VVBW’s April event focused on how to be more financially savvy, from tax questions to preparing for retirement. Hosted on Wednesday, April 12 at the Charter at Beaver Creek, the event featured a special panel presentation and a question and answer session. The three panelists, all local professionals, were Tina DeWitt, a Certified Financial Planner with Edward Jones; Dana Erickson, a Financial Consultant with Thrivent Financial; and Patricia Plagens, Certified Public Accountant and owner of Alpine Accounting and Tax.
Among some of the best ways to reduce your taxes are health savings accounts (HSA) and retirement plan contributions. HSAs are tax-advantaged medical savings accounts available to taxpayers in the United States who are enrolled in high-deductible health plans (HDHP). The funds contributed to an HSA account are not subject to federal income tax at the time of deposit, and HSAs offer tax deductions for all contributions and there are no income level limitations. Many employers offer an HSA as a benefit, along with a “match” for retirement funds, so check with your manager or human resources.
Suggestions to remember with retirement plans:
- Contribute monthly instead of annually
- Increase your monthly contributions with EVERY raise.
- Maximize the employer match. If you fail to contribute to your 401(k) plan up to the amount your employer matches, then you are turning down money your company would otherwise be providing for your retirement.
- The contributions made by your employer may be subject to a vesting schedule. Make sure you understand your vesting program before you quit your job!
- There are severe limitations to IRA’s if you’re eligible for an employer plan.
Another point to remember regarding retirement funds: Distributions can be a 10 percent penalty if you are younger than 59.5 years of age. Some exceptions to the rule are borrowing $10,000 from an IRA for a first home college education, or even possibly health insurance or medical costs. Try to borrow from a 401(k) instead of permanently withdrawing funds.
The suggested amount to have saved for retirement can vary from $500,000 to over $2 million, which is more than most individuals have actually saved (or possibly will save)! The panelists stressed beginning to save for retirement in your 20s, but it’s never too late to start. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows people who are 50 or older to make what it calls “annual catch-up contributions” — extra contributions to retirement savings accounts that can help people boost their savings. Are you somewhere between 30 and 50? Be aggressive on saving. Put aside as much as you possibly can from every paycheck to make up for lost ground.
While each of the presenters represented a different area of financial expertise, they all stressed the importance of planning for the future and saving funds when and where possible. Start saving, keep saving, and stick to your goals!
This article is not intended to replace the benefits or importance of speaking with a financial expert. Please contact our presenters with any financial questions.
Tina DeWitt, Certified Financial Planner with Edward Jones
Dana Erickson, a Financial Consultant with Thrivent Financial
Patricia Plagens, Certified Public Accountant and owner of Alpine Accounting and Tax.