Keep calm and maximize your 401(k) — a Money Smart Week reminder

Your employer sponsored retirement plan is the single most important investment you’ll make. Even more than your home, your 401(k), 403(b), Simple, SEP or 457 plan forms the foundation for your retirement years. But, when is the last time you took a good hard look at your account, what’s inside it and how it’s being managed? We think Money Smart Week is an excellent time to begin. You can take out a mortgage to fund your home, but you can’t take out a loan to fund your retirement.  The good news is, you have more control than you think. But you have to start now. Do you know what fees you’re paying within your 401(k)? Have you analyzed your investment options within the account? Target date funds have become increasingly popular because they appear to condense all of your retirement questions into two: How old are you now and at what age do you intend to retire? The problem is, these funds aren’t right for everyone. What happens, for instance, if you’re forced to retire sooner than you had anticipated? According to a 2015 report from the Retirement Research Consortium, 41% of Americans working at age 58 wind up retiring earlier than they had planned. The top reasons for this unplanned exit from the workforce include unexpected health issues and involuntary job losses. Workers can’t control these “job shocks,” but they can control the way they prepare for them. Specifically, they can maximize the performance of their retirement accounts. At Winch Financial, we’re all about education and we’re ready to show you how to get the most out of the money you’ve already earned. We’ll help you understand the choices you have and how to make them effectively and with confidence. We’ll explain what a self-directed brokerage account is, and why the Roth option within your 401(k) can be an extremely critical tool. You can come with your questions and… | Read More »

An apples to apples explanation of taxes

Ah, spring.  Can you feel it?  The sweet chorus of chickadees chirping; “Sun’s up in an hour. Hey. HEY! Fifty-nine minutes now.”  The gentle tingle of an afternoon breeze radiating warmth, hope, and the seeds of renew…ah-Choo! Can you ah pass ah me Choo…a Kleenex?   The mysterious migration from glen to glen of the species taxicus collecticus signaling subtly, almost imperceptibly that: “You can use Form 1040A if your income is only from wages, salaries, tips, interest, ordinary dividends, capital gain distributions, pensions, annuities, IRAs…” Hey!  Stay with me. Taxes aren’t as simple as April showers, so it’s only natural to find them confusing.  To some they’re like a treacherous forest, where one dollar or step too far can lead you over a cliff.  You’ve probably heard the notion: “If I pick up more hours it will push me into a higher tax bracket, and I’ll end up with less money than if I hadn’t taken overtime in the first place.”  To put it simply, that’s almost never true.  It’s important to remember that as taxable income (minus deductions and exemptions) pushes into higher brackets it is subject to a “graduated rate” that applies specifically to…to… You fell asleep, didn’t you? All right, forget all that.  We’re not learning about taxes.  No “alternative minimum” this, no “federal withholding” that.  It’s spring.  So let’s talk about strawberries. My family goes strawberry picking every year in my uncle’s humongous strawberry patch.  He loves strawberries.  Loves ‘em so much he thinks everyone should have some.  But he also wants everyone to see the “fruits of their labor”.  So instead of splitting ‘em all evenly, or letting everyone keep what they pick, he came up with a system of colored buckets and freezers. Yeah, he’s kind of crazy.  But here’s how it works: First, everyone gets a white bucket.  The white bucket is special.  Every strawberry you put into the white bucket you get… | Read More »