How much can I contribute to my IRA in 2015?

 
2015The combined amount you can contribute to your traditional and Roth IRAs remains at $5,500 for 2015, or $6,500 if you’ll be 50 or older by the end of the year. You can contribute to an IRA in addition to an employer-sponsored retirement plan like a 401(k). But if you (or your spouse) participate in an employer-sponsored plan, the amount of traditional IRA contributions you can deduct may be reduced or eliminated (phased out), depending on your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). Your ability to make annual Roth contributions may also be phased out, depending on your MAGI. These income limits (phaseout ranges) have increased for 2015:

How much can I contribute to my IRA in 2015?

 

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The Cost of Waiting

 
The Cost of Waiting
Starting to save early means your money has more time to go to work for you. Even if you can only afford to set aside small amounts, compounding earnings can make them really add up. It’s never too late to begin, but as this illustration shows, the sooner you start, the less you may need to rely solely on your own savings to build your total nest egg.

 

This illustration assumes annual investments made at the end of each year through age 65 and a 6% fixed annual rate of return. The rate of return on your actual investment portfolio will be different, and will vary over time, according to actual market performance. This is particularly true for long-term investments. It is important to note that investments offering the potential for higher rates of return also involve a higher degree of risk to principal.

 
The examples do not take into account the impact of taxes or inflation; if they did, the amounts would have been lower. They are intended as hypothetical illustrations of mathematical principles and should not be considered financial advice.

 
All investing involves risks, including the possible loss of principal, and there can be no guarantee that any strategy will be successful. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

 
 

Last-Minute Tax Tips

Last-Minute Tax Tips

 
It’s that time of year again–tax filing season. And while many taxpayers like to get a head start on filing their returns, there are those of us who always find ourselves scrambling at the last minute to get our tax returns filed on time. Fortunately, even for us procrastinators, there is still time to take advantage of some last-minute tax tips.

 

If you need more time, get an extension

 
Failing to file your federal tax return on time could result in a failure-to-file penalty. If you don’t think you’ll be able to file your tax return on time, you can file for and obtain an automatic six-month extension by using IRS Form 4868. You must file for an extension by the original due date for your return. Individuals whose due date is April 15 would then have until October 15 to file their returns.

 
In most cases, this six-month extension is an extension to file your tax return and not an extension to pay any federal income tax that is due. You should estimate and pay any federal income tax that is due by the original due date of the return without regard to the extension, since any taxes that are not paid by the regular due date will be subject to interest and possibly penalties.

 
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Points to Consider If Your Retirement Goal Seems Out of Reach

Points to Consider If Your Retirement Goal Seems Out of Reach

 
Each year in its annual Retirement Confidence Survey, the Employee Benefit Research Institute reiterates that goal setting is a key factor influencing overall retirement confidence. But for many, a retirement savings goal that could reach $1 million or more may seem like a daunting, even impossible mountain to climb. What if you’re investing as much as you can, but still feel that you’ll never reach the summit? As with many of life’s toughest challenges, it may help to focus less on the big picture and more on the details.* Start by reviewing the following points.

 

Retirement goals are based on assumptions

 
Whether you use a simple online calculator or run a detailed analysis, your retirement savings goal is based on certain assumptions that will, in all likelihood, change. Inflation, rates of return, life expectancies, salary adjustments, retirement expenses, Social Security benefits–all of these factors are estimates. That’s why it’s so important to review your retirement savings goal and its underlying assumptions regularly–at least once per year and when life events occur. This will help ensure that your goal continues to reflect your changing life circumstances as well as market and economic conditions.

 

Break it down

 
Instead of viewing your goal as ONE BIG NUMBER, try to break it down into an anticipated monthly income need. That way you can view this monthly need alongside your estimated monthly Social Security benefit, income from your retirement savings, and any pension or other income you expect. This can help the planning process seem less daunting, more realistic, and most important, more manageable. It can be far less overwhelming to brainstorm ways to close a gap of, say, a few hundred dollars a month than a few hundred thousand dollars over the duration of your retirement.

 
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How can I try to manage the impact of an interest rate hike?

 
How can I try to manage the impact of an interest rate hike?With higher interest rates a distinct possibility in 2015, you may want to think about whether the bond portion of your portfolio is positioned appropriately given your time horizon and risk tolerance. One factor you might consider is which types of bonds may be most vulnerable to a rate hike.

 
Some investors forget that a bond’s principal value may fluctuate with market conditions. When interest rates rise, longer-term bonds may feel a greater impact than those with shorter maturities. When interest rates are rising, bond buyers may be reluctant to tie up their money for longer periods if they anticipate higher yields in the future. The longer a bond’s term, the greater the risk that its yield may eventually be superseded by that of newer bonds.

 
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