Your Turn with Mike Causey

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Now, 2021, is the time. According to one of the top how-to-get-a-federal job experts, things have rarely if ever been a better time. Kathryn Troutman, founder of The Resume Place, has been guiding people into and up in government for decades. And she says the impact of the war against COVID-19 has created a golden opportunity for people looking for work — steady work — with Uncle Sam. Whatever the reasons, the government is hiring at a pace unseen in years, she said. The government is also taking steps to speed up the hiring process. Troutman will be our guest today on Your Turn.
So the topic of today’s Your Turn radio show is how to make the most out of the extended tax filing deadline while avoiding trouble with the IRS. D.C. area tax attorney Tom O’Rourke will be on hand to answer questions and tell us how to navigate the next few weeks. Meantime, Tom gives us this sneak preview of things you should be thinking about as you prepare to tackle this very important annual chore.
When people go into something like the Thrift Savings Plan, they think of it as a long term investment. Most believe that things like the bond-index F fund and the treasury securities G fund are the safest. Most also concede — and the long term numbers bear it out — that stocks outperform bonds over time. But what about the F fund out performing the G fund? If that’s the case, and the numbers show it to be true, which is the safest? Financial planner Arthur Stein says that “safe” is a relative term. And he also says many feds don’t understand that their TSP retirement nest egg is not really an investment. He’ll be my guest today on Your Turn. Stein has lots of clients who are feds, active and retired. Some of them have more than a million dollars in their TSP account. Here’s the guest column he wrote to explain the “investment” part of your TSP.
The good old days, a time when there was a long career, a gold watch, then a brief and frugal retirement are mostly gone. Some people are now retired for at least as long as they worked. Which can be a blessing or a curse. Things have changed. Mostly for the better. And yet.. The lead obituary in Monday’s Washington Post was about a 99-year old civil servant who had been retired since 1983. Do the math! 38 years is a long time to do anything, whether its working at the same place, being married or being retired. And in the latter case, you start out with a reduced income and under a cost of living adjustment (COLA) formula that doesn’t keep pace with inflation, especially as you get older and your medical costs go up. If you are one of the 75,000 feds with million dollar TSP accounts and are under the old Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS ), your financial life in retirement should be pretty good. But most people don’t have anywhere near that amount in their federal 401k plan. Also, most will retire under the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS), which has a diet COLA formula, meaning that over time their monthly annuity payments can be drastically reduced by inflation. So what to do? Work until you drop? Wind up staying 5 years longer than you planned? Leave only to find out later you really couldn’t afford it? You have to live with your decision. That is a challenging thought! But you can do it, and do it right with a little thought and preparation. Today’s guest on Your Turn is Tammy Flanagan. She’s a former fed who is an expert on all phases of retirement. Planning for retirement isn’t rocket science, but in some ways it is more challenging because ultimately you’ll be riding that rocket however long it takes
It is an especially good idea for people who work for the federal government to pay all their due taxes on time. Members of Congress, many who have major tax issues of their own, love to find and publicize information about the number and location of feds who are delinquent, or worse. Bottom line — get it done correctly. So we called the cavalry, and Tom O’Rourke answered. He’s a well known estate and tax attorney in the D.C. metro area and a former attorney with the IRS. He’s going to be my guest on today’s Your Turn show — the first of a two-parter about your 2020 taxes.
Several readers have sent us blueprints they followed to millionaire status. , like the man who went from an account balance of 0 to just over $1.3 million in 23 years. If you are doing well, congrats. Nice work! But could you be doing even better? If you are one with a TSP portfolio heavily or 100% in the stock indexed C, S and I funds, are you overlooking the best of the bunch. Arthur Stein believes you should think about it. He’s a well-known financial planner in the Washington D.C. area. Several of his clients are TSP millionaires. And he teaches classes on TSP investing at Montgomery College. And he thinks lots of investors are missing out on a good thing. Based on past performance, he says investors should take another look at the S fund. He’s my guest today on our Your Turn radio show.
Some experts say this is the beginning of the end of the battle to tame the virus, and that by year end, all will be well. Others say it is just the end of the beginning with a long struggle ahead. Regardless of which side turns out to be correct, most of us are still very much in harm’s way. Most federal workers and retirees have enough — life insurance, an annuity, property — to be considered an estate. Yet fewer than 50% of the people who should have an estate plan have one. Or it may consist of something you downloaded, filled out and filed away. Or perhaps in your efforts to forget a past marriage, you have left your former spouse everything. Help is just a click away. My guest on today’s Your Turn radio show (10 a.m. EST) is Tom O’Rourke. He’s a tax specialist and estate attorney. And a former IRS lawyer and Vietnam vet. Most of his clients are current or former feds who — long before the pandemic — decided to get some advice and work up a plan. While few of us know the answers, its also true that most of us don’t know the questions we should ask. Which is where we (Tom actually will do the heavy lifting) come in.
As most federal/postal workers and retirees know, the Thrift Savings Plan is a good deal. About 2% of the 75,000-plus people have become TSP millionaires in the course of their federal service. They didn’t have big salaries, but they had time and patience. And it worked. A growing number have hit the $2 million mark. And these are not rich, hot shot political appointees who brought 401k cash with them. These are people who earned it by being patient and staying the course. Today’s guest is a case in point. Abraham Grungold is a long-time fed who stayed the course. Like most other TSP millionaires, he’s been in it for the long haul. It took 27 years (at a starting salary of about $21,000) to make his first million. Then six years later he hit his second million. And he’s going to talk about it today on Your Turn.
It’s only a matter of time before somebody writes a book or does a TV interview saying he or she predicted most of the events of 2020 well in advance. To qualify as visionary of the century this combination of Nostradamus, Pinocchio and your favorite tarot card reader would have had to go on record as saying 2020 would mean. That there would be a once in a lifetime worldwide pandemic. That vaccines preventing it would be produced in record time. That America would lead the world with more than 300,000 reported deaths. And so on… Of course nobody actually did that. Nailed 2020 in that way. But just wait, they will. Somebody will claim they foresaw all this long before it actually happened. Those those who, long after the fact, warned of JFK’s assassination. Or the 9/11 attacks. Meantime, reality check. I asked financial planner Arthur Stein to review the past year. Many of his clients are current or former feds. A couple of them TSP millionaires. Congress has invited him to Capitol Hill to keep congressional staffers up to speed on the TSP.
The start of a new year, any new year, is a logical time to take stock, reflect and look ahead. The fact that we are the midst of a deadly, frightening pandemic this time around makes self-reflection all the more important. A lot of things, many we never even considered important, have changed. Maybe forever. As individuals we certainly have. And its not a matter of debate or opinion. It’s true. By now most of us have figured out we are not immortal. We’ve seen parents and family members age — some better than others — and know that some things are inevitable. Ignoring them is an option, but not a very good one. As the end of the year approaches, a common question directed to an estate planning lawyer is, “What should I do to update my estate plan before year end?” Tom O'Rourke is a D.C. tax attorney and estate planner. He's my guest on today's episode of Your Turn to help us answer that question.
While many businesses have closed or cutback operations and even state and local governments are trimming their payroll, a job with Uncle Sam has been a blessing (compared to the alternatives) during the year of the COVID-19 panic. And its only going to get better according to Kathy Troutman, who is the Daniel Boone of scouts when it comes to finding a federal job. She founded The Resume Place Inc. and has been helping people get government jobs, and helping government workers get BETTER jobs, for four decades. Qualifying for and actually getting a federal job has never been easy. Something most bureaucrat-bashers don’t get or want to consider. But its true. Finding job openings is relatively easy. But then what? Are there buzz words and key phrases you need to use to guarantee that your CV will be looked at and seriously considered? Are there tricks to the trade? Very much so says Kathy, who will be my guest on today’s Your Turn.
Do you hate change, or making decisions? Is the car you are driving right now the same one you’ve owned since Jimmy Carter occupied the White House? Are you planning to finally have air conditioning installed in your home this year? Are you waiting for vinyl records to make a total comeback? Do you tend to put things off? Or try not to think about worst-case-scenarios — like a car wreck, or major illness — because it is depressing? Or can wait maybe until the current pandemic is over? Still not completely comfortable in the 21st century? Welcome to the club. According to the experts, many federal workers — and some retirees too — have excellent health insurance coverage. But most, thanks to the power of inertia, are paying too much in premiums. Consumer Checkbook’s Guide to Federal Health plans says “most people can save $2,000 or more in premiums next year, if they do something between now and Dec. 14 when the health insurance hunting season ends. My guest is Walton Francis, a retired former government official who wrote the book — literally — on the various plans in the FEHBP program. He’ll be talking about how to find the best buy for you and your family. And maybe save lots of money.
Walton Francis, editor of Checkbook’s Guide to Federal Health plans, believes that too many people are in the wrong health plan. Wrong as in too expensive. He says all the plans are good to excellent BUT some simply cost too much because their premiums are too high since they are top-heavy with what the industry calls “heavy users” — retirees who are older, sick, have higher prescription drug prices and who remain in the same plan year after year while younger and healthier workers move from plan to plan. Walt Francis says many people can save $1,000 to $2,000 in premiums next year if they’ll spend a couple of hours shopping online over the next few days. In addition to the free health plan shopping guide provided by the Office of Personnel Management, many agencies have subscribed to the excellent Checkbook Guide so you can comparison shop from home. It’s worth seeing if your agency provides that perk. He'll join us to discuss on today's episode of Your Turn.
The federal government has offered workers and military personnel Long Term Care insurance for years. The idea is people can enroll at group rates which are generally more reasonable than buying a one-person policy. But premiums for LTC insurance nationwide have jumped dramatically in recent years. People are living longer and need services. Enter FLTCIP 3.0, which became available last month for feds and military personnel. It’s administered by LTC Partners on behalf of John Hancock. And that’s the subject of today’s episode of Your Turn, where my guest is Joan Melanson, a top official of LTC Partners, who will explain how the program works and what you should consider.
According to the latest projection, there is at least a 20% chance you are in the wrong health plan. And that you are very likely paying more than necessary in premiums. This is especially true for retirees who may have been in the same health plan for years. So, is that BS... or fact from more reliable sources? Walton Francis is again our guest on Your Turn. He talks about what you should be looking for, and what to avoid, while navigating this year's open season. Walt spent many years in a top job at the Department of Health and Human Services. No BS data in his knowledge base. Just facts.
Suppose you or a family member get the coronavirus next year and DON’T die? Suppose you come out of it, maybe with many medical problems to come, but alive. Then what? Between now and early December, you will be picking the health plan that will cover you and yours — during what may be one of the greatest pandemics in history — in 2021. This is not one where you throw a dart at a board and pick whatever gets hit. This requires some homework. To help us with that we are joined by Walton Francis, longtime editor of the Washington Consumers Checkbook Guide to Health Plans.
Worried about your financial portfolio, your job, and your retirement, not to mention the future of the nation, if that idiot (fill-in-the-blanks) wins Tuesday? Tip from a Washington D.C. insider: The next president’s last name has 5 letters. You take it from there! Seriously. What if you really, for-dead-certain, knew right now whether President Donald J. Trump will be reelected or whether former Vice President Joseph Biden will replace him. Knew for sure. Would that knowledge change whether you decide to add more stocks — the C, S and I funds — to your portfolio? Or would you move more, perhaps everything, into the “safe” Treasury securities G fund? And if you had known last December what 2020 was going look like, would you have done any better? Would your investments — especially those based on political emotions — have been any better? Arthur Stein, a Washington area financial planner, says politics should NOT be a part of your investment strategy. And he talked about it on today's episode of Your Turn.
People under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) program will get larger annuities and full cost of living adjustments (COLAs) to keep pace with inflation. But the majority who will this year and in the future are under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). They will have to live with smaller monthly annuities, diet COLAs, and depend on their Social Security and TSP investments for their retirement income. Long range planning isn’t just important, it is absolutely essential. Federal benefits expert Tammy Flanagan thinks this upcoming December-January may produce the tidal wave of retirements experts have incorrectly predicted for decades. But maybe this time it will happen. But whether you are going out this year, next summer or departure day is years away, plan ahead. Starting yesterday. But beginning now is better than nothing. A lot better. Tammy will be my guest today on our Your Turn. She is going to cover the waterfront and focus on the 7 things you should NOT do when mapping out your retirement. Her list is a long one, but trust me your retirement will seem a lot longer and leaner if you skip it.
News that they will be getting a 1.3% cost of living adjustment in January 2021 is getting a mixed reception from federal, military and Social Security retirees. The inflation catch-up will to go roughly one in six Americans. And its more than some analysts had predicted based on the low inflation rate over the past 12 months And its 100% more than most retirees — who depend on pensions promised by their private sector employers — will be getting. We talked with many, many feds and picked up more questions and suggestions on the way. So today’s guests on Your Turn will have the answers. They are Jessica Klement, NARFE’s staff vice president for policy and programs, and legislative specialist John Hatton. Listen. Could save you lots of time, money and grief.
Retired Gen. Mike Meese is president of American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association (AAFMAA) and an expert on the tax deferral plan and its impact on federal and military paychecks. He talks about how you can avoid going in a financial hole by setting aside your 2020 take-home pay raise to augment or create an emergency fund for 2021 or the future.
Most people know they are worth more dead than alive. But many — including those who survive them — don’t know how much more. Or where the treasure (if any) is buried. And how you want it to be handled. Many federal workers and retirees, especially if they own property or have TSP accounts and life insurance, are easily worth a million dollars or more. Deciding who gets it (Uncle Sam, the state, your children) isn’t easy but it isn’t rocket science either. And you doing it now can save lots of grief, ill will and money down the road. Might help keep an otherwise tight-knit family from falling apart. So we asked estate and tax attorney Tom O’Rourke what he tells his clients. Most of them are current or former feds.
Many, if not most people, are familiar with the phrase “shouting fire in a crowded theater” — even if they might have trouble recalling who first said it (Justice Oliver Wendell Holms in a 1919 case before the Supreme Court) — and why. The modern day equivalent of the panic-starter is to bring up the subject of the Government Pension Offset or Windfall Elimination Provision in any venue — theater, retirement community, house of worship — with a large number of retired federal or state government employees, or their spouses. The initials may not mean much, if anything, to you, but ask your federal parents or grandparents, then watch their blood pressure go off the charts. So what’s the big deal? Tammy Flanagan will be my guest today on Your Turn. Meantime, for background, each has agreed to share answers and observations from someone seeking help and clarification from Social Security about WEP and GOP issues.
Some savvy investors say the President has a major impact on the economy and the stock market. Others say events — not whoever is elected POTUS in November — will determine whether your Thrift Savings Plan languishes or takes off like a rocket over the next four years. Bottom line: What do you think? Is it all important that your candidate win? Or does it really matter when it comes to building and growing a nest egg that, depending on the breaks, may supply anywhere from one third to one half of all the spending money you have in your golden years. Will they be 24 carat, or something less? We asked D.C. area financial planner Arthur Stein for his thoughts on the importance of the November election on the economy in general — and your TSP in particular. Stein has a wide background in economics. He’s also a long-time financial advisor whose clients include several TSP millionaires.
Kathryn Troutman is a job-hunter/promotion finder coach and author of more than 30 books on getting a job or promotion. And she is the founder of The Resume Place. Kathryn talks about navigating your way OUT of your current federal job into a new agency and position. And why it's a great time to get out of the private sector and into the federal government, which is hiring!
A lot of things could have happened this year that are off your radar because you are still adjusting to the many changes the pandemic has brought to our everyday lives. So we’ve called on Washington, D.C.-area attorney Tom O’Rourke for a tuneup. Tom is an estate-tax attorney, a former fed with the IRS and most of his clients are current or former civil servants.
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Podcast Details

Created by
Federal News Network | Hubbard Radio
Podcast Status
May 10th, 2017
Latest Episode
Apr 7th, 2021
Release Period
Avg. Episode Length
About 1 hour

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