One of the simplest and most effective tools you can use for almost any saving goal is an automatic savings plan. Automatic saving programs generally come in two forms – either your employer deducts a certain amount from each paycheck and deposits it into a specific account, or your financial institution moves a certain amount from your checking account into a savings account on a regular basis. Either way, these automatic transfers add discipline to your savings goal. Once people use them, they often find they do not even notice the smaller amount they have to spend each month.
Putting automatic savings plans to work
- Fund your IRA contribution. The contribution limit for 2012 is $5,000 for both regular and Roth IRAs ($6,000 if you are age 50 or greater). Decide which type of IRA you want to fund, open the IRA account and then have $416.66 ($500 if you qualify for the extra $1,000 contribution) automatically transferred each month into the IRA account. If you can’t afford that much, put in what you can.
- Fund an even larger amount for your retirement. If you are already taking advantage of your employer’s retirement plan and an IRA, you can transfer even more into a savings account each month. When the balance reaches a certain level, transfer the funds into a Certificate of Deposit to earn higher rates.
- Save for your children’s college educations. Determine the amount you want to set aside for each child, establish a custodial account for the child and have that amount transferred each month.
- Combine an automatic savings plan with a Section 529 college savings plan. This is similar to transferring the funds into a custodial account, but with the added benefit that earnings within a Section 529 plan are tax-deferred and can be withdrawn tax-free if used for qualified educational expenses. For information onNevada’s 529 plan, visit https://NevadaTreasurer.gov and click on “College Savings Plans.” As always contact a tax advisor for more information.
- Combine an automatic savings plan with your investment strategy. Dollar cost averaging is a method of buying a constant dollar amount of an investment on a regular basis that can work very well with mutual funds. Dollar cost averaging can alleviate the risk of “buying at the top of the market” and over time can reduce the average price you pay for the mutual funds purchased. Most mutual funds and brokerage firms can establish these plans very easily.
Investment products and services are not FDIC insured NOT deposits and MAY lose value.
- Use an automatic savings plan for estate planning purposes. Older and wealthier individuals often want to transfer funds to their heirs during their lifetime to reduce their ultimate taxable estate and to provide their heirs with more immediate funds. Up to $13,000 per year can be transferred to an individual without triggering gift taxes. If both a husband and wife want to make gifts, the total can be up to $26,000 per recipient. If this is something you want to consider, be sure to talk to your tax advisor. Over a relatively short period, one couple can transfer a great deal of money to their heirs to help manage their estate.
The important task of saving or transferring money can be easily delayed or forgotten. Using a little bit of automation can make the process easier and more effective, and may lead to big gains in the long run.
Information in this article is not intended to be and should not be construed to be tax advice.NevadaState Bank and its affiliates do not engage in the business of providing tax advice and its representatives do not practice before the Internal Revenue Service or any other taxing authority. Clients should consult their tax advisor regarding their individual tax situations, including the tax effects of any investment recommendations.
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