401(k) Questions You Should Be Asking

How much should I contribute?

How much of your income you should defer to your 401(k) depends on what you can reasonably afford, how much your employer will match in contributions, your current age, and how much you have already saved.  As a starting point, understand that you will maximize the amount you save by deferring enough to qualify for all matching employer contributions.  For example, if your company will match your contributions or a portion thereof to up to 6% of your earnings, then you should consider that a minimum amount.  Of course, if foregoing 6% of your pay makes it difficult to meet your necessary expenses, you should start with a lower percentage and increase it as your income increases.  CNN Money offers an online tool to help you determine how much you should aim to put away each year based on your age, income, and current savings: http://cgi.money.cnn.com/tools/saveyoung/index.html?iid=EL.

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Financial Planning for New and Expecting Parents

When anticipating becoming a new parent, you may never feel like you are fully prepared.  The list of things to think about seems endless.  While you are researching pediatricians, schools, and parenting advice, remember that appropriate financial planning is essential to providing your child the best possible start in life.  Sit down with a qualified financial planner to discuss how you can take full advantage of benefits available to you and structure your finances to provide maximum security for your growing family.  Be sure to address a few key issues while you are awaiting your new arrival. Read more

Should I Consolidate Retirement Accounts?

Des Moines Retirement Planning

At first glance, combining your retirement accounts makes perfect sense.  You would reduce associated fees by paying them only on one account rather than several.  It is also simpler and more practicable to manage a single account.  Consolidating your accounts may be the best choice for you, but there are a number of factors you will need to consider before you can be sure.  Before you move your retirement funds, speak with a retirement planning professional to make sure you are making the most informed decisions possible.  Here are some of the topics you should cover:

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Borrowing From Retirement to Fund Your Child’s Education

With the soaring costs of higher education, many people struggle with the question of whether to borrow from their retirement accounts to help pay for their children’s college costs.  Although we all want to help our children as much as possible, we have to take care of our future selves as well.  Consider carefully before you decide to tap into your nest egg to help your child pay for college.

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Be Prepared for the Unexpected: Financial Planning for Emergencies

emergency fund savings

The Importance of an Emergency Fund – When people think of financial planning, the first things to come to mind tend to be long-range goals, such as home ownership, retirement, and their children’s college education.  It is important to remember, however, that you need to cover your short-range needs as well.  An emergency fund is critical to weathering the rough times that we all must endure in one form or another.  Consider what you would need if you encountered sudden medical expenses, job loss, or major repairs to your home or vehicle? Read more

Financial Planning Around a Divorce

Des Moines Divorce

Divorce marks a major change in your life.  This is especially true as it applies to your finances.  As you make this tremendous shift, well thought-out financial planning is crucial.  Make sure you pay attention to these key areas so you can be as in control of your independent financial life as possible.

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