Benefits

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Four Steps to Make the Most of Open Enrollment

We’re headed into one of the busiest times of the year. Between buying the Thanksgiving turkey and shopping for holiday gifts, you’ll find selecting your employee benefits on your to-do list. It might be tempting to let your benefits plan from last year roll over into 2019. However, experts advise against the set-it-and-forever-forget-it model. Open enrollment is your golden opportunity to sign up for your 2019 benefits. Take time to review your current benefits plan and ensure you’re taking full advantage of what’s offered. Here are four steps to help you make the most of open enrollment. Step One: Outline Your Needs Consider a ringed approach to outlining the expenses you’ll incur during 2019. In the center, place expenses you know you’ll have. For example, do you live with a chronic condition, like diabetes? Include the cost of your insulin, test strips and other supplies for the year in this…

What to Know About Retiring at 62 Versus Retiring at 70

Ah, retirement. That long-awaited life stage when all your hours of working, saving and family-raising efforts finally pay off. You’ll be free to travel, spend time with friends and family and enjoy the hobbies you never had time for. No worries, no stress, nobody to answer to. Except, without careful planning that scenario could be a fantasy. A 2017 Ipsos/USA Today poll found 45- to 65-year-olds surveyed, 30 percent had less than $100,000 in savings. Another 30 percent had no savings at all. No matter how much money you have invested for your retirement, deciding when to make the leap can drastically affect how far those investments can carry you. Trying to decide when to retire? Here are some things to consider if you decide to retire at age 62 versus age 70. Your Social Security Benefits At age 62: More people (42 percent of men and 48 percent of…

Should You Consider a Credit Card With an Annual Fee?

There are countless credit cards that don’t require an annual fee, so why would anyone choose a card that requires them to pay every year? It’s all about the perks. Consider those holders of the exclusive American Express Centurion Card (it’s made out of titanium instead of plastic and charges a $7,500 initiation fee plus a $2,500 annual fee*).  Here’s how to decide if an annual-fee card is right for you. As a general rule of thumb, if you get more value in a year than you’re paying – monetary or otherwise – the fee is worth it. Do You Have Bad Credit? If you have bad credit, the value is in the opportunity to have more options (due to your improved credit) later. In other words, it may be your only option because you’ll likely struggle getting approved a credit card with no annual fee. But when you’re trying…

How to Apply for Social Security

What most people think of as Social Security is just one part of a much larger program. In 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act—legislation that provided for Retired Worker Benefits, Survivor Benefits and Disabled Worker Benefits. This post focuses on Retired Worker Benefits—that money you’re expecting to see after all those years of payroll deductions. What Do I Need to Know to Get Social Security? So, the day has finally arrived. You’ve decided to sign up and start collecting your Social Security benefits. Before you start the process, ask yourself an important question: Is this the right time? Be sure you understand what your retirement needs are going to be. You can start collecting at age 62, which is definitely the right move for some people. However, the standard retirement age set by the government is several years older and depends on the year you were…

How to Survive Financially When a Marriage Fails

When the dream of living happily ever after turns into a nightmare of a marriage, divorce may be the only workable solution. In addition to the emotional turmoil surrounding a divorce, couples need to deal with the financial realities of going their separate ways. The cost of a lawyer and the loss of a spouse’s income may come at a high price for one or both parties. Couples may each walk away from the marriage with significantly lower income, assets and retirement savings. Although divorce is not recommended as an easy solution to marital problems, the situation need not necessarily be a financial disaster. Here are a few positive financial outcomes that can somewhat lessen the pain of divorce. Easier Budgeting and More Control Over Money It’s no secret that fights over money are a prime mover on the rocky road to divorce. Left solo, partners are free to choose…

Debit Card or Credit Card: Which is Right for You?

Paying with plastic is par for the course these days, even for small purchases. The question is, which kind of plastic is best? People tend to have strong opinions about debit versus credit cards. Debit card diehards are the modern-day version of cash-only consumers. They won’t spend what they don’t have and using a debit card eliminates any temptation to overspend. However, there are plenty of people who could pay with debit but opt for credit cards instead. Often, it’s because they are earning cash back or racking up points. We all know at least one frequent-flyer fanatic who takes great vacations using credit card miles. The debit-only approach sounds smart. But those credit card perks sound smart, too – why not get a little payback on money you’ll be spending anyway? It really can be difficult to know which is best. Let’s take a closer look at arguments from…

Take Steps Today to Ensure Your Life Insurance Pays Off

If you have a life insurance policy, you have already taken the first positive step toward protecting your loved ones’ financial futures. September is Life Insurance Awareness Month and the ideal time to take the next steps to ensure that you not only have adequate coverage but that your good intentions will be carried out too. Here are key points you need to know about how to manage life insurance policies and about how insurance is paid out: Check Your Records and Update as Needed Maybe you took out the policy many years ago, during which time your beneficiaries have moved or changed names through marriage or divorce. Make sure your beneficiaries are updated with your life insurance company, including their names, addresses and Social Security numbers. Tell Your Beneficiaries About Your Life Insurance Policies The Insurance Information Institute recommends you inform your beneficiaries about the company that issued your…

Cash in on Your Marriage

With the fall wedding season right around the corner, what better time to think about the financial benefits of holy matrimony? These five perks make a strong case for joining lives – and wallets – with your significant other. Joint Income Tax Returns Tax rates for married taxpayers filing joint income tax returns are lower than for single or married taxpayers filing separately. And the standard deductions of a married tax filer are typically higher than itemized tax deductions. Filing jointly also helps if one of you earns a much higher income than the other. Why? Because your tax rates as a couple will effectively average out your total household income. Speaking of averages, combining income and expenses often helps lower the tax liability for married taxpayers filing jointly. Increased Credit Scores Provided that you and your spouse have good credit to begin with, combining your incomes will usually result…

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