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8 Ways to Reward Yourself With Your Own Money

Posted by Tom Mellish, Executive Director, IRTA on Aug 29, 2019 3:00:00 PM

Close up of businessperson hand holding money bags

Let's face it. You deserve every nickel earned in your career.

Besides the time spent in the classroom, you also have worked countless hours writing lesson plans, grading papers and working with parents - even on your nights and weekends.

So, why not reward yourself by saving your well-deserved pension or salary whenever and wherever possible?

Here are eight ways to help your cash flow, especially in retirement or as you prepare for it.

1. File your tax return as soon as possible.

The earlier you send in your federal and state income taxes, the sooner you can have your money back working for you.

2. Take advantage of falling stock prices and transfer some shares from a traditional IRA to a tax-friendly Roth IRA.

You will be taxed on the value of the transferred shares. However, with the lower stock prices, you will be able to transfer more shares into the Roth without paying more in taxes. Ideally, once in the Roth IRA, those shares will recover and future gains won’t be taxable to you or your heirs. You have until April 15 to make an IRA contribution for 2015. Those who are 50 and older can contribute up to $6,500 annually to an IRA. If you have the cash, a contribution for 2016 at the same time will let the money be invested sooner and sooner the nest egg can grow.

3. Consider a high-deductible health plan.

More employers are offering this, and allowing the premium savings to go into a Roth IRA savings account. Individuals can invest $3,350 pretax - plus another $1,000 if age 55 and up. Then, if needed, you can dip into the account for unreimbursed medical expenses - if it exceeds 7.5 percent of your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). The additional income won’t trigger higher Medicare premiums or taxes on Social Security benefits. However, if you use the money for non-medical expenses, you will owe income taxes and, if under age 65, a 20-percent penalty.

Watch the webcast: What You Can Do to Prevent Healthcare Fraud 

4. Set aside three to six months worth of living expenses to pay for unexpected expenses.

Nearly one out of five Americans ages 50 to 64 raid their retirement savings to pay for an emergency. Those withdrawals can trigger taxes and penalties. Avoid this by building up a cash reserve.

Watch the webcast: Cash Flow Planning for Retirement

5. Avoid the fees.

How much of the money in your 401(k), IRAs, 403(b)s and other retirement accounts are being eaten up by fees? Many participants aren't aware they pay fees, let alone the amount. FeeX.com and Brightscope.com provide fee information on several employer plans. These resources grade retirement accounts, compare plans and recommend cheaper alternatives if you’re paying too much.

6. Search for better insurance deals.

Premiums for auto and homeowners insurance are not just priced due to risk factors. It is worth browsing periodically for a better deal. If you find one, tell your insurer; they more likely than not will meet or beat that offer.

7. Search for better bank fees, too.

Banks can take you for granted. If they are not paying anything on savings and charging you for checking accounts, it may be time to switch. Free checking is widely available at smaller community banks, credit unions and online banks. Many online banks will pay 1 percent on savings for little or no minimum deposits. Federally insured online banks can be found at Bankrate.com. Many of these are established community and regional banks that use the Internet to market to a national audience or are divisions of other larger financial institutions.

8. Don’t let your gift cards go to waste.

If you are not planning on using them, or do not like the retailers, sell the cards for a discount at sites such as GiftCards.com, GiftCardRescue.com or MonsterGiftCard.com. You will receive between 70 to 85 percent of the cards’ value back.

There are many other ways. A reputable Certified Public Accountant or Certified Financial Planner (one who does not sell financial products) can help you figure out ways like these to maximize your income.

You can ask someone you trust for a recommended professional or find one who works in your community through organizations such as the Indiana CPA Society or the Financial Planning Association

Retirement Guide for Indiana Teachers

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