He won for his contributions to Behavioral Economics, showing how human traits affect supposedly rational markets. He co-wrote a great book called, “Nudge“. The reason I bring him up is he’s partly responsible for helping convince Congress to overall the 401(k) a decade ago. Congress use his theory in 2006, “Save more for Tomorrow.” His big take away, instead of Companies asking their employees to sign up for 401(k), he encouraged employers to automatically sign-up employees for their 401(k)s. They could then choose to opt out. That was the nudge to get people to save for their futures. How big of an impact did this auto-enrollment have? One 2015 Vanguard paper suggested that the practice more than doubles plan participation rates to more than 91% of workers from 42%.
When it comes down to it, you need to take care of yourself first. I know this seems counter intuitive. Think of it when your are on an airplane going threw the safety checklist, “If airbags deploy, put the air mask on you first, then your child“. Think the same thing when figuring out to save for your retirement before doing anything else. If you pay yourself first, by saving for your retirement, then you can move along to all the other items on your list. If you get to it last, chances are you already spent the funds you would have needed. “Pay yourself first” is a popluar personal finance term. Continue reading “Pay Yourself First”
We’ve talked about saving for retirement, but how much do I contribute to it?
You need to know your monthly expenses. So you will need to keep track of what you buy, your bills, and your rent. Best bet is to look over your past statements for the last 3 months. This way you can do an average of the results to give yourself a cushion. I know this all seems pretty obvious. You really need to scrutinize your monthly expenses, otherwise there’s no way for you to know how much you can save and areas you can trim expenses.
What I do is simple Google drive excel type sheet to tally everything up.
Here’s an example:
It is really simply, write in fields for your pay and then all of your monthly expenses (averaged for the month). Now, you just do a simple function to add all the cells for expenses (the total expense here). The command is “=add(b7:b27)” written into B28 cell. Write a subtract (from your pay to the Total Expense). The command is “=minus(b3,bb28)” written into B30 cell to get your Net income.
What you have now is an average number per month based on your current pay and your current expenses. Hopefully your in the black, which means your positive, you have money leftover after all your expenses. If you’re in the red (meaning your negative), then you need to find ways to shave off your expenses and/or earn additional income. I’d err on finding ares to cut expenses, like say no Netflix or buy a few less Starbucks/meals out.
Whatever amount your have leftover this is the money you can use for either savings or retirement. If you have credit card debt I would focus on this first before even doing long term retirement. If your company does a match for your 401k, you could contribute at least enough to get the company mininum, but only if your credit card debt is small.
Now the another angle to look at, is even if you are positive in cash flow every month, what can you do with that money in addition to saving/retirement. If you have a car payment or mortgage, maybe you want to have a little more money going to pay off that debt. The gains you get from being invested in say your 401k won’t matter if your owing a debt that charging a higher interest than what your 401k’s gains are. Always a good rule of thumb is try to be as debt free as possible and reduce the amount of interest you pay.
Simple, right? Now comes the part where consistently adhering to this budget (roughly) to see if you are able to save or invest the surplus like you thought. My best advice is to setup some form of automatic withdrawal to go to the accounts you wanted. The sooner the money gets allocated, the sooner it doesn’t get spent.
Everyone tells us we should save. Invest in your 401k. Don’t count on Social Security.
First things first.
Retirement savings is a huge important goal to have, but you also have to look at where you are currently at. Do you have a lot of debt right now? If so, how much are you paying in interest for credit cards? an 17% interest rate on a credit card versus starting to save for your retirement where you money will on average grow 8%, doesn’t make much sense. You are putting the carriage ahead of the horse. Pay down high interest debt first. Continue reading “Retire…how? When?”
Sorry for no post last week. As some of you know, my wife and I have had our hands full. Two Mondays ago, there was a fire at our house. Luckily we weren’t living in it yet, but it was still traumatic. Good news, no one was hurt and the fire did not spread to any of our neighbors’ houses. Bad news, pretty much half of the house is gone. Continue reading “When the unexpected hits”
The end of the year is getting closer and so it’s a good time to look your finances. I usually look at my finances daily (but that’s me). For most it’s a good idea to at least look at it once a month or worst case every 6 months just to see how your investments are performing.
I look at my check stubs every week to double check my 401k contributions for the year. It’s under your deductions like social security etc. Your 401k deduction is a percentage of your gross pay. Continue reading “401ks, IRAs, and Taxable accounts”
This is a deviation from my usual blog posts, but I’ve been meaning to touch on this topic. It is something that affects everyone, yet not everyone deals with it. It is usually tucked away in a New Year’s Eve check box with “I need to eat healthier”. I’m bringing it up now because lately I’ve had some co-workers ask me questions about saving for retirement and personal finance in general.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t the best in this category by far. I’ve had a couple close friends who are very good with their finances constantly advising me to do a better job with mine. I didn’t listen and boy do I wish I had. One of these friends, Kiyong wrote a topic on his blog. He goes over the fundamentals. This is the perfect stage 1. Here’s a link to what he wrote: Personal Finance 101