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4 Ways to Maximize Retirement Account Benefits

No matter what age you are, retirement is something that should be in the back of your mind. Even if you’re younger and just starting out in the workforce, or almost at the retirement finish line. What you choose to do now can greatly affect your financial future. In this vein, there are 5 fantastic ways to maximize your retirement account benefits.

#1. MAXIMUM CONTRIBUTIONS to retirement account

If you have the means to do so, maximizing the contributions to your retirement accounts can really help boost you to a new level during retirement. Heck, this can even help you retire early, should you so desire. Here is the basic breakdown of the maximum you can contribute in 2022, according to the new IRS rules:

  • $20,500 for 401(k), 403 (b), Thrift Savings Plan & some 457 plans
  • $6,000 for IRA’s
  • $1,000 for catch up contributions over the age of 50
  • $27,000 for catch up contributions over the age of 50 if you have the government’s Thrift Savings Plan

The IRS increased some of the contribution limits going into 2022, which they have been consistently doing in past years as well. This continual increase should help a lot of Americans save more faster. But this only helps if you can contribute the full amount.

If you aren’t in a position to contribute the maximum amount currently, then you will first need to work on fine tuning your budget.

#2. TAKING ADVANTAGE OF MATCHING

If you do have the benefit of working for somebody else AND they offer to match for retirement contributions, then this is something you should fully take advantage of. Every company is structured differently, and it is completely up to each company how they decide to offer matching, if they do at all. So, you’ll need to reach out to your HR personnel to find out what your company currently offers.

However, here are some of the most common ways you might run across a matching option:

  1. $.50 on the dollar for the first 3-5% you contribute
  2. 2.7% of your pay, on average
  3. 100% match up to the first 3-5% you contribute

#3. SEP IRA

A SEP IRA is a great way to contribute to a retirement account when you are self-employed. This type of account is similar to an IRA, except that you can contribute more to it than a Roth IRA or Traditional IRA.

Currently, if you open a SEP IRA, you can contribute up to 25% of your income or $61,000, whichever one happens to be less. Not only that but you won’t be taxed on anything until you begin withdrawing funds in retirement. So this can be a really great way to maximize the benefits of retirement and save more along the way.

#4. WHERE YOU LIVE

When you’ve finally decided it’s time to retire, choose where you live wisely. Even if you don’t think it matters, it really does. The biggest determining factor here are that 37 states that do NOT tax social security income. Yes, you heard me correctly!

This means that if you want more bang for your buck when you retire then you should seriously consider where you live.

Don’t just look at which states are social security income friendly though. You will want to take a look at the property taxes, state and local taxes and taxes on other retirement income. These aspects are crucial to the overall equation in order to maximize your benefits in retirement.

maximize retirement account benefits summary

Overall, there are a few fantastic ways to maximize your retirement account benefits, no matter what your company offers. You may choose to maximize your contributions which will directly impact your company’s matching. Or, if you’re self employed, you may open a SEP IRA and put in as much as you’re legally allowed each year. No matter which of those two options you choose, where you live now and in the future does matter. This is something to keep in mind in order to keep more of your hard earned money and hopefully be able to enjoy retirement to the fullest.

What are some of the best ways you’ve found to maximize your retirement account benefits?

21 Awesome Ways Children Can Earn Money

Making money as a child was a lot trickier for people in my generation than it is for kids today. But, because of the strides people in my generation made, it is so much easier for kids today. And because of these strides in evolution, children can earn money with much less effort today.

Along with my children being able to make money at a much younger age, I also want my children to be more financially savvy with their money. These two things go hand in hand when it comes to how I teach them about work and finances. Therefore, I have introduced them to as many different ways to earn money at a young age as possible. This helps them diversify, but also see the things they really like to do to earn money.

children can earn money in-person and online

Earning money in person isn’t quite what it was when I was a kid, but there are still plenty of opportunities. But, that’s not they only way for them to earn money these days. There are also a ton of ways for them to earn money online, which might end up being an even better fit for your individual child. However, not all of these suggestions will be appropriate for all ages.

  1. Babysit – Babysitting is something I started doing at the age of 12. And parents are always in need of good babysitters. If you have any friends or family that could use your child as a babysitter, just to try it out, this is a great way to start.
  2. Create a yard sale – Have your kids help you go through their old clothes, shoes, and toys. Then, have them set up a yard sale and run it, while you oversee. They can keep whatever money they make.
  3. Employ your kids – If you are self-employed and have any tasks your children can help you with, then you can pay them to do so. My younger kids help with things like shredding mail and picking up dog poop. Anything that’s business related counts.
  4. Organize people’s stuff – If any of your kids have an eye for organizing, then this may be a viable money earning opportunity for them. This is another one you’d have to oversee, of course.
  5. Peer product flipper – One of my kids likes to flip candy, shoes and trading cards at school. This is a really good way that children can earn money if your child has a good eye for a deal.
  6. Selling t-shirts – Designing and selling t-shirts all in one fail swoop is extremely simple to do today. Some of my kids love to create designs, so this is a good way for them to make some money on their hobby. A few good websites to check out that cater to this market are: CafePress, Shopify, Teespring and Zazzle.
  7. Walk dogs – Walking dogs is something that most kids love doing, and most adults could probably do more of. So this activity could be a threefold option to spend more time together, get some exercise and earn money at the same time.
  8. Wash cars – All of us need our cars washed, probably more often than not. Not only can you pay them to wash your car, but they can help with your friends, family and neighbors also, if they are willing.
  9. Water plants – Helping your child find families that are vacationing, work long hours, or are elderly that need help taking care of their plants is another great option.
  10. Yard work – Yard work is something that a lot of families would love help with. This option is another one that gives them some good exercise while earning money.
  11. App tester – There are quite a few places your child can begin earning money playing with app. Two of the best places to get started are TesterWork and UberTesters.
  12. Create games – Similar to being an app tester, your child could get paid to create games. If this sounds like something your child might like, then it may be time to investigate creating their own game and monetize it.
  13. Create illustrations – If your child likes to create illustrations, then this is a fantastic option for them. All they need is a decent illustrating tablet and intuitive software (Clip Studio Paint Pro is a good one). A great website to have them set up a portfolio on is Deviantart.
  14. Make crafts or jewelry – If your child loves to create jewelry and crafts, then selling them online may be a great way for them to make money as a kid. The most popular website for things of this nature currently is Etsy.
  15. Making music. If your child has a musical ear, then this may just be the money-making genre for them. One of the best places to get started is Soundtrap.
  16. Make YouTube videos. Kids can be product testers and make videos of them testing out products from different companies. Even if your kid just wants to make videos talking about particular subjects (video games, how-to-videos, etc.), they can place ads in their videos to start generating income. As a parent, however, you should be closely monitoring them.
  17. Selling digital goods. Creating an eBook or a course is a great way to begin selling digital goods with very little overhead.
  18. Sell their old stuff online. There are many different platforms for your kids to sell their old stuff online. Some of our favorites are Amazon, Craigslist, eBay, Facebook Marketplace and Poshmark.
  19. Start taking photographs. Taking photographs can be a great way to put your child’s hobby to good use. Some of the best sites they can check out are: EyeEm, Foap, Pexels and Scoopshot.
  20. Streaming. If your child is already big into watching streamed live content, then it may be time for them to start creating their own. Live streaming through Twitch is a great way to get them started.
  21. Take online surveys – Since the kids are on their devices more often than not, they might as well be making some money and have fun at the same time. Some good online survey sites to check out are: MyPoints and Swagbucks.

how children can earn money summary

Overall, there are so many different ways children can earn money these days that it could make ones head spin. I personally prefer for our kids to try all of the in-person options first because it gives them more social skills also. Which is a huge bonus. But, going through the list of all the money earning opportunities have helped us as parents see where our kids interests and skills lie. Which has ultimately helped us learn more about what they might really thrive at as adults in the work world. And this knowledge will only help them more financially in the future also. Even bigger bonus!

What are some of the best ways you have found that your children can earn money on their own?

7 Ways to Help Your Teen Build Credit

When it comes to having teenagers, there are a lot of things we as parents need to teach them. And nowhere is this more important than when it comes to to their financial education. Teaching our teens about money, finances, credit scores, etc. is extremely important to do before they leave the nest. There are many different ways we can go about this, of course. But, one of the most important things I feel that we can teach our teens is what a credit score is and how it impacts every aspect of their future financial lives. Therefore, before they leave the nest to fly on their own, helping a teen build credit is high up on my list of important lessons.

1. Get a job

One of the first things I told my teens when they turned 16 was that getting a job would be a good first step into the adult world. Not only does this give them some idea of what to expect in the work world, but it also gives them a first taste of managing their own finances usually. As a bonus, getting a job helps a teen begin to build their own credit.

2. open a checking account

Once your teen has a job, opening a checking account for them is the next best step to help them build credit. Most banks won’t let a child open a checking account on their own, so you’ll need to be a co-signer on the account until they are 18. This is also helpful when it comes to monitoring their spending, as it gives you a way to see everything that’s happening with their money. And it gives you good talking points to discuss with them about budgeting, when they get off track. Which my teens have done more times than I’d like to admit!

3. open a savings account

Whether your teen has a job and/or checking account, they can still get a savings account. We started savings accounts for our kids when they were much younger, just to put money into for them that relatives gave them for holidays. Having a savings account is a good way for them to watch a nest egg grow. And we have found it’s also a good place to put excess money they earn from their jobs is a savings account. This has helped rein in and regulate their excess spending on random junk they don’t need and help them save for bigger goals at the same time.

4. Open a Roth ira

When our kids started working for me, I opened Roth IRA accounts for them. These types of accounts can only be funded by earned income. So they can’t be opened until your teens have earned income that will be taxed. But, once they have some earned income to work with, you can open a custodial Roth IRA for them that will roll over directly into their name solely once they turn 18. This not only gives them a good first taste into investing, at much lower risk than when they do it as an adult, but also helps your teen build credit.

5. get a prepaid credit card

The next option is to help them get a prepaid credit card in their own name. Typically, you’ll have to be a co-signer on the account, as with all of the other accounts. But, with these types of credit cards you determine how much is put on the card to begin with, so that is all they have to spend. This works out really well if they have a job already also. You can tell your teen to set aside $100 – $500 to put onto the prepaid card and then use this card for all of their purchases. This way they are building credit while only spending the money they already have.

6. credit card authorized user

As another option to the prepaid credit card, you can add your teen to one or more of your existing credit cards as an authorized user. I did this for my two older teens just recently with one of the credit cards we never use that also has a high credit limit. I chose to put them on this one since we don’t use it because it’s easier for me to track who is spending what. Plus, since it has a really high limit, it helps boost their credit that much faster due to the amount of credit used versus the credit available. So far, they’ve both been paying off what they spend before the bill even closes, which is awesome!

7. teach them about credit scores

After all of these other options, the most important thing to teach them about is their credit score. Since they are trying to build credit, understanding how their credit score impacts their financial future is integral to overall financial health. If they have any of the aforementioned accounts opened, they can begin to see how their saving and spending are affecting their credit score. Which is a fantastic way to give them an early taste of how the whole system currently works. And don’t forget to show them how to pull their annual credit report each year so they can run through it for any discrepancies.

Teen building credit summary

Overall, there are a lot of great ways to start helping your teen build their credit score early on. While I don’t use the prepaid credit card method, I have used every other option to help my teens build their credit now. And, they’ve been doing awesome so far with the learning curve. So my hope is that by the time they are out on their own, they won’t have nearly as many issues as a lot of young adults do with their first taste of financial independence.

What are your favorite ways to help your teen build credit early?

How to Make Teaching Young Children About Finances FUN!

When you have young children, teaching them about money is a big part of our job as parents. And this is especially important when they are young because they learn so much more quickly when they are younger. And, they are more apt to listen to us and follow our actions because they look up to us greatly at this age. Not as much once they hit the teenage years! To the earlier you can start, the better.

But it’s not always easy, or fun. Especially when they are really young because the concepts can be much too difficult for them to grasp. However, I have found some great ways to make teaching young children about finances fun. And not just for them!

grocery list

One of the easiest financial lessons I found to begin with was grocery shopping. When my children were around the age of 2, they began helping me make a grocery list. I found the best way to approach this was to have them go through the pantry and refrigerator while I wrote down a list. They would  ell me what they thought we needed and we would discuss it. Because sometimes what they thought we needed was ice cream and cookies!

Whenever we went to the store I would have them help me decide which items to buy. I started out simply by comparing the same item but different brands. That way it was easier for them to see the cost difference between the two products.

Example: If Brand A can of beans costs $.89 and Brand B can of beans costs $.99, which one is the better deal.

This math is usually simple enough for them to grasp when they are much younger. As they got a bit older, I would increase the complexity of the math needed. In that, I would then compare similar products that had different quantities also. This can be pretty confusing for them initially. But once they understand it, it’s a really fun game for them to find the best deal.

allowance budget

Every member of the family should be pitching in to help. So, chores and allowance are another great way to approach teaching young children about finances. However, with the allowance comes some strings. Besides not getting paid if they don’t do their age appropriate chores, they also have to create a budget for it.

One of the most common ways to create an allowance budget is to split it up into the following 3 categories:

  • Donations
  • Saving
  • Spending

Of course, you can discuss this with your children because they may have other categories in mind. But these 3 categories are usually the most simplistic to begin with.

Once you have the allowance budget categories defined, then it’s a good time to open the discussion with your child regarding how much should go in each category. Percentages are easier for us as adults, but may not be as easy for your young child to grasp.

Therefore, if may be best to start with a specific dollar amount in each category.

Here is a good example of both options for a simple $10 allowance since this number can be easier for them to understand from a percentage perspective.

  • $10 = $2 for Donations, $4 for Saving, $4 for Spending
  • $10 = 20% for Donations, 40% for Saving, 40% for Spending

Ultimately, how this is broken down is completely up to you and your child. The main point is that they begin to learn the basics of budgeting their income. So that it will be much easier for them as adults when they have to do it for themselves.

sell their old stuff

As most of us know, with children comes a lot of extra stuff. And as they grow, they outgrow that “stuff” fairly rapidly. Most of the time, the majority of it is also barely used. So, this is another great area to weave financial lessons in for your young child.

When it’s time to declutter the house, have your child go through their stuff to sell also.

The first thing to go through with them is which items they might be able to sell. And then you should have them help you figure out how much they think they can sell the items for.

A lot of times I prefer to sell my kids outgrown stuff online. But, having a yard sale is another great way to approach this lesson since your child will have to be physically present for it.

This lesson helps to teach them the value of their stuff and the value of a dollar. So, it’s really a two-fold lesson that is extremely important for them to grasp now.

Plus, it’s a great place to add on a third lesson while you are at it. Let them keep the money they make on their stuff and put it into a high yield savings account. That way they can watch it grow each month and you can help them learn about compound interest. Now, I call this a big win!

Birthday Budget

And last but not least, the birthday budget. I think my kids always think that money grows on trees. Which is extra funny because we actually have a money tree, but it doesn’t grow money!

With that being said, their birthday wish lists always start out much further outside the budget than they think. So, it’s a good time to bring them back down to earth and have them help with a more realistic birthday list.

First, let them know what the budget is for their birthday. The best way I have found to do this is to tell them that they need to find some gifts that are under $20 and they can find one or two that are closer to $40 – $50 also.

This way, the majority of the birthday gifts they want fall into most people’s budget. And the couple of larger gifts could be from us or a joint gift. But, I also let them know that they will never get everything on their list. That way I help to set up their expectations and keep a bit of the birthday surprise going.

Teaching young children about finances

Overall, there are a lot of great ways you can begin teaching young children about finances and it still be fun. My favorite ways include:

  • Having them help make the grocery list and compare food prices
  • Make an allowance budget
  • Selling their old stuff and putting the money into a high-yield savings account
  • Creating a reasonable birthday budget

If you can start with these easy lessons, then you are well on your way to increasing your child’s financial knowledge. And the earlier you can start, the better. So, have fun with it and get started today!

What are some of the best ways you have found to teach your young children about finances and still make it fun?

Kids Making Money

How to Teach Kids to Make Some of Their Own Money

Having our kids do chores is one way for them to make some of their own money. But, we always want to get their creative juices flowing thinking about other ways to make money also.

After all, part of our job as their parents it to teach them to problem-solve and how to survive in the world without us. So, when my 10 year old daughter came to me with an entrepreneurial idea to make some money, my ears perked up.

Read more

Summer_Vacation_For_7

How to Execute a Family Summer Vacation for Under $400!

By now, you should realize that we like to do things frugally around here. And we pretty much have to in order to make our blended family of 7 work, and not kill our finances. That being said, we have multiple budget strategies that we use, and that includes when we want to take the whole family on vacation. Take a look at how our family summer vacation strategy worked out so that we only spent a total of $393.93 for 4 days! Read more

Frugal Home Hacks that Save us Hundreds Per Month

pexels-photo (2)

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. There’s lots of truth in that quote. For us, the necessity to keep trimming our spending as we work our way out of debt has helped us to “invent” more and more ways to spend less and less of our money on things we need to buy. As we work on our financial goals we work on increasing our income, but we also continue to work to cut expenses. For instance, in order to reach our 2014 grocery expenditure goal we spent only $215 on groceries in December 2014. For a family of six, that took a lot of work, but it showed us that we can spend less if we need to.

We haven’t been that extreme in a long time, but we do continue to look for ways to cut down on home expenses and save money. I would say that our savings as we work on cutting expenses are now easily in the four digits compared to our expenses when we started our journey in 2013. So I thought I’d share some of our frugal home hacks today and how much money we’ve saved per month by continuing to look for ways to cut expenses. Read more

12 Things You Need to Know About Your Money

So, I’m confessing off the bat that I’ve ripped off this post idea from Rockstar Finance. The short, but thought-provoking post needed an expansion – at least in my mind.

The fact of the matter is that too many people don’t have as much of a clue about their money as they should. They have no idea how much debt they have, when they’ll be able to retire or what they’d do if the financial SHTF in their house.

This post today is designed to help you answer those questions. Read more