Your Turn with Mike Causey show

Your Turn with Mike Causey

Summary: Federal News Network Senior Correspondent Mike Causey discusses everything of interest to federal employees, from pay, benefits and retirement, to buyouts, COLAs and pay freezes.

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 Gift cards for the IRS? Probably not! | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:53:11

If an IRS agent calls you at home or office and asks you to send him or her a gift card, don’t do it! Even if you owe money, that is not the correct (or legal) way to get back in Uncle Sam’s good graces! By the same token if someone from a nature fund or a save-the-kittens group asks for a donation, check them out BEFORE you send a check. When a company advertises it can reduce your tax bill by tens of thousands of dollars put a cold cloth on your head and lie down until the urge to respond is gone. All of the above, plus some things you wouldn’t dream up, are part of the IRS’s Dirty Dozen list. It’s part of the agency’s effort to protect taxpayers, tax preparers and corporations from scams ranging from the incredibly stupid to brilliant. All designed to take you for all they can get. Even if it’s all you got! And if you think some of the long-distance scams you see on the Dr. Phil show: She (or he) wires money to soulmate they’ve never met so they can pay kidnapper’s ransom, get their mother a new body part, or repay a small debt to free millions of dollars from frozen account. The fact is it happens every day. Sometimes to otherwise savvy people. Like you, maybe? So what are the scams and schemes on the Dirty Dozen list? Could you spot them? Or have you ever been had? To talk about the ploys used to trick people we’ll be talking to tax attorney Tom O’Rourke. He’s a former IRS attorney, and he’s my guest today on our Your Turn radio show.

 Pay Raise, COLA, TSP troubles and the G-fund | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:53:33

If you are working, retired, building a nest egg or living off one, these are tough emotional times. If you want good news, you’ve learned to avoid the financial news or stock market reports. Also national news, international news and, if you are a baseball fan in certain cities like Washington, D.C., you avoid the sporting news, too. Hopefully you have a good cable package and a personality that lets you sort and live with the good news vs. the not-so-good-news. Which is the purpose of today’s Your Turn radio show: It’s a double-header on the good, the bad and the ugly. We are going to try to cover the waterfront. First up, financial advisor Arthur Stein will talk about the future course of your TSP account, and the pros and cons of investing heavily in the never-has-a-bad-day G fund. Many consider it the “safest” investment. But that begs the question: How do you define “safe” when building a retirement nest egg? Federal News Network reporter Drew Friedman will talk about the very latest on the federal pay raise. Then we’ll get into the prospects for a large retiree COLA. Last, but definitely not least, the issues TSP investors are having with the new system.

 Today’s subject: Irrevocable trusts … zzzzzz | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:50:15

When is the last time you and your significant other took a romantic weekend to rekindle the fire? And spent most of the time, at the beach or in the mountains, talking about the pros and cons of an irrevocable trust? Wild guess: How about … never? Although vitally important in some cases, irrevocable trusts are sort of like heel spurs or picking kitchen paint colors as a topic of extended conversation. And yet … There may come a time in your family’s life when having the should-I-have-a-trust conversation is critical. Whether you did it, or especially if you didn’t do it but should have! All this is a sneaky way to lead into today’s Your Turn radio show. And while the subject doesn’t automatically draw your attention, in many cases it should. What such a trust is, and whether it is vital or useless for you and yours is something you have to deal with while you are still around. It won’t wait until after you’ve gone and mourning — maybe fighting — loved ones are dealing with your estate which, by the way, even the most modest feds have. Today we’ll be talking with Tom O’Rourke, a Washington area tax and estate attorney.

 Social Security: On life support? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:53:33

When Social Security was launched in 1935, the average life expectancy for men was 59.9 years and 63.9 for women. Full benefits started at 65, so do the math! It sounded almost like a safe, government-guaranteed Ponzi Scheme, minus the scheme part. But times have changed. The bad news, from an actuarial basis, is that we are living longer. A lot longer. A growing number of people are and will spend more time in retirement, getting Social Security, than they did working and paying into it. Again, do the math! Optimists predict Congress will fix it. Maybe make millionaires pay Social Security taxes on all of their income. Maybe raise them for everybody. Others, including many young people, say it’s too late, or soon will be. That there won’t be anything for them 99 years after the program began. For an update on the fate of your Social Security, we invited Tammy Flanagan to be on today’s Your Turn radio show.

 New TSP options: Road to riches, or paralysis by analysis? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:52:27

Retirement benefits for career feds and military personnel will be based on their length of service and salary. Unlike the vast majority of private pension plans, the federal-military programs are protected from inflation. Benefits will come from three sources: The federal/military annuity or retired pay, Social Security and the TSP. Which makes it so important to everybody. The TSP could supply one-third or more of the spending money retirees will have. So far, so good! But every top has a bottom, right? Arthur Stein, a D.C.-area financial planner, has been tracking the TSP for clients for decades. And several of his clients are self-made TSP millionaires. He urges people to invest for the long haul. And avoid what he believes is risky behavior: when clients have too much of their retirement nest egg in the G fund. Which is what we’ll talk about today when he’s my guest on Your Turn.

 The TSP in troubled times: Go long! | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:49:41

It’s hard to think about next summer’s vacation at the beach in February when there is a blizzard outside and your roof is groaning under the weight of all that ice and snow. There are times when it is important to live in the moment and focus on how to minimize your losses. But that is not always the best plan for ordinary people who are investing for a retirement that could last 10, 20 or 30-plus years. Like now! So what if this period, right now, turns out to be the good old days?! What if things get much worse before they get a little better? So who did we call for advice? How about Arthur Stein, a well-known Washington-area financial planner. Most of his clients are active or retired feds. Several are TSP millionaires, in some cases because-not-in-spite-of the Great Recession. He’ll be my guest today on our Your Turn radio show.

 Your retirement trifecta | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:55:00

For many career feds and postal workers the best date to retire is simple! You haul assets ASAP. You leave a soon as you are eligible to receive an immediate annuity. Period. Maybe you hate your job. Or your colleagues. Or the boss. Or all of them. Maybe you are ill. Or want to travel. Or not have to fight rush hour traffic anymore. Simple, right? Well, not necessarily. Retiring as soon as you can may seem like a good idea now. But what about then, which always follows now? How will it impact you financially 10, 20 or 30 years into retirement when inflation has nibbled away at (or gobbled up) your FERS annuity? When your TSP balance shrinks either due to inflation or to a recession? That might not be the right way to approach it. In fact, benefits expert Tammy Flanagan says there are two other factors: The future forecast: How you can (and should) set and control the actual NET value (after taxes and deductions) of your annuity. And mandatory or voluntary TSP withdrawals. Also, the impact of retiring early, or waiting several years on both your FERS annuity and, just as important, your Social Security benefit.The difference between taking Social Security as soon as you can (age 62?) and waiting until age 70 is huge. Check out what that delayed financial gratification would be for you. So how do you figure your retirement trifecta? Easy, listen to our Your Turn radio show today at 10 a.m. Benefits and retirement expert Tammy Flanagan will be my guest. She’ll talk about how you can figure your best retirement date, and why those factors can add tens of thousands of dollars, both in FERS benefit and Social Security, to your lifetime retirement nest egg.

 Can you afford not to have a trust? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:54:47

If you can afford to leave your spouse, kids or significant others a very large pile of money to spend when you are no longer around, you might want to skip the expense and inconvenience of making a will or setting up a trust. But that’s probably not your best move. Certainly as far as your beneficiaries are concerned. But if you leave them with a substantial cash stash to spend after your demise they may get by fine, while the courts decide what’s what and who’s who in your financial life. If you leave enough, they will probably get by until the courts take over and handle the matter. In six months if you are lucky. Maybe a year if your affairs are complicated, which most are. If you have a house, car(s), debts and credit cards some would say you have an estate. Although some find it a grim subject, most of the people we leave behind will know what you wanted. A will and an estate plan can reduce or mitigate hard feelings among survivors. Maybe prevent decades-long feuds among children, siblings or spouses over what you wanted. To the question “should you have a will and an estate plan,” the answer, especially if you work or retired from the federal government, is usually yes! Which is why our Your Turn guest today is Tom O’Rourke. He’s a former IRS attorney who now specializes in tax and estate law.

  TSP tactics: Are you managing the market? Or is it playing you? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:46:24

Many investors know the conventional thing to do when times are good. But when things go south, which they do regularly, the fight-or-flight instinct kicks in. Times like now. So we ask D.C. area financial planner Arthur Stein what he’s telling active and retired clients these days.

 5,000 new TSP options: Cheer, or choke? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:55:01

What if the menu at your favorite/only eating place jumped, from 15 items to more than 5,000 new choices? Could you handle it? Would you welcome the option, or find it confusing? Maybe choke on your choices? Prepare to find out... Today’s Your Turn radio show’s guest is Kim Weaver. She’s executive director of external affairs for the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, which runs the TSP. She’ll explain how the new investment options will work, what they’ll cost and how you can take advantage of them.

 How (and why) to avoid probate: A slap at your family! | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:54:57

If you don’t have a will and an estate plan, probate is an after-you’ve-gone legal struggle. One which could last months, if not years, in a battle over what you intended your family (or friends) to have: your estate! And while that sounds a bit posh to many, the fact is most of us are worth more dead than alive. And that’s especially true of long time federal/postal workers. Most have life insurance, lifetime survivor benefits, maybe a home or other investments, including TSP or other 401(k) accounts. Who gets them and when depends on what you have done, or should do, sooner rather than later. That is, learn what you need to legally protect your family/friends and be sure they get what you want them to get. So today’s guest on our Your Turn radio show is attorney Tom O’Rourke. He’s a veteran of the IRS and a long-time specialist in taxes and estate planning. Some of his clients are TSP millionaires. Most aren’t. But all recognize they needed legal help to insure that their wishes will be fulfilled in a timely fashion when they are no longer calling the shots, dead or alive!

 Safest place for your nest egg: With 7% return! | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:55:01

With a hot war in Europe, galloping worldwide inflation and growing shortages on the home front, many investors are looking for the nearly impossible: A ‘safe’ place to stash some of their retirement nest egg, with Uncle Sam, at an eye-popping current rate of return of 7.1%. When investors cash in their Treasury I-bonds they pay federal (but no state) taxes on the interest only. Virtually all of the TSP’s self-made millionaires got to that exalted level by investing — and holding stock index funds — for the long haul (average 29 years). And they continued to buy shares when the markets were down. But the new world situation has revived and intensified fears of losing money for retirement years. But financial planner Arthur Stein, who has a large number of federal-retiree clients, says there is another option for them — or anyone else — who may want to invest some of their emergency funds or excess cash in a super-safe option. He’s my guest today on our Your Turn.

 Status update: Your future health premiums, Social Security’s ‘evil twins’ | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:55:01

Politicians, lobbyists and special interest groups on Capitol Hill often disguise very important or controversial bills they’re pushing by giving them dull or misleading names. Or when a proposal is both complex and potentially explosive they may bill it as a “reform.” Who can oppose reform, right? As with much, if not most, laws and proposals, not many people know much if anything about the contents. The good news, whether you are (or should be) for Postal Reform or against the Windfall and Offset laws, help is coming. My guest today on our Your Turn is John Hatton. He’s staff VP for the National Active and Retired Federal Employees.

 Ukraine, COVID, $5-a-gallon gas: Time to time the market? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:46:22

Given the current world situation, many TSP investors are bound to be having second thoughts. That makes this the perfect time to have financial planner Arthur Stein back on our Your Turn. He’s a well-known D.C. area financial planner (and congressional economist). And several of his regular clients are self-made TSP millionaires!

 Wanna be a TSP Trillionaire? Ask one! | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:49:39

There are lots of ways to become a millionaire. Some of them are even legal. You can invent something, like fire, Scrabble or potatoes, although those have been taken. Or you can write a book, then buy TV airtime, then teach seminars telling other people how they can make a million in the market. If enough people buy it, you will become a millionaire without taking all that time and effort investing. But the keys are long-term investing and doing what the proven winners have already done. Like Abraham Grungold. He’s a long-time fed who has found a good financial coach: himself. He’s been practicing what he preached to some others. And its worked. He’s our guest today on Your Turn. He’s going to talk about his “simple” 5-step recipe for becoming a TSP millionaire. This is one you can’t afford to miss. Tell a friend.


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