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Preparing Your Car for Winter - November 6, 2013 by WWFCU
Winter_CarFrom a mechanical aspect, winter conditions – wet, cold and icy weather – present the greatest challenge to your vehicle’s operating efficiency. Since these conditions cannot be avoided, prepare for winter by performing a complete vehicle checkup in the fall. Check, or have your mechanic check, the following items:1. Electrical System

  1. Battery – Have your alternator or generator, voltage regulator and drive belts checked also.
  2. Ignition System – Damaged ignition wires, a cracked distributor cap or worn spark plugs can make starting difficult or may cause a sudden vehicle breakdown.
  3. Lights – Make sure all your lights and lenses are clean and functioning properly. Grime on headlight lenses reduces their effectiveness by as much as 90%.

2. Brake System – Have your breaks checked regularly and do not delay any necessary maintenance or repairs.

3. Tires – Make certain your tires are properly inflated and in good condition. While it is best to purchase tires in sets of four, if you only purchase two, mount them on the rear wheels.

4. Exhaust System – Have a mechanic check your exhaust system for leaks in order to minimize the chances of carbon monoxide poisoning. If your car is stuck in the snow and you have the engine running, open a window slightly and clear snow away from the exhaust pipe.

5. Heating & Cooling System – Make sure your vehicle’s cooling system contains enough antifreeze to prevent freezing in cold weather. Keep the mixture fresh by changing it regularly and having the entire system checked for leaks.

6. Windshield Wipers, Washer, Glass & Vehicle Exterior – Clean windows offer optimal visibility. An antifreeze washer solvent should be used in the water reservoir bottle.

It is also recommended that you have a winter driving kit in your vehicle. The following items will be invaluable should an emergency develop:

  • Bag of abrasive material (sand, salt or cat litter)
  • Small snow shovel, snow brush and ice scraper
  • Traction mats
  • Flashlight & extra batteries
  • Window-washing solvent; cloth or paper towels
  • Booster cables; warning flares or triangles
  • Gloves or mittens and blanket
  • Cell phone

Compliments of AAA.

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Tips for Shopping for a Vehicle for Your Teen - October 28, 2013 by WWFCU

Shopping teen vehicleAccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), auto accidents are still the leading cause of death for American teenagers. However, due to safer vehicles graduated license laws, the numbers have decreased 65% from 8,748 teen deaths in 1975 to 3,023 in 2011.

Regardless of statistics and new vehicle safety precautions, automakers still haven’t come up with a vehicle that can drive itself when the weather gets bad, when a tire blows out or when another driver becomes distracted and wanders into your lane. Seasoned drivers rely on their experience and split-second-decision-making abilities to negotiate these perilous moments. Teens don’t have that experience.

Automobile crash experts cite inexperience, low seat belt use, driving with too many passengers in the car, inattention, drugs and alcohol and excessive speeds as the reasons why teens are involved in so many fatal crashes.

Another culprit is the size and type of vehicle they drive. In an emergency situation, because a young driver has little or no driving experience to draw on, he’s forced to rely on the structural integrity of his vehicle to see him through a collision. The kind of car a teen drives could mean the difference between injury and death.

Does that mean you should rush out and buy a brand new car with all the latest safety options?

Not necessarily. However, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recommends newer models. They do better in crash tests than older cars and have extra safety features like air bags, anti-lock brakes and passive restraints.

How a vehicle does in a frontal impact depends on its structural integrity and its crumple and crash zones. Crumple zones absorb energy on impact, and since their collapse is controlled, the energy that would otherwise damage a passenger area gets channeled to different parts of the vehicle.

Bigger vehicles have longer crumple zones, providing more protection to the passenger areas. However, they’re not an ideal fit for everyone. Consider a young petite woman. If she can’t comfortably reach the gas pedals or see over the steering wheel, she’s not going to have good control of her car. Consider, too, the rollover issue with sport utility vehicles. Because they have a high center of gravity, they are more prone to rollover than cars. Experts cite speed and inattention — two culprits behind teen crash fatalities — as the causal factors in rollovers.

NHTSA conducts front and side crash testing on vehicles predicted to have a high sales volume, vehicles that include a new safety feature or have been structurally redesigned. The agency also assigns vehicle rollover resistance ratings. They publish their results on their website. Before you begin to research your automobile’s crash test scores, take a moment to look at the website’s “Frequently Asked Questions” page. You’ll glean insight into the different kinds of tests they perform, under which conditions they perform them, and the factors they use to rate performance. Another source for crash test information is the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

If you’re in the market for an older model, experts recommend buying a sturdy and reliable — but not overpowered — sedan. Your teen won’t be able to drive at excessive speeds, but if he loses control of the vehicle, he won’t face the increased rollover risk he would if he was in a high profile vehicle. Make sure the car’s tires and brakes are in excellent shape. Examine seatbelts for loose or fraying fabric and make sure they attach and retract properly. Consider having the car thoroughly checked out by a trusted mechanic.

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New Financial Habits in the Post-Recession Age - October 17, 2013 by WWFCU

Good financial habitsIf you’re like many, you’ve spent the past few years scrimping and saving. These are great habits to keep, even if your financial situation has improved. 

If you still haven’t taken those steps, you might want to think about making these changes:

Restart your finances with a thorough financial plan. If you’ve lost a job or have been struggling to get control of your debt, savings or investments, plan a visit now with a Certified Financial Planner™ professional. At the meeting you can also examine spending patterns and the emotional drivers behind many of your financial decisions. If you don’t have a planner in mind, the Financial Planning Association has a website where you can search by location and specific planning issues.

Create a budget. If you’ve never tracked your spending before, make a commitment to do so for at least two months as you pull together financial statements, income sources and your bills. Start separating all your expenses into both fixed (amounts that don’t change) and variable (amounts that may change, such as restaurant meals, gasoline expenditures and entertainment expenses). Take into account any major expenses that are coming up within the year. Total your monthly income and expenses and then start identifying the expenses that you can trim and figure out whether you can direct the money you save to spending or debt. Congratulations! You’ve created your first budget. Also, don’t ignore planning for perks and vacations and make sure you plan ahead for big expenditures, such as cars and retirement.

Go cash or debit. Return credit cards to their correct status—a way to afford emergencies. Debit cards with a bankcard logo are typically welcome at most stores where credit cards are accepted. This way, you pay cash without carrying cash. If you don’t have such a card, you can probably get one from your bank or credit union to replace your traditional ATM card, but remember to tell them to limit your buying power to the cash balance in your account. Also check to make sure what protections exist on that card if it is lost or stolen and if they will forgive the balance in the event of the cardholder’s death. Be aware that some banks freeze your underlying checking account for your debit card until a dispute regarding an item purchased with a stolen card is resolved.

Live off lists. Yes, everyone makes shopping lists from time to time so they don’t forget to bring home milk and bananas. But the advantage of making very detailed shopping lists for everything—preferably on one page—is that it’s really a good way to keep impulse spending down. If, for example, you have a week of unexpected expenses (car repair, home repair, unexpected fees for your child at school), you can see what real priority items are and what you might be able to do without.

Set a schedule for checking your credit report. This is not so much a spending issue as a way to monitor the ongoing safety of your accounts and your borrowing status. You have three credit reports to check—TransUnion, Equifax and Experian—and you have the right to get all three of these for free once a year. The best way to do this is to request each report at staggered points during the year at annualcreditreport.com, which is the only guaranteed free site to order these reports. If any credit report site requests a credit card number before it surrenders a report, chances are good that you’ll be paying for that “free” report. Why should you stagger your reports? Because the same information travels between each agency and if there is an error or security breach, you may catch it faster if you’re checking throughout the year rather than at one time only.

Comparison shop at your desk. Shopping online has its own risks, including paying expensive shipping fees and overspending with a simple click among them. However, using the Internet to browse and compare prices can save time, gasoline and money. Websites like eBay, Amazon or mySimon.com can help you determine general price ranges for gifts you need that are sold online. Once you have those ranges, get on the phone and determine whether you can buy the same items more affordably at retailers close to home.

Don’t shop without coupons and discount codes. You don’t have to buy a newspaper to get coupons anymore. If you know particular stores where you’ll shop, sign up for their email lists. You’ll start receiving coupons and news of specials on a regular basis. If you buy particular products regularly, go to the manufacturer’s website and see if you can sign up for regular discounts online and in the mail. Also, if you do shop online, sites like BradsDeals.com and CouponCabin.com have promotional codes that you can type in for discounts before you hit the “total” button on an order. Usually, these codes will cover free shipping, but they might also buy additional discounts on an order. Never complete an online order without searching for a promotional code.

This article was submitted by the Financial Planning Association, the membership organization for the financial planning community. FPA members are dedicated to supporting the financial planning process in order to help people achieve their goals and dreams. Submission of this article does not imply an endorsement or recommendation of the Financial Resource Center site.

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Why Your Hobby May Be Taxed - October 7, 2013 by WWFCU

Hobby-taxedHere are eight questions that will help determine if your activity is a hobby or a business:

  1. Is the purpose of your activity to make a profit? Generally, your activity is considered a business if you expect to earn a profit.
  2. Do you participate in your activity just for fun? Hobbies, also called not-for-profit activities, are those activities that are not pursued for profit.
  3. Do you depend on income from the activity? If so, your activity is likely considered a business.
  4. Have you changed methods of operation to improve profitability? If so, your hobby may actually be a business.
  5. Do you have the knowledge you need to turn your activity into a successful business? People who carry out hobbies just for fun often don’t have the business acumen to turn their not-for-profit activity into a profitable business venture.
  6. Have you made a profit in similar activities in the past? This may mean your activity is a business instead of a not-for-profit hobby. An activity carries a profit if it makes a profit in at least three of the last five tax years, including the current year—or at least two of the last seven years for activities that consist primarily of breeding, showing, training or racing horses.
  7. Does the activity make a profit in some years? Even if your activity does not make a profit every year, it still may be considered a business.
  8. Do you expect to make a profit in the future from the appreciation of assets used in the activity? This indicates your activity may be a business rather than a hobby.

If your activity is not carried on for profit, allowable deductions cannot exceed the gross receipts for the activity. If you are conducting a trade or business you may deduct your ordinary and necessary expenses.

More information about not-for-profit activities is available in Publication 535, Business Expenses, available on the IRS website or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

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Millionaire Secrets to Success - September 30, 2013 by WWFCU

Millionaire tipsPatience and hard work aren’t all you need to reach financial success. We’ve got some secrets from self-made millionaires to help you make your own fortune:

  • Set some clear goals. You’ve got to dream big if you want to succeed on a large scale. Don’t be afraid of your ambitions. Start with a list of what you want to achieve this year, and then select the one goal that would have the greatest positive impact on your life, something you feel real passion for. Then get to work.
  • Educate yourself about money. Even if you don’t have your sights set on becoming the next Warren Buffett, a good understanding of finance will help you set priorities and make decisions about spending, investments, and savings. Immerse yourself in all the information you can find about the field that interests you. Knowledge is power.
  • Think of yourself as your own CEO. Whether you work for a boss or for yourself, view your career and success as your own. That means taking full responsi­bility for what happens to you—your decisions, failures, and triumphs. It also means putting all your energy into your goals. Motivational guru Brian Tracy advises taking the “40+” approach: You work 40 hours a week for survival, but that’s only the beginning. Every minute you devote past that 40 hours is devoted to your success.
  • Serve other people. Structure your goals so they’re not just about you. You’ll earn support from the people whose help you need by showing them how your achievements will benefit them—and you’ll feel better about yourself than you would if you concentrate only on what’s in it for you.
  • Learn to sell yourself. Whatever you create, you have to sell to someone else. You’ll need to understand sales and marketing no matter what industry you’re in. But at the same time, you have to sell others on your abilities. Be honest and reliable so customers, investors, and other important stakeholders know they can trust you to take care of them.
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How much is enough homeowner’s insurance? - September 23, 2013 by WWFCU

Enough homeownersHow much is enough homeowner’s insurance? We’ve got some useful tips to help you figure it out.

You need enough insurance to cover the following:

  • The structure of your home
  • Your personal possessions
  • The cost of additional living expenses if your home is damaged and you have to live elsewhere during repairs
  • Your liability to others

The structure— You need enough insurance to cover the cost of rebuilding your home at current construction costs. Don’t include the cost of the land, and don’t base your rebuilding costs on the price you paid for your home. The cost of rebuilding could be more or less than the price you paid or could sell it for today.

Some lenders require you to buy homeowner’s insurance to cover the amount of your mortgage. If the limit of your insurance policy is based on your mortgage, make sure it’s enough to cover the cost of rebuilding. (If your mortgage is paid off, don’t cancel your homeowner’s policy. Homeowner’s insurance protects your investment in your home.)

For a quick estimate of the amount of insurance you need, multiply the total square footage of your home by local building costs per square foot. To find out construction costs in your community, call your local real estate agent, builders’ association or insurance agent.

Factors that will determine the cost of rebuilding your home:

  • Local construction costs
  • The square footage of the structure
  • The type of exterior wall construction — frame, masonry (brick or stone) or veneer
  • The style of the house (ranch, colonial)
  • The number of bathrooms and other rooms
  • The type of roof and materials used
  • Other structures on the premises such as garages and sheds
  • Fireplaces, exterior trim, and other special features like arched windows
  • Whether the house, or parts of it like the kitchen, were custom built
  • Improvements to your home — adding a second bathroom, enlarging the kitchen, or other additions that have added value to your home

Standard homeowner’s policies provide coverage for disasters such as damage due to fire, lightning, hail, explosions and theft. They do not cover floods, earthquakes or damage caused by lack of routine maintenance. Flood insurance is available from the Federal Insurance Administration and earthquake coverage is available from private insurance companies or, in California, also through the California Earthquake Authority.

Replacement cost policies — Most policies cover replacement cost for damage to the structure. A replacement cost policy pays for the repair or replacement of damaged property with materials of similar kind and quality. There is no deduction for depreciation, the decrease in value due to age, wear and tear, and other factors. If you purchase a flood insurance policy, coverage for the structure is available on a replacement cost basis.

Guaranteed or extended replacement cost coverage — After a major hurricane or a tornado, building materials and construction workers are often in great demand. This can push rebuilding costs above homeowner’s policy limits, leaving you without enough money to cover the bill. To protect against such a situation, you can buy a policy that pays more than the policy limits.

An extended replacement cost policy will pay an extra 20 percent or more above the limits, depending on the insurance company. A guaranteed replacement cost policy will pay whatever it costs to rebuild your home as it was before the fire or other disaster.

Building codes — Building codes are updated periodically and may have changed significantly since your home was built. If your home is badly damaged, you may be required to rebuild your home to meet new building codes. Generally, homeowner’s insurance policies (even a guaranteed replacement cost policy) won’t pay for the extra expense of rebuilding to code. Many insurance companies offer an Ordinance or Law endorsement that pays a specified amount toward these costs. (An endorsement is a form attached to an insurance policy that changes what the policy covers.)

Inflation guard — Consider adding an inflation guard clause to your policy. This automatically adjusts the dwelling limit when you renew your policy to reflect current construction costs in your area.

Older homes — If you own an older home, you may not be able to buy a replacement cost policy. Instead, you may have to buy a modified replacement cost policy. This means that instead of repairing or replacing features typical of older homes, like plaster walls and wooden floors, with similar materials, the policy will pay for repairs using the standard building materials and construction techniques in use today.

Insurance companies differ greatly in how they insure older homes. Some won’t insure older homes for the replacement cost because of the expense of re-creating special features like wall and ceiling moldings and carvings. Other companies will insure older homes for the replacement cost as long as the dwelling is in good condition.

If you can’t insure your home for the replacement cost or choose not to do so, make sure the limits of the policy are high enough to provide you with a house of acceptable size and quality.

Your personal possessions — Most homeowner’s insurance policies provide coverage for your personal possessions for approximately 50% to 70% of the amount of insurance you have on the structure or “dwelling” of your home. The limits of the policy typically appear on the Declarations Page under Section I, Coverages, A. Dwelling.

To determine if this is enough coverage, you need to conduct a home inventory. This is a detailed list of everything you own and information related to the cost to replace these items if they were stolen or destroyed by a disaster such as a fire. If you think you need more coverage, contact your agent or insurance company representative and ask for higher limits for your personal possessions.

Replacement Cost or Actual Cash Value — You can insure your possessions in two ways. You can either insure your belongings for their actual cash value or their replacement cost.

A cash value policy pays the cost to replace your belongings minus depreciation. A replacement cost policy, on the other hand, reimburses you for the cost to replace the item.

Suppose, for example, a fire destroys a 10-year-old TV set in your living room. If you have a replacement cost policy for the contents of your home, the insurance company will pay to replace the TV set with a new one. If you have an actual cash value policy, it will pay only a percentage of the cost of a new TV set because the TV has been used for 10 years and is worth a lot less than its original cost. Some replacement cost policies also replace the item and deliver it to you. Generally, the price of replacement cost coverage is about 10% more than actual cash value.

If you need a flood insurance policy, you can purchase flood insurance for your belongings. It is only available, however, on an actual cash value basis.

Insuring expensive items with floaters/endorsements — There may be limits on how much coverage you get for expensive items such as jewelry, silverware, and furs. Generally, there is a limit on jewelry for $1,000 to $2,000. You should ask your agent or look it up in your policy. This information is in Section I, Personal Property, Special Limits of Liability. Insurance companies may also place a limit on what they’ll pay for computers.

If the limits are too low, consider buying a special personal property floater or an endorsement. These allow you to insure these items individually or as a collection. With floaters and endorsements, there is no deductible. You are charged a premium based on what the item (or collection) is, where you live and its dollar value.

You can determine the value by providing your agent with a recent receipt or getting the item or collection appraised.

Additional living expenses after a disaster — This is a very important feature of a standard homeowner’s insurance policy. This pays the additional costs of temporarily living away from your home if you can’t live in it due to a fire, severe storm or other insured disaster. It covers hotel bills, restaurant meals and other living expenses incurred while your home is being rebuilt.

Coverage for additional living expenses differs from company to company. Many policies provide coverage for about 20% of the insurance on your house. Some companies will even sell you a policy that provides you with an unlimited amount of loss of use coverage, for a limited amount of time.

If you rent out part of your house, this coverage also reimburses you for the rent that you would have collected from your tenant if your home had not been destroyed.

You should talk to your agent or company to make sure you know exactly how much coverage you have and how long the coverage will be in effect. In most cases, you can increase this coverage for an additional premium.

Liability to others — This part of your policy covers you against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage that you or family members cause to other people. It also pays for damage caused by pets. It pays for both the cost of defending you in court and for any damages a court rules you must pay.

Generally, most homeowner’s insurance policies provide a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability insurance, but higher amounts are available. Increasingly, it is recommended that homeowner’s consider purchasing at least $300,000 to $500,000 worth of coverage of liability protection.

Umbrella or Excess Liability — You should buy enough liability insurance to protect your assets. If you own property and/or have investments and savings that are worth more than the liability limits in your policy, you may consider purchasing an excess liability or umbrella policy.

Umbrella or excess liability policies provide extra coverage. They start to pay after you have used up the liability insurance in your underlying home (or auto) policy. An umbrella policy is not part of your homeowner’s policy. You have to purchase it separately. In addition to providing a higher dollar amount, they offer broader coverage. You are covered for libel, slander, and invasion of privacy. These things are not covered under standard homeowner’s or auto policies.

The cost of an umbrella policy depends on how much underlying insurance you have and the kind of risk you represent. The greater the underlying liability coverage is, the cheaper the policy is. This is because you would be the less likely to need the additional insurance. Most companies will require a minimum of $300,000 on your home and your car, if you own one.

This article was submitted by the
Insurance Information Institute, an organization that provides facts and assistance free of charge to the media, individuals and organizations. Submission of this article does not imply an endorsement or recommendation of the Financial Resource Center site.

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What to Know about Home Office Deductions - September 16, 2013 by WWFCU

Home office deductionsWith technology making it easier than ever for people to operate a business out of their house, many taxpayers may be able to take a home office deduction when filing their 2013 federal tax return next year.

Here are five important things the IRS wants you to know about claiming the home office deduction.

1. Generally, in order to claim a business deduction for your home, you must use part of your home exclusively and regularly:

  • As your principal place of business, or
  • As a place to meet or deal with patients, clients or customers in the normal course of your business, or
  • In the case of a separate structure which is not attached to your home, it must be used in connection with your trade or business
  • For certain storage use, rental use or daycare-facility use, you are required to use the property regularly but not exclusively.

2. Generally, the amount you can deduct depends on the percentage of your home that you used for business. Your deduction for certain expenses will be limited if your gross income from your business is less than your total business expenses.

3. There are special rules for qualified daycare providers and for persons storing business inventory or product samples.

4. If you are self-employed, use Form 8829, Expenses for Business Use of Your Home, to figure your home office deduction. Report the deduction on line 30 of Schedule C, Form 1040.

5. Different rules apply to claiming the home office deduction if you are an employee. For example, the regular and exclusive business use must be for the convenience of your employer.

For more information see IRS Publication 587, Business Use of Your Home or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

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Five Ways to Spot a Fake IRS Email - September 9, 2013 by WWFCU

IRS email fraudBe on the lookout for email scams circulating that fraudulently use the Internal Revenue Service name or logo as a lure – all to trick you into giving up personal and financial information. The scammers can then use your information (such as your Social Security number, bank account or credit card numbers) to commit identity theft and steal your money.

Here are five things the IRS wants you to know about phishing scams.

1. The IRS does not send unsolicited email about a person’s tax account or ask for detailed personal and financial information via email.

2. The IRS never asks taxpayers for their PIN numbers, passwords or similar secret access information for their credit card, bank or other financial accounts.

3. If you receive an email from someone claiming to be the IRS or directing you to an IRS site:

Do not reply to the message.
Do not open any attachments. Attachments may contain malicious code that will infect your computer.
Do not click on any links. If you clicked on links in a suspicious email or phishing website and entered confidential information, visit IRS.gov and enter the search term ‘identity theft’ for more information and resources to help.

4. You can help shut down these schemes and prevent others from being victimized. If you receive a suspicious email that claims to come from the IRS, you can forward that email to a special IRS mailbox, phishing@irs.gov. You can forward the message as received or provide the Internet header of the email. The Internet header has additional information to help us locate the sender.

5. Remember, the official IRS website is www.irs.gov. Don’t be confused or misled by sites claiming to be the IRS but end in .com, .net, .org or other designations instead of .gov.

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About Credit Scores - August 28, 2013 by WWFCU

Stethoscope and Credit ReportYou know a credit score is important when you apply for a loan or credit card – but do you know exactly what it is and how it can affect your chances in getting the financing you want?

Creditors use a credit scoring system to help determine whether to give you credit, and how much to charge you for it. Your credit information like your bill-paying history, the number and type of accounts you have, late payments, collection actions, outstanding debt and the age of your accounts is collected from your credit application and your credit report.

Using a statistical formula, creditors compare this information to the credit performance of consumers with similar profiles. A credit scoring system awards points for each factor. A total number of points — a credit score — helps predict how creditworthy you are; that is, how likely it is that you will repay a loan and make the payments on time. Generally, consumers who are good credit risks have higher credit scores.

You can get your credit score from the three nationwide credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion but you’ll have to pay a fee for it. Many other companies also offer credit scores for sale alone or as part of a package of products. You are allowed to get one free credit report per year. Get it for free here: AnnualCreditReport.com.

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Can You Afford to Retire? - August 21, 2013 by WWFCU

elderly seniors coupleHave you ever sat down and figured out how much you’d need for a comfortable retirement? If not, don’t worry – you’re not alone! According to the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL), fewer than half of all Americans have calculated how much they will need to save for retirement. 

While it’s important to plan, it’s also important to set realistic, achievable goals. Know your options and ask questions. Set aside time to talk with your employer about retirement plans. Your employer may offer benefits like 401(k) plans which allow for an immediate tax deduction growth on your savings.

“While earlier generations of retirees relied on employer provided pensions, today’s workers will need to rely on their own work-related and personal savings for retirement,” said Stephen A. Cox, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “That’s why it’s extremely important to have an alternate plan and save as much as possible.”

BBB and USDOL recommend that consumers consider the following to ensure a more financially comfortable retirement:

  • Get started. Start saving now and continue to stick to your savings goal it’s never too late to start saving. Make a budget and use it! Saving can be fun if you think big and realize how much it will pay off when the times comes to retire.
  • Get realistic. According to the USDOL, you’ll need about 70% of your preretirement income. If you’re a lower earners, you’ll need 90% or more to maintain your standard of living when you stop working. The average retiree is in retirement for 20 years of their life. Plan ahead and learn how much you will need after factoring in Social Security and other sources of retirement income.
  • Take advantage. Of your employer’s retirement savings plans, that is. If your company offers a 401(k) plan, participate in it. There may even matche a percentage of your contribution. If your employer doesn’t offer a plan, think about opening an IRA or Roth IRA. You can put up to $5,000 a year into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and contribute even more if you are 50 or older.
  • Leave it alone. Avoid touching your retirement savings if at all possible. If you withdraw your retirement savings now, you’ll lose principal and interest and you may lose tax benefits or have to pay withdrawal penalties. If you change jobs, leave your savings in your current retirement plan, or roll them over to an IRA or your new employer’s plan.
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