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Oaktree Financial Advisors Blog

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.

Got Kids in Private School? Don’t Forget This Little-Known Tax Deduction

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If you send your kids to private elementary or high school or homeschool them, there's an Indiana tax deduction that you should use. You can deduct $1,000 per dependent child.

This is a deduction, not a tax credit.  A deduction reduces your taxable income, before calculating state and local tax. So, a $1,000 reduction in taxable income, saving state tax at a 3.4% rate and county tax at an average of 1.0% to 1.62% rate will save you $44 to $50 per child. Not huge but it keeps your money in your pocket. The more times you can do that the better off you're going to be.

Private School/Homeschool Deduction 626

You may be eligible for a deduction based on education expenditures paid for each dependent child who is enrolled in a private school or is homeschooled.

Dependent Child Qualifications

• Your dependent child must be eligible to receive a free elementary or high school education (K-12 range) in an Indiana school corporation;

• You must be eligible to claim the child as a dependent on your federal tax return; and

• The child must be your natural or adopted child or, if not, you must have been awarded custody of the child in a court proceeding making you the court appointed guardian or custodian of the child.

Spring Forward and its Powerful Effect on Your 401(k)

Written by Ed Snyder on .

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This weekend most of the nation will move their clocks forward one hour to adjust for daylight savings time; what we call "spring forward". I would like to suggest that you use this as a reminder to spring forward your 401(k) contributions and increase the amount you are contributing. When was the last time you increased the percentage that you are contributing to your 401(k)? Work retirement plans like 401(k)s are usually set up so your contribution is taken as a percentage of your salary. For example, if you make $50,000 and elected to contribute 5% to your 401(k) plan, your contributions will add up to $2,500 per year. A contribution increase would mean you decide to contribute a larger percentage of your income.

Because most companies do not offer pensions anymore and you cannot rely on Social Security to provide a major portion of your retirement income, more of the responsibility of providing yourself a retirement income falls on you. Most workers need to increase the amount they contribute to their 401(k) plan over time in order to reach their retirement goals. Many workers contribute a small percentage of salary early in their career when they have a smaller salary. But as their career progresses and their salary increases, they can afford to make larger contributions.

Two Things You Must Do With Your 401(k)

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Don't go on autopilot – go on auto increase

When employees contribute to their 401(k) plan, the money goes into the plan directly before the employee ever receives the money. It's easy to lose track of how much is being contributed. Too many times the initial contribution percentage is chosen arbitrarily and is not updated. Years can go by without any changes to the percentage that is being contributed. The maximum that can be contributed to a 401(k) for 2015 is $18,000. Employees age 50 or older can contribute an additional $6,000 for a total of $24,000. If you are not contributing the maximum allowed you should elect the auto increase option for your 401(k) contributions. With this option you choose your starting contribution rate, the annual increase percent and the target rate. Your 401(k) contribution will automatically increase by the chosen annual increase percent every year until the target rate is reached. This will help you to increase your savings without having to remember to do it every year.

Got a Roth 401(k)?

Qualified distributions from a Roth 401(k) may be taken tax free. A withdrawal is considered qualified when it is made after the account holder has attained age 59 ½ and a minimum of five years have elapsed since January 1 of the year of the first contribution to the Roth 401(k) account.

Here's the catch. After you retire or otherwise leave the employer, if you rollover your Roth 401(k) to a Roth IRA the time during which the assets were in the Roth 401(k) does not count toward the Roth IRA's five year holding period.

The five-year holding period is never carried over to an individual Roth IRA upon rollover from a Roth 401(k). The Roth 401(k) funds will be governed by the five-year rule applicable to the Roth IRA. If the Roth IRA has already satisfied the five-year period, then the funds that were rolled over from the Roth 401(k) are deemed to have also met the five-year period, even if they were in the Roth 401(k) for only a year. This is why, if you choose to participate in the Roth 401(k), you should also consider establishing a Roth IRA as soon as possible either through contributions or a conversion if ineligible to contribute due to the income limits.