“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others.”

-Marcus Tullius Cicero

Welcome to the November Edition of Ryan’s Retirement Ramblings – The monthly newsletter that will bring you the latest developments from the qualified plan space & provide updates for the retirement team at Wheeler Associates & DeGraaf Financial.

On A Personal Note…

Hope your Thanksgiving Holiday was filled with copious amounts of Turkey and sweatpants induced naps. You ever noticed there is never enough time but yet is time flies at the speed of light? It was only yesterday when I dropped my youngest off at Elementary school. Fast forward to watching her walk out the door for her first High School formal dance. Please stop this runaway train of time. Ha

November seemed to fly by in the blink of an eye in the Tomassoni household. They celebrated Crosby turning four, headed up north to spend Thanksgiving with family, and the weekends were spent bringing the kiddos to Hermantown’s Mini Mite hockey program. Tiffany also attended the Inaugural Women’s Leadership Conference that the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce put on. It was a great professional experience filled with impressive speakers, impactful topics, and networking with other local female business leaders.

IRS announces 2024 retirement account contribution limits: $23,000 for 401(k) plans, $7,000 for IRAs

  • The IRS has increased the 401(k) plan contribution limits for 2024, allowing employees to defer up to $23,000 into workplace plans, up from $22,500 in 2023.
  • The agency also boosted contributions for individual retirement accounts to $7,000 for 2024, up from $6,500.

401(k) Fears: What’s a Plan Sponsor to Do?

Sound investment decisions are rarely made under the weight of worry.

The field of behavioral finance points to a number of cognitive distortions that feed on investor fear and can plague participants’ decision-making while compromising their retirement readiness.

Here are some that can send shivers down participants’ spines — and ways sponsors can help them cope…

Fed Rate Decision: Implications for Sponsors

In September, the U.S. Federal Reserve announced it would hold interest rates steady for now but signaled at least one more hike may lie ahead before the end of the year. Moreover, rates are likely to stay elevated, as the Fed also indicated it expects fewer cuts than previously forecast for 2024.

Plan sponsors can provide participants with options and tools to assist them during a protracted inflationary climate.

The Top 3 Reasons to Outsource Fiduciary Services

Many companies are outsourcing more and more activities, mainly because outsourcing can provide cost savings and increase productivity.

Outsourcing allows companies to focus more on their core businesses, rather than spending time on areas outside their expertise. For retirement plan sponsors, outsourcing services makes sense for these reasons as well as others.

Participant Corner

Holidays are all about spreading cheer and giving, but sometimes people tend to go a bit overboard, which can later result in financial stress. According to a survey conducted by Country Financial, 32% of folks feel the most financial pressure during the holiday season.1

1.    Create a Budget: Start by setting a clear budget for your holiday spending. List all the expenses you anticipate, including gifts, decorations, travel, and food. According to credit bureau TransUnion, the average credit card debt per household rose to $5,805 by the end of 2022.2 Having a budget will help you stay on track and avoid overspending.

2.    Make a Gift List: Rather than buying gifts on impulse, make a list of the people you want to buy gifts for and brainstorm thoughtful, budget-friendly gift ideas for each person. This prevents overspending on last-minute purchases.

3.    Shop Smart: Look for sales, discounts, and deals both in physical stores and online. Take advantage of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other holiday sales events. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the average amount Americans planned to spend on gifts, food, and decorations in the 2022 holiday season, was $832.84.3 Consider using cashback and coupon apps to save even more.

4.    DIY and Handmade Gifts: Get creative and make some of your gifts or decorations. Handmade gifts often have a personal touch and can be more meaningful than store-bought items. Plus, they can save you money.

5.    Plan Your Travel Early: If you’re traveling during the holidays, book your flights or accommodations well in advance to secure lower prices. Be flexible with your travel dates, if possible, as this can lead to significant savings.

Mr. C’s Movie Review

Every once a while I need to take a break from the jump scare gore of horror and take in some lazy movie watching. The type of movie where you can turn your brain off and enjoy the scenery. Whoops, Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 1 was not that movie. My brain is still hurting one week post viewing. This close to “3” hour epic, rumored to be Ethan Hunt’s (Tom Cruise) last mission, might very well end up being the most impossible. Hunt and his band of IMF cronies, Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) must track down a terrifying new weapon that threatens all of humanity if it falls into the wrong hands. For the hard core MI fans, Gabriel (a very creepy Esai Morales) assumes the role of the villian that can’t be stopped. With control of the future and the fate of the world at stake, Ethan is forced to consider that nothing can matter more than the mission — not even the lives of those he cares about most. I would love to say the cliche, “I can’t say more or I’ll give away the plot” as I don’t think I understood the first part well enough to blow it.

On a Scale of “Like It”, “Love It”, or “Gotta Have It”…..I give this movie a “Love It” as I have a special place in my heart for Ethan Hunt and messages that self destruct in 10 seconds. Your mission should you choose to accept is to watch this film.