Category : 401k

Performing Surgery on Yourself

Many hundreds of years ago it was quickly determined that performing surgery on yourself wasn’t the most practical idea. (Remember as a kid when you tried to rub your belly with one hand while patting your head with the other? Now imagine doing that with a razor sharp surgical stone in one hand.) As a result the profession of Doctor was invented. At first, they might have been referred to as the village medicine man, but I think you get the picture.

It has been 40 years since the 401k was introduced and we are still asking retirement savers to effectively “operate on themselves” when it comes to managing their 401k balances. So far, most self-help solutions focus on providing more and more retirement planning tools, calculators and general education. This is like believing that if we can just produce a better manual or surgical scalpel, then finally people will be able to perform their own open-heart surgeries.

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The Power of Peanut Butter: how it can help you retire faster

We hear it all the time: “But I just don’t make enough to even think about putting money into my 401k.”

Who hasn’t felt this way at some point? After all, life happens – soccer fees are due, car needs new brakes, your long lost uncle needs bail money…etc. The list goes on and on.

So the real question becomes…where do you find the money to save? We have the answer.

The average American eats 5.8 commercially prepared meals each week (about 23 times/month) and assuming the average cost is $10 per meal, that totals $230 per month. If you have four people in your household, take that up to $920…in one month. That’s a lot of money.

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The Tax Man Giveth and the Tax Man Taketh Away

It’s that glorious time of year again: Tax Time!

At this point, the tax damage is done. There’s not a lot you can do…BUT did you know that the best time to start planning for your taxes isn’t in December? It is now.

If you find yourself in either of these scenarios, here are some actions you can take:

If you are getting a refund from the IRS

Number one, call your HR Department to adjust your W-4 form and raise the allowances you are claiming. This will increase the amount you get on your paycheck (after they get done taxing it).

Number two, raise the amount you are saving into your 401k. Once you do this, your after-tax paycheck will likely go back down to what it “used to be.” You may have to fiddle with the W-4 allowances and 401k savings rate to get the numbers to shake-out. Once you’ve done this, you will save more money into your 401k, pay less in taxes, and your after-tax paycheck should still be about the same! Boom! Painless saving. Granted, you’ll stop getting a refund each year (which is nothing more than an interest-free loan to the government,) but your future retirement thanks you in advance!

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Which 401k Investor Are You?

  1. The DIY investor enjoys researching investment options and in their free time can be found reading investing articles from The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Yahoo Finance, etc. This person may believe that paying someone for investment advice is completely counter-intuitive, since they are totally capable of doing it themselves for free. We joke that occasionally, these are the same folks (ahem, Men) who refuse to stop and ask for directions when lost. But that’s another discussion.
  2. You have enough coin to actually get the attention of a qualified professional investment advisor. Maybe you are a bit long in the tooth and have done a good job of saving money. Maybe you got an inheritance at an early age. Or maybe you’re a silicon valley stock-option millionaire. Whatever the case – my guess is that you have at least 6 or 7 figures in your portfolio and have the benefit of working with a qualified (preferably fee-only) investment advisor.
  3. You know you need help because you don’t have the time, desire, or knowledge to attempt to manage your 401k by yourself. You googled “401k help” and found 19 million entries. You have one of those know-it-all brother-in-laws but you just can’t bring yourself to flatter him by asking for his help. As a result, you’ve done your best to invest your 401k, possibly using one of those “one-size-fits-all” Target Date funds in your plan.
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6 Step Blueprint for your 401k (Part 2)

In our previous blog post we covered the first three tips you need to keep in mind when investing your 401k (for those of you that are dead-set on doing your 401k by yourself). In case you missed it, here they are: favor index funds, select the right stock to bond ratio, and diversify. And as promised, here are the final three tips:

4. Rebalance your 401k: In a nutshell, this wonderful tactic keeps your portfolio invested near the original percentages that you selected above in Step #3. Some folks do this manually, some custodians provide you with tools to help you set this up on a regular basis, and some folks hire professionals (like blooom) to do it for them. The beauty of rebalancing is that it trims from your funds that have done well and adds money to funds that haven’t. This may seem counter-intuitive but if you think about it for awhile is starts to make sense. Buy low, sell high. Buy low, sell high. Buy low, sell high…

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