I see people who are unhappy, even miserable because they spend most of their time comparing themselves to others.It may be jealousy because their friend has a bigger house, makes more money, goes on better vacations, the list is endless.Instead of being jealous, take a closer look at what is positive in your life.Do you love your job and look forward to going in every day? If the answer is no, only you can make a change to turn that around.Your husband or partner won’t, your kids can’t, your parents can’t.Only you can.When you find meaningful work, you tend to pay less attention to how much money other people have.Remember wealth is not just about money. It is about good health, happiness, and a meaningful purpose in life.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
I am going to switch gears for the next few blogs and shift my attention from the external resources that are available to help live a more mindful focused financially secure life to some of the internal factors. Many women rely on someone else for their financial security, their happiness, and the direction they take with their life. Women often stay in relationships that are destructive or abusive because they don’t feel empowered to take control and make the changes necessary to live a meaningful life outside of a relationship. It can be painful to think about how to make your own way, to make financial decisions, go back to work, enroll in school to learn a new skill or be employable, but death occurs and divorce happens. We must learn to deal with what life gives us. Women have the same choices offered in this life that a man does. She may not perceive it that way. She may think that because of a choice that was made early in life to marry or start a family, or exit a career – that she is now a victim of her choices or that it is too late to change. Let me share an inspiring story…. Mary found herself divorced at age 49. She had raised three children, been out of the work force for almost 30 years, had never completed college, and found herself “suddenly single”. Mary received half of the financial assets from her 30 plus year marriage, but it was not enough to live off of for the rest of her life. This was a critical crossroad for Mary. Would she become a “victim” of her own circumstances and spend her time wallowing in self pity or looking for another man to take care of her? Or would she use this energy in a positive way to “blossom”. Mary went back to school and received her degree. She found a job that paid her well, offered good benefits and rewarding work. She ultimately left at age 65 with a 401(K) and a substantial amount of assets that she invested for her future from the divorce settlement. She is now in her seventies living a comfortable, joyful and fulfilling life. She is a great example of the power we all posses to bring about change to transform our lives. Mary made some difficult choices. She made the choice to invest her settlement rather than spend it. She chose to persevere through college, to earn her degree, and to be persistent in looking for employment as a 50 plus year old college graduate. Her friends pitied her “misfortune “and unexpected divorce at a time in life when most people are entering a more comfortable period, personally and financially. Mary is an inspiring example of the resilience we all possess.If you know someone in this position, please share this blog. If you are in this position yourself, I hope this story inspires you. Referring back to the opening quote, do what comes naturally to a plant. Use the energy and take the risk to transform from a tightly closed bud to blossom into a beautiful flower.
We discussed company sponsored retirement plans in my last blog. If you are self employed or work for a company that doesn’t provide a retirement plan, don’t worry, you can set up an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and receive some of the same tax savings.
If you are under the age of 50, and your employer doesn’t offer a plan, you can save up to $5,500 per year and deduct that payment from your income taxes. What does that mean to you? If you are in the 25% tax bracket that could result in a tax savings of $1,375. Your tax bill will be reduced by that amount. If you are over 50 you can deduct up to $6,500 annually. The deductibility of the contribution changes if your employer offers a plan. If your employer offers a plan, please go back and read my last blog. Then go to your HR department and sign up as soon as you are eligible. Another type of IRA is called the Roth IRA. Roth IRAs have been around since 1998. The contribution limits are the same, but a Roth does not allow a tax deduction. Any growth on a regular or a Roth IRA is tax deferred. Translation – no income taxes are due until you take money out.
The main difference between a Roth and a Regular IRA is at the time you are ready to take the money out after age 59 ½. The Roth proceeds are tax free (no taxes due) whereas the regular IRA distributions will be taxed in retirement. Roth’s can be both simple and extremely tax effective when compared with the many retirement accounts available.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by NFP Advisor Services, LLC This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation. Comments concerning the past performance are not intended to be forward looking and should not be viewed as an indication of future results.
To discourage the use of IRAs for purposes other than retirement, the law imposes a 10% additional tax on early distributions from traditional and Roth IRAs unless an exception applies. Generally, early distributions are those you receive from an IRA before reaching age 59½. The 10% additional tax applies to the part of the distribution that you have to include in gross income. It is in addition to any regular income tax on that amount.
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