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Watching my dad retire 10 years earlier than expected made me change my money habits in 3 ways

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The author, Liz Knueven, left, with her dad.

  • My dad is retiring 10 years earlier than he expected, and it made me change my saving habits.
  • I realized retirement doesn't always happen when you expect, so I increased my savings.
  • I also started looking into an HSA to save more for healthcare expenses later.
  • Want to share your retirement story with Insider? We're looking for retirees to profile. Send reporter Liz Knueven an email at [email protected]

My dad didn't expect to be leaving work in 2021 – he thought he had about 10 more years left. But, he decided to take a deal to retire 10 years earlier than expected.

He's always extolled the merits of 401(k)s and IRAs to my brother and me, and encouraged each of us to open them up as soon as possible. Since he taught us, I had to think he'd be totally prepared for retirement, even though 10 years early is a lot of time. Which made me wonder: If I were to leave work 10 years earlier than expected, would I be ready? My answer was likely a no.

So, I made three straightforward changes to how I'm saving and investing for later.

1. I upped my 401(k) contribution

No one adjusts their 401(k) contribution more than I do, and I keep increasing it whenever I feel the nudge. While I do it at least once a year, I felt another nudge when my dad told us the news.

Since it's hard to go wrong with saving more earlier, it felt like the right move. Retirement savings grow based on compound interest, where money saved earns money over time. Since I'm still relatively young, anything I invest now will have lots of time and potential to grow.

I like to think that I have control over a lot of things in my life, but my dad's sudden retirement was a good reminder that that's not always the case. Increasing my contributions even by a small amount made me feel like I was taking a step in the right direction.



2. I'm looking into an HSA

My initial reaction to my dad retiring wasn't, "What do you plan to do with your time?" After covering these topics as a reporter, it was, "What will you do about healthcare?"

Healthcare expenses are one of the biggest costs retirees will face. For my dad, who's retiring before he becomes eligible for Medicare at age 65, it's even more tricky. Getting affordable healthcare in the years between retirement and Medicare age can be a huge expense. (My dad will have insurance from his job for a while, and then he's prepared to pay for private insurance until Medicare kicks in.)

Not knowing what I'd do in this situation, I started looking into a Health Savings Account, or HSA. These accounts are a way to save more for medical expenses and healthcare costs both now and later on. The funds don't expire and can be invested for the long-term. They're tax-advantaged in three ways: Tax-free money goes in, grows tax-free, and withdrawals are tax-free.

3. I increased my IRA contributions, and automated the deposits

My dad's retirement is forcing me to re-think my own goals and how I'll get there.

In addition to increasing my 401(k) contribution, I realized I could do better with my IRA contributions. I wanted to be as consistent as possible, and contribute more. To do that, I modified my direct deposit to my IRA.

Instead of having one big chunk that comes out at the beginning or end of the month, I found that I'd be able to contribute more by putting in money weekly. That allowed me to increase what I'm saving overall.

While everyone's retirement is different, I hope that I can prepare myself well enough for my own to be as smooth as my dad's.

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Personal Finance

Financial planners say their clients thank them most for 5 smart money tips

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Financial planners say their clients appreciate personalized advice.

  • Financial planners say their clients get the most value from a handful of money tips.
  • Those tips include how to save for the near future, and how to choose the right life insurance.
  • Other advice: Time in the market is better than timing the market, and use your HSA to invest.
  • Vanguard Personal Advisor Services

When it comes to managing your personal finances, there's a lot of advice that gets floated around. You might find yourself asking friends for tips, reading articles for hours, or even scrolling social media to see what your favorite financial influencers have to say.

I spend a lot of quality time learning about finances and trying to figure out how to optimize and enhance my own portfolio. When I talk to financial planners and advisors, I find myself inundated with so much good information that it can be overwhelming. That's why I decided to try to find the best tips that financial planners give to their clients by asking them which tidbits of information make their clients thank them again and again. Here's what they had to say.



Don't just save for the faraway future

Many people work hard now and save for their future retirement. But Jake Northrup, a financial planner and advisor, says that it's not enough to just save for later on in life, and his clients appreciate his strategies that focus on the near future as well.

"You need to save in the right ways to provide you with the flexibility to use money throughout your life, rather than just waiting until age 59.5 when most pre-tax account penalties disappear," says Northrup.

He encourages his clients to save in different "buckets," each with a corresponding investment strategy: zero to five years, five to 15 years, and 15+ years.

"Many people handcuff their ability to enjoy money throughout life because they only save in their 401(k). By also saving into a Roth IRA and brokerage account, you give yourself the flexibility to utilize money much earlier in life," says Northrup.

Get a financial education

If there's one thing I've learned in my own personal finance journey, it's that you have to seek out personalized advice along the way. Financial planner Cody Garrett says that personalized education during the financial planning process always garners tremendous appreciation later on.

Says Garrett, "Unlike financial 'advice' that tells others what to do, education provides the clarity and confidence for families to make their own well-informed decisions. Given the uncertainty and financial variables out of our control on the path to and through retirement, having clarity about one's financial situation and a measurable action plan to refine the plan has greater value than the numbers on the page."

What kind of life insurance is needed

A big part of working with a financial planner or advisor is getting help figuring out what types of insurance you need. Charles H Thomas III, a financial planner, says that it means a lot to clients when he can help them plan for big situations that could happen later on.

"I work with lots of families who know they need life insurance to protect their children, but are unsure where to start or how much they need," says Thomas. "When I work with a family to see what future obligations need to be covered, like college, income replacement, and more, it removes a lot of stress and uncertainty from the decision."

Treat your HSA as a long-term investment account

Perhaps some of the best advice involves strategies that aren't so obvious.

Financial planner Kevin Mahoney finds that one of his most helpful pieces of advice is to treat your health savings account like a powerful long-term investment account.

"Many of the millennials with whom I meet have not considered how an HSA may fit into their overall investment strategy," says Mahoney. "For my peers who do have these accounts, they often spend the contributions in the same tax year or don't take advantage of the HSA's investment option. But the HSA's triple tax benefits mean that contributions invested today in low-cost, diversified funds can grow to significant amounts by the time retirement (and our larger healthcare expenditures) arrives."

Time in the market is better than timing the market

When it comes to getting advice on investing in the market, there are varying schools of thought. Financial planner Keith Onto says clients appreciate it when he reminds them that time in the market is more important than timing the market.

"I can't tell you how many times clients have reached out and asked whether now is the time to sell and move to cash in anticipation of the next correction," says Onto. "No one can consistently time the market, and more often than not the market has gone the opposite direction of what the client may expect. More importantly, the client needs to be reminded of the time horizon for their individual goals."

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Personal Finance

How to Dig Out of a Financial Hole in 5 Steps

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Running into a financial dead-end is no one’s dream. But it is definitely everyone’s nightmare. With the thoughts of lost assets, unpaid debts, and little to no funds, the situation is enough to induce anxiety among the toughest of minds. 

If you find yourself in such a scenario, it can be difficult to find the light at the end of the tunnel. But even though it can be difficult to believe, all is not lost in a financially challenging situation. As long as you keep your wits and perseverance intact, you can make your way out of these difficulties. 

To help you make it through to the other end, here’s how to dig out of a financial hole in 5 steps. 

1. Assess Your Situation

With millions of people struggling with debt, collections, and limited income, you are not alone in your financial problems. But similar to almost every human experience, the challenge looks unique for everyone. Keeping this in mind, make it a point to assess your specific situation. From your existing debts to your current assets, this calls for you to take every detail into account.

From there, you can learn how debt collection laws protect you in your specific situation and how you can manage recovery with your current income. This lets you plan your next steps, such as expense control and debt payments, with a comprehensive picture in your mind. 

2. Speak to a Financial Advisor

While taking note of your specific scenario is a basic first step, its effective resolution calls for professional help. That is where you can speak to financial advisors who specialize in helping people out of financial ruts. With many such professionals now making use of advisor transition services, you can find them running their own private or affiliated practice.

This makes it incredibly easy to reach out to these experts and get the advice that you need for financial stability. These professionals can advise you on aspects such as controlling your expenses and maximizing debt repayments. This ensures that you can recover your finances in a timely manner, while also benefiting from knowledgeable decisions to boot. 

3. Find Ways to Keep Motivated

If you are planning to simply barge on with financial management with no regard to mental health, you might crumble under the process before you have even started. That is why it is important that you find ways to keep yourself motivated. Looking into a mental health app can help you in this regard. 

In recent years, mental health coaching has joined the ranks of flourishing business ideas in the medical industry. This makes it easier for you to reach out to these experts even from the comfort of your home. In many cases, these services also don’t break the bank. This allows you to access them on a budget and lets you follow your goals with their help.

4. Stick to Your Budget

Making your way out of a financial rut requires persistence at every step. This is perhaps more evident in the practice of sticking to a budget, which comes into play in almost all financial recovery plans. That is where a budget planner app can come to the rescue. 

By using these solutions, you can have the information about your financial recovery handy with you at all times. If you ever need to refer to your financial standing before a purchase or a payment, you can simply refer to your phone in your pocket. This convenience is one of the top reasons why you need a budget planner. At the same time, the solution stays critical in terms of following financial recovery plans. 

5. Do Regular Check Ins 

Whether you are going at it solo or getting help from a professional, handling financial management calls for frequent check ins. This not only enables you to determine the efficacy of your budgeting and expense control efforts, but also allows you to tweak your ongoing strategy as you see fit. This particular aspect goes a long way towards helping you out of your financial problems.

Doing so on your own will require intensive calculations and planning. But if you have the help of a financial expert, you can simply hop onto a video chat app to get precise advice about revised strategies. This ensures that you have everything you need to optimize your ongoing plans. 

By keeping these points in mind, you can navigate your way through your financial challenge and towards your ideal recovery. This helps you improve your financial status in a timely manner, while also taking care of your overall well-being.

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Banking

Top 4 Reasons to Consider the Help of a Factoring Company for Your Business

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Many businesses fall upon financial strains that hinder their productivity and interfere with their daily operations. The traditional route has been to acquire a business loan to facilitate those needs. There are other ways to stay afloat while in operation though. One of those ways is a method called “factoring”. 

1. What Is Factoring?

Factoring is when a company provides invoice factoring services to alleviate financial pressure. This entails purchasing invoices at a determined discount. A percentage of the invoices are then allocated to the business within days to facilitate those needs. This subsequently enables the factoring company to take claim of the invoices and the payment processes that are accompanied by them. This is very beneficial to the said company for many reasons, one is an immediate increase of monthly cash flow and the shortening of anticipated invoice payments.

Dynamics of a Factoring Company:

  • Service is performed for a customer and then they are invoiced usually encompassing a 30, 60, or 90 payment window.
  • When a batch of invoices is collected, they are then transferred to a particular factoring company. 
  • The business is then advanced a percentage (typically 85%) of the invoices presented. This is usually completed within a 24 to 36 hours timeframe.
  • The factoring company is now responsible for the collection of the invoice from the initial customer.
  • When the invoice is paid in its totality from the customer, the remaining balance is then allocated to the business. A service fee is rendered to the business as well. This is taken directly out of the remaining balance. The fee is usually around 1 to 5%.

There are three types of factoring companies: recourse, non-recourse, and spot factoring.

  • Recourse is when the business owner assumes all liability if the invoices aren’t paid. This factoring type is the most common and affordable. Since the company agrees to be held liable for the risks involved within the transaction.
  • Non-Recourse of course is when the factoring company assumes the liability encompassed in the invoice’s assignment to them. If the customer reneges on their obligation to pay the invoice, the business can’t be held liable for payment.
  • Spot factoring is a type of factoring that accepts one or more invoices excluding a long-term agreement that the other two types entail. Also labeled single invoice financing, spot factoring is a convenient way to monetize invoices for compensation.

Before a business decides on a particular type of factoring, it should analyze certain factors. Evaluating their customer’s payment history and the number of their invoices are to be evaluated. For example, if the amount in question is considered small, the business owner may choose to absorb the risks themselves. 

2. Using a Factoring Company vs. a Bank Loan

Using a factoring company has some key benefits that traditional bank loans strain to accomplish. Here are some comparisons that differentiate the two:

Factoring Companies:

  • A debt-free form of financing
  • Unlimited Capital Allocation
  • Approval times are quicker, usually within 1-3 Days
  • Financing terms are determined upon the client’s creditworthiness
  • Minimal paperwork involved

Traditional Bank Loan:

  • Loan amount determined upon business’s creditworthiness
  • Longer approval period (even for a small loan)
  • Capped funding (loan is limited to a certain amount) 
  • The principal and interest is repaid within a determined duration    

3. Factoring Costs

 The costs of factoring are based upon a set of factors. These factors are mainly determined by the invoice’s creditworthiness and financing volume. Fees typically range from 1% to 3.5% for most companies. With some factoring companies, the fees are tailored to their specific circumstance, while others are charged a flat rate. Depending upon the business’s need the factoring cost vary. Factoring costs also depend upon the type of financing received. The different types of financing are purchase orders, Accounts Receivable, Purchase Order, and Trade Payable Financing. 

  • Accounts Receivables are used to convert credit terms into cash flow.
  • Purchase Orders are a viable option for wholesalers, vendors, and distributors.
  • Trade Payables finances goods and services directly from the supplier to the buyer.

 4. Payroll Funding

Accessing the cash flow needed to meet payroll can be a challenge. Factoring companies can accommodate these needs with efficiency and flexibility. Unlike most bank financing, the right factoring company can provide cash flow to facilitate payroll. Just this aspect of factoring can be a miracle to a business in a strain. 

Payroll funding can range anywhere between 80% to 95% of the accounts payable rendered. Employees should be compensated whether the business is growing rapidly or at a slower pace. Successful companies do just that, take care of their employees to facilitate overall growth. Payroll funding facilitates this need with effectiveness and efficiency.

Conclusion

As you’ve probably discovered within this article, there are many benefits for businesses to utilize a factoring company. From payroll funding to funding purchase orders, to invoice funding and even funding for a startup business as well, having a factoring company as an ally, definitely provides a sense of security for many businesses in need. As a business owner, having the ability to exponentially scale their enterprise is worth the ongoing investment. Cash flow is the key to most businesses ‘ success. Choosing the right one to accommodate you shouldn’t be left to just any company. atLine, a division of The Southern Bank Company can facilitate your Invoicing and Accounts Receivable financing needs.

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