There are two different types of annuities: deferred annuities and immediate annuities. The type of annuity you choose depends on how soon you expect to receive payments. If you are looking for a long term investment where you plan on making withdrawals once you reach retirement then you might choose a deferred annuity. If you are looking to make withdrawals sooner than you may want to choose an immediate annuity.
Either type of annuity can be fixed or variable. A fixed annuity acts like a CD from a bank but in this case it is an investment with an insurance company. You have a fixed interest rate that you receive for the annuity and it is usually a higher percentage than a normal CD would bring at a bank.
The guaranteed interest payment from these fixed annuities as well as the minimum amounts that you have to invest makes the fixed annuities appealing for those who are not confident in the ways of the stock market.
Another nice thing is that you do not have to pay taxes on the interest gained until you decide to start withdrawing the money from the annuity. A disadvantage with fixed annuities is that the interest rates might be high to begin with but can drop after the first year of having the annuity. This unknown factor can be a turn off for some who are hoping that they can maintain the rates that they first received when they started their annuity.
If you do not like the new rates and want to withdraw your annuity before it matures then you might be stuck paying surrender charges that will cut into your profits. With a variable annuity you can choose from a variety of investments to put your money into and the rate of payment you receive depends on how well the investments performed. With variable annuities you invest in several different stock or bond like accounts that will help your investment grow over a long period of time. Just like with the fixed annuities you pay no taxes on your gains until you begin withdrawing from your account.
Although with variable annuities you may have an opportunity to have greater growth potential with your investment there are some drawbacks as well. The investments you chose may take a turn for the worse causing your potential growth to plummet. There are drawbacks with the tax rates when you decide to withdraw you money,as well as fees if you decide to withdraw early and there can be high sales commission fees. It is good to do your research before you decide which annuity is best for you or even if an annuity is a good investment.
Use Your Tax Return for 2011 To Pay Down Your Debt
Debt is on everyone’s mind these days. The national debt has been covered by every major and minor news outlet for months. They finally reached a resolution to raise the debt ceiling. How nice. If only it were so easy for individual Americans to do the same. Unfortunately it is not, and many Americans find themselves in the same situation as their country. They are living beyond their means and are facing an impending crisis. So how do average American’s deal with their own debt crisis and pay the money owed to their creditors and on their tax return 2011?
Interest rates have bottomed out and are at record lows. It is a good idea to look into transferring any debt held on high interest credit cards to a those with a lower rate. Pay close attention to transfer fees. You might also take out a home equity loan and go ahead and pay those cars off an cut them up.
Austerity measures are something that has been advocated for the nation and it can work for you to. Find places where you can sacrifice some creature comforts for long term financial viability.
By paying down your outstanding debt you reduce the amount of interest owed on outstanding balances. No one ever got out of debt paying only the minimum. Apply your 2011 tax return to this end.
4)Balance your budget
Set up a budget and stick to it. It sounds simple, but it is much harder to establish a budget and stick to it. However, once it is established it becomes habit.
To begin with, the Pension Protection Act of 2006 which came into effect in January of 2008, includes a provision for plan providers (the vendor that provides you company with your 401k plan platform) to offer plan sponsors (your company) the option for plan participants (you) to pay for independent third party investment advice with pre-tax money from your plan assets. Granted this is not free but it gives the plan participant the choice to use pretax dollars vs. writing a check for the investment advice.
Know that even though you do not currently get a bill for the service, you are already paying manager fees if you own any type of mutual fund in your plan. You just do not see the money deducted from inside the fund. It is not transparent.
Furthermore, at least one plan provider, Charles Schwab, has begun offering some of their plan sponsor clients the option for plan participants to use, without charge, an unrelated investment advisory firm, GuidedChoice Asset Management, Inc.. There is a catch however; their investment advice is limited to the core lineup of mutual funds offered in the plan. In other words, if the plan also has a self directed 401k GuidedChoice will not advise the plan participant on those possible investment choices. Neither will they provide any advice on assets held outside the plan whereas an independent advisor would, if asked.
Yet, Schwab has taken the concept a step further. They are introducing an indexing-only 401k plan using exchange traded funds… along with customized 401k advice. The indication so far is not clear if the client plan sponsor or the plan participant is billed for the advice; however, it is clear that participants are in dire need of this service.
If you think that 401k advice is a good idea and you want to know if your company has adopted any of these provisions, call your human resources department and ask. If no one can give you a verbal answer, ask for a document called The Summary Plan Description. This document will spell it out for you. Just know that there are 401k advisors ready and willing to help.
Choosing an accountant to handle your business finances is a careful task, because you are going to entrust everything that you have worked for that person. You must know the right techniques to find a very reliable accountant to ensure your business’ financial security. Here are some tips that you can apply, so that you will be able to find yourself an accountant that you can trust.
First, you will need to ask yourself to know your specific accountant needs. To accomplish that you will need to figure out where your business stands, and what do you need to do to make your business grow. Then, put yourself in an accountant shoes. Imagine what strategies that you will need to apply to manage this company’s finances. Once you have done this, write a list of expectations that you would want for your accountant to do.
Once you have organized your expectations, the next thing that you will need to do is start your search. To start your search, you must ask people that you that you trust like your family and friends if they know a good accountant.These people might know good accountants, and they will be happy to recommend someone that can help you with your finances. This is a good way to start your search, because you are confident that these people that you trust will actually recommend a competent accountant.
Before asking your friends or relatives for a recommendations, you must ask the right probing questions so that you can filter out the most reliable accountant. Once you have done that then it is time to ask for a recommendation for that accountant of your choosing. Interview at least three accountants so that you can have a better option.
While interviewing your top three accountants, you must ask again good interview questions to assess their capabilities. These questions should be related to your company, and how will they apply their expertise in improving your business growth. After interviewing these people, organize the advantages and disadvantages of hiring this person. Obviously, the accountant that has more advantages will be the one who will get the job. For the other two people who did not make it, then you must do a polite gesture so that you avoid conflicts in the future.