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WRS contribution rates up for 2014: Plan ahead

(Retirement) Permanent link

Brenda EcheverriaThe Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) contribution rate will increase from 13.3% to 14% in 2014. Employers and employees split the cost equally, so each will contribute 7% (up from 6.65% in 2013) of payroll toward the pension—an increase of 0.35% over last year.

What do you need to do?

Increases start January 1, so be prepared. Generally, the adjustment will not have a significant impact on your take home pay. However, it's a good idea to look at your budget in advance. This calculator can help you determine the change to your take home pay.

It's more important now than ever that Wisconsin public school employees save more to prepare for their retirement income needs, so resist the temptation to balance your budget by reducing the amount you contribute to other retirement savings accounts, such as an IRA or 403(b).

Would you like to talk to someone about how much you need to save for retirement? Set up a personal phone consultation with a consultant from Member Benefits or call 1-800-279-4030.

Brenda Echeverria, Financial Planner

This blog post is for informational purposes only and not intended to be legal or tax advice. Consult your tax advisor or attorney before taking any action. The 403(b) retirement program is offered by the WEA TSA Trust. TSA program registered representatives are licensed through WEA Investment Services, Inc., member FINRA.  The Trustee Custodian for the WEAC IRA accounts is Newport Trust Company.

Is your car ready for winter?

(Insurance) Permanent link

Mark DannehlWow, winter came early this year! If you haven't prepared your car for winter yet, now's the time. Here are a few tips.

  • Check your tires. Ensure your tires are properly inflated. Replace tires that are worn, or consider installing snow tires.
  • Change the oil. Use the recommended oil for winter to ensure a smooth-running engine.
  • Check wipers and wiper fluid.
  • Cold temperatures reduce a battery’s power. Test and replace if needed.
  • Keep a bag of cat litter in the trunk to help your tires tread up an icy hill.
  • Pack an emergency kit and keep it in your car. Make sure your kit includes:
    • Ice scraper
    • Shovel
    • Jumper cables
    • Wiper fluid
    • Blanket
    • Flashlight
    • Bottled water
    • Extra clothes
    • Snow boots

Stay safe and (try to) stay warm!

Mark Dannehl, Personal Insurance Consultant

Give the perfect holiday gift: All you have to do is open it

(Money Management) Permanent link

Brenda EcheverriaLooking for a great gift idea for that special kid? How about opening up a 529 college savings account on a child's behalf? A 529 is a tax-advantaged savings plan offered by a state that makes it easier to save for college or other post-secondary education. Wisconsin’s plan is called Edvest.

If you enroll before December 31 this year, you can take advantage of the Wisconsin state tax deadline.

  • Contributions and earnings used to pay for qualified higher education expenses are federal and Wisconsin income tax-free.
  • If you are a Wisconsin taxpayer, your contributions to Edvest reduce Wisconsin taxable income up to a maximum of $3,000 per beneficiary per year.
  • Contributions to Edvest may reduce the taxable value of your estate. See the "Tax Advantages" page at EdVest for more information.

Even better, EdVest makes it easy to set up an e-Gifting service where there are no checks to be mailed or deposited. Plus, Edvest provides a Gift of Education Certificate to symbolize your gift—wrap it, frame it, or place it in a card! To learn more, visit

Brenda Echeverria, Financial Planner

This blog post is for informational purposes only and not intended to be legal or tax advice. Consult your tax advisor or attorney before taking any action.