THE MONEY MINUTE: Should my company start a 401(k) plan?

by Jac M. Arbour CFP®, ChFC®
President, J.M. Arbour Wealth Management

It’s a great question. And the answer is usually straight forward.

For an employee, the idea of not going to work anymore after a certain age, yet still receiving an income to live life on their terms, is the specific purpose of a retirement plan. Solo Ks, SIMPLE IRAs, SEP IRAs, Traditional and Roth IRAs, 403(b)s, and 401(k)s are all designed to do just that. Each of these plans has its differences, and in this month’s column I will share some key considerations to help you decide which type of plan may be best for your employees and your company.

Contribution amounts: Each of the aforementioned plans allows a different total amount of deferrals, or contributions, annually. IRAs have a maximum contribution of $6,000, SIMPLE IRAs are limited to $12,500, and 401(k)s and 403(b)s allow up to $19,500 annually. In addition to these elective deferral totals, each plan also offers “catch-up” provisions that allow people ages 50 and over to contribute a little extra. When deciding which plan type is best for your company, it is important to know how much you and other highly compensated employees would like to contribute each year. The answer to the question, “How much would you like to contribute?” is a great place to start.

Employer match: Do you want to help your employees save for retirement and incentivize them to grow within their position at your company? If so, an employer match can serve the purpose. It is widely known that benefits in general, including 401(k)s with or without employer matches, increase attraction and retention rates of employees. When companies help their employees get to where they want to go, everyone wins.

Profit sharing: Not all retirement plans offer this feature, so choosing the right type of plan design is important if you want to institute profit sharing. This can be a great way to say an additional “thank you” to your employees. Furthermore, when the philosophy of your company is “the better we do, the better you do,” more often than not, you will see enhanced camaraderie amongst your workforce. In business, there are not many things stronger than a solid team, aimed at a single vision, firing on all cylinders.

Company size: How many employees do you have? If you have 100 or less, a SIMPLE IRA might do the trick, as long as you plan to contribute less than the max, mentioned above. If you have more than 100 employees, you cannot start a SIMPLE IRA. Basic rules like this can narrow down your choices quickly. Once you know the right plan type, you can dive into the weeds to build out the inner workings of your plan.

These ideas are just a few of the many things to consider. To explore all the factors and derive specific answers to which plan is best for your company, reach out to an advisor or firm that guides people through these decisions. It is a lot simpler than you might think, if you have the right people on your team.

See you next month.

Jac Arbour CFP®, ChFC®

Jac Arbour is the President of J.M. Arbour Wealth Management. He can be reached at 207-248-6767.
Investment advisory services are offered through Foundations Investment Advisors, LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser.

THE MONEY MINUTE: As goes Maine…away goes hunger

by Jac M. Arbour CFP®, ChFC®
President, J.M. Arbour Wealth Management

Hunger in Maine is much more prevalent than most people know, and it affects our state deeply. Community members of all ages, all throughout our state, lack access to adequate food. Hunger needs a much broader definition. So does food.

Last year, the Good Shepherd Food Bank was instrumental in serving over 30 million meals to Maine people. Thirty million. But don’t be fooled: this did not meet all the need that was there. It may be a hard figure to take in, but try for a moment: here in Maine, even 30 million meals does not fill the hunger gap.

Over the past few months, I have shared time with leaders of organizations such as the Good Shepherd Food Bank, smaller local food banks, AIO out of Rockland, Full Plates Full Potential (founded by Justin Alfond and John Woods), the Greater Boston Food Bank, Feeding America, and more. I love these people. I love their spirits, their vision, their drive, and their internal need to be impactful members of society. It is a beautiful thing to witness and experience the determination that is so firmly rooted within these leaders.

One thing all leaders I met with said, is that their goal is to work themselves out of a job—to end all hunger in Maine. Imagine.

Some people are especially cognizant of the deciding role that nutrition, or lack thereof, plays in the development of our youth. Right now, at least one in five Maine children are experiencing hunger. Due to COVID-19, the number may be higher. Further, if we as a state keep doing exactly what we are (and aren’t) doing now, food-insecurity (and the results of it) in Maine will only increase. So how do we approach this issue?

We need to feed kids in a way that lasts a lifetime. Let me explain.

There is an immediate need to feed kids food, as we have discussed. A child cannot be expected to leave school on Friday, go two and a half days without food, then show up at school on Monday to sit in a chair for hours, pay attention, retain information, and develop as does a child fueled by nutritious food. Therefore, organizations like the ones I just mentioned and the people who lead them, are silent heroes. They are doing everything in their power to make sure this doesn’t happen, and they are doing one heck of a great job.

Now, let’s think beyond the immediate need for a moment. What else feeds kids?

We need to feed kids positive ideas, books that take them to new places, keys to the libraries of the world, direct access to education and career opportunities that might seem untouchable, the crucial ability to identify opportunities, access to speakers who can share their stories about building a life of significance, and most of all, awareness of what’s possible.

At J.M. Arbour, we mange IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s and other investments. Only CFP® professionals and Chartered Financial Consultants® meet with the participants in retirement plans. We donate 50% of our net profits to meet the immediate need for food in Maine and further, to structure a network that will feed the hearts and minds of Maine’s tomorrow: our youth, for years to come.

Maine is well positioned to become the first state in the nation to literally end hunger among its people. Actually, when you step back and take a look at what that would require of us, it is quite simple.

We—the organizations and small companies fighting hunger—need teammates. We need you. Call J.M Arbour’s Chief Operating Officer, Devon Pcolar, and let us know if you want to help us end hunger in Maine.

See you all next month.

Jac Arbour CFP®, ChFC®

Jac Arbour is the President of J.M. Arbour Wealth Management. He can be reached at 207-248-6767.

Investment advisory services are offered through Foundations Investment Advisors, LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser.

THE MONEY MINUTE: The power of a smile and a wave

by Jac M. Arbour CFP®, ChFC®, President
J.M. Arbour Wealth Management

Summers in Maine are special, and I am blessed to call this state my home. I wake each morning and travel across Lake Cobbosseecontee in a 14-foot, 1956 Richline aluminum boat with my grandfather’s 1973 6 horsepower Evinrude. I watch mist rise from the water, eagles and ospreys grab their morning catch, and listen to loons call their friends from miles away. It’s quite the skip across the lake.

I then hop in my truck and head to the office here on Water Street, in historic downtown Hallowell. For anyone that hasn’t been here, it is a small, but buzzing little town that has a strong sense of community. The bakery, the juice shop, and the coffee shop are some of my favorite stops here in the mornings.

It is however, what happens between the lake and the office that I want to share this month.

The largest room in the world is the room for improvement. Big or small, there are things we can do to improve ourselves, the world around us, and therefore, the experience of others. Mark Johnston, former President of Kennebec Savings Bank, in Augusta, knows this all so well.

The Granite Hill Road, in Manchester, is the route I take each day to get to Hallowell, and it is on this road that I (and every other car and passenger who takes that road) am greeted with a daily smile and a wave by Mark himself.

Mark always wears a bright shirt for safety reasons; to make sure he is seen (it’s a narrow road and vehicles drive fast). This is the usual attire he wears as he completes his morning routine of walking, smiling, waving, and picking up trash.

Yes. Every day I see Mark walking, getting some exercise, taking care of his body, stopping only to smile and wave at each and every car that goes by, and to bend over and pick up any and all pieces of trash he discovers. He carries a bag with him, and surprisingly, even though the road was spotless after his yesterday’s walk, there is always more to pick up.

I wonder what that road would look like if Mark didn’t walk it every day. Would there be more trash? Would there be less people who could say a stranger (or old friend) has already smiled and waved to him or her by the time 8 a.m. rolled around? I believe so.

It may sound trivial, but in my opinion, what Mark does each say is symbolic of the power we each carry within us and that we can share through simple acts of kindness and respect.

Mark, please keep smiling and waving. It’s more powerful than you know. And, thank you for all that you still do for our local communities.

Jac Arbour CFP®, ChFC®

Jac Arbour is the President of J.M. Arbour Wealth Management. He can be reached at 207-248-6767.

Investment advisory services are offered through Foundations Investment Advisors, LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) owns the CFP® certification mark, the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification mark, and the CFP® certification mark (with plaque design) logo in the United States, which it authorizes use of by individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.

THE MONEY MINUTE: How your retirement account can feed hungry kids in Maine and provide scholarships to trade school students

by Jac M. Arbour CFP®, ChFC®
President, J.M. Arbour Wealth Management

At this time of year four years ago, I gave a talk to 800 people at a Lewiston, Maine, elementary school. In it, I shared some ideas about how the students could create an amazing upcoming summer vacation for themselves. I had an absolute blast at the event, and the reaction from the kids and teachers assured me that my talk was well received.

After my talk, a teacher who was thanking me for my message shared a surprising perspective: she said that, for many of the students I had just met, leaving school on Friday is one of the largest stressors in their lives. When I asked why, I learned that many of these kids leave school at the end of each week knowing they won’t eat again until they return on Monday morning and are fed by the breakfast program. Then I learned a staggering statistic: in Lewiston, 100 percent of public school students receive free or reduced-price lunch, and this is true in many other cities and towns in Maine. This was news to me, as it may be to you. My heart sank into my stomach, and I tucked this piece of information into a file I knew I would someday reopen. This is that day.

At J.M. Arbour, we are changing what we do with company profits and redirecting our focus to Maine’s future, which lies in today’s youth, tomorrow’s leaders. So, here is what we are planning to do.

We will be donating a large percentage of our net profits from the management of employer sponsored plans — anywhere from 51 percent to 100 percent (as I write this, we are waiting to hear back from the tax pros about our corporate structure and ability to do so)—to two causes. The first cause we will support is a weekend backpack program that sends kids home every Friday with six meals so they can eat over the weekend. The second is a program that provides scholarships to Maine students who want to enter the trade industries. Plumbers, heating technicians, electricians, welders, crane operators, builders, diesel mechanics—all these professions are essential and always in high demand.

When I graduated from Bowdoin College, I remember people talking about the “need” to leave Maine in order to find “real economic opportunity.” I believe Maine has an abundance of opportunity, but to bring it to fruition we must align those who can mentor and provide opportunities with those who want to learn and are willing to do the work—access and connections can be simplified and strengthened.

That is why the next part of our plan is to encourage the owners, executives, and leaders of the companies that hire us to manage their company retirement plans to join a network we are building to provide support in the form of books and speeches (and overall mentorship) to kids who want to build fulfilling lives here in Maine.

I will sign off from this month’s column by saying that our goal is to feed kids for a lifetime. We want to feed them food as well as positivity, ideas, and hope, which they also need to thrive. We want to facilitate access to education, mentorships, and career opportunities to give Maine students the ability to build rich and rewarding lives and retire on purpose, right here in Maine. We have titled this effort “The Purpose Project.”
Please call our office for more details; I am always thrilled to speak with people about this project and honestly, we need more teammates; we need your help to spread the word. Together, we can end weekend hunger and provide life opportunities for Maine’s young people.

Here is what I promise: If we focus on what we are doing today, we can aim for a better tomorrow.

See you all next month.

Jac Arbour CFP®, ChFC®

Jac Arbour is the President of J.M. Arbour Wealth Management. He can be reached at 207-248-6767.
Investment advisory services are offered through Foundations Investment Advisors, LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser.

THE MONEY MINUTE: Nine considerations for your 401(k) rollover

by Jac M. Arbour CFP®, ChFC®, President
J.M. Arbour Wealth Management

A 401(k) (or a 403(b), 457 Deferred Compensation Plan, Thrift Savings Plan, Profit Sharing Plan, SEP IRA, SIMPLE IRA, etc.) is a retirement account that is sponsored by an employer and offered to the employees, also known as the participants in the plan. These types of plans are known as defined contribution plans and are often attractive to people as they can offer cost-effective ways to invest, receive investment advice, and oftentimes, receive an employer match. Regardless of the plan you have, here are some things to consider.

  • You have four choices when considering a rollover: You can leave the plan where it is (under certain criteria), rollover to an IRA (Traditional or Roth, including self-directed), rollover to the plan at your new employer (if accepted), or cash it out (tax withholdings are mandatory).
  • Direct vs. Indirect Rollovers: A rollover is considered a direct rollover when the money is moved from one qualified account to another (tax-free event). A rollover is considered indirect when the money is transferred from the retirement account to you personally (taxes will be due if not placed into a qualified account within 60 days and only one per twelve-month period is allowed).
  • Consider working with an advisor: An advisor that is comprehensive in their approach gives advice relative to everything going on in a person’s life. Savings, investments, insurances, debt, cash flows, family structure and dynamics, upcoming capital expenses, short- and long-term financial goals, college plans, travel, personal preferences, etc.
  • Open investment architecture: Be sure to understand what you will have access to for investment options regardless of the rollover option you choose.
  • Systematic withdrawals: One, if not THE, most important uses of a 401(k) or retirement plan is to supplement other sources of retirement income, such as Social Security or pensions. Not all plans allow for these withdrawals once retired or no longer employed. Check with your plan administrator.
  • Creditor Protection: Creditor protection in an IRA is not always the same as that of an ERISA governed retirement plan. Be sure to know the differences in your state before making the change.
  • Loans: A qualified plan may, but is not required, to permit loans. IRAs do not offer loans. This is important to note as loans can be a great way to access money in times of need.
  • Consolidate: Many people have several “old” retirement plans at former employers. It can be easier to manage the money when it is all in one place.
  • Required Minimum Distributions: Be sure not to miss these. They begin at age 70.5 (now 72 if you turned 70.5 after January 1, 2020). Consolidation is also useful when calculating these distributions.

Here is what I promise: If you do your homework before making any rollover decisions, it will likely pay dividends (no pun).

See you all next month.

Jac Arbour CFP®, ChFC®

Jac Arbour is the President of J.M. Arbour Wealth Management. He can be reached at 207-248-6767.
Investment advisory services are offered through Foundations Investment Advisors, LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser.

THE MONEY MINUTE: A dose of positivity goes a long way

by Jac M. Arbour CFP®, ChFC®
President, J.M. Arbour Wealth Management

What a world, huh? One day we are cranking along, humming and whistling, and the next, the brakes are screeching and seemingly everything comes to a halt. Life can change quickly.

We have all faced adversity at some point and when we do, it is important to check in with ourselves and examine the lens through which we are viewing life and the experiences we encounter.

In China, the symbol for crisis has duality; it means both danger and opportunity. My good friend and mentor, Harvey Mackay, says that when adversity strikes and “cool heads prevail, opportunity wins most of the time.” Furthermore, it has been said by many writers that opportunity is often times disguised in rags and looks like work.

Around three thousand years ago, Homer wrote that “adversity has the effects of eliciting talents which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant.” Today, we see this remains true. Just look at what is happening around you within Maine manufacturing companies.

Companies who make industrial flooring installation kneepads are utilizing their stock materials to make face shields to protect medical personnel. The shields were designed, prototyped, and on the assembly line within weeks of the initial idea.

A company that makes tongue suppressors was asked by the U.S. government to make up to 50 million swabs for medical America. And they are chipping away at it.

Manufacturing plants that use to make “A” are now making “Z” upon the desire to jump in with both feet and do their part to help those in need. From helping supply food to hungry children, to converting their industrial spaces to manufacture face masks, Mainers are stepping up in a very big way.

Mother Theresa once said, “I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.” The same is true for all of us. We are extremely resilient beings and are capable of anything to which we dedicate our minds, hearts, and spirits.

As the pandemic continues, I choose to view life through a lens that looks at how people are positively responding to the crisis around them. People have a ton of beauty within them and as my wonderful mother always says, it is essential to look for the beauty within people.

Here is what I promise: When you look for the beauty within people, you will be rejuvenated by the positivity you see. Take a dose. It goes a long way.

See you all next month.

Jac Arbour CFP®, ChFC®

Jac Arbour is the President of J.M. Arbour Wealth Management. He can be reached at 207-248-6767.

Investment advisory services are offered through Foundations Investment Advisors, LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser.

THE MONEY MINUTE: Health, wealth and your best self

by Jac M. Arbour CFP®, ChFC®
President, J.M. Arbour Wealth Management

It’s an interesting business that I’m in and there is an interesting perspective amongst the public about what we do as wealth managers. Most people think our careers have to do only with money. The truth is, our duties stretch far beyond the realm of money; at least here at J.M. Arbour they do.

Yes, we manage money. However, we also swim in the sea of human hopes, desires and goals, both short and long term. We experience various family dynamics, legal structures, life altering events, and the unforeseen. We experience weddings, divorces, babies being born, businesses rising and falling, and people at all mile markers on the journey of life.

There are many forms of wealth: I believe happiness ranks at the top of the list. Intelligence, musical ability, athleticism, artistic creativity, and ingenuity are some other examples. Health, in my book, most certainly makes the cut as well.

As a wealth manager, a person’s mental and physical well being are important to me. I ask myself, “what is the purpose of building monetary wealth (or helping a person do it) if the person who owns the wealth is not here to enjoy it or is not deriving happiness from it in some way?” I can’t think of any sold answers.

Health is a state of physical, mental, and social well being in which disease and infirmity are absent. What are you doing while building your career, while raising your family, while being a spouse or significant other, to take care of you and your health? When is the last time you scheduled time for you to realign with what brings you independent joy? For some people, the answer is, “too long ago.”

As a wealth manager, I hear about the most personal details of people lives as the human veil comes down behind closed doors and trust paves the way for open conversation. I am 35, but over the course of the past 13 years, I have conversed with over 2,500 individuals or couples, all being over the age of 60. All of them, each having their own views on life, and more life experience than myself, have shared where “wealth” for them truly lies. It is always in a feeling, and one rooted in happiness.

Here is what I promise: When you strive for happiness, the rest falls into place, including wealth in different forms.

See you all next month.

Jac Arbour CFP®, ChFC®

Jac Arbour is the President of J.M. Arbour Wealth Management. He can be reached at 207-248-6767.
Investment advisory services are offered through Foundations Investment Advisors, LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser.

THE MONEY MINUTE: Ever felt financially naked?

by Jac M. Arbour CFP®, ChFC®
President, J.M. Arbour Wealth Management

As financial advisors, we look at the income, expenses, balance sheets, profit and loss statements, and many other documents, for both corporations and individuals, and we do it every day. It seems so normal, so routine.

I recently had a phone call with a friend and she was asking for our help to create a debt elimination plan. I gave her a list of things we would need from her and rattled them off without much thought or hesitation.

A few days later, she asked if other people ever confess to feeling “financially naked” or embarrassed about their finances. She went on to state, “I bet some people would rather stand naked in front of others than expose their financial picture to those same people.” Is this true, I wondered? I don’t know, but it surely got me thinking.

How do you feel about the idea of exposing your financial situation to a financial advisor? What do you have for concerns, if any at all, about revealing your personal financial information to another person? Feel free to share your answers with me in an email (jac@jmarbour.com).

Over the years, many people have told me they are uncertain as to whether or not they need a financial advisor. Other people have told me that if they did meet with a financial advisor, they wouldn’t know what to ask, or what to say, or where to start. Others have told me they don’t believe they have enough assets to warrant hiring an advisor. Others have told me they can’t afford one, but often times are unaware of how advisors charge.

I am here to root you on and assure you that if you hire the right advisor or firm, you will not feel naked, you will learn how an advisor can assist you, he or she will help you identify the areas that need more of your attention, he or she will not tell you that you “don’t have enough to work with,” and overall, you will find that the cost is worth the received value.

We all have things we can improve and sometimes placing ourselves outside our comfort zones is the first step toward true empowerment. I hope you find the right advisor who makes you feel comfortable sharing your information and who in turn, points you in the right direction.

Here is what I promise: Having the right people on your team makes all the difference.

See you all next month.

Jac Arbour CFP®, ChFC®

Jac Arbour is the President of J.M. Arbour Wealth Management and can be reached at 207-248-6767.
Investment advisory services are offered through Foundations Investment Advisors, LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser.

THE MONEY MINUTE: Own a retirement account? Get a load of this…

by Jac M. Arbour CFP®, ChFC®
President, J.M. Arbour Wealth Management

Do you own an IRA, 401(k), 403(b), 457, Thrift Savings Plan, or some other qualified or pre-tax retirement account? If so, read on.

On December 20, 2019, President Trump signed the SECURE Act into law. This stands for Setting Every Community up for Retirement Enhancement Act. What follows are some of the changes that will impact many retirement account holders. Some people say there are pros and cons to the Act; like most things, it can easily be viewed that way. More important, however, is to understand the changes in order to plan appropriately around each.

Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) have been pushed back from age 70.5 to age 72. The age limit for IRA contributions has been removed, automatic enrollments in 401(k) plans have more support, annuities within qualified employer sponsored plans are now more of a focus in order to create guaranteed income for participants, and what has been known as the “stretch IRA” for non-spousal beneficiaries has been eliminated. It is this last change upon which I would like to expand and share a few thoughts for this month’s column.

Before the Act was passed, you could leave your IRA or qualified plan to a child or non-spouse beneficiary and he or she had the right to take Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) over the course of his or her own lifetime, based on their life expectancy. That is no longer the rule. Now, it is required that the non-spouse beneficiary removes the funds from the account over a period of ten years or less. Why is this potentially so important to know? It could greatly affect your retirement spending policy, your estate plans, and you guessed it, your (and your beneficiaries’) taxes.

Imagine leaving your retirement account to a working, non-spouse beneficiary. Imagine this person has an income of their own, and now, they need to take additional income from the inherited account. Will this RMD place them into a higher tax bracket? Due to the fact that the account must be taken over the course of ten years, it means they may need to take a significant amount each year, which could affect their tax bracket.

If you have sizeable accounts and estimate that you will leave some money at death, part of the planning process is to now consider, even more than before, what this could mean for tax purposes for your beneficiaries.

For some people, this means converting to Roth over the next “X” number of years while relatively speaking, we are still in a favorable tax environment. There are a number of strategies to consider and I suggest you speak with your tax professional, estate planning professional, and/or advisor sooner than later.

Here is what I promise: Proper prior planning will allow you to improve your realized results.

See you all next month.

Jac Arbour CFP®, ChFC®

Jac Arbour is the President of J.M. Arbour Wealth Management and can be reached at 207-248-6767.

Investment advisory services are offered through Foundations Investment Advisors, LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser.

THE MONEY MINUTE – Pensions: Do I take the lump sum or monthly payment?

by Jac M. Arbour CFP®, ChFC®, President
J.M. Arbour Wealth Management

For those of you who need to choose a pension payout option, you might agree that the task can seem confusing. In this month’s article, I will share eight key considerations when making this decision.

Terms of the Lump Sum: One must compare the amount of the lump sum to the value of the payments over an estimated period of time (life expectancy). Many people are tempted to take the lump sum, but it is important to note that this may not always be the best choice.

Interest Rates: In low interest rate environments (like right now), the higher the lump sum payout is likely to be. Once the tides turn, so will the lump sum amount.

Life Expectancy: If you have medical issues and do not have longevity, a lump sum may be the best choice. On the flip side, someone who might live well into their 90s could be a strong candidate for the pension payments.

Financial Stability: If the plan sponsor is weak, the lump sum looks more attractive. People often mention the backing of the PBGC, but with its own financial problems, the PBGC may not have the ability or the legal obligation to insure your full amount.

Market Risk: Once a person takes the lump sum, the risk (totally) and performance (somewhat) are in your hands. You will want to consider what type of income you can create with the lump sum and its relativity to the pension payout amounts.

Taxation: You can rollover the lump sum to an IRA, but monthly pension payments you cannot. Therefore, your desire for tax deferral is something to consider.

Habits: Are you the type to spend money if you have access to it or are you a saver and investor? The person with financial discipline will likely prove to be the better person to receive a lump sum.

Beneficiaries: Many people feel as though they have more flexibility to pass money to their heirs by taking the lump sum. If you have a spouse or heirs, the above considerations apply to them as well.

Here is what I promise: All you can do is make the best decision with the information you have. Therefore, it is your job to get all the information before making the decision.

See you all next month.

Jac Arbour CFP®, ChFC®

Jac Arbour is the President of J.M. Arbour Wealth Management and can be reached at 207-248-6767.

Investment advisory services are offered through Foundations Investment Advisors, LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser.