For today's throwback, we'll take a look at a newsletter Nancy wrote in January of 1999 encouraging us to start the New Year off on the right foot by examining our finances. A few things have changed since the last century, and one of those things is contribution limits. Here's a look at this year's annual contribution limits for retirement plans:
And for more information on the topic, visit the IRS website for highlights of these changes.
January is my birthday month. This year is especially traumatic, since I will be celebrating my 40th. Yeah, I know. The BIG 4-0.
I've noticed signs of this approaching milestone. When I get up in the morning, I creak. My walk from the bed to the bathroom looks like an imitation of the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
I'm also sleeping more. In fact, sleep seems to be my most treasured commodity. This desire is in indirect opposition to my teenager's schedule.
Another change has been my rate of metabolism. It's slowing down. No longer can I eat anything I want without pinching an inch. I went to the doctor recently, and I had to step on the scales. Yuck!
I decided to make an early New Year's Resolution. In December, I started an aerobics class. I figured my figure needed some attention, so I joined a "step" class.
I realize that as I face the last half of my life, keeping in shape is going to take a lot of work. But I realize how important those efforts are now. At the rate I'm going, I should be ready for the Iron Man Triathlon by the time I'm 80. Hey, it's never too late!
Mid-life is when we realize that we actually will retire someday. Many people wake up and panic when this thought hits. While it's better to have started preparation at age 25, it's never too late to get your finances in shape.
First, look at your debt. Begin paring down all consumer debt (credit cards, bank loans, even car loans). The debt on your house is acceptable because of the tax deduction and the interest rate for mortgages.
Next, review your retirement accounts. Make sure you are contributing the maximum to your employer plans. Forget about the matching part. That's just gravy. Give until it hurts.
If you are self-employed, make use of SEP IRAs or SIMPLE IRAs to save for retirement. You can augment these with contributions to a Roth IRA.
Get a benefits statement from Social Security. You can apply for this online (https://www.ssa.gov/). Update it every couple of years. Remember, this is one piece of your retirement.
Keep good records for tax purposes, and make use of every loophole Uncle Sam gives us.
Last, invest wisely. Time is no longer on your side!
--Nancy's New Perspectives Newsletter, Volume 4, January, February 1999