Optimize your 401K Planning

People are living longer, which has become a problem… in that we risk outliving our retirement income. Pensions are all but unheard of outside of heavily-unionized industries and the government, and both these entities have increasingly transferred more and more responsibility to the individual worker as far as their retirement account is concerned. When it comes to employer-sponsored plans like 401(k) s, it is vital for workers, savers and investors (and you should see yourself as all three) to make the most they can out of the plans. While there are some differences with other plans, like 403(b) s, most of this advice applies fairly well across the major plans in the United States. Below is a list of ways to get the most benefit out of your 401(k).

Work Backwards – For folks who have the ambition and the financial wherewithal to truly make the most of their 401(k), one of the best ways to begin is by working backwards. Take your maximum allowable contribution (your 401(k) plan documents should make this number relatively clear, or you can ask for help), divide it by the number of pay periods in a year, and see where that leaves you.

Make the Match – Fully exploiting employer matching is one of the most vital strategies in getting the most out of a 401(k) plan. Matching is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – subject to certain rules and limits, your employer will contribute the same amount of money you contribute, effectively doubling your retirement savings without decreasing your salary or increasing your tax burden. Many employer matches kick in at 3% of your pay (or higher), so try as hard as you can to at least contribute this much. Afterall, who doesn’t like free money?

Watch the Costs – As part of some employee retirement plans, workers can avail themselves of investment advice from independent professionals. Be advised that this advice is rarely free and it may cost up to 1 to 2% of your funds to get this help. It’s understandable that many workers feel overwhelmed when it comes to calculating their contributions, and then investing that money in a relatively fixed menu of investment options. However, if the advice really is from someone who does not stand to directly gain from the advice they give, and they are qualified to help you understand the options, it may be well worth it.

Consider Borrowing – For workers who save some funds in a 401(k) but find that they cannot contribute more, because they are saddled with expensive debt, there may be a counter-intuitive option. Most plans have provisions that allow employees to borrow funds from their own account. This money comes relatively free of strings ( as what the funds can be used for), and it is possible to use it to repay much more expensive debt, like credit card debt. This money does not come free, but the good news is that the interest charged is basically being paid to you.

Additional Options – What do you do if you have maxed out your 401(k) or you really hate the investment options offered? In most cases, it is allowable to have a Roth IRA and 401(k) and contribute to both in the same year. The Roth IRA contributions are not deductible, but the money put aside this way can still accumulate tax-free over decades.

Once you have contributed as much as possible to these tax-sheltered accounts, there are still other ways to save for retirement. People who are lucky to have maxed out their 401(k) or IRAs in a year can consider buying and investing in annuities. There are a lot of problems with annuities – they can carry high sales loads, they typically have high expenses and sponsors have continually transferred more risk to the investor. All of that said, money in an annuity can accumulate without year-to-year taxation, and it is a worthwhile option if protecting even more retirement savings from the taxman is important.

Additionally, you can invest in real estate. The gains are not calculated until/unless you sell, and your tenants pay your mortgage, adding to the wealth created by the appreciation.

Speak up 
– Notifying your employer about a deficient plan can be an effective means of improving your options (and those of your co-workers). If you do not like how a plan is organized or the investment options on offer, say so. Keep in mind that many employers choose 401(k) plans on the basis of what is cheapest and most convenient to offer, and they may not even be aware of its deficiencies. While it is true that many workers do not like to be a squeaky wheel, and some companies are certainly apt to be more responsive than others, doing nothing is a pretty good way to ensure that the plan will get no better.

Careful savings is not likely to be the gateway to becoming a millionaire or independently wealthy, but it can at least go a long way towards ensuring a more comfortable and desirable retirement. Whatever the specific plans being offer to you, be it a 401(k), a 403(b), an IRA and so on, make sure to contribute as much as you can afford and take full advantage of your opportunity to save money for the future.

Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

 

10 tips to make small rooms feel larger

Some of the rooms in your home are spacious and others are may be smaller and more challenging to try to get a roomier feeling.  Here are some key tips to make the smaller rooms count:

  • Create a floor plan of the room so you can figure out which items of furniture will look best together in a small space.
  • Remember less is more – do not overstuff the room with things.
  • You can use a brighter color in a small space so it doesn’t look too dark.
  • Use white as an accent color to make the room look bigger – white ceiling, white molding and white cabinets.
  • The use of mirrors in small spaces instantly males a space look larger.
  • Make sure the furniture for smaller spaces is the proper size and scale for a smaller room – big and bulky pieces won’t work.
  • Use glass table tops – this will give a sense of weightlessness to the room.
  • Use different shapes – round tables work well in small areas.
  • A neutral lighter shade palette to make the room soothing and appealing.
  • Decide the function of this room – it’s a small space so plan wisely. If it’s an extra bedroom furnish it as so – don’t think of it as extra bedroom/computer room/den. It just will be crowded.

Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

 

Leave your shoes at the door?

Some people come home from their day out doing whatever they are doing and before they come inside their homes take their shoes off at the door.  A lot of people keep an extra pair of slippers or socks at the doorway to their garage if they do not like to walk around barefoot.

The University of Arizona did a study and found that 96 percent of shoes had some bacteria on them from public places and 27 percent of them had E coli – that can cause gastric issues, pneumonia or infections.  Shoes come in contact with allergens, gasoline, debris from garbage, and pesticides.  Plus in Las Vegas there is a lot of construction all over town so you are also bringing into your home plain old-fashioned dirt.

If you have children that play on the floor or pets do you really want them to come in contact with the germs etc. that can be on your shoes?  Have you ever dropped something on the floor and though, “it’s just dirt”? Elderly people should think about removing their shoes and asking guests to leave their shoes at the door since their immune systems are not as strong as they used to be.

Vacuuming & mopping your floors regularly can help with the problem – do you really want to do that every day?!

I have friends that ask their guest to take off their shoes before coming into their homes and I have always respected the request, and honestly I thought they were being a little silly not wanting their floors to get “dirty”.  After researching this blog I am seriously considering having my family remove their shoes to keep some of the dirt and bacteria at bay.  Also I recommend washing your washable shoes like sneakers on a regular basis.

Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

UNLV and other organizations team up for free Christmas tree recycling

UNLV and community organizations will team up this holiday season to help turn Christmas trees into mulch. This free recycling service will be available at more than 30 locations around the valley beginning Dec. 26 and run through Jan. 15.

The recycled trees are chipped into mulch and used in public gardens and parks across the community, according to a service spokesperson. The trees will help conserve soil moisture, dust control and keep plants healthy.

UNLV recycling manager Tara Pike-Nordstrom stated “Recycling trees is a great way to give back to the community as they stay local and beautify our parks.” More than 15,000 trees were recycled last year into 136 tons of nutrient-rich mulch. Local landfill volume was spared the equivalent of ten school buses.

This community based program was started in 2001 and since then over 227,000 trees have been recycled. The organizers of this event suggest removing all non-organic materials such as lights, wire, tinsel, ornaments, nails, tree stands and any other items that are not part of the tree before recycling it.  Also, flocked trees cannot be recycled, and trees more than 5 feet tall should be cut in half.

Las Vegas Cub Scout Pack 219 and Boy Scout Troop 96 will be collecting trees to recycle for residents who want to recycle but are unable to drop off their trees. The scouts earn a conservation badge and raise funds for their organizations.

The Southern Nevada Christmas Tree Recycling Committee is a partnership of local businesses and community agencies, including UNLV’s Rebel Recycling program and the Springs Preserve.

Check here for the closest available locations.

Also, mulch from the trees will be available for free to community members at several valley locations from Dec. 28 to Jan. 14. These spots include Pecos Legacy Park, Acacia Park, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, North Las Vegas Research Center, Demonstration Orchard and its Lifelong Learning Center in Las Vegas.

Pickup times vary, and residents are encouraged to call UNCE’s Clark County office at 702-222-3130.

Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

Why are you still having packages delivered to your front door?

Do you also still leave your house and car unlocked? Do you leave your purse or wallet on the front porch too? Come on people! There are pirates out there (and I’m not talking the Pirates of Penzance or the Pirates of the Caribbean) Being a porch pirate has become as trendy and cool as the Keto diet and many of you are still hoping you won’t be next, instead of doing something intelligent about it. I regularly see posts on Nextdoor and Facebook about packages being stolen… with a video of the thief! For Pete’s sake, people, stop being a victim!

When it comes to having packages delivered, here are some DO’s and DON’Ts;

DO mail it to a neighbor/friend who is home during the day (make sure you check with them first)

DO use an Amazon Locker [use this link for the words Amazon Locker https://www.amazon.com/primeinsider/tips/amazon-locker-qa.html%5D

DO mail it to your job (make sure you ask permission first – this will not work for every employer – I’m sure the casinos, for example, do not have the resources to allow for this – but smaller business might).

DO get a mailing address at a local UPS Store or Postnet (you can also get a PO Box, but understand that only the US Postal service can deliver there, so that will eliminate deliveries from FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc.)

DO look for other options – I assure you they exist! I can’t remember where I was recently (I think in a grocery store) – they had an advertisement “Have your packages delivered here… safely” and the reason I don’t remember where I was is because when I read the sign I thought to myself, “I already get my mail at a UPS store, so that is not important for me to remember”

DON’T think your video camera will thwart the attempts – it’s such a low impact crime, the police don’t really have the resources to chase after them and (based on what I see on social media) it’s not slowing anyone down… probably because they know the police do not have the resources. Plus, let’s be honest, if you would just choose a different way to get your packages, the police would have more time to devote to other, less-preventable crimes.

DON’T just build a fence and put a lock on the gate… I have seen many videos of fence-jumping-porch-pirates.

If you feel you MUST have a package delivered to your house when you are not going to be there, at least create some kind of visual barrier for the delivery person to hide the package behind or in… this will at least ensure that the package is not super visible from the street like a neon sign that says “I got this for YOU”. It’s not a great solution, but it will improve your chances, at least slightly. Have you ever heard the saying “locks keep honest people honest”? Do you know what that means? It means, that even a weak lock will protect your items from people who are opportunists, but not career thieves. When the package is visible on your porch, like it or not, you are actually tempting people who might otherwise be reasonably respectable to grab an easy opportunity.

DON’T whine about your missing packages… seriously… if you are not willing to take steps to prevent porch piracy in 2018, then,  you’re basically asking for it (I know I’m gonna catch heat for saying that, but),  you wouldn’t leave your wallet on the front porch would you? And if you did, you really couldn’t be surprised that someone took it.

One last DON’T… DON’T booby-trap your packages… as much as I completely feel that the porch pirates (and all thieves) should feel consequences, in this country, you can be held civilly & criminally liable for hurting these people… that means they could sue you (and win) and you could end up with jail time. It’s just not worth it!

AND… if you want me to, I will accept your packages safely at my office near Summerlin… just call me in advance so I know to expect them and I can call or email you when they arrive!

Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

Stay safe when decorating your Home for the Holidays

It’s that time of year again to get the holiday ornaments, lights and other decorations to make your home more festive both inside and out.

When putting up the Christmas tree make sure your ladder is sturdy and has good “footing”.  Did you know that at this time of year there are typically about 15,000 people that visit the ER?  Half of these injuries come from falling off ladders while putting up holiday decorations in high places inside or outside of the home.

Make sure your tree is not too close to heat sources from fireplaces, radiators or candles – the tree can go up in flames pretty quickly.  Also, if you have a real tree, keep it well watered so it doesn’t dry out too quickly.

We all love holiday lights however you can easily overload your electrical system with flashing lights.  Add up the total amount of amps used by your string lights that are using the same electrical source.  Also make sure any extension cord you use you’re your circuit breaker can handle the total amount of amps.

For you outdoor decorations make sure you use GFCI outlets (that’s the one with the reset button on it) – this type of outlet should be installed anywhere there is a risk of electricity mixing with water.

I want you and your loved ones to have a wonderful and safe holiday season so take the extra time to check and double check to make sure your home is safe – it’s really difficult to climb down the chimney as Santa when you are on crutches!! Plus those ER bills really cut into your gift budget!

Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

Freezing Temperatures Are Coming! Protect Your Sprinkler and Irrigation System!

When people move to Las Vegas they mistakenly believe the Las Vegas Valley never experiences temperatures below freezing.  Well it does and in 2007 and again in 2011 the valley experienced several consecutive days below freezing.

At that time irrigation anti-siphon and PVB (Pressure Vacuum Breaker) valves all over the Valley cracked, resulting in many, many flooded yards.  Normally anti-siphon and PVB valves cost around $85, however if you add in the laws of supply and demand prices soared to as much as $350.   As we all know water expands as it freezes and turns into ice.  It is this expansion that causes the damage.

There are several things you can do to reduce the potential for damage to your system.  If you are an engineering type of person then you can review the draining procedures.  The average homeowner would have difficulty performing this maintenance action. But there are simple steps any homeowner can accomplish to reduce the potential for damage.   The Home Depot carries decorative fake rocks and Star Nursery carries insulated covers that can be installed over the PVB.  The interior of the decorative rocks should be filled with insulation.  If insulation is not readily available then several towels or a blanket would work as a substitute

Don’t forget that it is vitally important that your pipes on the PVB are protected too.  Most hardware stores carry foam pipe insulation that is already split down the seam allowing for very easy installation.   All you need to install this product is a pair of scissors in order to cut the product to the proper length and some sturdy tape to hold it tight.

You should also check around the exterior of your home for cracks near doors and windows that can let in cold air and can cause your heating bill to rise.  Plug up any cracks you find and check the bottom of doors for drafty areas.

It is also important to have your heating unit checked to make sure it is working well. An annual check-up is a great way to prevent problems that may be on the horizon.

Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff