IRA http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/3832/all en-US 5 Questions to Ask Before You Borrow From Your Retirement Account http://www.wisebread.com/5-questions-to-ask-before-you-borrow-from-your-retirement-account <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-questions-to-ask-before-you-borrow-from-your-retirement-account" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/money_nest_egg_000026193397.jpg" alt="Asking questions before borrowing money from retirement account" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You need a quick infusion of cash, and there's plenty of it sitting in your IRA or 401K account. Should you withdraw the needed money from these retirement accounts?</p> <p>Not surprisingly, there's no simple answer. Withdrawing from a retirement account might make sense depending on how old you are or what you need the money for. But in other cases, withdrawals from these accounts can derail your plans to save for a happy retirement. They might also leave you with a big financial penalty.</p> <p>Before you make a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-dumb-401k-mistakes-smart-people-make" target="_blank">withdrawal from an IRA or 401K plan</a>, ask yourself these five questions. Your answers will tell you whether the time is right to take money from these accounts.</p> <h2>1. What Do You Need the Money For?</h2> <p>The goal of both 401K accounts and IRAs is to save money for your retirement years. If you withdraw funds before you hit retirement, you'll cut down on the money available to you after you leave the working world. When you're on a fixed income, you might truly miss those dollars. You'll also lose any interest that the money you withdrew would have generated, unless you pay it back quickly. So unless you absolutely need the money, it might be best to hold off on a withdrawal.</p> <h2>2. Can You Get the Money From Other Sources?</h2> <p>Again, you want your retirement accounts to be as full as possible when you leave the workforce. Can you find a different source for the money you're planning to withdraw? Maybe a family member can loan you the funds. Maybe a cash-out refinance on your home or a home equity loan can leave with you the money you need.</p> <h2>3. How Old Are You?</h2> <p>This is one of the bigger questions. If you withdraw money from your traditional IRA or 401K after you reach age 59-and-a-half, you'll do it penalty free, though you will still have to pay taxes on these withdrawals. The same is true for a Roth IRA, though you won't pay any taxes on most withdrawals from this kind of IRA.</p> <p>But if you are under 59-and-a-half, you'll be hit with a 10% penalty on the money you withdraw unless you are using it for specific reasons, such as buying a first home. For traditional IRAs and 401K plans, you'll also have to pay taxes on the money you withdraw, so this move is an especially big hit. The better choice? Wait to withdraw money from your retirement accounts until you hit 59-and-a-half.</p> <h2>4. Will You Face a Penalty If You Don't Make Withdrawals?</h2> <p>You'll get hit with a penalty if you withdraw money from a traditional IRA before 59-and-a-half. But did you know you'll face an even greater penalty if you don't take regular withdrawals from your traditional IRA after you turn 70-and-a-half?</p> <p>That is the age at which the owners of traditional IRAs are required to begin their minimum required distributions. If you fail to make these scheduled withdrawals you will be taxed at a rate of 50% of the distribution you were required to have made. So don't skip these withdrawals.</p> <h2>5. Are You Buying a New Home?</h2> <p>You can withdraw from your traditional IRA and Roth IRA before 59-and-a-half without any penalty if you are using the funds to buy a first home. And the definition of what makes for a first home is quite broad: Yes, a first home can be the first home that you have ever purchased. But you will also qualify for a first-home exemption if you or your buying partner haven't owned a principal residence in the last two years.</p> <p>With a traditional IRA, you can only withdraw up to $10,000 to help cover the purchase of a new home. With a Roth IRA, you might be able to withdraw a bit more because you can always withdraw your contributions to a Roth IRA without facing any taxes or penalties. The $10,000 limit, though, does hold for the earnings you've made on your Roth IRA.</p> <p>If you and your spouse or partner are buying a home together, you can both qualify for the first-time homebuyer exemption and borrow $10,000 each, giving you $20,000 to use toward your home purchase.</p> <p>Remember, though, you are still losing this money from your retirement account. You might enjoy that house you are buying, but you might miss that $10,000 when you hit retirement age.</p> <p>The rules are different for a 401K plan, which has no penalty exemption for withdrawing money before 59-and-a-half for buying a first home. You can take out a loan against your 401K, though, and use that money to help buy a home. But you will have to pay this loan back in installments and with interest.</p> <p><em>Have you ever withdrawn money from a retirement account? What questions did you ask first?</em></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/5-questions-to-ask-before-you-borrow-from-your-retirement-account">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-4"> <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/6-warning-signs-youre-sabotaging-your-nest-egg">6 Warning Signs You&#039;re Sabotaging Your Nest Egg</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-ways-to-strengthen-your-finances-before-retirement">5 Ways to Strengthen Your Finances 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-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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-why-a-roth-ira-may-be-better-than-your-401k">4 Reasons Why a Roth IRA May be Better Than Your 401(k)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement 401k borrowing money buying home IRA penalties withdrawal Wed, 13 Apr 2016 10:00:12 +0000 Dan Rafter 1686647 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Ways to Spring-Clean Your Investment Portfolio http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-spring-clean-your-investment-portfolio <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-ways-to-spring-clean-your-investment-portfolio" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/spare_chage_plant_000083910621.jpg" alt="Learning ways to spring clean your investment portfolio" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your garage isn't the only thing that could use a once-over this time of year. Your investments may be in need of some tidying up as well. Here's how to give them a good spring cleaning.</p> <h2>1. Double-Check Your Risk Tolerance</h2> <p>Since bottoming out in March of 2009, the stock market has been on a tear. It's been one of the greatest bull markets ever. But bull markets don't last forever. Eventually, the tide will turn. Will you be ready?</p> <p>I'm not predicting an imminent bear market, nor am I suggesting you try to time the market. That's a fool's errand. But I <em>do</em> believe this is a good time to review the assumptions you've used to guide your investments to date.</p> <p>Especially important here is a review of your risk tolerance. When the market is moving in a positive direction, it's easy to think of yourself as being fairly risk-tolerant. It's only when the markets turn negative that you really discover how strong a stomach you have.</p> <p>Instead of finding out the hard way that you're not as comfortable with risk as you thought you were, and setting yourself up for panic-selling in a downturn, reassess how much risk you can really handle. Vanguard has an <a href="https://personal.vanguard.com/us/FundsInvQuestionnaire">asset allocation questionnaire</a> that can help. It'll gauge your appetite for risk, factor in your investing time frame, and recommend an optimal asset allocation for you.</p> <h2>2. Double-Check Your Allocations</h2> <p>If your risk tolerance has changed, how your investments should be allocated has changed as well, and that means you probably have some work to do. First you'll need to change how your current portfolio is allocated across specific investments &mdash; mostly, what percentage of your portfolio is invested in stocks and what percentage in bonds (or stock-based mutual funds and bond-based mutual funds). Then you'll need to change how your monthly contributions are allocated as well.</p> <p>Whether your investment account is a 401K, an IRA, or a taxable account, you should be able to make these changes online, or call the broker where you have your account for assistance.</p> <h2>3. Rebalance Your Portfolio</h2> <p>Even if you're not planning to change your asset allocation, your asset allocation may have changed on its own.</p> <p>A year ago, your portfolio might have contained an 80/20 mix of stock funds and bond funds, but what does it look like now? If your stock investments have grown since you first implemented your plan and your bonds have fallen, your actual allocation may now be 90/10. Bring your portfolio back in line with what's optimal for you, given your risk tolerance and investment time horizon, by selling some of your stock holdings and buying bonds.</p> <p>It's generally a good idea to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-most-important-thing-youre-probably-not-doing-with-your-portfolio">rebalance your portfolio</a> once a year. If it's been a year or so since you last took care of this chore, add it to your investment spring cleaning to-do list.</p> <h2>4. Consolidate Accounts</h2> <p>It's not uncommon these days for people to have their investments spread out among several brokers. If you've changed jobs two or three times and rolled your 401K accounts into IRAs at different brokerage houses, you may find yourself dealing with an unnecessary amount of paperwork and navigating a confusing array of rules and fees. Consolidating some of these accounts could make managing your portfolio more efficient and less expensive. That's because implementing your strategy of choice at one broker usually requires fewer trades, which lowers your investment costs.</p> <p>Choosing which broker to keep is a matter of seeing which one offers most of the investments you want to own for the lowest commissions.</p> <p>Few people enjoy the process of spring cleaning, but most enjoy the fruits of their labor once the work is done. It's simply more enjoyable to live in a clean, organized house. The same is true for your investments. Taking a few hours to double-check your risk tolerance and asset allocation, rebalance your portfolio, and consolidate accounts should set you up for a more efficient, successful, and enjoyable experience as an investor.</p> <p><em>What are you doing to tidy up your finances this spring?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/matt-bell">Matt Bell</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-spring-clean-your-investment-portfolio">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-investment-accounts-all-30-somethings-should-have">7 Investment Accounts All 30-Somethings Should Have</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/4-reasons-why-a-roth-ira-may-be-better-than-your-401k">4 Reasons Why a Roth IRA May be Better Than Your 401(k)</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-questions-to-ask-before-you-sell-a-stock-or-a-fund">10 Questions to Ask Before You Sell a Stock or a Fund</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/the-10-biggest-myths-about-investing">The 10 Biggest Myths About Investing</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment 401k balancing portfolio IRA money management risk spring cleaning stocks Thu, 07 Apr 2016 10:01:08 +0000 Matt Bell 1683755 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Warning Signs You're Sabotaging Your Nest Egg http://www.wisebread.com/6-warning-signs-youre-sabotaging-your-nest-egg <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-warning-signs-youre-sabotaging-your-nest-egg" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_breaking_piggybank_000048408258.jpg" alt="Man learning signs he&#039;s sabotaging his nest egg" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Depending on how old you are, retirement may seem like a vague, distant goal. Still, <em>even if</em> it's many years off, it's important to pay attention to your retirement savings because the decisions you make now &mdash; whether good or bad &mdash; will be magnified by the power of time. Review the list below to see if you're making any of these mistakes.</p> <h2>1. You Haven't Calculated How Much You Will Need</h2> <p>If you don't know how much you'll need to retire, you probably also don't know how much you'll need to invest right now. There are many simple-to-use, free online retirement planning calculators that can help you calculate these figures easily. Fidelity's <a href="http://personal.fidelity.com/planning/retirement/content/myPlan/index.shtml">myPlan Snapshot</a>, for example, requires just five bits of information to generate a rough estimate of your retirement needs and the monthly contributions needed to achieve your goal.</p> <h2>2. You're Not Saving Enough</h2> <p>If you work for a company that matches some of your 401K plan contributions, you absolutely must take advantage of what basically amounts to free money. (In fact, it's likely the easiest money you'll ever make.) And yet, about 25% of workers who are eligible for a match do not take full advantage of the benefit.</p> <p>Many of today's large employers also use various forms of automation with their retirement plans &mdash; automatic enrollment, automatic investment selection, and more. Having to opt-<em>out </em>if you don't want to participate has proven to generate higher participation levels than opt-<em>in </em>programs. The problem is, those programs tend to use relatively low contributions to start, and most workers never increase that amount.</p> <p>Don't be lulled into a false sense of confidence by automated contributions. Base your contributions on what you feel capable of contributing &mdash; it's likely higher than the automatic contribution amount.</p> <h2>3. You're Not Investing Wisely</h2> <p>The most common investment choice in 401K and similar plans is a target-date retirement fund (TDF). Their popularity is understandable since TDFs take care of some of the most complicated investing decisions for you. Investors simply choose a fund with the year closest to their intended retirement date as part of its name (the Fidelity Freedom 2055 fund, for example, is designed for people who plan to retire between 2053 and 2057). The fund is invested in a way the mutual fund company believes is best for someone with that much time until retirement. Another benefit of target-date funds is that they automatically alter how they invest over time, becoming more conservative as the investor nears retirement age.</p> <p>Still, not all TDFs intended for similar target retirement dates are the same. Some are more aggressive than others. During the financial crisis of 2008&ndash;2009, many people who were invested in 2010 target-date funds, those intended for people right on the cusp of retirement at the time, <a href="https://www.soundmindinvesting.com/articles/view/how-well-do-target-date-funds-perform-in-a-downturn">lost a lot of money</a>. Allocating all of your retirement contributions to a single fund can be risky. At the very least, understand how the target date fund you're considering is designed and make sure you're comfortable with its assumptions.</p> <h2>4. You Haven't Chosen the Right Tax-Advantaged Plan</h2> <p>If you're eligible to participate in a 401K plan, you may have a choice between a traditional or a Roth 401K. If you don't have access to a workplace plan, you probably qualify for an IRA. Again, you'll have your choice between a traditional or a Roth IRA.</p> <p>The key difference has to do with taxes. With a traditional 401K or IRA, the money you contribute is immediately tax-deductible. If you make $50,000 and contribute $5,000, your taxable income becomes $45,000. When you take money out of the account in retirement, you'll owe taxes.</p> <p>With a Roth, it works the other way around. Money you contribute is not tax-deductible. If you make $50,000 and contribute $5,000, your taxable income remains $50,000. However, when you take the money out in retirement, no taxes are due.</p> <p>Choosing the best approach comes down to trying to pay taxes when your income is lowest. So, if you're in the early stages of your career, your income is probably relatively low. Paying taxes on the contributions now by using a Roth would likely make the most sense. If you're at a stage in your career when you are earning a lot, gaining a tax deduction now may make the most sense, pointing you toward a traditional 401K or IRA.</p> <h2>5. You've Taken a Loan, Hardship Withdrawal, or Early Distribution</h2> <p>The main point of building a nest egg is to have to have enough money to live on when you're older. However, IRS rules make it surprisingly easy to take money out of retirement accounts well before retirement.</p> <p>Participants in a 401K plan can typically borrow against their balance or may qualify for a hardship withdrawal. Those using a Roth IRA can withdraw their contributions at any time without penalty, and they can access their earnings if their account has been open for at least five years and the money is used for certain purposes, such as a first-time home purchase or education.</p> <p>However, accessing retirement account money early can be harmful to your financial health. If you have a loan from your 401K and you leave your employer &mdash; whether by your choice or your employer's &mdash; you'll have to repay the full amount of the loan very quickly. And taking money out of any retirement account for any reason other than retirement means that's less money that can avail itself of the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/2-investing-concepts-everyone-should-know">power of compound interest</a>.</p> <h2>6. You Haven't Named Beneficiaries</h2> <p>Failing to name a beneficiary for your 401K account or IRA means that money will become part of your estate upon your death, costing your heirs needless time and money. Simply naming a beneficiary will get the proceeds where you want them to go without the need for probate. Name your beneficiaries properly and your heirs could even turn your account into <em>a </em><a href="https://www.soundmindinvesting.com/articles/view/stretching-your-iras-benefits"><em>stretch IRA</em></a> or 401K, which can greatly maximize the value of your account while minimizing taxes.</p> <p>Even if you're young and retirement is set somewhere in the distant future, when that day comes, you will be glad to have taken care of these details <em>way back when.</em></p> <p><em>Are you making any of these retirement investing mistakes?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/matt-bell">Matt Bell</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-warning-signs-youre-sabotaging-your-nest-egg">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-5"> <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/4-reasons-why-a-roth-ira-may-be-better-than-your-401k">4 Reasons Why a Roth IRA May be Better Than Your 401(k)</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/which-retirement-account-is-right-for-you">Which Retirement Account 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/5-ways-to-strengthen-your-finances-before-retirement">5 Ways to Strengthen Your Finances 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-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> <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-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> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement 401k IRA nest egg retirement calculators Roth IRA Tue, 08 Mar 2016 11:00:13 +0000 Matt Bell 1666378 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Ways to Strengthen Your Finances Before Retirement http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-strengthen-your-finances-before-retirement <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-ways-to-strengthen-your-finances-before-retirement" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/thrifty_woman_money_000033605098.jpg" alt="Woman finding ways to strengthen her finances before retirement" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If retirement is only a few years down the road, hopefully you already have the right <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-should-you-have-saved-for-retirement-by-30-40-50">retirement savings</a> in place. And nothing can beat a well-funded retirement account that was started early in your career.</p> <p>There <em>are</em> a few more moves you can make before you close the door on your career for good, though. Doing these five things will ensure you have a more comfortable retirement and help stretch your nest egg a little further. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-retirement-products-that-arent-worth-your-money?ref=seealso">6 Retirement Products That Aren't Worth Your Money</a>)</p> <h2>1. Get Rid of Debt</h2> <p>How much debt do you have right now besides a mortgage? If you have any credit card or other loan debt, now is the time to take serious steps to getting rid of it. Once you move to a fixed income, you do not want your precious savings to fund debt repayment or to be <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-do-a-balance-transfer-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt">wasted on interest payments</a>.</p> <p>Treat your debt seriously. Taking debt into retirement is like entering a marathon with a broken leg. You will exert too much energy dragging your bad leg around, and might not even cross the finish line.</p> <p>First things first: calculate how much debt you have. Consider transferring your high-interest credit card debt to a promotional credit card that offers 0% APR and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards">0% balance transfers</a>. This will allow you to pay more towards your debt without wasting money on interest payments. A word to the wise, however: Only transfer as much debt onto our 0% APR card as you can pay off during the promotional period. Otherwise, you'll find yourself in the same position again once the 0% APR promotional period ends and your rate rises.</p> <h2>2. Rethink Your Mortgage and Home</h2> <p>Take a look at your current home and assess it. How much do you still owe on it &mdash; and is it too much house for your retirement needs? Will this be a good home for you when you are in your 80s and have difficulty going up and down stairs?</p> <p>Before you retire, consider the benefits of downsizing your home and mortgage. A smaller home will be less work to maintain and cost less to live in. Not only do smaller houses generally come with smaller mortgages, but they also cost less to heat and cool.</p> <p>If your home is the right fit for your retirement needs, then focus on the mortgage. Paying off your mortgage before retirement is not a small task, but it will free your budget significantly each month.</p> <h2>3. Build an Emergency Fund</h2> <p>Just because you're retired doesn't mean you don't have a need for an emergency fund any longer. Your Social Security benefits, retirement savings, and/or pension are meant to cover your daily living expenses. But how will you pay for an emergency, such as an unexpected hospital visit or car expense? Even a $1,000 emergency can derail your budget and land you into debt if you aren't careful.</p> <p>While you're still working, start saving money in a separate account for emergencies. This money should be easily accessible for small financial disasters that occur before and after retirement.</p> <h2>4. Boost Your Retirement Savings</h2> <p>If you have five to 10 years left until you retire, you still have the special opportunity to boost your retirement savings. Of course, your retirement savings will have seen the most benefit from investing in your 20s and 30s, but taking advantage of catch-up contributions are also wise.</p> <p>Once you turn 50, you become eligible to make additional catch-up contributions to your retirement plan of up to $6,000 more per year. Take advantage of this opportunity to correct for lackluster retirement savings.</p> <p>Remember, temporary cutbacks now can mean a more comfortable and worry-free retirement. Don't forget that contributing the full $24,000 each year after you turn 50 allows you certain tax benefits that can make the extra contributions less burdensome on your budget.</p> <h2>5. Draw Up a Budget and Do a Trial Run</h2> <p>When you first enter retirement, $1&ndash;$2 million dollars can seem like a luxurious amount. But retirement isn't the time to throw out your budget. In fact, your should stick closely to your budget to ensure you don't outlive your money.</p> <p>Once you draw up a realistic retirement budget, try adhering to that budget before you actually need to. Work out your budget kinks before you retire.</p> <p>While many individuals have established retirement savings funds, many have also underestimated what their financial needs will be during the last 20&ndash;30 years of their life. Applying these principles before entering retirement can ensure that your finances stay strong and healthy.</p> <p><em>What are your plans to better yourself before you retire? </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-strengthen-your-finances-before-retirement">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-7"> <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/8-steps-to-starting-a-retirement-plan-in-your-30s">8 Steps to Starting a Retirement Plan in Your 30s</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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/retirement-accounts-and-money-to-spend">Retirement accounts and money to spend</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/6-warning-signs-youre-sabotaging-your-nest-egg">6 Warning Signs You&#039;re Sabotaging Your Nest Egg</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 budgeting debt emergency funds IRA mortgages savings Fri, 26 Feb 2016 10:00:12 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1661857 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Dumb IRA Mistakes Even Smart People Make http://www.wisebread.com/5-dumb-ira-mistakes-even-smart-people-make <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-dumb-ira-mistakes-even-smart-people-make" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/000062076804.jpg" alt="Smart people making dumb IRA mistakes" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You know how important it is to save for your retirement. So to help you reach your financial goals, you've set up an IRA.</p> <p>Setting up and contributing to an IRA is a good first step. But even financially savvy people make key mistakes when contributing to IRAs &mdash; mistakes that can cost them plenty of retirement dollars.</p> <p>The good news? It's actually fairly easy to avoid these errors. Craig Howell, vice president of business development at San Francisco's Ubiquity Retirement + Savings, said that consumers can do so with just a bit of education.</p> <p>&quot;It doesn't take much to educate yourself on how IRAs work,&quot; Howell said. &quot;You do have to pay attention to your IRAs. A lot of people set them up and then ignore them. But if you do just a bit of research, you can avoid making mistakes with that money.&quot;</p> <p>Here are the most common mistakes even smart people make when it comes to building the savings in their IRAs. (See also: <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>)</p> <h2>1. Not Contributing Enough</h2> <p>The more money you deposit in your IRA, the more money you'll have to help fund a happy retirement. That seems obvious. But many people, even financially savvy ones, simply use their IRAs as a place to stash money, not as a place to grow it.</p> <p>This is because many people first fund their IRAs from dollars they roll over from an employer-sponsored 401K when they change jobs. They take that money, deposit it in an IRA, and ignore it. Sure, depending on the economy, these dollars will slowly grow. But they won't grow nearly as fast as they would have if their owners were making regular contributions.</p> <p>And this is far from an uncommon mistake.</p> <p>&quot;I believe that the number one mistake that people make is not contributing to their IRAs at all,&quot; said Joe Roseman, managing partner at retirement firm O'Dell, Winkfield, Roseman &amp; Shipp in Charlotte, North Carolina. &quot;That is easily the number one mistake.&quot;</p> <p>A 2015 study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute found that only 7% of investors contributed to their traditional IRA accounts in 2013. Investors who owned Roth IRAs did a bit better, with 26% contributing in 2013.</p> <h2>2. Taking the Silo Approach</h2> <p>Jim Poolman, executive director of the Indexed Annuity Leadership Council and former insurance commissioner of North Dakota, said that too many investors never consider how their IRAs fit into their overall retirement plans.</p> <p>Of course, too many people never calculate how much they'll need to save for their retirements in the first place. So when they invest dollars in an IRA, they do it in a haphazard way, contributing when they are fortunate enough to have some extra money. A better approach is to contribute on a regular schedule that is based on all the savings vehicles you are using to fund your retirement, Poolman said. For example, if you contribute to an employer-sponsored 401K every pay period, consider doing the same for your IRA. Automatic account transfers from savings or checking balances can help you achieve this.</p> <p>&quot;It is important to look at your full retirement plan and how your investment vehicles fit in,&quot; Poolman said. &quot;Evaluate all of your investments together so you have a proper balance to meet your time and investment objectives. Some people look at the different vehicles like an IRA in a silo, and don't consider it in the entire financial or retirement plan.&quot;</p> <h2>3. Forgetting Their Required Minimum Distributions</h2> <p>IRAs come with generous tax breaks &mdash; but don't think you're getting these for free. The federal government requires that when you turn 70-and-a-half you begin taking regular withdrawals from your traditional IRAs, withdrawals on which you will have to pay taxes. (If you have a Roth IRA, you won't have to do this.)</p> <p>How much you'll have to withdraw each year depends on how much money you've saved in your IRA. If you forget to make these withdrawals, or if you don't take ones that are large enough, the government will levy a 50% penalty against you. If you were supposed to withdraw $5,000, not only will you have to catch up with that withdrawal &mdash; paying taxes on it &mdash; you'll also have to pay a penalty of $2,500.</p> <p>&quot;Uncle Sam, being the nice gentleman that he is, at some point if he gives you something, he also takes it away from you,&quot; Roseman said. &quot;If you don't take your required minimum distribution, he is going to hit you with a very nasty penalty.&quot;</p> <h2>4. The Rollover Mistake</h2> <p>Say you want to move the dollars in your current IRA to a new one. Or maybe you've changed jobs and you want to take the money from your old 401K account and deposit it in an IRA. You can roll those funds over.</p> <p>In a rollover, you'll receive a check for the amount of money in the retirement account you are closing. You then use that money to start a new IRA. But there is a catch: If you don't deposit your dollars into a new account within 60 days, the IRS will consider that money as income, which means you'll have to pay taxes on it.</p> <p>And if you are under the age of 59-and-a-half when you do this, you'll also be hit with a 10% penalty. If you withdrew $10,000 and failed to move it into a new IRA within 60 days, you'd have to pay a penalty of $1,000.</p> <p>Also, you can only do one rollover a year. A better choice? Sign up for a direct transfer of your dollars from one retirement savings vehicle to your new one. Doing so will send your money directly to your new IRA without you ever receiving a check first. It's a way to eliminate this extra step and make sure that you don't accidentally trigger the 60-day penalty. You can also make unlimited direct transfers in a year.</p> <h2>5. The Wrong Beneficiary</h2> <p>When you die, you want the money left in your IRA to go to the right beneficiary. But Roseman said that too many investors forget to update their IRA's beneficiaries when their lives change.</p> <p>This most often happens in cases of divorce, he said. Divorced or remarried investors often forget to change their beneficiary forms. Their IRA dollars are still scheduled to go to their ex-spouses, not their current ones, after they die.</p> <p>&quot;You are dead and your current spouse is counting on the $300,000 in your IRA,&quot; Roseman said. &quot;But the beneficiary designation still says that this money goes to the ex. There have been many court cases saying that the beneficiary designation rules. It overrules a trust agreement and it overrules a will. That is a huge mistake that investors make. Any time there is a change in their lives, people need to re-do those beneficiary forms.&quot;</p> <p><em>Are you making any of these common IRA errors?</em></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/5-dumb-ira-mistakes-even-smart-people-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-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/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/7-ways-to-max-out-your-ira-contributions-by-april-15th">7 Ways to Max Out Your IRA Contributions by April 15th</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/you-dont-need-a-retirement-plan-you-need-a-financial-independence-plan">You Don&#039;t Need a Retirement Plan — You Need a Financial Independence Plan</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/which-retirement-account-is-right-for-you">Which Retirement Account Is Right for You?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement beneficiaries contributions IRA Mistakes rollovers saving money Mon, 15 Feb 2016 11:30:04 +0000 Dan Rafter 1654106 at http://www.wisebread.com Stop Making These 10 Bogus Retirement Savings Excuses http://www.wisebread.com/stop-making-these-10-bogus-retirement-savings-excuses <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/stop-making-these-10-bogus-retirement-savings-excuses" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/000018814419.jpg" alt="Realizing it&#039;s time to stop making bogus retirement savings excuses" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Saving for retirement can often feel like a drag, and many of us come up with excuses for avoiding it. After all, who wants to think about finances at age 70 when you're decades away and enjoying life <em>now</em>?</p> <p>But no matter what excuse you come up with, there's no denying that putting as much money aside as you can &mdash; as early as you can &mdash; will help you maintain your lifestyle even after you stop working.</p> <p>Here are some of the top excuses people use to avoid saving for retirement, and why they're way off-base. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-steps-to-starting-a-retirement-plan-in-your-30s">8 Steps to Starting a Retirement Plan in Your 30s</a>)</p> <h2>1. &quot;I Have a Pension&quot;</h2> <p>If your company is one of the few remaining organizations that offers a defined benefit plan, that's great. But it should not be a reason to refrain from saving additional money for retirement. Having additional savings on top of your pension can make retirement that much sweeter. And pensions have been under assault in recent years, with companies and governments backing off of promises to retirees due to financial troubles. Protect against this uncertainty by opening an individual retirement account (otherwise known as an IRA).</p> <h2>2.&quot;I'm Self-Employed&quot; or &quot;My Company Doesn't Offer a Retirement Plan&quot;</h2> <p>You may not have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, but that does not mean you can't save a lot for retirement. Any individual can open a traditional IRA or Roth IRA and contribute up to $5,500 annually. With a traditional IRA, contributions are made from your pre-tax income. With a Roth IRA, you pay taxes up-front, so that you won't have to pay them when you withdraw the money at retirement age. In addition, the federal government now offers a &quot;<a href="https://myra.gov/">myIRA</a>&quot; plan, which works like a Roth IRA and allows anyone to invest in treasury securities with no startup costs or fees.</p> <h2>3. &quot;I Won't Be at This Company for Very Long&quot;</h2> <p>One of the key advantages to 401K plans offered by employers is that they are portable. This means that any money you contribute to a plan will follow you wherever you go. In some cases, contributions from your company need to &quot;vest&quot; for a certain amount of time before you get to keep the them, but usually only for a year or so. There's no real downside to contributing to a company retirement plan, even if you don't plan to be there for very long.</p> <h2>4. &quot;The Expenses Are High&quot;</h2> <p>It's very true that many investment products, including mutual funds, have high costs tied to them. It's annoying to buy funds and notice an expense ratio of more than 1%, thus reducing your potential profits. But fees are not a good enough reason to avoid investing, altogether. Over the long haul, your investments will easily rise in value and more than offset any costs. And if you direct your investments to low-cost mutual funds and ETFs, you'll likely find the fees aren't so objectionable. Look for mutual funds with expense ratios of less than 0.1%, and for those that trade without a commission.</p> <h2>5. &quot;I Need to Fund My Kids' College Education&quot;</h2> <p>Putting money aside to pay for college is a wonderful idea, but it should not be done at the expense of your own retirement. Your kids can always work to pay for college or even take out loans, if necessary. But you can't borrow for your own retirement, and you don't want to find yourself working into old age because you didn't save for yourself. In an ideal world, you can save for both college and your own retirement, but you should always think of your own retirement first.</p> <h2>6. &quot;My 401K Plan Isn't Very Good&quot; or &quot;My Company Doesn't Match Contributions&quot;</h2> <p>I'll occasionally hear someone say that they won't contribute to their retirement plan because it's a bad one. No employer match, bad investment options, or high fees can kill any motivation to save. But contributing to even a bad 401K is better than not saving at all. And if you're not thrilled with the offered 401K plan, you can take a look at traditional or Roth IRAs, or even stocks and mutual funds in taxable accounts. There are many bad retirement plans out there, but they are almost all better than nothing.</p> <h2>6. &quot;I Don't Understand Investing&quot;</h2> <p>There's no question that investing can be a very intimidating thing. It takes a while to grasp even the basics of how to invest, and the number of investment products can be bewildering. Don't let fear hold you back from achieving your dreams in retirement. These days, there's a lot of great free information about investing that can help you get started. And many discount brokerages, such as Fidelity, offer free advice if you have an account. Certified Financial Planners are also plentiful &mdash; and often reasonably priced &mdash; and can help you establish a plan to save for retirement and keep you on track.</p> <h2>7. &quot;I Don't Earn Enough&quot;</h2> <p>It's definitely hard to think about retirement when you're having trouble making ends meet now. But it's important to recognize setting aside even a modest amount of money each month can help you achieve financial freedom. Consider that even $25 a month into an index fund can grow to tens of thousands of dollars after 30 years.</p> <h2>8. &quot;I'm Young &mdash; I Have Plenty of Time&quot;</h2> <p>If you're not saving for retirement when you're young, you are costing your future self a lot of money. Thanks to the magic of compound interest and earnings, someone who begins saving in their early 20s can really see big gains over time. If you have $10,000 at age 20 and begin setting aside $200 a month until age 65, you'll have nearly a million dollars, based on an average market return. But if you wait until age 35, you'll end up with barely one-third of that.</p> <h2>9. &quot;It's Too Late for Me&quot;</h2> <p>It's true that the earlier you start investing, the more money you'll likely end up with. But hope is not entirely lost for those who are approaching retirement age but have not saved. Even five to 10 years of aggressive saving and the right investments can result in a nice nest egg. Older people can take advantage of higher limits on contributions to retirement plans including IRAs and 401Ks.</p> <h2>10. &quot;I'll Get Social Security&quot;</h2> <p>You've been contributing to Social Security all your life, but that doesn't mean it guarantees a comfortable retirement. A typical Social Security benefit these days is about $1,300 a month. That's enough to keep you from starving, but you won't be able to do much else. Moreover, concerns over federal budget deficits suggest there is no guarantee of Social Security funds being available when you retire. For certain, there is constant talk by lawmakers of entitlement reform, which could mean to lower benefits or other changes.</p> <p><em>What's your excuse for not saving for retirement?</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/stop-making-these-10-bogus-retirement-savings-excuses">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/5-ways-to-strengthen-your-finances-before-retirement">5 Ways to Strengthen Your Finances Before Retirement</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/8-steps-to-starting-a-retirement-plan-in-your-30s">8 Steps to Starting a Retirement Plan in Your 30s</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/6-ways-to-guarantee-income-in-retirement">6 Ways to Guarantee Income in 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/how-to-plan-for-retirement-when-you-re-ready-to-retire">How to Plan for Retirement When You’re Ready to Retire</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-retirement-rules-you-should-be-breaking">6 Retirement Rules You Should Be Breaking</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement 401k compound interest excuses IRA pensions savings social security Mon, 08 Feb 2016 18:00:05 +0000 Tim Lemke 1649873 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Ways to Reduce Your Tax Bill With Bonds http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-reduce-your-tax-bill-with-bonds <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-ways-to-reduce-your-tax-bill-with-bonds" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/father_daughter_computer_000082622141.jpg" alt="Man finding ways to reduce his tax bills with bonds" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Financial advisors recommend bonds to investors for portfolio diversification, as a fixed income investment strategy, and to hedge against inflation. Even better, some major bond classes can help you reduce your tax bill, too.</p> <p>What's more, they are low-risk investments. Here's how you can reduce your tax bill with bonds. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-tax-friendly-ways-to-save-beyond-your-retirement-fund">9 Tax-Friendly Ways to Save Beyond Your Retirement Fund</a>)</p> <h2>1. Invest in Municipal Bonds</h2> <p>Municipal bonds have long garnered the attention of high-earners seeking to minimize their tax obligations. Muni bonds are tax-exempt at the federal level and, in some cases, local and state tax exempt as well, especially if the investor resides in the issuing state or municipality.</p> <p>Though munis faced some scrutiny during the financial crisis, many &mdash; if not most &mdash; munis deserve a second look now that local government finances are on much more stable footing.</p> <h2>2. Buy U.S. Treasury Bonds</h2> <p>U.S. Treasury bonds pay interest income once every six months. That income is exempt from state, local, and the alternative minimum tax. Some treasury bonds can also <a href="https://www.fidelity.com/fixed-income-bonds/individual-bonds/us-treasury-bonds">reduce your tax bill</a>, even if investing outside of a retirement account.</p> <h2>3. Purchase Zero Coupon Bonds</h2> <p>Zero coupon bonds are exempt from state and local tax. As their name suggests, these government bonds pay no interest, but often offer higher yields. Investors beware, however: Zero coupon bonds come with higher risks than their traditional counterparts, so consider the risk-reward trade-offs before investing in this asset class.</p> <h2>4. Put Bonds Inside Tax-Free and Tax-Deferred Accounts</h2> <p>Investors can defer any taxes owed on interest income by delaying distributions and holding these investments in a tax-deferred retirement account, such as an IRA or 401K. Once the money is withdrawn at retirement age, it'll be taxed based on the individual's tax bracket. Using the same strategy, if they are kept in a tax-free account, such as a Roth IRA or Roth 401K, distributions taken at retirement are tax-free.</p> <p><em>Are bonds in your portfolio? </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/qiana-chavaia">Qiana Chavaia</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-reduce-your-tax-bill-with-bonds">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-13"> <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/a-simple-guide-to-series-i-savings-bonds-i-bonds">A Simple Guide to Series I Savings Bonds (I-Bonds)</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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-spring-clean-your-investment-portfolio">4 Ways to Spring-Clean Your Investment Portfolio</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-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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/did-your-parents-give-you-a-whole-life-insurance-policy-heres-what-to-do-with-it">Did Your Parents Give You a Whole Life Insurance Policy? Here&#039;s What to Do With It.</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment Taxes 401 k bonds IRA municipal tax-deferred treasury Tue, 02 Feb 2016 22:00:06 +0000 Qiana Chavaia 1649194 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Reasons Women Might Retire With More Wealth http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-women-might-retire-with-more-wealth <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-reasons-women-might-retire-with-more-wealth" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_money_pink_000007951788.jpg" alt="Learning reasons why women might retire with more wealth" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We hear a lot about how women might be shortchanged in terms of earnings, but there are also plenty of ways women can excel financially. From potentially stronger savings and investment habits, to longer lifespans, women enjoy some serious wealth-building advantages, as well. Here are five reasons women might retire with more wealth.</p> <h2>1. More Women Are Gaining Higher Education</h2> <p>In fact, women are handily defeating men in the college game. Because women are more likely to <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/12/11/women-are-dominating-men-at-college-blame-sexism/">graduate from college</a> than their male counterparts, they enter the workforce in better shape. Sure, women are more likely to enter lower-paid areas of the education and health sectors, but they are also breaking into business and <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/04/14/study-finds-surprisingly-that-women-are-favored-for-jobs-in-stem/">STEM programs</a> at an increasing rate.</p> <p>While college loan debt can slow down your plans to save, the correlation between college and increased earnings is still present. The trick is to start investing as soon as you begin to see your margin of expendable income widen, ideally before age 30.</p> <h2>2. Women Are Living and Working Longer</h2> <p>That's right: Women typically live longer, and thus have more healthful years during which they may work. That means continuing to work in later years &mdash; when earnings may be higher, and more returns from compound interest on savings enjoyed. It also means a postponed retirement, which allows your investments to grow for longer.</p> <p>Check out this handy guide to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-should-you-have-saved-for-retirement-by-30-40-50">reaching your investing goals</a>.</p> <h2>3. Women Are Better Savers at all Income Levels</h2> <p>The road is full of unexpected hurdles to saving, and expensive emergencies are all but inevitable. The good news for female workers is that women are <a href="https://institutional.vanguard.com/iam/pdf/GENDRESP.pdf?cbdForceDomain=true">better at saving</a> than men in general. If that weren't enough, the same study showed that women are also better at managing their 401K accounts than men.</p> <p>It still takes discipline, however, to work this psychology to your advantage. Make specific goals and stick to them.</p> <h2>4. Forgoing Children Could Mean More Savings</h2> <p>On the fence about starting a family? According to the 2014 census, 48% of women between the ages of 18 and 44 <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/09/childless-more-women-are-not-having-kids-says-census_n_7032258.html">do not have children</a>. Clearly, women are increasingly waiting to have kids, or deferring the option altogether.</p> <p>Consider that this may mean more money for those women down the line. Delaying kids can mean more time to solidify your career and earnings, amass savings, and reduce debt before the financial pressures of kids arrive. If you are a 20- or 30-something still weighing the options, avoiding the fate of the <a href="http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/01/30/the-sandwich-generation/">sandwich generation</a> might be a deciding factor in postponing or entirely forgoing children.</p> <h2>5. Women Are Less Likely to Make Risky Trades</h2> <p>In addition to being better savers, more educated, and having more working years in which to save, women are also less likely to gamble their savings in poor investments. Women are generally <a href="http://www.nextavenue.org/do-women-and-men-differ-retirement-savers/">more risk averse</a> than men.</p> <p>That said, there is no reason not to learn how to pick more varied investments and take a slightly higher risk (hopefully for greater rewards) every now and then. Try listening to these <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-money-podcasts">great money podcasts</a> to pick up tips and stay up to date with the market.</p> <p>Women enjoy a variety of natural advantages when it comes to earning and managing money. The key is making full use of them to strengthen your financial roadmap.</p> <p><em>Are you taking steps to secure your retirement?</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/5-reasons-women-might-retire-with-more-wealth">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/6-warning-signs-youre-sabotaging-your-nest-egg">6 Warning Signs You&#039;re Sabotaging Your Nest Egg</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-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> <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-ways-to-strengthen-your-finances-before-retirement">5 Ways to Strengthen Your Finances 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-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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-why-a-roth-ira-may-be-better-than-your-401k">4 Reasons Why a Roth IRA May be Better Than Your 401(k)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement education gender IRA savings 401k women Thu, 31 Dec 2015 14:00:03 +0000 Amanda Meadows 1629244 at http://www.wisebread.com The 10 Biggest Myths About Investing http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-biggest-myths-about-investing <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-10-biggest-myths-about-investing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_thinking_newspaper_000053925278_0.jpg" alt="Man learning biggest myths about investing" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There's a lot of information about investing floating around. There are also a lot of bad opinions, misconceptions, and flat-out lies.</p> <p>Knowing the difference between myth and reality is your ticket to hitting your investing goals. Here are 10 of the biggest myths about investing:</p> <h2>1. It's Hard to Get Started</h2> <p>If you've never invested money before, it can seem intimidating &mdash; and you may not even know where to begin. But the reality is that it's never been easier to get started with investing. It's simple to open a brokerage account or Individual Retirement Account (IRA) online, and there's a wealth of great information available to investors for free on the web. If you work for a company that offers a 401K plan, you are usually automatically enrolled. All you have to do is read up on the investment choices and decide how much money you want to put aside.</p> <h2>2. You Need a Lot of Money to Make a Lot of Money</h2> <p>There were days when stock brokers wouldn't even take your calls unless you were willing to invest thousands of dollars. Nowadays, it's possible to open a brokerage account and invest just a share at a time. Granted, transaction fees can make it worthwhile to invest larger sums at a time, and some investment accounts have minimum requirements &mdash; but you generally don't need to be rich to get started. A modest amount of cash set aside at regular intervals can result in a big nest egg upon retirement. Consider that even a person making $30,000 a year and setting aside 5% of their income over 30 years will end up with more than $150,000, based on a 7% annual return.</p> <h2>3. It's Overly Risky</h2> <p>Investing is not without risk, but you are fully in control of how much risk you want to assume. If you're the skittish type, there are plenty of investments, such as bonds and dividend stocks, that will allow you to make money without much risk. And it's important to remember that while stocks can go down in value quickly, they have historically always rebounded. Since the Great Depression, there have been fewer than two dozen down years for stocks.</p> <h2>4. The System Is Rigged</h2> <p>You will often hear this from critics of our financial system. I won't suggest that our system is perfect, but to call something &quot;rigged&quot; is to suggest that the average person can't succeed. The truth is that for the average person, it's easy to buy stocks, bonds, and other investments in a straightforward and transparent way, and make money doing it.</p> <h2>5. Past Performance Indicates Future Returns</h2> <p>It's tempting to buy an investment because it has done well in the past. And it's generally true that if a stock has generated a solid return over a very long period of time, it's a good bet moving forward. But there's absolutely nothing to prevent an investment from tanking even after years of great returns. And it certainly doesn't make sense to invest in something based on the performance of the previous few months.</p> <h2>6. Investment Professionals Know a Lot More Than You</h2> <p>I don't want to disparage fund managers and analysts, but there is a growing body of evidence that no one, not even the most experienced professionals, can consistently beat the performance of the overall stock market. If you put money in an index fund that tracks the overall stock market, there's a good chance you'll do as well or better than the hotshots on Wall Street.</p> <h2>7. You Should Try to Get Stocks During an IPO</h2> <p>Initial public offerings get a lot of headlines, and it may seem desirable to get in at the ground floor. Examples abound, however, of companies that failed to come out of the gate strong. In fact, many companies have seen share prices dip well below IPO levels. (Facebook is the most recent prime example of this.) For most investors, it makes sense to wait after an IPO to see how things go. If you're investing for the long haul, waiting won't hurt you too much. In fact, you may even get a better bargain.</p> <h2>8. You Need to Have [Insert Investment Here] in Your Portfolio</h2> <p>You'll get a lot of advice from people telling you that you need a specific type of investment to optimize your returns. But there is rarely a single investment that should be considered a must-have. There are a million ways to build a collection of investments that will help you get rich; the best advice is to diversify and have a long investment horizon.</p> <h2>9. Gold Is Always Great</h2> <p>You may assume that gold is an amazing investment. I mean, it's <em>gold</em> right? And there has to be some reason there are advertisements for gold on TV all the time. The truth is that gold <em>can</em> be a great investment, but only at certain times. It's worth having some in your portfolio to stay diversified, but gold has taken a beating recently. Shares of the SPDR Gold Trust are down nearly 15% in the last three years.</p> <h2>10. $1 Million Is a Magic Number</h2> <p>One would think that becoming a millionaire means you're set for life. Not these days, however. Thanks to inflation and longer life expectancies, a million bucks may not be enough for most people to live long and retire comfortably. It's a good sum of money, but if you want your money to last 25 to 30 years, you're probably going to want double that &mdash; or even more, if possible. This means saving as much money as you can, as early as you can.</p> <p><em>Do you adhere to these &mdash; or other &mdash; myths about investing?</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-biggest-myths-about-investing">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-4"> <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/should-you-pay-down-debt-first-or-invest">Should You Pay Down Debt First or Invest?</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-ways-to-strengthen-your-finances-before-retirement">5 Ways to Strengthen Your Finances Before Retirement</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/4-ways-to-spring-clean-your-investment-portfolio">4 Ways to Spring-Clean Your Investment Portfolio</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-investment-accounts-all-30-somethings-should-have">7 Investment Accounts All 30-Somethings Should Have</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-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> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment 401k emergency funds IRA retirement Mon, 07 Dec 2015 10:02:20 +0000 Tim Lemke 1618546 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Important Things to Know About Your 401K and IRA in 2016 http://www.wisebread.com/5-important-things-to-know-about-your-401k-and-ira-in-2016 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-important-things-to-know-about-your-401k-and-ira-in-2016" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/2016_money_finances_000078468345.jpg" alt="Learning important changes coming to your 401K in 2016" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We can all agree that investing in a 401K, IRA, or Roth, while being a scary proposition at times, is quite frankly the best use of our money for saving long term. Retirement might be a long way off for you, but it's important to stay on top of the changes that take place for these accounts each year. They could shift your overall direction of planning for your financial future.</p> <p>Here is a list of what will and won't change for your 401K and IRA in 2016.</p> <h2>No Change</h2> <p>Before we look at what's new, let's look at what's staying the same.</p> <h3>1. Contribution Limits</h3> <p>&quot;No change&quot; usually implies something good is happening because it's consistent. In this case, no change for contribution limits means that you are limited to the same amount of money you could put away in 2015 for 2016. In 401K plans, that is $18,000 for people under the age of 50 &mdash; and in IRA and Roth plans, the contribution max will remain at $5,500 for those age 50 or younger.</p> <p>This may not seem like a big deal, but over time the ability to put away less for your retirement means that you will need to earn more on your money that is already invested. According to Vanguard 401K data, only about 10% of participants put away the max every year. There's no escaping the truth that the more you put away, the better off you are going to be in the long run.</p> <h3>2. 401K/IRA Combo</h3> <p>Many people believe that you can only have a 401K or an IRA, but not both. That simply isn't true. In fact, having a separate IRA and a 401K can be a smart financial strategy. The downside of having both is that depending on your income, you may or may not be phased out of deducting your contributions to both plans.</p> <p>In 2016, the income limitations will stay the same. If your adjusted gross income is between $61,000&ndash;$71,000 for single and head of household, or between $98,000&ndash;$118,000 for married couples, your deductible amount for contributions to your IRA will be phased out. If your income is lower, you will receive the full deduction. If your income is over those limits, you won't be able to deduct any portion of your contributions.</p> <h2>Change</h2> <p>And here are the details set to change &mdash; make sure you update your contributions to match.</p> <h3>3. Roth Income Threshold Limits Increase</h3> <p>Roth plans are very popular, especially with the Millennial demographic. They work in reverse of an IRA. Your contributions are made on an <em>after-tax</em> basis, but your distributions in retirement are tax-free. The objective is that you will be in a higher tax bracket when you retire, hence why you will ultimately save money on taxes that would've been due if you had an IRA. Roth plans have their own contribution income limits and are quite generous. In 2016, the contributions income threshold limits will increase by $1,000.</p> <h3>4. IRA for Non-Working Spouse</h3> <p>What about those spouses that don't work, but still want to contribute to an IRA? In 2016, IRA income limits will increase for spouses without retirement accounts by $1,000.</p> <p>If your spouse contributes to a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-penalty-free-ways-to-withdraw-money-from-your-retirement-account">retirement account</a> at work, but <em>you</em> don't work, you can set up your own IRA and contributions will be tax deductible up to $184,000 for couples filing jointly. Your contributions begin to phase out from $184,000&ndash;$194,000, and are completely phased out above that income level (meaning they wouldn't be tax deductible). You can always still contribute up to the IRA contribution max, but you just wouldn't receive the deduction.</p> <h3>5. Saver's Credit</h3> <p>The saver's credit is arguably one of the most overlooked tax credits. It rewards lower income individuals and families for saving for their retirement in any retirement plan. If you qualify for this credit, it is worth anywhere from 10%&ndash;50% of the contributed amount &mdash; up to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for couples. The credit is available to singles with an income under $30,750, and for couples, under $61,500.</p> <p>Make sure your accountant is aware if you qualify for this credit so you can take advantage of this great benefit. Consider it the government's matching program for your retirement contributions.</p> <p><em>How's your 401K doing?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/shannah-game">Shannah Game</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-important-things-to-know-about-your-401k-and-ira-in-2016">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/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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-why-a-roth-ira-may-be-better-than-your-401k">4 Reasons Why a Roth IRA May be Better Than Your 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/optimize-your-ira-and-401k">Optimize Your IRA and 401(k)</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/4-reasons-why-you-must-open-a-roth-ira-before-april-15">4 Reasons Why You Must Open a Roth IRA Before April 15</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/three-easy-steps-to-take-for-a-better-401k">3 Easy Steps to Take for a Better 401k</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment Retirement 401k contributions IRA Roth saver's credit taxes Tue, 01 Dec 2015 14:00:24 +0000 Shannah Game 1617390 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Penalty-Free Ways to Withdraw Money From Your Retirement Account http://www.wisebread.com/7-penalty-free-ways-to-withdraw-money-from-your-retirement-account <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-penalty-free-ways-to-withdraw-money-from-your-retirement-account" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/ira_401k_000006195210.jpg" alt="Learning ways to withdraw from your 401k without penalty" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>While it's true that 401Ks have a higher contribution limit ($18,000 in 2015) than traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs ($5,500 for most people or $6,500 if you're age 50 or older in 2015), it would be a mistake to dismiss traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs as part of your retirement strategy.</p> <p>One of the major advantages of having an IRA is that it offers much more flexibility when it comes to taking distributions before age 59 1/2. Under most circumstances, early distributions from a 401K trigger a 10% penalty fee from the IRS on top of applicable income and capital gains taxes. But IRAs are subject to far fewer limitations in many cases &mdash; often, they're free from the 10% penalty for early withdrawals.</p> <p>Here are seven circumstances under which you can withdraw money before age 59 1/2 from an IRA without triggering an IRS penalty.</p> <h2>1. Health Insurance Premiums During Unemployment</h2> <p>If you're unemployed and can't jump on somebody's health plan for coverage, you're probably going to be stressed out about meeting your monthly premiums. Fortunately, once you've been unemployed for at least 12 continuous weeks, the IRS lets you take a penalty-free early distribution from your IRA to cover your health insurance monthly premiums. (To avoid any doubts about how you're using your IRA monies, consider opening a new bank account to handle deposits from your IRA and payments to your health provider.)</p> <p>Some additional points to remember are that the IRA distributions need to take place during either the year you received the unemployment compensation or the following, and that the IRA distributions need to take place no later than 60 days after you have been reemployed.</p> <h2>2. Large Medical Bills</h2> <p>Uncle Sam also gives you a break when you use an IRA withdrawal to pay for unreimbursed medical expenses greater than 10% (or 7.5% if you or your spouse was born before January 2, 1950) of your adjusted gross income for the year of the distribution.</p> <p>While the IRS doesn't require you to itemize your deductions to take advantage of this exception, you should keep a record of all of your medical, dental, and prescription expenses that weren't reimbursed or paid by others. Remember that you can't include the cost of non-prescription drugs (except insulin) or other purchases for general health, such as vitamins, diet foods, or health club dues. Costs of cosmetic procedures aren't eligible, either.</p> <p>However, you can include 23.5 cents per mile that you drove your car for medical reasons. Refer to the Schedule A of Form 1040 to find out the entire list of eligible expenses that you can use to calculate your total unreimbursed medical expenses.</p> <h2>3. First Home Purchases</h2> <p>If the dream property for which you've been waiting so long finally becomes available and you're up to $10,000 short on the down payment, you can tap into your IRA without a penalty.</p> <p>As long as your total IRA withdrawal for first-time home buying is not greater than $10,000, you can even split your withdrawals over more than one year. Not only can you use these monies to buy your own home, but also to pay qualified costs of buying, building, or rebuilding a property. Just make sure that those qualified costs are paid within 120 days after receiving your IRA distribution.</p> <p>Attention couples: If you keep separate IRA plans, each one of you can withdraw up to $10,000 without penalty to pool at total of $20,000 for a first home purchase.</p> <h2>4. Higher Education Expenses</h2> <p>Whether it is for your own education or that of your spouse, children, or grandchildren, you can take a penalty-free withdrawal from your IRA to cover qualified higher education expenses, including tuition, fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for the enrollment or attendance at an eligible educational institution.</p> <p>Other eligible education expenses include the cost of room and board for individuals that are at least half-time students and special needs services in connection with enrollment or attendance. While there is no limit to the amount of your withdrawal free from the 10% penalty tax, keep in mind that your monies may count as income for the student, and may thus impact their eligibility for financial aid.</p> <h2>5. Debts to the IRS</h2> <p>Uncle Sam wants so badly to collect on your unpaid taxes and arrears that he's willing to forego the 10% penalty tax on your IRA withdrawal. However, as in all other scenarios in this list, you do have to pay applicable income taxes, including capital gains.</p> <p>While using part of your IRA balance to pay all or part of your tax debts may not sound that great, it's better than trying to avoid a levy. Under the second scenario, you may have no bargaining power.</p> <h2>6. Rollovers From Traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs</h2> <p>Unlike traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs are funded with after-tax dollars. This means that you don't owe any taxes on withdrawals after age 59 1/2. Plus, once your Roth IRA has been open for at least five years, you can withdraw your contributions at any time without penalty (note that earnings on your contributions <em>are</em> subject to IRS penalties).</p> <p>If you were to transfer funds from your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, you would pay applicable income taxes now, but no 10% penalty tax on contributions if you wait five years to withdraw those funds from your Roth IRA. Each transfer has its own five-year waiting period and you can only do one IRA rollover per year.</p> <h2>7. Periodic Income Distributions</h2> <p>Last but not least, you can take penalty-free distributions from your IRA by taking a series of substantially equal periodic payments (SEPP) over your life expectancy or the life expectancies of you and your designated beneficiary. The IRS website offers a useful list of frequently asked questions on <a href="http://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Retirement-Plans-FAQs-regarding-Substantially-Equal-Periodic-Payments">setting up a SEPP plan</a>.</p> <p>If you're planning to set up a SEPP for early retirement, remember that there maybe some financial risks involved. So, before taking your first periodic income distribution, consult your accountant or financial advisor to check your calculations. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-early-retirement-might-be-financially-risky?ref=seealso">4 Reasons Early Retirement Might Be Financially Risky</a>)</p> <h2>The Bottom Line</h2> <p>Taking an early distribution of your IRA may be a last resort to make your financial goals, such as a first home purchase, happen. As you can see from these seven examples, there are ways for you to take an early withdrawal from an IRA without the 10% tax penalty. While these strategies may not be for everybody, some of them can be true game changers. Consult IRS Publication 590-B for more details.</p> <p><em>Have you used your IRA to take early withdrawals without a penalty? Share with us how you did in the comments section.</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/7-penalty-free-ways-to-withdraw-money-from-your-retirement-account">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/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> <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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-warning-signs-youre-sabotaging-your-nest-egg">6 Warning Signs You&#039;re Sabotaging Your Nest Egg</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-ways-to-strengthen-your-finances-before-retirement">5 Ways to Strengthen Your Finances Before Retirement</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-important-tax-changes-for-2016">5 Important Tax Changes for 2016</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement Taxes 401k borrowing health insurance home buying IRA medical bills penalties sepp Thu, 05 Nov 2015 13:15:18 +0000 Damian Davila 1605093 at http://www.wisebread.com The Step-by-Step Guide to Rolling Over Your 401(k) http://www.wisebread.com/the-step-by-step-guide-to-rolling-over-your-401k <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-step-by-step-guide-to-rolling-over-your-401k" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_401k_000020117190.jpg" alt="Woman discussing rolling over her 401(k) with her employer" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you've recently switched jobs, you may be wondering what to do with your retirement accounts. First, congratulations on thinking ahead and planning for your future. Rolling over accounts is an important step toward continuing to build your financial future, and we've created this step-by-step plan to help you navigate the process.</p> <p>That said, before you figure out how to rollover your 401(k), it's first important to know what not to do.</p> <h2>Don't Take a Distribution</h2> <p>It's tempting to let your former employer send you a check to cash out your account, but, unless you're over age 59&frac12;, this can be a huge mistake. Your former employer is required to withhold 20% of the distribution. On top of that, the IRS will charge you an additional 10% penalty if you're younger than 59&frac12;.</p> <p>To break it down in dollars and cents, let's assume there's a $10,000 balance in your 401(k) and you're in a 25% tax bracket.</p> <p>$10,0000 &ndash; $2,000 (20% Withholding) &ndash; $1,000 (10% Tax Penalty) = $7,000</p> <p>You've just taken a $3,000 hit on your portfolio. That's a heavy hit to take. Plus, you'll no longer have that money working in the market for you, which means you're more likely to end up like the majority of Americans who fear their retirement funds are lacking.</p> <p>Some people take distributions because they're not sure how to make ends meet between jobs (a valid fear). But taking a 401(k) distribution is one of the most expensive ways to bridge the gap when you're between jobs.</p> <p>But some distributions happen by accident. If you don't know how to conduct a 401(k) rollover, the paperwork can be confusing and it's easy to check the wrong box or make an inaccurate assumption.</p> <p>If your former company has already sent a check directly to you, there is a remedy, if you act fast. You'll have 60 days to get the funds deposited into an IRA. There is a bit of a hitch, though. You'll be directly responsible for making up the 20% that was withheld by your former employer.</p> <h2>So, What Should You Do?</h2> <p>If you're just starting the 401(k) rollover process, you'll have a few options.</p> <h3>Keep Your Funds In the Current 401(k)</h3> <p>If your 401(k) balance is greater than $5,000, you'll have the option to keep the money right where it is. The upside? No paperwork. The downside? Well, there are a few.</p> <ul> <li>It's easy to lose track of your accounts. The average person holds 11 jobs by age 46. That can add up to a lot of retirement accounts, if they're not being rolled over or combined.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Retirement plan quality varies greatly. Not all 401(k)s are created equal. There are drastically different fee structures and varying levels of investment options. Most separated employees would be better off moving their money into an account with a low-fee provider like Vanguard or Fidelity, each of which offers vast investment options for your IRA.</li> </ul> <p>Some employers automatically distribute 401(k) funds for separated employees if the balance is below the $5,000 mark. If this is you, you'll want to get your rollover going immediately.</p> <h3>Roll Your Funds Into Your New Employer's Retirement Plan</h3> <p>It's not a bad idea to keep your retirement funds in the same place, so that you don't lose track of previous accounts. Not all 401(k) plans accept rollovers, so if you want to go this route, check with your new employer first.</p> <p>If rollovers are accepted, ask your new employer for instructions on where your former employer should send your existing 401(k) funds. Once you have these rollover instructions, call your former employer and ask for the forms you'll need to fill out.</p> <p>Once the paperwork is complete, your former employer should send your account balance directly to your new employer's plan. There shouldn't be any taxes withheld or penalties assessed for a direct rollover. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-easy-ways-to-supercharge-your-retirement?ref=seealso">10 Easy Ways to Supercharge Your Retirement</a>)</p> <h3>Roll Your Funds Into an IRA</h3> <p>This is my favorite option, because low cost mutual fund giants like Vanguard or Fidelity generally offer more investment options than most employer 401(k) plans, and they're usually cheaper, too.</p> <p>The first step is to open a new IRA account with a high-quality, low-fee investment provider (like <a href="https://personal.vanguard.com/us/openaccount?CompLocation=GlobalHeader&amp;Component=OpenAccount">Vanguard</a> or <a href="https://rewards.fidelity.com/offers/iramatch?imm_pid=1&amp;immid=00994&amp;imm_eid=e41730670&amp;buf=999999&amp;gclid=CjwKEAjwoZ-oBRCAjZqs96qCmzgSJADnWCv8IN3h4jALOK1EtX2J45rce9bLEBvEsPyTK_PJF86VXxoCDLLw_wcB">Fidelity</a>). You can open an account online with most investment providers by simply going to their website, selecting the Open An Account option, and looking for an account option for rolling over employer-sponsored retirement plan account. To open the new account, you'll need the following:</p> <ul> <li>Your personal information, like social security number, birth date, email address, and street address;</li> <li>The current balance in the 401(k) account that you're rolling over;</li> <li>Your former employer's name;</li> <li>The name of the investment (usually a mutual fund of exchange traded fund) in which you plan to invest your funds. If you don't know what to choose, a popular option is a target retirement fund, which automatically rebalances your account as you age and get closer to retirement.</li> </ul> <p>Once the rollover account is open, the next step is to call your former employer and ask for their rollover instructions. They will likely have a form that needs to be completed and will likely ask for the name and address of the investment house where the funds are to be sent. They'll also need your new rollover IRA account number.</p> <p>Make sure the check they send goes directly to the investment house where you've opened the new account. The check should be made out to the new investment house, with your name and new account number notated on the check. Do not have the check sent directly to you.</p> <p>To complete the transaction, some employers will require a letter of acceptance. If yours is one that does, you'll need to go back to the investment house where you opened the IRA and make the request. Not all employers require this, but it's not uncommon, either, meaning getting the form together shouldn't be a big deal for your new account holder.</p> <p>Once all the forms are signed and completed, it usually takes about three weeks for a rollover to be complete. The funds should be sent directly from your old employer to your new account holder and you should receive a confirmation either in the mail or email. Again, there shouldn't be any taxes withheld or penalties assessed for a direct rollover. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-set-up-an-ira-to-build-wealth?ref=seealso">How to Set Up An IRA to Build Wealth</a>)</p> <p>The whole thing should take about 10 minutes in paperwork and three weeks in wait time (while your old employer sends the funds to your new account holder). It's a small price to pay for building a secure retirement.</p> <p><em>Have you rolled over your 401(k) recently? Did you hit any snags or was it smooth sailing? Tell us about it in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/alaina-tweddale">Alaina Tweddale</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-step-by-step-guide-to-rolling-over-your-401k">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/this-is-why-you-cant-postpone-planning-for-your-retirement-and-how-to-start">This Is Why You Can&#039;t Postpone Planning for Your Retirement (And How to Start)</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/if-you-want-your-401k-to-grow-stop-doing-these-6-things">If You Want Your 401K to Grow, Stop Doing These 6 Things</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/intimidated-by-retirement-investing-get-professional-help">Intimidated by Retirement Investing? Get Professional Help!</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/12-things-you-didnt-know-about-retirement">12 Things You Didn&#039;t Know About Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement 401(k) IRA life hacks personal finance retirement rollover Wed, 25 Mar 2015 13:00:10 +0000 Alaina Tweddale 1356036 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Ways to Max Out Your IRA Contributions by April 15th http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-max-out-your-ira-contributions-by-april-15th <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-ways-to-max-out-your-ira-contributions-by-april-15th" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_piggybank_000013609451.jpg" alt="Woman saving for IRA" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Did you know that if you make a <a href="https://www.fidelity.com/retirement-ira/contribution-limits-deadlines">personal IRA contribution</a> before April 15th of this year, that amount is deductible on your 2014 taxes? If you have the extra cash on hand, this is a great way to boost your retirement account while reducing your current tax burden. Here are seven creative ways to come up with that extra contribution money in the next month.</p> <h2>1. Don't Dine Out</h2> <p>April 15th is about a month away. What if you could make a promise to yourself not to eat out at all in the intervening weeks? Skip the morning coffee pick-up, bring your lunch to work, and find free ways to spend time with friends. Now, take all of that money you would have spent and deposit it into your IRA account, instead. It may sound like a big sacrifice, but it's only a month long and could add up to a big tax break.</p> <h2>2. Lace up Your Walking Shoes</h2> <p>Transportation is another big expense for many people. Consider when you might be able to use your own two feet, take low-cost or free public transportation, or bike to get you from point A to point B. Then, you can bank that transit money right into your IRA account.</p> <h2>3. Delay Spring Wardrobe and Home Purchases</h2> <p>Once the warm weather arrives, we're anxious for a personal and home makeover. If you can delay making any purchases such as these for the next month, you can use that money to contribute to your IRA. Think of it as giving your future self the gift of more freedom by putting that extra money into your retirement account today.</p> <h2>4. Itemize Your Deductions</h2> <p>Many people don't want to be bothered with itemizing their expenses, because it can take some time and requires additional organization and paperwork. However, if your itemized deductions are greater than the standard deduction, you'll save on taxes you owe, or get a bigger refund. Calculate your potential savings and put away that money in your IRA now to enjoy later.</p> <h2>5. Student Loan Interest Deduction</h2> <p>Many working adults today have student loans. If you make less than $80,000 per year as an individual (or less than $160,000 if filing jointly), you can deduct the interest you've paid on student loans. Use the money you'll save on that deduction to increase your contribution to your IRA.</p> <h2>6. Make Your Vacation a &quot;Staycation&quot;</h2> <p>After the rough winter we've had this year, it's tempting to take advantage of the ever-present travel deals being offered. Resist their offers and turn your spring vacation into a staycation. Chances are your hometown comes back to life once it thaws out from winter, and there are plenty of opportunities to re-discover it through events and activities that will help you <em>feel</em> like a tourist in your own backyard.</p> <h2>7. Delay Big Purchases</h2> <p>My laptop is now over five years old, and it's showing its age a bit with decreased speed. I'm tempted by all the features now available on new laptops, but I've decided that I can deal with a bit of decreased speed for the sake of banking some extra money. When it comes to big purchases like electronics, one thing is certain: In six months there will be a brighter, shinier model that's likely no more expensive than today's top-of-the-line. Get as much value out of your durable goods as possible, and only replace them when it's truly necessary. You'll be glad you did once you see that extra money accruing in your savings account.</p> <p>Maxing out your IRA isn't the sexiest purchase you'll ever make, but it's important to contribute as much as you can <em>as soon as you can</em> to take advantage of the compound interest it will generate.</p> <p><em>What clever tricks are you using this tax season to max out your IRA contributions? </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/christa-avampato">Christa Avampato</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-max-out-your-ira-contributions-by-april-15th">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-5"> <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-dumb-ira-mistakes-even-smart-people-make">5 Dumb IRA Mistakes Even Smart People Make</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-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-3 views-row-odd"> <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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-this-the-end-of-the-back-door-roth-ira-tax-loophole">Is This the End of the Back-Door Roth IRA Tax Loophole?</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/you-dont-need-a-retirement-plan-you-need-a-financial-independence-plan">You Don&#039;t Need a Retirement Plan — You Need a Financial Independence Plan</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement Taxes deductions IRA saving money Mon, 23 Mar 2015 11:00:09 +0000 Christa Avampato 1350978 at http://www.wisebread.com Is This the End of the Back-Door Roth IRA Tax Loophole? http://www.wisebread.com/is-this-the-end-of-the-back-door-roth-ira-tax-loophole <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/is-this-the-end-of-the-back-door-roth-ira-tax-loophole" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/president obama speech_0.jpg" alt="president obama speech" title="president obama speech" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>One of America's most beloved tax-trimming strategies may soon be outlawed.</p> <p>Deep inside President Barack Obama's proposed <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2016/assets/budget.pdf">Fiscal Year 2016 budget</a> is a measure &mdash; &quot;Limit Roth conversions to pre-tax dollars&quot; &mdash; that could put the kibosh on a practice used by high earners to dodge the income limits on Roth IRA contributions. The verbiage in the budget proposal is succinct, and therefore unclear. But experts say those six little words could stop high earners from contributing to their Roth by way of the back-door strategy.</p> <h2>What's the Big Deal With Back-Door Roths?</h2> <p>The Roth IRA offers account holders something very valuable: tax-free income in retirement. Since contributions to Roths are made using <em>after-tax dollars</em>, these accounts are not taxed as they grow, and no tax money is due when funds are withdrawn in retirement. The catch is that you can only directly <a href="http://www.wsj.com/video/psstthe-backdoor-route-to-a-roth-ira/09198754-C88E-4767-84F5-1FAD8547EBE9.html">contribute to a Roth IRA</a> if your income is below a certain ceiling. For jointly filing married couples, that limit is $191,000. For single filers, it's $129,000. Folks with income beyond those barriers may instead contribute to a traditional IRA account.</p> <p>But high earners (who value the benefits of these Roth accounts as much as the everyman) have a way of dodging the contribution limits that prevent them from enjoying these tax perks. Using the back-door strategy, high earners can make after-tax contributions to a traditional IRA account, for which there are no income restrictions, and then convert that account into a Roth. This method affords all the benefits of a Roth account with few of the limitations. And it's precisely this practice that Obama budget proposal wants to eradicate.</p> <h2>Uncertainty Around the Proposal</h2> <p>&quot;It seems to me they're saying that was a good workaround, but we don't want you to do it anymore,&quot; IRA expert and CPA Ed Slott told Forbes.</p> <p>But Slott says ending the back-door strategy is not so simple. One issue with Obama's l<a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2015/02/02/obama-budget-would-prohibit-backdoor-roth-iras/">oophole closure proposal</a> is that it doesn't jibe with the Internal Revenue Service's new rules on <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2014/10/15/aftertax-401k-rollovers-advanced-version/">after-tax rollovers</a>, which actually make it easier to convert after-tax dollars into Roth IRA accounts.</p> <p>&quot;They didn't look at the practicality of how it butts heads with the rules that we're working with now,&quot; Slott says.</p> <p>Now, it's important to keep in mind that the president's budget is more of a wishlist than a decree. It's bound to get rewritten, trimmed, and cut as the budget vetting process continues in Congress. But it's an important indicator of what the administration is thinking. And if you're a high earner enjoying the benefits of back-door Roths, it may signal an upcoming change in your retirement planning.</p> <p><em>Do you think back-door Roths should be eradicated? Why or why not?</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/is-this-the-end-of-the-back-door-roth-ira-tax-loophole">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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-max-out-your-ira-contributions-by-april-15th">7 Ways to Max Out Your IRA Contributions by April 15th</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/10-reasons-you-should-really-fear-an-irs-audit">10 Reasons You Should Really Fear an IRS Audit</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement Taxes IRA Roth tax evasion Thu, 12 Mar 2015 13:00:08 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1333205 at http://www.wisebread.com You May Be Putting Your Retirement Money in the Wrong Place http://www.wisebread.com/you-may-be-putting-your-retirement-money-in-the-wrong-place <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/you-may-be-putting-your-retirement-money-in-the-wrong-place" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man-reading-newspaper-122577774-small.jpg" alt="man reading newspaper" title="man reading newspaper" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>For many investors, their primary &mdash; if not only &mdash; retirement investment account is their workplace 401(k) plan. But if you also have an IRA, perhaps because you rolled over the balance of a workplace plan from a former employer, it's important to make sure your account is at the best broker. Making that determination depends mostly on the size of your portfolio, the types of investments you prefer, and how much trading you do. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/begin-your-investing-career-right-with-some-mutual-fund-basics?ref=seealso">Begin Your Investment Career Right With Some Mutual Fund Basics</a>)</p> <p>Let's take a look at some of the variables.</p> <h2>Portfolio Size</h2> <p>If you're just getting started with investing, the minimum amounts required to open a brokerage account (where you'll be able to open an IRA and buy and sell stocks, mutual funds, and other types of investments) are a good starting point for choosing a broker.</p> <p>Several brokers require no minimums for opening an account, including TD Ameritrade, E*TRADE, and ShareBuilder. At Fidelity, the minimum to open an IRA is usually $2,500, but if you commit to investing $200 per month automatically, you can open an account with your first $200.</p> <h2>Preferred Investments</h2> <p>What types of investments do you want to make and how often do you plan to trade? The main investment choices are stocks or mutual funds.</p> <h3>Stock Investing</h3> <p>While I recommend mutual funds over individual stocks for most people because funds are inherently diversified and therefore usually less risky, if you prefer stocks you can usually find a broker running a promotion for a certain number of free trades. For example, OptionsHouse is offering 150 commission-free trades for those opening a new account. After that, their commission is a low $4.75 per trade. TradeKing's stock commissions are almost as low at $4.95 per trade.</p> <p>It doesn't take much money to invest in stocks since you can buy as little as one share. For example, as of this writing, one share of Microsoft could be purchased for a little over $45 plus commission. Of course, you'll need to invest in more than one company in order to be adequately diversified, so the lower the trading fees the better.</p> <h3>Mutual Fund Investing</h3> <p>All mutual funds have minimum initial investment amounts that need to be taken into account, often starting at $1,000. In many cases, you'll also pay a transaction fee (commission). However, this is an area where brokers distinguish themselves by offering a number of no transaction fee (NTF) funds. Fidelity, Schwab, and Scottrade are some of the leaders here. Fidelity, for example, offers nearly 3,000 NTF funds. The fee for investing in most of the other funds offered through Fidelity's platform is $49.95, although some cost $75.</p> <p>To make up for the fee income they forego by offering NTF funds, brokers typically charge a short-term trading fee if you sell certain NTF funds within 60 to 180 days. For its funds that such fees apply to, Fidelity's short-term period is 60 days, which is the shortest short-term trading period I'm aware of. If you sell any of those funds more quickly than that, you'll pay a fee of $75. Schwab's and Scottrade's short-term holding period is 90 days. TD Ameritrade requires that you hold some of its funds for at least 180 days.</p> <p>If you're a buy-and-hold investor, short-term holding period restrictions may not matter to you. But if your <a href="http://www.soundmindinvesting.com/visitor/2013/oct/level2.htm">investment strategy</a> calls for a certain amount of trading throughout the year, such restrictions, and the potential fees involved, can make a big difference.</p> <p>If you're strictly an index fund investor and are partial to the low-cost funds offered by Vanguard, the company that invented index funds, open your account there. The vast majority of Vanguard's mutual funds and exchange-traded funds are commission-free. You can buy Vanguard's funds through other brokers, but you'll usually have to pay a commission for doing so.</p> <h3>Exchange-Traded Funds</h3> <p>ETFs are considered a type of mutual fund since they hold multiple stocks or other funds. However, they are bought and sold in a fashion similar to stocks. Investors can purchase a single share, for example, and the commission structure is typically the same as what a broker charges for stocks. Here, too, some brokers offer a number of no-commission ETFs. Schwab, for example, offers over 100 ETFs that may be bought or sold without paying a fee. Fidelity offers 80. Some brokers charge a short-term redemption fee if you sell a commission-free ETF within a certain time frame.</p> <p>Stocks and funds. If you invest in both stocks and mutual funds, you'll want a broker that charges a reasonable commission for stock trades and offers a wide assortment of no transaction fee mutual funds. Whereas ShareBuilder offers both types of investments and charges just $6.95 per stock trade, its lineup of NTF mutual funds is very limited. In this situation, Fidelity, Schwab, or Scottrade may be better options.</p> <p>As you can see, there are lots of choices when it comes to brokerage houses, and this represents only a framework for making an informed choice. See if account minimums apply to you and make sure you understand the fees involved for making the types of investments you prefer and for trading them as frequently as you plan to. Be sure to look at more than just the commission schedule, understanding short-term holding period requirements as well.</p> <p><em>If you have investments outside of a work 401(k), where do you keep them? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/matt-bell">Matt Bell</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-may-be-putting-your-retirement-money-in-the-wrong-place">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-ways-investing-sucks-and-why-you-should-do-it-anyway">7 Ways Investing Sucks (and Why You Should Do It Anyway)</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-dumb-401k-mistakes-smart-people-make">5 Dumb 401(k) Mistakes Smart People Make</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/this-is-why-you-cant-postpone-planning-for-your-retirement-and-how-to-start">This Is Why You Can&#039;t Postpone Planning for Your Retirement (And How to Start)</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-dumb-investments-smart-people-make">5 Dumb Investments Smart People Make</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/9-silly-reasons-people-dont-invest-but-should">9 Silly Reasons People Don&#039;t Invest (But Should)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment 401(k) investing IRA retirement retirement saving saving Thu, 28 Aug 2014 13:00:11 +0000 Matt Bell 1196855 at http://www.wisebread.com