In our last article we discussed how a High-Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) + Health Savings Account (HSA) combo is often a better deal than a traditional healthcare plan once you compare total costs and initial tax breaks involved. If it pencils out for you to begin with, an HDHP+HSA combo gets even better over time. How so? HSAs are the ONLY investment accounts with “triple-play” tax savings:
Have you ever stood in the grocery store wondering whether to buy the 20-ounce box for $4.99 or the 12-ounce version for $2.99? (Hint: They’re both $0.25/ounce.) That’s simple compared to deciding which of the following is the better healthcare deal for your family when both are available:
(1) A traditional healthcare plan with lower deductibles but higher premiums.
(2) A High-Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) + Health Savings Account (HSA) combo, with higher deductibles but lower premiums, plus tax savings.
In my last article, I covered how important it is to start saving early for college costs, touched on a few tax-favored ways to do it, and suggested 529 plans as my favorite tool for the task. While any saving is better than none, I feel the range of available 529 plans offers the most college-planning flexibility.
It’s a given that every parent wants their children to start with a college education. But, golly, college is expensive. According to the College Board, all-in costs for the 2016–2017 academic year is approaching $25,000 at a four-year in-state public college, and $50,000 at a four-year private institution.1
Clearly, there’s no time to waste in saving for your kids’ high-cost higher education. If I get one thing across, that’s it. But I don’t blame you if you’re wondering where to even begin. Don’t despair! Let’s roll up our sleeves and get practical.
When should you begin claiming your Social Security Income (SSI)? Clearly, the decision is a big part of retirement planning. Too bad it’s not also an easy part. Then again, be careful what you wish for! While “one size fits all” would be easier for you, that doesn’t necessarily mean it would be better.
Granted, some situations are super easy. If you turn 62 and you need the money to put food on the table, take it at age 62.
As I pointed out in my last piece, most of us tend to spend more time planning for a one-week vacation than for our entire retirement. This, despite the ongoing analyses informing us that most American workers are falling short on their retirement savings.
Why is that? For one, it’s hard to know how much you should be saving. Plus, a part of you may not want to know. What if you don’t like the answer? So, you put off planning for another day. Then another. Until … you approach retirement with no plan at all.
Question #1: How near or far are you from achieving your retirement savings goals?
Question #2: Where are you going on your next vacation?
If you’re like many Americans, you’ve probably spent more time planning the date, destination, travel arrangements and costs for your next brief getaway than charting out your retirement saving plans.
In my 30+ years in the financial industry, I’ve spoken with countless investors who, countless times over, were convinced that the stock market was about to crash. Every so often, they’ve been correct, at least temporarily.
But I’ve also noticed that the markets have always eventually recovered and continued their long-term ascent. For example, in the early days of Jimmy Carter’s presidency, the S&P 500 Index was at about 100. Today, after 40 years, continuous global unrest, hyperinflation, banking crises, 9/11, Bernie Madoff and many other upsets come and gone … it’s hovering around 2,400.
In my last article, I stated that to be a successful investor you need a combination of science and behavioral determination. Today let’s discuss the science side of investing. This involves building a portfolio that offers the best odds for achieving your financial goals with the lowest possible risk. How do we do this? It’s tempting to dive right into picking “winning” holdings. In reality, that’s the last, least vital step: