As the new year dawns, most Americans are probably happy to bid good riddance to 2020, a year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns, political brawls, and challenging economic times. Many have had to take on debt to tide them over. If you’re among them, or one of the many other Americans who pay an ever increasing portion of their paychecks to service debt, now may be the ideal time to reassess your finances and take steps to manage and reduce your debt.
When it comes to finances, some people can be intimidated by sophisticated financial topics and the array of options available. For those who might feel this way, be reminded “simplification is the ultimate sophistication”.
This semester, millions of students, teachers, and college administrators are having to deal with a radically changed landscape. At many institutions, classes have been cancelled or moved online. Sports programs have been suspended and dormitories, libraries, and labs shuttered. In fact, traditional campus life has been turned upside down thanks to COVID-19, and it’s unclear how long it will last.
Anyone who is thinking of converting their traditional IRA to a Roth IRA may want to consider doing it this year. Why? Because today’s unique conditions create an opportunity to minimize the tax bite from converting. In fact, many have already taken advantage of this opportunity, with one provider reporting a 67% increase during the first four months of 2020 compared to a year earlier.
But before you begin to decide whether or not to convert, make sure you are familiar with what’s involved with a Roth conversion.
What a year it has been. I no longer believe that “2020” is perfect vision, because I don’t think any of us saw this year coming…no matter how good your vision is! It’s definitely been a year packed full of challenges, frustration and uncertainty – on so many levels. 2020 has brought with it an element of change for all of us. It has forced us to modify the way we work, the way we learn, and the way we play.
COVID 19 has brought tragedy to many families and businesses and impacted personal finances. It has also rendered many an estate plan inaccurate and unrepresentative of current circumstances. If you, your family or your beneficiaries have been affected by the virus, you may need to review and make changes to your plan. Consider the following questions in your review.
New legislation – the CARES Act –permits qualified individuals to take early distributions from their retirement assets, such as their 401(k) or individual retirement account (IRA) — penalty free. The rules – which sunset after 2020 – are designed to help the many cash-strapped Americans who have suffered financially as a result of the coronavirus epidemic. But tapping into your retirement savings has its costs, and there may be better ways to shore up your short-term cash flow.
A once-in-a-lifetime event such as the coronavirus pandemic forces us to reassess many things we may have taken for granted. Most of us take our personal good health for granted. Many of us assume we will always get by financially, that we will always be able to earn money in some way, and that, in a worst-case-scenario, the government will be there to step in and help.
Volatility is back. The sustained rally that produced 30%+ gains in the S&P 500 in 2019 and continued into 2020 came to an abrupt halt in late February, when fears of the new coronavirus epidemic and its effects on the economy swept Wall Street and beyond. Markets across the globe plummeted, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped over 1,000 points in one day. More drops followed, and volatility has ensued as investors try to grapple with the spreading epidemic and its potential impact on trade, travel, and the global economy.
We are living in interesting, uncertain times. The world and the media maintain that we need to be full of fear and doubt; worried about our future. And, I understand these are real emotions.
For today’s homebuyer, mortgages are cheaper than ever. The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 3.29% in early March, the lowest level recorded in almost 50 years. And 15-year mortgage rates came in even lower, averaging a mere 2.79%.
As warmer weather arrives and households tackle spring cleaning to-dos, it is the perfect time to bring a simplified approach to your finances and “clean house.” Here are considerations for how to “spring clean” your finances:
Do the laundry, make dinner, pay the bills, pack the kids lunches, clean the house, walk the dog, feed the cat, 5:00 soccer practice…….
And….. this is the ‘to-do’ list rattling around in your head, even before your alarm goes off at 6:00 AM!
Then your day begins…….