What Constitutes a True “Emergency”?
May 28, 2018
You’re a responsible person. You’re saving for retirement. You have a 529 plan set up to help pay for your daughter’s college education. Your car is paid off. You have an adequate amount of life insurance. You’re using InsureYouKnow to make sure your loved ones know how to access your important documents and financial information if needed. And you have six months of living expenses set aside in an emergency fund.
Then the unexpected happens: The alternator goes out in your car. It’s going to cost $400 to replace it.
Where do you find the money to pay for it?
If you answered, “My emergency fund,” you may want to take another look at your definition of “emergency.”
Your emergency fund is money you have socked away in case of a major life event, such as a job loss, divorce, or medical issue. This money would be used to cover your day-to-day expenses and bills if needed.
Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary advocates the use of a separate fund—the “life happens” fund—for those pesky but somewhat predictable expenses that crop up.
“You’ll withdraw money from this fund to pay for unexpected or major expenses that don’t quite fit the dire straits definition,” Singletary wrote. “Car repairs would come out of this account. Start with trying to save $500, ideally increasing to a few thousand.”
Whether you call it the “life happens” fund, the “just in case” fund, or some other term, this fund is for those immediate expenses that aren’t quite catastrophic. These are expenses that result from situations that people often treat as emergencies but that in reality are expected, if irregular, like a broken appliance.
In an ideal world, you’d never touch your emergency fund. You wouldn’t lose your job. You wouldn’t get diagnosed with a major medical condition. You would have a regular, steady income with no major disruptive events in your life. For many people, this is indeed the case. That money sits in an easily accessible savings account where it earns minimal interest but supplies maximum peace of mind.
But even in an ideal world, you’re probably going to tap into your life happens fund fairly regularly. Even the most budget-obsessed person can’t predict every expense that may appear, such as the following:
- A storm blows through, knocking large tree branches onto the roof of your house that have to be sawed apart and hauled away.
- Your dog swallows a tennis ball and needs emergency surgery to remove it.
- Your toddler climbs onto the dishwasher door one too many times and it finally breaks.
- Your aunt dies and you need to fly out for the funeral.
In many of these situations, life is already stressful enough without you needing to scramble to come up with money for the resulting expenses. And you don’t want to tap into your emergency fund because that’s money you never want to touch. The life happens fund is the perfect compromise. Like an emergency fund, it’s kept in a savings account where it’s accessible on a moment’s notice. But unlike an emergency fund, taking money out of it won’t potentially result in your water getting shut off when you suddenly find yourself without an income.
Keep in mind that because you do need to access this fund somewhat regularly, it’s important to replace any money you take out as soon as possible. After all, life happens—and you never know when the next storm is going to pass through town.
August 31, 2016
Plаnnіng fоr уоur rеtіrеmеnt іѕ nо ѕmаll tаѕk. It rеԛuіrеѕ thаt уоu knоw hоw muсh mоnеу уоu wіll hаvе ѕаvеd uр, аnd hоw muсh уоu wіll nееd реr уеаr fоr еасh уеаr аftеr уоur rеtіrеmеnt. Bоth оf these fасtоrѕ аrе whаt mаkе rеtіrеmеnt fіnаnсіаl рlаnnіng ѕо dіffісult, ѕіnсе уоu hаvе tо kеер trасk оf уоur rеtіrеmеnt ѕаvіngѕ ассоuntѕ аnd іnvеѕtmеntѕ, аѕ wеll аѕ уоur ѕtаndаrd оf lіvіng аnd thе аmоunt іt соѕtѕ tо kеер іt uр.
Thе 403b retirement рlаn іѕ аvаіlаblе tо US rеѕіdеntѕ wоrkіng іn ѕресіfіс ѕесtоrѕ, аnd оffеrѕ аn аttrасtіvе аltеrnаtіvе tо thе uѕuаl 401k. Emрlоуееѕ whо аrе еlіgіblе fоr thе 403b wоrk іn оrgаnіzаtіоnѕ thаt аrе tаx еxеmрt, рublіс ѕсhооlѕ, оr аrе ѕеlf-еmрlоуеd аѕ a rеlіgіоuѕ mіnіѕtеr. Thеrе аrе bеnеfіtѕ fоr bоth thе еmрlоуее аnd thе еmрlоуеr іn сhооѕіng a 403b.
Mаnу соmраnіеѕ uѕе thеіr 403b рlаnѕ tо аttrасt аnd rеtаіn thе bеѕt саndіdаtеѕ fоr еmрlоуmеnt. Onе rеаѕоn whу еmрlоуееѕ bеnеfіt frоm thе 403b іѕ thаt іt hаѕ аn еxсеllеnt mаtсhіng рlаn. Thеrе іѕ аlѕо nо nееd fоr еіthеr thе соmраnу оr thе еmрlоуее tо рау tаx оn соntrіbutіоnѕ thаt аrе gоіng іntо a 403b. Thе recipient оnlу hаѕ tо ѕtаrt рауіng tаx whеn thеу bеgіn tо wіthdrаw fundѕ.
Thеrе is a mаxіmum аmоunt, whісh саn bе раіd іn thаt іѕ ѕеt fоr еvеrу уеаr, аnd employees wіll оnlу rесеіvе thіѕ mаxіmum іf thе соmраnу іѕ dоіng wеll.
It іѕ аlѕо роѕѕіblе tо tаkе оut a lоаn аgаіnѕt thе ассumulаtеd fundѕ іn a 403b, whісh саn bе uѕеful іn аn еmеrgеnсу. Tаkіng оut tуре оf lоаn аnd mаkіng rерауmеntѕ tо іt wіll hаvе tаx соnѕеԛuеnсеѕ, hоwеvеr.
If thе еmрlоуее wіѕhеѕ tо wіthdrаw fundѕ frоm thе 403b bеfоrе thеу hаvе rеасhеd thе еxресtеd аgе оf 59.5 уеаrѕ, thеrе wіll bе fіnаnсіаl реnаltіеѕ. Onсе thе rесіріеnt іѕ оvеr thе аgе lіmіt thеу wіll оnlу bе сhаrgеd tаx fоr thе аmоunt thаt іѕ tаkеn оut, but younger реорlе wіll аlѕо hаvе tо рау аn аddіtіоnаl реnаltу оf 10%.
Pеорlе whо оwn оvеr 5% оf thе соmраnу thаt thеу аrе wоrkіng fоr аrе ѕubjесt tо аddіtіоnаl rulеѕ. Thіѕ іѕ іn оrdеr tо рrеvеnt thе wеаlthіеѕt mеmbеrѕ оf ѕосіеtу frоm uѕіng thе 403b tо ассumulаtе vаѕt аmоuntѕ оf tаx-frее ѕаvіngѕ.
Onсе thе еmрlоуее іѕ оf rеtіrеmеnt аgе thе аmоunt thеу hаvе ѕаvеd іn thе 403b wіll bе dіѕtrіbutеd ассоrdіng tо hоw muсh thеу hаvе ѕаvеd аnd thеіr еѕtіmаtеd lіfе еxресtаnсу. Thіѕ аіdѕ іn dіѕtrіbutіng thе fund in a fаіr mаnnеr. However, іf уоu dо nоt tаkе аt lеаѕt thе mіnіmum рауmеnt аvаіlаblе, уоu wіll bе сhаrgеd tаx оn your 403b ѕаvіngѕ аt a vеrу hіgh rаtе.
Emрlоуееѕ whо аrе еlіgіblе fоr a 403b ѕhоuld tаkе thе tіmе tо mаkе ѕurе thеу undеrѕtаnd bоth thе ѕаvіngѕ thеу саn mаkе оn tаx whіlе thе funds аrе bеіng buіlt uр, аnd thе іntеrеѕt, саріtаl gаіnѕ аnd dіvіdеndѕ thеу саn rесеіvе frоm thе рlаn.
Retirement Planning Tool
August 13, 2016
Planning for retirement? Here’s what you need to know
When it comes to planning for retirement, most people recognize the importance of saving as early as possible but a majority of them do not get started for one reason or the other. Some just don’t have the right mindset for saving while others simply do not have the right knowledge on how to handle their financial planning for a happy retirement.
To address this, we have put together this guide that will help get your investment and retirement planning in order by taking advantage of financial resources and tools such as retirement planning calculator, stock calculator online and investment calculator online.
Let’s get started.
Pay off the expensive debt first
The best thing you can do to maximize your retirement savings is to pay off your debts especially the ones with high interest. This includes credit card debt and car loans which can be toxic for your finances. No matter how much you can possibly regain through savings and investing, this debt will always come out as a net negative for you. So, pay off your expensive credit card debts and car loan first if you really want to supercharge your retirement savings.
Have an emergency fund
A surefire way to put a dent in your savings plan is by not having an emergency fund in place. By doing this, you put yourself at the risk of turning to high-interest credit card debt when an emergency arises which, as mentioned earlier, is something you really don’t want to do. As a general rule of thumb, it is advisable to have at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses in your emergency fund. That way you won’t need to resort to expensive credit card loans in a time of crisis.
Make full use of employer match
If your job comes with a paid-for employer match for your 401k account, take full advantage of it by using it to full capacity. Let’s assume that your employer matches 50 cents for every $1 that you invest, up to a limit of 6 percent of salary meaning that if you invest the full 6 percent of your salary, the employer will invest an additional 3 percent.
In total, you will be putting a healthy 9 percent of your salary towards your retirement. You can use our Retirement Planning Tool to obtain a projection of how maximizing your 401k savings account can affect your retirement plan.
Make and follow a budget
Knowing all your expenses whether big or small and then adjusting them according to your income is a no-brainer if you really want to retire with financial freedom. This can be achieved by budgeting your finances and keeping a track of all your regular expenses and bills. When you know that you need to set aside a specific amount for these expenses each month, you are more likely to make room for savings.
One way to optimize your budget for retirement savings is to categorize your savings as a recurring monthly ‘expense’ rather than literal ‘savings’. You can do this by opening a separate savings account that automatically takes money from your main salary or business account ensuring that laziness or excessive spending doesn’t get the better of you.
Have a solid Financial Plan
While saving money is important, knowing where to invest the money you save for maximum returns is even more important. The process starts with figuring out your existing savings and knowing how much money you’ll need once you retire.
As a general rule, you should plan to have 80 percent of your current annual income in retirement. Adjust this amount with any projected retirement income such as pension or social security and you will get the exact amount you’ll need per year in retirement.
Next is to have a balanced asset allocation strategy and invest your money so that it continues to grow before and after retirement. The best way to achieve this is to diversify your assets in different avenues such as stocks, bonds, commodities and emerging market equities. This protects your investment against any potential volatility in the markets and helps you come out on top in the long run.
Use our online investment calculator to find out the approximate rate of return on your investments by testing a variety of asset allocation scenarios.
Revise your asset allocation over time
With time, your financial situation changes and as you edge closer to retirement you would want to have more easily accessible income. This can be achieved by tweaking your asset allocation as your needs change.
If you have started saving at a young age and don’t have a family to support for the initial few years of your career, it would be wise to keep a majority of your portfolio in growth assets with maximum return. As you grow older, you can move more of your assets to fixed income options such as bonds and high dividend stocks.
Having said that, by no means you should move all your investment away from growth assets as you want your money to do the work for you even after you retire.
Use our online stock calculator and online investment calculator if you need to figure out your ideal asset allocation based on your individual situation, preferences, and retirement goals.
Make use of tax-advantaged retirement accounts
When saving for retirement, one way to fast-track your progress is to make good use of special retirement accounts that are given a tax break from the government. These include 401(k), traditional IRA and Roth accounts allow of which allow you to contribute up to $5000 per year.
With these accounts, you have the option to take out contributions and earnings without paying any tax during retirement. In some cases, you have the option to pay income tax upfront and avoid capital gains and interest taxes in the future. In short, a 401(k), 403(b) and an IRA are all fantastic retirement account options.
To sum it up, starting out as early as possible, using the right retirement planning tools and some careful planning can go a long way towards comfortable retirement. Here at Insure You Know, we understand this fully which has led us to build powerful stock calculator and investment calculator that you can use online to plan your retirement.
August 9, 2016
A New Website App Can Save Users Thousands of Dollars By Simply Keeping Track of Unknown Life Insurance Policies
AUSTIN, Texas, Aug. 4, 2016 – InsureYouKnow.org makes sure beneficiaries do not get separated from benefits by simply not knowing about existing policies.
Insure You Know dot Org’s APP creates a powerful tool to help stop billions of dollars of life insurance policy benefits from going unpaid. Major news outlets report that
courts recently forced 25 of the nation’s biggest life insurance companies to pay more than $7.5 billion in back death benefits. InsureYouKnow.Org stores and updates life’s critical information, saving a person days, weeks, months and possibly years of chasing down information like insurance policies, banking and retirement account information.
Founder Gerry Acuna, referring to a recent 60 Minutes investigation, says, “Audits of some well-known life insurance companies reveal that many beneficiaries go unpaid simply because beneficiaries are not aware of the policies. And because of this, the life insurance company does not have to pay if they are not notified by the beneficiary – we’re talking about billions of dollars in unpaid benefits.”
InsureYouKnow.Org can also record Deeds, Last Will and Testaments, Employment Contracts, Medical/Health Information, Pre-Nuptial Agreements and that’s just for starters. At your discretion, InsureYouKnow.Org will securely share some, or all, of this information with those you choose to share it with. You tell us which loved ones, family members, caretakers, or legal representatives to share your information with. We then send those you designated a monthly notice that helps you and them stay informed.
InsureYouKnow.Orgs’ encrypted site provides a safe and secure place for storing all of your critical time sensitive information that can assist your family, friends, caretakers or executor in meeting your needs at a critical moment.
InsureYouKnow.Org does not ask for your Social Security Number nor does it need complete account numbers. Any Documents you upload (such as Driver’s License, Passport, Last Will and Testament, Pre-Nuptial Agreement, Deeds, etc.) are password encrypted and the password is not known to the site. Only you, or someone you share your password with, can gain access.
Some additional InsureYouKnow.Org features are the ability to help our users locate the least expensive prescription drug prices and medical procedures in their area. The site can also provide a daily financial portfolio update to help you keep your retirement goals on track.