Personal Finance

Steps to You Can Take to Guard Against Identity Theft

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America is enduring a data breach problem.

As many workers traded in the office for remote work, data security has been a focus for the public and private sectors. Between robocalls pitching low-cost health insurance, pretending to be the I.R.S., or offering “work from home” opportunities, the pandemic has seen scammers getting more creative than they’ve ever been. (1)

Tax time is prime time for identity thieves.

They would love to get their hands on your 1040 form, and they would also love to claim a phony refund using your personal information. You may realize you’ve been the victim of tax fraud if you can’t e-file your tax return because of a duplicate Social Security number or if you receive a notice from the I.R.S. that talks about owing taxes for a year you haven’t filed. (2)

Just make sure when you e-file that you use a secure Internet connection. When you e-file, you aren’t putting your Social Security number, address, and income information through the mail. You aren’t leaving Form 1040 on your desk at home (or work) while you get up and get some coffee or go out for a walk. If somehow you just can’t bring yourself to e-file, then think about sending your returns via Certified Mail. Those rough drafts of your returns where you ran the numbers and checked your work? Shred them.

The I.R.S. doesn’t use unsolicited emails to request information from taxpayers. If you get an email claiming to be from the I.R.S. asking for your personal or financial information, report it to your email provider as spam. (2)

Use secure Wi-Fi.

Avoid “coffee housing” your personal information away – never risk disclosing financial information over a public Wi-Fi network. (Broadband is susceptible, too.) It takes little sophistication to do this – just a little freeware.

Sure, a public Wi-Fi network at an airport or coffee house is password-protected – but if the password is posted on a wall or readily disclosed, how protected is it? A favorite hacker trick is to sit idly at a coffee house, library, or airport and set up a Wi-Fi hotspot with a name similar to the legitimate one. Inevitably, people will fall for the ruse, log on, and get hacked.

Look for the “https” & the padlock icon when you visit a website.

Not just http, https. When you see that added “s” at the start of the website address, you are looking at a website with active SSL encryption, and you want that. A padlock icon in the address bar confirms an active SSL connection. For really solid security when you browse, you could opt for a VPN (virtual private network) service which encrypts 100% of your browsing traffic. (3)

However, be especially careful when clicking on any links that you receive from an unknown sender. Many criminals have caught up, and use sites that seem valid by using the “https” prefix. Look to see what the email is asking for (for example, demanding payment), and verify this by sending a separate email or calling the supposed contact to verify the validity of the email. Look for any misspelled words or incorrect links in the email. If you’re more technically savvy, you can look at the original version of the email to see if it actually originated from somewhere else. (3)

Check your credit report.

You may have been the victim of identity theft or fraud, and not even realize it, until it shows up on your credit reports. Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) you are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the big three agencies: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. This year, because of the increased issues with identity theft and fraud during COVID-19, these three agencies are also allowing weekly credit checks from now until April 2021. Checking your credit report weekly will not affect your ability to order your free annual credit report.4,5

Don’t talk to strangers.

Broadly speaking, that is very good advice in this era of identity theft. If you get a call or email from someone you don’t recognize – it could tell you that you’ve won a prize; it could claim to be someone from the county clerk’s office, a pension fund, or a public utility – be skeptical. Financially, you could be doing yourself a great favor.

Sources

  1. FTC.gov, 2021
  2. IRS.gov, November 25, 2021
  3. NextGov.com, June 19, 2019
  4. Consumer.FTC.gov, 2021
  5. AnnualCreditReport.com, 2021

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

5 Biases That Affect Our Financial Choices and What To Do About It

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Investors are routinely warned about allowing their emotions to influence their decisions. However, they are less routinely cautioned about their preconceptions and biases that may color their financial choices.

Examples of Biases

In a battle between the facts & biases, our biases may win. If we acknowledge this tendency, we may be able to avoid some unexamined choices when it comes to personal finance. It may actually “pay” to recognize blind spots and biases with investing. Here are some common examples of bias creeping into our financial lives.

1) Letting Emotions Run the Show

An investor thinks, “I got a great return from that decision,” instead of thinking, “that was a good decision because __.” (1)

How many investment decisions do we make that have a predictable outcome? Hardly any. In retrospect, it is all too easy to prize the gain from a decision over the wisdom of the decision, and to, therefore, believe that the findings with the best outcomes were the best decisions (not necessarily true). Putting some distance between your impulse to make a change and the action you want to take to help get some distance from your emotions. (1)

2) Valuing Facts We “Know” & “See” More Than “Abstract” Facts

Information that seems abstract may seem less valid or valuable than information that relates to personal experience. This is true when we consider different types of investments, the state of the markets, and the economy’s health. (2)

3) Valuing the Latest Information Most

In the investment world, the latest news is often more valuable than old news. But when the latest news is consistently good (or consistently bad), memories of previous market climate(s) may become too distant. If we are not careful, our minds may subconsciously dismiss the eventual emergence of the next bear (or bull) market. (2)

4) Being Overconfident

The more experienced we are at investing, the more confidence we have about our investment choices. When the market is going up, and a clear majority of our investment choices work out well, this reinforces our confidence, sometimes to a point where we may start to feel we can do little wrong, thanks to the state of the market, our investing acumen, or both. This can be dangerous. (3)

5) The Herd Mentality

You know how this goes: if everyone is doing something, they must be doing it for sound and logical reasons. The herd mentality is what leads many investors to buy high (and sell low). It can also promote panic selling. The advent of social media hasn’t helped with this idea. Above all, it encourages market timing, and when investors try to time the market, they frequently realize subpar returns. (4)

Sometimes, asking ourselves what our certainty is based on and reflecting about ourselves can be a helpful and informative step. Examining our preconceptions may help us as we invest.

Sources

  1. CNBC.com, September 28, 2020
  2. Forbes.com, March 26, 2020
  3. Forbes.com, March 19, 2020
  4. CNBC.com, June 26, 2020

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

End-of-the-Year Money Moves to Make Before Saying Goodbye to 2020

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What Has Changed for You in 2020?

For many, this year has been as complicated as learning a new dance. Did you start a new job or leave a job behind? That’s one step. Did you retire? There’s another step. Did you start a family? That’s practically a pirouette. If notable changes occurred in your personal or professional life, then you may want to review your finances before this year ends and 2021 begins. Proving that you have all of the right moves in 2020 might put you in a better position to tango with 2021.

Even if your 2020 has been relatively uneventful, the end of the year is still a good time to get cracking and see where you can manage your overall personal finances.

Keep in mind this post is for informational purposes only and is not a replacement for real-life advice. Please consult your tax, legal, and accounting professionals before modifying your tax strategy.

Do You Engage in Tax-Loss Harvesting?

That’s the practice of taking capital losses (selling securities worth less than what you first paid for them) to manage capital gains. You might want to consider this move, but it should be made with the guidance of a financial professional you trust. (1)

In fact, you could even take it a step further. Consider that up to $3,000 of capital losses in excess of capital gains can be deducted from ordinary income, and any remaining capital losses above that amount can be carried forward to offset capital gains in upcoming years. (1)

Do you want to itemize deductions?

You may just want to take the standard deduction for the 2020 tax year, which has risen to $12,400 for single filers and $24,800 for joint. If you do think it might be better for you to itemize, now would be a good time to get the receipts and assorted paperwork together. (2,3)

Could You Ramp up Your Retirement Plan Contributions?

Contribution to these retirement plans may lower your yearly gross income. If you lower your gross income enough, you might be able to qualify for other tax credits or breaks available to those under certain income limits. (4)

Are You Thinking of Gifting?

How about donating to a qualified charity or non-profit organization before 2020 ends? Your gift may qualify as a tax deduction. For some gifts, you may be required to itemize deductions using Schedule A. (4)

Review a Portion of Your Estate Strategy

Specifically, take a look at your beneficiary designations. If you haven’t reviewed them for some time, double-check to see that these assets are structured to go where you want them to go, should you pass away. Lastly, look at your will to see that it remains valid and up-to-date.

Check on the Amount You Have Withheld

If you discover that you have withheld too little on your W-4 form so far, you may need to adjust your withholding before the year ends.

What Can You do Before Ringing in the New Year?

New Year’s Eve may put you in a dancing move, eager to say goodbye to the old year and welcome 2021. Before you put on your dancing shoes, consider speaking with a financial or tax professional. Do it now, rather than in February or March. Little year-end moves might help you improve your short-term and long-term financial situation.

Sources

  1. Investopedia.com, April 18, 2020
  2. NerdWallet.com, July 17, 2020
  3. Investopedia.com, May 22, 2020
  4. Investopedia.com, July 14, 2020

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Budgeting Basics for Your Household Budget

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Budgeting Towards Needs and Goals.

One of the objectives of creating a household budget is that, as time moves on and the various household members advance in their careers, they are likely to make more money. Knowing where that money goes can help direct that money to not only meet your day-to-day needs but also to potentially realize your financial goals. Rent payments may become mortgage payments, and socking away a few bucks into your savings each payday could change into an effective financial strategy involving various investment tools. (1)

Remember that investing involves risk, and the return and principal value of investments will fluctuate as market conditions change. Investment opportunities should take into consideration your goals, time horizon, and risk tolerance. When sold, investments may be worth more or less than their original cost. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

The Back of an Envelope or a Spreadsheet App.

Traditionally, a household budget could be worked out “on the back of an envelope.” Of course, this is still true, though you may have access to more bells and whistles than previous generations. Whether you prefer to work it out with pencil and paper or by computer, the main rule is to create and stick to the budget.

Easy Come, Easy Go.

Start by taking note of your income. Some Americans have more than one income source, either through a second gig or even a hobby turned small business. You don’t have to be making money very long, though, to realize that it doesn’t always sit still in your checking account. Along with your income, tally up your expenditures: Housing costs (rent, utilities, etc.), groceries, student loan payments, transportation expenses, phone, and Internet, as well as entertainment. It adds up! (More like subtracts, actually.)

Make Adjustments

Ideally, the number at the bottom of this reckoning should be a positive number. This means that you’re living within your means and, while you may want to make that a larger number by adjusting your expenses, you’re at a good starting point.

Adjustments are probably overdue if you have a negative number; you’ll need to take a cold hard look at those expenses and think about can I live without (such as mountaineering lessons) and what isn’t going to give (the essentials: food and shelter).

Your other choice, of course, is to make more money. As you move on in your career, this will likely happen as you earn salary increases or build your business. Don’t forget, though, that life gets more expensive over time, as well. Rents and fees will rise as time goes on. Regular adjustments are a natural part of good budgetary maintenance.

Goals and Strategies

If you have money coming in that is not being gobbled up by line items on your budget, and you stick to it and keep it that way, you’re (literally) coming out ahead. Now’s the time to put that money to work toward goals and strategies. Goals can be small, like saving up for a vacation or upgrading an item in your home. Or they can be larger, like saving for a major expense.

Goals can work side-by-side with financial strategies, which tend to be “bigger picture” in scope. Financial strategies tend to be things like looking ahead to your retirement or investing in creating more income (so you can get back to mountain climbing). For these bigger strategies and the shorter-term goals, there is an advantage to seeking out a financial professional geared toward helping you get the most from your efforts.

There is No “One Way” to Budget.

There isn’t a single, one-size-fits-all solution for creating and maintaining a household budget. Financial professionals also know this and can help craft a strategy suited to your risk tolerance, goals, and financial situation.

▲ Download this worksheet to help determine how you are spending your moey

Sources

  1. PewResearch.org, March 25, 2020

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

The 2020 Contribution Limit Increases for your IRA, 401(k) and 403(b) accounts

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The I.R.S. increased the annual contribution limits on IRAs, 401(k)s, and other widely used retirement plan accounts for 2020. Here’s a quick look at the changes.

IRAs

Next year, you can put up to $6,000 in any type of IRA. The limit is $7,000 if you will be 50 or older at any time in 2020. (1,2)

401(k)s, 403(b)s, 457s, and Thrift Savings Plans

Annual contribution limits for 401(k)s, 403(b)s, the federal Thrift Savings Plan, and most 457 plans also get a $500 boost for 2020. The new annual limit on contributions is $19,500. If you are 50 or older at any time in 2020, your yearly contribution limit for one of these accounts is $26,000. (1,2)

Solo 401(k)s and SEP IRAs

Are you self-employed, or do you own a small business? You may have a solo 401(k) or a SEP IRA, which allows you to make both an employer and employee contribution. The ceiling on total solo 401(k) and SEP IRA contributions rises $1,000 in 2020, reaching $57,000. (3)

SIMPLE IRA

If you have a SIMPLE retirement account, next year’s contribution limit is $13,500, up $500 from the 2019 level. If you are 50 or older in 2020, your annual SIMPLE plan contribution cap is $16,500. (3)

HSAs

Yearly contribution limits have also been set a bit higher for Health Savings Accounts (which may be used to save for retirement medical expenses). The 2020 limits: $3,550 for individuals with single medical coverage and $7,100 for those covered under qualifying family plans. If you are 55 or older next year, those respective limits are $1,000 higher. (4)

Sources

  1. irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/retirement-topics-ira-contribution-limits
  2. irs.gov/newsroom/401k-contribution-limit-increases-to-19500-for-2020-catch-up-limit-rises-to-6500
  3. forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2019/11/06/irs-announces-higher-2020-retirement-plan-contribution-limits-for-401ks-and-more/
  4. cnbc.com/2019/06/03/these-are-the-new-hsa-limits-for-2020.html

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

5 Popular Options for Charitable Giving: The Gifts That Keep on Giving

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According to Giving USA 2018, Americans gave an estimated $410.02 billion to charity in 2017. That’s the first time that the amount has totaled more that $400 billion in the history of the report. (1) Americans give to charity for two main reasons: to support a cause or organization they care about or to leave a legacy through their support.

When giving to charitable organizations, some people elect to support through cash donations. Others, however, understand that supporting an organization may generate tax benefits. They may opt to follow techniques that can maximize both the gift and the potential tax benefit. Here’s a quick review of a few charitable choices:

Remember, the information in this article is not a replacement for real-life advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Make sure to consult your tax, legal, or accounting professional before modifying your charitable giving strategy.

Direct Gifts

Direct gifts are just that: contributions made directly to charitable organizations. Direct gifts may be deductible from income taxes depending on your individual situation.

Charitable Gift Annuities

Charitable gift annuities are not related to annuities offered by insurance companies. Under this arrangement, the donor gives money, securities, or real estate, and in return, the charitable organization agrees to pay the donor a fixed income. Upon the death of the donor, the assets pass to the charitable organization. Charitable gift annuities enable donors to receive consistent income and potentially manage taxes.

Pooled-Income Funds

Pooled-income funds pool contributions from various donors into a fund, which is invested by the charitable organization. Income from the fund is distributed to the donors according to their share of the fund. Pooled-income funds enable donors to receive income, potentially manage taxes, and make a future gift to charity.

Gifts in Trust

Gifts in trust enable donors to contribute to a charity and leave assets to beneficiaries. Generally, these irrevocable trusts take one of two forms. With a charitable remainder trust, the donor can receive lifetime income from the assets in the trust, which then pass to the charity when the donor dies; in the case of a charitable lead trust, the charity receives the income from the assets in the trust, which then pass to the donor’s beneficiaries when the donor dies.

Using a trust involves a complex set of tax rules and regulations. Before moving forward with a trust, consider working with a professional who is familiar with the rules and regulations.

Donor-Advised Funds

Donor-advised funds are funds administered by a charity to which a donor can make irrevocable contributions. This gift may have tax considerations, which is another benefit. The donor also can recommend that the fund make distributions to qualified charitable organizations.

Some people are comfortable with their current gifting strategies. Others, however, may want a more advanced strategy that can maximize their gift and generate potential tax benefits. A financial professional can help you assess which approach may work best for you.

Sources

  1. givingusa.org/giving-usa-2018-americans-gave-410-02-billion-to-charity-in-2017-crossing-the-400-billion-mark-for-the-first-time/

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

End-of-Year Money Moves for 2019

dollar-currency-money-us-dollar-47344.jpeg

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Here are some things you might consider before saying goodbye to 2019.

What has changed for you in 2019?

Did you start a new job or leave a job behind? Did you retire? Did you start a family? If notable changes occurred in your personal or professional life, then you will want to review your finances before this year ends and 2020 begins.

Even if your 2019 has been relatively uneventful, the end of the year is still a good time to get cracking and see where you can manage your take bill and/or build a little more wealth.

Keep in mind this article is for informational purposes only and is not a replacement for real-life advice. Please consult your tax, legal, and accounting professionals before modifying your tax strategy.

Do you practice tax-loss harvesting?

That is the art of taking capital losses (selling securities worth less than what you first paid for them) to offset your short-term capital gains. You might want to consider this move, which may lower your taxable income. It should be made with the guidance of a financial professional you trust. (1)

In fact, you could even take it a step further. Consider that up to $3,000 of capital losses in excess of capital gains can be deducted from ordinary income, and any remaining capital losses above that can be carried forward to offset capital gains in upcoming years. When you live in a high-tax state, this is one way to defer tax. (1)

Do you want to itemize deductions?

You may just want to take the standard deduction for 2019, which has ballooned to $12,000 for single filers and $24,000 for joint filers because of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act. If you do think it might be better for you to itemize, now would be a good time to get receipts and assorted paperwork together. While many miscellaneous deductions have disappeared, some key deductions are still around: the state and local tax (SALT) deduction, now capped at $10,000; the mortgage interest deduction; the deduction for charitable contributions, which now has a higher limit of 60% of adjusted gross income; and the medical expense deduction. (2,3)

Could you ramp up 401(k) or 403(b) contributions?

Contribution to these retirement plans may lower your yearly gross income. If you lower your gross income enough, you might be able to qualify for other tax credits or breaks available to those under certain income limits. Note that contributions to Roth 401(k)s and Roth 403(b)s are made with after-tax rather than pretax dollars, so contributions to those accounts are not deductible and will not lower your taxable income for the year. (4,5)

Are you thinking of gifting?

How about donating to a qualified charity or nonprofit organization before 2019 ends? Your gift may qualify as a tax deduction. You must itemize deductions using Schedule A to claim a deduction for a charitable gift. (4,5)

While we’re on the topic of estate strategy, why not take a moment to review your beneficiary designations? If you haven’t reviewed them for a decade or more (which is all too common), double-check to see that these assets will go where you want them to go, should you pass away. Lastly, look at your will to see that it remains valid and up to date.

Can you take advantage of the American Opportunity Tax Credit?

The AOTC allows individuals whose modified adjusted gross income is $80,000 or less (and joint filers with MAGI of $160,000 or less) a chance to claim a credit of up to $2,500 for qualified college expenses. Phaseouts kick in above those MAGI levels. (6)

See that you have withheld the right amount.

If you discover that you have withheld too little on your W-4 form so far, you may need to adjust your withholding before the year ends.

What can you do before ringing in the New Year?

Talk with a financial or tax professional now rather than in February or March. Little year-end moves might help you improve your short-term and long-term financial situation.

FINAL-2019-GTR-2_22_HIGH-RES-47

▲ A closer look at tax rates – 2019

At-a-glance individual federal income tax guide for 2019. (7)

Sources

  1. investopedia.com/articles/taxes/08/tax-loss-harvesting.asp
  2. nerdwallet.com/blog/taxes/itemize-take-standard-deduction/
  3. investopedia.com/articles/retirement/06/addroths.asp
  4. investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/041315/tips-charitable-contributions-limits-and-taxes.asp
  5. marketwatch.com/story/how-the-new-tax-law-creates-a-perfect-storm-for-roth-ira-conversions-2018-03-26
  6. irs.gov/newsroom/american-opportunity-tax-credit-questions-and-answers
  7. https://am.jpmorgan.com/us/en/asset-management/gim/protected/adv/insights/guide-to-retirement

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

New Rules Allow for Longer 401(k) Loan Repayment After Leaving Your Job

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Photo by Alexander Mils on Pexels.com

The conventional wisdom about taking a loan from your 401(k) plan is often boiled down to: not unless absolutely necessary. That said, it isn’t always avoidable for everyone or in every situation. In a true emergency, if you had no alternative, the rules do allow for a loan, but they also require a fast repayment if your employment were to end. Recent changes have changed that deadline, offering some flexibility to those taking the loan. (Distributions from 401(k) plans and most other employer-sponsored retirement plans are taxed as ordinary income, and if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions.)

The new rules.

Time was, the requirement for repaying a loan taken from your 401(k)-retirement account after leaving a job was 60 days or else pay the piper when you file your income taxes. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changed that rule – now, the penalty only applies when you file taxes in the year that you leave your job. This also factors in extensions.

So, as an example: if you were to end your employment today, the due date to repay the loan would be the tax filing deadline, which is April 15 most years or October 15 if you file an extension. (1)

What hasn’t changed?

Most of what transpires after a 401(k) loan still applies. Your repayment plan involves a deduction from your paycheck over a period of five years. The exception would be if you are using the loan to make a down payment on your primary residence, in which case you may have much longer to repay, provided that you are still with the same employer. (1)

You aren’t just repaying the amount you borrow, but also the interest on the loan. Depending on the plan, you’re likely to see a prime interest rate, plus 1%. (1)

If you do take the loan, a good practice may be to continue making contributions to your 401(k) account, even as you repay the loan. Why? First, to continue building your savings. Second, to continue to take advantage of any employer matching that your workplace might offer. While taking the loan may hamper your ability to build potential gains toward your retirement, you can still take advantage of the account, and that employee match is a great opportunity.

Source

  1. kiplinger.com/article/taxes/T001-C001-S003-ex-workers-get-more-time-to-repay-401-k-loans.html 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

The Power of Consistent Saving and Compound Interest

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Everyone is told to save for retirement early. Everyone is told to save consistently. You may wonder: just what kind of difference might an early start and ongoing account contributions make?

Let’s take a look some eye-opening numbers

(You can verify these numbers simply by using the compound interest calculator at investor.gov, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s website).

Scenario #1

If you are 30 years old and contribute $200 a month to a tax-deferred retirement account (initial investment of $200, then $200 per month thereafter), you will have $333,903.82 by age 65, if that account consistently returns 7% a year. (This is with annual compounding.)

Scenario #2

If you change one variable in the above scenario – you start saving and investing at 25 years old instead of 30 – you will have $482,119.16 by age 65.

Scenario #3

Start at 20 years old and you will have $689,998.84 by age 65.

An early start really matters.

It gives you a few more years of compounding – and the larger the account balance, the greater difference compounding makes.

These are simple scenarios, but the impact of consistent saving and investing is undeniable. Over time, it may help you build a retirement account that could become a significant part of your retirement savings.

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▲Benefit of saving and investing early

Investors should make saving for retirement a priority by investing early and often. This graph illustrates the savings and investing behavior of four people who start saving the same annual amount at different times in their lives, for different durations and with different investment choices. Consistent Chloe saves and invests consistently over time and reaches 65 with more than double the amount of the other investors. Quitter Quincy starts early but stops after 10 years, just as Late Lyla starts saving. Despite saving one-third as much as Lyla, the power of long-term compounding on money invested early helps Quincy end up with almost the same wealth at retirement. Nervous Noah saves as much and as often as Chloe, but chooses not to invest his money so he accumulates less than half of Chloe’s final amount.

Are you saving enough?

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▲ Annual savings needed if starting today

What is the rule of thumb for the percentage of your income you need to save for retirement? Some say 10%, some say higher or lower. The real answer is that it depends—on what you earn, the “lifestyle you become accustomed to” and when you start saving. This chart shows the percentage of gross income someone would need to start saving at the ages in the left column to be able to afford the typical lifestyle associated with the household income amounts in the top row. Starting at age 25, the annual savings required ranges from 7% to 10%: achievable, but well above what most Americans save. By contrast, someone thinking about waiting until age 50 to focus on retirement should see how unrealistic that may be, with required savings of between 31% and 47% of their gross income. The sooner investors start, the better chance they may have of steadily winning the retirement savings race.

Sources

  1. https://www.investor.gov/additional-resources/free-financial-planning-tools/compound-interest-calculator
  2. https://am.jpmorgan.com/us/en/asset-management/gim/protected/adv/insights/guide-to-retirement

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

6 Tips for Getting Your Personal Finances in Shape for 2019

person writing on white book

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Fall is a good time to assess where you stand and where you could be.

You need not wait for 2019 to plan improvements to your finances.

You can begin now. The last few months of 2018 give you a prime time to examine critical areas of your budget, your credit, and your investments.

You could work on your emergency fund (or your rainy day fund).

To clarify, an emergency fund is the money you store in reserve for unforeseen financial disruptions; a rainy day fund is money saved for costs you anticipate will occur. A strong emergency fund contains the equivalent of a few months of salary, maybe even more; a rainy day fund could contain as little as a few hundred dollars.

Optionally, you could hold this money in a high-yield savings account. A little searching may lead to a variety of choices; here in September, it is not hard to find accounts offering 1.5% or more annual interest, as opposed to the common 0.1% or less. Remember that a high-yield savings account is intended as a place to park money; if you make regular deposits and withdrawals to and from it and treat it like a checking account, you may incur fees that diminish the savings progress you make. (1)

Review your credit score.

Federal law entitles you to a free copy of your credit report at each of the three nationwide credit reporting firms (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) every 12 months. Now is as good a time as any to request these reports; visit annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228 to order them. At the very least, you will learn your credit score. You may also detect errors and mistakes that might be harming your credit rating. (2)

Think about the way you are saving for major financial goals.

Has your financial situation improved in 2018, to the extent that you could contribute a little more money to an IRA or a workplace retirement plan now or next year? If you are not contributing enough at work to receive a matching contribution from your employer, maybe now you can.

Also, consider the way your invested assets are held.

What are your current and future allocations? Some people have heavy concentrations of equities in their workplace retirement plan, IRA, or brokerage account due to Wall Street’s long bull market. If this is true for you, there may be some pain when the next bear market begins. Check in on your portfolio while things are still bullish.

Can you spend less in 2019?

That might be a key to saving more and putting more money into your rainy day or emergency funds. If your pay has increased, your discretionary spending does not necessarily have to increase with it. See if you can find room in your budget to possibly cut an expense and redirect the money into savings or investments.

You may also want to set some near-term financial goals for yourself.

Whether you want to accomplish in 2019 what you did not quite do in 2018, or further the positive financial trends underway in your life, now is the time to look forward and plan.

The Financial Planning Pyramid (3)

PlanningPyramid

Sources

  1. thesimpledollar.com/best-high-interest-savings-accounts/
  2. ftc.gov/faq/consumer-protection/get-my-free-credit-report
  3. The American College of Financial Services

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.