Getting Ready for a Fresh Start

February 9, 2015


Lifestyle, News


Despite the potential long-term benefits of reviewing personal finances on an annual basis, it seems that many Americans still don’t make it a priority to do so.

Have you already taken steps to give yourself a fresh financial start next year? It’s still not too late to begin.

Aim Higher for Retirement

Fresh-Start-Type-Writer-300x200Today, workers are eligible to contribute more money than ever to their employer-sponsored retirement plans. For most workers, the maximum annual pre-tax contribution is $18,000 in 2015. If you’re at least 50 years old, you may also make additional contributions — known as catch-up contributions — of up to $6,000. That amounts to a $24,000 overall contribution limit this year.

Search for Savings

Even if you can’t contribute the maximum, a reality for many given life’s various financial challenges, seek out opportunities to set aside more money for retirement whenever possible.

Consider creating a comprehensive household budget that allows you to plan and track spending on an ongoing basis and includes among your listed expenses a commitment to “pay yourself” in the form of retirement savings. More than likely you’ll find some “fat” in your budget, even just a little, that can be trimmed to free up savings dollars.

Defeat Debt

The U.S. savings rate recently hit its lowest level in almost half a century, due in part to higher rates of borrowing and credit card debt. If debt is getting in the way of your long-term goals, consider strategies for chipping away at it:

  • Transferring high-interest debt to a credit card with a lower rate.
  • Trying to pay at least twice the minimum required payment.
  • Using a tax-refund to pay off outstanding loans.

For more ideas on how to get a fresh start, talk to your financial advisor.

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Post by Phil Ratcliff

Phil Ratcliff, President of rebel Financial, is a senior financial advisor that holds an AIF®, CFP®, ChFC®, and CLU® certifications. He started his career at American Express Financial Advisors in 2003, then moved to AXA Advisors for 7 years before founding rebel Financial LLC in 2013.