Ramp Up Retirement Savings
According to financial pundits, one of the most
successful methods for accumulating wealth is
to "pay yourself first." The trick is to invest a
percentage of your income - about 10 to 15
percent - automatically, preferably before it reaches
Fortunately, many employees can participate in an
employer-sponsored retirement plan and contribute a
percentage of their salary on a pre-tax basis.
Workers who don't have access
to an employer plan may be able to open an IRA or
another type of investment or
One way to ramp up your savings is by keeping up
with increasing retirement plan contribution limits.
Find your plan below and see how much more you will
be eligible to
save in 2005.
Perhaps the best line of defense is to keep your
private information private - but not only from
strangers. Ten percent of victims had personal
information stolen by a friend or roommate, 11
percent by relatives, and 13 percent by employees of
a business that had their information.
- 401(k), 403(b), and 457 plans: $14,000 ($18,000
for workers aged 50 and older)
- SIMPLE:$10,000 ($12,000 for workers aged 50
- Traditional and Roth IRAs: $4,000 ($4,500 for
workers aged 50 and older)
Not sure you can afford to set aside any more of
your salary? Remember that funds deposited in an
employer-sponsored retirement plan are not subject
to current income tax withholding, so the entire
amount goes into the plan. By contrast, each dollar
of take-home pay may represent anywhere from two-
thirds to three-fourths of actual earnings, depending
on an individual's tax situation.
The Case of IRAs - You can typically arrange for your
bank to make automatic IRA contributions from your
checking or savings account each month. IRA
contributions may be deductible from annual taxable
income. Adjusting your income tax withholding may
help reduce the effect on your take-home pay.
To make progress toward your long-term retirement
goals, consider taking advantage of higher retirement
plan contribution limits, as well as supplementing your
tax-deferred accounts with additional stock, bond,
and cash-equivalent investments. Please call if you
want to review your retirement savings strategy.
Read on...Retirement Savings
This is a busy time of year in all of our lives. It is
especially busy in the financial planning and
investment management world. It is not too late to
take advantage of year end giving by setting up a
Donor-Advised Fund. Give us a call and we can take
care of that for you. Happy Holidays to each of you
and your families.
Good news! Credit reports are available for
free annually. You should get a copy of your
credit report annually to ensure there are no errors.
Contact the following companies:
Equifax at www.equifax.com; Experian National
Consumer Assistance at www.experian.com; TransUnion LLC at
om. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions
Act of 2003 went into effect December 1 with the
Westerns states first and is rolling out across the
country. However, if you live in Massachusetts, you
are already allowed to check
your report for free annually. If you need more
information, give us a call.
Time to Share. Create a Buzz. The Arts &
Business Council of Greater Boston (A&BC/Boston)
promotes the mutuality of arts and business
partnerships, strengthening both sectors through
advocacy and programs that serve the full diversity
of individuals, organizations and communities. Their
goal is to develop a thriving and vibrant cultural and
business environment for Greater Boston. Click here
or visit their website at
www.artsandbusinesscouncil.org to learn more about
the great work that A&BC/Boston does.
|Following the Dollar Decline
Recent headlines have been in an uproar over the
state of the dollar. The issue hit a crescendo in
November when Federal Reserve Chairman Alan
Greenspan warned that America must address issues
related to the dollar's decline, such as the nation's
trade and budget deficits.
Even if you rarely travel abroad or exchange dollars
for foreign currencies, don't be lured into thinking the
strength of the dollar doesn't affect you. Stock and
bond investors will want to pay close attention as
Wall Street makes the dollar its latest obsession.
|Deciding When to Collect Social Security
Social Security is the principal source of retirement
income for about two-thirds of older Americans. Its
importance to so many people may explain why
deciding when to start collecting Social Security
benefits can be difficult. Starting benefits at age 62,
full ("normal") retirement age, or age 70 has different
income consequences that will last throughout
Now or Later? - Workers who have earned enough
credits can begin collecting monthly Social Security
benefits at age 62 - but they receive a reduced
amount, currently about 75.8 percent of full benefits;
eventually, this percentage will drop to 70 percent.
|Purchasing the Right Business-Owner Policy
As winter approaches, the possibility of a customer
slipping and falling on a business's property
increases. With the average jury award exceeding
$200,000 for individuals injured at a retail store, it's a
good idea for owners to review their business-owner
policy (BOP), particularly their liability coverage, to
ensure that the policy has grown with the business.
Generally, a BOP combines coverage in key business
areas - property, liability, and business interruption.
Property insurance covers damage or loss of items
such as fixtures, equipment and machinery, office
furniture, computers and accessories, and inventory
|When You're Old Enough for Cash-Value Insurance
There are an estimated 190 million individual life
insurance policies in force in the United States,
according to the most recent figures.
Interestingly, sales of the two most common types of
life insurance policies are almost dead even. In 2002,
cash-value policies accounted for 51 percent of
sales, and term policies accounted for 49 percent.
|Revisiting Equity-Indexed Annuities
By the end of 2004, sales of equity-indexed annuities
(EIAs) are expected to reach about $17 billion, up
from $14 billion in 2003.
Experts say the rise in EIA sales corresponds to the
rise in the stock market. As stock prices improve,
investors may want to participate in wealth-creation
opportunities. EIAs may be just the type of risk-
managed financial vehicle that many investors can
use to round out their
|The Benefits Financial Planning
Financial planning provides direction and meaning to
your financial decisions. It allows you to understand
how each financial decision you make affects other
areas of your finances. For example, buying a
particular investment product might help you pay off
your mortgage faster or it might delay your
retirement significantly. By viewing each financial
decision as part of a whole, you can consider its
short and long-term effects on your life goals. You
can also adapt more easily to life changes and feel
more secure that your goals are on track.
||To learn more ...