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3 Social Security Mistakes

MoneyWise / Rob West and Steve Moore
The Truth Network Radio
December 22, 2021 5:43 pm

3 Social Security Mistakes

MoneyWise / Rob West and Steve Moore

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December 22, 2021 5:43 pm

We are often asked when is the right time for someone to start taking Social Security benefits. Should they only wait until full retirement age, or is it worth it to wait longer? On today's MoneyWise Live, host Rob West will cover 3 common mistakes people make when claiming benefits. Then he’ll answer some calls and questions on various financial topics. 

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Rob West and Steve Moore
Rob West and Steve Moore
Rob West and Steve Moore

Today's version of MoneyWise Live is prerecorded, so our phone lines are not open. It's a question we're asked a lot. When should I start taking my Social Security benefits? At 62? Or should I wait until full retirement age?

Or longer? Hi, I'm Rob West. Strategies for claiming Social Security benefits can be complicated and confusing. And making a mistake could cost you a lot of money, so today we'll go over three common errors people make when claiming benefits.

Then we have some great calls lined up, but please don't call in today because we're prerecorded. This is MoneyWise Live at the crossroads of biblical truth and your finances. So as I said, listeners frequently ask us when is the best time to start claiming their Social Security benefits? Most people can elect to start them at age 62 before reaching full retirement age, which is now 66 or 67, depending on when you were born. And we'll count that as Social Security mistake number one, claiming benefits early. Just because you can take your benefits at age 62 doesn't mean you should. Your benefit will be permanently reduced by 8% for each year you take them before your full retirement age. Your benefit can be further reduced if you continue working after receiving your benefits and earn more than $18,960. For every $2 you earn above that threshold, your benefit will be reduced by $1. The only good news there is that those benefits that are lost will be restored incrementally once you reach full retirement age. There's another reason you should think long and hard before taking Social Security benefits earlier. If you're the higher wage earner, your decision to take benefits early could impact not only you, but also your spouse. If your spouse survives you and has a lower Social Security benefit, he or she would be eligible to draw a survivor benefit.

Well, here's how that works. Upon your death, your surviving spouse can begin drawing what you were drawing prior to your death. That's the survivor benefit. But if you elect to take your benefit early, your surviving spouse will be locked into that lower amount for life as well. So if you don't need the money, it's almost always best to wait as long as possible before claiming Social Security benefits, and at least until full retirement age. By the way, your benefit will increase by 8% every year. You wait beyond your full retirement age up to age 70.

So that's an added incentive for waiting. Alright, the next common Social Security mistake is not drawing a spousal benefit. Now, this one only applies to folks who were born on or before January 1, 1954. If you're married and reached full retirement age, your FRA, and you haven't drawn your own Social Security benefit, you can decide to start receiving it then or wait and let it build another 8% a year until age 70. What a lot of people in that age range don't realize is that you can opt to take benefits but restrict them to spousal benefits only.

So as long as your spouse is filed for benefits, you'll be eligible to receive half of your spouse's full retirement age benefit. The beauty is that your benefit, not the one based on your working career, continues to increase at 8% each year that you're not taking it. But again, they've changed the law and that situation only applies to folks who turned 62 by January 1, 2016. But if you're eligible for it, you definitely want to take advantage of this provision. It's a strategy that can provide some income now while locking in higher benefits later.

It almost seems too good to be true and that's probably why they've eliminated it for most folks moving forward. Alright, our third and last Social Security mistake is not drawing benefits after a divorce. Whether you divorced recently or quite a while ago, you may think you're not eligible for a Social Security benefit from your ex-spouse.

Fortunately, that's not the case. If your ex-spouse is still living, you could qualify for a spousal benefit based on his or her work record. To qualify, you must have been married for at least 10 years, be at least age 62 and currently unmarried. This is the case even if your ex-spouse has remarried. This is one scenario where Social Security seems almost generous. Now to qualify, you have had to have been married for at least 10 years, be at least age 60 or older and currently unmarried. You may still be eligible though after age 60 if you remarried.

So hopefully these are helpful to you. These are some mistakes that people often make with their Social Security and I hope this gives you some added incentive to check out what benefit might be coming to you. Hey, we're going to pause for a brief break. Much more to come just around the corner. This is MoneyWise Live with Rob West.

Hey, if you hear a phone number mentioned today, please ignore that number and don't call us because today's broadcast is a reprise edition. Well we think the upcoming information will help you and make you a wise steward of what God's given you, so please stay tuned. Why take an hour each day to talk about money, even money from a biblical perspective? Is it because we want to build bigger barns?

Absolutely not. You know, as we think about money belonging to God and therefore we are then stewards or managers of that, money becomes a tool to accomplish God's purposes and there is so much in God's Word dealing with this subject because I believe it's often the chief competitor to Lordship. So each day on this program we want to try to put money in its proper role, recognizing that our hearts follow our money and that when we understand it's a reflection of what we value, it tells a story about what's most important to us. It really is a game changer about how we handle it, literally every penny, because it moves us from thinking 10% belongs to the Lord and 90% belongs to us to 100% of it belongs to the Lord and the question is how can we be found faithful in managing God's money?

Well we want to know God's heart so we go to God's Word to find out what he has for us and we're going to apply those principles to whatever's going on in your financial life. We're going to begin today in central Minnesota. Kristen, thank you for calling, how can I help you?

Hi, thanks for taking my call. Just wondering, my husband and I are looking at buying a new vehicle. We are upgrading a little bit, our current vehicle has 170,000 miles on it. What is your opinion on buying new versus used given the close dollar amount currently and or should we wait until this inflation and things calm down? Yes, it's a great question because there's no question that used cars are quite expensive right now and there are some real incentives out there to buy new. We're certainly not in the camp of saying that we can never buy new.

I don't think that's the issue at all. I think the question is how are you going to fund it and are you buying perhaps more car than you can afford? Do you have the money to put down to either buy it with cash or a significant down payment and how does it compare in terms of what you're spending now for a new car with a full warranty versus a late model used car that's two or three years old? Obviously, the benefit of buying used would be that you've missed some of that depreciation that you would typically experience when you buy it off the lot.

But if we find ourselves like we do in many respects right now in a situation where used cars are a bit elevated in expense and there's some great incentives out there to buy new, you might find that you can actually get a bit more car for your money by buying new, especially when you factor in the benefit of the warranty. So tell me, Kristin, how are you looking to fund it? How much are you planning to spend and would you need to borrow? We would plan to pay for cash with cash and want to keep it around $45,000. However, we're looking to get an SUV to fit our family of seven.

Okay, very good. And have you started shopping to see if you can find something? You know, one of the things that I was just blown away by the last time we went shopping, and by the way, we tend to buy used, although we have bought new cars in the past. And the way we get away with that is we drive them for a long, long time. We bought our, my wife's last minivan, actually new because there were some phenomenal deals out there. It was the end of the model year and the end of the month. And we did very well, but we drove it for over 200,000 miles.

And then we, you know, basically turned it in, in a sense. So that worked out quite well for us, but it's amazing how expensive SUVs, especially the larger ones are these days. So, you know, that would be my only concern is can you get the car, the size SUV you want for your family with some of the features when buying new, if you're trying to buy for cash or does your budget really require that you, you know, buy something two or three years old?

What have you found? Well, I have found that we would go outside of our budget. I've found used cars with low mileage for ranging from $45,000 to $50,000 and then new cars for $55,000 to $56,000 base model. Yes.

Yeah. So I think that's going to be the key is, you know, are you comfortable spending a more than a bit more than you had planned? And, you know, so often you're going to be enticed by some of these sticker prices when you get in there though, you're going to realize perhaps they don't have some of the features you were looking for and you're going to want a higher model, which is going to quickly push you up, you know, $5,000 or more. So I think that's the consideration is would you rather stick to your budget, what you've saved, be able to buy with cash, which I love, get the features you want and, you know, perhaps, you know, go use two or three years old or can you, you know, do you have the room in your budget to spend a little bit more because used car prices are a bit elevated right now and there are some great incentives out there. So I think you're just going to have to shop that around, but I would start with your budget, you and your husband determining in advance what you want to spend and let's not, you know, push beyond that just because, you know, used cars are a bit more expensive right now.

Make sure you do your homework. You know, auto trader is going to be your friend. You'll want to make sure that especially if you decide to go new, that you really shop it. You know, my last car that I purchased, I flew four states away to make the purchase and drove it home just because I knew what I wanted and I researched it for about 30 days and found the one that I wanted for about 10,000 less if I was willing to jump on an airplane. So I think you'll figure it out over time.

I don't care which way you go. I think the key is don't go beyond what your budget is and make sure you do your homework and we appreciate your call today. Let's head to Illinois. Susie, thank you for your patience.

How can I help you? Hi. Yes, I am planning to retire at 62 and doing the math. I don't think it's such a bad idea.

I know there's four years before I actually reached the full retirement age, four years and 10 months to be exact, but doing the math, I would have to live to be 78 or 79, no, 77 or 78 to break about, to actually, you know, break about even right at that age. So for me, I, I really, you know, that's four good years there that I could maybe work part time or just do more what I want to do, you know, and that, that your pardon? No, go ahead.

I didn't mean to catch you off. I finished that thought. Yeah.

Yeah. You know, just, you know, so I'm thinking, you know, if I live to be that old, you know, every parent that died in the mid sixties and their mid sixties, it's like, Oh, I think I'm gonna, you know, I've been working for like over 40 years, so I'm going to do it. That's just, I think I read somewhere where it was like maybe 28% of the people retired 62. I don't know the statistics.

I'm not exactly sure about that number, but it was in the twenties. Yeah. Well, you make a great point here, Susie. And yeah, I appreciate you weighing in on this. You know, what we generally say is you should consider taking benefits early if you're no longer working and you really need the money. If you're in poor health and don't expect the surviving member of the household to make it to average life expectancy, which obviously none of us know that, but we can make the best decision we can. Or if you're the lower earning spouse and your higher earning spouse can wait to file for a higher benefit, thereby locking in that higher payout down the road, which you could switch to.

But it makes sense to go ahead and wait. If you're still working, you make enough to you know, impact the tax ability of your benefits. You're in good health or you're the higher earning spouse and want to be sure your surviving spouse receives the highest possible benefit. Keep in mind, life expectancy increases to 82 and 83 for men and women once you reach age 65. But I realize you're giving up those years where you could enjoy it.

So I think there's not a right or wrong answer for any of us. I think the key is that we just need to look at all the factors, starting with your budget, seeing how you can make ends meet, whether or not you need the money, and then factor in the added benefit to lifestyle and other opportunities by taking that now versus being able to continue to work and lock in that higher amount later. One of the real benefits to letting it grow if you have the ability to work is for those folks who find themselves where the retirement income sources they have don't quite meet the need. And so they're really counting on that increased payout over time to be able to make their budget work.

And obviously you've got to factor all of that and make the right decision for you. We appreciate your call today. Much more to come on MoneyWise Live just around the corner. Stay with us.

It's great to have you with us on MoneyWise Live today, but unfortunately today we're not live. We're prerecorded and therefore won't be taking your calls. However, we've lined up some calls in advance that we think you'll find helpful. So stay tuned and enjoy the rest of the program. Let's go back to the phones.

Pompano Beach, Florida, just north of where I was born. Casey, thank you for calling today. How can I help you? Hey, thanks for taking my call.

Hey, just real quick. I have this retirement fund in a Chase account I've had for like six years and it doesn't accrue any interest. It just kind of sits there and it only grows if I add money to it. And I feel like there's a better place I can have it because it's just not really accruing anything, like I said. So my question is, can you recommend some place I should transfer it to?

And if I do, is there a chance I'll have to pay a fee for doing that? Yeah. So you said it's a retirement account. Is it an IRA, Casey, or is it an old 401k with a previous employer? What type of account is it?

You know, I can't honestly say. It's this weird old retirement account. Whenever I bring whenever I talk to Chase about it, they'll go, Oh, this is an old account. This is from when we were Washington Mutual. So I don't know the necessary or exactly what kind it is. And it says individual retirement account. That's all it says. Got it.

Yeah. So it's an IRA, which basically you could transfer to another institution or you could leave it there at Chase Bank. You know, I think the key is that you are actively contributing to retirement, assuming you have an emergency fund in place and you don't have any high interest credit card debt that you're paying on. Tell me about your active contributions to other retirement accounts. Are you contributing at work? Are you actively putting something away for the future? I am putting away at work. Yeah. As you talk about the retirement thing. Great.

OK. Yeah. So what I would probably do, Casey, is transfer this to one of the firms that offers what I would call a robo advisor solution, which is basically a low cost investment strategy where based on algorithms that are generated using answers you provide to the questions they will ask, it will generate a low cost, really well diversified portfolio of what are called indexed ETF. So these are exchange traded funds. Think about them as baskets of investments that mirror the broad market indexes. So like the S&P 500 or the Russell or, you know, index indexes like that. The benefit of that is with this small amount of money, you're not going to be highly concentrated in, let's say, one particular company that may have a bad quarter, you know, be out of favor. And then you could see, you know, significant declines and they're very low cost. So I would look to open an IRA at either Betterment Schwab with their Schwab Intelligent Portfolios or the Vanguard Advisor Solution.

They're all very similar. They use a similar strategy and they're all very low cost. Once you open an IRA at one of those Betterment Schwab Intelligent Portfolios or the Vanguard Advisor, you could then transfer that IRA from Chase over to one of those and then that money would be deployed using that strategy that I described. I think that's going to give you what you're looking for because you can monitor it in the smartphone app or on the website. You'll know that it's properly invested with broad diversification.

You're not spending a lot of money in fees and you'll just capture the long term moves of the market, which over the long haul between now and retirement should do quite well based on historical averages. Does all that make sense though? Yeah, it sure does. Yeah, I really appreciate that. Excellent. All right. I would give that a try. And if you have questions along the way, don't hesitate to give us a call back and we appreciate it.

Let's head to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, just south of Pompano Beach where Rita is. Go right ahead. Yeah.

Hi, Rob. I was calling because my husband and I are both 66 and he's thinking about taking, I listened to your beginning, you know, at the beginning of the program about social security and my husband was thinking we don't need that money to work, to use, to live on right now, but he wants to continue to work. He's not sure how much longer, but should he start drawing it? He's kind of afraid, you know, maybe the government might take it away. Social security, I don't think they could do that, but like he won't get what he really needs. Should he wait to 70?

Yeah, it's a great question, Rita. And you know, each of us has to make that decision on our own. I mean, here's the reason I would consider waiting is if you don't need the money right now, you have your income covered in terms of meeting your obligations. And he's four years away. You know, any changes that are going to be made to social security, which changes will need to be made because that trust fund is going to run dry by 2035, which means they're either going to have to raise the full retirement age or cut benefits or do something else to shore up the Social Security Trust Fund. I believe that's going to affect folks that are coming after him. And so the ability to be able to lock in this higher payout that you all will be able to enjoy, to use, to give away or for additional expenses or saving, I think would be a real blessing. But at the end of the day, you know, he's got to make that decision. I will say, though, you know, cutting Social Security for folks as close to drawing as he is would be very unpopular.

And I think from a policy standpoint, very difficult to get through Congress. So I think he's in good shape to wait. But ultimately, you all need to do the thing that you feel the best about. So pray about it together and see where the Lord leads. If it were me, I'd probably hang on. We appreciate your call today, Rita. Hey, this is a reminder that we're not live today, but we do have lots of great information coming up in the rest of the program.

So please stick around. So delighted to have you with us on Money Wise Live today, where we apply God's wisdom to today's financial decisions, questions. Hey, let me ask, have you downloaded the Money Wise app yet? If not, check it out today.

It's in your app store. Just search for Money Wise biblical finance. You can connect with all of our content from our amazing content providers. You can post a question in the Money Wise community and you can build your spending plan using our digital envelope system.

Our team spent a couple of years putting it together and it is phenomenal. It's the best digital envelope system I've ever used. You can connect seamlessly and quickly to all of your institutions, automatically download and categorize your transactions, and then know exactly where you stand in every one of your envelopes. The envelope system is the tried and true system that Larry Burkett recommended years ago. His was a paper system. We put that into an app in the palm of your hand.

I think you'll love it. Just search for Money Wise biblical finance when you visit your app store today. All right, let's go back to the phones. Charles is in Hobe Sound, Florida. Charles, thank you for your patience. How can I assist you?

Yes, sir. My wife got a life insurance policy after her dad passed and two questions. The first one, they're telling her she has to get a tax ID number before they can release the money to her. And secondly, if he has any medical bills outstanding, will that come out of the life insurance policy or how does that work? Did you say if he has medical bills outstanding?

Yeah, the father has passed. He has a few medical bills outstanding. Can that come out of the life insurance policy? Basically, to your first question, your father-in-law's insurance company does need her Social Security or tax ID to report interest payments and any taxable gain to the IRS. Interest is paid on most life insurance claims from the date of death until the date the claim is paid. And so just based on that, that's why they're asking for the social or the tax ID. With regard to proceeds of the insurance, that's going to pass directly to the beneficiary and not be a part of the estate, which would be the assets that would be used to settle any outstanding debts, including medical debt.

So that shouldn't apply here. But sorry to hear about your father-in-law's passing. I know as she is now the next steward of these resources, we'll ask the Lord to give her some wisdom and how you'll handle this. But appreciate your call today, Charles, very much. Let's head next to Chicago, Illinois. Tina, thank you for your call. How can I help you? Yeah.

Hi. So when my son was born back in 1994, he was given a gift of a bond. I think at the time it was like $100 maybe, but I never got deposited and it was stolen. Now he's 27. I'm wondering, is there any way he can retrieve that because it was already paid for? And is there any place where he could go or it's just a go on 10?

Yeah, it is possible. Was it a paper bond that was given to him, a physical bond? It was a check and I didn't understand what it was at the time, but someone told me that it was $100, but it would be invested in bond and was supposed to be for his college. I see. Okay.

Yeah. The place to go is the website That's the Treasury Department's website for handling bonds. And if you have a paper U.S. savings bond that's lost stolen or destroyed, you can obtain a replacement bond. The Treasury keeps records of the paper savings bonds it is issued and you can search those records to replace it. So when you go to, there's a form there, 1048, a form specifically for claiming lost stolen or destroyed U.S. savings bonds. You're going to need to provide all the information you have. Ideally, you'd have a picture of that piece of paper.

I suspect you don't. So there are other ways to search for it, but that's going to be the next place to go. So and then search for claiming a lost U.S. savings bond and they'll take you from there.

You get started by filling out the paperwork. They'll be in touch and let's hope that they can chase that down for you. Does that sound good? Yes. So one more question though. That was on his name and his father's and my husband's name and my husband died a couple of years ago. So would he be able to do that if he finds it? Would he be able to retrieve it? Yeah, it's possible with the death certificate and providing all the information, you should be able to still chase that down.

You'd have to prove that he is in fact the one who should have received it, but I'd still head to the same place. They'll give you very clear instructions on how you should proceed and hopefully you can chase this down and find what you're looking for. Tina, thank you for your call today.

To Kansas City, Missouri. Jamie, you've been very patient. How can I help you? Yes, I was calling in regards to your discussion at the beginning of the program. I wasn't sure that I understood it correctly. I took out my Social Security when I turned 62, which is two years ago. And I did that because my husband, he's going to be working till he's 66 or 67. And then when he turned when he goes ahead and retires and takes that is, then I can change from my what I received to half of his or whatever it is, the, the larger amount off of him. But I was can see I was confused about whether or not that that what you had said earlier, whether that had to be whenever I had to have taken it out before 2016.

No, that's not right. So what I was saying earlier is that what a lot of people don't realize is that you can opt to take your benefits, but restrict them to the spousal benefits only. And then let your benefits based on your wages actually continue to grow. So as long as your spouse is filed for benefits, you're eligible to receive half of your spouse's full retirement age benefit. And then your benefit continues to increase at 8% a year that you're not taking it. But again, they change that law that only applies to folks who turn 62 by January 1, 2016. In your case, you actually took your benefit, and you're eventually going to look at the possibility of switching to claiming a portion of your husband's benefit that's not falling under the same deadline.

That's really only for those who take the spousal benefit early and let their wage based working career benefits, you know, continue to accrue over time. So what I was describing earlier is quite a bit different than what you've done here. And what you've done is a great strategy that makes a lot of sense. So I like the direction you went with that. And we appreciate your call very much.

Let's quickly go to Chicago CF. Thank you for calling. We've got just about a minute before our next break. How can I help you? Hi, thanks for taking my call.

Can you hear me okay? Yes, ma'am. Oh, wonderful. My question is about is there any such thing as a self managed law account? And if so, do you have names of companies that would have something like that? When you say a self managed account CF, you just mean where the investments are selected for you? Or you want to do it yourself? I would select I would select myself. Got it.

Yeah. You know, just about any of the discount brokerage houses are going to allow you to make your own investment decisions if that's what you choose. So you could open an account at Charles Schwab, you could open one at Ameritrade, you could open one at Vanguard, you know, really any of the low cost brokerages will let you.

Fidelity would be another one. You open a Roth, you fund it with however much you want up to the maximum each year. And then you're able to pick from any stock bond or mutual fund you want as you begin to manage those. So I'd look at either Charles Schwab or Fidelity, and then just tell them you want to make your own decisions. Once you make that deposit, you can start trading. You hang on the line, I'm going to send you a copy of the sound mind investing handbook to help you out.

It'll be a great biblically based resource on investing. We appreciate your call today. We're going to pause. Much more to come on MoneyWise Live. Stay with us. You're listening to an encore presentation of MoneyWise Live.

You can find out more information about the topics we're talking about when you visit our website, Thanks so much for being with us today and we hope you'll stick around and enjoy the rest of today's program. Now let's head back to the phone's Naperville, Illinois. Teresa, thank you for your call today. How can I help you?

Oh, hello. Um, I am trying to figure out Medicare. I work full time and I believe I heard on a prior program you mentioned to discuss that with your employer and I did reach out to them, but, um, they, they really didn't, I guess I'm still very confused about what to do and, um, if I have to do Medicare or I can put it off or do I have to file something to let them know? I guess I'm, I, I'm not sure what to do.

Yeah. Tell me a little bit about your situation, your age, whether you're still working, uh, and so forth. I'm 64 going to be turning 65 in August. I work full time. I make a real good salary and I'm not planning on retiring anytime soon.

I'm planning to work as long as I can. Um, and, uh, I have, um, monies in 401k to 401ks. Well, when I transferred from a prior employer and then I have, um, uh, some debt in school debt. I went to grad school late, so I'm paying some school debt off. And then, um, so I'm still, that's part of the reason I work and I make a good salary.

So I didn't want to lose the advantage of putting more money away for retirement. Um, and I'm, uh, currently, uh, alone, so I'm, I'm married, but, uh, don't live with my spouse. Okay. Very good. And Theresa, do you have group health insurance offered to you through work? Yes, I do. Yes. Okay. Yeah.

Well, that's the key. So if you, uh, have group health insurance from an employer, uh, where you actively work after age 65, you can delay enrolling in Medicare until the employment ends or the coverage stops, whichever happens first, uh, without incurring any late penalties. If you enroll later, uh, when the employer tied coverage ends though, you're entitled to a special enrollment period of up to eight months to sign up for Medicare. Um, so the act of employment is the key idea though. You can't delay Medicare enrollment without penalty. If your coverage comes from retiree benefits or Cobra, which doesn't count as active employment, but in your case, uh, you know, you're actively employed with a group health plan in place and so you would be able to wait, uh, on at that point. The key would be once you stop working, you're going to want to go ahead and then, um, begin taking the Medicare benefits at that point.

So you don't have any late penalties or anything like that. Um, so I think you're in pretty good shape as long as you're continuing to work and when that time comes where the Lord redirects you, I think at that point would be the time to go ahead and look at, uh, you know, filing. So we appreciate your call today.

Hopefully that's helpful to you and thank you for listening. Let's take an email today. Questions at money is how you can get your email into us.

We'd love to hear from you. Uh, questions at money are an email today comes from Jake in Wisconsin. Here's what he writes. He says, Rob, how do I strike the balance between giving and providing for my family? And I love this question because really at the heart of it is a desire to be found faithful in honoring the Lord with all that he's entrusted to us.

And you know, I love what Paul David Tripp says about this. He says, you know, if we start with provision, the idea that we're to provide for our families, which is a good thing, it's biblical. The problem is if we start there, we can end up with an endless list of needs and wants that causes us to never get to the giving side. The challenge with that is that the gospel story is a generosity story. We were created in the image of the ultimate giver and I would like to say we're most like him when we're giving.

So, uh, how would you then approach this Jake? I'd say first pray, ask the Lord what lifestyle he's called you and your spouse to live. How much of your money I would ask the Lord am I to give and how much to spend on myself or my family and save for the future. And then whatever the Lord tells you, I build that giving plan right into the budget first, right off the top, then an amount for savings or debt reduction, your priorities, and then I'd live on the rest. And perhaps you set a goal to increase giving over time, not when there's money left because there won't be any if you don't have a plan to do it. So perhaps the plan is to get out of debt and then not increase lifestyle spending, but redirect that to additional giving. And I think that really is the key.

Guess what? When you do that, that will really help to decrease taxes so that you can give even more, which creates this virtuous cycle I like to talk about. So I think as you think and pray about this, the Lord will give you some real clear direction, and I would start there and then see where he might lead. We appreciate your call today. Let's head back to the phones. Harvey is calling today, and we appreciate your call.

Harvey, how can I help you? Yes, thanks for taking the call. I have a question about Social Security. Earlier in this show, you mentioned about the different options that Social Security is offering now, and I didn't know if there's any changes that have been made since I started Social Security when I was 66, and that's been eight years ago. And I'm still working full-time, and as I accumulate, either from work or Social Security, I reinvest that in either the market or whatever. And so I was just kind of wondering if I missed any opportunities to maximize Social Security since I started retirement. One of the reasons I did start early retirement was because there's no crystal ball as to how long somebody will be there. So I was pretty much told that it would take me until in my eighties to catch up with waiting for another four years. So I decided to go early, and I hope that was the right decision, but I just wanted to ask your comments on that.

Yeah, I appreciate that, Harvey. You know, I think when you elected to take it, you've kind of locked in your benefit apart from a cost of living adjustment. So the key right now is just to be asking the Lord, based on the resources you have, the income, the provision that he's providing, how is the best way to manage that and handle it? And we're not going to see any increases necessarily in Social Security. There's not a better way to structure that.

I think once you decided to take it, that is the benefit apart from, again, any cost of living adjustments that are done across the board. So the key now is just to be found faithful in handling what you've been entrusted according to God's principles, limiting lifestyle and giving generously and staying out of debt and really just asking the Lord to give you a clear vision for how you can use his money as a tool to accomplish his purposes in this exciting season of life. So I think you're on the right track. Sounds like you're an incredibly thoughtful guy wanting to be found faithful in managing the Lord's resources. And I would just say, keep it up, keep up the good work. But with regard to changes you can make in Social Security, things are pretty much set right now.

And so you just want to live well within your means. And we appreciate your call today. Let's head next to Michigan. Laura, thank you for your patience. How can I help you?

Thank you for your show. Okay, I was we were talking about Social Security. And I agree with what you said, wait as long as you can. But then a friend of ours, we're married, my husband makes more money. And he said, if you average men pass away, and this is kind of sad, but pass away, and it's not for sure 10 years sooner or whatever. So maybe you should take your Social Security now, why it's less, and then he can enjoy it. And then if he did pass away earlier, then you could get his Social Security, which would be more and then he could have enjoy yours. But that's predicting that he would pass and it was just, it just gave us another perspective.

And I don't know what to think. Yeah, well, there's no question that just based on historical norms and trends and the information we have men pre-decease their wives. And so the opportunity is to maximize that benefit to the best of your ability. And that's why if you qualify being able to take a spousal benefit and let a primary wage earners money increase, Social Security benefits increase can make a lot of sense just because then that larger amount you both will enjoy to its maximum, he'll get the most benefits he can and you as a spouse, if it's higher than any potential benefits you had coming to you based on your own working career could enjoy that higher payout as well, which would really maximize what you have. If you both claim benefits now, you just have to know that you're both under full retirement age. So you're going to lose those benefits now and in the future. So here's what I would do, Laura is probably contact somebody at the Social Security administration.

They're very easy to work with and talk to, especially during COVID, they'll do virtual visits and just look at everything that's there, have them run some analysis on what is the best way to maximize it. And you can set that up at Just keep in mind, though, that if he takes his benefits early, that will affect the amount you receive in the future as a survivor. And so that's, again, where I think it's beneficial, despite what you're saying about longevity and expected ages, it's beneficial to try to maximize that if you don't need the money today. But clearly, if you do, then I would say you take it and enjoy it. You've worked hard for it.

And then just ask the Lord to give you some real clarity about how to move forward with what he's entrusted to you. And we appreciate your call today very, very much. Before we wrap up today, let me take an opportunity to remind you MoneyWise is listener supported. And here at year end, we would be grateful if you would prayerfully consider a gift to the ministry. It's tax deductible and it's quick and easy to give. On our website,, just click the donate button. When you give at least $25 as our gift to you, we'll send you a copy of the great new book by Paul David Tripp called Redeeming Money. You can make your gift today at Just click donate and thank you in advance.

MoneyWise Live is a partnership between Moody Radio and MoneyWise Media. Thank you to my team today. Thank you for being here as well. Come back and join us next time.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-06 07:55:18 / 2023-07-06 08:11:48 / 17

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