Retirement Planning – Which Plan is Right for You?

Goodbye, 2017… Hello, 2018!

But wait… the end of the year means … tax season is soon to follow!

Yes, taxpayers will soon be making some pretty hefty decisions. And if you’re retiring, even more so! How can you plan for retirement now? Here are some hints and tips to help you make smart fiscal decisions as the year draws to a close.

What kind of retirement plan should you choose? 

Today, many companies offer both a traditional 401(k) and a Roth 401(k). Here’s how to know which one’s for you:

  • If you are in a lower tax bracket, you might prefer the Roth 401(k). You’ll receive rather significant tax-free withdrawals in retirement.
  • On the other hand, if you are currently in a higher tax bracket and want an immediate tax reduction, you might want to opt for the traditional 401(k). However, even if you are in a higher tax bracket now, you might still want to have a source of tax-free cash flow during retirement. If that’s the case, then go for the Roth 410(k) plan.

In 2017, the maximum you can contribute to a 401(k) is $18,000, plus an additional $6,000 if you are over the age of 50. If you don’t want to maximize these amounts, might consider paying off your credit card bills. Remember, credit card interest is not tax deductible, so it’s beneficial to pay down those credit card balances now. With regards to a home mortgage or student loans, the decision may not be so cut and dry, as these types of interest can be tax deductible.

What if your company does not offer a retirement plan? 

Open and fund an IRA account. Keep in mind, the due date to do so is April 15th, regardless of when you file your taxes.

For IRA withdrawals, IRA owners must take distributions after the age of 70.5. Carefully plan out how much you’d like to withdraw before year-end to keep taxable income low. With the money you withdraw, you could give it to your loved ones, reinvest it elsewhere, move it to a Roth IRA (for a tax-free future), or simply spend it on yourself!

Just like a 401(k), you can choose between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA. Depending on which tax bracket you find yourself in, the benefits to opening either a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA or similar that of traditional and Roth 401(k)’s. In short:

  • If you are in a lower tax bracket, consider opening a Roth IRA.
  • If you are in a higher tax bracket, consider opening a traditional IRA.

When should I make charitable contributions?

To answer this question, you might want to consider when you’d like to experience a tax deduction. If you write a check to your favorite charity in December, your tax deduction is soon to follow in April! However, should you decide to wait until New Year’s, you’ll have to wait a year before receiving the tax benefit.

Furthermore, if you have stocks or stock funds that have gained value over time, you could choose to give appreciated securities to your favorite cause instead of a check. You’ll still be making excellent use of your funds while helping those in need!

We understand that retirement planning can be complex and confusing. Your financial future is as important to us as it is to you, so feel free to contact us if you’d like further tax planning assistance!

Client Spotlight: Jennifer & James Vellano

As an accounting firm catering to business owners, one of our greatest delights is witnessing the ambition and talent of our clients and the way it leads to their success.  One note-worthy example is the husband and wife team of Jennifer and James Vellano, subjects of this month’s Client Spotlight.

Food is Love

After honing their skills as private chefs and at restaurants such as Blue Hill and Per Se in New York City, the duo started their first business: Maison Privé a boutique catering company, right here in Greenwich, CT.  Maison Privé provides event and corporate catering along with highly customizable private home delivery.  With menus distinctive and unique (and delicious!), they found their drive and original inspiration from the exhilaration of serving people and making them happy; after all, food is love!  Woven in with their passion for tasty, seasonal food is a dedication to the value of supporting sustainable, organic and regenerative farming techniques.

All artists, including those in the culinary field, must continue to find new inspiration if they wish to grow and thrive.  The Vellanos are no exception; Jennifer says, “New inspiration is found through watching our young children love and appreciate all food.  We realized that if children in other countries, as well as our own, grow up eating sushi, curry, caviar, raw oysters… that should be normal for our kids’ taste buds.  They’ve never had chicken nuggets!”

Feeding Their Hometown

The ambition of James & Jennifer did not stop with the birth of Maison Privé.  Instead they strove to stretch their talents and do even more of what they love.  In 2015 they opened their second business, G.E. Brown Fine Food and Provisions in Bedford, NY.  Driven to bring healthy, delicious food into the homes of their friends, family and neighbors in their hometown, they opened this storefront to offer breakfast and counter items, grab and go prepared food, specialty items and a coffee bar – all with the same dedication to seasonality and sustainability so inherent in the fabric of their accomplishments.  Additionally, with the opening of GE Brown the Vellanos are working to bring back an old-fashioned, time honored approach to the slow-food movement by offering both an early morning coffee spot and place with family friendly options for healthy and delicious food in their small town.

Their Latest Venture

The most recent addition to their list of achievements is opening Something Natural on Greenwich Avenue with business partner Seth Hirschel earlier this year.  Famous for their house-made Portuguese bread, the original iconicsandwich shop of the same name has become a legend for locals and tourists over its 50 years on the island of Nantucket.  Hirschel and the Vellanos are proud to have brought a small slice of Nantucket to Greenwich.

For all their success the Vellanos credit the help they’ve received from their mentors along the way; notably, they’ve worked for great chefs such as Thomas Keller, Dan Barber, Danile Boulud, and Mike Anthony.

How do we, here at Alfano & Company, feel seeing the success of James & Jennifer?  When our clients succeed we succeed!  Seeing the Vellanos pursue their passion and work together to follow their dreams has been a delight.  We feel we can share in the joy of their journey by providing them with custom accounting services that suit their needs and propel them to growth.  With three businesses to run, creativity and talent to continually refine, and young children at home to care for – accounting is not something James & Jennifer need on their plate!  Jennifer credits the way our firm “takes care of all of [their] needs and has amazing customer service” as an aide to running their businesses.

If you, like James & Jennifer Vellano, are ambitious and passionate about your work and always challenging yourself professionally, we’d love to be on your team!  Perhaps our accounting services are right for you too!  Contact us to find out more information about what we can do for you.

Alfano & Company Team




Client Spotlight: Fred Boutique

We’d like to introduce you to Fred Boutique. This boutique shouts style and individuality while catering to each and every shopper. Who would not enjoy a latte while checking out the latest fashion designs from brands such as Elizabeth & James, Joie, and Waverly Grey? Shereen Koshnoodi and Kelley Frey, business owners of Fred Boutique, joined forces in 2012 to bring to life this modern take on caffeinated shopping; Shereen sums up their motivation in one word: passion. She says. “…I’ve always loved coffee shops and cafes so I wanted to combine the experience”.  These talented ladies have truly made this dream come to life. Fred Boutique provides a relaxing, intimate and unique shopping atmosphere for customers.

Of course, keeping Fred Boutique running has its share of challenges. These challenges include keeping track of expenses and monitoring all inner workings of a small business. Shereen says,” [Alfano & Company] has helped me keep track of my business. There are many moving parts [to Fred Boutique]. Our accountant, Liana, provides me with quarterly reports and helps me keep track of expenses.”

Fred Boutique in Westport, CT

At Alfano & Company we find it rewarding to witness the continued success of our clients and we look forward to seeing how Fred Boutique continues to grow and thrive. We are happy to congratulate Kelley and Shereen on the opening of their second Fred Boutique, in Westport, CT. “We want our customers to feel the love and passion that we have for what we do,” Shereen says. Visit Fred Boutique’s Old Greenwich location for a classic shopping experience. Step into Fred Boutique’s Westport store to ‘sip and shop’. We have no doubt you will feel the passion and love these entrepreneurs have for both fashion and their growing business.

We’d love to help your business grow too! Contact us for more information on our elite bookkeeping and advisory services. Visit us on the web at

Alfano & Company Team
Alfano & Company Team