Connect with us

Market Insider

7 Money-Saving Steps To Take Before Year’s End, According To Experts




The year is nearing its end, and so are your chances to make a few last-minute moves that’ll benefit your bottom line. So before you count down the new year and clink Champagne glasses, squeeze in one of these expert tips to save more money.

1. Sell Underperforming Stocks

Nobody likes to lose money, but if you did have a few underperforming investments this year, you can sell them at a loss as part of a strategy known as tax loss harvesting.

“Particularly in this year’s market environment, where most investments have been down over the past several months, there may be more opportunities than usual to sell investments at a loss and reinvest them in similar (but not identical) investments,” said Bill Nelson, founder of Pacesetter Planning. “Your capital losses will offset other investment income you’ve received this year to reduce the taxes you owe in April.”

That means you can use investment losses to offset capital gains. And if your losses exceed your gains, you can apply up to $3,000 toward reducing other types of taxable income, such as regular wages. That can be especially helpful if you’re teetering on the brink of a higher tax bracket.

2. Convert To A Roth IRA

In the past, people who wanted to convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA were subject to income caps. But recently, those caps were lifted. So if you previously earned too much to contribute to a Roth IRA and your financial situation has changed ― for instance, you dropped to a lower tax bracket or moved to a state with no income tax ― a Roth conversion could save you money in the long run. Keep in mind that you do have to pay taxes on those contributions after converting.

“Be sure that if you’re going to move forward with a conversion, you’re 100 percent certain you want to do so, since conversions can no longer be reversed,” said Levi Sanchez, a certified financial planner and founder of Millennial Wealth, LLC. “Investors who think they’ll pay less in taxes today than they will in the future are great candidates for Roth conversions.”

3. Make A Charitable Donation

Considering that recent tax reform increased the standard deduction significantly (to $12,000 for single filers and $24,000 for joint returns), it’s a lot tougher now to qualify to itemize taxes.

Even so, “If your charitable donations will put you over the top of the new standard deduction, December 31 is your last chance to make deductible donations,” said Bradley Nelson, president of Lyon Park Advisors. “Check if you can double up your 2018 donations with your planned 2019 donations to put you over the top of the standard deduction.”

4. Take Your Required Minimum Distributions

If you own an IRA and you’re age 70.5 or over (or you own an inherited IRA), you probably know that you have to take required minimum distributions. This is the minimum amount of money you’re required to withdraw from the account each year.

Don’t forget to take your RMDs for this year, and be sure to take the full amount required on or before the Dec. 31 deadline, said Jason Speciner, a certified financial planner and founder of Financial Planning Fort Collins. “The penalty is a stiff 50 percent.”

5. Spend The Last Of Your FSA Dollars

If you have money in a flexible savings account, it’s likely you have to use that money by the end of the year or else you lose it. Some employers will allow you to carry over up to $500 to the next year, or offer a grace period of an additional 2.5 months after the end of the year to use the money in your account, according to Frank Shields, certified financial planner and founder of Future Map Financial.

“Make sure you get in those doctor’s appointments, stock up on some medical supplies and maybe even treat yourself to the chiropractor or therapeutic massage,” Shields said. “FSA funds can be applied to many qualified healthcare purchases, so make it a priority to spend those tax-free dollars.”

6. Max Out Your Health Savings Account

If you have a high-deductible health insurance plan and contribute to an HSA instead, you don’t lose any unused funds at the end of the year. But you do miss out on tax savings if you don’t max out your contributions.

Amelia Thomas, a financial planner, explained that HSA contributions have triple tax benefits:

  1. The contributions are 100 percent tax-deductible with no income limitations.

  2. The earnings grow tax-deferred.

  3. If the account balance is used for qualified medical expenses, the distributions are tax-free as well.

As a bonus, an HSA can double as a retirement savings account. After age 65, you can use your HSA money for non-medical expenses without paying a penalty. You’ll simply need to pay taxes on the withdrawals.

7. Set Up A Retirement Plan For Your Freelance Business

There’s a bit of a retirement savings hack that self-employed individuals can take advantage of, assuming they have a lot of cash to sock away. Any business owner with one or more employees can open a SEP-IRA or Solo 401(k), which allow contributions from both the employer and employee. As a freelancer, small business owner or other self-employed worker, you’re both.

“For those who wish to make both employee and employer retirement contributions, December 31 is the last day to establish a qualified retirement plan,” said Nelson. “Actual contributions are not due until April 15.” That means you can create the account now and still have more than three months to fund it and reap the tax benefits. Now that’s a nice way to start a new year.


Source link

قالب وردپرس

Market Insider

4 things kids need to know about money




(NC) Responsible spending includes knowing the difference between wants and needs. Back-to-school season, with added expenses and expectations around spending, is the perfect time to not only build your own budget for the year ahead, but also to introduce your own children to the concept of budgeting.

The experts at Capital One break down four basic things that every child should know about money, along with tips for bringing real-life examples into the conversation.

What money is. There’s no need for a full economic lesson,but knowing that money can be exchanged for goods and services, and that the government backs its value, is a great start.
How to earn money. Once your child understands what money is, use this foundational knowledge to connect the concepts of money and work. Start with the simple concept that people go to work in exchange for an income, and explain how it may take time (and work) to save for that new pair of sneakers or backpack. This can help kids develop patience and alleviate the pressure to purchase new items right away that might not be in your budget.
The many ways to pay. While there is a myriad of methods to pay for something in today’s digital age, you can start by explaining the difference between cash, debit and credit. When teaching your kids about credit, real examples help. For instance, if your child insists on a grocery store treat, offer to buy it for them as long as they pay you back from their allowance in a timely manner. If you need a refresher, tools like Capital One’s Credit Keeper can help you better understand your own credit score and the importance of that score to overall financial health.
How to build and follow a budget. This is where earning, spending, saving and sharing all come together. Build a budget that is realistic based on your income and spending needs and take advantage of banking apps to keep tabs on your spending in real-time. Have your kids think about how they might split their allowance into saving, spending and giving back to help them better understand money management.

Continue Reading

Market Insider

20 Percent Of Americans In Relationships Are Committing Financial Infidelity




Nearly 30 million Americans are hiding a checking, savings, or credit card account from their spouse or live in partner, according to a new survey from That’s roughly 1 in 5 that currently have a live in partner or a spouse.

Around 5 million people — or 3 percent — used to commit “financial infidelity,” but no longer do.

Of all the respondents, millennials were more likely than other age groups to hide financial information from their partner. While 15 percent of older generations hid accounts from their partner, 28 percent of millennials were financially dishonest.

Regionally, Americans living in the South and the West were more likely to financially “cheat” than those living in the Northeast and Midwest.

Insecurity about earning and spending could drive some of this infidelity, according to industry analyst Ted Rossman.

When it comes to millennials, witnessing divorce could have caused those aged 18-37 to try and squirrel away from Rossman calls a “freedom fund”.

“They’ve got this safety net,” Rossman said. They’re asking: “What if this relationship doesn’t work out?”

As bad as physical infidelity

More than half (55 percent) of those surveyed believed that financial infidelity was just as bad as physically cheating. That’s including some 20 percent who believed that financially cheating was worse.

But despite this, most didn’t find this to be a deal breaker.

Over 80 percent surveyed said they would be upset, but wouldn’t end the relationship. Only 2 percent of those asked would end the relationship if they discovered their spouse or partner was hiding $5,000 or more in credit card debt. That number however is highest among those lower middle class households ($30,000-$49,999 income bracket): Nearly 10 percent would break things off as a result.

Roughly 15 percent said they wouldn’t care at all. Studies do show however that money troubles is the leading cause of stress in a relationship.

That’s why, Rossman says, it’s important to share that information with your partner.

“Talking about money with your spouse isn’t always easy, but it has to be done,” he said. “You can still maintain some privacy over your finances, and even keep separate accounts if you and your spouse agree, but you need to get on the same page regarding your general direction, otherwise your financial union is doomed to fail.”

With credit card rates hovering at an average of 19.24 percent APR, hiding financial information from a partner could be financially devastating.

But, Rossman adds, it’s not just about the economic impact but also the erosion of trust.

“More than the dollars and cents is that trust factor,” he said. “I think losing that trust is so hard to regain. That could be a long lasting wedge.”

Kristin Myers is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Continue Reading

Market Insider

7 Examples Of Terrible Financial Advice We’ve Heard




Between television, radio, the internet and well-meaning but presumptuous friends and family, we’re inundated with unsolicited advice on a daily basis. And when it comes to money, there’s a ton of terrible advice out there. Even so-called experts can lead us astray sometimes.

Have you been duped? Here are a few examples of the worst money advice advisers, bloggers and other personal finance pros have heard.

1. Carry a balance to increase your credit score.

Ben Luthi, a money and travel writer, said that a friend once told him that his mortgage loan officer advised him to carry a balance on his credit card in order to improve his credit score. In fact, the loan officer recommended keeping the balance at around 50 percent of his credit limit.

“This is the absolute worst financial advice I’ve ever heard for several reasons,” Luthi said. For one, carrying a credit card balance doesn’t have any effect on your credit at all. “What it does do is ensure that you pay a high interest rate on your balance every month, neutralizing any other benefits you might get from the card,” Luthi explained. “Also, keeping a 50 percent credit utilization is a surefire way to hurt your credit score, not help it.”

Some credit experts recommend keeping your balance below 30 percent of the card limit, but even that’s not a hard-and-fast rule. Keeping your balance as low as possible and paying the bill on time each month is how you improve your score.

2. Avoid credit cards ― period.

Credit cards can be a slippery slope for some people; overspending can lead to a cycle of debt that’s tough to escape.

But avoiding credit cards on principle, something personal finance gurus like Dave Ramsey push hard, robs you of all their potential benefits.

“Credit cards are a good tool for building credit and earning rewards,” explained personal finance writer Kim Porter. “Plus, there are lots of ways to avoid debt, like using the card only for monthly bills, paying off the card every month and tracking your spending.”

If you struggle with debt, a credit card is probably not for you. At least not right now. But if you are on top of your finances and want to leverage debt in a strategic way, a credit card can help you do just that.

3. The mortgage you’re approved for is what you can afford.

“The worst financial advice I hear is to buy as much house as you can afford,” said R.J. Weiss, a certified financial planner who founded the blog The Ways to Wealth. He explained that most lenders use the 28/36 rule to determine how much you can afford to borrow: Up to 28 percent of your monthly gross income can go toward your home, as long as the payments don’t exceed 36 percent of your total monthly debt payments. For example, if you had a credit card, student loan and car loan payment that together totaled $640 a month, your mortgage payment should be no more than $360 (36 percent of $1,000 in total debt payments).

“What homeowners don’t realize is this rule was invented by banks to maximize their bottom line ― not the homeowner’s financial well-being,” Weiss said. “Banks have figured out that this is the largest amount of debt one can take on with a reasonable chance of paying it back, even if that means you have to forego saving for retirement, college or short-term goals.”

4. An expensive house is worth it because of the tax write-off.

Scott Vance, owner of, said a real estate agent told him when he was younger that it made sense to buy a more expensive house because he had the advantage of writing off the mortgage interest on his taxes.

But let’s stop and think about that for a moment. A deduction simply decreases your taxable income ― it’s not a dollar-for-dollar reduction of your tax bill. So committing to a larger mortgage payment to take a bigger tax deduction still means paying more in the long run. And if that high mortgage payment compromises your ability to keep up on other bills or save money, it’s definitely not worth it.

“Now, as a financial planner focusing on taxes, I see the folly in such advice,” he said, noting that he always advises his client to consider the source of advice before following it. ”Taking tax advice from a Realtor is … like taking medical procedure advice from your hairdresser.”

5. You need a six-month emergency fund.

One thing is true: You need an emergency fund. But when it comes to how much you should save in that fund, it’s different for each person. There’s no cookie-cutter answer that applies to everyone. And yet many experts claim that six months’ worth of expenses is exactly how much you should have socked away in a savings account.

“I work with a lot of Hollywood actors, and six months won’t cut it for these folks,” said Eric D. Matthews, CEO and wealth adviser at EDM Capital. “I also work with executives in the same industry where six months is overkill. You need to strike a balance for your work, industry and craft.”

If you have too little saved, a major financial blow can leave you in debt regardless. And if you set aside too much, you lose returns by leaving the money in a liquid, low-interest savings account. “The generic six months is a nice catch-all, but nowhere near the specific need of the individual’s unique situation… and aren’t we all unique?”

6. You should accept your entire student loan package.

Aside from a house, a college education is often one of the biggest purchases people make in their lifetimes. Often loans are needed to bridge the gap between college savings and that final tuition bill. But just because you’re offered a certain amount doesn’t mean you need to take it all.

“The worst financial advice I received was that I had to accept my entire student loan package and that I had no other options,” said Gina Zakaria, founder of The Frugal Convert. “It cost me a lot in student loan debt. Now I tell everyone that you never have to accept any part of a college financial package that you don’t want to accept.” There are always other options, she said.

7. Only invest in what you know.

Even the great Warren Buffett, considered by many to be the best investor of all time, gets it wrong sometimes. One of his most famous pieces of advice is to only invest in what you know, but that might not be the right guidance for the average investor.

In theory, it makes sense. After all, you don’t want to tie up your money in overly complicated investments you don’t understand. The problem is, most of us are not business experts, and it’s nearly impossible to have deep knowledge of hundreds of securities. “Diversification is key to a good portfolio, and investing in what you know leads to a very un-diversified portfolio,” said Britton Gregory, a certified financial planner and principal of Seaborn Financial. “Instead, invest in a well-diversified portfolio that includes many companies, even ones you’ve never heard of.”

That might mean enlisting the help of a professional, so make sure it’s one who has your best interests at heart.

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Continue Reading