I haven’t been in the blog space very long, but quickly noticed how many entrepreneurs have created a personal brand empire. With affiliate marketing, e-courses and webcasts, some of you are pulling in six and seven figures a year. I have two things to say on that note: congratulations and wow.

I have been in the financial industry for a really long time and specialize in retirement planning. A large organization with a 401(k) plan and a company match can get expensive. But if you are a sole owner, you can save without having to pay for other employees. This is a golden opportunity for you to squirrel away some serious cash. 

If you are a successful blogger or business owner, you should capitalize on your earnings now in a tax deferred retirement plan. Sounds complicated and stuffy? It doesn’t have to be. You can open a SEP IRA (Simplified Employee Pension) very easily through most fund companies. Check out CharlesSchwab.com or AmericanFunds.com.

By opening a SEP IRA you can contribute up to 25% of your pay up to a maximum of $53,000 per year. The IRS compensation limit is $265,000 for 2016. This means if your income exceeds the $265,000 limit, only $265,000 will be counted for plan purposes.

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Key Takeaways of SEP IRAs

  • Easy to set up and operate (https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f5305sep.pdf)
  • Inexpensive to maintain
  • Flexible annual contributions
  • No IRA filing requirements
  • Available to sole proprietors, partnerships and corporations
  • Wide range of investments
  • Always owned and controlled by the employee or you if you are both the owner and employee

 

Frequently Asked Questions

How much can I contribute if I am self-employed?

You can contribute the same amount based on earned income. Please consult with your CPA to calculate your earned income. I also have a worksheet under the Resource tab of my blog.

 

When is the deadline to contribute to a SEP IRA?

You must deposit contributions for the year by the due date – including extensions – of filing your federal income tax return. For example, if you are a sole proprietor and open a SEP IRA for 2016, you have until October 15, 2017 to fund your 2016 contributions.

 

What if I have employees?

If you have employees[1], you will have to contribute the same percentage to their SEP IRA as you contribute to your account.

 

What if I need to take money out of my SEP IRA?

If you take a withdrawal before age 59.5 you will incur a 10% penalty.

 

How long can I leave a balance in my SEP IRA?

IRS requires you start taking distributions at age 70 ½.

Opening a SEP IRA for 2016 may be a win-win for you. You can start saving and lower your gross taxable income. Remember saving and investing early is key to building your golden retirement nest egg.

 

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at jone@wisedaywisedollar.com.

[1] Employee must be 21, worked three of the last five years and have income of $600 for the year.

 

  1. I was born and raised in New Orleans. We moved to Richmond, VA for my husband’s job December 2010.
  1. I was adopted at birth. I have had three brothers, but my oldest brother died in 2011. They were all biological, but my mother really wanted a girl. Of course I keep in touch with my other brothers who live in Louisiana.
  1. I married my high school sweetheart. I was engaged at 19 and married at 23. We are happily married living in Virginia with two daughters and two dogs.
  1. I am an extrovert and people person. I manage a team and love being a mentor.
  1. I ran seven marathons and a bunch of half marathons. I still like to run because I can catch up with friends and exercise at the same time.
  1. I am a magazine junkie. I LOVE MAGAZINES – fashion, fitness, food, finance, travel, interior design…you get the picture. My subscription count right now is probably 12. Or maybe 14.
  1. I started college at 26. I went to Loyola University New Orleans in the evening for 7 years and graduated summa cum laude. I worked full time and paid cash.
  1. I have been to Paris once in 2012 and hope to visit again.
  1. My husband is a foodie and does most of the cooking. So about the food magazines….I like to look at the pictures and occasionally try a recipe.
  1. A dream came true when I had a girl. We didn’t find out the gender when we were pregnant with our second and it was another girl. It was the best surprise EVER.

 

 

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  1. I have been in a book club since 2004. I hope my love of books and reading rubs off on my girls.
  1. I cried when the Saints won the Super Bowl. I am a huge Drew Brees fan.
  1. I met my BFF in 1994 in New Orleans. She is in Wisconsin now, but we touch base at least 5 days a week.
  1. I wanted to be a teacher when I was little. I ended up in financial services and have grown to love it. I’ll admit though – it’s an acquired taste.
  1. I wake up super early to exercise. Some days I get up at 4:45.
  1. I have one cup of coffee before the gym and another after my workout. My third cup (small cup, promise) comes around 3:00 in the afternoon to get me through the day.
  1. I have only lived in two states. If I knew how fun it was, I may have tried it 20 years ago.
  1. I used to host parties every week for Sex and the City. I watch reruns on ETV.
  1. I like red wine. And for the record, I do not like beer.
  1. I never pass up the opportunity for a good nap.

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Can you believe we are in November already? I always tend to stress about holidays and gifts because while I have a tendency to wait until early December to even consider what I need for friends, family, teachers and book club gift exchange, there are people out there (you know who you are) who are done by now.

I have never been a person to dig myself into a mountain of debt to buy lavish gifts for friends and family. Truth is it’s really not about the presents at all, but I love finding the perfect gift (within reason). I have the same approach for birthday gifts and feel like I can be late with those because you can’t put a deadline on greatness! If you are late giving your next birthday gift, feel free to blame me.   

Before I was in the retirement industry I worked as a legal secretary at a law firm downtown New Orleans. I was newly married and on a tight budget. The firm was comprised of four attorneys, two senior partners and two associates. I felt compelled to buy four gifts even though I worked directly with the junior associates. I figured I could get away with making two cheesecakes – from scratch – for the partners and two $20 boxes of Godiva for the associates. Godiva seemed like a classy gift without spending a small fortune. I totally channeled my inner Martha with the cheesecakes. They came out so pretty topped with layers of sour cream, blueberries and a touch of graham cracker crumbs. I wrapped them in red cellophane and tied a big white bow at the top.  At the end of the day my homemade cheesecake gifts made the boxed chocolates look sort of sad and impersonal. You see where I am going with this, right? I switched the gifts at the last minute. I gave the Godiva to the partners and the fancy homemade cheesecakes to the associates. I promise you, even Martha would have been proud.

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My lesson is this: Gifts do not have to be expensive.  They do not have to bear a fancy brand.  Gifts should be personal and from the heart.  The people in your life will remember a gift from the heart forever. A boxed gift will no doubt be lovely, but you need to remember the sparkle factor.

5 gift ideas that have sparkle:

  • Homemade kitchen treats in fancy wrapping
  • Framed photo collage
  • Custom scrapbook of shared memories
  • Vase with fresh flowers from your garden
  • Custom Gift card to babysit 

I would love to hear what you are planning to give this holiday season. Please email me and share your gift ideas, family traditions or something sparkly that you hope to receive.  I will share in a future blog post.

Until next time,

Live well & spend wisely.

 

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Hello there and welcome.  I just got back from an industry conference in sunny San Diego and super excited to share all of my takeaways. While I enjoy what I do for a living (retirement space), I rank conferences up there with afternoon coffee and red velvet cupcakes. Conferences give me the opportunity to network with other industry professionals and listen to kickass keynote speakers who share their plan.

All women need a plan… a financial plan.  It can be as small as save $1,000 or as big as planning for retirement.  I want you to email me and let me know your plan. I am not going to tell you executing your plan will be easy, but that’s where I come in.  I will be your biggest cheerleader and greatest advocate. I have been so blessed in my adult life with amazing mentors and it makes a world of difference.

My latest plan is being super focused on contributing as much as I can to Kate and Avery’s 529 plans.  A 529 Plan is a college savings plan that has favorable tax benefits. A good source is IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education. Did you know that the 2016 maximum limit for a 529 plan is $14,000 (for each beneficiary)? Sadly, I am not setting aside $28,000 net dollars for college today, but would like to see what I can do to increase my contributions before the girls start college (2022 and 2023 respectively). One speaker suggested grandparents skipping the toys and giving checks instead. It sounds good in theory, but it may be challenging to sway Mimi or Uncle Jack to forfeit a wrapped gift in favor of a 529 plan contribution. Maybe you should share my blog as incentive for buy-in.

Please note I am not a financial advisor, just a mom with a plan of sending her girls to college with resources.  Remember anything greater than zero is something.

Here are the key takeaways from this college savings session:

  1. DO NOT pay for college with RETIREMENT FUNDS. Negative implications include:
    • Years of lost investment earnings and compound interest
    • 10% early distribution penalty if you are younger than 59 ½ years old (exceptions may apply)
    •  Ordinary income tax due on amount withdrawn
    • Distribution treated as student income when applying for financial aid
  1.   Only 529 plans allow five years of tax-free gifts permitted in one year. Gifting $70,000

($14,000 X 5) at birth will grow into a staggering balance of approximately $198,000 at college time.  This example uses an annual investment return of 6% each year.[1]

  1. Experts say more than 4 in 10 families are not saving for college. 61% families are using general savings accounts as their college savings strategy versus 37% in 529 plans[2]. SAVING IS NOT ENOUGH. YOU NEED TO SAVE AND INVEST.

If you have any questions, I would love to hear from you. Be on the lookout for other tips and tricks to help build your nest egg.

Live well & spend wisely.

jone@wisedaywisedollar.com

WiseDayWiseDollar.com

[1] Annual investment return of 6% is used for illustration purposes only and should not be replied upon to make investment decisions.

[2] Source: Sallie May, How America Saves for College, 2015

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Hello from Richmond, Virginia. My name is Joné (pronounced Jenée). Thank you so much for visiting my blog, it’s nice to have you. I know my blog is up and running NOW, but this is a prelease entry. Today is October 8, 2016 and hope to be up and running in two (okay, three) weeks. I have been thinking about doing a blog for a couple months now. I know absolutely nothing about web development, branding or Google analytics. I have been researching, taking notes and connecting with groups on Facebook. I’m trying to get my head wrapped around everything involved in growing a success blog. What have I learned so far? There is so much talent out there and I have a lot to learn. That’s okay… I’m up for the challenge!

I married my high school sweetheart and have two girls, Kate and Avery. Kate is 13 and Avery almost 12. They are funny, smart, loving and keep me on my toes. Believe me – there are moments though when they talk back, mock me and test my patience. I was born and raised in New Orleans and a big fan of good food and southern charm. We moved to Richmond December 2010 for my husband’s job. We are approaching our six-year anniversary in RVA and I have loved every minute of it. Well, maybe not when my girls caught lice at summer camp or maybe not when we were snowed in for days on end, but you get the picture!

My career in the retirement industry began in 2000. I am so grateful I landed at an amazing firm in Richmond shortly after moving. One takeaway from my career is being laser focused on money and saving strategies. I think about my financial picture and always come back to this: No one really discusses household income, personal finances, or saving strategies. Perhaps we all wonder how much money is enough to retire, but there is no correct answer. There are saving benchmarks, but everyone’s financial picture is different.

My future blog will benefit 1) anyone passionate about saving and investing 2) young professionals looking for guidance in how to prioritize their finances 3) parents looking for saving strategies  for their children’s college education and 4) anyone who wants to be empowered to make smart financial decisions.

I will be back soon so check in and say hi.  Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter where you will receive tips on saving solutions and great lists on…well, everything finance and career.  I will also be sharing some great interviews with successful businesswomen and entrepreneurs.