Part 2 of “under the radar” tax law changes. These changes lead to a needed discussion of current, related tax topics applying to ALL ages of savers with 401k accounts – and possibly IRA accounts too. There is still a decent amount of time remaining in 2023 to make a difference in 401k saving.
Remember that Roth 401k plans have slightly different income requirements than Roth IRA accounts:
Roth 401k accounts (which run alongside regular 401k accounts) have NO income limits.
Consider this edition of TGIF 2 Minutes an “automatic Part 1” in a 2-part series on changes to the taxation of 401k contributions.
Calling these tax changes “under the radar” may be underestimating the level of attention paid by the average TGIF 2 Minutes reader to tax news. But fear not! Missing these tax changes is common and mostly due to
the IRS typically making substantial tax law changes overnight in the last two weeks of December (see: 2015, 2017, 2020, 2021, 2022 and prior) thus easily missed by the most attentive of savers amidst year-end and holiday activity,
the complicated language used in the changes, confusing both savers and employers and their HR departments.
Superstition is not a strategy, although elite, professional athletes subscribe to superstitions all the time*. The reason for bringing up the topic is that talking about the stock market’s positive performance year-to-date in 2023 could warrant dialing back the optimism – for superstitious reasons! Hence, the “…” in the title “So Far So Good…”.
This said, the US stock market just finished a strong 2-month set of returns, in addition to an excellent January and stable returns in between. This positive performance has no guarantee of continuing but is evidence that staying in the stock market for the long-term – with a plan – can have positive long-term consequences.
The S&P 500 is up 16.4% year-to-date.
The Nasdaq over the same period is up over 31%.
The Russell 2000 Index of small companies is up 9.2%.
What happens when the house down the street suddenly sells for over $1 million dollars?! (And all the other very nice homes on the street were purchased for $550,000 or less within the past 10 years or so, maybe $700k for a couple of more recent sales?)
A couple of possible answers with explanation:
Real estate in desirable areas is still white hot. And while areas in the US northeast, California, and Florida (among other high-priced areas for homes) commonly see homes priced in the $3 million to $5 million+ range, homes nationally sell for an average of much less. Depending on which source or what inputs (new or existing, list price, sales price, or market price, etc.) the average home sale price in the US is between $391,000 and $507,000*. Therefore, in most neighborhoods when a home suddenly sells for $1.1 million (or $2.1 million) dollars it is consequential for the local market, especially the neighbors!
From the TGIF 2 Minutes Archives… with an update on buying cars for kids.
There are few things as exciting as getting a new car: the “new car smell”, the test drive, sound system, sunroof, heated seats… the feeling of “everything is new”. And these days cars are advanced computers on wheels and can be very cool.
With that said (back in mid-2021) yours truly bought a new car – the first new car in 15 years! The 2005 (Certified Pre-Owned) B-mer went 180k miles and could have gone another 100k but with too much maintenance. It was time for a new vehicle. But what new car to buy? New or used? Sedan or SUV? Buy or lease? And the cost: go expensive or go reasonable in cost?
Any major purchase – housing, appliances, transportation, kids’ education, family vacations, etc. – needs to be evaluated both from a financial and emotional perspective. The emotional side is fairly obvious, but the financial side has both obvious and not-so-obvious factors. Cash flow considerations are obvious and not-so-obvious too.
Believe it or not, the following is taken from October 2022 (with a couple of updates). Inflation almost always takes longer to tame than we think.
A question that may be on a number of people’s minds is: How long will it take to tame inflation? Unfortunately, there is very little telling how long it will take the US Federal Reserve, or any other entity or force, to tame inflation, especially in the short-term. Part of the reason is because inflation is always part of a complicated economy – with diverse people, businesses and governmental/fiscal forces in action. Timing (and hard-landing/soft-landing) predictions about inflation are nearly impossible.
Currently the limit on the amount the US government can borrow is a mind-boggling $31.4 trillion. This limit was reached this past January and since then the US Treasury has been using “extraordinary measures” to continue to pay government bills. Funds from these measures, such as using available tax revenue or borrowing from the retirement accounts of federal workers (not allowed by private employers), are said to become exhausted by about June 1st or so.
The government borrows (or issues debt) because it spends more than it takes in via tax revenue. These borrowed funds are used to pay government workers, but for numerous other critical reasons including:
For a bond that must be held for a minimum of five (5) years for full interest to be received and can only be bought in amounts of $10,000 per year, I get a lot of questions.
To put the situation in perspective, for clients and friends with high levels of income, in the hundreds of thousands and much more, and high tax rates – marginal rates of over 32% – the interest at stake with an I-Bond is currently $600 to $800 per year and that is before taxes! That level of net interest may pay a portion of one car lease payment per year or weekend gas for a boat (in 5 years). BUT nevertheless, I get questions.
More and more lately, perhaps as a result of the post-pandemic world, I am being asked for basic financial advice – from both young people AND those in the over-55 crowd. By the way, the over-55 crowd who ask this question are typically wealthy with comfortable lifestyles. The basic financial advice they seek includes the question, “Are we OK financially?”
A handful of smart people ask for further definition of “OK” and then ask the same question, “Well then, are we OK financially?” The answer comes down to super-basic elements, and thus today’s short edition of TGIF 2 Minutes.
From the Archives of TGIF 2 Minutes – with an update on cash.
One of the most critical factors of long-term personal financial success is…. guess:
A) The markets
C) Interest rates
D) Stock selection
E) Income level
And the answer is… SPENDING. This fact is why a truly competent financial planner will spend the most time on discussing spending, both today and future projected. Spending can also be expressed as “lifestyle” or “the basics of food, shelter, and transportation plus lifestyle”.
However, the inevitable will happen. And YOLO (“You Only Live Once”) will creep in.