Category Archives: General

Make the most of the new FSA rules..

The IRS and Treasury Department recently changed the rules for flexible-spending accounts. Now employers have the option to let employees carry over up to $500 remaining in the account from one year to the next. They aren’t required to make the change, but if they do offer the carryover, they can no longer provide a grace period until March 15 to use the money in the account. If your employer still offers a grace period until March 15, now is the sweet spot when you can get maximum coverage from your FSA for large, uninsured medical expenses (such as dental work or laser eye surgery). You can use any money left over from last year, as well as the full amount you plan to contribute for 2014, even though you haven’t actually had the money deducted from your paychecks yet.

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Get triple tax breaks from a health savings account.

More people will have high-deductible health insurance policies this year, either on their own or through their employers, but they may not know whether they’re eligible to benefit from a health savings account. If your policy has a deductible of at least $1,250 for individual coverage or $2,500 for family coverage, plus meets a few other requirements, then you can make tax-deductible contributions (or pre-tax contributions if they’re through your employer) to an HSA in 2014. You can stash up to $3,300 in an HSA if you have individual coverage or up to $6,550 for family coverage, plus an extra $1,000 if you’re 55 or older sometime this year. You can then use the money tax-free for medical expenses in any year. And if you had an HSA-eligible policy in 2013, you still have until April 15, 2014, to make your contribution for last year.

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Are you making the most out of your IRAs??

 You still have until April 15, 2014, to contribute up to $5,500 to an IRA for 2013 (plus an extra $1,000 if you were 50 or older anytime during 2013).

And don’t forget about frequently overlooked opportunities to save—such as in a spousal IRA if one of you is working and the other is not, or an IRA for a teenagers with earned income. You can also contribute up to $5,500 for 2014 anytime now, plus an extra $1,000 if you’re 50 or older anytime this year. Consider setting up automatic transfers from your paycheck or bank account to the IRA — $458.33 per month adds up to $5,500 by year-end.

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Maximizing your retirement plan??

Retirement plan contribution:

You can contribute up to $17,500 to a 401(k), 403(b), 457 or Thrift Savings Plan in 2014, plus $5,500 if you turn 50 anytime during the year.  See if you can afford to boost the percentage of your income you contribute each month, especially if you haven’t been making the most of any match offered by your employer. Bottom line is: Max out your monthly contribution if you can!

Keep in mind that the money you contribute pre-tax lowers your take-home pay less than you’d expect—if you’re in the 25% tax bracket, for example, contributing $1,000 to a 401(k) will lower your take-home pay by just $750.  And look for extra opportunities to save.  Some public universities and other employers offer both 403(b)s and 457s and let you contribute up to $17,500 to both plans.  And if you have a public sector 457 and are nearing retirement, you may have extra catch-up options — see rules for 457 Retirement Plans for details (those plans will not apply to everyone)

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Market volatility.. and how to weather the storm

This week was horrendous, if you’re an investor you must of felt the pain; I sure did!

Biggest drop since Nov ’11.  Stocks got hit pretty hard.. People are hiding their money in natural gas, utilities, and gold.  Some suggest a 10% correction.
I say stick to fundamentals in the wake of soft earnings.  I think the bad news about the slow growth in China spooked investors.  If you own stock, hold on! This is a great entry point if you’re still on the sidelines..

 

 

 

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