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June 16, 2016

Community Update by Tami Scott
Administrative Services Director

One of the responsibilities I have is overseeing the City’s Finance Department, which involves things like long term financial planning, fund accounting, forecasting, budgeting, financial recommendations etc.  In this capacity, I often get asked all things “financial” not just on a professional level but from a personal need as well and thought it would be fun to share with you some financial related tidbits that may be of interest:

•  Join your company’s retirement plan and try to contribute as much as you can, especially when the contribution is made from before-tax earnings.

• Can you imagine your heirs receiving only half of your hard-earned assets? That’s what could happen if you don’t take estate planning seriously enough.

• Life insurance provides the kind of life you would have given your family if you had lived to do it.

• One of the greatest gifts you can give is to help pay the education costs for your grandchildren. Any gifts, regardless of how large, made to anyone for the purpose of funding education, do not incur gift taxes as long as the payment is made directly to the educational institution.

• Protect your health and your wealth with a health care proxy and durable power of attorney. These legal documents help ensure your wishes will be carried out if you become mentally or physically incapacitated due to accident or illness.

• People often have twice the credit they actually need. Avoid temptation by never charging more than 25% of your total credit limit and pay it off in full, monthly.

• Think of financial security as lifelong accumulation—even if you only do it in small amounts.

• Donate items you don’t need, or use, to charity. Be sure to keep your receipts. You may be entitled to an income tax deduction.

• Buying low and selling high is a lot easier said than done!

• Add up your current and future liabilities, such as your mortgage, education expenses, and how much you’ll need for retirement. Then, ask yourself this question: “Is my family’s future worth protecting?

• A shorter mortgage isn’t always better. Take a long-term mortgage, and then make additional
payments when you can. If things become financially “tight,” you can stop making additional payments.

• Protect your tangible assets. Have the right amount of homeowners and automobile insurance coverage for liability and disasters.

• Withdrawing retirement plan assets before age 59½ may lead to a 10% penalty, while not withdrawing enough after age 70½ may lead to a 50% penalty. The moral of the story? Know when to make withdrawals.

• When you’re buying a new or used car, don’t forget to factor in any state sales taxes. If state sales taxes are 9% and the sticker price on the car of your dreams is $20,000, that car will really cost you $21,800.

• Reward your children for hard work—they’ll soon understand that hard work is often accompanied by rewards.

• Organize your financial house. Set up a filing system and organize your investments and insurance policies.

• Make sure you own disability insurance. It will help replace your income if you are unable to work due to an illness or injury.

• Did you know that if you work while you receive Social Security benefits, your benefits might be taxed?

• Like regular checkups with your physician, regular reviews with a financial professional are important to your financial “health.”

• Keep your total monthly debt from exceeding 35% of your gross income.

• If your company doesn’t have a retirement plan, be sure to contribute the maximum to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

• Pay yourself first. As you set your budget each month, set aside money for savings and expenses first. What’s left over can be used for other purposes.

• If you die without a will, you will leave the distribution of your assets up to someone else.

• If you expect an income tax refund, refrain from giving yourself a pat on the back. Sure, your entire refund amount is your money. But, it’s also money that has been at work for Uncle Sam, not you. An accountant can help you establish an income tax plan that keeps your money working for you.

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