Bonds began the day in weaker territory but rallied after the 8:30am econ data. This wasn’t exclusively a function of Core PCE hitting its forecast, but also drew strength from the higher continued claims number. Just over an hour later, Chicago PMI came in noticeably weaker and added to the rally. Gains slowly evaporated throughout the day in a linear trend. While this left a microscopic improvement on the day it did nothing to push rates/yields out of their exceptionally narrow, prevailing trend.
215k vs 210k f’cast, 202k prev
1905k vs 1874k f’cast, 1860k prev
Core PCE m/m
0.4 vs 0.4 f’cast, 0.2 prev
Core PCE y/y
2.8 vs 2.8 f’cast, 2.9 prev
44 vs 48 f’cast, 46 prev
Moderately weaker overnight, but erasing losses after data. 10yr nearly unchanged at 4.266. MBS down only 1 tick (0.03).
Additional gains after Chicago PMI. 10yr down 1.8bps at 4.246. MBS up 2 ticks (.06).
Off the best levels, but still stronger. MBS up 3 ticks (.09) and 10yr down 1.2bps at 4.252.
some weakness heading into 3pm close (month-end). Still barely positive with MBS up 1 tick (.03) and 10yr down half a bp at 4.259.
Briefly weaker at 4pm, but recovering back in line with the levels from the previous update.
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The US economy is in a tricky spot. To close out 2023, fourth quarter GDP measured at a robust 3.3% annual growth rate, but inflation remains above the Fed’s desired 2% target, so the central bank has yet to cut interest rates. Still, many expect that rate cuts will come this year as the economy and inflation cool down more. For the mortgage market, that could also mean that rates come down.
Already, 30-year mortgage rates have fallen from recent highs. While they reached approximately 8% in October 2023, they now average 6.63% as of the beginning of February 2024, according to Freddie Mac.
But what will happen the rest of the year? Below, we’ll look at three possible mortgage rate scenarios.
If you’re in the market to buy a home then start by exploring your mortgage rate options here now.
Will mortgage rates drop below 6% in 2024?
Here are three possible scenarios for mortgage rates this year, according to the experts we spoke to.
Mortgage rates will drop below 6%
Mortgage rates could continue to trend downward this year, especially once the Fed starts cutting the federal funds rate.
“Mortgage rates will go down in 2024. How much and when depends on the economy and inflation. I believe that we will see rates trending to 6% in the summer, perhaps not until late summer,” says Melissa Cohn, regional VP at William Raveis Mortgage. After that, “I believe that rates will drop below 6% and stay below 6% for the year.”
Some experts predict an even larger drop, though still not at pandemic-era levels.
“I believe they will fall to 4.25%,” says Dan Green, CEO at Homebuyer.com. “Inflation is solved, lenders are competitive, and the bond market is finding its health.”
See how low of a mortgage rate you could get now.
Mortgage rates will drop somewhat but not below 6%
While some people think that mortgage rates will fall further, not everyone is convinced that they’ll drop significantly from their current levels. As mentioned, GDP remains strong, and lower rates tend to coincide with a weakening economy, which might not occur.
Shannon Feick,co-owner and co-founder at ASAP Properties, LLC, says he’s “confident that the relatively strong economy will likely prevent rates from falling below 6% in 2024, but with inflation cooling, mortgage rates will fall slightly from their current levels.”
Still, it’s possible that the economy’s health and inflation rate get thrown off by unexpected events, like how geopolitical conflicts have caused oil price swings, which can ultimately influence interest rate decisions.
“I do believe that curveballs like geopolitical events or significant shifts in the job market could alter this forecast, but only by a small amount,” says Feick.
Mortgage rates will stay the same
Another scenario could be that rates end up staying essentially the same, with mid-6% interest rates persisting.
“I think rates will stay flat on average this year, meaning that they will stay in the mid-6s, which is where we dropped to at the end of the year, going into 2024,” says Sam Sharp, executive VP of mortgage lending at Guaranteed Rate.
It’s also possible that rates go higher, but Sharp thinks that the current levels seem to be working.
“I believe that the markets have tested their threshold. When rates capped over 8% the housing market saw a steep decline. As soon as rates dropped into the mid-6s we saw a quick change, and this looks to be a sweet spot in the current environment,” he says.
“Not only is this a level that buyers seem more comfortable with, but I feel this is a good baseline for some sellers, and their motivation is what we need to create a balanced housing market,” explains Sharp.
Learn more about today’s mortgage rates online here.
The bottom line
It’s hard to predict exactly where mortgage interest rates will go in 2024, as much depends on factors like the state of the economy and how the Fed responds to inflation. But if you can afford to buy a home now at current levels, you might be better off doing so for two main reasons.
One, it’s hard to say how long you’ll have to wait for rates to drop — if they do at all — and you might not want to put your home search on hold indefinitely. Two, a decrease in mortgage rates could increase competition among homebuyers, as those who have been waiting for rates to drop might jump in, thus complicating the process.
However, one advantage of waiting to buy a home could be that more sellers jump in, too. Some sellers have been reluctant to give up their homes and then buy a new one at high mortgage rates. But if rates do drop, or if sellers simply get more accustomed to current rates as the new normal, then that could increase inventory.
So, you’ll have to weigh these factors, along with looking at your finances and the local conditions in your desired area to see what makes the most sense for you. And while you probably don’t want to bank on it, mortgage refinancing could be an option down the road if rates drop further.
Start exploring your current mortgage rate options here.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced on Thursday that the transition to new credit score requirements is expected to occur in the fourth quarter of 2025, a decision commended by the mortgage industry.
That’s when the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will acquire single-family loans based on the FICO 10T and VantageScore 4.0 credit models, replacing the Classic FICO score that has been in place for decades. The GSEs will also transition from a tri-merge system to a bi-merge system at that time.
“Following extensive stakeholder engagement and input, FHFA is aligning the implementation date of the bi-merge credit reporting requirement with the transition from the Classic FICO credit score model,” the FHFA said in a statement.
If implemented in Q4 2025, the transition to the new requirements will take three years since the change was first announced in October 2022. The original implementation timeline was for first-quarter 2024, but it was delayed by concerns expressed by stakeholders and members of the U.S. Congress.
The GSEs are aiming to accelerate the publication of VantageScore 4.0 historical data, from Q1 2025 to Q3 2024. But they are still working alongside the FHFA to achieve conditions for acquiring and publishing FICO 10T model data.
“Synchronizing bi-merge credit reporting with the implementation of the new credit score model requirements will reduce complexity for market participants, which is a key objective of our transition efforts,” FHFA director Sandra L. Thompson said in a statement.
The FHFA believes the new models will increase accuracy in credit scoring as they provide multiple views of credit risk for market participants. This should also improve competition as credit reports from two, rather than three, of the national credit bureaus may be used.
Scott Olson, executive director of the Community Home Lenders of America (CHLA), commended the FHFA for updating its credit score requirements.
“The details of these updates will be important, and we look forward to working with FHFA over the next few years to ensure that this saves money for borrowers — particularly those who are underserved and first-time homeowners,” Olson said.
But while the industry expects changes, credit reports have become more expensive.
In 2024, FICO is charging one price — higher than last year’s price — to all mortgage lenders, independent of their volumes, in a departure from the tier-based pricing structure it implemented in early 2023. It’s also collecting the same per-score price for soft pulls and hard pulls, an initiative that started in 2023 despite significant differences in these products.
High costs have accelerated the transitions by some lenders to new credit models for several products, mainly those outside of the GSE space. The list includes lenders such as Movement Mortgage, CrossCountry Mortgage and Premier Lending.
The vibrant heart of North Texas, Dallas has a diverse culture, iconic landmarks and Southern hospitality, all making it a great place to live. But did you know it also features affordable suburbs?
If you’re considering moving to Dallas, you may be wondering how much rent costs in Dallas. The average monthly rent is $1,477 for a studio, $1,371 for a one-bedroom unit and $1,862 for a two-bedroom unit. Depending on your budget, these prices may not align with your renting priorities.
So, if you’re searching for a more budget-friendly area without compromising access to Dallas, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll explore five of the most affordable Dallas suburbs. That way, you can enjoy Dallas’ sights and amenities without the price tag.
Average rent for a one-bedroom: $1,045
Average rent for a two-bedroom: $1,450
Distance from Dallas: 14 miles
Apartments for rent in Duncanville
Claiming the first place on our list of affordable Dallas suburbs is Duncanville. On average, you’ll save about $400 on rent for a one-bedroom apartment. Nicknamed the City of Champions, this area is located approximately 14 miles southwest of Dallas, so you’re not too far from the city center.
In Duncanville, you can experience the charm of the historic downtown district, filled with quaint shops, delicious dining options and cultural events. The city also offers recreational opportunities at Armstrong Park, where you can enjoy picnicking and walking trails, making it a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
Average rent for a studio: $1,039
Average rent for a one-bedroom: $1,215
Average rent for a two-bedroom: $1,430
Distance from Dallas: 15 miles
Apartments for rent in Mesquite
The second suburb on our list is Mesquite, just 15 miles east of Dallas. The area is home to about 147,700 residents, and the average rents are much less than in Dallas. If you plan to rent a two-bedroom unit, the monthly cost is approximately $1,430.
Mesquite has plenty of awesome attractions, including the Mesquite Championship Rodeo, where you can experience the excitement of live rodeo events, making it an easy pick for our top affordable Dallas suburbs. Additionally, the city offers the Mesquite Arts Center, featuring art exhibitions, performances and cultural events throughout the year.
Average rent for a studio: $1,560
Average rent for a one-bedroom: $1,314
Average rent for a two-bedroom: $1,664
Distance from Dallas: 13 miles
Apartments for rent in Irving
For those on the hunt for budget-friendly suburban living near Dallas, Irving takes third place. In addition to more affordable prices, Irving is just 13 miles west of downtown Dallas.
You can explore the Irving Arts Center, which hosts art exhibitions, performances and events in Irving. The city is also home to the Mandalay Canal Walk, a picturesque area with winding waterways, gondola rides and a variety of dining options, offering a one-of-a-kind setting.
Average rent for a studio: $1,491
Average rent for a one-bedroom: $1,330
Average rent for a two-bedroom: $1,625
Distance from Dallas: 14 miles
Apartments for rent in Grand Prairie
Grand Prairie, which is around 14 miles to the west, offers an affordable suburban alternative. In Grand Prairie, you can check out Lynn Creek Park at Joe Pool Lake, with opportunities for boating, swimming and hiking amidst the picturesque lakeside surroundings. The city is also home to the Texas Trust CU Theatre, a popular venue for concerts, comedy shows and other live entertainment.
Average rent for a studio: $1,053
Average rent for a one-bedroom: $1,379
Average rent for a two-bedroom: $1,747
Distance from Dallas: 15 miles
Apartments for rent in Garland
Just 15 miles from downtown is Garland, the final of the affordable Dallas suburbs to make our list. Home to 242,000 residents, Garland can be a great option for renters looking for a less busy city — and affordable rental prices. While the rent for a one-bedroom unit may be slightly higher in Dallas, a two-bedroom unit costs just over $100 less in Garland.
Living in Garland, you can explore the beautiful Spring Creek Forest Preserve, which offers hiking trails, wildlife viewing and a serene escape into nature. The city also features the Granville Arts Center, a cultural hub with theaters and art galleries that host a variety of performances and exhibitions. If you’re looking to take the leap from renter to buyer, make sure to also check out the most affordable Dallas suburbs to buy a home.
Is Dallas for you?
In a city as vibrant and diverse as Dallas, discovering the best bang for your buck is like finding hidden treasures in a sprawling urban jungle. Navigating through the maze of neighborhoods, we’ve unearthed the gems that not only won’t break the bank but might just leave you with some extra cash for those irresistible Tex-Mex dinners.
So, as you embark on your quest for the perfect pad, rest assured that the cheapest places in Dallas aren’t just affordable – they’re the keys to unlocking a city full of opportunities and adventures. Your wallet will thank you, and so will your sense of wanderlust. Cheers to finding your piece of budget-friendly paradise in a Dallas apartment in the heart of the Lone Star State!
Affordability in our study of affordable Dallas suburbs is based on whether a suburb’s one and two-bedroom rent was less than Dallas and under 15 miles from downtown Dallas. Average rental data from Dallas rental market trends on October 26, 2023. Population data sourced from the United States Census Bureau.
Richmond is a city with a deep-rooted history, remarkable landmarks, and a unique blend of cultural, outdoor, and culinary experiences. It’s a place where history intertwines with modern-day vibrancy, offering a multitude of experiences for both residents and visitors. Richmond doesn’t just rest on its historical laurels; it continuously evolves, making it a fascinating city to explore.
From its pivotal role in American history to its thriving arts scene, Richmond is a city that proudly showcases its achievements and attractions. Whether you’re drawn by the call of the James River or the allure of its historic streets, this guide will introduce you to what makes renting an apartment in Richmond a great call.
1. Richmond National Battlefield Park
Richmond is steeped in American Civil War history, having once served as the capital of the Confederacy. The city’s landscape is dotted with battlefields, museums, and monuments that tell the complex story of one of America’s most turbulent times. Places like the American Civil War Museum and the Richmond National Battlefield Park provide insightful perspectives into the war’s impact on the nation and the city. Richmond’s dedication to preserving its history allows visitors and residents alike to step back in time and understand the significant role the city played in shaping the country we live in today.
2. The Virginia State Capitol
Designed by Thomas Jefferson, the Virginia State Capitol is a monumental symbol of American architectural and political history. Standing regally in the heart of Richmond, this iconic building not only serves as the seat of the state’s government but also as a testament to the enduring principles of democracy. Guided tours offer a glimpse into Virginia’s legislative process and the building’s remarkable design, making it a must-visit for anyone interested in the interplay between architecture and American history.
3. James River
The James River is the lifeblood of Richmond, offering a natural escape amid the city’s hustle and bustle. It’s a haven for outdoorsy types, with activities ranging from whitewater rafting and kayaking to tranquil walks along the scenic riverside trails. The James River Park System provides countless opportunities for adventure and relaxation, highlighting the city’s commitment to preserving its natural beauty while fostering a strong community connection to the outdoors.
4. Growing craft beer scene
Richmond is known for its craft beer revolution, with numerous breweries, notably The Answer Brewpub and Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, offering locally brewed selections. Food festivals and farmer’s markets add to the city’s foodie appeal, making it a destination for those who love to explore flavors and foods.
5. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Richmond’s arts scene is second to none, with a thriving community of artists, musicians and performers. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) stands out as a beacon of cultural enrichment, showcasing an extensive collection that spans the globe and centuries.
6. The Fan and Church Hill
Richmond’s historic architecture is a visual journey through the city’s past, from colonial times to the present day. Neighborhoods like The Fan and Church Hill boast picturesque streets lined with beautifully preserved homes, offering a glimpse into the city’s architectural evolution. This blend of historical and contemporary architecture underscores Richmond’s respect for its past while embracing modern development.
7. Mymont Park and Belle Isle
In addition to the James River Park System, Richmond hosts a ton of outdoor recreation options. The city’s parks, like Maymont and Belle Isle, provide a peaceful respite from city life, with beautiful gardens, hiking trails and wildlife exhibits.
8. Richmond Folk Festival and more
Richmond is a city that loves to celebrate, hosting a ton of festivals and events throughout the year. From the Richmond Folk Festival to the Richmond International Film Festival, these gatherings showcase the city’s diverse talents and community spirit. Seasonal events, like the Dominion Energy Christmas Parade and the Monument Avenue 10k, bring residents together to celebrate the city’s culture and traditions.
9. VCU and University of Richmond
Home to renowned institutions like Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and the University of Richmond, the city is a hub for education and innovation. These universities not only provide top-tier education but also contribute to the city’s culture and economy. Research initiatives, startup incubators and collaborative projects between the universities and local businesses underscore Richmond’s role as a center for innovation and growth in the Southeast.
10. Richmond’s riverfront
The revitalization of Richmond’s riverfront has transformed the city’s relationship with the James River, making it a focal point for leisure and entertainment. T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge, part of the Virginia Capital Trail, offers stunning views of the river and connects several of Richmond’s most walkable districts, promoting a sense of community and accessibility.
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After I wrote a simple primer on Roth conversions a couple weeks ago, several readers reached out asking for more details. A few specific snippets of those questions include:
I see many articles like this about lowering your tax bracket when doing Roth conversions. But, what about the amount of money that can be made by not doing Roth conversions and letting the taxable [sic: qualified, or not taxable] money grow in an account like an IRA or 401K? Is that math too hard to explain?
Sure your RMDs will be higher and you will be taxed more, but how much more money will you make by letting that tax deferred money grow? You could assume a rate of return at 6% for the illustration.
Kelly M., Question 1
A wise man once said “never pay a tax before you have to.” Back around 2015 I had the owner of an income tax service try to convince me to convert all my traditional IRA money to Roth. He said tax rates were going to go up and he was converting all of his own personal traditional IRAs. Fast forward to 2017 and Congress actually ended up lowering tax rates. I wonder what he thought about his conversions after that.
Anonymous, Question 2
Even with my spouse still working, I don’t think we’ll hit the IRMAA limits while I do Roth conversions before I take Medicare. But, could Roth conversions now help me avoid the IRMAA thresholds when I’m taking RMDs in the future? Or, is it worth doing Roth conversions to avoid the IRMAA thresholds? I’d be interested in an article like that.
Anonymous, Question 3
To summarize those three questions:
Does the math of Roth conversions really work?
But since we don’t know future tax rates, how can we confidently convert assets today?
What about IRMAA (the income-related monthly adjustment amount), which is an additional Medicare surcharge on high-earners?
Let’s address these questions one at a time.
Does the Math of Roth Conversions Really Work?
Roth conversions involve many moving pieces, as you’ll see in this simple Roth conversion spreadsheet.
Reminder: you can make a copy of the spreadsheet via File >> Make a Copy
There are terrific financial planning software packages that take care of this math. I wanted to present 95% of the good stuff in a free format that you all can look at. Hence, Google Sheets.
Nuanced Tax Interactions
Especially important is the interaction between normal income (via Traditional account withdrawals), capital gains, and Social Security. These taxes interplay in nuanced ways. A simple example:
Let’s say a Single retiree’s annual income is:
$5000 in interest income
$5000 in long-term capital gains
$30,000 in Social Security benefits.
If you plug that into a 1040 tax return, you’ll find that:
None of that Social Security income is taxable.
All of the interest and capital gains are enveloped by the Standard deduction
Resulting in zero taxable income and a $0.00 Federal tax bill.
But if we copied Scenario A and added in $30,000 in Traditional IRA distributions, what happens? I think we all expect that the $30,000 distribution itself must have a taxable component, but you might not know that:
The IRA distribution affects Social Security taxability. Now, $22,350 of the Social Security income becomes taxable. That’s right. Simply by distributing IRA assets, you’ve now increased how much Social Security you pay taxes on.
The Standard deduction still helps, but there’s now a remainder of $48,500 in Federal taxable income.
Resulting in a $5584 Federal tax bill.
It’s not the end of the world. Taxes happen. They pay for our public shared interests.
But part of tax planning is understanding ahead of time what your future tax bills will look like. It’s important to understand how taxes interact. And this is just a simple example!
Measuring Roth Conversion Benefits
Going back to this spreadsheet, you’ll three tabs full of retirement withdrawal math. The Assumptions tab contains important information on our hypothetical retiree’s starting point (e.g. $2.9M in investable assets), their annual spending ($100K), their future assumed growth (5% per year, after adjusting for inflation), and other important numbers.
Note – this math takes place in “the convenient world” where inflation is removed from the math.
Then three tabs are presented with different Roth conversion scenarios, described below:
This tab shows a retiree not focused on any conversions
They want to leave to their children both Roth assets (if possible) and taxable assets (on a stepped-up cost basis).
Therefore, they attempt to fund as much of their retirement using Traditional assets as possible
“No Trad Withdrawals”
This tab shows a “worst case” scenario, to help bookend the analysis. This retiree is not pulling any funds from their Traditional accounts (unless necessary). Thus, we’d expect them to have large RMDs and large RMD-related tax bills.
This tab shows a “reasonable” Roth conversion timeline, electing to convert $1.7 million throughout their retirement, while funding their lifestyle using a mix of Traditional, Roth, and taxable assets along the way.
By no means is this “optimized.” But it’s reasonable, and better than the first two scenarios, as we’ll see below.
Pros, Cons, and Results
The three scenarios end up similar in multiple ways.
Our retiree never has an issue funding their annual lifestyle. This is of utmost importance.
Our retiree reaches age 90 (“death”) with roughly $5M in each scenario.
But there are important differences (as we’d suspect).
The Baseline scenario ends with $5.00M. Of that, 27% is Traditional, 35% is Roth, and 34% is Taxable. They’ve paid an effective Federal tax rate of 20.7% throughout retirement.
The No Traditional Withdrawal scenario ends with $5.20M. Of that, 63% is Tradtional, 0% is Roth, 37% is Taxable. They’ve paid an effective Federal tax rate of 18.8% throughout retirement.
The Reasonable Conversions scenario ends with $5.17M. 18% is Traditional, 68% is Roth, and 14% is Taxable. They’ve paid an effective Federal tax rate of 13.9% throughout retirement.
The Same, But Different
These three scenarios share many similarities. All three result in successful retirements. But there are important differences.
Our Roth converter paid far fewer taxes and, ultimately, left a majority of their tax dollars to their heirs via Roth vehicles, and thus tax-free.
The No Trad Withdrawal retiree paid 28% effective tax rates in their final years (only going further up in the future) and left 63% of their assets in Traditional accounts with a large asterisk on them.***
***TAXES DUE IN THE FUTURE*** …unless you’re leaving the Traditional IRA assets to, for example, a non-profit charity. But if you’re leaving the Traditional IRA to your kids, they’ll owe taxes when they withdraw the funds.
Long story short: Roth conversions work to your benefit when executed intelligently.
Should You Worry About Leaving Behind Traditional Assets?!
I don’t want to freak you out. Your heirs will appreciate you leaving behind a 401(k) or Traditional IRA for them.
But it’s worth understanding that they’ll owe taxes on that money (usually). Let’s dive into an example with simple math: a $1 million Traditional IRA left to one person (e.g. your child).
That person will most likely set up an Inherited Traditional IRAand (via new-ish rules in the SECURE Act) will have to empty that account by the end of the 10th year after your death. The withdrawals can be raised and lowered during those 10 years. Much like with Roth conversions, it makes sense to take larger withdrawals during otherwise low-income years and vice versa.
But if the beneficiary is in the middle of their career, a series of 10 equal withdrawals makes sense. Some rough math suggests ~$135,000 per year is a reasonable withdrawal amount (based on account growth over the 10 years).
That withdrawal is taxed as income for the beneficiary. If they’re already earning $100,000 per year of normal income, then taxes will consume ~$41,000 of their annual $135,000 withdrawal. State taxes might take another bite.
Again – I don’t want anyone to cry over the prospect of inheriting $94,000 annually for 10 years. Where can I sign up?! But it’s also worth understanding that 30% of this inheritance is going to Federal taxes.
“Never Pay a Tax Before You Have To”
What about Question #2 from the beginning of the article? A reader wrote in and suggested one should “never pay a tax before you have to.”
While pithy, it’s false.
If you can reasonably front-load low tax rates to prevent later high tax rates, the math supports you. What we’ve covered so far today is clear evidence of that.
Now, in the reader’s defense: I’d rather delay taxes if thedollar amounts are exactly the same. That’s one argument behind the tax-loss harvesting craze: I’d rather pay $100 in taxes in the future than $100 in taxes today.
But Roth conversions work differently. Done well, Roth conversions allow you to pay a 22% tax on $50,000 today to prevent a 37% tax on $100,000 in the future. It’s apples-and-oranges compared to the tax-loss example.
And perhaps the bigger lesson: there are few universal rules in personal finance. The pithy rule that works in one scenario (“never pay a tax before you have to”) might fail miserably in another scenario. Let the math guide you.
What About IRMAA?
Irma used to only be a name you’d give to the great-grandmother character in your 11th-grade B-minus fiction story.
No longer! Today, IRMAA has been given new life (which, I bet, was covered by Medicare!)
IRMAA (Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount) is a Medicare premium surcharge imposed on higher-income beneficiaries in addition to their standard Medicare Part B and Part D premiums. The amount of IRMAA is determined based on an individual’s modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) and can result in higher healthcare costs for those with higher incomes.
In plain English: high-earners pay more for Medicare.
Question #3 today asked if Roth conversions can be used to avoid IRMAA premiums. The answer is: yes.
But first, how painful are these IRMAA surcharges in the first place?!
Important note: you’ll see below that the 2023 IRMAA brackets are based on 2021 modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). That same 2-year delay holds for future years. Your 2024 Roth conversions (or lack thereof) will be important in determining IRMAA in 2026
If a married couple’s MAGI in 2021 was $225,000, they’d end up paying $231 per month (or, more accurately, $462 per month for the couple) as opposed to $330 for the couple if they earned less than $194,000. That’s a difference of $132 per month or $1584 for the year.
I’m of two minds here. Because:
Yes, I believe in frugality. A penny saved is a penny earned. Why pay $1584 extra if you don’t have to?
But if you’re earning $200,000in retirement, do you also need to stress over a $1500 annual line item?
Personally, I’ll be stoked if my retirement MAGI is $200,000. It’ll be a sign that my financial life turned out unbelievably well. I won’t mind the IRMAA.
The people most likely to suffer IRMAA are also best positioned to deal with it.
Will IRMAA Get You?
The 2-year delay in IRMAA math means you might get IRMAA’d early on in retirement.
Imagine retiring at the end of 2023. The peak of your career! You and your spouse earned a combined $300,000 and now you’re settling down to mind your knitting. Like all U.S. citizens, you sign up for Medicare just before you turn 65.
Come 2025, Uncle Sam and Aunt IRMAA are going to look back at your 2023 income and surcharge you.
But the good news, most likely, is that your 2024 income is quite low in comparison and IRMAA will drop off in 2026.
Can Roth Conversions Help?
Remember: RMDs are forced and count as income, and that has the potential of “forcing” IRMAA on retirees as they age.
So to answer our terrific reader question: yes, Roth conversions can help here. You can use Roth conversions to shift the realization of income from high years to low years, preventing or mitigating IRMAA in the process.
But once more, make sure the juice is worth the squeeze.
If a 75-year-old has a $200,000 RMD that kills them on IRMAA, ask yourself: where does a $200,000 RMD come from? Answer: it’s coming from an IRA of over $5 million. Should someone with $5 million be losing sleep over IRMAA? I don’t think so.
That’s A Lot of Numbers…
A long and math-heavy article. I hope this helped you out! We covered:
Roth conversions can be objectively helpful, decreasing taxes in retirement and shifting large portions of portfolios from Traditional accounts (with potential taxes for heirs) into Roth accounts (no taxes for heirs)
Taxes in retirement are nuanced and interconnected. In today’s example, realizing extra income (via IRA distributions) also triggered extra Social Security taxes.
It’s not bad to leave behind Traditional assets to heirs. They’re getting a wonderful gift from you. But there will be taxes, which should be planned for.
There are many scenarios where it makes sense to pay taxes before you “have” to.
IRMAA is a negative reality for many retirees, but the people most likely to suffer IRMAA are also best positioned to deal with it.
Roth conversions can be used to mitigate IRMAA over the long run.
As always, thanks for reading!
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Residential mortgage lending activity took another downturn in the fourth quarter of 2023, with more than 90% of metro areas reporting declines, according to the latest report from ATTOM. The slump marks the 10th decline in the past 11 quarters, with total lending volume falling 16.5% year-over-year. The year proved challenging for lenders as elevated … [Read more…]
Inflation remained stubbornly high in January, possibly pushing back any interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve. Still, the long line graph indicates a cooling trend, albeit a bumpy one. Nevertheless, lenders have already begun lowering mortgage rates in anticipation of any cuts to the federal funds rate. According to Freddie Mac, the rate on a conventional 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is currently 6.90%, down from 7.79% in late October.
The good news for homeowners is that despite dips in some areas, prices are generally holding steady and preserving home equity for owners. A 2023 report from the real estate analytics firm CoreLogic says the average homeowner in the U.S. holds $300,000 in home equity.
With lower interest rates than other forms of lending, home equity loans may be a good option for borrowers. The best lending option depends on a several factors, including the loan amount, borrowing costs and your time horizon for repayment. However, a home equity loan could be a better option than the below five alternatives in specific situations.
Considering tapping into your home equity? See what interest rate you could qualify for here now.
Why a home equity loan is better than these 5 alternatives
Here are five lending options that a home equity loan may be preferable to.
As of February 27, the average home equity loan interest rate is 8.78%. That’s substantially lower than the average credit card interest rate of 22.75%, according to the Federal Reserve. If you’re looking to borrow a substantial amount, such as $50,000 for a home renovation project, you could save thousands of dollars in interest charges over the life of the loan.
“When you need a sizable sum and can repay it over a longer period, a home equity loan is the better choice,” says Mike Roberts, co-founder of City Creek Mortgage. “The interest rates on home equity loans are generally lower, making them more cost-effective.”
Keep in mind, home equity loans use your house as collateral, which means the bank could foreclose on your home if you default on the loan. If you need a smaller amount, a credit card or other alternative may be less risky, especially if you can repay the amount quickly.
Compare your home equity loan options here to learn more.
As with credit cards, home equity loans may be preferable to personal loans because they usually come with lower interest rates. They also have higher borrowing limits, up to 75% to 85% of your home’s equity. As mentioned, U.S. homeowners have an average of $300,000 in equity, which means they could potentially borrow from $225,000 to $255,000. By contrast, borrowing amounts on personal loans typically don’t exceed $100,000. If you’re consolidating a substantial amount of debt or undertaking a pricey home improvement project, the higher borrowing limit and lower rates may be advantageous.
Bill Westrom, the CEO and founder of TruthInEquity.com, advises borrowers refrain from borrowing the maximum amount, even if they qualify. “If we use 2008 to 2009 as a teaching lesson when home values fall, you might find yourself in a negative equity position that might take years to recover from.”
Cash-out refinance loans
If you took out your current mortgage before 2022, you likely have a more favorable rate than what you’ll find on the market now. Specifically, mortgages taken out between 2019 and 2021 have average interest rates below 4.00%. Refinancing at today’s higher rates doesn’t make much sense. A home equity loan allows you to access the funds you need without changing the terms of your original mortgage.
“If you have a first mortgage with an interest rate of 4.00% or less, do not ever let it get away,” says Westrom. “There really is no complimentary argument for the cash-out refinance if you have a low, low rate already.”
Home equity lines of credit (HELOCs)
While home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) include many of the same benefits as home equity loans, there are times when the latter can be more advantageous. For starters, home equity loans can provide you with a large sum of money upfront, whereas HELOCs are designed to draw funds as needed over time.
Additionally, home equity loans come with fixed interest rates, while HELOCs typically have variable ones. With a stable rate and payment that remains the same throughout the loan, a home equity loan is more predictable and easy to manage. It also can save you on interest charges as it isn’t subject to interest rate fluctuations.
Learn more about your HELOC options here.
Both a 401(k) loan and a home equity loan allow you to “borrow from yourself.” A 401(k) loan allows you to borrow up to $50,000 in emergency cash from your retirement plan, and pay yourself back within five years with interest, usually a point or two higher than the current prime rate.
However, borrowing from your 401(k) comes at a massive opportunity cost. The money you withdraw will no longer earn interest, and it could take years to regain your former account position. During those five years of repayment, you could forfeit your employer’s matching contributions, and the lower account balance will yield less earnings.
With a home equity loan, you’ll pay interest charges, and the risk to your home must be strongly considered. However, a well-planned home equity loan with affordable payments could be considered a more favorable option than depleting your retirement savings.
The bottom line
A home equity loan can be more advantageous than the alternatives above in many situations, but not always. Deciding whether to get a home equity loan, one of these five alternatives or another financing option should be based on how each option addresses your unique circumstances. Explore your options and read the fine print before proceeding with any loan offers. Finally, make sure you can comfortably afford the payments on any new loan or credit you’re considering before taking on new debt.
Matt Richardson is the managing editor for the Managing Your Money section for CBSNews.com. He writes and edits content about personal finance ranging from savings to investing to insurance.