Budgeting For Your 401K

Many people are struggling to make ends meet in today’s society. In most cases, it does take two incomes to make it work. With the rising cost of living many people have depleted savings or have not been able to start a savings plan. The United States is considered one of the richest countries in the world, but we have one of the lowest savings rates.

A lot of elderly people are depending on social security to provide enough income to live on, but it was not designed for that. Social Security is supposed to be a supplement to a retirement or savings to help the elderly pay for the necessities of life. With the baby boomers starting to reach retirement age, our Social Security system will be in jeopardy. Many people believe that the money that is taken out of their pay and designated for Social Security is going into an account for their retirement. That is not the case. The Social Security payments that we are making today is being paid to recipients today. It is up to the individual to begin a savings plan or retirement account on their own.

Setting up a budget is one of the best ways to overcome the problem of debt and beginning a savings plan. Many people are at a loss as to how to start a budget that works for them. Budgets that do not include any extras are hard to continue. People get discouraged and give up. One of the most important things to remember when setting up a budget is to pay yourself first. Begin with putting ten percent of your pay into a savings account on the day you are paid or as soon as you can. Look for a savings accounts that pays the highest interest rate.

When setting up a budget, you must first take into account your income for the month minus the ten percent used for savings. You must then figure your spending pattern, this should include all utilities, credit cards, insurances, taxes, along with an estimate of groceries, medical, automotive expenses, clothing, and personal necessities. The best way to see a spending pattern is to get a receipt for every dime you spend. It may take a month or two to get a spending pattern, but you will need this to set up a reasonable budget that will be easy to live with. Do not totally cut out money used for entertainment, such as dining out, theaters, family outings. One important thing to do is cut up all but one credit card. Keep the one that charges you the less interest. Keep this one credit card only for emergency situations and try your best not to use it.

Make separate list for bills and income. You must then decide in what order to pay the bills you have. The most important are the things you must have to survive, shelter, food, and utilities and transportation. Look over your spending pattern to see what you can give up or how to reduce the cost of the things you do need. Think about raising deductibles with insurances, clipping coupons for only the items that you use, packing your lunch or carpooling.

The easiest way to set up your budget is with the envelope method. Make an envelope for each of your bills. Each week, put one quarter of the amount required into each envelope. With credit cards, only put in what the minimum payment is at first. In four weeks time, you will have the money to pay each bill. It will take a little time to get caught up if you are behind, but you will not get further behind if you use this method. If you find that there is not enough money to pay the bills you have each month, you must further reduce your spending or find an additional source of income. It may be that you will have to sacrifice items in order to stick to your budget. Remember, if you call the collectors and let them know what you are doing, many will work with you.

Once you are caught up and bills are getting paid when they are due, look to see how much money there is at the end of the month. Take any extra money and use it to pay on the bill with the smallest balance due that charges interest such as a credit card. Once that particular bill is paid completely, use the money from that bill to pay off another, then another. Soon you will have bills paid off, and you will have extra money for savings. If you are paying on a mortgage, send an extra hundred dollars a month and have it applied to the principle of the loan. You will end up saving a lot on your mortgage and you home will be paid off sooner.

Do not change your spending pattern once your bills are paid, you still need to fund your savings. You must try to save as much as you can, and then think about opening an IRA or contributing money to your 401K plan if your employer offers one. Set a goal and do your best to achieve it.

Funding your retirement is one of the goals that must be worked on long before you retire. Sticking to a budget and increasing your savings is the easiest way to achieve this lifelong goal.

Advice For 401K Plan Management

Your 401 K plan will more than likely be your largest retirement source. Most companies offer 401Kplans as a method of saving for your retirement. A 401 K plan is an employee sponsored retirement plan that is tax deferred. You deposit a certain percentage of your pretax income into the savings plan and your company will match up to a certain percentage of you deposit into the account and the whole amount is invested in investment options that have been selected by the employee.

There are things that you can do to optimize the performance of your 401k plan and there are options you can select that will not benefit your 401K plan participation. Here are some tips that will help you make the most of your 401K plan and avoid pitfalls that may arise.

Some companies require you to participate in their 401K plan and others do not. It is a big mistake not to participate in your company’s 401K plan. This is one of these easiest ways for you to save for your retirement. Most company’s match your deposit. For example, if you invest 3% of your gross salary they will also invest 3% in your account. This is basically free money. Because you invest your money before taxes, your net pay is about the same even after you invest 3%. So what have you got to lose?

Most companies will match a minimum of 3%. However, many companies match as much as 6%-7%. Not taking advantage of the total matching amount is a mistake, because it is free money. How many times in your life have you ever turned down free money?

Your 401K plan should be reviewed regularly. You want to make sure you are making the most of your plan. Some companies have financial advisors. If this available through your employment, you should take advantage of this option. This is a step that many people overlook.

Most companies will allow you to choose from several different investment plans. It is best to diversify your investment portfolio and not have all your money invested in a single plan. Avoid have all your money in company stock, as long as the company does not require you to have your money in their stock.

Avoid using your 401K plan as a source of funds. You are costing yourself money by doing this and if it is something you make a habit of, you could be robbing yourself of a financially secure future. 401K loans should be used only as a last resort.

401K plans are great financial vehicles for saving for retirement. If they are managed properly and common mistakes are avoided they can help secure a sound financial future. If you are not involved in your company’s 401K plan, now is the time to get started saving for your future.

Things You Should Consider When Retirement Planning

Retirement-It is something I think about quite a bit and it seems I am not alone. Many Americans are worried about having enough money to retire on as well as whether they will be able to afford health care. There are some things you can do to ease the anxiety of retirement.

According U.S. News & World Report, women worry more about financial security than men, with inflation being their biggest concern. Inflation can easily eat into your retirement savings. Here are a few suggestions that can help calm your fears about retiring.

Tackle your debt. In October 2012, the Employee Benefit Research Institute stated that debt has risen from just under $7,800 in 1992 to just over $25,000 in 2014 for households headed by someone that 75 or older. Debt for people approaching retirement is also on the rise. Bottom line is in most cases you will struggle if you go into retirement with much debt. At best, you should be debt free and at the very least you should do everything can to have your mortgage paid off.

Evaluate your assets. Take inventory of where your money will be coming from after you retire. You will also need to know what you have going out. If you your expenses will cover your income you can sleep easy at night. If it does not, you have some work to do. If you start early enough, you will be able to make adjustments in your lifestyle that can save you money and you can also work on increasing your income to help save more for retirement.

Health insurance is essential. Health insurance is something you must have. It may only take one uninsured hospital stay to wipe out everything you have worked for. You can carry COBRA for 18 months after you leave a job, if you are under the age of 65. You will also need some type of supplemental insurance after you go on Medicare. Medicare covers many things, but it does not even come close to covering everything. Many businesses offer supplemental insurance as part of retirement.

Plan for the financial transition. Meet with a financial planner to discuss how you get your money from investments to paid bills. You will want to make provisions to protect your money and make it accessible to your spouse in the event of your death. Planning is not only important while you are accumulating your retirement nest egg, it is important through the whole savings process. You should meet with a financial planner periodically to make sure you are on track and discuss any changes that might be necessary.

Protect your health. I have heard people make the statement, “if don’t have your health, you have nothing,” and they are right. You can help see that you stay healthy by eating sensibly and exercising regularly. See your doctor regularly. Early detection is your best defense against most health conditions. Getting enough sleep is also very important to your health. Taking care of your health will save you money in the long run.

If you can accomplish these basic steps, you will be well on your to a worry-free retirement. Retirement is a major step in your life, but if you plan well and live life sensibly you will have a smooth transition from the workforce to the world of retirement.

Tips For Choose the Right Long Term Care Policy

You need to have proper information to choose the right long term care policy. There are a lot of policies you should choose if you want to get best long term care policy. Some policies will make you suffer is you’re not prudent with your choice. Also take time to find some information about long term care policy. The more information you’ve got, the more secure your plan.

Skilled nursing care, intermediate care, and custodial care should not be treated differently under a long- term care policy. The benefit rate you choose should apply equally to these levels of care. There are some policies that pay less for custodial care. The long- term care policy should also not have a separate maximum for each level of care. Home health care, however, will normally be reimbursed at a lower rate or will pay a specified amount for each service. It might also have a separate and distinct ceiling that is lower than the maximum payout in the policy.

You should consider an inflation rider because long-term care costs are esca­lating rapidly, and the payment that now appears adequate could offer little pro­tection as costs escalate. A rider of this type would not be as important to an older person who is evaluating a long- term care policy.

There should be no coordination of benefits. Cash benefits should be paid directly to the insured, no matter how many other policies you have purchased. You would be better off, however, with one, solid long- term care policy.

As with any insurance policy, you have to evaluate the carrier offering the insurance. Again, go with a company that is rated A+ or A by Best’s Insurance Reports. Ask about the insurance company’s loss ratio, the amount it pays out in benefits for each premium dollar it collects. Paying out 60 cents or more on each dollar is considered to be a fair loss ratio.

The policy should be guaranteed renewable. As long as you pay the premiums, the company must renew the policy. There should be no age limit on renew ability. A conditionally renewable policy means it can be canceled if the company cancels all policies within the state. An insurance carrier might not know for years if it’s priced the policy correctly. Having a policy of this type can be dangerous if the carrier later discovers that the policies are not profitable. At that time, you might not be able to get another long- term care policy because of your health.

Smart 401k Plan Management

Up until the past few decades, everyone either expected to retire on Social Security, or if they were lucky, they had a company pension. Although some companies still offer the standard retirement plan, more and more companies are eliminating the standard retirement plan and replacing it with a401K Plan. Even some companies who previously had utilized what was previously known as Profit Sharing Plan have diverted those funds into a 401K Plan.

For those who may be unfamiliar with a 401K Plan, how it works is that an employee is permitted to contribute a certain percentage of his or her pay (usually up to 6%) and the company contributes another percentage. For some companies they match 100% to what the employee contributes; in other words, if the employee contributes 6%, the company matches that percent. Other companies may choose to match the employee 50% or 25%.

The big advantage to a 401K Plan is that the first 6% that an employee contributes is considered “before tax dollars,” meaning that the first 6% you contribute to your 401K Plan reduces the amount of taxable income by the amount of your contribution. In other words, if you earn $600 per week and contribute 6% of that to a 401K Plan, instead of having a taxable income of $600, your taxable income is only $564. At the end of the year when you receive your W2, there will be two different figures on there for income: one is gross income, and the other is taxable gross income, which is the amount AFTER your contributions to your 401K Plan.

Another advantage of a 401K Plan is that under certain “emergency provisions,” you are permitted to withdraw funds without a penalty. These emergency situations are defined under the Federal Government but include things such as purchasing a home, eviction, foreclosure, college, and medical expenses just to name a few. Under other circumstances, you can borrow against your 401K, and the interest that is charged goes back into your fund, so in essence, you are borrowing from yourself at a lower rate of interest, and the interest you pay on the low is paid to you instead of a bank.

The final advantage that will be discussed in this article relates to the movability of a 401K Plan when you leave the company. In the past, if you had a standard retirement plan, if you left a company before retirement age, whatever money had been set aside in a pension fund was lost.

With a 401K Plan, whether you are laid off, fired, or leave a company of your own volition, you have the option to take the 401K Plan with you to another company. What this means is instead of simply withdrawing the funds from your 401K Plan and paying a penalty for early withdrawal, you can ask your former employer to “roll over” the funds into the 401K Plan offered by your new employer.

In the event that your new employer does not offer a 401K Plan, you can either leave the funds with your former employer until you retire or you can do a “roll over” into an IRA or Keogh Plan to avoid paying an early withdrawal penalty. This would also allow you to claim the credit on your income taxes for deposits into an IRA account.

Inexpensive Healthy Food Options

How can I eat Healthy? For many people it’s just not as simple as buying healthier foods. Have you shopped the local co-op lately? The $7 gallon of milk and $15/lb organic meats don’t exactly fit within the budgets for many of us. Fortunately, their are many healthy alternatives available at the grocery store, that are more affordable.

Canned Tuna
Tuna is great for sandwiches, casseroles, salads, or eating on crackers. Tuna provides an inexpensive source for protein.
*Nutrition info:: About 500 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids (0.5 gram), 60 calories, and 13 grams of protein.

Whole Wheat Pita Bread
Great for making sandwiches, appetizers, or creating the perfect healthy pizza.
*Nutrition info: One pita contains 140 calories, 4 grams fiber, and 6 grams of protein.

Frozen Vegetables
Frozen veggies can be added to your casserole, stew, or eaten as a side dish.
*Nutrition info: A 1-cup serving of frozen mixed vegetables (classic mix) has 82 calories, 6 grams fiber, 4 grams protein, 115% of the Daily Value for vitamin A, 8% of the Daily Value for vitamin C, and 7% of the Daily Value for potassium.

Bananas
Bananas can be a great addition to a child’s lunch and make a healthy alternative as a snack.
*Nutrition info: This food is very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Potassium and Manganese, and a very good source of Vitamin B6.

Canned Refried Beans
Refried beans are perfect for burritos and enchiladas. The can also be used to make a tasty dip.
*Nutrition info: About 140 calories (vegetarian), 7 grams protein, 6 grams fiber, 4% of the Daily Value for calcium and 10% of the Daily Value for iron.

Carrots
Carrots are excellent for stews or as a side. They also make an excellent snack plain or with dip.
*Nutrition info: Vitamin A, Thiamin, Niacin, folate, Vitamin B6, and other nutrients

Whole Wheat/Multi-Grain Pasta
Great for various pasta dishes as a main course
*Nutrition info: Approximately 200 calories, 7 grams protein, and 6 grams fiber

Kiwi
Excellent for fruit cups or as a snack
*Nutrition info: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Fiber, Phytonutrient and Potassium

Oatmeal
Oatmeal has long been a top choice for a healthy breakfast. Add fruit for flavor and additional nutrients
*Nutrition info: An excellent source of Fiber and Protein

Brown Rice
Rice has many uses, it can be a side item, used in soup, stew, casseroles, or as fried rice
*Nutrition info:170 calories, 2 grams Fiber, and 4 grams Protein

Losing Weight Without The Excercise

Exercise has always been the weak link for many people. With the current advancements of technology, it becomes hard for anybody to dig up the time to workout and exercise. I mean, who would want to leave the comfort of his home sitting on the sofa and watching television while eating chips and ice cream? Or in the case of kids, playing computer games is far better than playing outside with friends.

Of course, aside from the exaggeration above, some people really can’t find the time to exercise because of heavy work schedules. With that said, there is actually a way to burn calories without exercising. It’s called NEPA, Non Exercise Physical Activity.

So what is NEPA anyway? It sounds so cliché and something out of a magazine, can it be trusted? Well yes, apparently it is effective. Many people have been incorporating activities which don’t seem like exercise into their daily routine and have seen great results in term of fat loss.

NEPA is simply doing activities like walking more, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and maybe even doing some manual labor around the house. The key is movement. Movement is what uses up energy and thus, calories. The idea behind all NEPA is simply doing more movements in your daily routine.

The next time you enter a public area such as the bus interchange, simply observe the stairs and elevators. You will see an in-proportionate amount of people taking the elevator instead of the stairs. If you’re lucky enough, you might see people waiting for the elevators! By taking the stairs, you might save some time and banging and burn calories at the same time! See, it’s a win-win situation.

The most popular NEPA activity is the daily walk. Most people will walk for about 30-60 minutes every day. You can do other things such as doing household chores and anything else that gets you moving. NEPA will increase the rate of fat loss while not impeding on your recovery if you train on a regular basis. The effects of NEPA has worked with many people all over the world. If you have bee stagnating in your fat loss these couple of months, simply adding daily walks in the morning or at night will help break through that plateau.

Although NEPA is effective, it should be noted that you can’t outwork a bad diet. That means if you have not been leading a healthy lifestyle of eating and exercising regularly, the first thing you should do is to start doing do. If you have, NEPA will help tremendously.

Guide To Nutrition And Excercise

Along with just consuming the correct amount and types of foods, there are more specific nutrition strategies that can help maximize the effectiveness of your exercise. The following are some guidelines for the timing of your intake throughout the day and relative to your workout.

First, it is better to eat several smaller meals throughout the day than three big meals. Spreading your intake out will help your body maintain stable levels of things like blood sugar, vitamins, minerals, available protein, etc… It also allows the digestive system to do a better job of absorbing those things from your food. If the digestive organs have to plow through a ton of food at once, the valuable components in the food will not be harvested as well. Part of spreading your meals out is being sure to eat breakfast. Along with the fact that you haven’t eaten the whole time you were sleeping, your body has been busy recovering, strengthening, and renewing all through the night. Those things burn energy. You need to give your body fuel in the morning.

Secondly, do not eat a full meal right before your workout. This is basic physiology. The body restricts blood flow where it is not needed and increases it where it is needed. When you eat, blood is sent to the digestive tract for the process of breaking down food. Blood flow is thus reduced in other areas. This is why people often feel very tired after a big meal. In the same way, when you exercise blood is sent to the skeletal muscles, among other things. If you try to do intense exercise following a meal, your body is faced with two large demands for blood flow. As you begin to exercise, you will likely feel very tired right away. If you persist and exercise hard enough, you may throw up, or you may simply not digest your food very well. Either way, it’s no good.

Third, although you should not have a full stomach going into your training session, you also do not want to be hungry. Glycogen is a substance that your body produces using food you eat. It is the most efficient source of energy. There is glycogen stored in muscles to be used for energy. If you have not eaten for a long time, your glycogen stores will likely be depleted. If you begin working out with a low glycogen supply, it may run out. In which case, you will be less capable during your workout, because your most efficient energy source is gone. Also, the body will switch to breaking down protein for fuel. The goal is to use protein for building and strengthening various structures in your body, not for energy. And if there is not protein readily available (which is likely since you haven’t eaten) your body will actually break down muscle tissue to get protein. That is really bad. So do not wake up in the morning and try to do intense exercise having not eaten for 8 or more hours. Try to eat 2-3 hours before your workout, depending on the size of the meal. Basically, you don’t want to still be feeling food in your stomach, but you don’t want to be hungry. If you have to work out in the morning, get a small meal of primarily carbs beforehand. Protein and fat take longer to break down. Also, a small dose of carbs in the middle of your workout is not a bad idea; it can be quickly broken down and help sustain the glycogen stores in the muscles. Mid-workout is one time when candy or cookies are acceptable. These foods are made of simple sugars, which can be broken down faster than anything to serve as the quickest source of energy.

Lastly, your post-workout consumption is very important. Following your workout, your body will be in an anabolic (muscle-building) hormonal state. That is a good thing; you want to keep your body that way for as long as you can. What you need to do is restore the glycogen supply in your muscles. This is done with carbohydrates. At the same time you also want to make protein readily available for use in repairing the things that you damaged or stressed in your workout. Milk has a good carbohydrate:protein ratio for post-exercise consumption. A typical protein shake will also fill this need. This consumption should be immediately after your workout. Soon after that should be a full meal that includes a lot of lean protein as well as carbs. The body will be primed for absorption following your workout, so that is the best time to ingest a lot of healthy food.

Benefits Of Following A Calorie Based Diet

No matter what diet you choose there is one rule that you cannot break if you want to lose weight. You have to eat fewer calories than you can burn in a day. Any diet, from Atkins to South Beach to The Zone to Weight Watchers, is only a tool to design your eating plan, but the bottom line is that none of these will work if you are taking in too many calories.

Despite the hype of many of these plans about food choices and how you can transform your metabolism or that choosing the right foods will allow you to eat more, you cannot escape the basic science of calories in versus calories burned. The total calories you eat minus the total calories you burn equals the total calories your body will store as fat at the end of the day. Fat storage is a complex science of course, but the basic equation is sound.

If you want to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you eat. For every pound of body weight, the average person burns about 12 calories per day at rest. So if you weigh 140 pounds you burn about 1680 calories per day just for basic body function.

Any activity you do burns more calories, so that most people can maintain their weight at about 2200 calories even if they don’t exercise much. The problem, however, is that most people have no idea the real amount of calories they consume, nor do they understand how few calories they burn through daily activities.

Running a mile at average speed only burns about 100 calories. Even someone who works out five times a week only burns about 2500 calories a day. Someone who is mostly inactive or exercises moderately only burns about 2000 calories a day depending on age and sex.

Unfortunately for anyone who wants to lose weight, the human body is an incredibly efficient machine. It gets a lot out of every calorie we consume, so controlling calorie intake is crucial for any successful diet. In addition, as we age, we need fewer calories to maintain basic needs. This is why many people tend to gain weight when approaching middle age. Also, for women, who naturally tend to store more fat and have less muscle mass than men, it can be even harder to lose weight.

You have to eat 3500 more calories than you burn to store a pound of fat. So if you burn about 3500 more calories that you eat, your body should metabolize about a pound of fat and you will start to lose weight. In theory this is true, but in reality metabolism is complicated and can be affected by many factors including what you eat, when you eat, your overall fitness level, your age, and your basal metabolism rate.

Even though you may take in the 3500 less calories than you burn, you body will not burn only fat. Your body tends to favor burning carbohydrates and converting proteins to carbohydrates for quick energy fixes. This is why people who religiously stick to a diet, but do not work on increasing their fitness level tend to lose weight very slowly, if at all. Any successful diet should include at least a moderate increase in physical activity. You do not have to start working out several times a week to see an improvement, even little things can help. You can start with just moving around more in general and doing a little light weight training to help you start building more muscle.

In order to be successful using a weight loss program, you need to have an idea how many calories you are consuming regardless of other plan guidelines. A 35-year-old man who is about six feet tall and weighs 210 pounds burns about 2310 calories during a sedentary day. So, in order to lose one pound per week, his daily caloric intake should be about 500 calories less than 2260 per day or about 1800 calories.

A 35-year-old woman who is about five feet six inches tall and weighs 160 pounds burn about 1730 calories during a sedentary day, so her target caloric range is about 1200 calories to lose one pound per week. These numbers are only one example, you can calculate your basic calories needs by finding a calorie calculator online. There are several calorie counters referenced in the sources at the end of this article.

Counting calories should be a key part of any diet strategy. Determine how many average calories you burn in day, and plan to eat about 500 less calories per day in order to start a moderate weight loss program. In you wish to accelerate weight loss it is better to add physical activity to your day rather than cutting calories further. By determining how many calories you can consume, while still having a chance to lose weight, you can make any diet plan you choose a more successful endeavor.

Weight Loss Through Portion Control

One of the most difficult aspects of losing weight is resisting the urge to overeat. Restaurant portion sizes have gotten larger despite the fact that the collective waistline of America continues to expand at an alarming rate. Most people overestimate how much food makes up a single serving and end up eating two to three times more food than they think they’re eating. Is there a way to get those portion sizes under control? One way to accomplish this task is to use special eating tools designed to help control portion sizes. Here are some inexpensive eating tools that can help you get those portions under control:

Eating tools: A digital food scale

One simple way to prevent overeating is to weigh foods on a digital food scale. If you’re using pre-packaged foods, you can check the nutrition label to determine the weight of a single serving. When preparing foods that aren’t packaged, there are various websites that will give you the weight and calories contained in a single serving of the foods. Once you’ve weighed foods consistently over a period of time, you may be able to eyeball foods to determine approximate portion size.

Eating tools: Use portion control plates and bowls

There are a variety of types of plates and bowls on the market that are calibrated to hold a single portion size. These can be found on various online sites. If you eat breakfast cereal in the morning, you can buy a portion control bowl with color coded rings corresponding to different serving sizes of your favorite cereal. You can also buy portion control plates for standardizing the amount of food you eat at lunch and dinner. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that obese diabetics who used portion control tools lost more weight than those who didn’t. These plates and bowls are excellent for increasing awareness of portion sizes and reducing the tendency to overeat.

Eating tools: Use portion control utensils

You can buy portion control utensils that hold less food than typical forks and spoons. This means you can fit less food on the fork and you end up eating at a slower, more controlled pace. This also gives your body more time to send the signal to your brain that you’re full, meaning you’ll end up eating less at a meal. Another way to slow down your eating pace is to use chopsticks instead of a fork.

Portion controlled eating tools can be very effective in reducing the tendency to overeat. If you’re anxious to eliminate those excess pounds, why not give these tools a try?