10 Terms You Need to Know if You Ever Plan to Retire

retirement on beachIn the modern economy, the responsibility for retirement largely falls to the individual. Being educated about this process can mean the difference between spending your retirement in vacation mode and working an additional decade. To secure the future you want, it’s important to plan. The earlier you start figuring it out (and saving!), the better. Here is a glossary of essential terms to know.

1. 401(k)

This term gets thrown around a lot, and sometimes it’s used interchangeably with retirement savings. But a 401(k) is a specific kind of retirement plan. It is a tax-deferred savings and investment plan established by employers. A 401(k) allows employees to control how salary and assets are allocated among different types of investments.

2. IRA

An IRA is another kind of retirement plan. It does not require an employer to set it up for you. An IRA is a personal, tax-sheltered retirement account available to employed wage earners not covered by a company retirement plan or under certain income limitations. Any contributions to an IRA may be tax-deductible and earnings are not taxed until the funds are withdrawn after you reach age 59.

3. Social Security

Social Security is a federal program of social insurance that provides benefits to retired, unemployed or disabled people. It is funded by Social Security taxes that come out of your paycheck while you are working. Based on the year you were born, retirement benefits from Social Security may begin as early as age 62. The amount you will receive in retirement is based on the average payments earned over your lifetime and may also extend to spouses.

4. Compounding Interest

Compounding interest is the interest calculated by the principal or original amount in a retirement account as well as by the accumulated interest of previous periods. It is the concept that the interest you earn today will earn interest tomorrow.

 

It’s important to review your current finances and your retirement goals and make sure you have a plan that gets you where you hope to go. Managing your credit well is also a very important part of maintaining good financial health throughout your lifetime. That includes keeping your debts low and at a level you can manage, making your payments on time every month, checking your annual free credit reports and regularly monitoring your credit scores. This way you can ensure you’re on your way to a happy retirement, whatever that may look like for you.

This article was written by AJ Smith and originally published at blog.credit.com on July 22, 2014. Read the article in its entirety by clicking here.

The 10 Most Low Effort Ways to Save Money Ever

coinsAnyone bringing home a steady, reasonably sufficient paycheck can save. Not only that, but saving is one of the simplest acts of money management that you can engage in, and there are a lot of ways to make it happen.

To help you get started, try some — or all! — of the 10 of the most low-effort strategies for stocking your rainy-day fund.

1. Cook Meals at Home

Restaurant meals are notoriously more expensive than cooking at home, which is understandable since you’re paying for the food along with the kitchen labor and the service. But if you make it a point to eat more meals at home, you’ll often save half or more of what you would spend in a restaurant. When you do, make a note of the money you saved (whatever the amount) and transfer that to your savings account.

2. Spend a Night In

Sitting on the couch and watching TV isn’t often thought of as a money-saving activity. But if your habit is to go out for dinner and drinks on a Friday night, stay in and save the expense of food, alcohol, and the fuel you’d spend getting to those things. The amount you’ll save varies, but $50 for a night out isn’t unusual.

3. Set a Short-Term Savings Goal

If motivation to save money is a problem for you, set small, attainable goals that can be met in a short period of time. Just telling yourself that you’re going to save money isn’t enough. Far-reaching goals are hard to keep on track, but smaller, achievable triumphs help pave the way little by little. Meeting those goals will encourage you to continue being intentional about putting money away.

4. Contribute a Little More to Your 401(k)

Most employers will match your contribution up to a certain percentage. If you want an easy way to save for retirement without having to think about it, up the amount that gets taken out of your paycheck for your 401(k) so it’s safely put away and invested before you even see it.

5. Drink More Water

Water is by far the cheapest and most readily available drink that we have (so long as you’re not committing the ultimate money wasting crime of buying bottled water, of course), and also the healthiest. An easy way to save money is to opt for water at home and when you’re going out to eat as opposed to the far more expensive soft drinks, juices, coffee, and alcoholic beverages. I drink water all day long, and compared to my husband who buys several drinks a day while he’s working, I’d venture to guess I’m saving about $35 per week by avoiding anything but good ol’ H2O.

If you’re patient and methodical about saving money, the best ways to do so are often incredibly simple and low-stress. So don’t over-complicate the process. Start with the easier methods and work your way up as you get into the habit of budgeting and putting money aside. You’ll feel better about your finances knowing that it’s easy to meet your savings goals, set up an emergency fund and increase cash flow.

This article was written by Mikey Rox and originally posted at wisebread.com on August 20, 2014. Read the article in its entirety by clicking here.

5 Things You Should Never Buy at Full Price

sale-tagsMaybe it’s true that “you get what you pay for” with certain products and services, but for many commodities and everyday needs, it’s easy to pay way too much. According to a recent Gallup poll, 45 percent of Americans are spending more money now than they did a year ago — and most of those increased expenses are going toward groceries, household items and other essentials. But for some items, it just isn’t necessary to pay more. That’s because many items go on sale on predictable cycles, or coupons are regularly available to purchase them.

Smart shoppers pay attention to those items that are almost always available at a reduced price and wait until the price is low or stock up in advance. Here are five types of products for which you can always find a good deal.

1. Paper Goods

Grocery stores typically run sales on paper goods such as paper towels and toilet paper during the first and third weeks of each month, says consumer and money saving expert Andrea Woroch. “Not only is the sale price decent, but you often can use manufacturer coupons for the name brands on top of the sale to save even more,” she says.

You can often find manufacturer coupons for these items on sites like CouponSherpa. Woroch recommends avoiding generic paper products “since the name brands use more fiber and are more absorbent, so you ultimately use less paper to clean,” she says. However, some warehouse club stores offer high-quality products of their own at better prices than other name brands. Woroch likes Costco’s Kirkland brand for paper goods.

2. Contact Lenses

Don’t just go on “auto-pilot” after your eye exam and order contact lenses directly from your optometrist. You can usually get a better deal, says Jeanette Pavini, Coupons.com saving expert. “Coupon codes for contact lenses are very common and most websites make it easy to order,” Pavini says. “You simply place the order and they will call your doctor to confirm the prescription is accurate.”

Be warned: If the site or store doesn’t ask for proof of a prescription, that’s a red flag, Pavini says. Counterfeit contact lenses often pop up around Halloween when people are in the market for decorative lenses, she says.

With the lower prices available online, along with a coupon code, Pavini says she has saved more than 30 percent, along with free shipping. Some sites will give you an additional discount when you buy in bulk (typically a year’s supply), Pavini adds.

3. Electronics

“Electronics have a rapid depreciation value, especially TVs,” Woroch says. “TV manufacturers are always releasing new models with slightly different features, so if you buy an older model you can typically find it on sale or have more power to negotiate if the electronic retailer is trying to push it off the floor to make room for new models.” In addition, watch for holiday weekend sales such as Labor Day. Black Friday and just before the Super Bowl are also among the best times to get a deal on TVs. “The more expensive the TV, the more profit margin the retailer has to play with so you should negotiate when possible and compare prices online, too,” Woroch says. While negotiating with a big box retailer may not be likely, local dealers selling the same brands may be more willing to haggle.

You can also score great deals on mobile phones. Many carriers offer a discount on a new phone when you sign up for a two-year contract, and most offer a discount on upgrades every two years when you extend your contract. If you lose or break your phone and don’t have insurance, consider buying a refurbished phone, Woroch says. Find refurbished phones (which have been returned, repaired if necessary, and reset to original specifications so should work as well as a new phone) through wireless carrier stores or wireless carrier websites.

This article was written by Nancy Mann Jackson and originally published at dailyworth.com on August 6, 2014. Read the article in its entirety by clicking here.

12 Baby Boomer Retirement Trends

iStock_000018902553MediumIt is not news that baby boomers, people born between 1946 and 1964, are starting to turn 65 and beginning to retire in droves. A new Census Bureau report details how quickly the baby boomers are retiring and how they are supporting themselves in retirement. Here are 12 highlights from the Census report:

  1. There are just over 40 million Americans age 65 and older, and they make up 13 percent of the population. By 2030, when all the baby boomers will have passed age 65, the over-65 crowd will reach 20 percent of the population. At that time the median age of Americans will increase to 39.6 years, up from 37.2 today and a significant increase from a little under 30 in the 1960s and ’70s.
  2. The U.S. is not the only country with an aging population. Canada, Japan and most of Europe have older populations than the U.S.
  3. There are 11 states with more than a million people age 65 and older, led by California with some 4.3 million. The states with the highest percentages of people age 65 and older are Florida, West Virginia, Maine and Pennsylvania. The states with the lowest proportions of senior citizens are Alaska, Utah and Texas.
  4. The average life expectancy for a 65-year-old American is 17.7 years for a male and 20.3 years for a female. That represents three to four more years of life expectancy compared to what the prior generation had at the same age. And if you are now 75, you can expect to live another 11 years if you’re a man and another 13 years if you’re a woman.
  5. The average income for those between ages 65 and 69 is $37,200, but drops to a little less than $20,000 for those over age 80. The main sources of income for people over 65 are Social Security (37 percent), income from working (30 percent), pensions (19 percent) and savings and investments (11 percent). Younger retirees derive more income from working and investments, while older retirees rely more on Social Security.
  6. About 65 percent of workers retire by the time they turn 65. Of those still working past that age, over a third are employed part time. People with higher education, as well as divorced women, tend to stay in the workforce the longest.
  7. The poverty rate for people age 65 and older is lower than any other age group. And the percentage of people 65 an older who own their own home has remained steady since before the great recession at 81 percent, while the percentage of people under 35 owning their own home has dropped from 43 percent in 2006 to about 37 percent today.

This article was written by Tom Sightings and originally published on July 22, 2014 at money.usnews.com. Read the article in its entirety by clicking here.

13 Ways Beyond Coupons to Save on Groceries

shutterstock_142229620Couponing is a great way to save money on your weekly trip to the supermarket, but for many shoppers clipping, sorting and remembering your coupons is too much of a hassle. But there are other ways you can save serious money at the store. “If coupons just aren’t your thing, don’t worry, because there are lots of other smart ways to shop,” said Lisa Lee, editor in chief of SmartShop, a Consumer Reports publication that in its September issue identifies a bunch of savings strategies. Still, she adds, if you’re a coupon clipper, “keep it up.”

The magazine’s survey of more than 1,000 women found that 82 percent make a grocery shopping budget and stick to it. The survey also found that women shoppers who try to save a buck here and there are using dollars stores, megastores and farmers markets more frequently than ever before, but they are cutting back on the use of convenience stores, drugstores and warehouse clubs.

1. BUy the bag

You might like to see and feel every apple or potato you put into your shopping cart, but you can save as much as 36 percent by buying bags of produce. The same is true for multipacks of grocery items such as soap, toilet paper, soap and yogurt, especially at stores such as Walmart and Target.

2. hit the deli

Many popular deli meats and cheese sliced fresh at the deli counter may cost less than the pre-packaged variety. SmartShop found the same brands (including Boards Head and Alpine Lace) as much as 30 percent cheaper at the deli counter. You also get to buy the exact amount you need, reducing potential waste.

3. Try more store brands

Shoppers can save as much as 60 percent by choosing the store brand over a national brand. Many people find the taste and quality of store brands to be just as good as the more costly brand names.

4. Avoid convenience stores and drugstores

Convenience stores and drug stores may be easy to run into and pick up some essentials, but you’ll pay top dollar for that convenience. ShopSmart’s price check found these stores consistently charged a lot more, often more than double the price at supermarkets, Target and Walmart on basics such as milk, bread and eggs. A half gallon of milk at 7-Eleven costs $3.12. Compare that to the average supermarket price of $2.30. And a loaf of whole wheat bread at CVS cost $2.91. At a dollar store the same loaf costs — yes, you guessed it — $1.

This article was written by Drew Trachtenberg and originally published on July 31, 2014 at dailyfinance.com. Read the article in its entirety by clicking here.