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What is an IRA and Should I Invest in One?

If you’re getting ready to save for retirement, you may be thinking of opening what’s known as an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). This is a common retirement savings tool to help you make the most of your hard-earned money. There are many different types of IRAs to choose from. Making the right choice all depends on your finances and future plans for your savings.

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Plan for Retirement: Know What Steps to Take & When

Planning for retirement should be something you do consciously, not something you put off until later in life. How well you plan for your future will dictate what your life will be like after you reach retirement age.

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How Much Do I Need for Retirement?

Saving for retirement is an almost universal problem. At some point, and at some age, most people aren’t physically able to keep working. And it’s why setting aside a nest egg is crucial.  The idea of running out of money when you’re no longer able to work can be frightening to many people. Social Security is designed to fill in the gaps, not be the sole source of retirement income.  Most people can’t afford to live just on their monthly Social Security benefits. That’s why you need to do your research before deciding how much to save for your retirement each month. Use this in-depth guide to make sure you can cover your everyday expenses when going to work is no longer an option.

Male young professional reviewing 401(k) documents in his office.
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Getting the Most Out of Your 401(k)

Do you want a 401(k) plan? Does your work offer one? What is a 401(k), anyway? A 401k account is the most popular employer sponsored retirement investment option for tax-deferred savings—it can help secure your retirement. If you are self-employed, freelance, or don’t have access to a 401k account, you can start an individual retirement account (IRA) instead. To maximize the benefits of your plan, you need to be conscious of what’s available to you and stay committed to getting the most out of your 401(k).

Young African American male smiling. Studying charts on his laptop while looking at investing app on his phone at home.
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Investing 101: Investing for Beginners

In this beginner's guide, you'll learn what platforms are available for you to invest on, the pros and cons of each one and the types of accounts you may want to get started with.

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College Savings Plans: What You Need to Know

Whether you’re saving for your child to go to college or planning the next chapter of your career, you have several options to choose from when it comes to paying for school. The good news is that you’re thinking about your options ahead of time, which should help you make the most of your money as you prepare to further your education. 529 plans can be confusing but learning about these programs will help you save money over time as you finance your education, regardless of where you decide to go to school.

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Four Important Estate Planning Documents Everyone Needs

Estate planning allows you, not the courts, to make important decisions about your assets in the event you are incapacitated or deceased. Take a look at this lesson to learn about four documents that are essential to any estate plan.

Life insurance application.
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What is Life Insurance? The Basics of Life Insurance Explained

Let’s face it, life insurance is something that many people need, but don’t want to talk about. We’ve all seen those GoFundMe pages asking for donations for a person that passed away. It can feel strange planning for the worst-case scenario, especially if you’re young and healthy. Life insurance is a way to help prevent leaving your loved ones with the added stress of financial burdens. Whatever your reason is for thinking about life insurance, this guide will help you get familiarized with some life insurance basics to make your planning and research a little simpler and a little easier.

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Investing for Good – Sustainable Investing

ESG investing, SRI, impact investing, thematic investing, stock screeners; there are many ways to invest your dollars so they’re working for the greater good. Although there are many different names for these methods, they all share the common objective of investing your money in companies that align with your values and are trying to make a positive change. This primer into the wide world of sustainable investing will give you a little back story on how the movement was started, the key differences between the different methodologies and what you need to know to get started.

A retired couple reviewing documents.
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Three Retirement Topics to Plan For

Retirement. You’ve spent all your life preparing, dreaming and working towards that day when you get to trade your morning commute for a cruise to the Bahamas or grab a set of golf clubs on your way out the door instead of your briefcase. Whatever your ideal retirement looks like, they should all have a few things in common: Relaxing, fulfilling, secure, etc. But what you shouldn’t have to do is worry about money or pick up extra work out of necessity or financial hardships. To help make sure that your retirement years are some of the best of your life, take these three steps towards financial wellness.

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Video: Trends in the Stock Market

Watch this video to learn more about bull and bear markets, other stock market trends, and how they can affect your investments.

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Video: Investment Vehicles

Watch this video to learn more about the different types of investment vehicles and how they can be used for different investment goals and scenarios.

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IRA Calculator

Spending money today has a retirement price tag on it. What you fail to put away today for your retirement will impact how much you have available to you when you are ready to retire. That price tag will depend on how many years you are away from retirement and the rate of return you could receive on those funds over the savings period.

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Video: Rule of 72

Watch this video to learn more about the rule of 72 and how you can use it to help plan your savings goals.

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Savings Impact Calculator

If you are already a saver, you might ask yourself the question "what if I save more"? Increasing your current savings rate by even 1% can yield significant results. Save even more, and the results are even better. The more you can save, and the longer you can save will open your savings up to the magic of compounding, or the ability to earn interest on your re-invested earned interest.

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Video: Intro to Insurance

Watch this video to learn more about the different types of insurance and how they work.

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Save a Million Calculator

Everybody wants to be a millionaire, but few have the savings discipline to get there. Your current savings, additional monthly savings and the rate of return you receive all go into saving to be a millionaire. However, it may not stop there. If you want to have a million dollars worth of purchasing power, you have to factor in inflation into your savings plan. That means that depending on the amount of time it takes you to save a million dollars you might have to have saved even more to have a million worth of purchasing power.

Video: Saving for Retirement

This video serves as a basic introduction to common retirement savings products and is an excellent way to get the conversation started about long-term savings goals.

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Traditional vs Roth 401(k) Calculator

Contributions to a Traditional 401(k) plan are made on a pre-tax basis, resulting in a lower tax bill, and higher take-home pay. Contributions made to a Roth 401(k) are made on an after-tax basis, which means that taxes are paid on the amount contributed in the current year. The reverse is true once you are eligible to make 401(k) withdrawals. Withdrawals from Traditional 401(k) plans are taxable, while those made from a Roth 401(k) are not.

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Certificate Comparison Calculator

A certificate of deposit (or CD) is a savings instrument offered by a bank or credit union that has a fixed date of maturity and a fixed interest rate. A credit union might use the term Share Certificate, Term Certificate or just Certificate to refer to the same product. Most CDs require a minimum deposit amount and may offer rates contingent on the size of the deposit. Certificates of Deposit are insured by the FDIC for bank deposits, or by the NCUA for credit union deposits, up to $250,000 per individual depositor. As a CD depositor, you are committing to leave your funds in the CD for the term of the CD. As a result of that time commitment, rates offered on CDs are typically higher than traditional savings or money market accounts. Keep in mind that an early withdrawal of funds will likely come with a financial penalty.

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Compounding Interest Calculator

How interest is calculated can have a great impact on the interest earned by your account and how your savings grow. Compound interest arises when interest is added to the principal and when the interest that has also been added earns interest. You will see your account balance grow more quickly with accounts that pay interest more frequently. The "Annual Percentage Yield" or APY is the effective annual rate of return once the effect of compounding interest is factored in.

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Video: Investment Planning for Life's Major Events

Watch this video to learn how proper investment planning with an investment representative can help you plan for major events in your life.

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Social Security Benefit Calculator

The Social Security benefits you (and a spouse) will receive at retirement can be estimated based on your average annual income, your current age and your age when you retire. For a more accurate and detailed assessment, visit the Social Security Administration website at www.ssa.gov where benefits can be determined based upon your specific earnings history and the exact date of your retirement.

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401(k) Retirement Calculator

A 401(k) account available through your employer is one of the best methods for building retirement savings. There are two key advantages. First, any contributions made to your 401(k) now are tax deferred, so each year's total taxable income will be lower. Second, some employers provide 401(k) match programs where they contribute to your 401(k) account. Depending on the program, employer contributions can range from 0% to 100% of your contributions

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Video: How Does Compound Interest Work?

Watch this video to learn about how compound interest works and why's it's so important for your finances.

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Retirement Planner Calculator: How Much to Save for Retirement

Saving for retirement can be a challenging task. The starting point for any retirement planning is an understanding of what your retirement needs will be. Once you have done that, you will have a target to aim at and be able to put together a savings plan that will get you there. Defining your retirement need requires that you have a retirement age in mind and a basic understanding of what your spending needs will be during your retirement years. A simple approach for defining your retirement needs is based on using a percentage of your current income, adjusted for inflation between now and when you retire. You might also want to consider how your salary will change based on merit or cost of living increases. Your retirement savings plan will follow; driven primarily by what you have saved to date and what you can save going forward each month. Don't forget to factor in any pensions or social security payments that you will be entitled to receive during retirement.