How are your finances looking these days? Inflation is on the rise, making it tough for individuals and families to climb out of the coronavirus recession. If you are looking for ways to improve your financial health, then read on. The tips below can help you realign your income and expenses, rebuild your emergency fund, and earn tax-sheltered income for retirement and health care costs.
6 Tips to Improve Your Financial Health and Retirement Savings Strategy
1. Analyze your income and expenses to create a new budget.
A clear picture of your income and expenses can significantly impact your financial health, especially when inflation is on the rise. The only way to gain true clarity is to write it down and create a new budget accordingly.
When you evaluate your expenses, divide them into categories of your needs versus wants.
Your “needs” list includes your rent or mortgage payment, utilities, car expense, groceries, gas, medication, etc. These are the things you must have to meet your basic living requirements.
Items that land on your “wants” list are a bit more fluid. Everyone has things they want in life, but if past expenses on these incidentals drained your finances, you can capture extra cash flow by not indulging yourself so often for the greater good of reaching your primary financial health goals.
2. Don’t forget to factor inflation into your budget.
This is critical, especially since the cost of living has been rising quickly the past few months. Gas prices have risen nearly 50 percent over the course of the last 12 months. Things like groceries, cars, lumber, rent cost, and home prices are driving the inflation rate even higher. Due to this rise in inflation, the Social Security Administration is projected to significantly increase its cost of living adjustment (COLA) for recipients in 2022 to approximately 6.2 percent—its highest in decades.
3. Write down your goals and finalize your budget to help you reach them.
Goals are important, and you may have many. Some popular goals include:
- Saving for retirement
- Establishing an emergency fund
- Paying for current and future health care costs
- Starting a college fund for your children
- Traveling across America or overseas
- Retiring in your dream home
- Taking early retirement
Now that you’ve got an idea of your goals, look at your income/expenses. Especially the “needs” versus “wants” list. Define ways you can cut corners to capture extra income to help you begin saving money to put towards your goals. Consider taking actions that can help you save even more, such as downsizing your current home, not dining out as much, and even foregoing a vacation. Every change you make, large or small, can help impact your bottom line and improve your financial health.
4. Max out your retirement plan’s annual contribution limits.
Whether you have a traditional or Roth IRA, a 401(k) or another employer-sponsored plan, you should budget to make the maximum contributions the IRS allows each year. This is especially beneficial if your employer matches your 401(k) contributions. The more money you sock away in a retirement plan, the more capital that plan can invest to earn tax-sheltered income for your retirement. Additionally, if you begin saving early in life, compound interest earned over time can be significant.
5. Open a health savings account (HSA) and max out these contributions, too.
Health savings accounts have more benefits than many people realize. Contributions are made with pre-tax dollars, which you can deduct on your tax return. Not only can you use these funds to pay for qualified medical expenses now—they’ll also be available for you in retirement. The funds carry over every year for the life of your account. This is powerful, because if your HSA amasses considerable wealth, when you retire you can cover qualified costs without dipping into your retirement income. Plus, once you turn 65, you can take penalty-free withdrawals to use for anything (not just health care expenses).
6. Open a self-directed IRA and invest in alternative assets.
Self-directed IRAs offer a unique and powerful way to maximize your retirement income-earning potential. Unlike conventional IRAs, self-directed plans allow account owners to:
- Invest in alternative assets instead of stocks bonds
- Choose investments you personally know and understand
Insider tip: You can self-direct Roth IRAs (tax-free earnings) and traditional IRAs (tax-deferred), as well as education savings accounts (ESAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs). Self-directed SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, along with solo 401(k)s, are popular with small business owners (even if your business is a side-gig). And, if you inherit an IRA, you can self-direct that account, too.
A short list of alternative investments includes real estate, private lending, cryptocurrency, and private placements. But there is a vast pool of alternative assets to the stock market you can invest in with a self-directed plan.
Final Thoughts from Advanta IRA
The above are just a few ways you can improve your financial health in any economic environment. Since inflation is on the rise, now is a good time to reevaluate your current situation and develop a new budgeting strategy. Schedule a meeting with your financial advisor to help you navigate some of the new tax laws on the horizon, as well as additional financial moves for your unique situation.
If you have questions about alternative investments and the advantages of self-directed retirement and other savings plans, please contact Advanta IRA today.