Our network

Commentary

Are you ready to retire?

Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding whether or not you are ready to retire.

Is your nest egg adequate?

It may be obvious, but the earlier you retire, the less time you'll have to save, and the more years you'll be living off your retirement savings. The average American can expect to live past age 78.* With future medical advances likely, it's not unreasonable to assume that life expectancy will continue to increase. Is your nest egg large enough to fund 20 or more years of retirement?

When will you begin receiving Social Security benefits?

You can receive Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62. However, your benefit may be 25% to 30% less than if you waited until full retirement age (66 to 67, depending on the year you were born).

How will retirement affect your IRAs and employer retirement plans?

Is It Wise to Trade Your Pension for a Lump Sum?

Most private employers have already replaced traditional pensions, which promise lifetime income payments in retirement, with defined contribution plans such as 401(k)s. But 15% of private-sector workers and 75% of state and local government workers still participate in traditional pensions.1 Altogether, 35% of workers say they (and/or their spouse) have pension benefits with a current or former employer.2

Many pension plan participants have the option to take their money in a lump sum when they retire. And since 2012, an increasing number of large corporate pensions have been implementing "lump-sum windows" during which vested former employees have a limited amount of time (typically 30 to 90 days) to accept or decline buyout offers.3 (Lump-sum offers to retirees already receiving pension benefits are no longer allowed.)

Tax Benefits of Homeownership

Buying a home can be a major expenditure. Fortunately, federal tax benefits are available to make homeownership more affordable and less expensive. There may also be tax benefits under state law.

Mortgage interest deduction

One of the most important tax benefits of owning a home is that you may be able to deduct any mortgage interest you pay. If you itemize deductions on your federal income tax return, you can deduct the interest you pay on a loan used to buy, build, or improve your home, provided that the loan is secured by your home. Up to $1 million of such "home acquisition debt" ($500,000 if you're married and file separately) qualifies for the interest deduction.

Is Smart Beta a Smart Strategy for You?

Traditional investment indexes such as the S&P 500 are weighted based on market capitalization, the value of a company's total outstanding stock. This means the largest companies in the index may have much greater influence on index performance than smaller companies. For example, the 10 largest companies in the S&P 500 account for more than 18% of the index's performance, as opposed to about 2% for the 10 largest if every company were weighted equally.1

Funds that track market-weighted indexes may be the most direct way to participate in broad market performance, but there has been increasing interest in an alternative indexing strategy called smart beta (also known as strategic beta or factor-based investing). More than 100 smart-beta exchange-traded funds (ETFs) were launched in 2016.2

Shifting the weight

THE CIVIC HEART Powered by AT&T, BCAT, and Squeaky Wheel Student Film Project

THE CIVIC HEART Powered by AT&T, BCAT, and Squeaky Wheel Student Film Project

THE CIVIC HEART powered by AT&T, Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology (BCAT), and Squeaky Wheel documentary project is a powerful short film diving into the motivation of “public servants” and outlining the ways in which all residents can have a voice in the future of our beloved Buffalo and Western New York region.  Thirty high school students from all over the City of Buffalo worked as a team for six weeks to create a documentary to capture the spirit of the people who serve the people of Buffalo and all of Western New York during the free 2017 Summer Youth Arts Program.  Instructor Kevin Kline worked with teens program to develop this unique Buffalo specific documentary supported by AT&T.

AAA WCNY, AT&T & NYS Police Team Up with WNY Officials to Host Distracted Driving Awareness Day

 AAA WCNY, AT&T & NYS Police Team Up with WNY Officials to Host Distracted Driving Awareness Day

York State Senators Chris Jacobs and Michael Ranzenhofer, AAA Western and Central New York, New York State Police and AT&T teamed up to raise awareness for AAA’s 100 Deadliest Days (the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when teen crash fatalities historically climb 15 percent compared to the rest of the year), as well as AT&T’s “It Can Wait” public education campaign and NYS distracted driving laws.

Distracted Driving Awareness Day in Western New York was hosted June 1 at AAA WCNY headquarters, where young drivers, parents and all those who visited the Amherst AAA were educated about the dangers of distracted driving.

What's the difference between a direct and indirect rollover?

If you're eligible to receive a taxable distribution from an employer-sponsored retirement plan [like a 401(k)], you can avoid current taxation by instructing your employer to roll the distribution directly over to another employer plan or IRA. With a direct rollover, you never actually receive the funds.

You can also avoid current taxation by actually receiving the distribution from the plan and then rolling it over to another employer plan or IRA within 60 days following receipt. This is called a "60-day" or "indirect" rollover.

But if you choose to receive the funds rather than making a direct rollover, your plan is required to withhold 20% of the taxable portion of your distribution (you'll get credit for the amount withheld when you file your federal tax return). This is true even if you intend to make a 60-day rollover. You can still roll over the entire amount of your distribution, but you'll need to make up the 20% that was withheld using other assets.