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Category: investing

Questions To Think About When You’re Setting Up Your HSA

Earlier this week, we talked about the Health Savings Account (or HSA as it’s commonly called). The thing that always bothered me about HSAs are how confusing they are compared to a 401(k). I think this is part of the reason that a lot of people don’t really know what an HSA is or how it works. Almost everyone I’ve ever talked to has heard of a 401(k). But very few people in the regular world have heard of an HSA.

The problem with the HSA has to do with the fact that it requires a little bit more work to set up. 401(k)s, for the most part, are basically automatic at this point. Most employers opt you in by default, deduct a certain percentage from your paycheck each pay period, and put your contributions in a default investment option in your 401(k) – typically some sort of balanced fund or a target date fund.

Setting up an HSA, on the other hand, requires a little more work…

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The HSA: The Perfect Retirement Account For Millennials

Read enough personal finance blogs and at some point, you’ll probably stumble across someone writing about the “secret” retirement account known as the Health Savings Account (“HSA”). For those of us who are entrenched in the personal finance world, the HSA really isn’t all that much of a secret. Most of us who are into this money stuff know that it’s a pretty advantageous savings vehicle.

The thing that I think doesn’t get pointed out enough is how perfect the HSA is for millennials. By giving yourself access to an HSA, you get two awesome things. You gain an extra tax-advantaged account that can really help you maximize your savings. And you lower your monthly health insurance premiums at a time in your life when you probably have very low healthcare costs.

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The 529 Plan Hack For Current Students

We don’t often think about 529 plans as a way to reduce our immediate tax liability. But I was recently talking to a friend of mine who pointed out an interesting strategy that might help him reduce the amount of state income taxes he would owe this year.

Traditionally, 529 plans act sort of like a Roth IRA for college. You put money into the 529 for your child’s future college expenses, allow that money to grow over time, and then withdraw that money tax-free so long as you use it for college expenses. If you start right when your children are born, you can basically get yourself 18-22 years of tax-free growth. Considering the fact that the S&P 500 has never lost money over a 20 year period, you’ve got pretty good odds you’ll come out with some tax-free money for your kids by the time they enter college.

The above scenario is the traditional way to use a 529 plan. But a 529 plan can be opened up in anyone’s name, including your own. This opens up a number of interesting possibilities that most people don’t think about…

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What Does Financial Panther Invest In?

Welcome to Part 3 of my series detailing how I invest in my employer sponsored retirement plans. Today, we’re going to look at the exact funds I contribute to in each of my employer sponsored retirement plans. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Part 1, where I discuss my general investing philosophy, and Part 2, where I discuss the different types of employer sponsored retirement plans.

For those of you that don’t know, back in June 2016, I switched jobs (taking a $50,000 pay cut in the process). I ended up rolling over all of my 401(k) contributions from my prior employer into my new employer’s 457 plan. Then I needed to figure out how to put my money to work.

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The Solo 401k: The Side Hustler’s Bonus Retirement Account

One of the great benefits with starting up a side hustle is the ability to get paid as an independent contractor. When you consider all of the sweet benefits you get from side hustling, you have to assume that the government must want us to side hustle.

Take tax deductions, for example. The government lets you deduct expenses related to your side hustle for things you might already be doing anyway. With a little planning, someone driving for Uber in their spare time could easily offset the costs of driving that they’re already doing anyway.

Perhaps the most amazing thing that the government lets you do as a side hustler is to save money into extra retirement accounts that other people don’t have access to. Start up a side hustle and you can save some- or in some cases, almost all of your side income – into a Solo 401(k), a SEP-IRA, or a Simple IRA. Depending on how much you make and what type of retirement accounts you already have, you could potentially save thousands more per year in tax-advantaged savings.

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