taxes http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/24/all en-US 15 Retirement Terms Every New Investor Needs to Know http://www.wisebread.com/15-retirement-terms-every-new-investor-needs-to-know <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-retirement-terms-every-new-investor-needs-to-know" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/retirement_blocks_73115095.jpg" alt="New investor learning retirement terms" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Congratulations! By starting your retirement fund, you've taken one of the most important steps toward a comfortable retirement. But as a novice investor, you may feel a bit overwhelmed with all the available information, including contribution limits, early penalty fees, and Roth 401Ks. To help you make sense of it all, let's review 15 key terms you should know:</p> <h2>1. 401K</h2> <p>The 401K is the most popular qualified employer-sponsored retirement plan in the U.S. The two most common types of 401K plans are the traditional 401K, to which you contribute with pretax dollars, and the Roth 401K, which accepts contributions with after-tax dollars. Earnings in a traditional 401K grow on a tax-deferred basis (you'll pay taxes on the funds when you withdraw them during retirement) and those in a Roth 401K grow tax-free forever, since you've paid taxes upfront.</p> <h2>2. After-Tax Contributions</h2> <p>Only certain types of retirement accounts, such as Roth 401Ks and Roth IRAs, accept contributions with after-tax dollars. When you contribute to a retirement account with after-tax dollars, your retirement funds grow tax-free forever, since you've already paid Uncle Sam.</p> <h2>3. Catch-Up Contribution</h2> <p>Retirement investors who are 50 and older at the end of the calendar year can make extra annual &quot;catch-up&quot; contributions to qualifying retirement accounts. Catch-up contributions allow older savers to make up for lower contributions to their retirement accounts in earlier years. In 2016 and 2017, catch-up contributions of <a href="https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/retirement-topics-catch-up-contributions">up to $6,000</a> (on top of traditional annual contribution limits) are allowed for 401Ks and up to $1,000 for IRAs.</p> <h2>4. Contribution Limits</h2> <p>Every year, the IRS sets a limit as to how much you can contribute to your retirement accounts. In 2016, you can <a href="https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/retirement-topics-ira-contribution-limits">contribute up to $5,500</a> ($6,500 if age 50 or over) to traditional and Roth IRAs and <a href="https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/retirement-topics-contributions">up to $18,000</a> ($24,000 if age 50 or over) to a traditional or Roth 401K. These annual contribution limits to retirement accounts remain unchanged for 2017. If you exceed your contribution limit, you'll receive a penalty fee from the IRS, unless you take out excess moneys by a certain date.</p> <h2>5. Early Distribution Penalty</h2> <p>To discourage retirement savers from withdrawing funds before retirement age, the IRS imposes an additional 10% penalty on distributions before age 59 &frac12; on certain retirement plans. Keep in mind that you're always liable for applicable income taxes whether you take a distribution from your retirement plan before or after age 59 &frac12;. Under certain circumstances, you're allowed to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-penalty-free-ways-to-withdraw-money-from-your-retirement-account">withdraw money early</a> from a retirement account without the penalty.</p> <h2>6. Fee</h2> <p>You've heard that there is no such thing as a free lunch and no retirement plan is exempt from this rule. There's always a cost for the employer or employee, or both. Always check the prospectus from any fund for its annual expense ratio and any other applicable fee. An annual expense ratio of 0.75% means that for every $1,000 in your retirement account, you're charged $7.50 in fees. And that's assuming that you don't trigger any other fees! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-these-5-sneaky-401k-fees?ref=seealso">Watch Out for These 5 Sneaky 401K Fees</a>)</p> <h2>7. Index Fund</h2> <p>An index fund is a type of mutual fund that tracks of a basket of securities (generally a market index, such as the Standard &amp; Poor's 500 or the Russell 2000). An index fund is a passively managed mutual fund that provides broad market exposure, low investment cost, and low portfolio turnover. Due to its low annual expense ratios, such as 0.16% for the Vanguard 500 Index Investor Shares [Nasdaq: <a href="https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/vfinx">VFINX</a>], index funds have become a popular way to save for retirement. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-steps-to-getting-started-in-the-stock-market-with-index-funds?Ref=seealso">3 Steps to Getting Started in the Stock Market With Index Funds</a>)</p> <h2>8. IRA</h2> <p>Unlike a 401K, an individual retirement account (IRA) is held by custodians, including commercial banks and retail brokers. The financial institutions place the IRA funds in a variety of investments following the instructions of the plan holders. A traditional IRA accepts contributions with pretax dollars, and a Roth IRA accepts contributions with after-tax dollars. An advantage of using a Roth IRA is that it provides several exemptions to the early distribution penalty.</p> <h2>9. 401K Loan</h2> <p>Some retirement plans allow you to take a loan on a portion of your available balance &mdash; generally, 50% of your vested account balance, or <a href="https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/retirement-plans-faqs-regarding-loans">up to $50,000</a>, whichever is less. While the loan balance is generally due within five years, it becomes fully due within 60 days from separating from your employer. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-questions-to-ask-before-you-borrow-from-your-retirement-account?ref=seealso">5 Questions to Ask Before You Borrow From Your Retirement Account</a>)</p> <h2>10. Mutual Fund</h2> <p>By pooling funds from several investors, money managers are able to invest in a wide variety of securities, ranging from money market instruments to equities. Investing in a mutual fund enables an individual retirement investor to gain access to a wide variety of investments that she wouldn't necessarily have access to on her own. Depending on its investment strategy, mutual funds can have a wide variety of fees. So, make sure to read the fine print. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-sneaky-investment-fees-to-watch-for?ref=seealso">4 Sneaky Investment Fees to Watch For</a>)</p> <h2>11. Pretax Contribution</h2> <p>When you contribute to your employer-sponsored retirement account with pretax dollars, you're allowed to reduce your taxable income. For example, if you were to make $50,000 per year and contribute $5,000 to your 401K with pretax dollars, then you would only have to pay applicable income taxes on $45,000! You delay taxation until retirement age when you're more likely to be in a lower tax bracket.</p> <h2>12. Required Minimum Distribution (RMD)</h2> <p>You can't keep moneys in your retirement account forever. At age 70 &frac12;, you generally have to start taking withdrawals from an IRA, SIMPLE IRA, SEP IRA, or 401K. An RMD is the minimum amount required by law that you have take out from your retirement account each year to avoid a penalty from the IRS. You can use of one of these <a href="https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/required-minimum-distribution-worksheets">requirement minimum distribution work sheets</a> to calculate your RMD.</p> <h2>13. Rollover</h2> <p>When you separate from your employer, you generally have up to 60 days to transfer moneys in your previous retirement account to a new retirement account accepting those moneys. This process is known as a rollover. In a direct rollover, the process is automatic; in an indirect rollover, you receive a cash-out check from your previous employer to rollover the moneys to a new qualifying retirement account. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-simple-guide-to-rolling-over-all-of-your-401ks-and-iras?ref=seealso">A Simple Guide to Rolling Over All of Your 401Ks and IRAs</a>)</p> <h2>14. Target-Date Fund</h2> <p>A target-date fund is a retirement investment fund that seeks to provide higher returns to young investors and gradually reduce risk exposure as they get closer to retirement age. Since the Pension Protection Act granted target-date funds the status of qualified default investment alternative in 2006, these type of funds have gained popularity. About half of 401K participants <a href="https://www.ebri.org/publications/ib/index.cfm?fa=ibDisp&amp;content_id=3347">hold a target-date fund</a>.</p> <h2>15. Vesting</h2> <p>In any retirement account, only money that is fully vested truly belongs to you. While all of your contributions and the matching contributions from your employer to your retirement account are always fully vested, some employer contributions, such as company stock, may follow a vesting schedule. In <em>cliff vesting</em>, you only become fully vested after a certain period of time. In <em>graded vesting</em>, you gradually gain ownership of those employer contributions.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-retirement-terms-every-new-investor-needs-to-know">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-important-things-to-know-about-your-401k-and-ira-in-2016">5 Important Things to Know About Your 401K and IRA in 2016</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/optimize-your-ira-and-401k">Optimize Your IRA and 401(k)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/401k-or-ira-you-need-both">401K or IRA? You Need Both</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stop-making-these-10-bogus-retirement-savings-excuses">Stop Making These 10 Bogus Retirement Savings Excuses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-strengthen-your-finances-before-retirement">5 Ways to Strengthen Your Finances Before Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement 401k contributions employer-sponsored retirement index funds IRA new investors Roth savings target date funds taxes terms Thu, 17 Nov 2016 11:00:14 +0000 Damian Davila 1834559 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Money Moves You Will Always Be Thankful For http://www.wisebread.com/7-money-moves-you-will-always-be-thankful-for <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-money-moves-you-will-always-be-thankful-for" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/family_piggy_bank_72948583.jpg" alt="Family making money moves they&#039;ll always be thankful for" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The air is crisp and the time for family, friends, and fun is upon us! But are you ready for the tons of holiday spending and planning ahead for 2017? Read up on these seven money moves you will always be thankful for/</p> <h2>1. Monitoring Your Credit</h2> <p>Whether you've already got a mortgage, cars, and all the trimmings, or you're a young adult with the hopes of buying an asset like a house someday, you'll need to maintain good credit. Everyone gets one <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-a-truly-free-credit-report">free credit report</a> each year, and some credit card companies even give you regular updates on your credit score. I know, we love to remind you of this! But when you're meeting with the realtor and they don't laugh at your borrowing limit, you'll be saying thanks.</p> <h2>2. Negotiating Your Insurance</h2> <p>When shopping around for insurance, it's easy to settle for the first average quote you receive and end it. It's boring! But it really is best to gather several quotes to gain some leverage. If there's a company you prefer, show them the cheaper quote and get them to lower theirs. Also, try to ask yourself which types of insurance you actually need. When you've saved hundreds of dollars per year in insurance costs, it'll be easier to agree to host Thanksgiving at your place next time.</p> <h2>3. Stowing Cash Into a Mutual Fund or ETF</h2> <p>How many ways should you save money? Even if you already have some mutual funds in your 401K, even if you have a vacation savings jar in the kitchen &mdash; you might want to consider stowing some cash from your savings account separately in a mutual fund or ETF. They're steady, the rate is far superior to a savings account, and it keeps you from feeling like your savings can be tapped at any time. It takes some thought and some calculus of weighing the fees and taxes to decide whether to take the funds out. Sometimes we need that bit of a barrier so that we can benefit in the long run. Check out <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-top-mutual-funds-for-low-risk-investors">these tips for investors</a>. Your future self will be thanking you down the line.</p> <h2>4. Paying Off High-Interest Debt</h2> <p>Carrying balances on one (or a few) high-interest cards? If you have debt at anything above 10% interest, paying those off should be your priority. The longer you carry those balances, the more precarious the situation gets. And of course, if you were to follow the first point in this list, it would be pretty hard without paying off that <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt?ref=internal">high-interest debt</a>. Once that's done, you can pass the savings around the table.</p> <h2>5. Building an Emergency Fund</h2> <p>Why wouldn't you want to be covered if a small emergency happened? Consider the emergency fund as your war chest, defending you from calamities such as car accidents, sudden house repairs, a child getting sick, or getting stuck with unpaid jury duty. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/change-jars-and-8-other-clever-ways-to-build-an-emergency-fund">Even broke folks</a> can start one. Keep it somewhere easy to access, and by all means, never pilfer it for Black Friday. That's what #7 is for!</p> <h2>6. Getting Your Taxes Done Early</h2> <p>Who doesn't want to get their money early? Or get tax stress off their chests? Starting around November, you really should be gathering your receipts and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-the-tax-season-rush-with-these-early-prep-steps">setting a tax plan</a> &mdash; whether you need to book an appointment with your accountant, or book some personal time in front of QuickBooks. What easier way to be thankful all the way into the dark of January than knowing a refund check is on its way?</p> <h2>7. Setting a Christmas Budget</h2> <p>Going into Thanksgiving with a shopping list and wondering, &quot;How am I gonna do this <em>and </em>Christmas?&quot; Fix that in the future with a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-these-5-common-holiday-budget-pitfalls">Christmas budget set in advance</a>. Even if you're a family who slowly buys gifts for each other year-round, that can creep up. By having a set budget every year, you can check against immediately clicking &quot;add to cart.&quot; Imagine how nice it would be to not feel completely tapped out after the holidays. Just get through Thanksgiving and everything else is gravy.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amanda-meadows">Amanda Meadows</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-money-moves-you-will-always-be-thankful-for">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-moves-to-make-before-the-leaves-change">10 Money Moves to Make Before the Leaves Change</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/where-to-turn-for-help-when-you-dont-have-an-emergency-fund">Where to Turn for Help When You Don&#039;t Have an Emergency Fund</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-graduate">5 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Graduate</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-golden-rules-of-personal-finance-everyone-should-know">10 Golden Rules of Personal Finance Everyone Should Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-personal-finance-resolutions-anyone-can-master">8 Personal Finance Resolutions Anyone Can Master</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance being thankful credit report debt emergency funds money moves savings taxes Thanksgiving Mon, 14 Nov 2016 09:00:06 +0000 Amanda Meadows 1830894 at http://www.wisebread.com New Job? Don't Make These 7 Mistakes With Your Benefits http://www.wisebread.com/new-job-dont-make-these-7-mistakes-with-your-benefits <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/new-job-dont-make-these-7-mistakes-with-your-benefits" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_shaking_hands_77096849.jpg" alt="Woman making mistakes with new job benefits" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In September 2016, total nonfarm payroll employment in the U.S. <a href="http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm">rose by 156,000</a>. If you were among those Americans who recently landed a new gig &mdash; or plan on landing one within the near future &mdash; congratulations! But as you get your benefits and retirement planning set up at your new workplace, don't make these seven mistakes.</p> <h2>1. Not Setting Up Your New Retirement Account Before December 31st</h2> <p>Make to sure to set up your new employer-sponsored retirement account before December 31st. Otherwise, you won't be able to reduce your 2016 taxable income by making contributions before Tax Day (April 17th, 2017) or the day you file your federal tax return, whichever is earlier. If you wait until the new year to set up your retirement account, any contributions made before Tax Day will reduce your 2017 taxable income &mdash; and you'll lose the opportunity to reduce your 2016 AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) by any contributed amount.</p> <h2>2. Not Completing a 401K or IRA Indirect Rollover</h2> <p>If you had a balance of less than $5,000 in your previous job's 401K or IRA plan, there is a good chance that you received an automatic cashout with a 20% withholding from your employer for applicable taxes. From the last day of your employment, you have 60 days to put the entire balance of the previous retirement account (including the mentioned 20% withholding!) into a new employer-sponsored retirement account that accepts rollovers. This process is known as an indirect rollover.</p> <p>You'll get that 20% withholding money back from the IRS in next year's tax return. In the event that your new employer's retirement account doesn't accept a rollover from your previous account, consider opening an IRA with a local financial institution before the 60-day deadline. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-simple-guide-to-rolling-over-all-of-your-401ks-and-iras?ref=seealso">A Simple Guide to Rolling Over All of Your 401Ks and IRAs</a>)</p> <h2>3. Leaving W-4 Forms Alone</h2> <p>Depending on a variety of factors, your old W-4 tax withholdings may not cut it at your new gig. To figure out whether you're withholding too much (or too little), grab all of your latest pay stubs, find a copy of last year's tax return, and visit the online <a href="https://www.irs.gov/individuals/irs-withholding-calculator">IRS Withholding Calculator</a>.</p> <p>After punching in your data, this tool will provide recommendations on how to adjust your W-4 with your new employer to make sure that you meet your tax liability and minimize your refund. There's no sense in over-withholding and expecting a large refund, since the IRS doesn't pay interest while it sits on excess withholdings. That's money better kept in a savings or retirement account, where it can gain interest and compound over time.</p> <h2>4. Missing the Deadline to Make an Additional Estimated Tax Payment</h2> <p>If the IRS Withholding Calculator were to tell you that you're seriously behind your tax liability, you'll probably need to make amends <em>pronto, </em>lest you end up owing Uncle Sam at tax time. It's to your benefit to make an additional estimated tax payment to reduce or eliminate such a liability. For example, in the event that you know that there is an end-of-year bonus or commission check arriving before January 17, 2017, you have the option to use part of that check to make an estimated tax payment with <a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040es.pdf">Form 1040-ES</a>.</p> <p>Make sure to use the IRS Withholding Calculator to estimate the right amount to mail to the IRS with Form 1040-ES and keep a photocopy of both the form and check for your own records.</p> <h2>5. Not Enrolling in a New FSA Plan Within 30 Days</h2> <p>You have up to 30 days from your hire date to enroll in an employer's flexible spending account (FSA). If you miss that deadline, you'll have to wait until your company renews its FSA plan, your plan administrator announces an open enrollment period, or you have a qualifying life event, such as changing marital status or having a baby.</p> <h2>6. Forgetting About Balances in Previous FSA Accounts</h2> <p>You may be so busy training at your new job and completing paperwork that you forget about remaining benefits at your previous employer. Check the rules from your previous FSA account regarding the expiration date of available money once you separate from your old employer. Most FSA plans provide a grace period to use the money, but some of those deadlines may be as early as the end of the month in which you separate from your employer. Unless you use your FSA funds in full by the applicable deadline, you'll lose them all.</p> <h2>7. Going More Than Two Months Without Health Coverage</h2> <p>As you're transitioning from one job to the other, keep an eye on the start and end dates of previous and current health plans. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, you owe a fee for any period greater than two months in which you, your spouse, or your tax dependents don't have qualifying health coverage. In most cases, the penalty fee is 1/12 per month of <a href="https://www.healthcare.gov/fees/fee-for-not-being-covered/">2.5% of your household income</a> or $695 per adult, whichever is higher.</p> <p>Being uncovered for only one to two months, qualifies you for a <a href="https://www.healthcare.gov/exemptions-tool/#/results/2015/details/short-gap">short gap exemption</a> and you're not liable for the fee. Find out whether or not you're able to claim a health coverage exemption with <a href="https://www.healthcare.gov/exemptions-tool/#/">HealthCare.gov's Exemption Screener</a>.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/new-job-dont-make-these-7-mistakes-with-your-benefits">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-health-insurance-benefits-youre-probably-not-using">6 Health Insurance Benefits You&#039;re Probably Not Using</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/still-without-health-insurance-here-s-how-much-the-penalties-will-cost-you">Still Without Health Insurance? Here’s How Much the Penalties Will Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/left-a-job-do-a-rollover">Left a job? Do a rollover.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-vital-things-to-remember-when-buying-health-insurance">5 Vital Things to Remember When Buying Health Insurance</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/going-without-health-insurance-in-2015-heres-what-itll-cost-you">Going Without Health Insurance in 2015? Here&#039;s What It&#039;ll Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career Building Insurance Retirement 401 k affordable care act benefits employers flexible spending health care IRA medical insurance new job obamacare rollovers taxes Mon, 31 Oct 2016 10:00:07 +0000 Damian Davila 1822947 at http://www.wisebread.com The Penalty-Free Way to Withdraw Retirement Money Early http://www.wisebread.com/the-penalty-free-way-to-withdraw-retirement-money-early <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-penalty-free-way-to-withdraw-retirement-money-early" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/saving_money_retirement_85578577.jpg" alt="Withdrawing retirement early without any penalties" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's widely know that for most retirement plans, including an IRA and 401K, there is a cost to withdrawing money before you reach 59-&frac12; years of age. Take money out of a traditional IRA or 401K early and you're stuck paying taxes plus a 10% early withdrawal fee. If you withdraw money from a Roth IRA early, you'll have to pay tax on any withdrawn gains.</p> <p>There are some ways to avoid this penalty, including one mechanism that may be unknown to many investors.</p> <p>It's called a SEPP (stands for Substantially Equal Periodic Payment), and it may help some investors access their money early without a cost. The basic idea behind a SEPP is that you can receive regular payments (usually annually) from your retirement account, as long as they are a consistent amount and you do so for a certain length of time.</p> <p>Here are some key things you need to know.</p> <h2>1. You Must Take Withdrawals for at Least Five Years</h2> <p>Once you begin a SEPP program, you are required to make regular withdrawals for five years or until you are 59-1/2, whichever comes last (with some exceptions for disability or market decline). So for example, a person who is 56 must make withdrawals until they are 61. A person who is 45 must continue to make withdrawals for the next 14-1/2 years. Thus, it's generally not a good idea to embark on a SEPP program if you are young. If you stop the program before the required time is up, you must pay the IRS all of the waived penalties, plus interest.</p> <h2>2. Calculating Your Payments Is, Well, Complicated</h2> <p>Okay, so you're required to make regular withdrawals of the same amount of money. But how much should you be withdrawing? There are three main methods of determining this.</p> <h3>The Required Minimum Distribution Method</h3> <p>In simple terms, divide your total account balance by your life expectancy. (The IRS has a table to help you determine this.) Under this method, the amount you withdraw must be recalculated each year and could change.</p> <h3>The Fixed Amortization Method</h3> <p>Under this system, payments are based on the life expectancy of the account holder and a chosen interest rate.</p> <h3>The Annuity Method</h3> <p>To determine payments under this system, divide your account balance by an annuity factor that is based on your age.</p> <p>Generally speaking, the Required Minimum Distribution method is the most straightforward and will result in the smallest payments. This makes it a better choice for investors who do not want to deplete their accounts as quickly. However, payments must be recalculated each year, whereas the other two options only require calculations to be made once.</p> <h2>3. It's Not a Good Idea for an Emergency</h2> <p>There may be times when you are tempted to withdraw from your retirement account to take care of a financial emergency. But a SEPP isn't designed to help you with that. The five-year requirement makes it impossible to make a single withdrawal or even a small series of withdrawals. If you have a one-time emergency, you're better off find other methods to get cash quickly.</p> <h2>4. It Won't Always Work for a 401K</h2> <p>If you're considering using a SEPP to withdraw money from a 401K plan, the IRS requires you to first separate from the employer that maintains the plan. So once again, this is not a decision to make lightly. That said, 401K plans from previous employers are acceptable, as are any rollover IRAs you created from past plans.</p> <h2>5. It Is Not Easily Adjustable</h2> <p>Once you sign up for a SEPP program, there's no way to cancel it before the required time. If you find that your payments are too much, you can change your calculation method to the Required Minimum Distribution method. But this change is only allowed once.</p> <h2>6. You Must Stop Contributing</h2> <p>Once you decide to use a SEPP program, you can't adjust the balance of the retirement account. That means no more adding money to the account and no separate withdrawals. Any change to the account balance could lead to the SEPP being disqualified, in which case you're on the hook for all of the penalties and taxes, plus interest.</p> <h2>7. Withdrawing Money Early Means You Will Have Less Later</h2> <p>It's important to remember that a retirement account is called a <em>retirement </em>account for a reason. Your goal should be to ensure that money in the account lasts for the entire time after you are done working. That could mean decades. So if you are withdrawing money early, understand that you are reducing the amount that will be available to you later in life.</p> <h2>8. You Probably Need Professional Help</h2> <p>A SEPP is not an easy thing to understand or set up yourself. A tax and investment adviser will help you understand if a program is right for your particular situation, and walk you through the steps to determine the proper payments.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-penalty-free-way-to-withdraw-retirement-money-early">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-penalty-free-ways-to-withdraw-money-from-your-retirement-account">7 Penalty-Free Ways to Withdraw Money From Your Retirement Account</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-important-things-to-know-about-your-401k-and-ira-in-2016">5 Important Things to Know About Your 401K and IRA in 2016</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-retirement-terms-every-new-investor-needs-to-know">15 Retirement Terms Every New Investor Needs to Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-choose-a-roth-401k-or-a-regular-401k">Should You Choose a Roth 401k or a Regular 401k?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-questions-to-ask-before-you-borrow-from-your-retirement-account">5 Questions to Ask Before You Borrow From Your Retirement Account</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement 401k annuity IRA penalties sepp substantially equal periodic payment taxes withdrawals Tue, 18 Oct 2016 10:30:09 +0000 Tim Lemke 1815050 at http://www.wisebread.com The Real Cost of Moving to Canada (If That's Your Post-Election Plan) http://www.wisebread.com/the-real-cost-of-moving-to-canada-if-thats-your-post-election-plan <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-real-cost-of-moving-to-canada-if-thats-your-post-election-plan" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_suitcase_bench_3139059.jpg" alt="Woman moving to Canada after 2016 election" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The odds are high that you don't like either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released in late August, 56% of U.S. adults viewed Hillary Clinton unfavorably. The same poll found that 63% said the same about Donald Trump.</p> <p>No matter who wins the presidential election this November, a lot of people are going to be upset. You might even have heard people claiming that they'd flee to Canada if Trump &mdash; or Clinton &mdash; wins. Maybe you've even made this boast yourself.</p> <p>But you might be surprised to learn that life can get costly over the border. Here is a quick look at what you'll pay when you flee to our neighbors to the north after Nov. 8.</p> <h2>Conversion Rate</h2> <p>First, a bit of good news. One U.S. dollar as of Oct. 6 was equal to $1.32 in Canada. So if you head north with $30,000, you'll have a bit more than $39,640 once you cross the U.S./Canadian border.</p> <h2>Taxes</h2> <p>Hate paying taxes in the United States? Well, you won't like it in Canada, either. The Fraser Institute think tank reported that the average Canadian family spent $34,154 in taxes in 2015. By comparison, NerdWallet in 2015 reported that the average American family paid about $14,000 in taxes. That figure, like the Canadian one, includes real estate, income, and sales taxes.</p> <p>That difference looks less imposing when you factor in the U.S.-Canada currency conversion rate. In Canadian dollars, the average U.S. family in 2015 paid nearly $26,000 in taxes. That is still quite a bit lower than in Canada.</p> <p>According to the Fraser Institute, the average Canadian bill for income taxes collected by governments in 2015 was $10,616, while payroll and health taxes came out to an average of $17,160.</p> <h2>Housing</h2> <p>Homes are expensive in Canada. The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver said that the average price of a single-family detached home in Vancouver rose to $1.58 million in September. That comes out to about $1.19 million in U.S. currency.</p> <p>And Vancouver isn't the only expensive place to buy a home in Canada. The Toronto Real Estate Board said that the average selling price for all home types in Toronto came out to $710,410 in August (about $537,000 in U.S. dollars).</p> <p>The average selling price for all Canadian homes sold in August of 2016 was $456,722, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. That comes out to about $345,000 in U.S. currency. In comparison, the National Association of Realtors said that the average sales price for all homes sold in the United States in August was $240,200.</p> <h2>Renting an Apartment</h2> <p>So maybe you'll rent an apartment instead. That's pretty costly, too.</p> <p>According to RentGorilla, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Vancouver in September of 2016 came in at $2,445 a month, equal to about $1,850 in the United States. In Toronto, the average two-bedroom rent was $1,502 the same month, equal to $1,136 in the United States.</p> <p>In Ottawa, the average two-bedroom rent was $1,235, while in Montreal it stood at $852. Those last two, by the way, are quite affordable, coming out to $934 and about $644 respectively in the United States.</p> <h2>Goods and Services</h2> <p>What about basic necessities, everything from a gallon of gas to a gallon of milk? You'll find that with the conversion factor, prices in Canada are similar to what you'd pay for the same items in the United States.</p> <p>Consider a gallon of gasoline. According to the Expatistan Cost of Living Index, a liter of gas &mdash; which is equal to one quarter of a gallon &mdash; came out to $1.20 in Vancouver. That means a gallon of gas would cost an average of $4.80 in the city. That comes out to $3.63 in U.S. currency, a bit higher than what you'd pay at the pump in most U.S. cities today.</p> <p>Two liters of Coca-Cola, though, come out to an average of $2.48 in Toronto, according to Expatistan. That comes out to $1.88 in U.S. money. A pair of jeans here costs an average of $68, or $51.46 in U.S. currency.</p> <p>In Montreal, a 40-inch flat screen TV costs an average of $509, according to Expatistan. That comes out to about $385 in U.S. money, while a pair of athletic shoes sell for an average of $110 in Montreal, equal to about $83 in the United States.</p> <h2>Cost-of-Living Comparisons</h2> <p>Expatistan compiled its own cost-of-living comparisons between Canadian cities and several in the United States. As you'll see, if you live in higher-priced areas of the United States, you might actually find it cheaper to live in Canada.</p> <p>For instance, the cost of living in Toronto is 9% cheaper than it is in Chicago, according to Expatistan. And it's 32% cheaper to live there than it is in New York City. On the other hand, Toronto's cost of living is 24% more expensive than it is in Omaha and 30% more than in Iowa City.</p> <p>Expatistan estimates that it is 35% cheaper to live in Vancouver than it is San Francisco and 15% cheaper than Seattle. However, it is 15% more expensive to live in Vancouver than it is Wichita and 7% more expensive than living in Columbus. So much like the election, it's really up to you.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-real-cost-of-moving-to-canada-if-thats-your-post-election-plan">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-14"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/rent-your-home-or-buy-heres-how-to-decide">Rent Your Home or Buy? Here&#039;s How to Decide</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-much-life-in-the-big-city-will-cost-you">Here&#039;s How Much Life in the Big City Will Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-saved-enough-for-a-down-payment-while-working-in-china">How I Saved Enough for a Down Payment While Working in China</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-3-best-cities-with-rent-control">The 3 Best Cities With Rent Control</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/more-tax-credits-coming-for-homebuyers">More Tax Credits Coming for Homebuyers?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Real Estate and Housing Canada Clinton conversion rates cost of living election 2016 expats politics renting running away taxes trump Fri, 14 Oct 2016 09:01:03 +0000 Dan Rafter 1812615 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Costly Mistakes DIY Investors Make http://www.wisebread.com/9-costly-mistakes-diy-investors-make <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-costly-mistakes-diy-investors-make" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_ripping_paper_69469761.jpg" alt="Man making costly mistakes DIY investors make" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>With the right approach and education, it's possible for people to handle their own investments. But it's also easy to make mistakes that could cost you large sums of money in the long run.</p> <p>If you're a do-it-yourselfer, ask yourself whether you're making any of these mistakes below. If so, it may be worth seeking professional advice from a certified financial planner.</p> <h2>1. Trading Without Considering Fees and Taxes</h2> <p>For many investors, it's fun to trade stocks. The actual buying and selling can be a bit of a rush, especially when things are going well. But all of that activity can come with a cost, in the form of transaction fees and capital gains taxes. If you are finding that the returns on your portfolio seem a bit lackluster, it may be because you're investing without taking these costs into account. More experienced investors and financial advisers understand how to avoid extra fees and maximize returns as a result.</p> <h2>2. Getting Emotional</h2> <p>Investing your own money can sometimes be hard on the psyche. You may go through stretches where you see your portfolio shrink. Stocks that you personally selected may not always perform the way you predicted. Markets can be volatile, and not everyone can stomach it. If you find yourself getting stressed out by the investing process or buying and selling based on emotion, you may want to consider having a financial adviser take over the reigns.</p> <h2>3. Not Investing Enough</h2> <p>When you invest on your own, you may only be guessing as to how much you need to save. And it's common for investors to feel a little skittish and invest too little if the market is down. A financial adviser may be more tuned into the appropriate level of risk an investor can take on, and will usually advise a more aggressive approach for someone far out from retirement.</p> <h2>4. Not Diversifying Enough</h2> <p>Most do-it-yourselfers understand the basics of diversification, and will invest in index funds that track the S&amp;P 500 or broader stock markets. And that's perfectly fine. But often, these funds are heavily weighted toward larger companies or certain industries. If you are investing only in basic index funds, you may not have good exposure to international markets or smaller companies, for example. There may be entire industries that will be underrepresented in your portfolio.</p> <p>To achieve true diversification, you can have an S&amp;P Index fund as a base, but should also look for funds and stocks that fill in the gaps.</p> <h2>5. Failing to Rebalance</h2> <p>You may think you're creating a diverse portfolio based on the investments you've selected. But have you checked the balances recently? Over time, portfolios can get out of whack if certain investments are performing better than others. For example, you may think you're investing in 50% large cap, 25% small cap, and 25% mid cap stocks. Until one day, you check your account and realize that small cap stocks make up 40% of the portfolio. Financial advisers will recommend when to rebalance, and offer advice on how to avoid taxes in the process.</p> <h2>6. Trying to Beat the Market</h2> <p>Some investors insist on doing things themselves, because they believe they are expert stock pickers and can beat the performance of the overall stock market. In most cases, they are wrong. Numerous studies have shown that even professional investment managers can't beat the market on a regular basis, and that most investors would be best off with a portfolio of index funds.</p> <h2>7. Falling in Love With Shiny New Things</h2> <p>Do-it-yourselfers can become enamored with whatever the hot stock is at the moment. They go for name brands and flash rather than looking closely at a balance sheet. They also tend to go with what's familiar, rather than doing some research and finding investments that are less well known but of sound quality.</p> <h2>8. Having No Backup Plan</h2> <p>If you are an older DIY investor, do you have a plan for what happens to your investments if you are incapacitated? Are you sharing your investment accounts with your spouse or other loved ones? Many DIY investors are too stubborn to seek help from anyone, and thus run into problems when they are no longer in a position to manage things themselves. It's fine to handle your own investments if you're confident enough to do so, but it's wise to have a plan for how things will be dealt with if you're no longer in charge.</p> <h2>9. Becoming Too Consumed</h2> <p>Realistically, the average person can handle their own investments while checking in only periodically each week. A properly balanced portfolio does not need a lot of maintenance. But investing can be like an addiction to some people, and it's possible to spend hours a day buying and selling and becoming obsessed with the movement of the markets. If you're finding that your investing is having a negative impact on your relationships and other aspects of your life, it may be best to back off and let someone else handle things.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-costly-mistakes-diy-investors-make">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-too-much-investment-diversity-can-cost-you">How Too Much Investment Diversity Can Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-essentials-for-building-a-profitable-portfolio">5 Essentials for Building a Profitable Portfolio</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-easiest-way-to-invest-in-the-worlds-biggest-companies">The Easiest Way to Invest in the World&#039;s Biggest Companies</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-are-income-stocks">What Are Income Stocks?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-money-moves-to-make-before-you-start-investing">8 Money Moves to Make Before You Start Investing</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment beat the market diversification DIY emotional investing fees financial advisers financial planning portfolio rebalancing stock market taxes Wed, 05 Oct 2016 10:30:08 +0000 Tim Lemke 1805247 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Smart Money Moves to Make Before the Holiday Season Begins http://www.wisebread.com/9-smart-money-moves-to-make-before-the-holiday-season-begins <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-smart-money-moves-to-make-before-the-holiday-season-begins" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_christmas_shopping_51383450.jpg" alt="Couple making money moves before the holiday season" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Fall is in full swing, and before you know it you'll be battling the throngs during holiday shopping season.</p> <p>It may be make or break for many retailers, but it can also be challenging for consumers if they don't do a little bit of planning. Making just a handful of minor financial and lifestyle moves before Christmas and other winter holidays hit can save you money and aggravation later.</p> <p>Here are nine tips for getting yourself straightened out before the holiday rush.</p> <h2>1. Push Money Into a Savings Account</h2> <p>If you want to avoid racking up more credit card debt, it will help to have some cash set aside to pay for holiday gifts. Consider using an online savings account and making an automatic transfer from your usual checking account each month until the end of November. Even $100 a month saved between now and Thanksgiving will give you $200 (plus a little bit of interest) to spend.</p> <h2>2. Check the Sales Now</h2> <p>We all know about Black Friday sales, but the reality is that stores place deep discounts on items throughout the year. There's no guarantee that a particular product will be at its cheapest on the day after Thanksgiving or any other day leading up to Christmas. Remember that many stores will roll out Veterans Day and Columbus Day sales, and you may find great deals on clothing at the end of summer when stores are looking to unload inventory and bring in fall and winter items.</p> <h2>3. Pay Off Your Credit Cards</h2> <p>Holiday shopping can be a debt creator. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling reported last year that there is a 25% spike in the number of people seeking help with credit card bills in January and February. If you are already paying the minimums on cards or have high debt, the addition of holiday shopping bills can be crippling.</p> <p>High debt can leave you at risk of maxing out credit limits. At the very least, your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score?ref=internal">ratio of debt to available credit</a> could rise, thus hurting your credit score. Pay down your current debts now, so that any new debt won't be adding to an existing problem.</p> <h2>4. Find Stores With Layaway</h2> <p>For people who want to avoid credit card debt, layaway can be a great option for holiday shopping. With layaway, you can put an item aside at the store and receive it only when it is totally paid for. Many stores offer layaway months before the holidays, so you can select items now and have them paid off in time. Walmart this year began offering layaway on September 2. Kmart has eight-week and 12-week layaway plans now, and Toys R Us has 90-day layaway contracts. One caveat: Some stores do charge fees for layaway services, so be sure to read the fine print before signing up.</p> <h2>5. Track Down Any Money Owed to You</h2> <p>Have you been diligent about seeking reimbursement for work-related expenses? Have you received all money you've earned from freelance work? Now is the time to assess what outstanding cash is due to you. If money is tight, this could help you afford the gifts you want this holiday season.</p> <h2>6. Max Out Your Retirement Accounts</h2> <p>If you have access to retirement accounts, try to put as much money in them now as you can. You can contribute as much as $18,000 annually into a 401K plan and $5,500 into an IRA. The closer you get to these limits, the better off you'll be in retirement. You have until Tax Day next year to max out these accounts, but it may be best to contribute generously now before holiday expenses hit.</p> <h2>7. Make Sure Your W-4 Is Up to Date</h2> <p>If you work for a company, you probably filled out a W-4 form when you were hired. This form tells the IRS how much in taxes to withhold from your paycheck. But it often needs to be updated, particularly when you have gotten married, added a child to the family, or had a significant change in household income. Now is the time to check your W-4 to see that you aren't paying too much or too little in taxes.</p> <h2>8. Do Some Tax Loss Harvesting</h2> <p>If you sold shares of stock at any point during the year, you may be on the hook for capital gains taxes. But you may be able to avoid a tax bill by selling other shares of stock at a loss. In essence, the loss may outweigh the gains. There's nothing wrong with taking the proceeds from a sale and investing right back into the market, as long as you're not investing in the exact same securities. It might make sense to do some tax loss harvesting now, before the holiday rush hits and you forget.</p> <h2>9. Get Your Cars in for Servicing</h2> <p>Wait, what do your cars have to do with the holiday season? Well, car repairs are often a big source of unexpected expenses. And the last thing you want is hundreds or even thousands of dollars in bills right when you're doing the holiday shopping. Get your car in now, and you'll avoid a hefty expense later. Moreover, you'll be less likely to have the car breakdown in unpleasant, winter weather.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-smart-money-moves-to-make-before-the-holiday-season-begins">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-to-monetize-your-unwanted-gifts">Here&#039;s How to Monetize Your Unwanted Gifts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-holiday-budget-anyone-can-follow">The Simple Holiday Budget Anyone Can Follow</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-160-gift-ideas-for-everyone-you-know">Flashback Friday: 160 Gift Ideas for Everyone You Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-smart-reasons-to-last-minute-holiday-shop">9 Smart Reasons to Last-Minute Holiday Shop</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-champion-of-savings-over-spending">A champion of savings over spending</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Shopping Christmas debt Holidays layaway retirement contributions sales saving spending taxes Mon, 03 Oct 2016 09:00:05 +0000 Tim Lemke 1803457 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Times Cash Is Not King http://www.wisebread.com/8-times-cash-is-not-king <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-times-cash-is-not-king" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/ben_franklin_money_74660439.jpg" alt="Learning when cash is not king" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's often said that using cash can be a powerful way to control spending and avoid debt. But cash can be highly overrated. It doesn't grow much in value, it's annoying to carry, and it's hard to track.</p> <p>Here are some times when cash is not all it's cracked up to be.</p> <h2>1. When Interest Rates Are Historically Low</h2> <p>It makes sense to build up an emergency fund of three to six months' worth of living expenses. But when interest rates are super low, like they have been in recent years, any additional cash isn't going to do much for you. Why sit on a pile of cash earning a paltry interest rate and merely racing against inflation, when you can invest and earn a much healthier return? Even billionaire investors like Warren Buffett agree. In a 2014 letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, he wrote that over the long term, cash is actually a riskier investment than stocks, due to the potential of inflation wiping away any gains.</p> <h2>2. When a Company Has Too Much of It On Hand</h2> <p>A company with cash is not necessarily a bad thing, but investors can get ornery when there's too much. If you're a shareholder, you want to see that cash returned to you in the form of a dividend, used for acquisitions or stock buybacks, or reinvested to grow the company's businesses. Apple, which consistently has more than $100 billion in cash on hand, began issuing dividends after facing criticism from investors.</p> <h2>3. When You Want to Track Each Dollar You Spend</h2> <p>For those looking to curb spending and stay out of debt, using cash can be the way to go, as you can only spend what you have in your wallet. The downside, however, is that it's harder to keep meticulous records of everything you've purchased. A big part of money management is understanding your spending patterns, and it's easier to track purchases when you use a credit or debit card and receive statements, either online or on paper. Using cards also makes it easier to use online tools like Mint.com, which can categorize your spending and help you create budgets. Unless you are very conscientious about saving receipts or writing down each purchase, using cash won't help you understand your spending habits.</p> <h2>4. When You Are Traveling</h2> <p>There are some advantages to using cash when on a trip. Cash can be used to tip cabdrivers and bellhops, and is handy for when you shop or eat at places that do not take credit cards. Using cash in a foreign country can also help you avoid fees on debit and credit cards, and it's good to have some for an emergency. But cash is not replaceable. If you lose your wallet with hundreds of dollars in it, you're usually up a creek. And using cash won't get you any reward points on things like hotels, rental cars, or restaurants. Additionally, if you are traveling to multiple foreign countries, it's annoying to accumulate sums of foreign currency that you'll have to exchange back once you get home.</p> <h2>5. When You Loan Someone Money</h2> <p>Cash doesn't leave a record. That's great if you're Walter White and need to launder some money. But if someone borrows money from you, it's best to write a check, or use an electronic transfer that leaves a record. You may be unable to collect a debt if you have no proof that you lent someone money in the first place.</p> <h2>6. When You Get Paid</h2> <p>There may come a time in your life when someone offers to pay you &quot;under the table.&quot; This means that the employer is simply giving you cash for work without consideration of paying taxes. In theory, you can make more money if an employer doesn't pay payroll taxes, but it's also illegal in most cases.</p> <p>When you are paid in cash, you lose out on certain protections and benefits. You have no access to retirement benefits, for example. There's no record of your employment, which means you'd be unable to collect unemployment benefits if you lose your job. A person paid in cash would also not be eligible for disability or workers' compensation benefits. And if they're not paying payroll and other taxes, it can be illegal, which we entirely urge you to avoid.</p> <h2>7. When You Are the IRS or Law Enforcement</h2> <p>According to The Wall Street Journal, the use of cash to evade taxes costs the federal government about $500 billion in revenue annually. Cash, the newspaper notes, helps facilitate &quot;racketeering, extortion, money laundering, drug and human trafficking, the corruption of public officials, not to mention terrorism.&quot; Cash is super for those who are up to no good, but a nightmare for those looking to catch the bad guys.</p> <h2>8. When You Can Use an App</h2> <p>I was out to dinner with friends recently and we needed to split the check. Some of us had no cash. Some did, but only in big bills. It was a nightmare. Luckily, we were able to settle things by using smartphone apps that allow you to transfer money with little more than an email address. Apps such as PayPal and Venmo prevent the need to carry lots of cash, and can even prevent you from stiffing your friends with too much of a dinner bill.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-times-cash-is-not-king">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/47-simple-ways-to-waste-money">47 Simple Ways To Waste Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-spending-too-much-on-halloween-this-year">Are You Spending Too Much on Halloween This Year?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-personal-finance-rules-you-should-be-breaking">15 Personal Finance Rules You Should Be Breaking</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sensible-ways-to-raise-cash-for-a-wedding">Sensible Ways to Raise Cash for a Wedding</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-buy-it-now-on-ebay-without-using-livecom-cashback">DON&#039;T Buy It Now on eBay without using Live.com cashback</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Investment Shopping borrowing budgeting cash loaning money racketeering spending taxes tracking under the table Thu, 15 Sep 2016 09:00:05 +0000 Tim Lemke 1793093 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Ways Women Can Avoid Paying the "Pink Tax" http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-women-can-avoid-paying-the-pink-tax <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-ways-women-can-avoid-paying-the-pink-tax" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_82779733_MEDIUM.jpg" alt="women can avoid paying extra for the &quot;pink tax&quot;" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Regardless of age, pink has remained the color most identified with the female gender. And it turns out, <a href="http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2016-02-17/the-pink-tax-why-womens-products-often-cost-more">women pay a &quot;pink tax&quot;</a> on items that are marketed for them. Also, products made and marketed to women are higher priced and sometimes not as well made. All of this <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-financial-obstacles-that-are-especially-tough-for-women">makes women begin to see red</a>.</p> <p>In football, they say the best defense is a good offense, and the same can be said when shopping for the best prices. With a calculator as your playbook, here's how you avoid paying the pink tax and save money in the process.</p> <h2>On Toiletries</h2> <p>What is the difference between a three-blade pink razor and a three-blade blue razor? It's not a trick question, but when you see the difference in price, you will feel like you've been pranked. Price is the only difference in gender-based razors. Some razors may offer moisture strips and an extra blade, but you might save more by spending your money on the blue razors and a moisturizing lotion. If you use a women's shaving cream, compare that price with the price of an unscented men's shaving cream.</p> <p>Don't put your calculator away just yet. Wander over to the shampoo and conditioner aisle and compare prices and sizes of shampoos marketed for women and shampoo for men. Often the biggest difference between the two, apart from the cost and size of bottle, is the fragrance. You're going to wash shampoo out and possibly use a conditioner, so is a fragrance really worth the higher cost?</p> <p>Apart from items specifically marketed to menstruating women, <a href="http://www.12news.com/mb/money/business/consumer/call-12-for-action/the-pink-tax-and-how-to-avoid-it/45021187">many toiletries made for men</a> are less expensive, come in larger quantities, and are available in unscented versions that could be used by women &mdash; including deodorant. Simply compare prices and quantity. Your time spent investigating will be well worth it.</p> <h2>On Hair Care</h2> <p>Women are quickly discovering the benefits and savings in visiting the neighborhood barbershop for a haircut instead of a higher priced, fancier hair salon. Most barbershops can easily cut short hair. Check with your selected shop if you have long hair. The barbershop may or may not do styling and colors, but for a quick trim or new bob, you might be surprised.</p> <h2>On Clothing</h2> <p>Women's clothing may require less fabric than men's clothing &mdash; jeans, for example &mdash; but <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/101-ways-to-save-money-on-clothes">they cost a great deal more</a>. If you're handy with a sewing machine or know a good seamstress, you can have most men's clothing tailored to fit and still save money.</p> <h2>On Car Maintenance</h2> <p>It's financially wise for women to learn how to <a href="https://blog.cjponyparts.com/repair-or-replace-infographic/">perform basic car maintenance</a> and emergency repairs like changing a flat tire, but it also gives women the knowledge to know when they are being overcharged at a repair shop. Many technical schools offer classes in basic car maintenance and repair.</p> <p>Knowledge is power, not only when it comes to car repairs, but also in real estate, mortgages, and buying or leasing vehicles. The more you know, the smarter your choices and decisions will be, especially when it comes to avoiding a pink tax.</p> <p><em>Where else can women avoid the unfair &quot;pink tax?&quot; Share with us!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/anum-yoon">Anum Yoon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-women-can-avoid-paying-the-pink-tax">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-44-sneaky-shopping-traps-to-avoid">Flashback Friday: 44 Sneaky Shopping Traps to Avoid</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-classic-impulse-buys-we-need-to-stop-falling-for">10 Classic Impulse Buys We Need to Stop Falling For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-times-cash-is-not-king">8 Times Cash Is Not King</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-simple-shopping-list-strategy-from-5-meal-plan-will-save-you-big">This Simple Shopping List Strategy From $5 Meal Plan Will Save You Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-spending-too-much-on-halloween-this-year">Are You Spending Too Much on Halloween This Year?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Shopping beauty products budgeting feminine products pink tax saving money tampons taxes Thu, 08 Sep 2016 10:30:08 +0000 Anum Yoon 1788320 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Simple Financial Upgrades You Can Make During Breakfast http://www.wisebread.com/6-simple-financial-upgrades-you-can-make-during-breakfast <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-simple-financial-upgrades-you-can-make-during-breakfast" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_coffee_tablet_55252582.jpg" alt="Woman making simple financial upgrades during breakfast" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>One of the biggest misconceptions about money management is the idea that it needs to be time-consuming. But many of the financial moves that help you keep a healthy budget take less time than the average coffee break.</p> <p>Over the next six days, take care of one of the following <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/easy-budgeting-for-people-who-hate-math" target="_blank">money management chores</a> while you&rsquo;re enjoying your morning latte. While you&rsquo;re eating breakfast each day, you can improve your financial well-being without spending more than 10 minutes at a time:</p> <h2>1. Set Up an Automatic Transfer to Savings</h2> <p>Everyone knows that they should have an emergency fund, but finding money to set aside at the end of every month is so tough. This is why so many personal finance experts recommend creating an automatic transfer from checking to savings on payday. If you save your money before you have a chance to spend it, then it will actually be there for you in an emergency.</p> <p>While you are eating your morning Wheaties, log onto your bank&rsquo;s website and set up your automatic recurring transfer online. Even if all you can afford to spare is $20 per paycheck, those recurring transfers will add up. In a few months, you can log back on to increase your savings.</p> <h2>2. Kill Your Zombie Charges</h2> <p>Zombie charges are the fancifully-named recurring subscription charges that you no longer want. There is absolutely no reason to keep sending money to Spotify or your gym if you never use those services.</p> <p>Identifying your zombie charges can be easier than eliminating them (just like real zombies!), but you can take time over breakfast to review your credit card and bank account to find recurring charges for services you no longer use. In some cases, canceling the service is quick and easy, and can be done before you clear the breakfast dishes. For anything that requires more than a visit to a website to cancel, set yourself a Google calendar alert to take care of the cancellation sometime in the next few days.</p> <h2>3. Check Your Credit Report</h2> <p>You are legally allowed free access to a credit report from each of the major credit reporting agencies &mdash; TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax &mdash; once a year. Log onto annualcreditreport.com to access your credit information. Getting your report will take just a few moments &mdash; you just need to fill out one form to request up to three credit reports (one from each agency), pick which agency&rsquo;s report you want to check out, and verify your identity to receive your credit report.</p> <p>You can print out your reports while polishing off your toast, but you might need to take a little time to go over the reports in detail to make sure there are no errors.</p> <h2>4. Set Up Reminders for Upcoming Bills</h2> <p>Whether you are still paying bills the old-fashioned way with paper checks or you pay all your bills online, due dates can have a way of sneaking up on you. While you&rsquo;re waiting for the coffee to brew, take a few moments to look up the due dates of bills over the next several months and set up Google calendar alerts to remind you when they are coming.</p> <p>Even if you have completely automated your bill-paying, it can be a great idea to set up bill reminders so you take the time to look over your monthly bills and make sure you have enough money in your account to cover them all.</p> <h2>5. Adjust Your Withholding</h2> <p>The average American receives a tax refund of over $3,000 every year, which amounts to an interest-free loan to Uncle Sam. You can do more with that money if you adjust your withholding so that you keep more of your money in each paycheck.</p> <p>To do this, first use the <a href="https://apps.irs.gov/app/withholdingcalculator/">IRS withholding calculator</a> to determine how many withholding allowances you may take. Remember that the withholding allowances you claim do not determine your tax bill, only how much you pay in taxes per paycheck, so your answers on the calculator can be approximate.</p> <p>Once you have figured out your allowances, request and fill out a W-4 form from your employer&rsquo;s HR department.</p> <p>Granted, this particular money move cannot be completed over breakfast at home, but you can certainly enjoy a conference room bagel in the time it takes you to recalculate your withholding and email HR to request a new W-4 form.</p> <h2>6. Change Your Financial Passwords</h2> <p>It seems as if a major corporation is hacked once every couple of months, which means customer information is vulnerable. You can protect yourself by changing up your passwords on your bank and other financial websites every six months.</p> <p>An easy way to do this without making yourself crazy is to start with a sentence that means something to you:</p> <p>I am waiting for the reincarnation of Elvis.</p> <p>Then substitute letters, numbers, and symbols for each of the words:</p> <p>I@w4troE</p> <p>With that as your base password, you could tailor it to each site so that you can still remember your passwords but each site&rsquo;s password is slightly different. For instance, you might add letters and numbers that represent the site to the end of your base password. For Capital One 360, your password would become:</p> <p>I@w4troECO360</p> <p>Just jot down the original sentence somewhere you can find it. It will remind you of your password, and mean nothing to anyone else.</p> <h2>Breakfast, With a Side of Money Management</h2> <p>Taking care of your money does not have to take you all day. These six money moves can be accomplished over breakfast and will start your day off right.</p> <p><em>What do you do while waiting for the coffee to brew?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-simple-financial-upgrades-you-can-make-during-breakfast">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-11"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-you-can-make-while-stuck-in-an-endless-tsa-line">6 Money Moves You Can Make While Stuck in an Endless TSA Line</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-organize-your-paperwork-in-just-10-minutes-a-week">How to Organize Your Paperwork in Just 10 Minutes a Week</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-online-tools-to-manage-your-money-in-under-10-minutes-a-week">5 Online Tools to Manage Your Money in Under 10 Minutes a Week</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-money-moves-you-will-always-be-thankful-for">7 Money Moves You Will Always Be Thankful For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/where-to-turn-for-help-when-you-dont-have-an-emergency-fund">Where to Turn for Help When You Don&#039;t Have an Emergency Fund</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Organization automatic payments bills breakfast money management money moves passwords recurring charges taxes w-4 withholdings Wed, 07 Sep 2016 09:00:09 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1785402 at http://www.wisebread.com How I Saved Enough for a Down Payment While Working in China http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-saved-enough-for-a-down-payment-while-working-in-china <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-i-saved-enough-for-a-down-payment-while-working-in-china" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_hand_globe_43186582.jpg" alt="How to save for a down payment while working in China" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When I was first considering teaching abroad after graduating from college, I had many friends and family who were concerned that I'd be setting myself back financially. With the best of intentions, these loved ones told me that I would be making a mistake by moving to Asia and accepting a lower paycheck. How would I ever afford a car or a house if I didn't find a high-paying job in Canada or the U.S. and start saving right away?</p> <p>Ten years later, I look back and realize that teaching abroad was one of the best financial decisions of my life. During our four years <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/follow-these-5-credit-card-rules-when-traveling-abroad" target="_blank">teaching in China</a>, my husband and I saved enough between us for a down payment on our house in Southern California.</p> <p>Not every job abroad will be a an ideal situation for saving, so if you're considering teaching or working abroad, and want to prioritize saving, here are a few tips for how to save as much as you can.</p> <h2>1. Find Free or Subsidized Housing</h2> <p>Many schools and companies abroad realize that it's hard for foreign employees to pick up and leave their home countries without having a living situation set up in the new country. Therefore, many employment contracts abroad include either a housing allowance, or a free or subsidized apartment that belongs to the company. In our case, the school we worked for owned an apartment block which provided heavily subsidized living quarters for teachers and employees.</p> <p>Living rent-free or on subsidized rent saves a <em>huge </em>chunk of your income that you can put entirely toward savings. It also saves a tremendous amount of time and stress when your overseas employer helps arrange your living quarters.</p> <p>It also helps greatly if the living quarters provided by the employer come furnished, which will cut down on the initial costs of moving. Having to purchase furniture and appliances can make it harder for you to start saving right away.</p> <h2>2. Take Advantage of the Lower Cost of Living</h2> <p>Another huge factor that enabled us to save was the lower cost of living in our host country. By choosing to eat at local restaurants and shop at local grocery stores, we saved hundreds of dollars every month on food in a city where the local cost of living was quite a bit lower than at home in the U.S. Of course, it would have been easy to blow our paychecks eating at expat-oriented bars and restaurants (Starbucks was pretty much everywhere in our city), but we saved the pricier international food for weekends and special occasions. A nice side effect of our frugal mentality is that we discovered a whole new world of delicious local dishes that we would never have tried otherwise.</p> <p>Not all countries will have a lower cost of living than your home country, of course, so it's worth looking into what it typically costs for food, clothing, rent (if you are renting a place yourself), health care, and other necessities before going.</p> <h2>3. Use Public Transportation</h2> <p>We saved the cost of having to maintain a car because our apartment was walking distance to the school where we worked. On weekends, a cheap and efficient subway system was our transportation of choice whenever we wanted to leave the school campus. When looking for a job overseas, be sure to ask questions about how you will get to and from work, and what transportation options exist to take you to the fun part of town. Some jobs (generally not teaching jobs, though) will even provide a company car and driver to make things easier for you.</p> <h2>4. Live Simply</h2> <p>Curbing excess spending is a good financial strategy no matter where you live, but I think it's easier to live simply when you anticipate moving in a year or a few. Because we didn't plan on staying more than a few years, I was less motivated to buy unnecessary stuff, with the mentality that everything needed to fit in a couple suitcases for the trip home. While we did spend money on leisure activities such as traveling during our holidays, for the most part, we just enjoyed meeting new friends and exploring our city, activities that didn't cost much.</p> <p>We did end up shipping a few souvenirs back home, but because we had to pay to ship them, we were more mindful about purchasing only what we loved.</p> <h2>5. Research Your Tax Exemptions</h2> <p>Although U.S. citizens and residents are required to pay taxes on foreign-earned income, a large chunk of that income (or even all of it depending on how much you make) could be <a href="https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/foreign-earned-income-exclusion">exempt from income taxes</a>. When filing your yearly taxes, be sure to file your foreign-earned income correctly. Of course, you may be taxed in your country of employment, but in our experience the local tax was very low. You will want to research the tax rate in the country you're thinking of working in before you accept a job.</p> <p>Before accepting a job overseas, be sure also to ask about health benefits and support in case you run into a medical emergency. If your employer does not provide adequate health benefits, you may have to purchase it privately, which you should factor into your savings plan. It also goes without saying that you should do research into typical salaries for the job you will be doing, as they can vary widely depending on the employer.</p> <p>If you play your cards right, you can certainly turn a few years of adventure working overseas into an opportunity to save and to meet your financial goals.</p> <p><em>Have you considered working overseas? What's holding you back?</em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this post? Pin it!</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-i-saved-enough-for-a-down-payment-while-working-in-china&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%20I%20Saved%20Enough%20for%20a%20Down%20Payment%20While%20Working%20in%20China.jpg&amp;description=How%20I%20Saved%20Enough%20for%20a%20Down%20Payment%20While%20Working%20in%20China" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20I%20Saved%20Enough%20for%20a%20Down%20Payment%20While%20Working%20in%20China.jpg" width="250" height="374" alt="" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/camilla-cheung">Camilla Cheung</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-saved-enough-for-a-down-payment-while-working-in-china">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/retire-for-half-the-cost-in-these-5-countries">Retire for Half the Cost in These 5 Countries</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-real-cost-of-moving-to-canada-if-thats-your-post-election-plan">The Real Cost of Moving to Canada (If That&#039;s Your Post-Election Plan)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-let-these-expenses-spoil-your-retirement-abroad">Don&#039;t Let These Expenses Spoil Your Retirement Abroad</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/one-surprising-skill-that-can-save-you-money-when-you-travel">One Surprising Skill That Can Save You Money When You Travel</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-your-financial-planner-isnt-telling-you-about-retirement">5 Things Your Financial Planner Isn&#039;t Telling You About Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career Building Travel cost of living expats living abroad overseas saving money taxes teaching abroad transportation working Thu, 25 Aug 2016 10:00:15 +0000 Camilla Cheung 1778730 at http://www.wisebread.com The 10 Worst States for Retirees http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-worst-states-for-retirees <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-10-worst-states-for-retirees" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/vermont_foliage_72139589.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Are you close to retirement? If so, you may want to take some time to see how your state of residence may impact your financial situation. After all, you need your money to last now that you're done working, and you don't want to find yourself strapped because of a high cost of living or taxes. Moreover, older residents should be cognizant of the quality of health care in their state.</p> <p>Here's some advice on where <em>not </em>to move once you retire.</p> <h2>1. Louisiana</h2> <p>Don't get sick as you get older if you live in Louisiana. This state ranks last in the nation in the quality of health care, according to the United Health Foundation. On the plus side, the cost of living is relatively low and taxes are better than many states.</p> <h2>2. Maryland</h2> <p>By most measures, Maryland's cost of living is among the highest in the nation. The state's economy is buoyed by a heavy Federal government presence and many highly paid workers, but it can be hard on retirees looking to save. Maryland has among the highest taxes in the nation, with home prices above the national average, as well.</p> <h2>3. Vermont</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/vermont_foliage_72139589.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>The crime rate is ultralow, the leaves are awesome in the fall, and there's the headquarters of Ben &amp; Jerry's. But it has an effective tax rate of 10.76%, which is above the national average. This is one contributing factor to Vermont ranking as one of the worst states when it comes to cost of living, according to several surveys.</p> <h2>4. Connecticut</h2> <p>The Nutmeg State can boast good proximity to jobs in New York City, and its residents are generally wealthier and more educated than most. But it's less than ideal as a place for retirees. Connecticut is one of the most expensive states in the nation, and its effective state and local tax rate of 13.48% &mdash; one of the country's highest &mdash; doesn't help anyone who's trying to get by on a fixed income.</p> <h2>5. New York</h2> <p>All you need to do is look at the cost of an apartment in New York City to know why retiring there isn't the best move, financially. The rest of the state isn't so bad, but the overall cost of living in New York is considered one of the highest in the country. State income tax of nearly 9% places it in the top tier, as well. It's worth noting that health care in the state is above average in quality, according to the United Health Foundation.</p> <h2>6. California</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/california_golden_gate_88208659.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>On one hand, California has a lot of beautiful places to live, with nice weather and a variety of options to keep retirees active and healthy. But financially, it's a tough place to be for those looking to make their retirement money last. Cost of living? In the top five, according to data compiled by CNBC. Its state income tax is 13.3%, the highest in the country, and most retirement income is taxed. Health care costs are also above average in California.</p> <h2>7. New Jersey</h2> <p>It's not cheap to live in New Jersey, and that's partly due to higher-than-average income taxes and taxes on real estate. While not all retirement income is taxed like some states, residents could be subjected to estate and inheritance taxes of up to 15%. Property is taxed at 2.29%, the highest rate in the nation, and that really stings when you consider that the state has the fourth-highest median home value. On the flip side, New Jersey does rate among the top third in most major health care quality rankings.</p> <h2>8. Nebraska</h2> <p>The Cornhusker State has a relatively low cost of living, until you consider that there are high taxes on retirees and real estate. Nebraska taxes most retirement income, such as pensions and retirement account withdrawals, and some residents pay Social Security taxes. And its effective property tax of 1.88% is one of the highest in the nation.</p> <h2>9. Montana</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/montana_nature_73035269.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>It might be beautiful to retire in Big Sky Country, but don't assume that it will be cheap. Montana has a higher-than-average property tax rate, and taxes all pension and retirement income, as well as most Social Security income, according to the Retirement Living Information Center. Montana is also in the bottom half when it comes to the health care offered to seniors.</p> <h2>10. Rhode Island</h2> <p>The good news about Rhode Island is that most clothing, food, and prescription drugs are exempt from state sales tax. But the state has the 10th highest property tax rate, with the added blow of median home prices being the 12th highest in the country. Retirement income is also taxed at the state level.</p> <p><em>If you're thinking about downsizing for retirement, where are you thinking of living?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-worst-states-for-retirees">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/would-you-move-to-one-of-these-states-to-avoid-taxes">Would You Move to One of These States to Avoid Taxes?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-states-with-the-lowest-taxes-for-retirees">7 States With the Lowest Taxes for Retirees</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-questions-couples-must-ask-before-retirement">5 Questions Couples Must Ask Before Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-american-cities-where-you-can-retire-on-just-social-security">5 American Cities Where You Can Retire On Just Social Security</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-much-life-in-the-big-city-will-cost-you">Here&#039;s How Much Life in the Big City Will Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement cost of living home values moving relocating states taxes worst places Tue, 23 Aug 2016 09:00:10 +0000 Tim Lemke 1777830 at http://www.wisebread.com Here's How the Election Could Impact Your Wallet http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-the-election-could-impact-your-wallet <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/heres-how-the-election-could-impact-your-wallet" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/voter_pins_money_72870711.jpg" alt="Learning how the election will impact your wallet" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's Clinton versus Trump, and the topic is money &mdash; because, more than anything else, that's what's on the minds of American voters. All told, 44% of Americans say the economy is their <a href="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2015/images/07/26/72715cnnorc.pdf?iid=EL">top campaign issue</a>. Read on for our roundup of how either candidate's presidency would impact your dollars and cents.</p> <h2>Donald Trump</h2> <p>First up, the presumptive Republican nominee and his ideas about taxes, wages, and more.</p> <h3>Taxes</h3> <p>Trump proposes a systemwide overhaul of the U.S. tax code aimed at simplifying it to the point where it would &quot;<a href="http://money.cnn.com/2015/08/11/news/companies/donald-trump-hr-block-tax-code/">put H&amp;R Block right out of business</a>.&quot; In addition to his pledge to make the tax filing process more intuitive for Americans, Trump has also said that he believes the wealthiest Americans should <a href="http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Trump-close-hedge-fund-tax-loophole-6511995.php">pay higher taxes</a>.</p> <p>&quot;If you make $200 million a year and you pay 10%, you're paying very little relatively to somebody that's making $50,000 a year and has to hire H&amp;R Block because it's so complicated,&quot; Trump said during a Republican presidential debate last year. &quot;I know people that are making a tremendous amount of money and paying virtually no taxes, and I think it's unfair.&quot;</p> <p>Under Trump's plan, federal income taxes would be eliminated for Americans who earn less than $25,000 and married couples that earn less than $50,000.</p> <p>Corporations and the wealthy would pay a decreased corporate tax rate (15% rather than the current 35% rate). The highest income tax rate would drop down to 25% from 39.6%.</p> <p>Despite these cuts, Trump has said that his plan would ultimately raise taxes on the wealthy. That would be achieved, he said, through proposed measures such as the elimination of a hedge fund tax loophole and a one-time 10% tax on money brought back into the U.S. by corporations currently holding funds overseas.</p> <h3>Jobs</h3> <p>Trump has vowed to grow the economy, namely by bringing back jobs he says the U.S. has lost to countries including Japan, China, and Mexico. Tariffs on foreign goods and negotiating better trade deals are the two main ways Trump has said he would accomplish this goal.</p> <p>When it comes to bringing home foreign jobs, Trump has specifically criticized Apple's China-based manufacturing. If elected, he has said he would force the tech company to &quot;start building their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries.&quot;</p> <p>As a billionaire real estate developer, Trump has already directly <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2015/09/03/news/economy/donald-trump-jobs-created/">created about 34,000 jobs</a>, according to an analysis by CNNMoney.</p> <h3>Minimum Wage</h3> <p>Reversing a previous position, Trump has said he would <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2016/05/05/news/economy/candidates-minimum-wage/">raise the federal minimum wage</a> from its current rate of $7.25 an hour. He has not, however, revealed by how much.</p> <h3>Social Security</h3> <p>Trump pledges to <a href="http://fortune.com/2016/03/15/primary-elections-ohio-florida/">leave Social Security</a> &quot;the way it is,&quot; a position that has been called impractical by analysts. The reserve fund will be depleted soon after 2030, upon which, if the law is not changed, monthly benefits will have to be slashed by 21%, experts say. There is one change that he would make, however. Trump has said he would raise the age at which Americans are eligible to begin receiving Social Security benefits to 70. Trump has said that he would not support cutting benefits to those who already receive them.</p> <h3>Health Insurance</h3> <p>Trump has said that he would <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/02/politics/donald-trump-health-care-plan/">ax the Affordable Care Act</a>, also known as Obamacare, and replace it with his own medical care reform system, the details of which are fuzzy. Trump's plan would, however, allow the sale of health insurance across state borders and make health insurance premium payments for individuals fully tax deductible.</p> <h2>Hillary Clinton</h2> <p>Secretary Clinton's plans differ from Mr. Trump's, of course, especially in the areas of taxes and health care.</p> <h3>Taxes</h3> <p>Clinton's economic plan aims to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/14/us/politics/hillary-clinton-offers-her-vision-of-a-fairness-economy-to-close-the-income-gap.html">close the wealth gap</a>, in part by raising taxes for the rich while encouraging the private sector to raise middle-class wages. Specifically, she has said she would close corporate loopholes, including those used by hedge funders to avoid paying millions in income taxes, in an attempt to reign in Wall Street.</p> <p>&quot;We must raise incomes for hardworking Americans so they can afford a middle-class life,&quot; she said at a campaign event last year where she debuted her economic recovery strategy. &quot;That will be my mission from the first day I'm president to the last.&quot;</p> <p>Under Clinton's plan, low and middle-class Americans would pay lower taxes &mdash; just how much lower, she hasn't yet revealed. Meanwhile, wealthy Americans would pay more.</p> <p>Analysts estimate that Clinton's plan would, on average, raise taxes for the top 1% of Americans by <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2016/03/03/pf/taxes/hillary-clinton-taxes/">more than $78,000</a>, reducing their after-tax income by 5%. Individuals with adjusted gross incomes topping $1 million would pay a minimum of 30% of their income in taxes.</p> <p>Experts say that while lower and middle-income Americans would pay less, most won't pay very much less.</p> <p>Overall, Clinton's plan is closer to the status quo than the plans proposed by Trump or any other major candidate.</p> <h3>Jobs</h3> <p>Clinton's plan for job growth includes measures that would incentivize corporations to invest in employees. It would also eliminate tax benefits to companies that outsource jobs to foreign countries. Companies that move their headquarters overseas would be hit with an exit tax.</p> <p>&quot;I'm not interested in condemning whole categories of businesses or the entire private sector,&quot; she has said. &quot;But I do want to send a clear message to every boardroom and every executive suite: If you desert America, you'll pay a price.&quot;</p> <p>Clinton has also pledged to expand overtime benefits and promote equal pay for women while also advancing fair scheduling, paid leave, and earned sick days.</p> <h3>Minimum Wage</h3> <p>Clinton has said she supports a <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2016/04/18/hillary_clinton_explains_her_position_on_a_15_minimum_wage.html">federal minimum wage increase</a> to $15 from the current rate of $7.25 an hour. She has also said that she supports a $12 federal minimum wage, with the caveat that states should feel encouraged to go higher, especially in cities and suburbs with high living costs. It's unclear which proposal she prefers.</p> <h3>Social Security</h3> <p>To preserve the quickly depleting Social Security reserve fund, Clinton's plan calls on the rich to contribute more via income tax. She opposes any benefits cuts and has said she would not raise the retirement age. Clinton has also said that she would expand Social Security to groups she says are <a href="https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/social-security-and-medicare/">treated unfairly by the system</a>, including widows and caretakers who have taken time off from work for the benefit of children, aging parents, or ailing family members.</p> <h3>Health Insurance</h3> <p>Clinton has embraced the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, while acknowledging that there are improvements she would like to make to the current system. Namely, she has said that she would like to <a href="http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-mh-hillary-clinton-reveals-her-plan-obamacare-20160223-column.html">add a public option</a>, make health coverage accessible to even more people &mdash; including undocumented immigrants &mdash; and cut its cost.</p> <p><em>Will the candidates' positions on bread and butter issues affect your choice this fall?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-the-election-could-impact-your-wallet">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-financial-reasons-2016-needs-to-be-over-asap">7 Financial Reasons 2016 Needs to Be Over ASAP</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-social-security-just-a-grand-ponzi-scheme">Is Social Security Just A Grand Ponzi Scheme?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bushs-economic-stimulus-package-what-will-you-get-back">Bush&#039;s economic stimulus package; What will you get back?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-world-currencies-that-took-a-hit-in-2016">8 World Currencies That Took a Hit in 2016</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-money-moments-that-should-be-on-everyones-bucket-list">8 Money Moments That Should Be On Everyone&#039;s Bucket List</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance 2016 election donald trump Economy hillary clinton jobs minimum wage presidential election social security taxes united states Mon, 27 Jun 2016 09:30:25 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1738698 at http://www.wisebread.com Where to Turn for Help When You Don't Have an Emergency Fund http://www.wisebread.com/where-to-turn-for-help-when-you-dont-have-an-emergency-fund <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/where-to-turn-for-help-when-you-dont-have-an-emergency-fund" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_money_tree_24208902.jpg" alt="Learning when to turn for help with no emergency fund" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When it rains, it pours.</p> <p>The water heater broke. The car is on the fritz. The expensive (and new!) smartphone fell in the toilet. And to top it all off, you don't have an emergency fund. Where else can you turn for cash? 37% of Americans ask themselves this question because they don't have enough savings to pay for even a $500 or $1,000 emergency expense.</p> <p>Let's review a few ways to cover a sudden cash crunch &mdash; and how can you make sure it doesn't happen again.</p> <h2>4 Ways to Cover Emergency Expenses</h2> <p>Keep calm and tap into these four resources to take care of unexpected bills.</p> <h3>1. Cash Advance From a Credit Card</h3> <p>While having a credit card can cover the bill at most merchants and retailers, many small businesses still only take cash or personal check. In 2012, an estimated 55% of U.S. small businesses denied payment on plastic to their customers. However, it isn't just retailers. For example, my kids' pediatrician and the guy who does my taxes only accept personal checks.</p> <p>In those instances that you need quick cash to cover a small payment, check if your credit card allows you to take a cash withdrawal at an ATM. To obtain your card's PIN, you may need to call customer service or visit your card provider's online portal.</p> <p>Keep costly cash advances at a minimum, and pay it off fast. In 2015, the average APR of a cash advance was 8.54% <em>higher </em>than the average APR of a regular purchase. Even worse, some cards may have additional surcharges for the transaction. Use a cash advance if you're in a bind at the moment, but will be able to cover it within a short period of time. Interest starts accruing immediately on cash advances. If you need a bigger sum or longer to pay if off, try some of the other suggestions below.</p> <h3>2. Reduce Withholdings</h3> <p>You can adjust your form W-4 virtually as many times as you wish. To increase the amount that you keep from your paycheck, contact your HR department on how to update your W-4. The easiest way to reduce your federal tax withholding for the next pay period is to increase the number of allowances (line 5) that you claim. Under most circumstances, adding two to three allowances can dramatically decrease your withholding.</p> <p>Once you've covered your emergency expense, update your W-4 again to return withholdings to their original level. Use the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/individuals/irs-withholding-calculator">IRS Withholding Calculator</a> to find out the necessary steps to make up for the reduced withholding period and minimize your tax bill.</p> <h3>3. Borrow From a 401K</h3> <p>There are very few times in which you should take out a loan from your 401K. When you don't have access to cheaper forms of credit but <em>do</em> have a solid relationship with your employer, you might consider joining the <a href="http://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/articles/2014/06/09/the-risks-of-taking-a-401-k-loan">13,000 holders of 401K plans</a> that take a loan each month. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-when-you-should-borrow-from-your-retirement-account?ref=seealso">This Is When You Should Borrow From Your Retirement Account</a>)</p> <p>If your plan administrator allows you to take out a loan, make sure to stick to the payment plan and pay back the loan in full within five years. Otherwise, you run the risk of turning the unpaid balance into a distribution, subject to applicable federal and state income taxes and potential extra fees from the IRS, state government, and plan administrator. While most plans don't have a penalty for early repayment of a loan, they all require you to pay it back within 60 days of termination of employment.</p> <h3>4. Early Withdrawal From an IRA</h3> <p>Those that have an IRA instead of a 401K might be able to take an early distribution without the extra 10% tax from the IRS. While you'll still be liable for applicable income taxes, qualifying medical events can be paid for without penalty.</p> <p>Here are two examples. First, most IRA holders can take a penalty-free early withdrawal from their IRA to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses greater than 10% of their adjusted gross income. Second, if you are unemployed for at least 12 continuous weeks, you can take a penalty-free withdrawal from your IRA to pay health insurance premiums during unemployment. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-penalty-free-ways-to-withdraw-money-from-your-retirement-account?ref=seealso">7 Penalty-Free Ways to Withdraw Money From Your Retirement Account</a>)</p> <h2>6 Ways to Build an Emergency Fund</h2> <p>Building up an emergency fund is an essential part of your emergency plan. Given that there are additional ways to cover rainy days, set up yourself for success.</p> <h3>1. Automate Contributions to Emergency Fund</h3> <p>Pay yourself first by automatically routing a predetermined contribution from each paycheck to your emergency fund account. This way you minimize the chances of using what should go into your emergency fund on living expenses or discretionary purchases.</p> <h3>2. Balance Between Liquidity and Interest Rates</h3> <p>While an investment account or certificate of deposit may provide a higher interest rate, such types of accounts have a longer wait time to access your funds. Start off with a high-yield savings account until you build at least $1,000, and then start contributing to a less-liquid but higher-paying account.</p> <h3>3. Find Out the Withdrawal Rules of Your Retirement Accounts</h3> <p>During an emergency, you'll probably have very little time, but lots of stress. Be proactive and discuss in advance with your plan administrator the process to take out a loan from your 401K or early withdrawal from an IRA. For future reference, keep a summary of the process and a copy of any necessary forms.</p> <h3>4. Contribute to Retirement Accounts</h3> <p>Of course, your retirement accounts need to be funded in the first place before you can take a distribution. Boost up your contributions from each paycheck and take advantage of employer matches. The benefit is triple: You'll build up your nest egg, reduce your taxable income, and prepare for a rainy day.</p> <h3>5. Reduce Expenses</h3> <p>The money for all these contributions to your retirement account and emergency fund has to come from your paycheck. For a month, track all of your expenses in a spreadsheet and decide which ones can you nix. Take a daily $6 coffee fix for example. That's $180 in 30 days, about $1,092 in six months, or $2,190 in a year!</p> <h3>6. Make the Best Out of a Windfall</h3> <p>Whether it's a tax refund, monetary birthday gift from grandma, or bonus check, sock away that lucky windfall into your emergency fund. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-smart-things-to-do-with-your-bonus?ref=seealso">6 Smart Things to Do With Your Bonus</a>)</p> <p><em>What are other ways to turn for help when you don't have an emergency fund?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/where-to-turn-for-help-when-you-dont-have-an-emergency-fund">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-money-moves-you-will-always-be-thankful-for">7 Money Moves You Will Always Be Thankful For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-emergency-fund-myths-you-should-stop-believing">6 Emergency Fund Myths You Should Stop Believing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/using-your-roth-ira-as-an-emergency-fund-ever-a-good-idea">Using Your Roth IRA as an Emergency Fund — Ever a Good Idea?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-opportunity-funds-are-the-new-emergency-funds">Why &quot;Opportunity&quot; Funds Are the New Emergency Funds</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-simple-financial-upgrades-you-can-make-during-breakfast">6 Simple Financial Upgrades You Can Make During Breakfast</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance 401k loans cash advances emergency funds ira withdrawals rainy day funds savings taxes withholdings Thu, 23 Jun 2016 09:30:28 +0000 Damian Davila 1737082 at http://www.wisebread.com The 5 Biggest Mistakes Freelancers Make http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-biggest-mistakes-freelancers-make <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-5-biggest-mistakes-freelancers-make" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000064845003_Large.jpg" alt="it&#039;s easy for freelancers to make these mistakes" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Freelancing is a constant push and pull. You have the freedom to be your own boss, but <em>sometimes</em> we're not the best bosses of ourselves. Steer from making these five common mistakes freelancers make, and get ahead of the pack.</p> <h2>1. Forgetting to Withhold Taxes</h2> <p>This is one of the first issues freelancers encounter. It's easy to get excited by lump sum contractor checks. You drop that check into your checking account to pay bills and buy yourself something nice, then before you know it, you've spent it all without saving anything. Come tax time, you're facing a hefty bill. Why?</p> <p>The IRS charges a <a href="https://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&amp;-Self-Employed/Self-Employment-Tax-Social-Security-and-Medicare-Taxes">self-employment tax of 15.3%</a> no matter how much or little you make. Unfortunately, there are only so many deductions you can claim, so it's very unlikely you can avoid the tax. Prevent the huge financial burden of a large tax bill now by automatically putting away 20% of everything you earn. The 15% goes to paying the self-employment tax, and the remaining 5% is there to help pay state taxes and, of course, the tax prep fees &ndash;&ndash; the more 1099s you have, the pricier your preparation will be.</p> <h2>2. Neglecting to Save for Retirement</h2> <p>New freelancers sometimes operate under the misconception that they don't have the knowledge or enough capital to invest in their retirement. It can also be difficult to consider saving for retirement when times are thin. If the freelance gigs are trickling in slowly at the moment, you might be savings-averse. But this is exactly why retirement savings are so important. Considering the uneven payment schedule of freelancers, a place where your money can grow slowly over time is an important safety net to have. </p> <p>It's actually super easy to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-sep-ira-is-how-the-self-employed-do-retirement-like-a-boss">set up an IRA</a>, Mutual Fund, CD, or any other kind of investment account. Find the financial institution you prefer, and they will give you the step-by-step in person or over the phone &ndash;&ndash; they'll even do most of the work for you (you are giving them money, after all!). At the end of the day, as a self-employed worker, you, and only you, are responsible for your future, so it's time to get proactive.</p> <h2>3. Losing Track of Expenses</h2> <p>Being a freelancer means having to balance both incoming and outgoing dollars. Do you have to spend money on raw materials? Do you spend hours of unpaid time and/or money on research before doing the job? This should all be tracked and never go beyond a certain limit you determine, based on the work.</p> <p>Also, some clients are easier to please than others. If you fall into a deep hole on a problem project, be sure to speak up. They might be able to give you a bigger expense budget or increase your hourly rate to cover it.</p> <h2>4. Not Setting a Schedule</h2> <p>Next to setting a work budget, setting a schedule may be the most important thing you can do to ensure you can make the most of each project, and each day on the job. If you come to your desk each morning without a list or a plan, that's a sign that you may need a time management intervention. </p> <p>Start each day with a to-do list. First, you need the overall to-do list &ndash;&ndash; one that covers all your ongoing projects and what must be done for each, with deadlines. Then, break those project to-do lists into weekly and daily to-do lists, respectively. Hang up a marker board in your office, with your milestones and goals for each day and week regularly updated. Google Calendar is also a great tool for creating tons of mini-calendars that sync with all your devices.</p> <h2>5. Skipping Self-Marketing</h2> <p>Are you the type of person who dives deep into a project then once it's done, dives into another? Well, not many people will know what you did if you don't take the time to tell them! Self-promotion is a crucial tool in managing your reputation. Build in time to your schedule to share your work with your personal and professional networks.</p> <p>How do you keep former, current, and future clients updated on what you do? Try starting a portfolio website, updated every few weeks with new work you've completed. Are you the type of contractor who relies on lots of new clients? Consider posting listings on all the gig websites: Craigslist, Guru, Thumbtack, Tispr, and others.</p> <p>Do you know a lot about topics related to your freelance job? Start a blog section to your website that answers frequently asked questions about your profession. Being known as an expert in your field can drastically improve your perceived value to clients, resulting in more work, and even better pay!</p> <p><em>Have you made any mistakes as a freelancer? Share with us!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amanda-meadows">Amanda Meadows</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-biggest-mistakes-freelancers-make">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-i-learned-about-money-after-i-went-freelance">7 Things I Learned About Money After I Went Freelance</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/day-job-or-freelance-which-is-right-for-you">Day Job or Freelance: Which Is Right for You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/22-websites-that-will-pay-you-to-write-for-them">22 Websites That Will Pay You to Write for Them</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-freelance-jobs-that-pay-surprisingly-well">11 Freelance Jobs That Pay Surprisingly Well</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-simple-guide-to-retirement-plans-for-the-self-employed">A Simple Guide to Retirement Plans for the Self-Employed</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career and Income Entrepreneurship Extra Income budgeting freelance freelancer investment marketing self-employed taxes work from home Wed, 18 May 2016 10:30:11 +0000 Amanda Meadows 1712070 at http://www.wisebread.com