Keeping a watchful eye on your finances is always important. During these uncertain times, it is more important than ever.
Keeping a close watch on your purse strings is a necessity. With so much unknown about this year, knowing exactly where your finances stand and how to keep them stable has become a huge priority for most Americans. Since March of this year, over 3 million Americans have filed for unemployment, according to Forbes. Juggling how this pandemic has affected your income and how it will affect your daily and monthly spending could become a huge focus for you and your family. While staying healthy and figuring out new school and work scheduled are our first priorities, it is easy to get overwhelmed with how to deal with these potentially drastic changes in your finances. How do you decide what to cut out? How can you change your spending? What are the necessities that can't be cut out, and how do you make these decisions with the best outcome for your family?
According to Forbes, an estimated 49% of the American population was living paycheck to paycheck even before the pandemic hit. This left no room for extra savings or a nest egg to fall back on. Unemployment has helped, but even that has seen a drastic change since its first wave with the national stimulus checks. Many people have been left without enough to cover their basic needs. The first stimulus check and the additional $600 from the government added to unemployment checks were just short term solutions. What can we do now to help make our bills, keep a roof over our heads, and keep food on the table?
THE NEW BUDGET
You sit down every month and track what you're earning and what you're spending. You create a solid budget based on your calculations that takes care of your bills, your family's needs, and hopefully goes towards a little fun. If your paycheck has been hit or changed due to the pandemic, your budget will have to be retooled. Try and figure out how much of a cut your salary has gone through and try and cut that much out of your monthly spending. Please remember that while you're cutting your budget, your retirement planning and savings still needs your attention. If you can keep paying into those, that is ideal. If you are unable to do so, don't panic. Instead of adding to them, try not touching them unless you have to. Consider what you have in savings during this time, too. If it is needed, remember these funds have been put aside for an emergency.
While the stimulus check will not be part of your 2020 taxes and is being treated as forgiven money, the additional $600 and the now $300 added to your unemployment checks will be taxable income. If you've taken the highest amount in unemployment without choosing to take any taxes out, please prepare for what you will owe in your 2020 taxes. If you can, choose to take out some taxes to make your next tax season a little less painful. Also, try and avoid the temptation of online shopping and avoid making 'panic purchases". Instead of using your extra time to scroll through your favorite shopping sites, sit down and create a brand new long term financial strategy. We have no idea how long this might last, so planning ahead is going to be your best bet.
Everyone owes money every month, even those who collect it for a living. We all have bills to pay, there's no exception to that. If you can sit down and take the time to talk with your landlord, your credit card companies, your insurance company, and discuss your current circumstances it could be a huge relief to your bank account. Be honest and ask if they can give you some kind of break or pause in your payments, a break or pause in accruing interest, and if you can negotiate your interest rates. According to Business Insider Apple, Chase, Citi, American Express, and Capital One offered their clients emergency support during the first few months of the pandemic.
THE DINNER MENU
Part of your monthly budget includes your grocery bill and funds set aside for going out to eat. As much as we all want to support our favorite local restaurants, eating out adds up just as quickly as it did before the pandemic. Tack on delivery fees to this bill, and it can be even more expensive. The dangers of panic purchasing delivered meals three times a day is very easy thanks to our favorite food apps. Meal planning is going to be just as important as budget planning. You'll need to stick to both to feed your family and save as much money as possible. We understand a few delivered and take out meals, but try and avoid them as much as possible.
The pandemic has done a good job keeping us at home and helped us save money on group activities like going to concerts, going to the gym, and getting our hair and nails done. While things are getting back to normal and these services are slowly becoming available, that doesn't mean you need to jump back into using them again. It's best to wait and do so when your income is back to normal. You've survived without them up until now, and you can continue to do so a little while longer. If you have a lawn care service or a maid service that helps you care for your home, it might be beneficial to pause these services. As essential as they might be, they aren't as important as many other things in your budget. Making these decisions is difficult, but they are possible. You just have to keep going back to the drawing board when things get tough.
We know the last thing you want to hear right now is that you have to sacrifice more than you already have just to hang on. You've given up so much already, changed plans, and lost out on promised opportunities. The truth is, you can keep going. If you continue to make these hard decisions to save your finances and protect your family, the light at the end of the tunnel will become much brighter. If you are looking for the best accounting services in Goose Creek, the best tax preparation in Goose Creek, business consulting in Goose Creek, bookkeeping in Goose Creek, or payroll services in Goose Creek, we are here for you! Our phone lines and inboxes are waiting for you. Don't hesitate! Please stay safe, everyone. We will see you soon!
When it comes to your retirement plan, taxes still need to be included in this plan. But with the constant shift in what's available to employees now, the change in how long employees are staying with one company, and what some companies are and are not offering, are you prepared for the end of your career and for a new way of paying taxes?
For some of our readers and clients, retirement may be many years away. For others, it might be right around the corner. Either way, it's always important to be informed and be prepared. Saving for your retirement is something you'll be doing for the entirety of your professional career, and isn't something you'll stop worrying about once that retirement fund is what you're living off of permanently. In our last blog, we talked about what a 401(k) is and how taxes may or may not affect it. In this blog, we will be discussing what a pension is and how they may or may not be affected by taxes. After reading both of these blogs, we would be interested in hearing what your preference is between the two if you have the option of choosing.
Today the 401(k) is much more common than the pension. For newer companies, a pension might never have been in their plan to offer to their employees to begin with. But, as you begin saving for retirement, or you are planning on retiring soon, it's good to know and understand what your options are and what you might be facing when tax season approaches during retirement. Sadly, you won't get to stop paying taxes. Retirement funds will provide you and your family many wonderful opportunities and a chance to live peacefully, but you'll still be dealing with the IRS. But what exactly will you be dealing with, and what do you need to be aware of before you get there?
Let's start at the very beginning. What is a pension? A pension is a type of retirement plan that pays and provides a monthly income to someone in retirement. As we have talked about previously, they're not as common as they used to be. Today, it is the most common to find pensions for those retiring from government or big company jobs. Through your time working for a company that does provide a pension plan as their form of retirement, the company is responsible for putting money into a pension plan throughout the time you work for them. Once you reach a certain age of retirement, the money that has been put into this account throughout the years of employment is given back to the employee in the form of a monthly check. This monthly check serves as income through the course of retirement. For many people today, even those who do come from a healthy pension, this is usually not their only form of income once they are retired. Social security and other forms of income combined with a pension are very common. The amount that you do receive in your pension checks depends on three different things. How long you worked for your employer, how much you were paid while you worked for them, and your age. The longer you work for the company paying into a pension, the more you will receive in your pension The amount every company has to put into a pension is decided upon, protected by, and guaranteed by the Department of Labor. They make sure you do receive all the benefits you're owed by the time you retire. You also have the option to put money into your pension as well from your paycheck or other outside sources of income, just like a 401(k).
But what about taxes once you do start taking this money? You've hit the age of retirement and the checks start coming. What now? Once you start taking this money, you will still have to continue to pay taxes. It is not a source of tax-free income once it starts arriving in the mail. There are some exceptions to this rule, and some parts of your pension could remain tax-free. If a pension is being paid based on health reasons or disability, then that could become tax-free. If after taxed money was added to your pension over time, that too could be considered tax free. But these examples and a few other examples are few and far between. You need to be aware of what you may or may not be taxed on. Once living on your retirement plan, how much you'll be expected to pay in taxes cannot be a guessing game. Your fun and exciting plans for retirement might not become a reality if you're not careful. You might end up spending more than you expected on taxes if you aren't careful, and not spending it on the things you want. The safest thing to do is to plan to save money from your pension to pay taxes on it. Pensions are usually funded with pre-taxed cash, making the whole amount taxable once you start receiving the funds. The good news is, that whatever money you contribute from after taxed money, you will not have to pay taxes on!
That being said - let's look at the pros and cons of a pension.
Paying for your retirement starts long before you get to enjoy it. Since you're going to have to pay taxes the whole of your life, what option sounds the best to you? A pension or a 401(k)? With the changes and needs in what people are wanting to do with their careers, their lives during their work years and retirement years, which plan sounds best to you? Now knowing all that you do in how they differ, does it make sense why a 401(k) is more common now than a pension?
We hope you enjoyed this series of blogs. Retirement is not something you should be putting off, start as soon as you can and plan for as long as possible. Be confident and knowledgeable about what taxes look like before and after retirement, and plan accordingly. If you have any questions or concerns about your retirement plan during this tax season or future seasons, we are here to help you in Goose Creek!
Tax season is here, and for many of our clients, as you grow professionally and through your financial years, you come to discover more and more things finding their way onto your tax documents that you have to pay for. One of the most expensive things that you will depend on later in life is your retirement fund. Are you prepared to retire and are you aware of what you may or may not have to pay taxes on once you do?
February is here, and we are one day closer into tax season here in Goose Creek. We are here to provide the best tax preparation services to all of our current and new clients, so please don't hesitate to contact us this tax season! We are in full swing, and are prepared for what is going to be a very busy but very exciting tax season! With that being said, we are here to offer our clients at many stages of their lives help with their taxes. For those filing for the first time, for those filing for the first time as a married couple, and those filing for the first time after retiring. Just as you change through the stages of your life, how you pay your taxes will also change along with you.
Planning for your retirement is one of the most important things you can start doing once you start working in the professional world. You'll be paying for your retirement your whole professional career, and it will most likely be one of the most expensive things you'll ever pay for. There are no loans, no short cuts, so you will have to save and work for it. As overwhelming and difficult as this can be at times, the sooner you can start, the better your years of retirement will be. In honor of that, we will be dedicating this two-part blog to the pros and cons of having a 401(k) versus a Pension, and what that will mean come tax season once you are thinking of retiring and once you do retire!
The days of working for a company for 40 plus years and retiring with an amazing pension, health benefits, and security are becoming things of the past. Today, the 401(k) is dominating the world of the retirement plan. A 401(k) is a plan that was specifically designed to help you save for retirement and was created almost by accident! The 401(k) that we know today started its journey in 1978 with the creation of the Revenue Act passed by Congress that year. This Act was added to the Internal Revenue Code, Section 401(k), and it allowed employees to avoid paying taxes on deferred compensation. in 1980, a gentleman by the name of Ted Benna, benefits consultant of the Johnson Companies, was trying to come up with a way to have a more tax-friendly option for companies to provide retirement programs based on this new 401(k) idea. He came up with the incredible idea that allowed employees to save pre-taxed money in a retirement plan that the employer would then match and put back into the plan as well. This was the birth of the modern-day 401(K) plan, and The Johnson Companies were one of the first to provide these new benefits to their employees.
In the very beginning, the original section of the 401(K) in the Internal Revenue Code, did not allow stand-alone accounts to be created and to be funded by salary reductions. Mr. Benna pushed the IRS to change this idea, and they followed through. Those employees who now decided to partake in a 401(k) could now use their deferred income to make investments and not be taxed on any gains. By 1982, 401(k)s were being offered by thousands of companies, and they are commonplace for most companies today.
There are many benefits 401(k) programs give to business owners and employers, and many of these benefits are why pensions are becoming an endangered species.
The benefits a 401(k) can offer to the employee are also very positive.
Right away in just these two short lists (they could be much longer, this is just an overview), you can see how a 401(k) can be such a relief on your taxes now, and it won't be an issue on your taxes or even something you have to worry about until you start pulling money out of it. But even though there are some wonderful benefits to a 401(k) there are still some cons.
Don't be overwhelmed with these cons. When deciding on your future, especially your financial future that could affect your taxes, you need to be aware of both sides of the coin. It is good to remember that what you pay into your 401(k) can help reduce the liability rate on your taxes every year and can help with tax withholding during every one of your pay periods.
You have a lot on your plate right now when it comes to tax season, so for those who aren't taking money out of their 401(k) this year, it's one less thing you have to worry about when filing. For those who are just starting to use their 401(k) plan as retirement or in a situation based on need, this tax season might be a little different for you. But don't worry, we are here to help. We hope this information has enlightened you a little more on 401(k) plans, and one of the many options available to you for retirement. In our next blog, we will be exploring pension's and what kind of taxes you may or may not be facing with those. Until then, we are Hood's Tax and Accounting Service, here to help you with all of your tax needs in Goose Creek, SC!
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