What are Health Savings Accounts?

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) were designed by Congress to provide tax advantages to individuals enrolled in high deductible health care plans. Deposits to an HSA are used to pay qualified medical expenses.

The 2017 maximums for annual contributions to HSAs are $3,400 for individuals and $6,750 for a family. Money in the account grows tax deferred, so an HSA serves as a type of savings account to pay future health care expenses.

For more information, see http://njaes.rutgers.edu/healthfinance/health-savings-accounts.asp.

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When Can Someone Withdraw Money from a Roth IRA Without Owing Income Taxes?

You can withdraw money that you have contributed to a Roth IRA (i.e., your own money) at any time because the account was funded with after-tax dollars on which income taxes were already paid.

You can withdraw the earnings from a Roth IRA tax free in the following situations:

1. You have reached the age of 59½, and at least five years have passed since your Roth IRA account was opened. Earnings can be withdrawn tax-free beginning on the first …

Am I Locked Into an Investment Option for My 529 Plan?

In the early days of 529 plans, once you selected an investment option within a college savings plan, you could not change that option. Only new contributions could be invested in different investment options.

Under current rules, however, the IRS allows you to change your investment options in a college savings plan once every calendar year.

For more information, see http://www.sec.gov/investor/pubs/intro529.htm.

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Effect of Expressing a Quantitative Goal on Savings Behavior

Loibl, C. & Scharff, R. L. (2010). Examining the effect of expressing a quantitative goal on consumer savings. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 44, (1): 127-154. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-6606.2010.01160.x.

Brief Description: The study extended the psychological concept of implementation intentions to the analysis of savings behavior. A field experiment was conducted with current participants of an America Saves campaign in a large city in a U.S. Midwestern state. The intervention required the treatment group participants to write down specific plans about the …

What does the term “pay yourself first” mean?

Pay yourself first (PYF) means automatically setting aside money from each paycheck, as soon as you receive it, rather than waiting to see what, if anything, is left over to save at the end of the month. In other words, savings is treated as an “expense” and given a high priority.

PYF works best if savings deposits are automatically deducted from one’s paycheck. That way, saving will happen regularly and the temptation to spend the money will be minimized.

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