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Annual Recap: Year 2017 Non-W2 Incomes

January 5, 2018

Happy 2018, readers. I hope you’re having a beautiful start to the new year.

This time of the year is magical for me. I enjoyed sharing extra special moments with families and friends, combined with delicious, comfort food (for weeks in a row). I also loved the holiday decors both at home and while being out and about. These moments can really be savored all year long. Sleeping until 9 a.m. has been typical for my family and I this past week as our bodies recovered from all the festivities.

Finishing the Old and Starting the New

As of yesterday, we’ve taken care most of our financial matters for year 2017, with the exception of paying property taxes and filing for tax return. We made purchases in my i401k account, rebalanced our investment portfolio, updated our financial accounts and made a projected budget for this year. So far, the two biggest, one-time expenses we’re looking at are money going toward paying for two international trips. Other than the usual recurring basic expenses, we also have several home renovation projects we want to accomplish.

December 2017 Non-W2 Incomes Report

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Financial Freedom, Financial Independence, Financial Planning, Giving Back, Home Improvements, Lifestyle, On Investing, Retirement Planning

November 2017 Non-W2 Incomes Report

December 16, 2017

Our Services in the Community (also available to you)

November was a very rewarding and joyful month in my household. My husband and I started the month off offering free financial and fitness coaching services. In the spirit of the holiday season, this is our way of giving and expressing our thanks to those we care about and to you, readers of our blogs (I’m linking my husband’s blog here; He recently shared quarterly update on our total net worth on his blog).

There’re two more weeks left if you’d like my husband (and/or I) to take a look at your current financial situation and provide you a roadmap helping you reach your financial goals in year 2018 and beyond. To learn more about this offer, visit an older post here. We’ve already gifted about 50 hours of time so far between the two of us.

november income

On the topic of services, my husband and I have also attended several orientation sessions in preparation to do more volunteering related to financial education and financial literacy in the upcoming year. Some of the organizations we are networking with are Junior Achievement and Caritas (an organization to prevent and end homelessness).

Some Life Updates

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Early Retirement, Financial Empowerment, Financial Planning, Girlfriend to Girlfriend Money Chat, Kids and Money, Lifestyle, Marriage and Money, Money Habits, On Investing, On Self-Development, Retirement Planning, Women and Financial Literacy

All I Needed was an Inspiration (and a Free Gift to You)

November 30, 2017

I Didn’t See Myself Being a Good Teacher/Coach

I’m what some people might call a Type A, perfectionist, or over-achiever. I have high standards for myself. Growing up and while in school, unlike many other Asian parents, mine didn’t pressure me to receive certain grades or go into a certain profession. I was always the one that was self-driven and put lots of pressure on myself.

Knowing that about myself, I didn’t pursue a career in teaching, despite having contemplated becoming a teacher during my freshmen year in college. Yet, somehow, being in academia attracted me (and the over-achiever in me) and I went on pursuing a doctoral degree. While finishing up my advanced degree, I was a teacher’s assistant for two semesters. I did not enjoy that experience. I lacked the patience. Being a mother has been a trying experience for me every day. I’m very thankful to have an extremely patient partner along my side.

inspiration financial coaching

Several months ago, when my husband suggested to me to consider doing financial coaching with him, specifically to work with couples, I immediately closed the conversation. It was not that I lacked interest. Everything I do and share on this blog stems from my strong desire to inspire, encourage and promote smart and savvy financial skills. I just didn’t see myself being a good coach. I lacked the confidence.

Self-doubts were casting all over my head. To give you an example:

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Financial Planning, On Investing, Retirement Planning, Work and Career

The Impact of Retirement Plan Fees on Your Ability to Retire and Quality of Life During Retirement

August 11, 2017

When I was an inexperienced investor, I spent a lot of time researching potential company stocks and index (or mutual) funds. In retrospect, most of the performance indicators I paid attention to were important for evaluating a purchase. However, expense ratio (a.k.a retirement savings account fees or expenses) was one element I wish I had taken more seriously.

I didn’t even know about compounding when I made my first stock purchase back in 2009. And once I learned about compounding, I didn’t know that fees also compound while my savings compound. Even after I became aware of expense ratios, it didn’t occur to me right away that I needed to learn what those fees are or read about their potential impacts.

That was, until last year. Those sayings that go like, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” and “You don’t know how little you know until you start learning.” are so true in this case. To this date, every day, I’m still finding out I have a lot to learn on investing, growing and protecting my money.

In this article, I bring your attention to retirement account fees and their potential impacts when left ignored. These fees are typically a small percentage of your account balance, making it easy for uninformed investors to ignore or overlook. Yet, the fees can slowly eat away your investment returns over 5, 10, 15 or 20 years time span.

retirement fees impact

Using research studies on 401(k) plans and number examples, I shared below how retirement savings account fees can dramatically affect your ability to retire and how much money you have during retirement.  The contents and messages are also applicable to IRAs and any types of individual retirement savings accounts where someone (or an entity) is involved in helping you manage your money.

Did You Know?

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Financial Journey, Financial Planning, On Investing, Retirement Planning, Work and Career

After-Tax 401(k) Contributions (aka Mega Backdoor Roth)

May 20, 2017

If you live in the U.S. and work for a decent size employer, you’ve probably heard of a pretax 401(k) profit-sharing plan. You can read my previous articles on 401(k) by following this link here. In this article, I walk you through what are after-tax 401(k) contributions and how this is different from a traditional (pre-tax) 401(k) plan or Roth 401(k). I cover how this plan works and why might you want to make after-tax contributions to a 401(k), provided it’s available to you through your employer. I also share the insights my husband and I have learned regarding after-tax contributions, such as rollover options.

after tax 401 contributions mega backdoor Roth

I first read about after-tax contributions just about a year ago. I recall sharing that information with my husband afterward and we wished such an option was available to either one or both of us through our employers. To our surprise, our wish came true a few months later. My husband’s employer made the after-tax 401(k) contribution option available. Since then, both of us have learned a lot more about the rules that govern the after-tax 401(k).

What is an After-Tax 401(k) Contribution?

Sometimes, the after-tax 401(k) is also referred to as the mega backdoor Roth. This plan allows qualifying participants to set aside more money toward their retirement accounts, using after-tax money (that is, money they get paid that they’ve already paid tax on).

Currently, the maximum amount plan participants are allowed to contribute to a pre-tax 401(k) is $18,000. Just like like a traditional (pre-tax) 401(k), there are no income limits/restrictions. If your employer allows after-tax contributions to your 401(k), you may be allowed to save up to the $54,000 IRS limit for 2017. This amount is an overall cap, which includes your $18,000 pre-tax contributions plus any employer contributions.

Let’s say for year 2017, you plan to max your pre-tax 401(k) contribution plus 3% match on $100,000 salary. This combined number equals to $21,000. Subtracting this amount from $54,000 gives you $33,000 max to put toward your after-tax 401(k).

However, keep in mind that some employers who offer the after-tax contributions might not allow their employees to contribute up to the IRS limit for the year. For instance, your employer might set such a rule that you’re only allowed to contribute 10% of your income per pay period toward your after-tax contribution plan. Check with your HR and plan administer to learn what’s available to you.

After-Tax 401(k) Plan is Not the Same as a Roth 401(k)

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