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Author: Dylan Telerski

Dylan is a marketing specialist at Ubiquity Retirement and Savings. A passionate champion for small business, she can be found demystifying the financial industry, advocating for the underdog, and making playlists you did not ask for.

For as different as Millennials and Baby Boomers are, they have one major thing in common. They both dream of a secure retirement someday.

There has been a lot of talk from retirement experts that millennials won’t be able to retire on time. But when you look at the statistics, the message isn’t as doom and gloom. Millennials are actually saving almost as much for their futures as baby boomers are. Boomers currently save, on average, 9% of their survey, while millennial are saving 8%. Their contributions also increase at a much higher rate than boomers. (Though it’s easy to attribute the discrepancy to the rapid change in salary at the beginning of your career.)

According to The 18th Annual TransAmerica survey, about three in 10 workers have dipped into a retirement account for an early withdrawal or loan from a 401(K) or similar account. Boomers are far more likely to have done so than their younger counterparts. About 36% of Boomers have taken a loan, while the same is true for only 28% of Millennials.

Procrastination is, unsurprisingly, a trend most prevalent among young workers. About 54% of Millennials prefer not to think about retirement investing until they get closer to their retirement date. Among Baby Boomers, significantly closer to their magic retirement age, that number is about 25%.

Want to learn more? See our roundup below!

Exciting news retirement enthusiasts and future-you champions! The IRS is raising contribution limits for 2019. Get ready for lots of changes that will help savers prepare for the future.

A round-up of the biggest changes for your 2019 plan year:

  • 401(k): The amount you can contribute to your 401(k) plan per year goes up from $18,500 in 2018 to $19,000 in 2019.
    • If you’re self-employed or own your own business, you can save even more. The overall defined contribution plan limit moves up to $56,000, from $55,000.
  • IRA: After six years stuck at $5,500, the amount you can contribute to an Individual Retirement Account is being bumped up to $6,000 for 2019.

Want to learn more? We outline the highlights of the changes below.

Download our 2019 contribution guide here

If you need more detailed guidance, see IRS Notice 2018-83.

How’s Your Financial Health?

Dylan Telerski / 15 Aug 2018 / Personal Finance

We all get check-ups to make sure our bodies are well and tune-ups to make sure our cars are running smoothly. But when was the last time you checked in on your financial health? If it’s been a while, we’ve got some tips to help you get started.

1. Dust Off Your Budget

If you haven’t been following a budget lately, now is the time to jumpstart the habit. A budget is your best tool for tackling any financial difficulties and achieving goals for future you! Budgeting lets you plan how you want to spend your money, while tracking your spending habits. When you track your spending consistently and stay on budget, you can start making things happen so that you reach your financial goals. Budget apps like Mint make it easy to connect to your bank account and see where your money goes. After you’ve done that, it’s up to you to split your income between bills, necessities, savings, and fun.

If you’ve already set up a budget, this step should be simple. Take a second look at where your money goes. It’s easy to overlook your gym membership getting more expensive or your car insurance going up a couple bucks. Those types of changes can add up quickly and have a big impact on your financial life.

No matter your starting point, once you’ve gone through your budget, it’s easier to search for places where you’re overspending. Are you really using all of your subscription services? Do you need to be celebrating Taco Tuesday that often (and did you need that extra margarita)? Can you stream a little less and get a smaller data plan? Try it! We believe in you.

2. Set it and Forget it!

Have trouble saving as much as you should? You’re not alone! Consider harnessing the power of automatic savings contributions. Having money taken out of your paycheck before you see it, streamlines the savings process and curbs temptation. It’s hard to spend money you don’t gain access to, whether by having money from each paycheck filter directly into a savings account or into your company’s 401(k). If you already have automatic deposits set up for your emergency fund and retirement accounts, nice work! Now consider increasing your contributions.

Once you automate your savings, take it a step further and automate your bill pay. You should always review your bills for accuracy, but paying at least some of them automatically will save you some hassle—and ensure your payments are always on time. To prevent any account-draining surprises, you may find it better to only automate bills that are the same every month (like your cable bill), rather than ones that vary every month (like your credit card bill).

3. Give Your Credit a Checkup

Credit Scores are often used as the barometer of your financial health. The higher your score, the more financially stable you seem. Knowing your credit score is essential—in the words of the old Schoolhouse Rock cartoons, “Knowledge is Power”. Even if the number isn’t as high as you’d like, your financial picture can’t get better until you have a picture of where you’re starting from.

Approximately 36 billion pieces of credit data are reported every year, so reporting mistakes are nearly inevitable. Since errors in your public records, personal information, and credit accounts can cause your credit score to tank, it’s important to keep a close eye on your credit. Any credit accounts listed that don’t belong to you could be a tip-off to identity theft or credit card fraud.

Luckily, you can request a free credit report every year from each of the three major consumer reporting companies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Or do it our favorite way, which is to request one free report from a different bureau every four months and monitor your credit throughout the year.

 

So, what’s on your financial to-do list? If it’s learning about retirement options, we can help! Learn how you can get on the path toward a financially secure future with Ubiquity

 

4. Take a Peek at Your Debt

It’s really easy to put your head in the sand and not acknowledge the debt you have. Look at your credit card balances and other loans. Has your level of debt changed since the last time you checked? If it has decreased, way to go! You’re on your way. If it has increased, maybe it’s time to look at your budget again and find where you’re overspending. This is also a good time to check your interest rates,and see if you’re in a position to save by refinancing.

 

5. Review Your Retirement Plan Contributions

There’s no question that saving consistently for retirement is an important step toward a more financial future.  By starting to save as much as you can now, you will have the freedom to choose how you want to live when you retire. And since your 401k contribution comes out of your check pre-tax, you lower your taxable income. In a way, it’s like paying for your 401k with money that you otherwise would have spent on your taxes. In 2018, you can contribute up to $18,500 to your 401(k) if you’re under 50 or $24,500 if you’re 50 or older.

All About 401k Hardship Withdrawals

Dylan Telerski / 12 Jul 2018 / 401k Resources

hardship renovation

 

Sometimes life sends us devastating curveballs with deep financial consequences. If you’ve fallen into dire circumstances, and have already dipped into your savings, there may be hope in your 401k plan. While ordinarily, you cannot withdraw money from your retirement account until your employment ends (or turn 55), many plans allow something called a hardship withdrawal.

What counts as a hardship?

While lots of overwhelming financial situations can arise in life, only specific circumstances can be classified as a hardship. According to the IRS, a hardship must be an “immediate and heavy financial need” and “the [withdrawal] amount must be necessary to satisfy the financial need.” That second part means that there can’t be any other resources used to cover your emergency.

Most plans allow withdrawals for the following:

  • Unexpected medical expenses not covered by your insurance (For you, your spouse, or your dependents)
  • Purchase of a home (Your principal residence—not a vacation home)
  • Tuition and related educational fees
  • Preventing eviction or foreclosure
  • Funeral or burial expenses
  • Repair of major damage your primary home

Every plan is different; so it’s important to check with your employer see if your plan has any additional requirements or restrictions. Your plan administrator may need some documentation along with your request to illustrate your financial need. This will generally involve information about the hardship, verifying how much you need, and proving you’ve exhausted all other options.

After you take a 401k hardship withdrawal

Most plans require the employee to stop contributing to their plan for six months following a hardship distribution. Hardship distributions are taxable and subject to the 10% early withdrawal penalty unless an exception applies.

Do you qualify for a 401k hardship withdrawal?

To find out if your plan allows for a 401k hardship withdrawal you will need to talk to your plan sponsor, which might be someone in the HR department or even the owner of your business. You can also call the phone number on your 401k account statement.

Should I take a 401k loan instead of a 401k hardship withdrawal?

Employees are required to repay these loans, and unlike the hardship withdrawal, they will not be taxed for the loan. One thing to keep in mind about 401k loans is that they are generally recommended as an absolute last resort in comparison to other types of loans. Want to learn more? Check out our post on Is it a Good Idea to take out a 401k loan?

Anything else I should think about?

Tax Implications

If you are younger than 59 ½, you’ll owe a 10% early distribution tax, in addition to federal, state, and local taxes if you distribute pre-tax savings.

What’s So Safe About Safe Harbor?

Dylan Telerski / 11 Jun 2018 / 401k Resources

Getting ready to offer a 401(k) retirement plan to your employees? Way to go!

Offering benefits your employees want and need is a foolproof way to attract and maintain incredible talent. Along with an uptick in employee satisfaction, you’ll also gain more tax-deferred savings— it’s a win-win.

Before you go skipping into a field of “I’m-the-best-boss” bliss, keep in mind that offering a 401(k) plan comes with added responsibilities. One of these tasks is making sure your plan is run fairly, and that everyone has the opportunity to fully participate— not just owners and other company bigwigs.

Contributing to a 401(k) comes with significant tax advantages, so the government wants to make sure your plan doesn’t unfairly benefit the company owners and the highest earners. (You may hear these groups referred to as “highly compensated employees” or “HCE”s.) The IRS set up a series of nondiscrimination tests to ensure your plan is fair and encourages participation from all employees.

The IRS Gives Tests?!

There are 3 annual nondiscrimination hoops to jump through.

  • The Actual Deferral Percentage (ADP) test: This limits the percentage of compensation that HCEs can defer into their 401k based on the average contribution rates of the non-highly paid employees.
  • The Actual Contribution Percentage (ACP) test: This ensures that the employer matching contributions and any after-tax employee contributions contributed for HCEs are not disproportionately higher as compared to non-highly paid employees.
  • The Top Heavy Test: This ensures that HCEs cumulatively hold less than 60% of the total plan balance.

In essence, ADP and ACP testing both make sure your plan doesn’t unfairly benefit HCEs, while the Top-Heavy test ensures they aren’t the main people contributors to your plan.

If your plan fails one of these tests, it’s an administrative nightmare filled with costly correctives and piles of paperwork. You may have to return a portion of the contributions made to HCEs or make additional contributions for the lower paid employees. But hurry, if you take too long to make the plan corrections, you’ll owe a 10% penalty. The IRS has Fix-it guides for both ADP/ACP failure and Top Heavy failure but it’s best to prevent the problem before it happens.

Skip the hassle with Safe Harbor

Are you already covered in stress hives at the thought of complicated compliance testing? Trust me, we understand. You’re already running a business and trying to maintain some semblance of a work/life balance— the last thing you need is more administrative headaches. That’s where Safe Harbor 401(k) plans come in

A Safe Harbor plan is specifically structured to automatically pass non-discrimination tests, or avoid them all together. In exchange for getting an automatic pass on the ADP and ACP tests and the extra administrative duties that go with the testing process, business owners must make a minimum contribution to the plan each year—which must be immediately 100% vested.

Are there Safe Harbor deadlines?

Yes! If you are starting a brand new 401k plan and want to have Safe Harbor take effect in the current calendar year, your plan must be fully set up and active by October 1st.

Keep in mind, designing a plan to suit your needs (along with all associated admin tasks) takes time. This means that the very latest you should be finalizing your plan is September 21st.

Is Safe Harbor Right for me?

A Safe Harbor 401(k) can seem like an obvious choice— but it may not be the best option for every plan. Safe Harbor plans are a great fit for small businesses (particularly those with under 25 employees) and businesses that have failed noncompliance testing in the past. But while you save in administrative hassle, you may pay a bit extra in plan costs and required contributions.

Weighing the pros and cons of a Safe Harbor plan for your business can be challenging—without all the additional hassle of setting up a 401(k). Luckily, our experts at Ubiquity can walk you through the plan design options and the setup process to make sure your plan is designed to fit perfectly to your needs.

At first glance, borrowing money from your 401(k) plan may seem the easiest, cheapest, and most sensible way to get the funds you need for a major purchase (like a new home or a car), to consolidate other debt, or for any other reason.

After all, it’s your money. You don’t need to fill out any lengthy forms or reveal personal credit information, the interest rate is usually lower than a bank or lending institution, repayment is easy, and you’d be paying the money, plus interest, back to yourself.

In some cases, this may be true if you really need the funds and don’t have any other suitable alternative. But there are drawbacks to borrowing from your retirement plan that can have a major impact on your future by limiting the amount available to you at retirement.

You lose the compounding advantage.

One of the major advantages to saving in a 401(k) plan is the ability of your money to compound on a tax-deferred basis. Over time this can be a powerful tool in building funds for your retirement. Borrowing from your account slows that compounding growth and you lose the time value of the money you borrow. The amount you borrow from your 401(k) account immediately stops earning whatever investment returns you would earn if it remained invested in the available funds.

Paying yourself interest isn’t that good a deal.

Your loan repayments are made with after-tax dollars. But that money is being paid into a tax-deferred plan account. When you are ready to retire your distribution (including your loan repayments) is considered a taxable event. This means your 401(k) loan payments are taxed twice. In addition, a loan from a retirement plan is considered a consumer loan and the interest is not tax-deductible, as it would be for a home equity loan.

The disaster of default.

Perhaps the most compelling reason not to borrow from your 401(k) plan is what can happen if you terminate your plan with an outstanding loan balance–or if you are simply unable to make your payments. If you terminate your plan for any reason while you have an outstanding loan, the remaining loan balance is due immediately. If you can’t afford to repay the loan in full, the entire outstanding principal becomes taxable and is deemed to be a distribution.

This can spell disaster.

Not only will you have to pay a tax on the distributed amount at your regular tax rate you will also be hit with a 10% non-deductible Federal tax penalty and a state penalty if the state you live in has one (if under age 59½). Depending on the amount it adds to your taxable income, the loan distribution may actually push you into a higher tax bracket–making costs even higher. The additional costs created by a loan default can be financially devastating.

Of course, it’s still comforting to know that if the need arises you do have access to your 401(k) funds. But if you consider taking a loan against your retirement, be sure to take all the consequences into consideration.

 

Want to learn more?

Check out this jargon-free glossary to 401(k) loan terms

Watch our retirement expert Andrew answer your 401(k) loan questions

Small Businesses have a big retirement problem. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, at companies with fewer than 50 workers the not even half the employees have access to a 401(k) or pension. At companies with 500 workers or more, 90 percent of employees have access to a retirement plan. Setting up an employee retirement plan can seem daunting for small business owners—if not impossible. Let’s clear up some misconceptions and review a few of the many reasons why offering an employer-sponsored retirement account is a great idea for small businesses of all types.

Investing in Your Employees Creates An Invested Team

How badly does your team want retirement? According to a 2015 Glassdoor survey, 31 percent of workers valued a workplace retirement account, such as a 401(k) or pension plan, over an increase in pay.

Even your team members who would prefer a wage pump want help preparing for the future. The Employment Benefit Research Institute found that two-thirds of employed workers not currently saving for retirement say they would be likely to start if automatic paycheck deductions ranging from 3 to 6 percent were used by their employer.

By offering a retirement plan, small businesses may be able to attract more talent—and retain the valuable team members they already have.

Low-Cost, Low-Hassle Plans

There’s a toxic myth floating around that retirement plans have to be clunky, expensive, and require an annual 1.5-2% fee to a provider. That’s a misconception! Nowadays, there are low-cost options, specifically designed for small businesses. (Full disclosure, we think our plans are pretty great. Check them out here)

Besides providing lower costs, choosing a third-party plan provider allows you to delegate certain plan responsibilities to let you focus on what you do best—running your business.

Use Plans to your (Tax) Benefit

Did you know those fees to set up and run a retirement plan may be tax deductible? Using Form 881, eligible small-business owners can claim a credit of up to $500 for qualified setup and administration fees, and costs to educate employees about the plan for each of the first three years of the plan. Just keep in mind that whatever plan expenses you use toward this credit, you can’t use as business expense deductions.

In 2017, the Employee Benefit Research Institute found that nearly 73 percent of workers not currently saving for retirement would be at least somewhat likely to start if contributions were matched by their employer. The good news for employers is that the IRS usually allows them to deduct these matches, subject to contribution limits on qualified employee plans (including the employer’s own plan).

Remember that all deferred employer contributions, including earnings and gains, are tax-free for employees until distributed by the small-business retirement plan. This is why an employer contribution is so valuable.

Bottom Line: Start Saving Today

As a small-business owner, it makes sense to look into offering an employee retirement savings plan. It’s an easy to implement perk that your team will value, is available through lower cost options, and provides tax breaks to both employees and employers. Sponsoring an employee retirement plan attracts and retains the best talent for your business. Showing your employees you have their interests in mind creates a happier, more engaged, and ultimately more successful team.

Learn More:

Download our Definitive Guide to Small Business 401(k)

© 2018 Ubiquity Retirement + Savings / Privacy Policy
1160 Battery Street, Suite 350, San Francisco, CA 94111 / Support: 855.401.4357

© 2018 Ubiquity Retirement + Savings / Privacy Policy
1160 Battery Street, Suite 350, San Francisco, CA 94111 / Support: 855.401.4357