Unless you’re of the “greatest generation” (WWII), odds are you’re first starting to deal with retirement or planning retirement savings. This can be a headache and a half because most of us don’t have copious amounts of extra money to put away. That said, even putting away a little now, ($50 a month) will go a long way in prepping you for the big R. You have options -
IRA -Individual Retirement Account
Within the IRA plan there are four main types:
-Roth IRA: all funds are considered post-taxes and therefore do not help or hinder you when it comes to tax season. Often times this option is the best solution for young investors who may not have a lot of liquid (plain old cash) funds lying around. Depending on the structure of the Roth IRA, you might end up getting a few tax benefits despite’s it’s inherent agnostic tax structure. For example, Fidelity’s Roth IRA has a tax benefit for making the max deposit for each tax year ($5k).
-Traditional IRA: Traditional IRA’s have no max amount you can put into them, but are treated as pre-taxation, so when you withdraw the funds, you will be paying taxes on all profits. This is a good fit for more stable investors who can commit to 10-20% of their income going to retirement, and are not going to need the funds for 40+ years, as there are penalties in addition to the taxes for withdrawing early.
-SEP IRA: SEP IRA’s are very similar to traditional IRA’s, except in this version an employer may match the dollar amount you invest in your retirement up to a certain point.
- SIMPLE IRA: Same as above, except this time the employer has to match dollar amounts.
401K – Deductions from paycheck
A 401k is the most traditional form of employer assistance retirement planning. The most common structure for 401k’s is to have an account through an employer where they just take out the agreed upon amount out of the paycheck and deposit it into an account specified at the beginning of the arrangement. In some cases, the employer will match dollar amounts or for every _ dollar amount. Either way, there is a limit on how much can be deposited per year ($17K currently) and all money allocated to a 401K account is “ignored” until withdrawn. This means taxes will only apply to funds not deposited into a 401K, and to funds withdrawn from a 401K.
Stocks, Funds, and all that jazz – adding a little risk for the hope of large profit
While this can be applied to the IRA structure, almost all financial institutions have a “money management” system where you can decide how much risk and how much your comfortable investing. While a well rounded portfolio will have a little of everything, the main plays in retirement planning are usually ETFs (a grouping of stocks purchased together), and mutual funds ( a collective of investors buying into a managed portfolio of investments). ETF’s have no minimum investment other than the price of the ETF. Mutual Funds have a minimum ranging from $2K to $2500. While this route isn’t for everyone, it does allow for more growth per dollar due to the added risk. Many funds are structured to be high risk in the beginning, while growing more conservative as they reach maturity.
While there are other strategies out there, these are the cornerstones on which to begin planning. What do you find most difficult about planning for retirement?
All kidding aside these two technologies are poised to either propel Microsoft back into happy dominance, or be yet another money sink that will further cement the dominance of Apple in the software and hardware markets.
First, for those who don’t know two important tech announcements came out last week -
The game plan for the x-box 720 (coming out in 2013), which is meant to be an all inclusive living-room experience for populations of gamers and non-gamers alike. This gaming system along with other elements of the Microsoft model (yammer acquisition) further position Microsoft to be a viable player in the cloud.
The Microsoft answer to the iPad – the Surface, which is essentially a tablet with a keyboard.
Why could it go right?
- As a player of the x-box 360, I can vouch for just how addicting the games and subsequent send can be. All consoles have exclusive games, but the games on the 360 tend to have fiercely loyal following in user groups that actually have the money to spend.
- There’s already a precedent for games to be only shadows of themselves without the downloadable content (dlc) that’s only accessible when a player pays for x-box live. The 720 will be making this even more true where gamers will have to buy into x-box live to play games at all.
- The Surface answers a big reason why people have not switched to tablets: touch screens can be annoying to type on.
- Some people just don’t like apple’s interface and the Surface provides a meaningful alternative in the tablet space.
Why could it go wrong?
- As loyal as the following is, the x-box 360 has begun to alienate its audiences with making the x-box live subscription mandatory.
- The gamers with money are not happy about the prospect of not being able to buy used games/share games with friends. This could push gamers onto other systems.
- Apple explicitly stayed away from a keyboard on its tablets because it did not want to bring the baggage of the notebook to the tablet. Microsoft is ignoring this, potentially to its detriment.
- People don’t associate Microsoft with “cool” they associate it with boring (stable) business, and these two platforms represent more of an identity crisis than anything else.
Will you be buying Microsoft’s newest gadgets? Do you think they’re just what the doctor ordered or another Steve Balmer sadface moment?
We live in a world where Websites are becoming a thing of the past and useful information is key. Here’s what you (or your online marketing guy/gal need to do right now -
-Establish and claim some kind of location in Google+, Yelp, facebook local.
-Make the majority of your content freely accessible and original (not scraped).
-Make your money off of service not ads…Google will soon be the only meaningful medium for Google ads.
-Fire any SEO companies telling you to “Link like there’s no tomorrow!” They’re too far behind.
-Get on mobile right now, currently 10% of our time is spent there and it’s projected to go up to 50% in the next 5 years.
Rather than writing a dissertation on this (totally possible by the way), here’s five simple reasons.
1. People are more likely to transact if they can do so without “dealing” with a sales person. I know it’s sad human interaction isn’t big nowadays, but rather than fighting it, enable those who want to buy from you but don’t want to talk to you, to do so.
2. Websites establish credibility and social discovery, you should be taking advantage of that.
3. Websites allow you to generate “free” (hosting and content always cost something) leads and brand interaction.
4. Websites are a giant interactive banner ad that you don’t have to bid over.
5. Websites are cheaper than sales people.
What are some of your favorite examples of awesome websites that sell their brand well?