What Baby Boomers Are Thankful for in 2014


Thanksgiving Day is traditionally a day for families and friends to get together for a turkey feast with all the trimmings and to give thanks for the blessings in our lives.  I am thankful for my good health, my family and my wife, with whom I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary this year.

As 2014 winds down, baby boomers have a lot to be thankful for. The economy seems to be picking up speed, the labor market gaining strength and gas prices are dropping. The economic momentum looks  to be back on track.

Brent Brodeski, CEO and a financial advisor for Savant Capital Management in Rockford, Illinois, offered his views on what baby boomers, either in or nearing retirement have to be thankful for this year:

Medical Technology:  From nanotechnology and genomic medicine, to new treatments for heart disease and cancer, medical technology is advancing more quickly than ever, helping Baby Boomers live longer and healthier lives.

Strong U.S. stock returns:  U.S. stocks are poised to post another strong year in 2014, outperforming just about every other asset class.  This has been good news for boomers’ 401k balances and retirement plans.

Low inflation:  We mentioned this last year, but it bears repeating.  Inflation is a real risk for retired boomers living on a fixed income, and we have enjoyed a period of very low inflation for the past several years.

Oil and natural gas boom in the U.S.:  With new technology such as hydraulic fracturing (fracking), the U.S. has been able to access large deposits of oil and natural gas that were previously unusable. Seemingly overnight, the U.S. has gone from one of the largest energy importers to one of the world’s largest energy producers. This has helped the U.S. to be less dependent on foreign energy sources as well as create thousands of new jobs.  In addition, we can enjoy very low energy costs compared to almost anywhere in the world.  The stronger economy and lower energy costs have certainly helped boomers.

Jobs are coming back:  The corporate fad used to be to send jobs overseas to China or other emerging economies to save on labor costs.  However, with the combination of low energy costs in the U.S. along with rising labor costs in China, the new trend is to bring jobs back to the U.S.  General Electric, Master Lock, Volkswagen, and Starbucks are just a few of the companies who have brought jobs back to the U.S. in recent years.  This trend has been great news for the U.S. economy as well as boomers who want to keep working.

Baby boomers should be thankful for and consider taking advantage of a Roth conversion.  There are still no income limitations on your ability to convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, and this strategy can be a good tool to minimize taxes in the future.

Boomers over the age of 50 can also be thankful for and consider taking advantage of making catch-up contributions to their 401(k) plans, other qualified retirement plans, and IRAs.  This can be a good way to increase retirement savings and get your retirement plans on track.

Low housing costs:  Home prices have recovered since the Great Recession, but housing costs still remain very low due to low prices and low mortgage rates.  This can help boomers take advantage of their high-income years and accomplish their goals of upgrading their home or purchasing a second home while rates are low.

Estate tax limits are at all-time highs, thus reducing the amount of estates that will be subject to federal estate taxes.

Slow and Steady Growth:  The economy is making progress.  Not too fast, not too slow, but seemingly just about right.

Government Deficits Shrinking:  New government debt issuance, as a percentage of GDP, is falling.  This reduces long-term risk factors that could otherwise challenge the economy and markets.

New Technology:  New devices and gadgets are making our lives better and certainly more interesting.  Who would have imagined smart phones, Fitbits, Kindles, Streaming Internet music, GPS and iPads?