Financial Planning and Advice Blog for Syracuse

Want to keep up with the latest news in the financial sector? HighPoint Advisors in East Syracuse, NY makes sure all our clients have the latest up to date financial information to better plan for their future. Feel free to browse the blog below to learn more about the current financial market.
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Budgeting for Your Health Plan

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By November 10, 2017

Whether it's insurance premiums, deductibles, co-pays, prescription medication, or a wide range of other out-of-pocket expenses, health care now costs your average family a significant part of their income. Budgeting for each health care cost can seem overwhelming, but with some planning and dedication, you can make sure you and your family have enough funds for care.

Budgeting for Routine Expenses

Creating a budget that includes your routine insurance costs and out-of-pocket expenses is just like budgeting for any other item. If you get health insurance through your employer, your premiums are likely paid directly out of your paycheck, so your budgeting is done automatically. If your employer doesn't automatically deduct premiums, you'll need to include this line item in your own plan. In both cases, you'll also need to include additional routine costs, including:
  • Co-pays for prescriptions and doctor visits
  • Dental and vision premiums
  • Over-the-counter drugs
  • Medical equipment
Even if you end up paying your complete deductible over the course of a year, you may be responsible for co-insurance payments. This type of health care cost can be hard to budget for, but a budget for unexpected costs is very important.

Unexpected Expenses

Why do you need to budget for unexpected health expenses? Isn't the whole point of insurance to cover things like emergency visits and care for sudden illnesses? The unfortunate answer here is both yes and no. Health care plans vary widely in what they do and don't cover as well as what percentage of things they cover, so it's important for you to find out how comprehensive your plan is when creating your budget. If your plan looks like it has a lot of gaps, you might want to save up an emergency fund. This type of fund is commonly three to six months worth of living expenses or the maximum out-of-pocket payments for your health plan.

HSAs, HRAs, and FSAs

Health savings accounts allow you to put money away for health expenses tax free. There are three main types:
  • Flexible spending accounts (FSA). Available only to people insured through their employer, this type of account helps you pay for health care expenses with pre-tax income and contributions are sometimes matched by employers.
  • Health savings accounts (HSA). Used by people with high-deductible insurance plans, these accounts are funded with pre-tax income and can be rolled over from year to year.
  • Health reimbursement arrangements (HRA). This is an employer benefit that provides funds for paying off deductibles and other out-of-pocket health expenses.
By using these types of accounts or arrangements, you can clearly budget for many out-of-pocket health cost items and potentially save thousands on taxes. Make sure to ask your employer which options they offer. While creating a budget for your healthcare costs is important, don't expect to be able to use the same budgeting plan year after year. With costs constantly changing, your expenses can change drastically and unexpectedly. Don't hesitate to give Highpoint Advisors a call today for more information about budgeting for healthcare. ...

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How to Retire on a Teacher’s Salary

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By October 10, 2017

Teaching is considered one of the most important professions in the country, so anyone that devotes their life to educating either children or adults deserves a comfortable retirement. Unfortunately, teachers aren't given salaries that match their training, education, and dedication to improving society. Pensions still exist for some educators, but benefits in general seem to be going down, and yearly salaries don't always keep up with inflation. If you're a teacher, creating a future with a comfortable retirement takes a bit of extra planning.

Calculate the True Value of Your Pension

Teacher Retirement PlanIf you're fortunate enough to be in a district that still provides a pension and you know you'll be eligible to take advantage of the benefits, you may not be able to rely completely on this income stream in retirement. A pension very rarely pays 100% of your working salary, so you need to figure out how to match your retirement income with expenses. That may mean downsizing in retirement or increasing your retirement savings while working. Also keep in mind that many teachers who pay into some kind of retirement or pension plan through their state or district are exempt from social security taxes. That means you'll need to make sure any income you need comes from other sources.

Use Tax-Advantaged Retirement Instruments

The IRS has special retirement savings accounts for teachers and other people who work in public or tax-exempt private schools. A normal 403(b) lets you contribute pre tax income into your preferred savings instrument. The contributions grow tax deferred, but you do pay taxes when you decide to withdraw. If you prefer to pay taxes ahead of time, you may be more interested in the Roth 403(b) where contributions grow tax free. You may also want to put your pre tax dollars directly into a 457(b) plan. You're allowed to maximize your contributions to both 403(b) and 457(b) accounts.

Work with a Professional Advisor

As a teacher, you know how important being educated is when it comes to succeeding at any given goal. Retirement is no different. When you work with a professional financial advisor who's dedicated their life to giving individuals and families the tools and information they need to live comfortably, your chances of success can improve. In addition to advisors, there's likely a wealth of information available to you from local teacher's associations, state institutions, or even benefits counselors within your district. Make sure to take advantage of all the resources available to you. While it's best to start saving for retirement as soon as possible as a teacher, it's never too late. Benefit plans seem to be constantly changing, and information for private-sector employees seems much more abundant, but there are people and resources out there who can help you navigate this complicated process. Contact an experienced financial planner from Highpoint Advisors today to get started. The sooner you act, the better. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Investing involves risks, including the loss of principal....

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