The holidays and year-end are approaching. Be prepared! The month of December is when most nonprofits send out annual solicitations and when individuals donate one-third of all charitable contributions for the entire year.
Why do people donate to charity? According to financial author David Bach, “Research shows that people who give of their time and money to help others, live longer, happier and wealthier lives.” In addition to making you feel good, donating to charity can reduce your income tax liability.
How do you decide what charities to donate to? You should give to charities that are important to you. Take the following steps before you make a donation:
Most people don’t like to think about or spend money on insurance. However, insurance is the foundation of a strong financial plan, and protects you and your family from financial loss due to illness, accident or unexpected disaster. The type and amount of insurance coverage you need depends on the stage of your life. Consider the types of insurance below when evaluating your insurance needs.
Grief after a loved one's death is gripping and pervasive. I was overwhelmed by it after my mother's passing and witnessed my father and siblings grapple with it in their own ways, too. One thing that grief does not leave ample room for is thinking intentionally about one's finances. However, neglecting to manage the finances after a loved one's death can prove disastrous.
I have compiled a checklist to help navigate your finances following the death of a spouse or loved one. Don't try to navigate this alone. Lean on family, close friends and trusted professionals, just as you do in your grieving.
Do you want to age in your current home, downsize to a smaller home or apartment, move to a senior community or move in with family? According to Sheri Samotin, author of Facing the Finish, most seniors wish to live independently for as long as possible in their own home. Unfortunately, this is not always possible given one’s health, finances, and family situation. All of these factors must be considered when you are deciding where you should live.
First, you must consider your health. Will your home be safe and comfortable as you age? Look at your current home. Are there stairs to get to your bedroom? Is there a bathroom on the first floor? Can a bathroom accommodate a wheelchair? Can you make modifications to your home? Do you have a support system if/when it is not safe for you to drive?
As I wrote last month, if your savings can not cover the difference between your retirement expenses and your retirement income, you need to cut your living expenses and aggressively save.
First, make sure you have prepared a monthly budget:
People often ask, “How much money do I need to save before I can retire?”
Predicting how much you need depends on a number of factors, including how much you will spend each year, when you will stop working, and your sources of retirement income. In addition, you need to know the growth rate of your savings and investments, the inflation rate, and an estimation of how long you will live. Most of these variables can’t be predicted with certainty. However, you still should prepare a plan and then reassess your plan each year. It is
better to plan ahead than risk outliving your money.
Celebrate your 65th birthday, but take the time to address the following important issues:
1. Enroll in Medicare
a. You should apply for Medicare during your initial enrollment period, the period
that begins three months before the month you turn 65 and ends three months
after the month of your 65th birthday. If you do not sign up for Medicare during
your initial enrollment period, you can still enroll for Medicare during the general
enrollment period. However, late enrollment penalties will apply.
b. Research and educate yourself about Medicare coverage and costs before you
apply. Understand that Medicare will not cover all your health-care costs.
i. Original Medicare includes Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B
(medical insurance). You can add Part D (prescription drug coverage) and
Medigap (supplemental) insurance. Medigap coverage fills in some of the
gaps in Original Medicare. Part A is free for most participants, while Part
B and Part D premiums are based on income.
ii. Medicare Advantage (Part C) combines Part A, Part B, and
usually Part D. Medicare Advantage limits the network of providers, but
often offers additional benefits and charges lower premiums than Original
c. If you’re still working at age 65 and have health insurance through your
employer, you may want to wait until your special enrollment period to enroll.
This period begins depending on when you leave your job or when your group
health insurance coverage ends.
Do you know that spring cleaning and decluttering are actually good for you? According to goodnet.com, cleaning out and organizing your home and office can make you happier and more productive. Some might disagree, but I think we all can admit that less clutter leads to less stress.
Look around your daily living and working space. Do you see piles of papers and
documents? People often wonder what financial records need to be saved and how long to save them. Bankrate.com has the following guidelines:
A recent survey from bankrate.com caught my attention: only 40% of Americans have $1,000 in savings to pay for an emergency. This means that 60% don’t!
I started to reflect on this stressful situation. I also reflected on my own personal rules of managing my family’s daily finances, the lessons that I taught my four now twenty-something children, and lessons I’ve learned from my daily money management clients. My simple but steadfast goals can be summarized as follows: spend less, save more and pay off debt.
If you haven’t filed your 2018 taxes, it’s time to start gathering your tax forms and
supporting documents. The year ending December 31, 2018 is the first year governed by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (Tax Act), a far-reaching reform of federal tax policy.