While retirement may be associated with leaving the workforce behind, most Americans plan to work past the age of 65. In fact, a 2022 study from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found that around 57% of workers plan to work either full-time or part-time in retirement. Financial reasons and a desire to remain active were cited as the main motivators. Here are eight jobs that can keep you active, boost your income and let you work remotely.
If you’d like personalized help managing your finances in retirement, consider working with a financial advisor.
8 Great Work-from-Home Opportunities for Retirees
While there is a myriad of opportunities for retirees to work from home, what follows are some of best, who might be a good fit for the work and estimated pay, per salary.com as of May 1, 2023.
Bookkeepers maintain a business’s financial records, including purchases, sales, invoices, payments and other transactions. The job will require a high level of accuracy. And it will likely take some technological savvy given that many, if not most, businesses use software to manage their finances.
Organized and detail-oriented workers with a solid grasp of basic accounting principles.
Average salary: $42,854
Telehealth Nurse —
If you have a nursing degree but hope to transition to remote work, the growing demand for telemedicine may be a great opportunity for you.
Telehealth nurses “see” patients via email, phone and chat. They also videoconference and answer their questions, determine the next medical steps, conduct follow-up appointments and deliver medical treatments.
This is good for people who already hold a nursing degree, of course. And in a remote environment, communication skills become more important than ever for treating patients with sensitivity.
Average salary: $85,045
Administrative Assistant —
You may think of an administrative assistant as someone who mans the reception desk, makes copies and orders more coffee. But the remote role has slightly different responsibilities. You can expect to answer phone calls and emails, schedule meetings and appointments and handle many of the things that keep a remote office running smoothly.
This is good for people with excellent customer service and time management skills. Being able to multitask is a plus.
Average salary: $45,003
Paralegals serve as assistants to lawyers, helping investigate and research legal cases, maintaining records, drafting correspondence and putting together documents for trials. The job descriptions for a paralegal will vary widely depending on the law firm, what type of law is practiced, its size and the paralegal’s own qualification level.
Those who already have a certification or degree in paralegal studies—though the qualifications required to become a paralegal depend on the hiring firm and an actual degree or certification isn’t always necessary.
On the other hand, if this interests you, paralegal certification programs and associate’s degrees in paralegal studies can be relatively affordable and can require as few as 12-24 months of study.
Average salary: $58,630-117,990 (salary ranges widely vary)
Tutoring is another job with a wide variety of possibilities, depending on the age and education level of the students, the subject or subjects taught and more. You can be a generalist who works with elementary school kids on any subject they need help with.
You can also be a specialist who works with college students on writing assignments, an ESL tutor who helps adults learn English, and all kinds of varieties in between. In the big picture, a tutor works with students outside of their classes to help them better understand and implement the concepts they’re learning.
People who are patient, good at breaking complex concepts into simple ideas and steps and hold the required credentials. Some tutor positions only require a GED, while others may require a college degree in the subject you intend to specialize in, such as a bachelor’s degree in math for a math tutor.
Average salary: $42,422
A virtual receptionist serves the same role as a traditional, in-person receptionist: They ensure that all customer concerns are taken care of.
While there is some overlap with a virtual administrative assistant, a receptionist will be more focused on the customer side of the office than the administrative, answering phone calls and emails, helping customers who need assistance, scheduling appointments and more.
This is good for those with good multitasking and people skills. And some technological savvy ensures that customers don’t slip through the cracks in a remote office.
Average salary: $41,704
Customer Service Representative
In a brick-and-mortar retail shop such as a hardware store, a customer service rep may be walking the floor, answering questions about what someone should buy for their upcoming home improvement project.
In a remote business, customer service representatives serve much the same purpose: answering customer questions, helping them with problems and troubleshooting any issues.
People with patience, great communication skills and a solid knowledge base of the products or services being sold by their employer.
Average salary: $37,623
The transcriptionist job is a straightforward one: You simply type up recordings. Some transcriptionists work exclusively in one industry. For example, they can work in legal or medical industries, which necessitates a certain level of knowledge of the terminology used in that profession. Others may do general transcription work, typing up whatever is needed.
This is good for fast and accurate typists looking for low-intensity work. While some may find this kind of work boring, the right person may find the audio or video they transcribe interesting and value the calm.
Average salary: $41,453
Things to Consider When Looking for Remote Jobs
Don’t Get Scammed
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a common scam is for a fake company to hire you. And then they send you a check to buy equipment with the caveat that you should send the extra money back. The check is bad and will be returned.
The FTC advises that you carefully review any job offers, only apply to jobs on legitimate websites and never rely on a “cleared” check your employer sends you.
Use Your Career Expertise
One of the best ways to find a new remote job is to use the skills you already have. You may be able to find a less demanding and remote version of your previous career. And going into this new job with your years of experience can be valuable to your employer. And it can potentially earn you a bigger starting salary.
For instance, if you had a career as an editor, you may be an excellent English tutor. You can help students understand the rules of grammar and how to improve their reading and writing skills.
Understand How Working Can Impact Your Social Security Benefits
Working can still be the right choice for you, but make you know how your benefits could be affected. According to the Social Security Administration, while you can work and still receive benefits, there’s a limit to how much you can earn before they begin to reduce your benefits if you’re not yet full retirement age.
In 2023, the limit is $21,240 for those under full retirement age. And it’s $56,520 for the year that you reach full retirement age.
It’s common for retirees to continue working in retirement. It could be due to financial reasons or just finding ways to keep busy. However, you may not want to stay with the same career track you worked in previously. You may be looking for something less demanding, more flexible or a job you can do from home. But before you decide to work, do your due diligence in finding the right opportunities.
Consider working with a financial advisor to get the most out of all the benefits the SSA provides. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
The SmartAsset Retirement Guide offers a calculator to show you how much you need to save for retirement. It also has a retirement tax friendliness calculator to help you weigh various options if you are moving after your retirement.
Paying for a nursing home can seriously deplete your retirement savings. The government-funded Medicaid program can pay some or all nursing home costs, but it’s restricted to people of very limited financial means. You may be able to qualify for government assistance with nursing home costs, even if you control substantial wealth if you transfer nearly all your assets into an irrevocable trust. An irrevocable trust can protect your money from nursing home costs, but they have costs and drawbacks of their own, including permanently losing direct control of your assets. Talk to a financial advisor to learn about options for paying for long-term care.
Irrevocable Trust Basics
A trust is a legal entity many people create as part of an estate plan. The trust acts as a container for assets transferred into it by the grantor. A trustee is appointed to manage the assets in the trust for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries.
A trust can be revocable or irrevocable. You can make changes to a revocable trust after establishing it, including removing assets from the trust. Irrevocable trusts, however, cannot be changed after establishment. That means transferring assets to the trust is a one-way process. Once in, assets cannot be removed from an irrevocable trust.
Irrevocable Medicaid Trusts
Irrevocable trusts come in several varieties and can help with many different estate planning and other personal finance tasks. Medicaid trusts are the kind used to help reduce the impact of nursing home costs.
More specifically, Medicaid trusts are designed to help people qualify for Medicaid, the government health insurance program. Unlike Medicare, which is not means-tested, Medicaid is only available to people of limited financial means.
The program is administered by states, which determine their own Medicaid eligibility requirements in a variety of ways. In most, the annual income limit is $29,160 or less. This cap includes Social Security and pension benefits as well as wages and investment income. Financial resources such as bank accounts, investments, revocable trusts and real estate typically can’t total more than $2,000. People who have more income and more assets may have to spend their own assets to pay for nursing home care until their assets have declined to the point they meet the Medicaid caps.
An irrevocable Medicaid trust is designed to help someone qualify for Medicaid without having to deplete their own assets. After creating the trust, they can transfer in enough assets to bring them below Medicaid’s caps. Once they have done that, assuming they have followed the rules, Medicaid will pay some or all of their nursing home costs. In this way, an irrevocable trust can protect assets from nursing home costs.
Keep in mind that some people say it’s unethical to use trusts to shield your assets from Medicaid. Others believe it’s perfectly fine, considering the rules and laws set up around Medicaid. Ultimately, whether you use an irrevocable trust to protect your assets from nursing home costs will be based on your financial situation, as well as your thoughts and feelings on the ethics.
Limits of Irrevocable Trusts
Irrevocable trusts have a number of limitations that anyone planning to use one will want to keep in mind. These include:
One-way transfer. Assets placed in the trust can’t be taken out of the trust for as long as the grantor of the trust is alive.
Five-year limit. Assets must be transferred into the trust at least five years before the grantor seeks to acquire Medicaid eligibility. Irrevocable trusts can’t help at the last minute.
Medicaid doesn’t always pay all costs. A Medicaid patient in a nursing home still has to use their own income to pay for most nursing home costs. Medicaid will often pay for most and sometimes all of the costs, but patients usually shoulder some of the financial burden.
Not all nursing homes qualify. Medicaid only pays for care in certain approved nursing homes.
Other Ways to Protect Assets from Nursing Home Costs
An irrevocable trust is not the only tool available to help with nursing home costs. Here are some of the alternatives:
Long-term care insurance can cover some or all nursing home costs without having to consider Medicaid eligibility.
Medicaid-compliant annuities can be used to generate income that isn’t included in Medicaid’s income assessment.
A life estate transfers ownership of assets in your estate to a spouse, removing them from consideration when determining Medicaid eligibility.
Financial gifts to family members can reduce your net worth enough to meet Medicaid’s guidelines.
An irrevocable trust can help you avoid having to use your own assets to pay for nursing home care by making you eligible for Medicaid. Medicaid can pay some or all of your costs, but only if you meet strict financial guidelines for income and assets. Transferring assets into an irrevocable trust, called a Medicaid trust, can help even people with significant assets meet these guidelines, But once assets are transferred to an irrevocable trust, they can’t be retrieved from the trust.
Tips for Long-Term Care Planning
A financial advisor can help you design a strategy for covering long-term care costs using an irrevocable trust, if appropriate, as well as other methods. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
Whether you are retired or still working, keeping a budget is a basic tool to help you for prepare for future needs such as paying for a nursing home. SmartAsset’s Budget Calculator can tell you how your spending stacks up to other people in your area.
If you thinking about purchasing long-term care insurance, be sure to review our picks for the top long-term care insurance providers of 2023.
Mark Henricks has reported on personal finance, investing, retirement, entrepreneurship and other topics for more than 30 years. His freelance byline has appeared on CNBC.com and in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and other leading publications. Mark has written books including, “Not Just A Living: The Complete Guide to Creating a Business That Gives You A Life.” His favorite reporting is the kind that helps ordinary people increase their personal wealth and life satisfaction. A graduate of the University of Texas journalism program, he lives in Austin, Texas. In his spare time he enjoys reading, volunteering, performing in an acoustic music duo, whitewater kayaking, wilderness backpacking and competing in triathlons.
Georgia offers an affordable cost of living, top-notch schools and universities, and ample attractions, like the World of Coca-Cola, Forsyth Park, and Atlanta Botanical Garden. It’s also home to a diverse selection of reputable, member FDIC banks for individuals and small business owners.
No matter what your financial needs may be, you’re sure to find a good fit in the Peach State.
14 Best Banks in Georgia
We’ve made finding the best banks in Georgia effortless with our comprehensive list, so let’s dive straight into the options.
1. First Citizens Bank
Owned by First Citizens BancShares, First Citizens Bank has 56 branches across Georgia. As long as you sign up for paperless statements and make an initial opening deposit of at least $50, you won’t be on the hook for monthly maintenance fees.
With the First Citizens standard savings account, you’ll be able to earn interest without paying a monthly service fee or meeting a minimum balance requirement. The bank offers additional banking products, like credit cards, loans, retirement accounts, investment services, and insurance.
As a First Citizens customer, you can bank in-person at a local branch or perform account management online or via the robust mobile app.
2. Ally Bank
Ally Bank is a digital bank with a reputation for industry leading interest rates and low fees. While it doesn’t have a physical presence in Georgia, you can open and manage your accounts through Ally’s intuitive online and mobile banking tools. The Ally Interest Checking account online is a solid pick if you’d like to earn interest and don’t want to worry about annual fees or minimum balance requirements.
You can use the online portal or mobile app to pay bills online, deposit checks, and transfer funds. If you’d like to withdraw some cash, you’ll be able to do so at an Allpoint ATM for free with your Ally debit card.
Ally will also reimburse you if you make any out-of-network ATM reimbursements. In addition to the Ally interest bearing checking account, you might want to open the Ally Online Savings account, which comes with an impressive interest rate and savings bucket tools to help you meet your financial goals.
3. Axos Bank
Axos Bank is a digital bank that serves Georgians. If you’re in the market for checking accounts, you’ll have several options available to you. These include the Essential Checking, Rewards Checking, CashBack Checking, Golden Checking, and First Checking. Many of these accounts earn cash rewards or pay interest.
In addition to an Axos checking account, you might want to consider a high-yield savings account, high-yield money market, or a CD. You can also invest through Axos Invest, which is the bank’s free robo advisor. In addition, the bank offers 24/7 support for personal banking customers.
4. CIT Bank
CIT Bank is an online bank serving customers in all states, including Georgia. You can earn a competitive annual percentage yield or APY on various accounts without paying an arm and a leg for maintenance fees.
The CIT checking account requires a $100 minimum deposit but comes with interest and a free debit card. There’s also the Savings Builder account, which is a two-tiered savings account that requires a $25,000 balance or at least one monthly deposit of $100 or more.
Other options include the CIT Bank Money Market Account, certificates of deposit or CDs, home loans, and business accounts. You may download the CIT Bank app on your Android or IOS device to make mobile check deposits, pay bills, and use services like Zelle, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay.
5. Renasant Bank
Headquartered in Mississippi, Renasant Bank has physical locations throughout Georgia. It’s a community bank with several checking account options. Each free checking account comes with perks like online bill pay, mobile banking, a debit card, and a switch kit so you can switch accounts without the hassle.
Renasant’s savings account lineup includes an interest bearing savings account, a savings account for children, a health savings account (HSA), and money market accounts.
If you’re interested in a loan, you can choose from personal loans, auto loans, and home equity lines of credit. In addition to personal banking services, Renasant provides mortgages and a plethora of business banking products. There’s also Renasant Rewards Extra, which gives you access to thousands of deals, cell phone insurance, identity theft protection, roadside assistance, and a health savings card.
6. United Community Bank
Based in Blairsville, United Community Bank is a regional bank with branch locations throughout Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, and North Carolina. It’s insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or FDIC and has been around since 1950. As a United customer, you can take advantage of more than 206 United ATMs and 1,260 Publix Presto! ATMs for free.
Its plethora of offerings include checking accounts, savings accounts, mortgages, credit cards, CDs, investing products, and business banking products. You can bank on the go via the convenient mobile app or use the online appointment scheduling tool to schedule an in-person appointment with a banker. If you have any questions or concerns, you can fill out a support form online and state whether you prefer an email or phone response.
7. Ameris Bank
Ameris Bank is a regional full-service bank with brick-and-mortar locations throughout Georgia in cities like Atlanta, Tucker, Woodstock, Marietta, and Oakwood. It offers three checking accounts with benefits such as a free Visa debit card, online banking access, e-statements, online bill pay, mobile banking, and Zelle transfers. In addition to checking accounts,
Ameris offers a plethora of savings accounts, including a personal savings account, personal money market account, minor savings account, health savings account, educational savings account, IRA, and CDs. You can also turn to Ameris for numerous mortgage options and down payment assistance. The bank provides personalized business banking solutions as well.
8. Bank of America
Bank of America is a well-known leader in the banking industry. Its financial centers and ATMs are present in various Georgia cities. From checking accounts, savings accounts, and credit cards to home loans, auto loans, and investing products, Bank of America offers it all.
The bank is also a great resource if you’re looking for small business banking products. Its Business Advantage Banking product is a business checking account with two settings to meet varying business needs.
While the Fundamentals setting has all the basic tools you need to manage your business, the Relationship setting is more robust and won’t charge you fees for wire transfers and electronic deposits. You can switch settings to accommodate your business needs at any time.
In addition to checking accounts, Bank of America offers small business loans, like SBA loans, commercial real estate loans, auto loans, and secured lines of credit.
9. Community Bank of Georgia
Based in Baxley, Community Bank of Georgia is a locally owned and operated bank with 24/7 ATM access. It aims to develop long-term relationships with account holders while offering a full suite of products and services.
The bank’s personal savings accounts include the regular savings account, Treasuresaver Club account for children ages zero to 13, a holiday savings account for holiday expenses, and a personal money market account for high interest savings opportunities.
Other personal banking products offered by Community Bank of Georgia include checking accounts and credit cards. The bank serves local business owners as well.
10. Chase Bank
The consumer banking arm of JPMorgan Chase, Chase is one of the largest national banks with a widespread presence in Atlanta. If you decide to open a deposit account at Chase with eligible Chase checking accounts, there’s a good chance you’ll qualify for a generous sign-up bonus.
You’ll also have access to a wide selection of products, including numerous checking accounts, two savings accounts, CDs with terms ranging from one month to 10 years, home mortgage loans, auto loans, home refinancing, and more. We can’t forget to mention that Chase offers Chase overdraft assist to help you avoid overdraft fees and inconveniences.
Thanks to Chase’s highly rated mobile banking app, you’ll be able to manage your account, make electronic transfers, deposit mobile checks, pill bays online, transfer money with Zelle, automate your savings, and set up account alerts. If you need assistance, you may reach out to Chase directly via phone or social media.
11. Morris Bank
Morris Bank is a local bank with branches in Georgia cities like Dublin, Gray, and Warner Robins. Regardless of which checking account you choose, you’ll enjoy access to free online banking, remote deposit services, online bill pay, and mobile banking.
When it comes to savings accounts, Morris offers the Savings Builder account, which will round up your purchases so you can save more money. In addition, the Blue Savings account allows for three free withdrawals per quarter.
The bank also serves small businesses in Georgia through checking accounts, savings accounts, business loans, treasury services, and merchant services. Even though it’s smaller than other banks on this list, Morris is technologically savvy and allows for online and mobile banking. Many residents believe Morris Bank is the best local bank.
12. Fifth Third Bank
Fifth Third Bank primarily serves the Midwest and has more than 33 banking centers and 80 ATMs at RaceTrac convenience stores. If you don’t want to visit a local branch, you can use the Fifth Third mobile app to transfer money, check balances and direct deposit transactions, and more.
While the bank’s most popular services are for individuals and small businesses, it also provides personalized wealth management solutions. These personalized wealth management solutions include private banking, wealth planning, trusts and estates, insurance, and investments.
As a wealth management customer, you can enjoy access to the Life360 site, which makes it easy to organize your finances and track your progress.
13. Truist Bank
Truist has physical locations in Georgia cities like Atlanta, Brunswick, Cartersville, and Pooler. Formerly known as BB&T, it offers a variety of personal and business banking products. You can select from five checking accounts, two savings accounts, one money market account, and CDs.
In addition to deposit accounts, Truist provides HSAs, prepaid cards, prepaid money account products, mortgages and home equity lines, personal loans, auto loans, investment products, retirement accounts, and personal insurance. Truist Mobile is the bank’s mobile app, which you may use to manage your account, deposit mobile checks, transfer money, locate branches, and pay bills.
14. Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo is a large national bank with more than 200 branches and over 600 ATMs in the Peach State. Just like most traditional banks, it offers a wide variety of banking products and services, such as savings and checking accounts, credit cards, home loans, personal loans, auto loan accounts, and investment accounts.
If you’re a small business owner in Georgia, you might want to consider Wells for business checking accounts, business savings accounts, business credit cards, small business loans, and merchant services.
The bank also offers a mobile app with LifeSync, a unique tool to monitor your spending habits and make smarter financial decisions. Additionally, Wells Fargo, which is considered the best national bank by many people, lets you automate your investing or work with a dedicated financial advisor.
Types of Banks in Georgia
There are several types of banks in the Peach State. Here’s an overview of the most common financial institutions you’ll find.
National banks are banks with a presence across the country. Most of them have branches and ATMs in Georgia and other parts of the U.S.
These types of banks typically offer a diverse lineup of products and may be a solid choice if you have varying financial needs as an individual or small business owner.
Community banks serve specific geographic areas. They’re similar to credit unions in that they prioritize personalized customer attention. In Georgia, you may choose from numerous community banks like Ameris Bank, United Community Bank, and Morris Bank.
Also known as virtual banks or neobanks, online banks are tech forward and make it easy to perform various banking needs online or via mobile devices. While they don’t have physical locations in Georgia, they do offer many perks that you might not be able elsewhere.
Some examples of online banks that serve Georgia residents are Ally Bank, CIT Bank, and Axos Bank. With these financial institutions, you may be able to avoid a monthly fee and secure a competitive annual percentage yield or APY.
Common Banking Products
It’s wise to figure out what types of banking products meet your particular banking needs. Several of these products include:
Checking accounts are ideal for everyday purchases. You can also use them to make deposits, pay bills, and more. Some checking accounts might charge monthly service fees or impose minimum opening deposits. However, they might waive them if you take certain actions, like enroll in autopay or sign up for paperless statements. To access your checking account funds, you can visit a local branch or ATM. Depending on the bank, you may even find a checking account that pays interest.
Savings accounts are places to store your cash for various personal finance goals, like a house down payment, new car, or even a dream vacation. It’s also a great place for an emergency fund, which features three to six months worth of expenses. In general, online savings accounts pay out higher interest rates than traditional savings accounts. You’ll likely be able to make six free withdrawals per month.
High-Yield Savings Accounts
Compared to traditional savings accounts, high-yield savings accounts offer much higher interest rates. Typically, they don’t charge monthly or annual fees. If you’d like to open a high-yield savings account, consider an online bank as they’re not always available at traditional banks.
Certificates of Deposit
Certificates of deposit (CD) allow you to store your money for a certain amount of time while you earn interest. With a CD, you’ll usually be required to make a minimum initial deposit and choose a term. Typically, the longer the CD term, the higher interest rate you earn. If you’re looking for guaranteed returns, a CD is a solid choice.
Credit cards are a suitable option if you’d like to earn rewards, like cash back, travel points, gift cards, and merchandise. While some are free, others come with annual fees. Do the math and make sure an annual fee is worth the benefits before you go ahead and move forward with it.
These days, many financial institutions offer loans. Some loans are for personal use, such as personal loans, mortgages, and car loans. Other loan options are designed for businesses, like SBA loans, commercial real estate loans, and business lines of credit. Before you commit to a loan, review the interest rates and terms to ensure you can pay it back on time.
How to Choose a Bank in Georgia
As you can see, not all Georgia banks are created equal. In fact, there are many options at your disposal. To help you hone in on the right bank for your unique needs, we encourage you to consider these factors.
Most traditional banks have local branches throughout the Peach State. If you prefer an in-person banking experience, this is great news. However, you’ll likely be able to lock in better interest rates and lower fees if you opt for an online bank with less overhead costs. Fortunately, traditional and online banks usually both have mobile apps so you can bank from just about anywhere.
Some examples of common banking fees you might come across include monthly maintenance fees, ATM fees, overdraft fees, wire transfer fees, account closing fees, and dormancy fees. When you shop around for the perfect bank in Georgia, you’ll notice that larger banks with physical branches tend to charge more fees and higher fees than online banks.
Minimum Balance Requirements
Depending on the bank and accounts you choose, you might have to maintain a minimum balance. If you don’t, you’ll likely be on the hook for fees. Before you pursue a certain account, make sure you can comfortably afford the minimum balance requirement. The minimum balance may be thousands of dollars, so this is an important factor to consider.
Before you look for a Georgia bank, ask yourself what products and services you need. Maybe you’re seeking a personal checking account and savings account. Or perhaps you’re a Georgia business owner and in the market for business credit cards or business loans. Typically, national banks offer a greater selection of products and services than regional banks and credit unions.
There’s a good chance you’ll have questions or concerns once you decide on a bank. For this reason, it’s important to choose a financial institution with high customer service ratings and easy access to customer support. While some banks offer 24/7 customer service via phone, email, and live chat, others will only help you during select business hours.
Be sure to read reviews from real customers on reputable review sites. If you notice many negative reviews about the same topics, you may want to be cautious and look to other banking institutions. It’s also a good idea to check out ratings on websites, like Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Consumer Affairs. In addition, don’t be afraid to ask family and friends for their recommendations on banks.
FDIC insurance will keep your money safe in the event your bank fails. The FDIC usually insures up to $250,000 per depositor. In addition to deposit accounts, it covers money orders, cashier’s checks, and other official products. Before you open an account at a bank, make sure it’s FDIC insured. Most banks have the FDIC insurance logo on their websites.
Some banks go above and beyond and offer more than traditional banking products and services, like checking accounts and savings accounts. You may want to look for extra perks like overdraft protection or assist credit monitoring services, introductory offers, foreign currency exchange accounts, robo advising, and credit cards with impressive rewards.
If you visit a bank’s website, you’ll know what it values. One bank might prioritize long standing customer relationships while another one is a socially responsible bank. If you’re debating between two banks, consider each institution’s values to help you make a decision.
The Peach State has no shortage of banks. However, the right one for you depends on numerous factors, like your preferred products and services, the types of fees you can afford and are willing to pay, and whether you’d like to bank online or in-person.
If you’re unsure of which bank makes the most sense for your situation, don’t hesitate to open accounts in a few of them. From there, you can hone in on the best option. Good luck with your search for the ideal bank in Georgia.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the largest banks in Georgia?
The largest banks in Georgia have the most branches throughout the state. These include Bank of America, Truist Bank, Ameris Bank, Fifth Third Bank, and Wells Fargo. All of these institutions are known for their extensive ATM networks and diverse product lineup.
How do I open a bank account in Georgia?
In most cases, you can open a bank account on the bank’s website or mobile app. You’ll likely need to submit a government-issued ID, like a driver’s license or passport, as well as personal information, such as your Social Security number.
What are some community banks in Georgia?
The Peach State has many community banks. The most popular options are Community Bank of Georgia, United Community Bank, Mountain Valley Community Bank, and Gwinnett Community Bank. Community banks are a solid choice if in-person service is important to you.
How can I avoid bank fees in Georgia?
If you don’t mind online or mobile banking, you’ll likely find fewer fees at an online bank. Also, some traditional banks may allow you to waive their fees. Since fees can eat into your savings and financial goals, you should do your best to avoid or reduce them.
Should I open an account at different banks in Georgia?
If you have large amounts of cash, you might want to open accounts at different banks. This is because the FDIC usually insures up to $250,000 per depositor and bank. This holds true even if you have several accounts with the same bank. You may also want to open different accounts if you want to take advantage of different benefits.
Is it better to choose a small bank or a large bank in Georgia?
Big banks offer a greater selection of products and services than small banks. But you might have to pay a monthly maintenance fee or make a minimum opening deposit. Small banks, on the other hand, take the time to get to know their customers and provide more personalized service. The ideal banking size depends on your particular priorities.
How can I easily switch bank accounts in Georgia?
First, gather basic information like your Social Security number or Tax Identification Number. Then, start the application process, fund your new accounts, and transfer funds from older accounts. Don’t forget to set up direct deposits and automate recurring payments. Some banks offer switch kits to simplify this process.
If you’re saving for retirement, a broad market index portfolio is typically a good option. Investing in a target date fund or S&P 500 index fund, for instance, are low-cost ways to gain broad market exposure. However, newly published research indicates there may be a significantly more lucrative way to handle your nest egg.
A financial advisor can help find the right mix of investments for your retirement portfolio. Find a fiduciary advisor today.
An analysis from Dimensional Fund Advisors suggests retirement savers can do better than following the standard advice to use index funds, for instance, to get a balanced portfolio. Portfolios built with a focus on size, value and profitability premiums can generate more assets and better longevity than broad market portfolios, according to the DFA research. In fact, a DFA researcher calculated that a portfolio that emphasizes these premiums would leave a hypothetical investor with at least 20% more money by age 65, even if market returns were less than the historical average.
“These results are encouraging. A portfolio that incorporates controlled, moderate premium exposure can strike a balance between higher expected returns than the market and the cost of slightly higher volatility and moderate tracking error,” DFA’s Mathieu Pellerin wrote in his paper “How Targeting the Size, Value, and Profitability Premiums Can Improve Retirement Outcomes.”
“As a result, targeting these long-term drivers of stock returns is likely to increase assets at the beginning of retirement.”
What Are Size, Value and Profitability Premiums?
As part of its research, DFA compared the simulated performance of a broad market index portfolio – represented by the Center for Research in Security Prices (CRSP) 1-10 index – against that of the Dimensional US Adjusted Market 1 Index.
The DFA index comprises 14% fewer stocks than the CRSP index and places a greater emphasis on size, value and profitability premiums. Here’s how the firm defines each:
Size premium: The tendency of small-cap stocks to outperform large-cap stocks
Value premium: The tendency of undervalued stocks – those with low price-to-book-value ratios – to outperform
Profitability premium: The tendency of companies with relatively high operating profits to outperform those with lower profitability
As a result, the DFA index is more heavily weighted in small-cap and value stocks, as well as companies with higher profits.
Premiums Produce Better Retirement Outcomes
To test the long-term viability of its premium-based portfolio, DFA ran an extensive set of simulations and compared the results against the CRSP market index.
First, Pellerin calculated 40 years’ worth of hypothetical returns for each portfolio, assuming an investor starts saving at age 25 and retires at age 65. Both portfolios are part of a glide path that starts with a 100% equity allocation and beings to transition toward bonds at age 45. By age 65, the investor’s asset allocation eventually reaches a 50/50 split between stocks and bonds.
Then, he calculated how both portfolios would fare during the investor’s decumulation phase. To do this, DFA applied the 4% rule. This rule of thumb stipulates that a retiree with a balanced portfolio can withdraw 4% of their assets in their first year of retirement and adjust withdrawals in subsequent years for inflation, and have enough money for 30 years.
DFA tested the portfolios using both historical returns (8.1% per year) and more conservative returns (5% per year).
When applying the historical rate of return, the portfolio that targets premiums would be worth 22% more than the broad market portfolio by the time the hypothetical investor reaches age 65. In the lower growth environment, the DFA portfolios would still deliver 20% more median assets than its counterpart, according to the research.
The hypothetical investor would also have a lesser chance of running out of money with the DFA portfolio. Using historical returns, the premium-focused portfolio failed just 2.5% of the time over a 30-year retirement. That’s nearly half as many times as the market portfolio, which posted a 4.7% failure rate.
That spread grew even larger when Pellerin ran the simulations with more conservative return expectations. Over the course of a 30-year retirement, the DFA portfolio ran out of money in just 12.9% of simulations when annual returns averaged just 5%, while the market portfolio failed 19.9% of the time.
Investing in index funds or target date funds that track the broad market can be an effective way to save for retirement, but Dimensional Fund Advisors found that targeting stocks with size, value and profitability premiums can produce better retirement outcomes. When comparing a broad market index to one that focuses on these factors, the latter produced at least 20% more median assets and had lower failure rates.
Retirement Planning Tips
How much will you have in savings by the time you retire? SmartAsset’s retirement calculator can help you estimate how much money you could expect to have by retirement age and how much you’ll potentially need to support your lifestyle.
Retirement planning can be complicated, but a financial advisor can help you through the process. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
Patrick Villanova, CEPF®
Patrick Villanova is a writer for SmartAsset, covering a variety of personal finance topics, including retirement and investing. Before joining SmartAsset, Patrick worked as an editor at The Jersey Journal. His work has also appeared on NJ.com and in The Star-Ledger. Patrick is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire, where he studied English and developed his love of writing. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, trying out new recipes in the kitchen and watching his beloved New York sports teams. A New Jersey native, he currently lives in Jersey City.
Editor’s Note: Since the writing of this article, President Biden signed the debt ceiling bill on June 4, canceling the federal student loan payment pause as of Aug 30, or “60 days after June 30.” Later this month, the Supreme Court will decide whether the Biden-Harris Administration’s Student Debt Relief Program can proceed. Loan payments are expected to resume in October.
Student loans are a significant issue in the United States, where consumers have more than $1.7 trillion in total student loan debt. In 2021, the average federal student loan debt per borrower was just over $37,000. And 20 years after students enter college, half of borrowers still owe $20,000 in student loans.
Broken down by degree levels, the debt increases. Graduate students who receive a degree leave school with an average of nearly $70,000 in debt. Law students are saddled with an average of $180,000; and medical students owe $250,000 on average for total student loan debt.
With so many borrowers and so much debt, it begs the question, “Should all student loan debt be forgiven?”
Who’s in Favor?
By a 2-to-1 margin, voters do support at least some student loans being forgiven, according to a poll from Politico and Morning Consult. And 53% of voters from the same poll support Biden’s extension of student loan payments through August.
Proponents of canceling student loan debt point out that the government is partially responsible for this debt crisis. Because many states slashed higher education funding after the 2008 recession, tuition at both public and private colleges has gone up steeply, and many students have been forced to take out even more in loans.
Unfortunately, the increase in student loan balances hasn’t gone hand in hand with a bump in post-college salary. The result is a national situation where borrowers owe increasingly more in student loans but don’t have the paycheck to aggressively tackle their balances.
Although the government has created income-driven repayment options that seek to keep monthly student loan payments affordable, signing up isn’t without its downsides.
Since these income-driven plans often lengthen loan terms, borrowers may pay significantly more interest on their loans over time. Also, any forgiven balance at the end of their loan term is typically treated as taxable income.
Why Forgiving Student Loan Debt a Isn’t a Slam-Dunk
There are several reasons why forgiving student loan debt may not be a straightforward positive. The first is that, according to U.S. tax laws, debt that’s forgiven is a taxable event. Under income-driven student loan repayment plans, for instance, if you make consistent, on-time payments for the life of the loan (20 or 25 years, depending on when you borrowed), any balance remaining at the end of your loan term is forgiven — but whatever’s forgiven is considered taxable income.
The second issue pundits raise with this plan is that it’s being sold as a stimulus: If the government forgives people’s student loan debt, they’ll put money back into the economy, the thinking goes. But forgiving debt isn’t the same as handing people a check.
And finally, the federal government so far isn’t planning to forgive student loans that borrowers hold with private lenders, which average over $54,000 per borrower.
Alternative Options to Canceling Student Loan Debt
Instead of targeting only student loan borrowers who qualify for relief, the government could provide a stimulus check to all Americans, and Americans could decide for themselves how to use it.
If someone has $10,000 in outstanding student loans, for example, they might prefer to use a check to put a down payment on a house or pay off high-interest credit card debt.
Then there’s the higher education system itself. Canceling or forgiving student loan debt may provide only temporary relief as long as tuition levels continue to rise. As it stands, future generations will be saddled with just as much, if not more, student debt than Americans currently have today.
Tackling Your Student Loan Debt
There’s no telling when or if some form of more long-term relief might appear for student loan borrowers. If you’re struggling under the weight of your student debt, there are strategies that might help:
• Alternative payment plans: Federal student loans come with a variety of repayment options, one of which might suit your situation.
• Direction of overpayments: If you make extra payments on your student loans, you may instruct your servicer to apply them to your principal, rather than the next month’s payment plus interest. This will help pay off your loans faster.
• “Found” money: If you receive a work bonus or tax refund, applying it to your student loans can help reduce your balance faster.
• Refinancing: Refinancing student loans (private and/or federal) into one new loan with a private lender could lower your monthly payment and interest rate, and make it easier to manage payments. Just know that refinancing federal student loans with a private lender means losing access to federal repayment and forgiveness programs.
Recommended: Can Refinanced Student Loans Still Be Forgiven?
There is no quick fix for student loan debt, which will take further discussion from stakeholders on all sides.
If you are struggling with your own student loan debt, there are options to consider. You can apply for an income-driven repayment plan, apply for student loan deferment or forbearance on your federal student loans, or refinance your loans with a private lender. Keep in mind, though, that refinancing disqualifies you from federal benefits you may otherwise be eligible for.
If you do decide to refinance, consider SoFi. SoFi has a quick online application process, competitive rates, and no origination fees or prepayment penalties.
See if you prequalify with SoFi in just two minutes.
SoFi Student Loan Refinance If you are looking to refinance federal student loans, please be aware that the White House has announced up to $20,000 of student loan forgiveness for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 for qualifying borrowers whose student loans are federally held. Additionally, the federal student loan payment pause and interest holiday has been extended beyond December 31, 2022. Please carefully consider these changes before refinancing federally held loans with SoFi, since the amount or portion of your federal student debt that you refinance will no longer qualify for the federal loan payment suspension, interest waiver, or any other current or future benefits applicable to federal loans. If you qualify for federal student loan forgiveness and still wish to refinance, leave unrefinanced the amount you expect to be forgiven to receive your federal benefit.
CLICK HERE for more information.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.
SoFi Loan Products SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender. Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article. Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances. SOSL0523028
Donating to charity isn’t just a way to have a positive impact on society – it’s also a savvy approach to reducing your tax liability. Schwab suggests people who donate to charity on an annual basis may want to consider a tax-smart strategy known as “bunching,” which involves making at least two years’ worth of charitable contributions in one year. Doing so can allow you to itemize your deductions for that year and increase the size of your tax deduction over the two-period. Consider working with a financial advisor if you need help with tax planning or charitable giving.
Standard Deduction vs. Itemizing
Each year, tax filers must choose between taking the standard deduction or itemizing their deductions. If your individual tax deductions exceed the standard deduction in a given year, itemizing is likely the preferable approach. The opposite also rings true. If the total value of your itemized deductions is less than the standard deduction, you’ll want to claim the latter.
2023 Standard Deduction
Single filers and married couples filing separately: $13,850
Married couples filing jointly: $27,700
Heads of household: $20,800
2022 Standard Deduction
Single filers and married couples filing separately: $12,950
Married couples filing jointly: $25,900
Heads of household: $19,400
Choosing between taking the standard deduction or itemizing is key when determining how to best maximize the tax benefit of your charitable contributions.
When to Bunch Charitable Donations
If you regularly donate to charity but your total itemized deductions fall short of the standard deduction, you may want to consider bunching your contributions. Doing so means you’ll make multiple years’ worth of contributions in the current tax year, pushing your itemized deductions above the standard deduction threshold. You’ll then take the standard deduction in the following year(s) since you won’t be making any additional donations.
To illustrate the potential benefits of bunching, Schwab ran the numbers on a hypothetical couple with no children. Schwab assumed the couple made $10,000 in charitable donations in both 2022 and 2023. Their other deductions for both years total $13,000. By taking the standard deduction ($25,900 in 2022 and $27,700 in 2023) in both years, the couple’s two-year deduction adds up to $53,600 – more than would have been had they itemized in both years.
However, if the couple made two years’ worth of donations in 2022, their itemized deductions would have added up to $33,000. They could have then taken the standard deduction in 2023 and their two-year deduction would have added up to $60,700.
By bunching their charitable contributions, the couple would have lowered their combined taxable income in the two years by $7,100.
Tax filers who regularly donate to charities should consider how to maximize the tax benefit of their goodwill. Schwab recommends making multiple years’ worth of donations in a single year, so your total itemized deductions exceed the standard deduction. This strategy, which is known as bunching, then calls for you to take advantage of the standard deduction in subsequent years when you won’t be making any donations. Doing so can increase the size of your total deductions over that two-year period and lower your taxable income.
Tips for Reducing Your Tax Bill
A financial advisor can help you assess your tax situation and potentially limit how much you end up owing Uncle Sam. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
Capital gains can increase the amount of money you ended up owing the government each year. However, harvesting tax losses can help offset those gains. And if your tax losses exceed your capital gains, the IRS permits you to deduct up to $3,000 worth of excess losses from your total income for that year.
If you’re approaching retirement and thinking about moving to a new state, consider the tax environment for retirees in that state. SmartAsset’s retirement tax friendliness tool provides an in-depth look at the places with the best and worst tax environments for retirees.
Patrick Villanova, CEPF®
Patrick Villanova is a writer for SmartAsset, covering a variety of personal finance topics, including retirement and investing. Before joining SmartAsset, Patrick worked as an editor at The Jersey Journal. His work has also appeared on NJ.com and in The Star-Ledger. Patrick is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire, where he studied English and developed his love of writing. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, trying out new recipes in the kitchen and watching his beloved New York sports teams. A New Jersey native, he currently lives in Jersey City.
From assistance with daily activities to medical support, long-term care insurance is designed to provide financial protection when you face chronic illness, disability or cognitive impairment. However, pre-existing conditions, advanced age, health issues and disabilities can disqualify you from getting coverage. Here are the ins and outs of long-term care insurance, a list of health conditions that insurance companies deem uninsurable and alternative solutions to help you get the care you need on a modest budget. You may want to talk to a financial advisor to get specific advice for your situation.
What Is Long-Term Care Coverage?
Long-term care insurance provides coverage for the costs associated with long-term care services. Specifically, it helps individuals pay for assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) or medical services needed due to a chronic illness, disability or cognitive impairment.
Long-term care services support various activities, such as bathing, dressing, eating, toileting and movement. It can also cover services nurses, therapists and home health aides provide. Some policies may even cover care in nursing homes, assisted living facilities or adult day care centers.
In addition, this insurance aims to help individuals protect their assets and savings from being depleted by the high costs of long-term care. These costs can be substantial and standard health insurance doesn’t cover them. Likewise, Medicare and Medicaid don’t cover these expenses except under specific circumstances and eligibility criteria.
When an individual has long-term care insurance, they pay regular premiums to the insurance company. If they require long-term care services in the future, the insurance policy can provide benefits to cover a portion of the costs up to the policy’s coverage limits. The specific benefits and coverage provided by long-term care insurance policies can vary, so reviewing and understanding the terms and conditions before purchasing a policy is essential.
It’s worth noting that long-term care insurance is generally more expensive and harder to obtain as you get older or have pre-existing health conditions. Therefore, it’s advisable to consider purchasing long-term care insurance earlier in life when premiums are more affordable and eligibility requirements are more flexible.
What Disqualifies You From Long-Term Care Insurance?
Insurance companies consider certain factors disqualifying or exclusionary when you apply for long-term care insurance. These factors can vary between providers, but here are common reasons that may result in disqualification from long-term care insurance:
Pre-existing conditions: Insurance companies often review an applicant’s medical history to assess their risk. For example, if you have certain pre-existing conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease or certain forms of cancer, the insurer may decline or exclude coverage for those conditions.
Age: Some insurance companies have age restrictions and may not offer coverage to individuals beyond a certain age, typically around 80 or 85. The cost of premiums also tends to increase as you get older. Conversely, you can’t be younger than 18 when purchasing coverage.
Existing disabilities or impairments: If you already have a disability or impairment that requires long-term care, insurance companies may consider it a high-risk factor and decline coverage.
Cognitive impairments: Severe conditions like dementia may disqualify an individual from obtaining long-term care insurance. Insurers assess the risk associated with cognitive decline and may exclude coverage for related care needs.
Terminal illness: Individuals with a terminal illness may not be eligible for long-term care insurance, as the policy aims to cover long-term care needs rather than end-of-life care.
Recent hospitalizations or surgeries: Insurance companies may impose waiting periods or exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions if an applicant has recently been hospitalized or undergone a significant surgery.
Substance abuse or mental health disorders: Some insurers may decline coverage or exclude certain conditions related to substance abuse or specific mental health disorders.
Declining health: If an applicant’s health is already in decline, insurance companies may deny coverage or charge higher premiums to account for the increased risk.
Criminal history: If crimes appear on your personal record, insurance companies might refuse to provide coverage, particularly if you have any felonies in your past.
Remember, not all insurance providers have the same criteria and the availability of long-term care insurance and the specific conditions they cover can vary. Therefore, when considering long-term care insurance, it’s recommended to consult with multiple insurance companies, carefully review the policy terms and conditions and seek advice from an insurance professional or financial planner specializing in long-term care planning.
Examples of Uninsurable Health Conditions
Because each insurance company has underwriting guidelines and practices, the specific list of uninsurable conditions can vary between providers. That said, here are some health conditions that insurance providers typically perceive as high-risk:
Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia and other forms of cognitive issues
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Bipolar Disorder or other depression with the use of antipsychotic medications
In addition, if you require help with activities of daily living or live in a care facility, companies will likely consider your conditions uninsurable. Likewise, if you use a wheelchair, walker, cane, stairlift or hospital bed, you may be ineligible. Furthermore, oxygen therapy also disqualifies you from coverage in most situations, as do disability benefits, with the possible exception of military benefits.
Remember, this list is not exhaustive and the availability of coverage for these conditions can vary between insurance providers. Insurance companies may also consider factors such as the severity and stability of the condition, the age of the applicant and other individual circumstances when assessing insurability.
Long-Term Care Health Qualifications
Typically, individuals aged 65 and above are eligible for long-term care insurance, even if they have a notable health condition. Nonetheless, eligibility depends on specific criteria each insurance company sets. For instance, certain companies may mandate a specific level of net worth or income to qualify, while others focus on your medical conditions and history.
In other words, your eligibility for long-term care insurance rests with the insurance company. Therefore, it’s crucial to research the criteria of long-term insurance providers to identify the one that aligns with your circumstances.
How to Pay For Long-Term Care without Long-Term Care Coverage
When shopping around for long-term care coverage, you might have disqualifying health conditions or discover that the insurance premiums aren’t realistic for your budget. If so, you can pay for long-term care through other means, such as:
Self-Funding: If long-term care insurance is not feasible, you can adopt a simple approach of living on a reduced budget to save and invest more. It’s an excellent idea to set aside money regularly for investment purposes, whether through a 401(k), an IRA or a non-retirement investment account.
Group Plan Coverage: If your employer offers long-term care insurance as a benefit, you may be eligible for enrollment regardless of your health history. Taking advantage of such coverage is advisable if you have a chronic condition, as it may allow you to continue it even after leaving the employer.
Long-Term Care Annuity: Consider investing in a long-term care annuity, where you make a lump sum payment and receive a consistent, specified income for the rest of your life. Long-term care annuities often include provisions to assist with long-term care expenses.
Hybrid Life Insurance/Long-term Care Policy: Some life insurance policies come with a long-term care rider, making it easier for individuals with chronic conditions to qualify for coverage. These policies combine life insurance benefits with the option for long-term care coverage.
Short-Term Care Policy: Instead of a long-term care policy that provides coverage for multiple years, you can choose among short-term care policies offering coverage for a year or less. While the benefits may not be as extensive as traditional long-term care insurance, having some coverage is better than none.
Medicaid: Individuals with limited income and countable assets below certain thresholds may be eligible for long-term care services covered by Medicaid, a government program.
Life Insurance Policy Settlement: If you currently hold a life insurance policy, pursuing a long-term care life settlement is possible. To do so, you can sell the policy and use the proceeds to cover long-term care expenses.
The Bottom Line
Long-term care insurance covers the costs associated with long-term care services, assisting individuals with activities of daily living (ADLs) and medical services related to chronic illness, disability or cognitive impairment. It aims to protect assets and savings from the high expenses of long-term care, which are often not covered by standard health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Therefore, researching and evaluating options is essential to find the most suitable approach for individual circumstances.
Tips for Qualifying for Long-term Care Insurance
Long-term care looks different for everyone because of the endless combinations of health conditions and financial circumstances. As a result, there’s no simple answer for how to navigate long-term care and financial management in retirement. Fortunately, an experienced financial advisor can help establish a sustainable plan for your golden years. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
As with many aspects of retirement, timing is crucial for long-term care insurance. If you’re unsure how your timeline matches your long-term care situation, here’s how to know when to apply for long-term care insurance.
Ashley Chorpenning is an experienced financial writer currently serving as an investment and insurance expert at SmartAsset. In addition to being a contributing writer at SmartAsset, she writes for solo entrepreneurs as well as for Fortune 500 companies. Ashley is a finance graduate of the University of Cincinnati. When she isn’t helping people understand their finances, you may find Ashley cage diving with great whites or on safari in South Africa.
The maximum monthly Social Security benefits a person can get in 2023 is $4,555 if they wait until age 70 to claim their benefits. The maximum amount of benefits a married couple can receive would be $9,110 if both of them are separately able to claim the maximum amount of $4,555. But there are a lot of caveats and other things to understand about maximizing your Social Security benefits—let’s take a deeper dive. If you’d like personalized assistance preparing for retirement, consider working with financial advisor.
What Are Social Security Benefits?
The Social Security Administration provides retirement income to most American workers as well as benefits to qualifying disabled people. Qualifying retirees can begin their Social Security benefits between the ages of 62 and 70. The longer you wait, the higher your monthly payments will be.
For instance, a single person born in 1970 that made $70,000 in annual income would get $27,588 in annual Social Security benefits if they started taking their benefits when they turned 62. If that same person waited until the age of 70 to claim Social Security, their annual benefits would be $48,993. You can get an estimate of what your annual Social Security benefits will be at different ages and different average incomes with SmartAsset’s free calculator.
How Do Benefits Differ for Single People and Married Couples?
First, it’s helpful to know how Social Security benefits are calculated. There are two main elements to figuring out how much money you’ll get each year from Social Security.
Averaged indexed monthly earnings: The Social Security Administration will take a look at the amount you earned each month over up to 35 years of employment. They’ll identify the years where you earned the highest amounts, then average your monthly earnings.
The age at which you retire: As discussed above, the longer you wait to receive your Social Security benefits, the larger your payments will be. You can receive your benefits as early as 62, but by waiting a few years you will see larger amounts.
In many cases, married couples will collect two separate Social Security checks based on their own earnings record and the age at which they decided to claim their benefits. Rather than having a maximum married benefit limit, the maximum amount they would receive would be double the maximum benefits for a single person.
This is different in the case of a spouse that didn’t work or didn’t work long enough to qualify for Social Security benefits. These people will often qualify for spousal benefits instead, which max out at half of the working spouse’s Social Security benefit amount. Again, the maximum amount of the benefit will be determined by when you choose to begin claiming benefits and, in this case, your spouse’s average earnings over their lifetime.
What’s the Maximum Social Security Benefit Married Couples Can Receive?
In 2023, if you retire at your full retirement age, the maximum monthly Social Security retirement benefit would be $3,627. For a married couple who are both receiving the maximum amount and both retired at full retirement age, that amount would be $7,254. That amount would be less for a person who retires at age 62 ($2,572) and more for a person who retires at 70 ($4,555).
So for example, if a married couple both qualified for the maximum amount and both held off on claiming their Social Security benefits until age 70, they could receive $9,110 in monthly benefits in 2023. A married couple in which one spouse didn’t work and instead qualified for spousal payments would max out at $6,832.50—the maximum benefit for the working spouse and half that for the spouse that didn’t work.
How Can I Get the Maximum Social Security Benefit?
To ensure that you qualify for the maximum benefit of $4,555 a month, you’ll need to work for 35 years earning a salary that is equal to or greater than the wage cap for that entire time. In 2023, the wage cap is $160,200.
However, only a very small percentage of workers will qualify for the maximum amount. In 2021, the Congressional Research Service reported that only about 6% of workers earned more than the wage cap amount, a percentage that has remained “relatively stable” over time.
To earn the highest benefit possible as a married couple, both partners should try to earn as much as possible during their working years and put off claiming their benefits until as close to age 70 as possible.
The Bottom Line
The maximum monthly Social Security benefit of $4,555 is only available to high earners who wait to claim their benefits until the age of 70. The maximum benefit a married couple could collect would be twice that—$9,110—and require both of them to earn $160,200 or more over 35 years of work. Stay-at-home spouses who haven’t worked enough to qualify for their Social Security benefits can claim spousal benefits of up to half of their spouse’s monthly benefits.
Retirement Planning Tips
A financial advisor can offer advice on any of your Social Security, Medicare or retirement savings needs. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
If you’re not sure you’ve saved enough for retirement, our retirement calculator can help. Use it to determine your estimated Social Security benefits, how much money you need to retire and how much annual income you’ll need in retirement.
If you owe federal income tax and can’t pay in full, the IRS Fresh Start program can help you get caught up. Fresh Start was established by the federal government in 2011 to offer some relief to taxpayers and curb predatory practices by the IRS. Under the Fresh Start Initiative, eligible taxpayers can enroll in a payment plan to clear their tax debt or negotiate an agreement to pay less than what’s owed. Either one could help you get back on track financially if you have an outstanding tax bill. You can also talk to a financial advisor about how to manage your tax liability going forward.
Understanding IRS Fresh Start
The IRS Fresh Start program or Fresh Start initiative was established in 2011 to help eligible taxpayers manage past-due tax debts. The program is designed to aid people who don’t have a prior history of unpaid taxes and aren’t subject to a federal tax lien.
Fresh Start offers help in one of four ways:
Offers in compromise
Currently not collectible status
The main goal of the Fresh Start program is to help individuals and business owners resolve their federal tax debt, without being unfairly penalized by the IRS. That includes allowing taxpayers who might otherwise be subject to a tax lien to avoid that scenario.
IRS Fresh Start Tax Relief Options
As mentioned, there are four avenues taxpayers can use to get tax relief through the Fresh Start initiative. Each one is designed to meet a different type of need.
If you’re interested in seeking tax relief through Fresh Start, here’s how the options compare.
Payment plans: The IRS offers short- and long-term payment plans, also referred to as installment agreements, to eligible taxpayers. Short-term plans must be paid in full within 180 days while long-term plans may allow you up to 84 months to repay tax debt, depending on how much you owe.
Offer in compromise: An offer in compromise allows you to repay tax debt for less than what you owe. You must be able to prove a financial hardship that prevents you from paying what you owe in full. If approved, you’d need to be able to pay the IRS an agreed-upon amount to settle your tax debt in a series of periodic payments.
Currently not collectible status: Currently not collectible status allows you to claim financial hardship and temporarily pause your obligations to repay your tax debt. While your account is marked as currently not collectible, the IRS cannot take any collection actions against you and must halt any levies, including bank account levies and tax refund offsets.
Penalty abatement: When you fail to pay taxes on time, penalties and interest can accrue. Penalty abatement allows you to get some relief from penalties if you owe a significant amount of tax debt.
Who Qualifies for IRS Fresh Start Relief?
Generally speaking, you may qualify for help through the Fresh Start program if you:
Owe federal income tax
Don’t have a history of unpaid taxes
Are not yet subject to a federal tax lien
Cannot pay your tax bill in full
If you’re specifically interested in a payment plan, your ability to qualify can depend on how much you owe. You may qualify to apply online for a long-term payment plan if you owe $50,000 or less in combined tax, penalties and interest, or for a short-term plan if you owe $100,000 or less. Business owners can apply online for a long-term payment plan if they’ve filed their tax return and owe $25,000 or less in combined tax, penalties and interest.
The IRS approves Offers in Compromise on a case-by-case basis. To apply, you’ll need to have filed all required tax returns and made the required estimated payments. You can’t be in a bankruptcy proceeding and you must have filed a valid tax extension. Approval is based on your:
Ability to pay
The IRS encourages taxpayers to explore payment plan options before applying for an Offer in Compromise.
You’ll need to contact the IRS to apply for currently not collectible status if you’re experiencing a significant financial hardship. The IRS may ask you to file any past-due tax returns if you haven’t done so and you’ll likely need to provide documentation proving your hardship situation. Late payment penalties and interest will continue to accrue on your account.
If you receive an IRS notice for back taxes, the notice may include instructions on how to apply for penalty abatement. You’ll need to call the IRS and provide some information to the IRS about your taxes and financial situation. You can also submit Form 843, Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement if you’re not able to call.
IRS Fresh Start Advantages and Disadvantages
The Fresh Start program is designed to offer some benefits to people who are dealing with unpaid tax debt. Specifically, this program can help you to avoid:
Federal tax liens
Once you qualify for Fresh Start relief through a payment plan or Offer in Compromise, you’re automatically sheltered from those types of outcomes since you’re making an effort to resolve your debt with the IRS.
Claiming currently not collectible status can also create some breathing room financially if you’re experiencing an extreme hardship that leaves you unable to pay what you owe. Penalty abatement, meanwhile, can reduce some of what you owe in penalties to the IRS.
Fresh Start is not a perfect solution, however. If you enroll in a payment plan, then penalties and interest will continue to accrue until the balance is paid in full. So, the total paid can exceed more than your actual tax balance due.
If you’re interested in an Offer in Compromise, it’s also important to keep in mind that getting approved can be challenging. The IRS wants to collect as much of your unpaid tax debt as possible. If you’re unable to provide sufficient proof of a hardship that keeps you from paying in full, you may be denied. In that case, you’d have to reconsider a short- or long-term payment plan.
The Bottom Line
IRS Fresh Start can help you get out of a tax debt hole if you owe money to the federal government. If you also owe state income tax, you’d need to reach out to your state tax authority to discuss repayment options. The most important thing to remember if you owe taxes is that some action is better than none since your obligation to pay won’t go away.
Tax Planning Tips
Staying on top of your tax situation can help you avoid being hit with a surprise bill when it’s time to file your return. Talking to a financial advisor about how to minimize your tax liability can ensure that you’re paying enough to stay in favor with the IRS, without paying more than you need to. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
The simplest way to avoid IRS tax penalties and interest is to pay what you owe by the filing deadline. If you don’t have cash readily available to pay, you might consider getting a personal loan to pay instead.
Rebecca Lake, CEPF®
Rebecca Lake is a retirement, investing and estate planning expert who has been writing about personal finance for a decade. Her expertise in the finance niche also extends to home buying, credit cards, banking and small business. She’s worked directly with several major financial and insurance brands, including Citibank, Discover and AIG and her writing has appeared online at U.S. News and World Report, CreditCards.com and Investopedia. Rebecca is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and she also attended Charleston Southern University as a graduate student. Originally from central Virginia, she now lives on the North Carolina coast along with her two children.
By Jason Price4 Comments – The content of this website often contains affiliate links and I may be compensated if you buy through those links (at no cost to you!). Learn more about how we make money. Last edited April 18, 2014.
If you’ve read about mutual fund investing, or perhaps discussed it with someone knowledgeable on the subject, the topic of fees and expenses most likely came up in the conversation. For someone who isn’t a financial advisor or broker, mutual fund fees and expenses can be quite a confusing subject. How do you know when you’re paying them and how can you (or should you) avoid them?
Obviously, the more you can minimize fees and expenses when investing in mutual funds, the more you can maximize your returns. That seems like a good thing, right? So, let’s explore what these fees and expense are and how they can sneak up on you if you don’t have some knowledge of the subject.
Mutual Fund Operating Costs
These expenses are required to operate or manage the mutual fund. The management of a mutual fund requires certain costs such as brokerage fees, marketing, legal, accounting, etc. They are typically paid out of fund assets, so investors indirectly pay them.
Within the operating expenses you may find 12b-1 fees. These fees are used for advertising and selling the funds. According to the Sound Mind Investing handbook, more than two-thirds of all stock funds charge some marketing related expenses to shareholders.
Sales Charges or Loads
There are funds with loads and without loads. No-load funds don’t charge you any fees when you buy or sell the fund. You typically buy the funds yourself versus working with someone who sells them to you. A load fund includes a sales charge when you work with a financial planner, insurance agent or with a stock broker. The load is a sales commission for their services to help you find a fund.
There are different types of loads, so you have to be knowledgeable to understand what you may be charged.
Class A Funds
Class A funds are the easiest to understand. The front-end sales commissions are charged up front when you purchase the fund. They tend to have lower 12b-1 and operating expenses.
Class B Funds
A back end load, or class B fund is handled differently and can be the trickiest to understand. Back-end commissions are charged on your earnings when you sell a fund within the first years of owning it. It’s usually 5% the first year and decreases a 1% per year for 4 or 5 years. Brokers are paid through 12-b1 marketing fees included as a line item in the operating expenses of the fund. These expenses are usually the highest, so keep in mind you’re still paying even thought there isn’t any front-end sales charge.
Class C Funds
Finally, a class C fund doesn’t charge any front end or back end sales load. The fund charges the 12-b1 marketing fees for every year you own the fund. Brokers are usually paid on a quarterly basis from these fees.
Don’t Think You’re Not Paying
I started working with a financial advisor a few years ago who was referred to me by my employer. It was one of those situations were the financial institution was asked to help employees with retirement planning. I decided to roll – over a previous 401(k) into an IRA and also asked for some retirement planning advice.
I was foolish to think the services were free. I said I wanted to avoid funds with sales loads, but I really didn’t know what I was talking about. The mutual funds which I was advised to purchase were Class C funds. I suppose this is fine given I didn’t want to take the time to pick funds myself, but I do know now I’m paying for the services I requested.
As I become more informed, I’ll transfer my IRA to a discount brokerage account to manage myself, or consider fee based financial planning where I pay the broker a fee for his services versus by the commissions or 12-b1 marketing fees from my investments.
I suppose loads or the marketing fees are fine if you want someone else to make the investing for you. But, studies say these funds don’t produce any better results than no load funds.
To wrap up, I’d like to remind you (and me) that we are financial stewards. Not only is it our responsibility to plan a budget each month and spend responsibly; we are to manage investments wisely and know the conditions of our flocks.
Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations (Proverbs 27:23-24).
I don’t think I knew the conditions of my flocks very well by not considering the costs associated with my investments. To increase your knowledge I recommend The Sound Mind Investing Handbook by Austin Pryor. The book is a step-by-step guide to managing money and investments from a Biblical perspective. It has helped me get a better understanding of investing in general and the expenses and fees associated with some mutual funds.
Another good resource to consider using is a handy mutual fund cost calculator from the US Securities and Exchange Commission website. The SEC Cost Calculator estimates the cost of investing in any mutual fund. You just need to have the mutual fund prospectus and your investment information to get the inputs.
What about you? I’m interested in getting your thoughts on paying mutual fund loads. Good or bad? Or, is it okay for someone to own load funds and rely on someone else to help pick your investments for you as long as you know the condition of your flocks?