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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money
Karen Chan
Quilt

“Being saving”

Have you heard that phrase – "being saving"? If not, you might have thought there was a typo or that I've forgotten the rules of grammar. But actually, it's a phase I grew up with. it might be a "regionalism" – a word or phrase whose use is limited to one part of the country – or an antiquated phrase. When I searched online, I found two books from the early 1900s that used it. One even had an e...

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Invest allocation

I want to start investing. How much of my savings should I invest?

I was recently posed this question by a workshop participant I'll call Rick: "I have accumulated some money, and it is all in bank accounts. I feel like I should have some part of it invested in things like stocks and bonds. But how much? And how do I get started? I'm worried that stock prices seem like they're very high right now, but the interest I'm gettin...

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Slide1

Don't risk a lot to save a little. Or said a different way, stupid ways you can waste your money!

"Don't risk a lot to save a little." That simple phrase has stuck with me through many years since I learned it while studying for my Certified Financial Planner designation. It was one of three basic principles of risk management. (I've forgotten the other two.) The idea is, don't try to save a nickel when that decision might end up costing you $10. Over the years, I have often thought...

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1040-es

I thought I hated estimated taxes. But maybe I don't.

Over the past several years, my tax prep software has often said that I should file estimated taxes. You know, those pesky payments that you send to the IRS four times during the year so that you pay enough in advance to not be hit with an underpayment penalty when you file? I always saw estimated taxes as a bother and a detail that I just didn't want to deal with. Who needs to keep tra...

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Tax brackets 2016

What Can You Learn from Your Tax Return?

President Trump's tax returns have been front-page news this week. Perhaps it's a good reminder that we should each take a look at our own tax returns to see what we can learn from them. Here are some questions you might want to ask. Be sure to read to the end, where I list some of the actions you can take right now. How much of your income avoided income tax?...

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I Love My Library

Using My Library to Save Money

I love my library! In case you hadn't noticed, your library offers a lot more than printed books. Recently, I began to realize that I'm benefitting from my library more and more – and saving more money – because of all the various services they provide. I still occasionally go the library and borrow a printed book. But more often, I'm using my library in different ways:...

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Shopping for insurance

My Insurance Shopping Adventure

Last summer, Sasha gave tips for shopping for car insurance . I have had shopping for insurance on my To Do list for months, maybe years. Her post encouraged me to actually do it. Since I'm trying to get my financial house in order , now seemed like a good time to tackle this task. I learned a several things fro...

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financial house v2

Getting My Financial House in Order for the New Year

It's that time of year when our minds turn to getting our lives ship-shape. Big box stores have set up huge displays of storage containers and gadgets to get us organized. Ads are pushing dieting and getting in shape. My personal goal is to get my paper and electronic records cleaned out and ready for another year. I want to know that I can find a document when and if I need it,...

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Venn diagram

Are there advantages to a trust compared to wills and beneficiary designations?

There are lots of different tools you can use for estate planning. (See the last part of my post from March for a list.) So it's not surprising that a lot of us don't know how they work together, or which ones we should use. Last month , I answered the first part of a reader's question, about whether you need a...

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Venn diagram

Do I need a will if I have named beneficiaries on most of my assets?

After my recent post about mistakes people make about naming beneficiaries – and the unintended outcomes that result – I received this question from a reader: If our beneficiaries are in place, is a will still important for transferal of things? In what areas and ways? Does it speed up the process or limit lawyer ent...

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retirement cash flow

My Decision to Retire - Revisited

Four years ago, I announced my retirement here on the blog . I talked about the decision-making process that I went through, and the kinds of financial information that I used. (If you're reading this, you probably know that I was lucky enough to return to Extension on a part time basis and continue writing for the blog.) Four years into my so-called...

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Designation of Beneficiary v2

Naming Beneficiaries: Have you made any of these mistakes?

I bet you've named a beneficiary on something: maybe an IRA, a life insurance policy, or your 401(k). It's quick and easy to do. And being named as a beneficiary makes it quicker and easier for your heirs to receive what you've left to them, compared to the costs and delays of probate. But that doesn't mean beneficiaries are fool proof. Check out these stories. Have you made any of thes...

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Financial clutter 2

Do you have financial clutter?

Most clutter is obvious: the stacks of papers on the desk, the recipes torn from magazines or printed from websites, the collection of cords, cables, and power supplies that seem too valuable to toss. I once wrote an entire website about how to deal with it! But what about financial clutter? The symptoms are more subtle, but just as r...

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retire spend smile

How Much Will You Spend In Retirement? It’s a Tricky Question.

Say you spent $50,000 in your first year of retirement. How much would you expect to spend in Year 2? Year 3? If you're like most people, you said that you'll probably spend a little more each year, simply because of inflation. You would be in good company, because most estimates of how long our money will last in retirement make the same assumption. But it may be wrong. And if it is wr...

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MSW ORG A 2016

Learn the Secret Code of Personal Finance During Money Smart Week

In some areas of life, it seems that one group of people has the gift - they know what to do or how to behave so that they are successful and accepted. They know the Secret Code. In 1922, Emily Post published her book on etiquette. It was groundbreaking, because for the first time it revealed the secret code known only by the wealthy elite about how to behave and talk in high society....

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Last  Will and testament

Who Gets Your Money When You Die? Maybe Not Who You Think

Who gets your IRA when you pass away – assuming there's still money in it? Who will get your house? Your life insurance payout? Your 401(k)? The answer could be different from what you think. An Example Your will says that your daughter gets all these things. That's how you want all your worldly good to be distributed, so you think everything is fine....

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401k loan

Transitions: What Happens to a 401(k) Loan When You Leave Your Job?

Did you borrow money from your 401(k) that you haven't paid back yet? You're not alone. According to a study by Aon Hewitt, one in every four participants in these plans has a loan. What happens to that loan when you leave your job? Whether you retire, are laid off, or move to another company, the o...

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Transition

Transitions: Strategies for your 401(k)

Deciding what to do with your 401(k) when you leave your job could be one of your biggest financial decisions. Same goes if you have a 403(b), 457, SEP or SIMPLE plan. I'm hoping you already know that, unless you absolutely can't put food on the table without it, you do NOT want to cash out your 401(k) or any other retirement plan when you leave your job. You got that, right? An...

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Transitions: How does leaving a job affect your income taxes?

Most of us expect our income taxes to take care of themselves, except for filing that pesky return: money gets withheld over the course of the year, and then we hope to get some of that back as a refund. When you leave a job, income taxes can get a bit more complicated. If you're retiring or being laid off, the last thing you need is an unexpected tax bill or penalty. On the other hand,...

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If you haven’t yet filed for Social Security, you may need to change your plans.

Were you planning to file-and-suspend or file a restricted application when you claim Social Security benefits? Your plans could be derailed by the new Social Security rules that were signed into law as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. If you aren't really familiar with Social Security rules and benefits, you might want to start with a general o...

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blogaward2

Plan Well Retire Well Wins National Award

I'd like to take a minute to toot our own horn. The writing team behind the Plan Well Retire Well blog just won two awards for Internet Education Communications from the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) at their annual conference held November 2-5, 2015 in White Sulfur Springs WV. We received first-place in the Central regi...

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Transitions: What Happens to My Health Savings Account When I Leave My Job?

When you leave a job, HSAs are simpler in some ways than the FSAs I discussed last month: there is no need to spend down the account while you're employed, or at the end of the year. The money is yours. You decide when to submit expenses for reimbursement, and you can decide which financial custodian you want to use for the account. If you wish, you can ro...

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Transitions: What Happens to My Healthcare Flexible Spending Account When I Leave My Job?

Healthcare flexible spending accounts (FSAs) are great ways to avoid income tax on money you use for medical expenses. The tax isn't just deferred – you never pay tax on the money if you use it for qualified expenses. What happens to those accounts when you leave your job? There are special rules for this situation, and ignorance could be costly. Say you signed up to pu...

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Transitions: Leaving a job, and the lesson my father taught me

For the past several months, I've been writing about the financial decisions that young adults face. This month, I'm switching gears to talk about a different kind of transition that could happen at any point in your working years: leaving a job. Whether you're taking a new job, being laid off, or retiring, there are probably more financial decisions and ramifications than you might thi...

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worry2

Dear Young Friend: “Cheap Insurance” for the Things You Worry About

Dear Young Friend, If you're twenty-something, what do you worry about? Karen ___________________   That's the question I posed on my Facebook page when I was working on last month's post, How to Think about Risk and Insurance , as part of my...

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