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Oaktree Financial Advisors Blog

Six Smart Things to Do With Your Tax Refund

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The average tax refund in 2014 was $2,696. Did you know that about eight out of every ten tax returns filed in 2013 got a refund? If you're one of the lucky eight, before you run out and blow the money, consider these six ideas for smart ways to use your money.

Use it to make a Roth IRA or traditional IRA contribution for 2015. The 2015 IRA maximum is $5,500. If you are age 50 or over you can contribute an additional $1,000. If your refund is the 2013 average of $2,696, you're halfway there. Life is expensive and retirement will be more expensive. Start saving yesterday!

Start or add to an emergency fund. A robust emergency fund is your financial security blanket. You'll sleep better at night with the peace of mind that if the water heater goes out or you have an expensive car repair, you've got the cash to pay for it.

Pay off credit card or consumer debt. Still got some Christmas bills hanging around? You're probably paying 15% to 20% interest. Pay them off.

Four Things You Need to Know About Money

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April is National Financial Literacy Month. The purpose is to remind Americans of the importance of being knowledgeable about financial topics and how to establish and maintain healthy financial habits.

Here are four basic finance lessons you can practice every day :

Budget – spend the money on paper first so you know where your money is going. Otherwise it's going to leak out everywhere and you won't have anything saved.

Pay yourself first – Put money away before you spend. You can tell yourself you'll save what's left, but you won't do it. Make sure you're contributing to your 401(k) or other retirement plan at work and that you're contributing at least the amount that will get your employer's full matching contribution. Then try to increase your contribution each year or when you get a pay raise or a bonus.

Last Minute Tax-Deduction Tip for 2014

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Want a last minute tax deduction? If you have a Health Savings Account and haven't contributed the maximum for 2014 you have until April 15th to do so.

HSA participants can make tax-deductible contributions to their accounts up to a federal limit. You can use HSA funds to pay current and future eligible medical expenses, including deductibles and coinsurance.

For the 2014 tax year you can make tax-deductible contributions to your HSA of up to $3,300 if you are the only one covered, or if you have family coverage you can contribute up to $6,550. If you are 55 years old or older, you can make an additional contribution of up to $1,000 for 2014.

March Madness And The Importance Of Getting An Early Lead

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The Elite Eight is now the Final Four and what a March it's been. Some of the best games to watch are when a team is down and goes on a run to get back in it and make it a game again. Just this weekend Michigan State needed overtime to knock off Louisville and Kentucky had to come from behind to beat Notre Dame. Undoubtedly teams want to start off in the lead and maintain it. They want to score points early and often. It doesn't always work out that way.

In saving for retirement the same can be said. You should start off saving early and often. Did you know that more than one third of adults say they have not started saving for retirement yet? And it's not just young adults. More than one fourth of those ages 54-60 have yet to start saving.*

St. Patrick's Day and Three Things It Can Teach Us About Money

Written by Ed Snyder on .

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Many St. Patrick's Day celebrations took place last weekend and more celebrations will happen on Tuesday, March 17th, the actual St. Patrick's Day. There are many ways we celebrate; parades, 5ks with names like "Shamrock Shuffle", pub crawls, green beer and dyeing rivers or canals green. For all the fun that it is, it can also help teach us some serious lessons about money.

The Shamrock: Legend has it that St. Patrick taught the Irish people about the Holy Trinity by showing them a three-leafed plant, the shamrock. The shamrock has since become a main symbol of St. Patrick's Day. The three leaves of the shamrock can remind us of three important virtues with money:

  • Patience:  Be patient with your investments. Don't chase the latest fads or last years' hot investment. Often investments with good long-term returns go through periods of short-term bad performance. It's normal. If you aren't patient during those short-term poor performance periods you won't benefit from the long-term returns.