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The Advantages of HSAs PDF Print
Tuesday, 09 December 2014
Health Savings Accounts offer you tax breaks & more.

 

The Advantage of HSAsWhy do people open up Health Savings Accounts in conjunction with high-deductible insurance plans? Well, here are some of the compelling reasons why younger, healthier employees decide to have HSAs.

 

#1: Tax-deductible contributions. These accounts are funded with pre-tax income. Your annual contribution limit to an HSA depends on your age and the type of insurance plan you have in conjunction with the account. For 2015, limits are set at $3,350 (individual plan) and $6,650 (family plan). If you are older than 55, those limits are nudged $1,000 higher.1,2

 

#2: Tax-free growth. Under federal law, the money in an HSA grows untaxed. Some HSAs even have investment options.3

 

#3: Tax-free withdrawals (as long as withdrawals pay for health care costs). Distributions out of an HSA are tax-free as long as they are used to pay qualified health-care expenses. The is the federal tax treatment, and most states treat HSA distributions in like fashion.3

 

Add it up: an HSA lets you avoid taxes as you pay for health care. Additionally, these accounts have other merits.

 

You own your HSA. If you leave the company you work for, your HSA goes with you – your dollars aren't lost.4

 

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Talking About Money Before & After You Marry PDF Print
Friday, 28 November 2014
No money secrets should stand between the two of you as you wed.

 

Talking about  before and after you MARRYNo married couple should suffer from financial infidelity. If you hide debt, income or assets from your spouse, it can lead to a fight and possibly even an impasse in your relationship.

 

Communication & transparency are essential when it comes to money. That truth should be recognized by every couple tying the knot, or even just cohabitating. Yes, financial matters can prove hard to discuss – but if you can't talk about them together, that's already a serious problem.

 

That problem may affect more couples than we realize. In 2013, 7% of engaged individuals who answered a National Credit Counseling Foundation poll said that if they discussed money issues with their fiancé, it would prompt a fight; 11% felt such a talk would uncover financial secrets, and 5% said it would "cause us to call off the wedding."1

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Accentuating the Positive PDF Print
Tuesday, 18 November 2014
Retiring? Saving for retirement? Here's some good news.

Accentuating the positive

Are 90% of articles written about retirement pessimistic? Sometimes it seems that way. Repeatedly, we are reminded that most baby boomers haven't saved enough for the future.

 

There's no denying this, but the media is giving short shrift to other, more positive developments that may be improving the economic and retirement outlook for many Americans. Here are a few worth noting.

 

401(k) savings have rebounded tremendously from Great Recession lows. For older savers, the recovery is especially pronounced. Fidelity just released its latest Quarterly Retirement Snapshot. Looking over account data from its retirement plans, it says that the average Q3 401(k) balance for employees who had contributed to their accounts for at least ten straight years was $241,800, compared to just $130,700 in Q1 2009 when the recession was ending. That's an 85% increase.1,2

 

Data from Principal Financial Group points out similar gains. Earlier this year, it noted that the average balance in its 401(k) plans had risen nearly 70% since the market trough of 2008. Also, new research from the Investment Company Institute shows that if an employee made consistent per-paycheck contributions to a 401(k) during 2007-12, the balance on such accounts increased an average of 6.8% annually (and this is not even considering the great year the market had in 2013).3,4

 

Incomes finally seem to be rising. This recovery has been marked by a lack of wage growth – a factor that has made it shallower than many analysts expected. That may be changing at last, as the Census Bureau's employment cost index increased 0.7% for Q2. That is solid, in fact it is the biggest quarterly boost seen in six years.4

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The 7 Most Damaging 401(k) Myths that Impact Plan Sponsors PDF Print
Thursday, 13 November 2014

Debunking Retirement Myths Plan Sponsors FaceBy Charlie Auerbach, CFP®

After many years of advising 401k plans, I have come to a frightening conclusion. The vast number of employers and qualified retirement plan sponsors are unaware of their own fiduciary obligations, not to mention the issues that can arise with the service providers hired to help shoulder those responsibilities. Because of this widespread unconsciousness, ‘perception’ has largely become myth, which then becomes commonly accepted business practice. This can be very dangerous when it leads to a false sense of security. Unfortunately, plan sponsors are often lured into thinking that “everything is being handled properly” and “the plan is operating fine”.  Below are the 7 most damaging myths we see in the market today.

Myth # 1

If there are any monetary damages due participants, or fines and penalties levied by regulators against the plan, they can be paid out of the plan assets.

According to the Employment Income and Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), a fiduciary is an individual orentity (trustee, plan administrator, investment committee, etc.) that:

  • Exercises ANY discretionary control over administration
  • Exercises ANY control over plan assets (whether or not discretionary)
  • Renders investment advice to a plan for a fee

Furthermore, any losses or other damages resulting from a breach of fiduciary responsibility is personal liability to the fiduciary and cannot be satisfied out of plan assets or even company assets.

 

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Avoiding Family Squabbles Over Your Estate PDF Print
Tuesday, 04 November 2014
What steps may help assets transfer without a fight?

Family SquabblesShould you rely on “will power” to bequeath assets? The more complex your estate, the more ill-advised that choice becomes. Having only a will in place when you die may not be enough. As MarketWatch noted recently, research from the Williams Group (a major estate planning firm) indicates that estate fights reduce inherited wealth for as many of 70% of families.1

   

Inheritance is no simple matter. In a simpler world, an individual with a $3 million estate could pass away and simply leave $1 million each to his or her children – enough said, over and done. But life isn’t so simple: one heir may deserve more money as a result of a disability or fate dealing out hardships, while another may truthfully deserve less due to his or her behavior, or his or her financial success.

   

If you feel one heir should receive more of your estate than another, that wish needs to be articulated in your estate planning. Stating these wishes before you pass away (the why, the how, the how much) and letting your heirs know how you feel isn’t cruel – candor now is preferable to confusion and in-fighting later.

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