Tuesday, November 30, 2010

End of Year Financial Tips

2010 Roth IRA Conversions

1. Funding. Funded with after-tax (post-tax) dollars, offer tax-free growth and tax-free distributions in retirement
2. Distributions. No minimum distributions and no age requirement
3. Income. Can convert to a Roth IRA regardless of your income
4. Pay taxes. Conversion taxes can be spread over two years: 2010 and 2011
Conversions after 2010 will pay the full tax due
5. Conversion. Can convert back to traditional IRA by October 15, 2011
6. 1099. No 1099 is required
7. Deadline. Make conversion by 12/31/10

Paying Down Debt Now Can Help You Next Year

1. Future. The future is an unknown.
2. Tax Rates. Tax rates may be higher in 2011 which means you may bring home less money. Tax credits may be reduced, child tax credit will be reduced to $500 in 2011, the deduction for mortgage insurance premiums will be eliminated, energy saving improvements will be reduced to 10%.
3. Minimum. Paying more than the monthly minimum pays your balance down faster so you will owe less next year (interest, finance charges, etc.).
4. Shopping. Cut back on shopping to reduce changes of going into more debt or having large credit card balances after the holiday shopping season.
5. Variable. Many credit cards have been converted from fixed to variable rates which means if the federal rate increases, so will your monthly payments
6. Finances. Can improve relationship with your spouse or partner related to arguments over finances
7. Retirement. You can't focus on retirement if you are in debt

Tips to Help You Plan for the Future

1. Change your thinking. Eliminate negative thoughts about money and bad money habits. Follow those who have good spending habits and consult a professional.
2. Emergency Fund. Create an emergency fund to cover bills for 9-12 months.
3. Plan for retirement. Contribute the maximum to get matching contributions. You will need 60-80% of your current retirement salary for a minimum of 20 years to have enough money to cover living expenses during retirement. Save 10-20% each month towards retirement.
4. Pre-retirement. One year before retirement start reducing your expenses to retirement levels to get adjusted to living on a reduced income.
5. SS Income. Don't count on social security unless you are near retirement age.
6. Financial Goals. Sets financial goals, i.e. plan for retirement, children's college education, pay off mortgage, pay off car note, etc.
7. Contributions. Increase retirement contributions with each salary increase

Tips to Plan For Retirement Now

1. Sign up. If you don't have a retirement account, run to your employer and sign up. Setup an account even if you are self-employed (SEP) or stay-at-home mom (spousal IRA).
2. Diversify. Don't put all of your eggs in one basket. Ensure your retirement account is diversified. This helps to offset losses.
3. Live below your means. Reduce spending and create a budget.
4. Pay down debt. Pay off large debts and keep debt at no more than 10% of your monthly income after taxes (credit cards, medical expenses, other loans, etc.)
5. Estate planning. Perform estate planning (will, trust, health care directive, etc.). Hire a lawyer to prepare documentation.
6. Review. Review financial statements on a regular basis to check for errors and stay informed about your account.
7. Backup Plan. Create a backup plan if some financial crisis occurs and you need extra money. Have a plan A, B, C and D. Use what-if scenarios.


Aimee said...

In "The Gospel of Roth- The Good News About Roth IRA Conversions and How They Can Make You Money" by John Bledsoe it clearly states in the book that NO ANALYSIS is needed and that everyone should convert to a Roth IRA regardless of income. There is NO risk! The IRS is giving us a year to recharacterize or "undo" the conversion. This book gives the ins and outs for Roth IRAS! It really helped answer all my questions.

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