Big Picture Retirement

If you are planning for, or living in, retirement…this is the show for you. The success of your retirement may depend on how well you planned for the "big picture" and connected the dots of your legal, tax, and financial plan. In this show, we’ll dig beneath the surface and discuss how you should apply this planning with your hosts- attorney John Ross and financial planner Devin Carroll.
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Big Picture Retirement







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Now displaying: 2017
Dec 25, 2017

If you listen to the news, you’ve probably heard some investment and financial planning industry folks make some wild predictions, and often those predictions don’t come true.

In this week’s episode, Devin and John invited some friends to help them investigate some recent predictions and how they actually turned out. David Waldrop is a financial advisor with Bridgeview Capital Advisors and Andrew Comstock is a Chartered Financial Analyst with Castlebar Asset Management.

For more, visit

Dec 18, 2017

Recorded live at FinCon from a 1974 Volkswagon Superbeetle, Devin and John are joined with Roger Whitney, the Retirement Answer Man, and Elle Martinez of

The main topic?

Divorce is the biggest threat to anyone’s financial stability. How do you work together with your spouse? Elle says, don’t start talking about money - talk about goals.

For more information, go to the show notes at

Dec 11, 2017

Stacey’s financial advisor recommended 3-6 months of living expenses be in cash. She asks us how much she really needs.

Ron from Portland wants to know what to do with his personal trust now that the beneficiaries are responsible adults. Does he still need this estate planning tool, or can he just have the trust terminate at his death?

For more, go to

Dec 4, 2017

People who are millionaires have respect for a dollar, and they cut expenses that don’t add value to their lives. 

Joe Saul-Sehy was a financial planner for 16 years, and he has observed some interesting things about how millionaires handled their money. He says it’s not discipline, it’s about seeing something good that happens, then making it automatic.

  • Other takeaways from this episode:
  • Automate important tasks
  • Know that there’s a big difference between planning for tomorrow vs. planning for the long-term
  • Improving revenue AND decreasing the costs go hand-in-hand
  • Knowledge doesn’t pay – action pays

For more details, go to the show notes at

Nov 27, 2017

Things You Should Do Before The End Of The Year:

  • Charitable contributions
  • Harvest Investment Gains and Losses
  • Required Minimum Distributions
  • Sit Down And Review This Stuff With Your Tax Advisor

There are a number of things you could do in the next few weeks to properly wrap up 2017. How do you decide which items to prioritize?

Devin and John cover things they think you need to do before the end of the year.

For more details, visit

Nov 20, 2017

Congress is moving fast through the process of changing our tax code. There are still lots of details to be ironed out, but one of the major provisions is a cut to the corporate tax rate.

There is also a proposal to cap the tax rate on pass-through business entities - which may reduce the amount of taxes paid by small businesses.

There are also many parts of the proposals that will impact individuals. More can be found at

Nov 13, 2017

A reverse mortgage is an agreement that a bank or other financial institution will loan you money against the value of the house, and you don’t have to repay that money until the property transfers ownership, often due to death of the homeowner.

There is lots to be said about reverse mortgages. If you want more information, go to our show notes at 

Nov 6, 2017

Devin and John explore the different ways that working can affect your Social Security benefit.

Then John explains how and why a child may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) when the father was covered under a teacher’s retirement program and did not pay into Social Security.

For more details and resource, visit 

Oct 30, 2017

Clayton was shaped by the money experiences of his childhood, particularly his father’s job loss.

After some financial challenges, Clayton and his wife decided to figure out how to build an income that isn’t tied to their jobs working for someone else.

They decided to buy rental properties to create income to cover their monthly income needs, what Clayton calls his “freedom number.”

Highlights include:

The importance of figuring out how much money you need each month

How real estate might be part of the right solution to meet your freedom number.

For more information, visit our show notes at 

Oct 23, 2017

Part 2 of a series about Medicare.

This time Devin and John tackle the costs of Medicare Part B, then go into Medicare D (prescription drug coverage).

It’s important to understand how Medicare Part D work – it can be a little tricky.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Oct 16, 2017

Understanding Medicare is an important part of your overall retirement planning, but it's so confusing and complicated!

Devin and John share the different parts of Medicare and what they cover.

More information can be found at

Oct 9, 2017

Devin and John answer listener questions you've sent in.

Arlene wants to know what happens to her debts after she dies. John guesses she is probably asking whether her children will be responsible for those debts. It’s a good question! The short answer is no, but, of course, there is a longer answer.

Then Jay wants to talk about a purchase he wants to make. It might be a little extravagant, and his financial advisor is against the purchase. Both Devin and John have seen both sides of this, folks who have spent too much of their retirement, and folks who haven’t spent nearly enough. Devin threw out a possible rule-of-thumb: if the purchase exceeds 5% of your net worth, and your advisors are expressing concern, maybe you need to think a little more.

For more information, or to contact Devin or John, go to

Oct 2, 2017

Chess involved both strategy and psychology - much like investing! Doug Goldstein, author of RICH AS A KING: How the Wisdom of Chess Can Make You a Grandmaster of Investing, joins Devin in a discussion about the way chess strategies can be applied to your personal finances.

For the show notes, go to

Sep 25, 2017

Most of us have a whole world of digital stuff out there, and some of it is important.  You need a plan for how your survivors will access these accounts, whether you are disabled or dead.

As our world becomes more and more digital, it becomes more important that your survivors, heirs and executors can access certain online accounts.  This may include bank accounts, email, electronic document storage, insurance policies, and many other types of accounts.

Find more information and resources in our show notes at

Sep 18, 2017

If you've put together a little bit of money, or you have a regular stream of income, it's reasonable to be concerned about protecting those assets from lawsuits or other types of liability.

Today, John explains some of the simple steps you can take to put some protections about the money that you have.

First, consider what type of liability you might face. Second, consider what assets might be at risk. Third, check out your insurance coverage.  Fourth, separate your business assets from your personal property, and figure out the right tool for each object.

Highlights include:

  • What assets or income are protected
    How your insurance coverage factors into the decision
  • Different strategies for business vs. personal assets
  • How a revocable trust doesn't provide protection
  • How Delaware changed the rules
  • Bonus:  John explains the history of trusts - using Devin in his story

For more information, visit

Sep 11, 2017

Devin and John talk about assigning people to act for you, and picking good stocks for your investments.

First, Brenda has a question about naming a successor trustee for a trust she has set up. In many kinds of legal and estate planning documents, you need to designate someone to act on your behalf. John explains the four options for naming those folks.

Next, Chris asks how to pick better stocks and stop losing money in the stock market. Devin shares that despite his skills and the resources available to him, he hasn't had a lot of success with individual stocks. He's had better luck diversifying, such as in an index fund. Then, John explains his philosophy with a great story about glove box money vs. casino money.

For more information, visit

Sep 4, 2017

Dr. Brandon Renfro, a PhD in behavioral economics, talks about bonds: When they're right for you and when they should be reconsidered.

Brandon does a great job of explaining different types of bonds, why they are considered a good investment, and how our current low interest rate situation changes the value of bonds as part of your portfolio.

For more information, visit 

Aug 28, 2017

Social Security is an important source of income for older Americans, but it can also provide many benefits beyond retirement income. Life is full of risks, and Social Security helps provide some income for those who have faced these situations.

Think about these statistics:

  • In 2014, 3.3 million kids received Social Security benefits
  • 34% of all benefits are paid to the spouse or child of the covered worker
  • Average age folks begin to receive disability benefits is 54
  • Over 24% of today's 20-year-olds will become disabled before the age of 67

As you can see, understanding Social Security benefits is an crucial part of your overall financial planning. Today, Devin and John talk about the non-retirement benefits provided by the Social Security program, and why they are important to you.
There are two main categories of benefits: Benefits for the worker, and benefit for the worker's family. Benefits for the worker include retirement income, disability income, and Medicare health care coverage for the disabled. Benefits for the worker's family include benefits for the worker's spouse and family if the worker dies or becomes disabled.
Highlights include:

  • What is a family maximum benefit?
  • When and how you can receive survivor or disability benefits
  • How various financial plans can impact eligibility for benefits
  • How you might want to use this knowledge as part of your financial plan

For more information, visit

Aug 21, 2017

There are few things worse than getting involved in a financial scam.

Unfortunately, there are always some people who will abuse their professional status, and use their knowledge to rip people off.

How can you avoid being scammed?

Things to look for in a financial advisor:

  • Find someone who uses an independent custodian with a solid reputation. To whom are you writing the checks?
  • Check out the firm on the Securities and Exchange Commission website.
  • Research the individual via the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Broker Check and the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) search function.
  • Question anyone who gives you a guaranteed return, unless it is quite low.

Things to look for in a legal advisor:

  • Check your state bar's disciplinary action history.
  • Get your agreement in writing, including the fees that will be charge for the service recommended.
  • If you pay any money upfront, how is it accounted for?
  • Are they working inside their field of expertise?


Do you have a question for a future Listener Questions episode? Submit it to


Aug 14, 2017

Listener Questions: Rob asks about sending the distributions from an Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA) to a charity.  John discusses a couple of different scenarios and explains the possible tax benefits.  He also includes ideas for some more advanced strategies for charitable giving so you can support your favorite charities even after death.

Then, Rosa wants to know about continuing to get Social Security survivor benefits from a former spouse, even if she remarries.  This is a common situation, but you really need to look at the financial considerations before moving ahead.  Devin explains the exact rules, and how these rules could impact the timing of your remarriage.


For more information, visit

Aug 7, 2017

Women often have different financial needs than men, and even more when there has been a change in their marital situation.

This week, Devin and John talk with Russ Thorton of Wealthcare for Women.  Russ works with financial planning for women, with a particular emphasis on women in transition.   Whether through death or divorce, newly single women may need special advice and expertise to move forward financially.

Highlights include:

Where you should start figuring out your money:  where are you financially?  This includes investments, expenses, insurance coverage, estate plans, taxes, and everything else.

How it helps to have help from someone who is not emotionally involved in the situation.

When hearing about your friend’s situation can do more harm than good.

Why you need to trust your gut.

How to find the right financial advisor for you.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Enter the Echo giveaway at

Russ Thorton’s Wealthcare for Women website and on Twitter at @RussThorton

Devin and John’s free ebook:

Every month, Devin and John have an entire episode dedicated to answering listener questions.  If you have a question, submit it to

Don’t forget to subscribe to the show, and leave a rating and a review!

Jul 31, 2017

Many current retirees have a background of military service.  Benefits from military service can become a big part of the retirement planning picture, but it can be hard to know what benefits are available and how you can use them.  In this week's episode, Devin and John talk about military-related benefits and how to get information about them.

You can break down most military benefits into one of three categories:  retirement benefits, service-connected disability benefits, and non-service connected disability benefits.

Retirement benefits are earned through career of military service, generally more than 20 years.  Retirement benefits include lifetime income and Tricare health coverage.

Service-connected disability benefits are available for those who are disabled as the result of their military service.  In addition to the benefits available from the Department of Veterans Affairs, there may be benefits available from your state or local government.  One important thing to note:  many times, the disability that was acquired while you were in the military may not show itself for many years.

Non-service-connected disability benefits are available to veterans who require care for a disability that has no relationship to your military service.  Usually called "aid and attendance benefit," or improved pension.  It is there for people who need help with their care, and provides monthly income.

If you have served our country through military service, understanding your benefits is an important part of your overall financial plan.  Please share this information with your military friends and family!

Resources mentioned in this episode:

John's firm's website:

Devin and John's free ebook:

Once a month, Devin and John answer listener questions. You can submit your questions to

Jul 24, 2017

So you find yourself retiring in a second marriage? This week’s episode is full of useful information and fascinating stories about one of the most complicated family situations: Second marriages.

There is so much to consider: Social Security benefits, pensions, other benefits, children, houses, long-term care insurance, and much more.

Steps you need to take before you have a second, or subsequent, marriage:

  • Take a good look at the person you are marrying, including their financial situation.
  • Consider your current situation, including any benefits that come from your previous marriage.
  • Meet with an experienced, knowledgeable estate planner to explore all of the possibilities.

Highlights include:

  • How community property states are different.
  • Why a prenuptial agreement is a good idea, especially for second and later marriages.
  • The most overlooked aspect of financial planning for second marriages.  You don’t want to miss this!

You won’t want to miss a minute of the conversation about this oh-so-important topic.

Do you have a question for Devin and John?  Send them to

Jul 17, 2017

John shares the stories of when, and why, you would disinherits a spouse. Devin gives advice to Kim who wants to know how to say “no” to her adult children’s request for money.

For more great advice about how to avoid BIG MISTAKES when planning for retirement, download our free guide: 3 Simple Steps to a Successful Retirement at

Jul 10, 2017

We are half way through the year and it's time to review the market performance with Andrew Comstock from

Market Snapshot:

DOW (DJI) opened at 20,665.17 on April 3, 2017 and closed at 21,287.03 on June 29, 2017.

The S&P opened at 2,362.34 on April 3, 2017 and closed at 2,423.41 on June 30, 2017

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