Lately I have been really interested in finances. I know it sounds boring, but more specifically, I want to know what things I can do now to ensure I have money down the road. I'm taking an online Personal Finance class, two weeks ago I attended the "Smart Women Smart Money" all day conference in SLC, and my husband and I just refinanced our home. I thought I would share a few of my findings through this process:
The government gives you a tax break if you contribute to a Traditional IRA. You can claim deposits up to $5,000 if you are married filing jointly. This money is there for you later, and saves you money on taxes now. It's a win win....if you can afford to store it now. The #1 thing I have learned through my studies is you DO NOT invest money that you need. The experts say money that you need in the next 5 years you should not touch.
Interest rates on loans right now are EXTREMELY low. It's definitely worth your time to do a quick Google search for "current interest rates" and see what's out there. There is a chart on Bankrate.com that shows the rates over the past 4 months.
The Utah Educational Savings Plan (UESP) 595 college savings plan is one of the best in the nation. I use this program and I see it listed on CNN and Money Magazine all the time as a great 529 college savings plan. While I was at the Smart Women Smart Money conference, the Key Note speaker Allan S. Roth (author of How a Second Grader Beats Wall Street, and Colorado resident) went on and on about the UESP and how great it was and that his children all have accounts through it. And if you are a UT resident, you get a state tax deduction for contributing to the account. It's worth requesting info and looking into it. (There is a small maintenance fee for those of you out of state, in state residents do not get charged a fee, plus you get the tax credit)
Give your insurance provider a call and see if there is anything you can adjust to lower your payments. (note that this usually means raising your deductible) If it has been a while since you have looked into your insurance coverage now is the time to give them a call and make sure you are where you should be. I called my insurance company today and I was told "It's been a while since you have changed anything, let me take a look at your accounts. Things are not as expensive as they were a few years ago..." She got back with me and Allstate has a new program where I don't lose any coverage, but I get a "safe driver" deductible credit for every year we don't have an accident. So I'm now saving over $100 every six months, have better coverage, accident forgiveness and a deductible credit.
Talk to friends, family and coworkers and see how they are saving money. It's at least worth looking into.