You should be aware of your CreditRating and work to keep it as high as possible. US citizens are legally entitled to a report from the three agencies every year, free of charge. (I use www.CreditKarma.com but www.AnnualCreditReport.com and others offer the same service). Do not mistake the above options with www.FreeCreditReport.com, which is actually a subscription service.
You should invest in a financial education. It will improve your daily decision making so that you can be wealthier over time. I highly recommend you try to do as much of your own taxes as you can every year until you finally learn how to do it all yourself. This way you stay up to date with tax law, so you know how to manage your income in such a way to pay as little as possible. You should also, when possible, open a 401k, IRA, and personal brokerage account. Resources to learn include:
- For Investing: SeekingAlpha and Modern Portfolio Theory
- Tax info: NYTimes on expiring Bush Era Taxes and Fidelity’s Savvy End of Year Tax Moves as well as USA’s IRS website for income in the US.
My long term advice is to achieve financial freedom: When you have enough passive income that you never have to work again. This is achieved by most people through a retirement account, or government supported social security. However, the lesson here is that you can take personal control of it and, in doing so, achieve retirement at a younger age, and increase the wealth at retirement.
- The book I learned it from: Rich Dad’s Cashflow Quadrant: Rich Dad’s Guide to Financial Freedom
- Here’s a Guide to Financial Freedom by FinancialSamurai
Here are My Notes on Retirement Accounts (Traditional and Roth 401k and IRA):
- When withdrawing money from retirement accounts, the government considers it as ordinary income so you pay income tax on the withdraw not long term capital gains tax even if the retirement account earned money through long term capital gains.
- The benefit of a Traditional account over a Roth account is that gains are tax deferred, so there’s more money available to generate returns. See this website’s article for a very informative chart that illustrates the difference in contributions and returns on each account.
- Choose Roth to pay taxes now if you think your tax bracket will be higher when you retire (high income when retired)
- Choose Traditional to pay taxes when you’re retired if you think your tax bracket will go down (low income when retired)
- Keep in mind the tax deduction aspects of options are only available to those who make under ~130k/191k (single/married) 2015
Fidelity’s Advice for 2013 New Years’ resolutions:
- January = make a budget
- Feb = focus on retirement
- March = taxes
- April = IRA
- May = college savings
- June = review/update beneficiaries
- July = mid year investments checkup
- August = pay down credit card debts
- September = consolidate accounts for convenience and benefits (don’t have too many iras etc.)
- October = year end tax planning
- November = health and workplace benefits review
- December Donate to Charity
See also my Family Finances post.
This post is part of AttemptedLiving’s Life Education Curriculum, a collection of core knowledge everyone should have. Look under “Self Improvement”