There are so many things we know we should do: have health insurance, plan for retirement, save, budget--the list goes on and on. But what happens if we skip these crucial money musts? By Sarah Kaufman, REDBOOK.
It can seem impossible to add to your savings when there's so much use for money now, but rather than thinking of budgeting for retirement as an impediment, start seeing it as another tool to reach your goals, says Linda Descano, president and CEO of Citi's Women & Co.
When should you ideally start planning? "The day you start your first job," said Jean Setzfand, an AARP retirement expert. "If you're going to spend your last 35 years not working, you need to be saving for retirement during every one of the 35 or 40 years that you are working."
For example, a 25-year-old who contributes 5 percent of her $40K annual salary and ups her contribution to 10 percent later in life will save almost $1 million over the course of 40 years, according to AARP's retirement calculator.
But someone who begins saving at age 40 and contributes 10 percent of her $65K annual salary will save $600K over 25 years--almost $400K less than her early-acting counterpart.
Even if you're only beginning to save now, the key is sticking to the plan from here on out. "Choosing to focus on the possibilities that contributing to retirement savings affords rather than the 'penalties' it imposes is empowering," Descano says. "The more empowered I feel, the more motivated I am to stick with something."
Related: 25 Lazy Ways to Save Money
Around 43 percent of women say that although they consider themselves to be career-focused women, they would choose to slow down their careers as soon as they had children, according to a LinkedIn survey. Plus, 65 percent admit they would like a more flexible work environment, which would help them better balance their career and family.
We know the decision of whether to return to work after having children, and if so how soon and how often, is anything but black and white. However, it's worth remembering that if women take off too much time from work after having children, they lose not only the annual salary they would be making but also time in their industry that would help hone their skills and keep their salaries rising, says Nicole Williams, a LinkedIn career expert and founder of WORKS by Nicole Williams.
The high cost of child care, sometimes nearly equivalent to a woman's salary, is a common argument for staying home, but it's important to look five years out, too. At that point, children are school-age, not in need of full-time supervision, and you may find yourself itching to return to the office. But that's easier said that done after having been out of the workforce so long, and can mean settling for a lower salary and position.
With the Affordable Care Act now in effect, the cost of health care is about to change. Studies show that many people--particularly low-income Americans--will save money under the new plan. In 2016, out-of-pocket health-care costs will drop from $1,463 to $34 per year for the 11.5 million Americans who get insurance through the Affordable Care Act's expansion of Medicaid, according to a study from the RAND Foundation.
Exact premium costs vary based on household size, income, and location, with individuals earning less than $46,000 or families of four taking home less than $94,000 qualifying for lower costs. To find out what your family's premium would be under Obamacare, use this premium estimate tool.
If you choose to opt out, you'll be required to pay a $95 fine or 1 percent of your income--whichever is higher. But more importantly, choosing to forego health insurance means paying out-of-pocket for medical services. Pricing runs the gamut, but even routine visits can easily cost $160 and emergency room trips may start at $1,000--numbers that can add up fast.
Failing to take advantage of technology when it comes to important things, like health care, can result in being uninformed, left behind, and, ultimately, forced to turn over your finances and health care to someone else.
"We know that under the Affordable Care Act more physicians are going to have to prescribe either over smartphone or tablet," says Suzie Mitchell, founder and CEO of Clear Writing Solutions, a company that markets digital devices to boomers, seniors, and caregivers. It's important to know how to use at least a desktop computer, or you may be forced to either hire help or rely on a family member.
Another area where technology can save you money? Paying your bills. A recent CreditCards.com report found that women are more likely than men to be charged a late fee, which can run as high as $30, for not paying their credit card bill on time. To avoid getting hit with these fees, sign up for automatic bill pay so the bill is paid on the same day every month and is never late.
If you don't feel comfortable having the money automatically taken out of your account every month, set up automatic bill payment reminders using a bill and account management service.
Failing to monitor your credit can make big credit-driven purchases-think homes and cars-even more expensive than they already are, said Eric Adamowsky, credit expert for CreditCardInsider.com. That's because poor credit results in paying a higher interest rate, and even if it's a seemingly small 1 or 2 percent difference, the costs add up over time.
For example, if you take out a 15-year $100,000 mortgage at a 6.5-percent interest rate, you'll pay $156,780 over the loan's lifetime, according to retirement planning company Mutual of America. However, take that same 15-year mortgage but apply a 7.5-percent interest rate, and you're looking at paying a total of $166,860-a difference of more than $10,000.
To stay in the loop, sign up for your free credit report. If your credit rating has already dropped, start by checking your report for any errors, such as fraud, incorrect or inaccurate information, or a stolen identity, and dispute those with all three credit bureaus. From there, Adamowsky recommends paying off your highest-interest credit card first. Bonus: Lowering your credit utilization ratio--basically the percentage of your credit limit you actually use--could give your credit score a quick boost.
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