How soon is too soon to talk to your kids or grandkids about money?
If they are old enough to ask for a toy or a bike, they are old enough to start learning financial lessons that will last a lifetime.
The best financial lessons are part of everyday experience. Look for opportunities to talk about money, read books aloud and play games that center around spending money wisely. Be open and honest when you discuss your financial experiences—good or bad
Here are some examples of teachable moments to help you get started:
At the bank When you go to the bank, bring your children with you and show them how transactions work. Get the manager to explain how the bank operates, how money generates interest and how an ATM works. Ask the manager for a tour—be sure to ask to see the vault.
On payday Discuss how your pay is budgeted to pay for housing, food and clothing, and how a portion is saved for future expenses such as college tuition and retirement.
At the market It’s easy to give clear examples of “needs” and “wants” using different kinds of foods at a grocery store. Milk (for strong bones) is a need; soft drinks are a want. Explain the benefits of comparison shopping, coupons and store brands.
Chores and allowances Assign chores and give them a monetary value. Discuss ways to budget and divide allowances. Encourage children to set a financial goal, such as saving for a bike, and figure out how to achieve it.
Paying bills Explain the many ways that bills can be paid: over the phone, paper or by check, electronic check or online check draft. Discuss how each method of bill pay takes money out of your account. Be sure to cover late penalties, emphasizing the importance of paying bills on time.
Using credit cards Explain that credit cards are a loan and need to be repaid. Share how each month a credit card statement comes in the mail with a bill. Go over the features of different types of cards, such as ATM, debit and credit cards.
Browsing the Internet While online, explain to your children how valuable their personal information and privacy is to you, to them and to online predators. Discuss the risks and benefits of sharing certain information. Then, as a family, make a list of rules for keeping personal information safe online.
Planning a vacation Whether you are planning an outing to a local amusement park or a once-in-a-lifetime trip, emphasize the value of saving as a family. Set a family savings goal that involves your children. Figure out the cost and discuss ways everyone can help to reach the goal.
Remember: Always encourage your children to ask questions about money. If you don’t know the answer, research it together or ask your banker.
The coronavirus pandemic has thrown millions of Americans into chaos, negatively affecting financial well-being alongside physical and mental health. As unemployment rates soar and money insecurities abound, a new NerdWallet survey finds almost half of Americans (48%) are indeed feeling less confident about their personal finances due to COVID-19.
In a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults commissioned by NerdWallet and conducted online by The Harris Poll, we asked Americans how COVID-19 is affecting their finances — including spending and saving habits, feelings about homebuying and investing, and money plans for the end of the pandemic.
Income impact: Close to 7 in 10 Americans (69%) say their household income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19, including 80% each of millennials (ages 24-39) and Gen Zers (ages 18-23).
Stimulus saving: More than one-third of Americans (36%) plan to use/have used their stimulus check to save and/or invest; the same proportion (36%) say they’re using it to pay for necessities.
Homebuying worries: About three-quarters of Americans (73%) say they’d have concerns about buying a home in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic; the top concern is the ability to safely tour potential homes (34%), followed by the ability to sell their current home (27%).
Travel insurance: Only 1 in 5 Americans (20%) purchased travel insurance for leisure trips prior to COVID-19, but 45% say they’re likely to purchase travel insurance for future leisure trips after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Post-pandemic plans: Three-quarters of Americans (75%) plan to take financial action after the pandemic ends, such as saving more in their emergency fund (38%) and spending less on nonessentials (37%).
Pandemic affecting how we save and spend
COVID-19 has changed more than social behavior; it’s also changed financial behavior. Overall, Americans say they’re saving more and spending less.
Roughly 2 in 5 Americans (41%) say they’re saving more money now than they were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, with younger Americans more likely to say this than their older counterparts. Around half of Gen Zers (50%) and millennials (52%) are saving more than they were before compared with 39% of Gen Xers (ages 40-55) and 29% of baby boomers (ages 56-74).
Close to half of Americans (48%) report spending less now than they were pre-pandemic, and 36% have changed how much they’re investing.
Likely due to a combination of financial instability and lack of access to spend on the things we spent on before, almost all Americans (94%) report spending less money on certain expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 3 in 5 each say they’re spending less on shopping (63%), restaurant food (62%) and transportation (62%). Over half (56%) are spending less on entertainment and 45% have cut back on personal care spending. Close to 3 in 10 Americans who have children under the age of 18 (28%) say they’re spending less on child care.
While plenty of Americans are spending less, many are also spending differently under the circumstances. Close to 2 in 5 Americans (37%) say they’ve made more of an effort to support local businesses and 35% report tipping more for takeout and delivery of restaurant food and groceries. Around 1 in 6 Americans (16%) have donated to COVID-19 relief efforts, like contributing to GoFundMe campaigns for affected people and businesses.
In times of financial unease, cutting back on nonessentials is a smart move, particularly if you aren’t comfortable with the amount you currently have saved or you’re worried about job security. If you’re in the fortunate position to do so, it’s a good idea to use the money that’s not being spent on unnecessary purchases to beef up your savings. Consider it a temporary measure to increase your peace of mind in case you experience income loss or unexpected expenses in the future.
Of course, if you have the means, you could also help others who aren’t as fortunate. “If you have built up a comfortable emergency fund and you are still earning income, then you may want to consider supporting local small businesses by purchasing gift cards to use at a future date or donating to your community food bank,” says Kimberly Palmer, personal finance expert at NerdWallet.
Many trying to combat income loss
Millions of Americans are feeling the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on their incoming cash — more than two-thirds of U.S. adults (69%) say their household income has been negatively impacted. Of them, 70% have either taken action to fill their monthly income gap or have at least considered it.
A quarter of Americans whose household income has been negatively affected by COVID-19 (25%) say they’re considering taking or have taken money out of their emergency savings account to help fill the income gap. A quarter have looked for/taken on additional work (25%), and a quarter have canceled nonessentials (25%), or at least considered it.
Job loss can be a traumatic experience, particularly when it’s due to circumstances outside of a person’s control, like a pandemic. “Losing income, even temporarily, is one of the most financially stressful things that can happen to a person. Applying for unemployment benefits, looking for new jobs and relying on savings can help you get through the crisis,” Palmer says.
As part of the CARES Act, many Americans have or will receive a stimulus check from the federal government. When asked how they plan on using theirs or have used theirs, more than a third of Americans (36%) reported they plan to use/have used it to pay for necessities, and the same proportion (36%) said they plan to save or invest it, or already have.
The best way to spend this money is highly dependent on your personal circumstances, but if you haven’t received or used your stimulus payment yet, check out NerdWallet’s guide on how to prep for and spend your relief check. It could help you think through how to use this cash to improve your financial situation, and potentially to help others as well.
Thinking differently about homebuying, travel insurance and investing
In addition to its impact on their everyday financial lives, the COVID-19 pandemic is also changing how Americans think about purchasing a home, insuring their leisure travel, and investing.
Homebuying: More than 1 in 5 Americans (22%) planned to buy a home in 2020, but some have since changed their plans. Of these potential home buyers, 35% still plan to buy this year, 30% no longer plan to buy in 2020 and another 35% aren’t sure if they will.
Unsurprisingly, there’s some apprehension about buying a home this year. About three-quarters of Americans (73%) say they’d have concerns about buying a home in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some worries are regarding safety, but there are also financial concerns, like the ability to make mortgage payments (25%) or no longer having cash on hand (25%).
Travel insurance: With the coronavirus pandemic canceling so many travel plans, many Americans are rethinking their stance on trip insurance, which can help reimburse your costs in the event you have to scrap upcoming travel.
One in 5 Americans (20%) say they’ve purchased travel insurance for leisure trips prior to COVID-19 and 15% have considered it, but ultimately decided not to purchase. However, almost half of Americans (45%) say they’re likely to purchase travel insurance for future leisure trips after the pandemic.
While travel insurance can be a great way to mitigate risk in case of illness, it’s important to understand the limitations. For example, “fear of travel” is generally not covered. In other words, while actually falling sick is a covered reason to cancel an insured trip, fear of getting sick probably isn’t.
Investing: Stock market volatility is common in times of uncertainty, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. More than a quarter of American investors (26%) say they invested money in companies or industries that fell in value during the pandemic, and 1 in 5 investors (20%) rebalanced their portfolio to adjust for current events. Around 1 in 8 sold off investments in each of these cases: because they were worried about market volatility (13%) or to pay for necessities (12%).
“Since no one can time the market, it’s generally a good idea to stick with your investing strategy and not make any big changes, even when the market is experiencing a lot of swings. As long as you are comfortable with your mix of investments and they make sense based on your risk tolerance and age, then it can be a good idea to ride out these daily fluctuations instead of reacting to them,” Palmer says.
Saving more, spending less after COVID-19 ends
Not everyone has the ability to make financial changes while in this difficult period, but many are making plans for after the pandemic ends. Three-quarters of Americans (75%) plan to take financial action after COVID-19, the most popular being saving more in an emergency fund (38%) and spending less on nonessentials (37%).
“The pandemic has upended many Americans’ sense of control over their lives. One way to regain a sense of normalcy is to control what we can by increasing our savings, paying off high-interest-rate debt and scaling back unnecessary spending. A padded emergency fund can provide the balm we need to get through difficult times and rebuild our lives afterward,” Palmer says.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of NerdWallet from May 5-7, 2020, among 2,051 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Chloe Wallach at email@example.com.
The American Bankers Association Foundation and the Federal Trade Commission recently released a new infographic
to educate consumers on the growing threat of phishing. According to
the FBI’s Internet Crime Report victims lost nearly $30 million due to
phishing scams in 2017 compared to $8 million just two years earlier.
a phishing scam, criminals send an email or a text, or call a victim
disguised as a company or person they know. The goal of the phisher is
to steal the victim’s money, identity or both by convincing the
unsuspecting consumer to click on a link or share sensitive information,
such as a password. The fraudsters often pressure victims to act
quickly by saying something bad will happen if they do not comply.
thrilled to continue our collaboration with the FTC to help consumers
combat a scam that continues to target bank customers at an alarming
rate,” said Corey Carlisle, executive director of the ABA Foundation.
“Phishing scams aren’t as obvious as they used to be. The criminals’
techniques have become much more sophisticated, so it’s more important
than ever that consumers understand the scam and how they can protect
“One of the best ways to combat phishing is to
implement multi-factor authentication, which is a second step to verify
you are you, like sending a text to your phone with a confirmation
code,” said Paul Benda, senior vice president, risk and cybersecurity
policy at ABA. “We encourage consumers to use MFA for any of their
accounts that support it, especially email and financial accounts.”
ABA Foundation/FTC joint infographic, released today in recognition of
National Consumer Protection Week, describes how phishing scams work and
provides the following tips for consumers:
Check it out.
Look up the website or phone number for the company or person who’s contacting you.
Call that company or person directly. Use a number you know to be correct, not the number in the email or text.
Tell them about the message you got.
Look for scam tip-offs.
You don’t have an account with the company.
The message is missing your name or uses bad grammar and spelling.
The person asks for personal information, including passwords.
But note: some phishing schemes are sophisticated and look very real, so check it out and protect yourself.
Keep your computer security up to date and back up your data often.
Consider multi-factor authentication — a second step to verify who
you are, like a text with a code — for accounts that support it.
Change any compromised passwords right away and don’t use them for any other accounts.
This is the third joint infographic released by the ABA Foundation and
FTC to educate consumers about common fraud schemes. The first two
infographics focused on online dating scams and fake check scams.
Moving into your own place can be exciting and frightening at the same
time. The American Bankers Association suggests considering the
following questions when choosing your own home.
How much money do you have saved up?
with an evaluation of your financial health. Figure out how much money
you have for a down payment or deposit on a rental. Down payments are
typically 5 to 20 percent of the price of the home. Security deposits on
rentals are usually about one month of rent and more if you have a pet.
But be sure to keep enough in savings for an emergency fund. It’s a
good idea to have three to six months of living expenses to cover
How much debt do you have?
all of your current and expected financial obligations like your car
payment and insurance, credit card debt and student loans. Make sure you
will be able to make all the payments in addition to the cost of your
new home. Aim to keep total rent or mortgage payments plus utilities to
less than 25 to 30 percent of your gross monthly income. Recent
regulatory changes limit debt to income (DTI) ratio on most loans to 43
What is your credit score?
credit score indicates strong creditworthiness. Both renters and
homebuyers can expect to have their credit history examined. A low
credit score can keep you from qualifying for the rental you want or a
low interest rate on your mortgage loan. If your credit score is low,
you may want to delay moving into a new home and take steps to raise
your score. For tips on improving your credit score, visit
Have you factored in all the costs?
a hypothetical budget for your new home. Find the average cost of
utilities in your area, factor in gas, electricity, water and cable.
Find out if you will have to pay for parking or trash pickup. Consider
the cost of yard maintenance and other basic maintenance costs like
replacing the air filter every three months. If you are planning to buy a
home, factor in real estate taxes, mortgage insurance and possibly a
home owner association fee. Renters should consider the cost of rental
How long will you stay?
the longer you plan to live someplace, the more it makes sense to buy.
Over time, you can build equity in your home. On the other hand, renters
have greater flexibility to move and fewer maintenance costs. Carefully
consider your current life and work situation and think about how long
you want to stay in your new home.
More than 70 percent of the nation’s taxpayers received a tax refund
averaging nearly $3,000 in 2018, according to the Internal Revenue
Service, and it is anticipated they will get a similar amount this year.
As Americans receive their refunds, the American Bankers Association
has highlighted seven tips to help them use the money wisely.
your tax refund to create an emergency fund and pay off debts first
will help position you for financial comfort the rest of the year,” said
Corey Carlisle, executive director of the ABA Foundation. “As those who
have been affected by the federal government shutdown this year can
attest, financial challenges can arise quickly and it’s critical to have
money set aside for those unexpected hardships.”
highlighted recent changes to the tax code as a reason for consumers to
file their returns as early as possible this year.
“There are a
lot of new wrinkles to the tax code that may surprise people, so you’ll
want to get a jump start on filing this year and then talk to your
employer about adjusting your withholdings to calibrate them
accordingly,” said Carlisle.
To help consumers make the most out of their money, ABA has highlighted the following tips:
Save for emergencies.
About 40 percent of Americans are positioned to cover a $400 emergency
expense. You can prepare by opening or adding to a savings account that
serves as an “emergency fund.” Ideally, it should hold about three to
six months of living expenses in case of sudden financial hardships like
losing your job or having to replace your car.
Pay off debt. Pay down existing balances either by chipping away at loans with the highest interest rates or eliminating smaller debt first.
Save for retirement, your child’s education or future health expenses. Open
or increase contributions to a tax-deferred savings plan like a 401(k)
or an IRA. Your bank can help set up an IRA, while a 401(k) is
employer-sponsored. Look into opening a tax-advantaged 529 education
savings plan to ensure school expenses will be covered when your child
reaches college age. Or save for future health expenses with tax-free
dollars by investing in a Health Savings Account.
Pay down your mortgage or student loans. Make an
extra payment on your mortgage or student loans each year to save money
on interest while reducing the term of your loans. Be sure to inform
your lender that your extra payments should be applied to principal, not
Invest safely with U.S. savings bonds or municipal bonds. The
U.S. Treasury allows for savings bond to be purchased using your tax
refund for as little as $50. Savings bonds earn interest for a maximum
of 30 years.
Invest in your current home. Use your refund to
invest in home improvements that will pay you back in the long run by
increasing the value of your home. This can include small,
cost-effective upgrades like energy-efficient appliances that will pay
off in both the short and long term – and with tax credits (as long as
Congress continues to renew the program). If you have more substantial
renovations in mind, your bank can help with a home equity line of
Donate to charity. The benefit is two-fold: Giving
to charity will make a difference in your community, and you can also
claim the tax deduction, if you itemize.
ABA also stressed the importance of lower-income workers filing a tax
return—even if their income is too low to trigger any federal tax
liability—in order to potentially claim the Earned Income Tax Credit
(EITC). Depending on a recipient’s income, marital status and number of
children, the EITC can result in a refund of up to $6,431 to help them
ensure financial security.
Once you start receiving your first paychecks after graduation, knowing how to spend or save your money wisely can be tough. While you may be able to do your banking with just a few taps on your phone, managing money well is much more complicated. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
1. Budget using apps
Tracking how much you spend weekly and monthly shows you where your money goes and how you can save more. You can use a budgeting app that tracks your cash automatically or one where you enter information manually. Choose an app that lets you spend as little or as much time on budgeting as you want. From there, you can identify your total fixed expenses, such as rent and car payments, and more-flexible costs such as shopping and dining out.
2. Set up automatic transfers to savings
When you have a rough idea of how much you can save regularly, create a recurring transfer from your checking account to a savings account. By making savings automatic, you can get used to spending “below your means” and never have to worry about remembering to transfer.
3. Avoid overdrawing your checking account
Before you pay rent or spend any other big chunk of money, take a look at your checking account’s available balance. This can prevent you from spending more than you have in your account. If you overdraw, you may be charged a fee.
4. Establish credit
Student loans and credit cards can help you build good credit — as long as you stay current on monthly payments and don’t overuse your cards. Your credit score, which shows how responsible you are with credit, is an important factor that lenders check before approving car loans and mortgages. The better your score, the lower the interest rate you may be eligible for.
5. Repay debts strategically
If you have debts from multiple credit cards and student loans, pay the minimum on each and then contribute more to your higher-interest debts. By making those a priority, you can reduce how much interest you’re paying faster than by treating all debts the same.
6. Start an emergency fund
Being financially prepared in case of health emergencies or unexpected unemployment can save you from going into debt. Have a separate savings account just for this purpose; don’t mix it up with your regular savings. A good rule of thumb is to save enough to pay three to six months’ worth of living expenses.
7. Set long-term savings goals
Consider saving for retirement in an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan or individual retirement account. When you start saving early, you take advantage of compounded returns to make more money off your contributions overall.
From smart budgeting to setting goals, make good money choices now. Since time is on your side, you can benefit from building credit and saving early to be ready for big financial decisions in the future.
For many people, debit cards are the perfect plastic. They offer most of the conveniences of credit cards with no risk of accumulating debt.
But like credit cards, debit cards are vulnerable to rip-off artists. And debit card fraud is particularly scary because thieves can withdraw money directly from your checking account.
Here’s how debit fraud happens and how to protect yourself.
How identity thieves operate
Debit card fraud can be sophisticated or old-school. Thieves use techniques including:
Hacking. When you bank or shop on public Wi-Fi networks, hackers can use keylogging software to capture everything you type, including your name, debit card account number and PIN.
Phishing. Be wary of messages soliciting your account information. Emails can look like they’re from legitimate sources but actually be from scammers. If you click on an embedded link and enter your personal information, that data can go straight to criminals.
Skimming. Identity thieves can retrieve account data from your card’s magnetic strip using a device called a skimmer, which they can stash in ATMs and store card readers. They can then use that data to produce counterfeit cards. EMV chip cards, which are replacing magnetic strip cards, can reduce this risk.
Spying. Plain old spying is still going strong. Criminals can plant cameras near ATMs or simply look over your shoulder as you take out your card and enter your PIN. They can also pretend to be good Samaritans, offering to help you remove a stuck card from an ATM slot.
Smart ways to protect yourself
Adopt these simple habits to greatly reduce your odds of falling victim to debit card fraud:
Be careful online. Shop and bank on secure websites with private Wi-Fi. If you must shop or bank in public, download a virtual private network to protect your privacy.
Monitor your accounts. Review your statements and sign up for text or email alerts so you can catch debit card fraud attempts early.
Don’t ignore data breach notifications. The majority of identity theft victims received warnings that their accounts might have been breached but did nothing. If you get one of these messages, change your PIN and ask your provider to change your debit card number. You can also ask one of the major credit card bureaus to place a fraud alert on your file.
Inspect card readers and ATMs. Don’t use card slots that look dirty or show evidence of tampering, such as scratches, glue or debris. And steer clear of machines with strange instructions, such as “Enter PIN twice.”
Cover your card. When using your debit card or typing your PIN at an ATM, block the view with your other hand. Go to a different location entirely if suspicious people are hanging around the ATM, and if your card gets stuck, notify the financial institution directly rather than accepting “help” from strangers.
Even if you’ve taken precautions, debit card fraud can still happen. If your card gets hacked, don’t panic. Tell your bank or credit union right away so you won’t be held responsible for unauthorized charges, and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
Nothing’s easy about finding your first job: not the internet scouring, not the resume tweaking, not the interviews. When you finally are hired, you should experience some relief — but the sheer number of things you have to learn in the first few weeks can make you feel just as harried as the search process itself.
We can’t tell you how best to do your job, but we can prime you for the paperwork. Here’s a breakdown of how to handle it.
Direct deposit forms
As soon as you can, sign up for direct deposit — an electronic transfer of your salary from your employer directly into your bank account. It might not go into effect until after your first payday, but once it does, it’ll make your life much easier. Your wages will be harder to steal, and you’ll be able to access them more quickly. Checks can take a few days to process.
Setting up direct deposit is easy: You just need your bank account number and your bank’s routing number, both of which appear on your personal checks. If your employer doesn’t have a direct deposit form, your bank can provide one.
Health insurance sign-up forms
Most people get health insurance through their employers. Those who don’t must shop for a plan through private exchanges or the public marketplaces created under President Barack Obama’s health care law — or pay a penalty for forgoing coverage.
Whichever route you take, there are a few facts and terms you should know when evaluating plans:
Your premium is the amount you pay for insurance. If you receive coverage through your employer, it’s usually deducted from your paycheck.
Your deductible is is how much you are expected to pay per year for medical services your plan covers. After you “meet your deductible,” you will only be responsible for a percentage of the cost of service, a copay or a flat fee, depending on your policy. If you have a higher deductible amount, you often have lower monthly payments and vice versa.
A copayment or copay is the small fee — say, $10 or $20 — you pay every time you visit the doctor, get a prescription filled or generally receive health care. These payments go toward your deductible.
There’s much more involved in choosing a health insurance plan, including understanding the alphabet soup of plan types, such as HMOs, PPOs, EPOs and POS plans. Read any plan details carefully to decide which type of insurance is best for you. (And if you’d rather stay on your parents’ health insurance plan, you can do so until you turn 26.)
Retirement and 401(k) deferral forms
You’re just starting your first job, so the time when you can stop working probably seems like it’s eons away. But now is exactly when you should start saving for your retirement.
Your employer might offer a retirement savings plan, such a 401(k), which lets you divert a portion of your pay into a tax-advantaged account. Your employer might also match some of your contribution. If you can, take advantage of the full match amount — it’s essentially free money.
Other retirement savings options include individual retirement accounts and brokerage accounts, but one thing is constant: The earlier you start saving, the more you’ll have when you retire, thanks to compounding interest.
You’ll probably notice very quickly that having a $50,000 salary doesn’t mean you’re actually taking home $50,000 per year. A portion of your check pays your federal and state taxes, as well as deductions for Social Security and Medicare.
Before you receive your first paycheck, you’ll have to fill out a W-4 form, telling your employer how much tax to withhold from it. If you’re single and have no dependents, it’s pretty straightforward. And even if not, the IRS has a helpful calculator. Depending how much you have withheld, come next April you could have a big refund coming, or you could owe the government a lot of money. If you don’t like how things shake out at tax time, you can file a new W-4.
Questions? Ask your human resources department
Just as there’s probably someone at your office who will train you and show you where the restroom is, there are probably also people who can help you make sense of all these forms — the human resources department. If you have a question about your benefits or how you get paid, talk to them. It’s their job to help, and they’ve been at it longer than you have.
It’s never too early to start putting away money for your future. If you’ve ever wondered how to save for retirement when you’re also dealing with day-to-day expenses, these easy tips can help.
1. Get a rough estimate of retirement expenses
It may seem difficult to know how much money you’ll need in retirement, especially if it’s several decades away. Experts say that to keep your same standard of living, you’ll probably need at least 70% of your pre-retirement income.
The reason you probably won’t need 100 percent is because some costs, such as commuting expenses or child care, probably won’t be necessary in retirement. If you already have a budget for your current expenses, then it’s probably easy to get a rough idea of what you may need when you retire.
2. Decide on a savings target
Say you’re 25 years old and your living expenses are about $50,000 a year. Take 70% of that, and it means you’d probably need about $35,000 to retire comfortably, assuming your income remains the same until retirement. So you’d want a nest egg that provides about $35,000 annually.
Many financial experts suggest that you withdraw only about 4% of your retirement savings each year to help ensure that it lasts. That means to get $35,000 in income, you’d need a savings target of about $875,000.
It’s a lot of money, but by using a retirement calculator, you could find that there’s a good chance you could reach your goal by age 61 if you start saving 10% of your income each year. This number assumes your savings earn 7% annually. If your income increases before retirement, you’d probably also need to increase your savings target.
If you can’t quite put away 10% or whatever your goal percentage is while also keeping up with your regular expenses, consider starting with a smaller amount and gradually increasing the percentage of income you save until you reach your goal.
You may also have other income sources in retirement, such as Social Security or a pension plan. Look at the Social Security calculator to get an idea of what your monthly benefits might be when you retire and add that to your retirement calculations.
Bear in mind that an income of $35,000 will probably have much less spending power in 40 years than it does today because of inflation, so it’s smart to consider cost-of-living increases in your savings target. It may be a good idea to make an appointment with a certified financial planner to help you weigh your options.
3. Contribute to a tax-advantaged retirement plan
In addition to knowing what percentage of income you should save each year, you’ll also want to decide where to put your money. If your employer offers a traditional or Roth 401(k), consider enrolling. This is especially important if your company offers an employer match, because a match is like adding free money to your retirement savings. You could also contribute to a traditional or Roth IRA.
With traditional retirement plans, you receive an upfront tax deduction for the money you contribute. You then let that savings grow and allow the interest to compound. You’d pay income tax on any money you withdraw, and you’d also have additional early withdrawal penalties if you take money out before age 59Â½.
With Roth plans, you pay tax on your contributions, but you don’t have to pay tax on your withdrawals if you retire after age 59 ½.
When you put your money in a retirement savings plan, you’ll have a number of different investment options to consider, including stocks, bonds and mutual funds.
4. Put your savings on autopilot
Once you’ve established your retirement plan, consider setting up automatic withdrawals from your paycheck or bank account. It would be much easier to meet your savings goals when your money has a chance to grow uninterrupted over a period of years.
Learning how to save for retirement is important, but it doesn’t have to be hard. By coming up with a savings goal and contributing regularly to a retirement account, you can help make sure you’ll be able to meet your financial goals for the long term.
Sometimes it’s smarter to buy certain items according to the season, like sweaters near the end of winter and swimsuits in late summer. But what’s the best season for buying a house?
The answer: the fall. As temperatures cool and trees shed their leaves, enough factors break in the buyer’s favor to make it the No. 1 season for homebuying. Here’s why.
Many homebuyers are families who want to minimize a move’s effect on their kids’ schooling. They want them to start at a new school on the first day, not midyear. And so if their spring and summer searching didn’t work out, they might well wait for the next go-round. This means fewer buyers bidding on the same houses you’re interested in and more negotiating power when you do. (A chart in this article shows how home sales drop starting in the fall.)
Of course, this works both ways: Sellers might not want to uproot their families in the middle of the school year either. But while this brings housing inventory down, you might just find it easier to focus and pinpoint exactly what you really want in a home.
Sellers are more motivated
Spring and summer are the high seasons for homebuying: Days are longer, the weather’s nice, and open houses are well-attended. And that means sellers can sit back and be a bit choosier with offers.
But as Labor Day recedes in the rearview mirror, sellers start to wriggle in their seats. The prospect of trying to sell during the holiday season or, more likely, waiting until the next year, is dispiriting. And so these sellers can become, in a sense, settlers – willing to reduce their prices and conditions. There is some variation by region, but overall in the U.S., prices have peaked by the end of August.
Buyers can use this increased motivation to their advantage, offering less and asking for more during negotiations.
Taxes and discounts
Buying a home costs a lot of money but comes with good tax breaks as well. The IRS allows deductions for the interest you pay on your mortgage, on the premiums you might pay for mortgage insurance, on property taxes and more, including some of these that went into your closing costs. Buying a home in the fall means seeing those tax breaks sooner, the following April.
Also, much like those motivated sellers, many homebuilders discount their inventories during this time of year to help them meet year-end sales goals.
The decision to buy requires serious consideration of where you are in life, what your goals are and how much you can afford. But if you are indeed ready, buying during the fall can be a good call. Just try to find time in between football games.