Month : August 2016

Investing

Can’t Contribute More to Your IRA? Consider an HSA Instead

IRAIf you find that you are curious about the benefits of opening an HSA, or health savings account, you are not alone. The HSA is one of the more popular new health care management tools on the market today. It also offers several other attractive benefits beyond the simple ability to choose how, where, when and with whom to spend your health care dollars. One of these benefits is the flexibility of the HSA to function as a savings and investment account. For some people who are close to maximizing their annual contributions to an IRA (individual retirement account), opening an HSA account begins to look like a particularly attractive retirement planning option. Before you decide to open an HSA as an alternate savings vehicle, however, it is important to understand how these unique accounts function.

The HSA Defined

The health savings account is a relatively new entrant into the greater health care arena. For employers, the HSA is a way to help employees take charge of their health care choices and also to save money on insurance-related overhead expenses. Opening an HSA allows employees to plan for future unknowns in health care and life. The formal definition of an HSA according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is “a tax-exempt custodial account that you set up with a qualified HSA trustee to pay or reimburse certain medical expenses you incur.” The trustee is an IRS-approved individual who has earned the credentials to allow him or her to manage financial accounts on behalf of others.

How the HSA Works

Learning what is a health savings account and what isn’t, who is eligible to open an HSA and how the funds can be used can pave the way towards deciding if this type of investment vehicle is the right choice for your needs.

  • HDHI. The HSA is designed to work in a complementary way with the high-deductible health insurance (HDHI) plan. Only participants in an HDHI are eligible to open an HSA as well.
  • Tax-free contributions. The funds deposited into an HSA are tax-free until a distribution is taken. At that time the distribution is taxed like ordinary income.
  • HSAs and health care costs. While there are undeniable tax and savings advantages to opening an HSA for qualified participants, it is important to remember that the primary purpose for the HSA in the eyes of the IRS is for managing health care expenses.
  • Penalties for withdrawals. As with IRAs and other similar retirement-focused investment accounts, a 10 percent penalty will be assessed for any non-health care related withdrawals made before the age of 65.
  • Income reduction. Because contributions to an HSA account are not considered income, maximizing contributions can help reduce annual income for both federal and state income tax purposes.
  • HSA funds can be used for non-traditional health care expenses. In addition to qualified medical expenses, the funds deposited into an HSA account can also be used for vision, dental, alternative and other types of medical care, including Medicare expenses.
  • HSA funds can be directed towards other purposes. While there is a 10 percent penalty for withdrawal before age 65, and withdrawals are taxed in the year of withdrawal regardless of the participant’s age, there is no restriction on how withdrawn funds can be directed, making it a handy account to turn to in times of crisis or the simple unexpected.
  • Contribution limits. The IRS sets the contribution limits annually. These limits are typically based on the cost of each individual’s annual insurance coverage expenses and are rounded up to the nearest $50. Over-contribution will trigger an automatic six percent financial penalty plus normal assessed income taxes on the amount of over-contribution.
  • Contribution cutoff dates. The cutoff for contributing to an HSA account in any tax year is April 15.
  • Tax forms. IRS Form 8889 is the official tax form that is required for HSA account holders.

Retirement Planning

One of the single best benefits of choosing to open an HSA as part of your investment planning is that all accrued funds can be used to pay long-term health care and living expenses once you reach age 65. With this additional benefit, it is easy to see why the HSA has become such a popular investment vehicle. 

Minolta DSCAbout the Author: Wiley Long has been helping individuals and families get coverage and save money for over 20 years. He owns HSA for America.

Image By http://www.123rf.com/photo_10073848_charismatic-businessman-saving-money-in-a-piggy-bank.html

 

Passion

Let Me Help You Live Your Passion

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I was just let go from my full time job. It’s scary but at the same time I know that another window is opening up.

I was holding off on revealing this new part of Financially Poor because I wanted to make sure all of the little details are ironed out like price and such. But now that I was just thrown off of a mountain, I’m going to jump into this head first.

What is it you ask? Hold on a sec. Let me lead up to it so I can give it some suspense.

For the past 2 years I’ve been doing a job that has given me knowledge and skills to do what I love, which is help people.

I’ve also, on the side, been building up a web empire, once again doing what I love. I truly believe that the web is the place to be when it comes to making your passion = your lively hood.

There is no easier, cheaper way with as much reach as the internet. Dreams can be made, and passions can be followed for next to nothing.

What I want to do now is teach you all of the knowledge I’ve soaked up through the years of what it takes to Live Your Passion. Is it easy? Meh, It’s not the most difficult thing in the world and with the knowledge and motivation that I can provide you, it will be even easier.

I want to teach you that you can do what you want and make an income doing it. If I can do it, I know anyone can.

I’m just like you, but I probably had a less likely chance of succeeding. I only have some college experience (because what they were teaching, I didn’t want to learn), I slacked off in high school because I was bored and just wanted to have fun.

I’m not a a regular 9-5 worker like the world wants to be and I don’t think most people should be. It takes away from your short life.

Now with that info you may ask yourself why you should listen to me. Well, because despite not having a college degree, or the best high school GPA, I’m making a living doing what I love. Can you say that?

I want to teach you that you can do it. It’s not impossible like you think. All it takes is a little switch to be turned on in your mind and I can flip that switch for you.

I’m not going to do a long spiel here, so find out more by clicking below. I really hope you do take the leap to Living Your Passion and not put it off until tomorrow because you’ll never succeed with the cycle of putting it off.coachingsales[1]

Home Ownership

10 Steps to Take Before You Buy Your Home

Purchasing a home is a complicated and time-consuming process, and staying on track is important. Proper planning will make the process go more smoothly and ensure that you end up with the best house possible. Putting in some work before you make an offer can also save you some serious cash. Here are 10 of the most important steps to take before you purchase a new home.

1. Sell Your Current Home First

If you already own a house, consider selling it or renting it out before looking for a new one. Doing so will save you the trouble of making two complex transactions at once. Selling before you buy will also make it easier to determine an appropriate amount for your down payment. 

2. Find an Agent

Even experienced home buyers can benefit from the services of a professional real estate agent. Agents have access to information on neighborhoods and other industry buzz that can help you find the best home possible. They can also navigate the tricky negotiations process to get you a low price with plenty of perks.  A great agent has attended a reputable real estate school and understands the in’s and outs of most deals.

3. Decide What You Want in a Home

People purchase homes for a wide variety of reasons. Figuring out your family’s specific priorities will help you to narrow down your search by eliminating homes that fail to meet all of your requirements. 

4. Check Your Credit History

Obtain a copy of your credit history as soon as possible, especially if you plan on getting a mortgage. If there are any dings or errors in your credit report, try to clean it up as much as you can before you start the mortgage process. 

5. Find a Lender

When seeking a mortgage, compare the rates of different lenders and keep an eye out for programs that cater to your specific situation. Focus on finding a mortgage program with low interest rates and lender fees. 

6. Pre-Qualify for a Mortgage

To make an offer on a home, you will first need a pre-qualification letter from a lender proving that you can afford the mortgage. The pre-qualification process involves a cursory review of your financial situation. Pre-approval is much more extensive and provides a better estimate of your financial capabilities. Pre-approved buyers are generally preferred over pre-qualified buyers.

7. Save Money for a Down Payment

Although the Federal Housing Administration allows payments as low as 3.5 percent, try to make a down payment of at least 20 percent of a home’s contract sale price. A higher down payment will lead to lower mortgage payments and may also reduce your interest rates.

8. Start Researching Neighborhoods

Before you consider buying a house, make sure you know as much as possible about the surrounding area. Search online for information like crime statistics and transportation options. Even if you do not have children, look for an area with good school districts as this will boost the value of your property. 

9. Have the Home Inspected and Appraised

Hiring a professional home inspector is the best way to avoid costly repairs in the future. You will also need to determine the market value of the house and provide your lender with the information. Keep a copy of the appraisal for your records. 

10. Purchase Homeowner’s Insurance

Most lenders will only finance your real estate transaction once the property is fully insured. Homeowner’s insurance is often expensive, especially in areas that are prone to natural disasters like floods and earthquakes. Make sure you shop around to find a good deal, and see if your car insurance company will let you add a home insurance plan at a discounted rate.

Mind Over Money

Who Is A Financial Freedom Guerrilla?

Do you want to live a life that doesn’t involve having to worry about how your next bill is going be paid?

Do you want to do what you want to do, when you want to do it without having to worry about how you’re going to pay for it?

Do you want to live your life doing what makes you happy and making money doing it?

A Financial Freedom Guerrilla is someone that says yes to all of those questions, and wants to fight for it.

In order to get that life you have to want it more than anything else! You have to know that what you’re doing today is setting up the rest of your life. You need to fight for what you want! It’s not enough to say what you’re going to do, you have to do it!

Become a Financial Freedom Guerrilla and fight for your dreams because you can achieve them and you will! Join me in that fight and I will lead you there. I will give you everything you need to accomplish your goals.

I want you to be a Financial Freedom Guerrilla and I want to see you reach your dreams. We all have them, but most of us lose them as we get older and get content. I say no more! There is no reason, nothing at all, that should stop you from reaching your dreams.

Only you have the power to stop you! I want to help you get over yourself and succeed where you used to fail. Follow me to Financial Freedom! I will lead you there but you have to follow and take action.

Sure, you can just sit there and read what I have to say. And that’s what I used to do. But I came to the realization that sitting down isn’t going to get you anywhere. I want you to stand up, stand up and follow me. If something is stopping you, just ask me for help. If you need more than written words to get you going feel free to get some extra help from me.

Join me in the fight and sign up for weekly updates so you don’t miss anything. Plus, every now and then I’ll give you a chance to win a little something something to help you out.

Fight for what you want because that’s what life is all about…..living your dreams.

What do you want to fight for? Are you going to join me in the fight?

Be sure to tell your friends about the fight by re-tweeting this post and Facebook sharing it

Money Management

What did we do before fuel cards?

No, seriously what did we do before fuel cards for businesses? I’ve run a maintenance and repair company for over 10 years now and wake up with cold sweats thinking of my life before Texaco cards from chooseafuelcard.com.

Before I selected a business account fuel card from ‘choose a fuel card’ I had to:

Sift through hundreds of receipts on a monthly basis; I have over 100 operatives each with their own personal vehicle. As you can imagine, come paperwork time at the end of each week, retrieving valid and accurate receipts from every member of staff was a nightmare, more than a nightmare. Weekly memos went out at the beginning of every week to remind staff they must retain a valid VAT receipt for tax purposes, and yet every week receipts were failed to be collected and returned to the office, meaning my company was losing out in thousands of pounds in company tax returns. With my new fuel card ‘online accounts management’ system I’m now able to track every single transaction carried out by my operatives and claim the VAT back easily with ‘HMRC approved weekly invoices’.

Worry about company credit card bills, constantly. Before the fuel card system was put in place my operatives used company credit cards to pay for their fuel. Not only did this mean I had interest accruing on the monthly bills but often (more than likely over the weekends) staff abused the company credit cards for personal use. Warning after warning, this misuse and misconduct led to all sorts of disciplinary action, which is not what I wanted or needed amongst my generally hard working staff. With the fuel cards in place I receive interest free monthly bills all collected via direct debit. This eliminates any abuse of the system, reduces my outgoings as I’m not paying interest and frees up my time sifting through paperwork by taking the payment via direct debit.

Estimate how much I was spending each month on fuel, by gathering the receipts received from staff and overview of the credit card spending, this (as stated above) never matched up, leaving my monthly forecasts often falling short. This misjudgement in spending could often leave the monthly cash flow short, and the company struggling to pay suppliers, clueless to what the company was actually spending on fuel. With the fuel card account all transactions are recorded online, and not only can you track how much you are spending monthly, you are able to review a breakdown in costs; how much fuel each vehicle consumes.

Deal with national price fluctuations in fuel costs. This was becoming a major concern for me as a business I work nationwide and customers in particular parts of the UK were beginning to wonder why their maintenance costs were much higher than others, and the simple fact is because in some areas the cost to run the business is higher. In the South of England for example, I was paying much more in fuel costs than most other places, this cost had to be absorbed somewhere. With the fuel card in place the regional price fluctuations are eliminated by fixing the monthly prices. This allows me to charge my customers fairly and saves my hundreds of pounds a month.

Deal with general lack of control over the fuel management process; this was by far the worst problem with the fuel management process. I felt like I had no control over my fuel outgoings and cash flow, I had management systems inline for my accounts, for my sales calls and ordering processes but no strict protocol for the fuel bills, this left me feeling out of control and a victim of unpredictability. The fuel cards have managed to give me back that feeling of control over my finances and prevent any unpredictable and unwanted cash flow dramas. I can see an online overview of my spending, review past spending; match vehicle to vehicle spends and produce monthly invoices for tax approved receipts.

Seriously, what did we do before fuel cards? Lose many nights sleep worry over receipts and credit card bills, that’s what.