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Financial Fitness Blog

Know your limits

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Eric SchwartzThe end of the year is closing in...watch your contribution limits! Contribution limits for 403(b) accounts are $18,000 for 2015; however, employees age 50 and older can contribute an additional $6,000 for a total of $24,000 per year. It's up to the participant (not the employer) to pay attention to limits.

During winter break it might also be a good time to:

  •  Review beneficiaries. If you've experienced any life events (marriage, divorce, birth of a child, death of a family member, etc.) it's time to update your beneficiaries.
  • Update your address, increase your contributions, and review your portfolio.

Give us a call if you need assistance or would like to set up a time for a financial consultation: 1-800-279-4030.

Eric Schwartz, Financial Planning Specialist

Member Benefits’ 403(b) enrollment booklet is now online

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Jay LukasWant to learn more about saving for retirement with the 403(b)? The contents of our 403(b) enrollment booklet are now on our website for easy access and perusal. Many people have found our booklet to be a great source of information on the 403(b). It has also been used as a teaching tool and resource by school employees who lead informal financial mentoring groups at their school.

Visit different sections of content, find forms and resources, get a full PDF copy of the booklet, and enroll online at weabenefits.com/enroll403b.

Jay Lukas, Assistant RIS Consultant

Financial remedies for new challenges

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Brenda EcheverriaIn our article, "Bridging the generation savings gap," we covered some of the different financial realities that the younger generation is facing and the importance of continuing to find ways to save. In today's blog, we share some resources and remedies available to help manage these new economic challenges.

Student loan debt issues

College tuition in the U.S. has been increasing faster than the rate of inflation for decades and faster than wages. Starting your earning years deep in debt presents all kinds of challenges.

Interest on unsubsidized student loans starts accruing right away when you receive your loan. Interest rates on most student loans are currently higher than the average mortgage rate.

  • Check into student loan forgiveness programs to see if you qualify. See our articles in the your$ summer 2014 and 2015 issues.
  • If you meet certain requirements, you might be eligible for student loan refinancing and consolidation, which can make it easier to manage repayment. Note: You should never be charged a fee to consolidate! Go to studentaid.ed.gov for more information.
  • Set up automatic monthly payments for your loans and you could reduce your interest rate by up to .25%.
  • Make payments while in school. This sounds counter-intuitive, but any amount you can throw at your loan will reduce what you owe.

Trending: Self-funded retirement

Employees have increased responsibility for funding their retirement. Employer funded pensions are a thing of the past.

  • Time is still on your side. Every day that slips by is a missed opportunity to maximize the impact of compound interest. Start now.
  • Roth IRA and 403(b) savings. This after-tax retirement savings option offers more flexibility and the opportunity to lower tax liability in retirement because all qualified withdrawals, including earnings, are tax free.
  • More and more districts are offering a match to employees for 403(b) contributions. It’s a relatively new benefit in the public employee world and can help you build up your savings faster. It’s free money. Don’t pass it up.
  • Minimizing the fees associated with retirement savings accounts is something you have control over and it will keep more of your money working for you.

WRS contribution reduces take home pay

Today’s Wisconsin public school employees split the required WRS contribution 50/50 with the district. Before Act 10, 100% of the contribution was paid by the district.

  • WRS is a wonderful benefit. It’s the ninth largest public pension fund in the U.S. It is fully funded and one of the best pensions in the country. You can learn more about your state pension through our popular video series. Go to weabenefits.com/seminars and click the “on demand” tab.

Changes in health insurance benefits

Act 10 mandates that Wisconsin public school employees pay a minimum of 12% of their health insurance premium and many districts have gone to high deductible plans.

  • Under 26 years old? Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, you have the option to join or remain on your parent’s plan even if you are married, not living with your parents, and eligible to enroll in your employer’s plan.

Get a free one-hour financial consultation: 1-800-279-4030

Brenda Echeverria, Financial Planner

All investment advisory services are offered through WEA Financial Advisors, Inc.

403(b) and IRA deadlines coming up this month

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Laura KampsMark your calendars for these important deadlines:

403(b) and IRA exchanges/transfers/rollovers

Exchanges, transfers, and rollovers require a longer processing time. Your completed paperwork (including approved third-party administrator transaction authorization if applicable) will be submitted to the payer company by the end of December if we receive it by December 12. This includes requests for IRA recharacterizations and conversions. Call us if you have any questions. We’re happy to help you through the process.

Postdated checks

We are not able to accept checks written and received this tax year (2015) for next tax year (2016). Postdated checks will be returned.

Year end withdrawal deadlines

If you would like to take a lump sum withdrawal from your 403(b) or IRA accounts before the end of 2015, your request must be received by us on or before December 18. Requests received after December 18 will be processed in January.

If you need assistance, give us a call at 1-800-279-4030.

Laura Kamps, RIS Specialist