SEC Investor Alert: SEC Seal Scams

By Patricia Uceda, Spring 2015 Graduate Research Assistant

Have you seen the SEC’s seal on an investment product?  If so, beware.  The SEC has learned that investment fraudsters are using the SEC seal as a way to convince investors that their frauds are legitimate, and you should avoid them at all costs.

According to an Updated Investor Alert, “The SEC does not ‘approve’ or ‘endorse’ any particular securities, issuers, products, loans, services, professional credentials, firms or individuals, and does not allow private entities to use its government seal.” Continue reading

Saving For Retirement: A Few More Tips…

By Patricia Uceda, Spring 2015 Graduate Research Assistant

We hope that you’ve enjoyed this past month of retirement savings tips, and that we’ve inspired you to get started on your own retirement plan. Nothing is more important than ensuring your financial security in your later years. For our last tip in this series, we’d like you to do your own homework and learn more: check out the Department of Labor’s “Savings Fitness:  A Guide to Your Money and Your Financial Future.”

Saving For Retirement: Pension Plans?

By Patricia Uceda, Spring 2015 Graduate Research Assistant

While they may seem like a thing of the past, if your employer offers a pension plan you should consider taking advantage of it.  With a pension plan, your employer makes contributions that you can use in the future for retirement.  Plans can either be defined benefit plans, where you are guaranteed a certain amount when you retire or a defined contribution plan where you receive funds upon retirement based upon how your employer’s investments fare.

Saving For Retirement: Do Not Make Early Withdrawals

By Patricia Uceda, Spring 2015 Graduate Research Assistant

As tempting as it may be to make early withdrawals out of your retirement savings, don’t.  Money you withdraw from a traditional 401(k) is taxed.  Early withdrawals (before you are 59½ years of age) generally result in a 10% penalty. And, your retirement nest egg will shrink.

Instead of looking to your retirement plan, set up an emergency savings account.  Work emergency savings into your budget – even $50 dollars a month into a separate savings account will keep you from raiding your 401(k) in an emergency.

Saving For Retirement: Multiple Retirement Savings Accounts?

By Patricia Uceda, Spring 2015 Graduate Research Assistant

If you already have an IRA and then are offered a 401(k) by an employer, don’t be so quick to say no. While it may seem like you only need one retirement savings account, having multiple retirement savings accounts might be a very good thing.  Many 401(k) accounts have some form of employer matching provisions that help you build your retirement nest egg faster.  And, as we’ve discussed, you can take advantage of the potentially different tax treatment of, for example, a Roth and traditional retirement savings account.

Saving For Retirement: Starting Later In Life

By Patricia Uceda, Spring 2015 Graduate Research Assistant

While ideally you should be starting to save for retirement in your twenties and thirties, this is not always the case. If you are nearing retirement age and believe you haven’t saved enough, don’t be discouraged. It’s never too late to start. Here are a few tips that you can use to help you toward your goal:

  • Save as much as you can. Put everything you can into a retirement plan, aiming for at least 20 percent of your income.
  • Reduce expenses. Reduce your daily expenses and put your extra savings into your retirement savings account.
  • Try to increase income. Consider a second job or picking up a second shift.
  • Delay retirement. Consider working past your target retirement date. A part time job, instead of a full time position, may also be a possibility.
  • Adjust your expectations. You might need to adjust your lifestyle for retirement and plan to spend less.

Saving For Retirement: Diversify Your Portfolio

By Patricia Uceda, Spring 2015 Graduate Research Assistant

In order to get the most out of your retirement savings account, you want to be capturing the average growth of the stock market each year. This is best done by making sure that your portfolio is diversified. Your reasonable investment strategy should include a mix of stocks, bonds, and cash, with the level of risk that is most appropriate for your personal risk tolerance.