What Are the Minimum and Maximum Amounts That Can be Saved Each Year in an IRA?

Federal tax law limits 2017 contributions to a traditional and/or Roth IRA to $5,500 for a worker with earned income ($6,500 for those who are age 50 or older before the end of the year). An additional $5,500 can also be saved for a worker’s spouse, regardless of whether or not the spouse is employed. In addition, spouses who are age 50 or older can contribute an additional $1,000 ($6,500 total) for a total of $13,000 of contributions if both …

Monthly Investment Message: February 2018

Barbara O’Neill, Extension Specialist in Financial Resource Management

Rutgers Cooperative Extension

oneill@aesop.rutgers.edu

February 2018

A Hierarchy of Financial Decisions

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are an account that people can set up to pay for unreimbursed medical expenses such as deductibles, co-payments, and services not covered by insurance. Eligible individuals can establish and fund these accounts only when they have a qualifying high-deductible health plan (HDHP). HSA money gets deposited tax-free, grows tax-free, and comes out tax-free, if used according to …

What Are the Income Restrictions to Qualify for a Deductible Traditional IRA?

People with earned income who are not in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, regardless of income level, may qualify for a tax deductible traditional IRA. Another group of taxpayers who can deduct a traditional IRA contribution in full are those with an employer-sponsored plan who have incomes in 2017 under $62,000 (single) and $99,000 (married couples filing jointly). The phase-out ranges (where contributions are limited in gradual steps as income increases) for singles and couples are $62,000 to $72,000 and $99,000 …

Monthly Investment Message: March 2018

Barbara O’Neill, Extension Specialist in Financial Resource Management

Rutgers Cooperative Extension

oneill@aesop.rutgers.edu

March 2018

Factors That Promote Financial Success

During the last year, I had the opportunity to hear several well-known personal finance speakers talk about the characteristics and practices of financially successful people. Audiences are usually very interested in this topic because it provides a motivational roadmap and specific tips to follow.

 

At the 2017 Financial Planning Association (FPA) conference, the final general session speaker was financial author and …

Monthly Investment Message: February 2017

Barbara O’Neill, Extension Specialist in Financial Resource Management

Rutgers Cooperative Extension

oneill@aesop.rutgers.edu

February 2017

Factors That Affect Investment Risk Tolerance

To help investors objectively assess their investment risk tolerance, Rutgers Cooperative Extension has an online Investment Risk Tolerance Quiz at www.rce.rutgers.edu/money/riskquiz 

Developed by Dr. Ruth Lytton at Virginia Tech and Dr. John Grable at the University of Georgia, the quiz has 13 multiple choice questions and provides users with instant feedback about their capacity to handle investment risk. 

 

The questions …

What are Student Loan Borrowers Thinking? Insights from Focus Groups on College Selection and Student Loan Decision Making

Johnson, C. L., O’Neill, B., Worthy, S., Lown, J. M., Bowen, C. F. (2016). What are student loan borrowers thinking? Insights from focus groups on college selection and student loan decision making. Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning, 27(2), 184-198.

Brief Description: This study used data from online focus groups to understand college students’ decision-making process when borrowing money to finance their education. Respondents were asked eight questions regarding their college selection and student loan decision-making. Results suggest that (a) …

Monthly Investment Message: May 2017

Barbara O’Neill, Extension Specialist in Financial Resource Management

Rutgers Cooperative Extension

oneill@aesop.rutgers.edu

May 2017

The Benefits of Being a Future-Minded Planner

Want to be a successful investor? Develop your future-mindedness. That is the conclusion of a recent study that found a connection between positive financial behaviors, such as saving and investing, and impulsiveness and materialism.

When people focus on their future they tend to be less impulsive spenders, regardless of their level of financial literacy. In fact, the strongest predictor …

What is a Refund Anticipation Loan (RAL)?

A refund antipation loan or RAL is a method of receiving a Federal income tax refund sooner than it would come to the taxpayer from the IRS. Other common names for this type of transaction are: Fast Cash Refunds, Rapid Refunds, Express Money, and Instant Refunds.

All of these common names are misleading because they are not refunds; they are actually high interest loans.Taxpayers are paying high fees to borrow their own refund money. The IRS has become quite efficient …

How Much of Someone’s Social Security Benefit is Taxed?

First, individual taxpayers or taxpaying married couples must add up their “modified adjusted gross income.” This is their taxable income, plus their tax-exempt income, plus half of their Social Security benefits. If this figure exceeds certain income levels, a portion of Social Security benefits is taxed.

Next, a worksheet is completed to determine the amount of Social Security benefits that is taxable. This worksheet can be found in the annual instructions package for tax forms available online in the “Forms …

How Do I End Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) Payments on a Mortgage?

 

Legislation went into effect July 1, 1999, requiring automatic termination of PMI when a homeowner has paid at least 20 percent of the home’s value for loans made after July 29, 1999. High-risk borrowers (such as those with poor credit histories and reduced documentation loans) may have to make PMI payments until they reach 50 percent equity. If you believe that you have reached the 20% home equity mark and your PMI payments have not been discontinued, speak to your …