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Friday Financial Five – September 25, 2015

Friday, September 25, 2015

 

With financial markets experiencing turmoil over the last few months, the surest way to guarantee some positive returns is to review these parts of the personal budget:

Moving to a Health Savings Account

The Health Savings Account is a smart concept that has caught fire as businesses, governments and individuals explore different options to save money. Using HSA’s often results in lower monthly premium while the account holder accumulates a tax deferred retirement supplement. It’s only allowed in high deductible plans and the money not paid for health services remains in the account. The concept also incentivizes insureds to use medical services only when truly necessary.

Energy assessment savings

Small business owners and homeowners should partake in an energy assessment whenever possible, such as the one offer by National Grid. For those that qualify, the review could result in a complete overhaul of all lighting for free. Higher efficiency bulbs, which are expected to last for a longer period of time than traditional bulbs, may cost the owner nothing and be installed free of charge. So, the business or homeowner is looking at the possibility of free lights that will last longer and reduce monthly costs. What’s not to like about that?

Comparison of all insurances

One of the easiest ways to reduce expense is to put all personal insurances under the microscope. Home and auto insurance is a reasonable first place to look. Companies will incentivize the packaging of coverages, and while loyalty can be a good thing, there is always the possibility of significant savings with just a little bit of research. While savings is the goal, coverage shouldn’t be compromised and the insured shouldn’t absorb a large hurricane deductible to save a few dollars. 

Utilizing the company match

Retirement plan participants that have an employer matching provision should take all measures necessary to contribute at least the amount of the match. In very few other situations in life is 100% return guaranteed, but this is one of them and it saves tax dollars while putting money away for retirement. For those that are skeptical of the market, it still makes sense to get the match and leave the money in a cash account or stable value fund. Only in certain situations, such as the inability to meet basic monthly needs, should workers forgo the contribution up to the match.

Various options can replace cable TV

Many pay a hefty monthly amount for cable TV but also utilize subscription services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. It may make sense cut that cable cord. For Apple users, Apple TV will seamlessly stream music, videos and movies. For others, there’s Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Amazon Firestick. These devices allow access to apps and hundreds of different sites, including HBO Go, Hulu, and Netflix. Amazon Prime members gain access to thousands of movies and television shows. Sling TV is a monthly subscription service (like Netflix) that will cost $20 per month to access the best of live TV and sports. One possible sticking point is access to local news stations, which might require an antenna. For those unafraid of technology and looking to save money, there now exists a multitude of options to investigate.

Dan Forbes is a regular contributor on financial issues. He is a CFP Board Ambassador. He leads the firm Forbes Financial Planning, Inc in East Greenwich, RI and can be reached at [email protected]

 

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