One Clear Sign You Have a Rotten 401(k)—And What to Do About It

One Clear Sign You Have a Rotten 401(k)—And What to Do About It

If your 401(k) is a big deal in your retirement savings strategy, you’re not alone. According to the Investment Company Institute (ICI), more than 52 million workers participate in a 401(k) plan. That adds up to $4.7 trillion in retirement assets, making 401(k)s one of the most common sources of retirement income for U.S. workers. But plans vary from employer to employer, so not every 401(k) plan is what it’s cracked up to be. The last thing you need is to throw your retirement investing budget away in a plan that’s going nowhere. Take a look at some reasons why you might consider stopping your contributions to your employer’s 401(k), then check out our suggestions for how to keep your retirement plan on track without one. No Match? No Deal All 401(k) plans come loaded with certain benefits. First, there’s the tax deferral that helps your retirement money grow faster. Then there are the automatic contributions that make regular retirement investing a breeze. On top of that, traditional 401(k) contributions lower your taxable income, allowing you to invest more without feeling the pinch in your paycheck. But the crowning glory of any 401(k) plan is the employer match. It can take many forms, but the most common is a 50% match on the first 6% of your salary, according to a recent Vanguard report. It’s an instant and guaranteed return on your money. Awesome, right? But without an employer match, the other benefits lose their punch. In fact, if your employer doesn’t offer a match, you’re better off to skip it (as a first step) and start by investing in a Roth IRA...
Draw a Line in the Snow: How to Set and Stick to Gift-Giving Boundaries

Draw a Line in the Snow: How to Set and Stick to Gift-Giving Boundaries

Blessing your children and spouse with gifts is one of the greatest joys of Christmas. But what about everyone else? Between friends, co-workers and extended family, where do you draw the line? You don’t want to leave anyone out, but you also don’t want to stretch your Christmas budget to the limit. Before you hit the packed mall and online stores this year, set some gift-buying boundaries. Figure out how much you have to spend and prioritize accordingly. And absolutely refuse to go into debt for anyone—no matter how cute they would look in that Rudolph sweater. Extended Family You thought you budgeted for every cousin, grandparent, niece and nephew. But then Aunt Mindy shows up with her new boyfriend and his two teenage sons in tow. So you swing by the store and grab some overpriced plastic junk, even though you can’t really afford it and they probably don’t want it. As your extended family changes and grows, it can get exhausting to buy gifts for 30-plus people—especially when surprise guests show up! So why not change the Christmas rules? Talk to your family about limiting individual gifts to smaller kids, and playing a fun game of Dirty Santa with the older kids and adults. (Just bring an extra gift for any unexpected visitors.) This keeps the focus on family time, rather than a carload of unwanted candles and picture frames. Casual Friends Of course you’re going to bless your closest friends with something special. But what about your Facebook friends, workout buddies or the next-door neighbors? Where do they fit in? You can’t be friends with everyone....
Funding Fluffy

Funding Fluffy

Written by Lauren Reisig for Sharpheels.com The Smart Girl’s Guide to Providing for the Needs of a Puppy or Kitten   Those of us who spend any significant amount of time online know the evils that come with the social media obsessed world we live in. Fortunately, there is a shining light amidst all the cyberbullying and heated debates regarding the election. Among the internet drudgery, there is a saving grace, a beacon of hope, which comes in the form of videos of adorable puppies and kittens. These videos, which feature our canine and feline friends doing everything from saving their owners in medical emergencies to simply yawning, can inspire even the most stoic of us to want to run out to our nearest humane society and adopt a furry friend. The impulse is hard to resist, and a dog or cat can be the perfect new member of a family, but there are other factors to consider, including the cost of responsibly owning a pet. Initial Cost for Cuteness It’s important to know what a new pet will cost before you adopt one. Your new four-legged friend has needs and wants just like you do, so it is vital to ensure you can actually afford to own a pet. Start by researching the cost of owning your preferred pet (check online sites like Costhelper) , then start setting aside some cash in a “pet fund” so you are prepared when you decide it’s time to take on your new dog or cat. It’s also important to remember that the first year of pet ownership can be the most...
Teach Your Teenager How to Handle Money with This 4-Letter Word: SAVE

Teach Your Teenager How to Handle Money with This 4-Letter Word: SAVE

Kids aren’t naturally patient. Okay, so that’s not really a shock to any parent. From the day you brought your kids home, they wanted to be the center of your universe—partly because they depended on you and partly because they wanted their needs met as quickly as possible. Even if patience is a virtue, it’s still a challenge to make it a part of our normal lives—and the lives of our kids. But one great way to nurture patience is by saving money, which is where you can connect with your kids in a meaningful way. After all, teens want stuff. Sometimes, they want big-budget stuff. So, challenging them to save up for those things actually teaches them some incredible life lessons, like goal-setting, delayed gratification, sacrifice, self-discipline and, yes, patience. With that in mind, here are five things your teen may be thinking about—and could be saving for—right now. 1. Emergencies Teen emergencies probably look different than adult emergencies. They may be dealing with a phone that fell in the toilet rather than a major medical event. But the scale isn’t as important as the habit. Building an emergency fund of at least $500 is something every teen needs so they’ll be prepared for the unexpected. 2. Technology Whether it’s a new phone, a new computer or a new gaming system, the price tag for technology can be high. But the sense of accomplishment and pride from saving up cash and buying it with their own money can make a powerful impression on teens. 3. Cars When it comes to saving for a car, nothing beats clear communication....
Easily Boost Your Retirement Savings With This Simple Tip

Easily Boost Your Retirement Savings With This Simple Tip

When it comes to saving for retirement, most people aren’t saving enough—and they know it. Of those who are already saving, a Ramsey Research study found that 70% wish they could save more. That makes sense in light of the fact that only one in 10 Americans are saving the recommended 15% of their income toward their future. But planning for your retirement doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. Increasing the size of your nest egg—and your ability to live out your dreams in your golden years—can be as simple as increasing the percentage you put toward retirement every month. Consider David and Susan to see how a simple change can make a big difference. A Little Goes a Long Way David and Susan are both 35, making the average household income of $56,000 per year. They started contributing a total of 5% of their income into their 401(k) plans last year to take advantage of the employer match offered in their plans. After meeting with their investing pro, David and Susan realize that investing 5% of their income won’t be enough to fund the family vacations they dream of taking in retirement. So they map out a plan. With the help of their pro, David and Susan set a goal to contribute 15% of their income toward retirement. That’s a big leap to make at once, so they decide to bump up their contribution to 8% this year. That’s only $140 more per month than they invest right now! The next year they’ll increase their percentage to 11%. The year after that, they’ll make a 4% jump...
Brandon Kennedy: Owner/Financial Consultant

Brandon Kennedy: Owner/Financial Consultant

Brandon has a passion for helping families make smart decisions about their money. He believes genuine relationships are a cornerstone of doing business the right way, and they need to be based on two foundations – trust + accountability. He takes pride in educating and helping others, and strives to live his life with integrity and Christian values. A lifelong resident of Southeastern Michigan, Brandon is a devoted husband to his high school sweetheart, Danielle. They are the proud parents of three, Logan, Henry, and Juliet, and live in Rochester Hills. Brandon is a die-hard baseball and Detroit Tigers fan, and is a supporter of local youth baseball organizations. You can also find him building things in his worksop, speaking in movie quotes, and working on cars. Brandon graduated from Oakland University, earning his Bachelor’s degree in Finance. He has also achieved the Accredited Asset Management Specialist, AAMS, which provides specialized training in providing comprehensive financial planning. He is a board and active volunteer at his local church and offers personal finance educational seminars and courses throughout the year, including Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Fun Fact: He spent 60+ hours taking rough cut Walnut lumber and building a one of kind crib for his children and hopefully grandchildren (one day). Favorite Movies: Pan’s Labyrinth, Gladiator, Fight Club Why He Loves His Job: “We help take the burden off the shoulders of families, so they can have more of the most precious asset in this world – spending time with each other.” Contact Brandon: brandon@kennedyfinancialgroup.org 248. 528.0485 For more information on this advisor click the link...