Barring unforeseen circumstances, Jerome Powell will become the next chair of the Federal Reserve (the Fed) when Janet Yellen steps down in February 2018. While we wait to find out more about Powell’s policies, there’s a bigger puzzle you may be pondering: What is “the Fed,” anyway (and what’s it to me)?
As I write this, I assume that the GOP tax plan will be signed into law and mostly go into effect January 1, 2018. Is there anything you can do now, before the rules change? The general advice is to push income into 2018 when tax rates should be lower and accelerate tax deductions into 2017 where they should affect a greater tax savings. At this late date, you likely have little control over the timing of your income and tax writeoffs with one exception: how much you contribute to charity.
Raise your hand if you care about the well-being of your loved ones. Say, look at all those hands!
Now raise your hand if your estate plans are in place. Hmmm. I see a lot fewer. A recent caring.com survey found less than half of us (42%) have estate plans; and only 36% of parents with minor children.
For better or worse, “until death do you part” doesn’t apply to a family’s living expenses, which continue even if your major bread winner passes away. Of course nobody wants to leave their family accidentally impoverished, so proper life insurance is an imperative for most working families.
But what qualifies as “proper” for you and yours?
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.
More Articles ...
- A Five-Step Action Plan for Retirement Planning as published in InsideNova.com
- Retirement Planning, Near and Far as published in InsideNova.com
- It's Never as Bad as You Think (when you think it's bad) as published in InsideNova.com
- The Science of Successful Investing - as published in InsideNova.com