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Financial Fitness Blog

Many factors can affect your retirement

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Brenda EcheverriaWe’ve been posting a series of articles recently related to our Retirement Income Analysis (RIA)—a financial planning option through Member Benefits for those within 10 years of retirement.

The RIA is a highly focused retirement planning tool. You’ll talk with our financial planner about your goals, analyze your investments and savings accounts, and review other factors that impact your readiness that you may not have considered.

For example, when you look at your official Social Security statement, the estimated benefit is based on your average earnings and assumes you’ll continue to make a similar income up until retirement. However, many Wisconsin public school employees retire before full retirement age, so you may receive less than what your statement predicts.

That’s just one factor of many we'll help you consider to get a more realistic picture of what you’ll have in retirement.

Karen and Nick Niehausen participated in an RIA and are glad they did. Listen to what they have to say about it below, or click on the links provided to learn more about the RIA.

Have questions? Call us at 1-800-279-4030 or send an email to

            Nick and Karen Niehausen (3:12)   

>>Article: Are you retirement ready?

>>Retirement Income Analysis planning steps

>>Sample scenario: Spending early may actually be financially beneficial. Go figure!

Brenda Echeverria, Financial Planner

Retirement Income Analysis planning steps

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Eric SchwartzYou may have read last week's article, Are you retirement ready? It discusses our Retirement Income Analysis (RIA) financial planning option and the experience retired Wisconsin educators Karen and Nick Niehausen had when they participated.

If you’re within 10 years of retirement, the RIA can help you answer questions such as, Can I really retire? Do I have enough money saved to support the lifestyle I want? How do I plan my budget and preserve my assets when I’m no longer working?

If you decide to sign up for the RIA, here's what you can expect in the process.

1. Initial consultation

This free, no-obligation consultation gives you a chance to talk with a Member Benefits’ financial planner who can assess your situation and recommend the direction you should take.

2. Data gathering

Fill out a data gather package before this face-to-face appointment. Over the course of 2½ hours, you’ll review a sample analysis, sign a service agreement, pay the fee, go over documents, and identify, develop, and prioritize your financial goals and objectives.

3. Analysis and plan development

In about a month’s time, our financial planner analyzes your information, develops strategies, and writes recommendations to meet your goals. You can request up to three scenarios for the planner to consider.

4. Presenting the plan

At this face-to-face meeting, the planner will review the analysis, present the recommendations, and describe the specific strategies included in the retirement plan.

5. Monitoring progress

Schedule follow-up meetings to monitor your progress and make adjustments to your plan as needed. As a Wisconsin public school employee, you are entitled to a free one-hour consultation each year which can be used to review your RIA.

If you have questions or would like to learn more about the RIA, give us a call at 1-800-279-4030 or email

Eric Schwartz, Financial Planning Specialist

Q&A: Additional retirement contributions

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Laura KampsWhat do I need to consider if I want to put additional money toward my retirement above my 6.6% contribution to WRS? Should I put it in WRS or another retirement product such as a 403(b) or IRA?

In many cases, a 403(b) or IRA may be a better place to put additional contributions because of the tax advantages they offer.

With a pretax 403(b) or IRA, you are able to reduce your income now and defer taxes until you withdraw in retirement. With a Roth 403(b) or IRA, you pay the tax now on contributions but benefit from tax-free growth when you withdraw.

In contrast, excess WRS contributions do not offer either of these tax advantages because the Internal Revenue Service does not allow you to deduct your contributions nor does it allow the benefit of tax-free growth.

If you’ve already made the maximum allowable contributions in every tax-advantaged plan available, then you may want to consider making after-tax additional contributions to WRS. Just keep these points in mind:

  • The growth on additional contributions you make will be taxed when you withdraw.
  • Additional contributions do not buy you more years of service (a commonly held misconception).
  • You are not required to annuitize additional contributions like you are for the main pension.
  • The additional contribution portion of your WRS account does not need to be taken in any form when you retire. You may defer distributions until age 70½.

If you have questions about this or other retirement topics, give us a call at 1-800-279-4030.

Laura Kamps, RIS Specialist