Avoid the ‘Flu-You’

There’s nothing like the flu to change you from your normal self into a sniffling, sneezy, mess. And no one is invincible — not even Stephen Curry.

A new public service announcement from Kaiser Permanente captures the flu’s impact using a fictional “Sick Steph.” The all-star guard for the Golden State Warriors has shown up mid-illness to lead kids in a basketball clinic. If only he got his flu shot…

This public service announcement is the latest effort in Kaiser Permanente’s campaign to prevent flu by increasing vaccination rates. Flu shots are available to members at no charge at Kaiser Permanente medical facilities. Visit kp.org/flu for information.

Not a member? You can still get a flu shot. Use the Flu Vaccine Finder to locate a nearby flu-shot clinic.

Main RSS Feed – Kaiser Permanente

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9 Ways to Avoid Early Withdrawal Penalties From Your Retirement Accounts

Have you ever been in dire need of some cash but your bills are due and your bank account is low?

Then you look at your 401(k) sitting over there and think, “I could just take out a loan, problem solved.”

Wait. Before you get crazy with a loan that may not be in your best interest, you should know there are ways to get money out of retirement accounts without a loan or being subject to the 10% withdrawal penalty.

How to Get Money Out of Your Retirement Accounts Before 59 ½  

According to a TPH analysis of microdata from the Federal Reserve Board’s latest financial wellness survey, one in 10 Americans under the age of 60 borrowed money or withdrew early from one of their retirement accounts in the last year.

Once you put money into your 401(k) or IRA, if you try to access it before the age of 59 1/2 it’s typically through a 401(k) loan or paying a 10% penalty on the withdrawal in addition to any applicable taxes.  

While we advise having an emergency fund over resorting to retirement savings, sometimes life comes at you fast and you need that money. And if you’re using it for the right reasons, we think you shouldn’t be penalized for using money that’s yours to begin with.

So here are some of the ways you can get money out of those accounts without fees, penalties, or restrictive loan terms.

Contribution Withdrawals From a Roth IRA

The Roth IRA is your most flexible account in retirement because you don’t have to pay taxes on withdrawals, no matter how large your growth, and it’s the only account without required minimum distributions.  

Your Roth IRA also offers you the most flexible options when you need to pull money from retirement. You can withdraw contributions you’ve made at any time tax-free and without penalty.

This applies only to the contributions, not the earnings of your Roth IRA.

Disability Exemption

The legs of a man using a blind walking can make their way down an asphlt path.

If you become physically or mentally disabled and are unable to work, you can take distributions from any retirement account penalty-free.

Once a physician certifies that the physical or mental impairment is continuous and of long or indefinite duration, all retirement accounts become available as they would at 59 1/2 — which means even though there’s no penalty, you’re still subject to federal and state taxes.

Home Purchase

You can withdraw up to the lifetime maximum of $ 10,000 — $ 20,000 for couples — from an IRA (Roth or traditional) to buy or build a home. To qualify, you cannot have owned a home in the two years preceding the home purchase.

But because you can withdraw contributions from your Roth IRA penalty-free, those limits apply only to earnings.  

The caveat is that if the account is less than five years old and you decide to withdraw earnings, you will have to pay income taxes on those.

If you prefer to withdraw from a traditional IRA, your maximum is a straight $ 10,000. You will have to pay applicable taxes on it. If you have both and think you’ll need to dip into earnings for the withdrawal, the traditional IRA is the account to go with because it’s easier to grow the balance through 401(k) rollovers.

Health Insurance Costs

If you lose your job and collect unemployment compensation for 12 consecutive weeks, you can use your IRA to pay for health insurance for you, your spouse and your dependents.

Since you can use Roth IRA contributions for any reason, this is more notable for a traditional IRA.

Big Medical Expenses

Medical expenses not reimbursed by insurance can qualify for a penalty waiver. Those expenses would need to exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income if you’re withdrawing from an IRA and 7.5% to withdraw from a 401(k). The distribution can be used for you, your spouse or your dependents.

The distribution has to be made in the same year that the medical expense is incurred, which could be difficult if you have an accident taking down the Christmas lights on Dec. 31 — another reason to leave them up until January.

If that all sounds intimidating and vague, that’s because it is. You’ll definitely need to consult a certified public accountant and your plan provider if you decide to go this route.

A better option is contributing to a health savings account (HSA) if you have one available to you. For medical expenses, an HSA is more flexible, easier to access and more tax advantaged than any other retirement account.

Military Service

Qualified reservists can take distributions from an IRA, 401(k) or 403(b) during an active duty of more than 179 days.

This includes all Reserve and National Guard members. While other distributions put you at a loss, qualified reservist distributions (QRDs) are allowed to be paid back in full for up to two years after your active duty ends, even if those extra contributions exceed the annual limit.

College Costs

A woman in a graduation robe counts money.

If you, your spouse, child or grandchild are pursuing higher education, it can be paid for from your IRA without penalty. Qualified expenses include tuition, fees, books, supplies and — if enrolled at least half time — room and board.

While this is only a benefit of an IRA, you can also rollover a 401(k) into a traditional IRA to pay for college. But understand that withdrawals for college costs can reduce your or your student’s eligibility for financial aid.

And if you’re thinking about using your retirement account to save for college, stop right there! 529 plans were designed for just that.

Change of Employment

If you leave your job in the year you turn 55 — or any time after — you can withdraw from your 401(k). If you anticipate retiring around this age and have any old 401(k)s lying around, this would be a good reason to roll it over to your current 401(k) instead of a traditional IRA.

Bonus: If you’re a government employee with a 457(b), you can access those retirement savings penalty-free whenever you leave your job, no matter your age.

Annual Distributions

If you’re trying to retire earlier than 55, you can agree to withdraw a specific amount every year called substantially equal periodic payments (SEPPs.) You’ll basically need to agree to take consistent withdrawals, based on IRS calculations, each year for the rest of your life.

The calculations are a bit confusing, so this is another one you’ll need to consult a financial adviser for. They can also tell you if SEPPs are your best option for early retirement or if there’s something more flexible that still gets you around the 10% penalty.

In conclusion, every time you take money out of a retirement account, you lose out on the compounding interest that money could have earned you. None of these should be go-to methods for getting extra money but they are available if you need them

Jen Smith is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She maxes out her Roth IRA and gives money-saving and debt-payoff tips on Instagram at @savingwithspunk.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

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U.S. asks allies to avoid Huawei’s equipment: WSJ

The U.S. government is trying to persuade wireless and internet providers in allied countries to avoid telecommunications equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies [HWT.UL], the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.


Reuters: Business News

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Spending Rehab: 3 Steps To Avoid A Financial Hangover

In an economy like ours—driven by consumer spending and near-ubiquitous advertising designed to get you to spend, and then spend some more—even the most financially disciplined among us can fall prey to overspending. For example, most of us are especially vulnerable during the holiday shopping season, during which many of us spend more money in 30 days than we have in the previous six months combined. To avoid a financial hangover after a serious shopping binge, here’s a plan—let’s call it a spending rehab intervention—to sober up your finances and get your budget back under control.

Spending Rehab Step 1

You have to be woke—more conscious and aware—when it comes to how you are spending your money. Most of us spend money mindlessly, without really considering the impact on our financial health, or even whether we really need or want what we purchase. That’s the very definition of impulse spending.

So, to begin the spending rehab regimen, for one month you’re going to track your spending (which is a good idea to do two to three time a year even if you don’t overspend). Keep a record of every penny you spend, and what you spent it on. Also, note how you made each purchase—with cash, credit card, debit card, personal check, automated payment, whatever. You can track your spending using a pen and small notepad, or your mobile device or computer. Using an app like Spendr might also help. Do whatever works to have a complete record of your spending for one month.

Spending Rehab Step 2

This is where we test your commitment to getting your spending under control: Continue to track your spending for a second month, with one change—no using credit cards. That’s right; you have to go cash only for the entire month. Debit cards are OK, too, since you are just using plastic to spend cash. But no using credit cards or other tools to borrow money to finance expenditures for the entire month.

As with the previous month, keep a record of every penny you spend, and what you spent it on. Use a pen and pad, your mobile device, whatever works to have a complete record of your spending—without using credit cards.

—Be sure to catch Alfred Edmond Jr.’s personal finance podcast: “Your Money, Your Life” sponsored by Prudential. 

For those who have become accustomed to treating their available credit balance as if it were income, this might be the toughest part of spending rehab. Brace yourself for the withdrawal pains of giving up the plastic. If you literally can’t make it through one month without using credit cards, you need emergency intervention. Make an appointment with a qualified credit counselor immediately. You can find one in your area at DebtAdvice.org.

Spending Rehab Step 3

Sit down and look at your spending choices over the two months. How did your spending differ from one month to the next? Have you been too reliant on credit cards, or using them needlessly when you could have used cash and avoided wasting money on paying interest on credit card balances? Where in your budget can you eliminate spending (or at least avoid paying interest and fees), and where can you better apply that money to more beneficial, financially healthy uses—such as paying down debt faster, increasing contributions to your retirement savings, building a stronger cash emergency fund or financing a new money-making venture?

The point of this exercise is to make you more conscious of how you spend, what you buy, and most importantly, why—so you can challenge and change your thinking and adopt a healthier financial lifestyle. To get started, you want to identify and eliminate three kinds of spending—confused spending, compensatory spending, and conspicuous spending—if you are serious about improving and maintaining your financial wellness:

Confused Spending

This is when you make purchases without giving any real consideration to what you are getting for your money—or whether you even really want or need what you are buying. Confused spending almost always results in overspending.

Are you repeatedly surprised when you bounce a check, the ATM gives you a negative balance message or your credit card is declined at a store? That likely means that you are either operating without a spending plan—also known as a budget—or you have one, and are ignoring it, and instead, you are trying to keep track of it all in your head. The result: sloppiness, disorganization—and confused spending.

Compensatory Spending

This is when you spend as a form of self-medication in order to cope with emotional pain or discomfort, such as boredom, feelings of unworthiness, sadness, or repressed anger. The problem with this so-called “retail therapy” is that when you’re done, the bad feelings return, often more intensely, requiring more spending to cope—and leading to shopping addiction.

At its worst, compensatory spending leads to a vicious cycle: You feel bad, whether sad, angry, lonely or just plain bored. You go shopping to feel better—spending money you don’t have on things you have not budgeted for. When the high of getting so-called great deals wears off, you now have shopper’s remorse and guilt, on top of the original bad feelings. What do you do? Unless there is an intervention—more compensatory spending. If this is you, get help; a good place to start is the nonprofit self-help organization Debtors Anonymous.

Conspicuous Spending

This is when you spend in order to buy social status—to try to impress others, “keep up with the Joneses,” or maybe do a little frontin’ for the ‘Gram. If you rock nothing but luxury brands but have horrible credit, this is likely you.

Your friend or neighbor has the new custom kicks or latest smartphone, so you have to have it, too—whether you can afford it or not. This tendency can be exacerbated by engaging social media, where it is easier than ever to see the latest shiny new things that seemingly everyone but you has, including tons of approval in the form of likes, favorites, and shares.

Statistics show that you’re likely racing each other to the poor house. Unfortunately, too many of us spend money we don’t have to buy things we can’t afford, to impress people we don’t know and may not even like. Stay in your lane and live according to what you can afford, not by what others have.

How do you determine affordability? By continuing to monitor your spending, being more organized, sticking to a real spending plan, and otherwise staying woke when it comes to your money. The more diligent, consistent, and conscious you are, the lower the odds that you will relapse into overspending, and the less likely you’ll need another round of spending rehab.

—Be sure to catch Alfred Edmond Jr.’s personal finance podcast: “Your Money, Your Life” sponsored by Prudential. 

 

The post Spending Rehab: 3 Steps To Avoid A Financial Hangover appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Money | Black Enterprise

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Goldman Sachs: The economy needs to slow down to avoid a ‘dangerous overheating’

A thriving labor market is part of a continuing economic boom that will have to slow down or it eventually will cause trouble, according to a Goldman Sachs analysis.
Economy

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10.19.18 Clark Stinks; An easy way to avoid baggage fees

Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a “Clark Stinks” to share you can leave it here; Kayak has a new app that can help you quickly and easily avoid baggage fees.

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

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Avoid Hidden Costs During A Window Replacement

Replacing multiple windows in your home is a worthwhile, but costly, investment. As you vet and select the best window contractor for your project, it is important to discuss your budget and potential factors that might affect the overall cost of your window replacement. To make sure your project is as affordable as possible, review these hidden costs ahead of your upcoming window replacement.

Old Window Disposal:

Ahead of your window installation, it is important to discuss how to best dispose of your old windows. While many window installers will clean up and discard the windows at no additional cost, some contractors do charge a fee for this service.

Check your estimate, and discuss disposal details as you vet contractors. The cost of transporting the leftover frames and dump fees for non-hazardous waste disposal can add an extra $ 40 or $ 50 to your budget.

Framing Changes:

Most new windows will easily slide into your existing window openings, making for a relatively simple replacement process. However, there are some situations —like uneven framing or rotting wood— that can cause pricey complications.

An existing frame will need to be rebuilt if:

  • There is uneven framing.
    • If your new windows won’t fit in the existing space, the frame may need to be rebuilt to accommodate the new windows.
  • There is rotting wood.
    • If you’ve had moisture damage from a recent storm, the water might leak into the wall. The original window will need to be removed in order the replace the damaged or rotted window.
    • This is more common in older homes. Homeowners may be unaware of this damage until after the window has been removed. In many cases with older homes, the wall structure may have broken seal damage, and not the window itself. This damage to the wall won’t be visible until the window is removed.
  • There is a fire code.
    • Homes older than 75 years old were likely not built to modern fire code standards. The International Residential Code dictates that windows must have a specific opening size (with a minimum of 24 inches height). If your home’s windows don’t adhere to these requirements, they will likely need to be enlarged to comply with these standards.

Rebuilding a window frame can cost an additional 50 percent on top of your current replacement costs. While rotted or severely damaged frames are usually a worst-case scenario, talk to your contractor about what damage they may encounter once the window installation is underway.

Window Delivery:

If you purchase your windows from a home improvement store and haul them home, you do not need to worry about a delivery charge. However, if you purchase your windows from a dealer or manufacturer, you may have a delivery fee.

Depending on your region and distance from the seller, the delivery fee can range anywhere from $ 50 to $ 400. If you are purchasing your windows through a dealer or contractor, discuss if your contractor will cover this fee. If not, discuss out how much it will cost, as it will be included in your estimate.

Permits:

In most cases, a home window replacement is a process between the homeowner and contractor. In some instances, a project may require a building permit before you can begin your project. A permit is required when a window opening is enlarged horizontally or when the wall structure is altered, as both of these changes can have safety repercussions.

An application must be submitted and a permit approved before any construction begins. While homeowners are responsible for acquiring permits, many contractors will take on the task. It is important to discuss any permit needs with your contractor, as the average cost of a building permit can run anywhere from $ 400 to $ 1600.

Lead Paint Test:

If your home was built before 1978, your walls are likely coated in lead-based paint. Undisturbed, lead-based paint does not pose many risks. However, renovations and repairs can create toxic lead dust. Paint lead and lead-contaminated dust are some of the leading causes of lead poisoning.

Windows carry a higher lead exposure risk due to their exposure to outside elements and paint friction. If you have an older home, you or your contractor will need to inspect your paint.

Testing for toxic lead typically costs between $ 200 and $ 400. You may need multiple tests. While homeowners can conduct a home inspection for an affordable price— if the test is positive, a lead risk assessor may need to examine the home and send dust samples to a laboratory for analysis.

If you have an older home, talk with your contractor about testing for lead-based paint and how it could impact the cost of your window replacement project.

Ready to find a trusted contractor for your window replacement? The Modernize Contractor Checklist will help you vet a trusted contractor, so you can relax knowing your window repair or replacement project is in good hands. You can access the interactive checklist by visiting the Modernize Homeowner Portal or by downloading it here.

The post Avoid Hidden Costs During A Window Replacement appeared first on Modernize.

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