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Jason Parker
Building Wealth

Over the years we have worked with a lot of retired teachers. The type of teacher’s retirement plan you have determines how your benefits are calculated and which components are available to you. Many of the teachers we have met with, who are considering and transitioning into retirement, have benefits based on two parts from the Department of Retirement Systems commonly known as DRS:

  1. The pension component, which is called the defined benefit program, and
  2. for those in Plan 3, the retirement savings component called the defined contribution program.

One question many retiring teachers ask is, “Should I purchase the additional service credits?” At the time of this article, purchasing additional service credits is currently available for all TRS Plans 1, 2 and 3. read more »


An annuity is a contract between you and an insurance company. Generally speaking, annuities are either immediate or deferred. An immediate annuity generates income right away. A deferred annuity may pay income in the future and is also tax-deferred.

Sometimes people buy a deferred annuity and never start the income. They just allow the account to grow in a tax-deferred status. Tax-deferred means you don’t pay taxes on the interest you earn until you withdraw money from the contract.

What are the different types of annuities?

Immediate annuities are often called single premium immediate annuities and in the industry they are referred to as a SPIA. A SPIA is designed to generate income on a guaranteed basis. read more »


Most of the people we serve tell us they don’t mind paying their “fair share” of taxes, but then they follow up by saying, “but I’d prefer not to pay more than my fair share.” I think the term “fair” is kind of funny. I’ve learned that taxes always seem fair as long as I’m not the one having to pay them. I remember my Dad used to tell me, “Life is not fair, but it favors the prepared mind.” I also recently read that “ignorance may be bliss, but it’s expensive,” and not planning or ignoring your future tax liability could create a future tax time bomb.

When I talk about retirement accounts, I am generally referring to accounts such as IRAs, 401(k)s, TSPs, and 403(b)s. These are accounts in which you have contributed pre-tax dollars and those dollars are growing tax-deferred, but when you begin taking money out of these accounts they will be 100 percent taxable as ordinary income and taxed at your effective income tax rate. read more »


The retirement income gap is simply the difference between your budget and your guaranteed income sources. For example, if you have a budget that requires $5,000 per month of income in today’s dollars, and you have guaranteed income from Social Security and pensions of $3,000 per month, then your gap is $2,000 per month.

One of the ways you can create the greatest amount of confidence in your retirement income plan is to solve for the gap using strategies that have the least amount of volatility. Each solution to solving for this gap has varying degrees of risk. If you are ultra-conservative, then you might consider laddering certificates of deposit and living off the interest income to cover the gap. Or maybe you ladder annuity contracts and create guaranteed income using annuities. read more »


One of my clients brought by a ledger his mother kept from January through February 1956. His mom was trying to track where all their money was going because they had no idea why they didn’t have enough left at the end of every month. What’s fascinating to me about this ledger is the impact inflation has had over the last 57 years. Here are a few items from this 1956 ledger that caught my attention: rent $40 per month; car payment $44 per month; gas & electric $11 per month; groceries about $80 per month; black and white TV payment $13 per month; and a swamp cooler payment of $6 per month. Their income was $77 per week; $309 per month; $3,706 per year.

When I plug some of these numbers into the Bureau of Labor statistics inflation calculator I found that $40 for rent in 1956 would be $342 today. I can’t imagine a family could find a home to purchase or rent at $342 per month today. read more »

Banking And Finance

One of the top search queries bringing people to my blog is “Overcoming fear of retirement.” Ultimately I don’t think people are really afraid of retirement, but like most of us we are resistant to change. A transition into the unknown can shake us out of our comfort zone and create uncertainty, which can lead to fear and stress.

I remember in late 2004, we had just found out that we were expecting our first child. My wife and I had been trying to have children for eight years. So this was amazing, wonderful, spectacular news. We were overwhelmed with joy, but at the same time for me there was stress associated with transitioning into the unknown. Every morning for the entire week after we found out I’d get a bloody nose while in the shower. While we were both extremely excited and happy, I was also very nervous and fairly stressed about the responsibility of becoming a Dad. read more »


I recently met with some affluent and successful retirees who came to see me with some questions on cash flow. They had income of more than $100,000 per year, yet they felt like they didn’t have enough income to enjoy the lifestyle they had grown accustomed to. I asked them to tell me the very first thing that comes to mind when they hear the word budget. One said it had a negative connotation and meant having to cut back. The other one said budgeting was financial discipline and being prudent. Most of us would probably agree with one of these two statements.

With all of the nonstop chatter in Washington, D.C., these days about sequestration and budgeting, the last thing you probably want to read is an article about budgeting. read more »


Do you remember the first time you had to make a life-or-death decision? Fifteen years ago I was working for the state of Alaska when my telephone rang. It was my wife. She did not usually call me at work, but this particular day was our one-year wedding anniversary so I figured she was calling to wish me a happy anniversary. Instead she said, “Jason, I was at my mom’s house when she fell over and hit her head on a table, and she’s bleeding. I called the ambulance and we’re on our way to the hospital. Can you meet us there?”

When I arrived at the hospital, I learned my mother-in-law had a very bad headache. She was only in her mid-50s and had never been sick a day in her life, so this was very unusual. The doctors thought the headache was because of her fall. She also had a small cut under her eye where she had been bleeding. My wife and I sat in the waiting room for what seemed like an eternity, but in all reality was probably not very long. read more »


I remember being so nervous almost 16 years ago when I was just about to get married. I felt a great sense of responsibility, and I wanted to be a good man and a good husband. A few hours before my wedding, I called my grandparents and asked them for their advice on how to have a good marriage.

My dad’s mom told me, “A family that prays together stays together.”

My mom’s parents told me, “Never go to bed mad.”

As I write this article, I’m happy to report that I am approaching my 16th wedding anniversary to my beautiful bride, and I’m so grateful that she has put up with me for all these years. read more »

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