Consider Some New Year's Financial Resolutions

Submitted by Edward JonesPrint Story | Email Story

As the year winds down, you may want to look ahead to see which areas of your life you can improve in 2019. Perhaps you will decide to exercise more, eat healthier foods, reconnect with old friends or volunteer at a school or charitable organization.

All these goals are certainly worthwhile – but you also may want to add some New Year's financial resolutions to your list.

Here are a few ideas to consider:

* Boost contributions to your employer-sponsored retirement plan.
Good news! Contribution limits will be increasing for many employer-sponsored retirement plans. For 2019, you can contribute up to $19,000 (up from $18,500 in 2018), or $25,000 (up from $24,500 in 2018) if you’re 50 or older to your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan. It's usually a good idea to contribute as much as you can afford to your employer’s plan, as your contributions may lower your taxable income, while any earnings growth is tax-deferred. (Keep in mind that taxes are due upon withdrawal, and withdrawals prior to age 59 1/2 may be subject to a 10 percent IRS penalty.) At a minimum, put in enough to earn your employer's matching contribution, if one is offered.

* Try to "max out" on your IRA. Even if you have a 401(k) or similar plan, you can probably still invest in an IRA. For 2019, you can put in up to $6,000 in a traditional or Roth IRA (up from $5,500 in 2018), or $7,000 (up from $6,500) if you're 50 or older. (Income restrictions apply to Roth IRAs.) Contributions to a traditional IRA may be tax-deductible, depending on your income, and any earnings growth is tax-deferred. Roth IRA contributions are not deductible, but earnings growth can be withdrawn tax-free, provided you don’t start taking withdrawals until you are 59 1/2 and you have had your account at least five years. You can put most types of investments – stocks, bonds, mutual funds, government securities and so on – into an IRA, so it can expand your options beyond those offered in your 401(k) or similar plan.


* Build an emergency fund. Try to build an emergency fund containing three to six months' worth of living expenses, with the money held in a low-risk, liquid account. This fund can help you avoid dipping in to your long-term investments to pay for unexpected costs, such as a major car repair.

* Control your debts. Do what you can to keep your debts under control. Ultimately, the less you have to spend on debt payments, the more you can invest for your future.

* Don't overreact to financial market volatility. In 2018 – especially the last few months of the year – we saw considerable market volatility, with huge drops and big gains in rapid succession. What will 2019 bring? It's always difficult – and usually futile – trying to forecast the market's performance over the course of an entire year. But, in any case, try not to overreact to whatever ups and downs we may experience. Instead, continue pursuing an investment strategy that’s appropriate for your goals, risk tolerance and time horizon.

Following these suggestions can help you become a better investor in 2019 – and beyond.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones financial advisor. Courtesy of Rob Adams, 71 Main Street, North Adams, MA 01247, 413-664-9253.. Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation. For more information, see EdwardJones.com.

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'Late Night': Funny Business

By Michael S. GoldbergeriBerkshires Film Critic
Somewhere between my wild youth and the acquiescence to middle-class mediocrity if not respectability, there was my bachelor pad era. The Cohens, a childless couple who had no designs on a single-family home until they inherited one, had relinquished their pink apartment on Pingry Place. And thus, after a bribe, unbeknownst to me, from my Mom to the super, the digs were mine. 
 
I later learned that said financial inducement was followed by regular sub-rosa gratuities in return for information on yours truly's comings and goings. In Mom's defense, I think she had a FISA warrant. And yes, this indulgent preamble has everything to do with director Nisha Ganatra's smartly funny "Late Night."
 
You see, my best friend Bob and I spent the better part of several weeks in the newly acquired apartment, aided by the creativity-stimulating sources of the day, arduously trying to figure out how best to transform the space from Cohen Pink to Goldberger, well, just what? Finishing second in the sweepstakes was an Italian restaurant motif, wherein several square tables with red checkered table cloths would be complemented by walls adorned in murals depicting the food-famous landscapes of Tuscany. The thinking was that since I had no etchings to show should a
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