10 Steps to Better Retirement Planning for the New Year

RICHARD W. RAUSSER, CPC
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, CLIENT SERVICES

Rich RRich Rausserausser is a Certified Pension Consultant (CPC), a Qualified Pension Administrator (QPA), a Qualified 401(k) Administrator (QKA), and a member of the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA). He holds an M.B.A. in Finance from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a B.A. in Economics and Business Administration from Ursinus College. 

Pentegra Retirement Services is the NAFCU Services Preferred Partner for Qualified Retirement Plans for Credit Union Employees. http://www.nafcu.org/pentegra/

The start of every New Year brings the promise of new beginnings; a time to think about setting goals and resolving to do new things, particularly when it comes to finances.

It is important to take a few minutes this month to think about the state of your retirement portfolio and to commit to an annual self-assessment.  This should be more than ‘I will spend less’ in 2015. One of your resolutions should be to find better ways to manage your finances and invest your money.

I encourage everyone to jump-start their efforts with this checklist:

1. Increase Plan Contributions:  Are you contributing as much as you can afford to your retirement plan? The more money you put into your plan now, the bigger your potential retirement nest egg. Adding as little as five or ten extra dollars per paycheck could make a big difference over the long term.

2. Make Catch-up Contributions: Your plan may allow you to make “catch-up” contributions over and above the regular contribution limit if you are age 50 or older. If possible, take advantage of the opportunity to give your retirement savings a boost.

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Unraveling Qualified Expenses for Coverdell ESAs

Guest post written by Alison Brink, copy writer for the Retirement Services division of Ascensus. Alison researches and writes about various IRA, ESA, and HSA topics for Ascensus’ online and printed publications and education materials.

With students back in school and those glaring tuition bills coming due, many of your Coverdell education savings account (ESA) members may be seeking distributions to help pay (or be reimbursed for) their education expenses. And because a designated beneficiary (the child for whom the ESA is established) does not pay taxes on ESA distributions if the assets are used for qualified education expenses incurred at an eligible education institution, members may have questions about whether their expenses are qualified. While the ESA’s designated beneficiary or responsible individual (often a parent or guardian) ultimately is responsible for determining if education expenses are qualified, they often turn to the ESA administrator with questions.

Eligible Education

ESA assets generally can be used for elementary and secondary education, as well as postsecondary education. Some taxpayers save for postsecondary education through qualified tuition programs, commonly referred to as “529 plans.” But 529 plan assets cannot be used for elementary or secondary education.

Eligible Education Institutions

Part of what makes qualified education expenses qualified is the fact that the expenses have to be incurred at an eligible education institution. An eligible elementary or secondary school for ESA purposes is any public, private, or religious school that provides elementary and secondary education (kindergarten through grade 12) as determined under state law. An eligible postsecondary school is any college, university, vocational school, or other postsecondary educational institution that is eligible to participate in student aid programs administered by the Department of Education. An eligible educational institution would include nearly all accredited public, nonprofit, and private postsecondary institutions.

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