, Mark. Yes, I would prefer that he has a full scholarship.

Mark:  Absolutely. Because we do know that we talk about inflation from time to time on this program. Education is one of those. It’s almost not quite like healthcare, but it’s in that same area. There’s no question about that.

We’re going to play a little game of “Would you rather?” Would you rather do this? Or, would you rather do that? Would you rather have that or have this? That’s what retirement planning is all about? When Victor and the team sit down and talk with you about it’s a game of “Would you rather?”

Let’s talk about our money, Victor. If we’re not retired yet, our financial decisions are all about this question. The question is overextended a little bit. It’s a little far‑reaching because nobody would ever be in this position. Would you rather spend all your money now or save it to spend later in retirement?

We’re talking not spending at all, and you’re broke. That’s not how we’re thinking. That’s something that people have to work on is how much are they spend? You talked about it earlier. Do you spend every dollar that you make? Or are you putting some away? I guess that’s the question. Isn’t it?

Victor:  It is. The “Would you rather?” It’s more like, would you rather spend most of your money now or save more of it to have it in the future? That kind of thing. People do face those decision.

We’re thinking about Aiden. Aiden, one of the conversations I’ve had with him is, “Listen, would you rather spend my money on your undergraduate degree? Or would you rather spend more of it on a graduate degree?”

It’s the same decision, and I think that I would tend to be the same way in terms of the financial decisions for retirement. It’s what I’m coaching my kids on, and it’s the way that I live my life. Which is I’m planning for the rainy day.

We’re working towards having flexibility and choice in the future, because what you’re trading off by spending more money now and not having it is autonomy and freedom when the time comes. Especially in a time comes where you can’t manufacture it on your own.

What I mean about it’s when you’re retirement, you can’t go out and get the same job that you had when you were at your best earning potential at that time, or you’re banking the most dollars. You can’t go back and go and make a different decision.

If we’re planning for the rainy day of retirement, if we’re saving for the future. What we’re saving for is to maintain our flexibility, autonomy, freedom, choice. All of those things that we want in the future.

It’s just as important if you were 18 years old thinking about how much flexibility you want as you go into graduate school that my son is. Or if you’re thinking about it from the perspective of retirement. The more that you save for the future. Would you rather?

I would rather save more for the future because of what it will buy me. It’s going to buy me all of the things that I want. Which is the ability to make my own choices, drive my ship where I want it to go, and enjoy life that way.

Mark:  There are certainly things we have to spend money on. Groceries will certainly be one. Transportation will be another. There was an opinion piece in MarketWatch that talks about our nation’s love affair with expensive cars and trucks. Are you a car guy at all?

Victor:  I do love cars, Mark. I love where this question is going. Come on. Let’s get to this.

Mark:  There are people that…I like cars. I enjoy driving. I would love to have a new Porsche 911, but I can’t afford one. I can get a 20‑year‑old one. That’s where my bank account rolls. You think about it. Those big car payments sometimes can take away our ability to put money aside for retirement.

Victor, for you then, would you rather pay for a big expensive vehicle, which can be important with your three kids and want to take on trips? Or put that amount toward your retirement savings every month?

Victor:  Great. I knew this is where we’re going with it because I get to tell my story of what I actually did so that now I can live my life in integrity off of it. I had a car that was coming off of lease about a year ago, and I had the opportunity…The fund that I have is fairly successful.

I have the opportunity to get essentially whatever car I want. Not within reason. It’s not going to be Porsche 911. I could buy whatever car I want. What I decided to do at that point in time…This is in 2020. Let’s say. I decided to buy a three‑year‑old 2017 Mazda 3 Hatchback that was a shift for cash.

The reason why I wanted to do that…The cost was good for it. The reason I wanted to do is because, for a period of time, I wanted to be able to bank the dollars and not have the car payments that would otherwise be associated with it. I needed the freedom and the cash flow to save more that money in place even though I’m a car guy and even though I like cars.

What that’s allowed me to do if we’re going to compress my retirement to about two years right now. What it’s allowed me to do is have enough savings to be able to go out, and I’m interested in an electric vehicle now, Mark. I like the Mustang Mach‑E. I’m into that right now.

It means that right now I can go, and I can buy that for cash and be able to avoid those car payments because I’ve taken the two years that I didn’t have car payments and saved that for the future. I’m making decisions that are commensurate with my lifestyle so that no getting to a point where I’m handcuffed by the obligations that I have.

I think that cars factor into that. I also think that we are getting monthly expense built to death. We look at every streaming service, cable subscription for this pay it for me for the month of that, and that is like death by a thousand paper cuts.

I love cocking people through it. Exercise as they enter retirement as I want them to enjoy what’s going on, but I also want them to value what it is that they’re paying for. Sometimes all of this stuff can just spool out of control.

We’re looking at the same things where there are so many things that are hitting our credit cards or debit cards on a regular basis, monthly basis, that we don’t understand how much is going out the door.

One of the great exercises to go through is do an annual audit. I love walking people through an annual audit to say, “Let’s pull out a statement of something that’s charging your every gear and figure out if it still has a place in your life.”

If you’re enjoying it, by all means, and you can afford it, go for it. If it’s just there because we got lazy and we didn’t recognize it, but it doesn’t kill us. Every time it gets it doesn’t bankrupt us every time we doing it. Maybe you want to excuse it out the door.

The cars fall into that same category, by the way. I don’t think we should be spending too much for. We should still be saving mostly for retirement. Living within our means for what that would be.

Mark:  If you’d like to go through that process. To find out, do a little audit [laughs] of your spending for the year. You can certainly do that just by calling Victor and the teams. Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. That’s 856‑506‑8300. Probably be in very eye‑opening experience to be my guest. 856‑506‑8300.

Here’s another “Would you rather?”, Victor. This one I wonder if it’s changed a little bit. You started the Medina Law Group in ’06. You started Palante Wealth in 2014. I wonder if this is changing. Here’s the “Would you rather?” Would you rather spend your money on a vacation home or dream vacation?

Those are the same. It’s vacation home/dream vacation once you’re in retirement. Or would you rather save it for things like potential nursing home care or other health care costs? Nobody wants to save for that, but they understand it’s so important. What I’m thinking…

[crosstalk]

Mark:  Here’s my thing is the old second home idea because a lot of people dream of having that second home. With the verbose now, are more and more people may be moving away from that world?

Victor:  Yeah. They are. We did it when we were looking for…For the last two years, we found different places to go on vacation. If we had owned one vacation and we would just gone back to that same one.

We were in the Poconos for one here, and then we’re in the Berkshires for another, then now we are in Cape Cod for another. We enjoy the ability to move this stuff around and sort of with the verbose that are out there, it’s like the non‑scummy timeshare.

I can move my week wherever I want it to be and only be obligated to pay for that and no more monthly costs. Anyway, I actually would rather ‑‑ I’m going to split the hair off of this ‑‑ I think that you can do both if you’re planning for this in retirement the right way.

What I mean about that is, if you were to buy a vacation home, for example, and you knew that you were going to be using it. Let’s say it was near a grandchild. I have some people, by the way, they’re not going to be a vacation home, but it would be like a condo near one of their kids, so they could be around the grandkids.

What I tell them in terms of the planning for it is, that asset still has value. It’s actually a false choice because if we invested in that home, and then we were there and we were using it, if the time came that we were needed it for a nursing home expenses, we’d be able to sell that.

Maybe not on a moment’s notice, but that asset still has value. We’d be able to use that. What I would layer on that, and here comes the certified elder law attorney in me, that hat just logically got on, nobody saw it, this is radio, but the hat just got on, is I would say that I want that home protected inside a trust.

Because what I would be able to do is if I did some pre‑planning, I’d be able to move that home away from the crosshairs of Medicaid and nursing home expenses. I’d be able to use it the way that I wanted and didn’t have to spend it down. I could have liquidated it, use some of it for the long‑term care expenses.

I think you can actually accomplish both, but here’s the trick, you got to do it ahead of time. This is not something you do in a crisis. Somebody is putting a plan together actually needs to see these years before it ever actually manifests itself, and you need to do it as part of your initial planning.

I think it’s one of the benefits of working with is that because we have both the legal and the financial under the same roof where you’re doing both with me and my team. We’re able to get those two things to work together so that we’ve got you buying your dream home, your condo, or whatever you want, we’ve had owned in any revocable trust to help you protect it from nursing home expenses and we’re helping you with advice and navigating that journey with you.

If something happens in the future, we’ll implement that and keep as much protected in getting you as happy in retirement…If you’re happy saving it for a nursing home, then you will feel happy when it actually happens.

Mark:  Absolutely. Before we wrap up, you mentioned putting on your elder law hat. I know you have a report at 920ElderLaw.com similar to the other ones we’ve talked about today on the program. What is that one entail? The 920ElderLaw.com, What does that report?

Victor:  That report it helps you understand what the impact of long‑term care costs would be. In other words, if you were able, if you needed to get sick, you needed care, home health care assisted living. First of all, it outlines what that world looks like, what the impact of that is.

That also helps you understand how to avoid losing your home, the nursing home if you need it in the future. Helps outline what the strategy would be. If you don’t know anything about this, and by the way most people don’t, when we work with a family and we help explain to them what we can do for asset protection, it’s often the first time that we’re having that conversation.

I’ll tell you the only time, that it’s not the first time is when we’re helping the kids because we helped their mom with this situation. They had that familiarity with it.

What the guide allows you to do is understand that world, because most people aren’t familiar with it, so that you can take action. Here’s the important part ‑‑ that world, more than anything in the world, requires pre‑planning in order to avoid a bad result.

If you want to protect assets from nursing‑home expenses, from assisted living, making sure that you’ve got money from both spouses, you need to download 920elder.com. Then, you’re going to need to take some action with an elder law attorney.

It doesn’t have to be me, but you’re going to need to work with somebody that is a certified elder law attorney that can help you with this planning, because this is an area that you shouldn’t be working with somebody that doubts.

This is not for the person that helped you close the home, or fight your neighbor about where the fence is. You need a specialist in this area. Start by learning this information, download it at 920elderlaw.com. All you need is your name and your email. You’ll get it automatically delivered to you, and you’ll be well on the way of understanding how to not let your health destroy your family’s wealth.

[background music]

Mark:  Yeah, I like that. If you have other questions about anything else, “When can I retire?” “Do I have enough?” “Will my money last as long as I do?” “Will my loved ones be OK if something happens to me?” At the end of the day, when I retire, are we going to be OK?” That’s really what we want to know.

Call the team at Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. They’re here to help you. 856‑506‑8300. 856‑506‑8300.

Victor, enjoyed it. Enjoy the rest of the weekend. We’ll do it again next week.

Announcer:  Taxes are just a fact of life. You can’t avoid it, even in retirement. What if I told you there are ways to minimize what you pay in taxes? Victor Medina and his team can help. To learn more, visit 920taxes.com to get your free copy of Victor Medina’s tax guide. 920taxes.com. That’s the number, 9‑2‑0, taxes.com.

Mark:  Palante Wealth Advisors are an independent financial services firm that utilizes a variety of insurance and investment products. Medina Law Group is an independent estate planning and elder law firm. Investment advisory services offered through Palante Wealth Advisors LLC, a 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 referred 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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