Rules for emergency funds | 

Rules for emergency funds

ลงประกาศเมื่อ 6 Jan 2020 อัพเดทล่าสุด 3 Jun 2021 07:53:39 น. เข้าชม 205 ครั้ง



Rules for emergency funds
Start building up your emergency fund, said Christine DiGangi in “It may not be the most fun budget category,” but emergency funds are an essential part of personal finance. First off, define “emergency.” The answer “may not be the same for everyone,” but one rule of thumb is to maintain separate accounts for “income emergencies,” such as job loss, and “expense emergencies,” like paying for unexpected repairs. Financial planners suggest stashing the cash in a dedicated savings account to avoid the temptation of simply writing a check, but “if you don’t like the idea of letting money sit in a savings account,” you might consider a CD or a Roth IRA. Be wary of early withdrawal fees, but the higher yields will be a nice bonus if you don’t have an emergency after all.

Negotiating a debt settlement
Sort out your debts like a pro, said AJ Smith in While “there are countless services out there” for settling debts, “it is possible to resolve this on your own.” Begin by making a list of your creditors, and then prioritize the bills with the highest interest or smallest balances. Collectors typically won’t settle unless the account is delinquent, but “there is no guarantee they will accept a settlement even if you stop paying.” Being up front about your inability to pay may encourage them to negotiate. Calculate the “percentage of the debts you are able to pay and the maximum you can afford,” factor in other expenses, and start negotiating with a lowball offer: 25 or 30 percent of the balance. This “sets the tone” and will help you score a more realistic settlement, ideally between 40 and 60 percent of the original debt.

Countering cash buyers
Don’t get beat by all-cash bidders, said Daniel J. Goldstein in These days, all-cash deals are making the high-end housing market more competitive than ever. But for buyers who want to finance, there’s still hope. For example, some borrowers might combine “second mortgages home-equity lines of credit, and quick closings” to get a leg up. And since many all-cash bids come from overseas, the offers “can appear and disappear.” With a big down payment and some patience, “your financing-contingent offer still might have a shot.” And recruiting an expert—such as a real estate agent or a loan officer—can help you find sellers who are more “open to accepting bids with financing.”

The end of free checking
The age of free checking is fading, said Chris Morran in While U.S. consumers and businesses have $1.4 trillion stashed away—more than ever—in checking accounts, banks are limiting “the availability of unconditional free checking” and tightening their requirements, making it harder for many customers to avoid fees. Luckily, “there are still plenty of free checking accounts out there, but many of them are through smaller regional banks and credit unions.” Those institutions should be rewarded for continuing to offer a service that used to be—and still ought to be—a given. Consumers can do that “by moving their money, or putting it into interest-earning accounts so that they at least get something in return for allowing the bank to use their deposits.”

Curb your shopping enthusiasm
Stop overspending, said Donna Fuscaldo in If you’re hemorrhaging cash, one way to stanch the flow is to learn to keep your spending “triggers” in check. These days, “it’s easier than ever to hop online when we’re bored.” For compulsive shoppers, that can be dangerous, since “boredom or feeling stagnant is a common trigger.” Anxiety can also cause people to stress-shop, so “try other activities like taking a walk, chatting with a friend, or organizing a closet to regain some control.” And while “the idea of having to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ resonates” with many people, such insecurity can “drain our budgets.” One way to “prevent that trigger from turning into a bingeshopping spree is to set spending limits.” Try carrying only cash so you can better “fight the urge to use” your credit cards.

Retiring when self-employed
Can self-employed workers ever really retire? asked Michele Lerner in DailyFinance .com. Irregular income can make it difficult for self-employed people to save, but experts recommend they open a retirement account anyway. “You don’t have to fund it right away, but having it open will make it easier to contribute money when you do come into a windfall,” said Lule Demmissie of TD Ameritrade. Self-employed people also have a few special retirement options available to them, including SEP-IRAs, which have higher contribution limits than traditional and Roth IRAs, and Solo 401(k)s, which are ideal for self-employed workers with no additional employees.

How to switch bank accounts
Moving your money to a different bank “can be a huge hassle,” said Kristin Wong in Lifehacker .com. To make the process “as painless as possible,” start by finding the right bank, weighing your priorities and habits against balance requirements, fees, interest rates, and proximity to ATMs and branches. Before you close your old account, check for any unposted checks or scheduled payments to avoid incurring an overdraft fee. And don’t empty it right away. “Keep a small cushion in your old account until the transition is complete,” just in case. If you have set up automatic payments, remember to reroute them to your new account and “contact your employer and update your direct deposit info.” Once you think you’ve finished with your old bank, beware of “zombie accounts”: Some banks reopen recently closed accounts if a deposit is made, which can restart maintenance and minimum balance fees.

Index vs. actively managed funds
Torn between actively managed and index funds? asked Michael A. Pollock in The Wall Street Journal. The good news is you don’t have to choose. While “some investors swear” by one or the other, you can “  combine the two types of funds to achieve specific purposes.” Index funds are great for broad markets over long periods, but a skilled fund manager may be better for “less efficient market areas that don’t trade as actively and are slower to react to new information.” Indexes help you cash in on market rallies, while adding “a defensively minded active fund to your index holdings” can help “dial back overall volatility.” Some of both may be best.

Nailing your performance review
Don’t let your annual performance review “get you down,” said Daniel Bortz in CNN .com. These meetings offer “one of the few times of the year you get to chat with your boss about your career,” and you can use them to “set the stage for a big raise or promotion.” Submit a one-page self-evaluation before the review to set a baseline, summing up a handful of your contributions. Then “request a real critique” to get some useful feedback. Unfortunately, “budgets are typically set by the time of the review,” so don’t count on a raise. But ask for “details on the salary review process to help you prep for next year.” By finding out “how and when your raise was decided and who was consulted,” you’ll have a head start for the next review.

A very early 529 gift
Why wait until a child is born to start a 529 college savings plan? asked Peter S. Green in The Wall Street Journal. Anyone hoping to become a grandparent one day can open a 529 to “get the savings ball rolling early.” A future grandparent who designates the beneficiary as the future parent can contribute as much as $70,000 in a single year tax free (equal to five years’ worth of contributions at $14,000). When the infant arrives, the account can be transferred into his or her name. Starting early has major benefits: A 529 plan opened with an initial gift of $14,000, five years before a child is born, funded with $500 every month, and earning interest at 3 percent compounded monthly, would yield $226,784 by the child’s 18th birthday. The same plan started at birth would yield $167,336.

IRA and 401(k) changes in 2015
Some taxpayers will be able to save more in their retirement accounts next year, said Emily Brandon in The annual limit for 401(k)s and 403(b)s has been raised by $500, to $18,000. The IRA contribution limit has been left unchanged at $5,500, or $6,500 if you are 50 or older. Savers will also soon have a new account option: the myRA, the no-fee Roth IRA accounts offered by the Treasury Department and available later this year. The accounts are open to individuals who make less than $129,000 a year ($191,000 for couples) and are guaranteed to never lose value. And for those savers with several IRA accounts, a new rule takes effect Jan. 1 prohibiting more than one rollover from one IRA to another in any 12-month period.

Beware of power-sucking appliances
Don’t let “vampire appliances” bleed your bank account dry, said Catey Hill in “Even when you’re not using electronics and appliances, they may still be sucking up energy” and costing you hundreds of dollars a year. Utility experts estimate that roughly 10 percent of the average household’s energy bill is thanks to power-sucking appliances. Flat-screen TVs are often the priciest power drain, and though it’s impractical to unplug your TV each day, one option is to buy an advanced power strip, which prevents electronics from using power when they’re not in use. At a cost of $15 to $30, the strips will “save you money in the long run.” Experts also recommend using the power strips to plug in video game consoles, cable boxes, laser printers, and small kitchen appliances.

The right way to rent textbooks
If the high cost of textbooks has you in a panic, consider renting, said Ann Carrns in The New York Times. The average cost of college textbooks and supplies is about $1,200 per year, but more-affordable alternatives are becoming more popular. Last semester, more than a third of students rented at least one textbook, up from a quarter a year earlier. When deciding whether to rent or buy, start by comparing prices, both at your campus bookstore and online booksellers like and Amazon. If you rent and are worried about late fees, text and email reminders can help you stay in the clear. And don’t forget that there are a few downsides to renting, including fees for any damage and the fact that you won’t “recoup any of your money by reselling the volume.”

Consolidating IRAs with a spouse
If you and your spouse are trying to merge a retirement account, forget it, said Liz Weston in Though spouses can inherit retirement accounts after a partner’s death, retirement accounts are ultimately “like credit scores. Each person has his or her own, and they can’t be merged after marriage.” But if you’re trying to make managing your retirement funds more, well, manageable, consider consolidating your family’s accounts to a single investment firm. “Not only will it be easier to manage and coordinate your investments, but some firms lower or waive fees based on how much a household has invested with them.” Vanguard, for example, waives one of its annual fees when a household has combined assets of $50,000 or more.

The cost of retail-branded cards
Stay away from store credit cards, said Mitch Lipka in Though big signup discounts can make store-branded credit cards a tempting offer, a new survey released last week shows those initial savings will cost you—big time. The survey found that the average retail card’s annual percentage rate was 23.2 percent—more than eight points above the average credit card’s interest rate, “and more than double what consumers with good credit can get.” That means that a cardholder with a $1,000 balance on a typical store-branded card who makes minimum monthly payments would spend more than six years paying off the debt, including $840 in interest. That’s a year longer—and more than twice as much in interest—than the same balance on the typical nonstore card.

The benefits of aging
There are more perks to turning 50 than just cheap movie tickets, said Lindsay Gellman in The Wall Street Journal, but surveys indicate that fewer than half of eligible seniors are taking advantage of them. Unlike their youthful counterparts, investors who have hit the half-century mark can bolster their retirement savings by making pretax “catch-up  contributions” of up to $23,000 annually to their 401(k) accounts, $5,500 more than investors under 50 are allowed. Seniors can also put up to $6,500 toward an IRA, $1,000 more per year than permitted for younger investors. And while 59 ½ is typically the age at which retirement distributions can be taken without incurring a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty, workers who retire, quit, or are laid off can tap an employer-based savings plan penalty-free beginning the year they turn 55.

Keeping wealth in the family
While you can’t take it with you, the wealth you leave behind may not last as long as you’d like, said Beth Pinsker in Studies have shown that roughly 90 percent of families with at least $5 million in investable assets exhaust their estates within three generations. The main reason, according to new research from Merrill Lynch, is that many rich families have an “unreasonable expectation of how much they can withdraw and still have the money last.” It’s partly a math problem, as estate planners often don’t account for just how big families can get by the third or fourth generation, and thus fail to adjust distributions or lower expectations. Another major problem: Later generations rest on their laurels. “To make wealth last forever,” said study co-author Michael Liersch, “you’re probably going to need future generations to replenish that wealth.”

Cash floods the housing market
When it comes to home buying, cash is still king, said Doug Carroll in USA Today. Allcash home purchases accounted for one third of total sales in the first quarter this year, up from 29 percent in 2012. While speculators have been paying cash to snap up homes to rent or flip in recent years, the current trend is being driven by retirees and Baby Boomers who have been put off by the challenges of today’s mortgage market. Thanks to “decades of accumulated equity,” older Americans have the funds to buy a home outright or to buy rental property as an additional income stream during retirement.








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