Benefits of Your Company’s 401k Plan

(Prudential is throwing a 4.01k race for retirement in Los Angeles on September 17th to raise awareness about retirement – want to join? – Check out their link to register –  www.run401k.com )

  • You save money on a tax-deferred basis – the money you make is taken from your paycheck and deposited directly to your retirement account, meaning Uncle Sam doesn’t get to take any of your money right now.  You won’t pay taxes until you retire and withdraw it from your account.
  • The money you invest will have compounding returns.  Compound What?! Your principal (money you put in) makes interest, your interest makes interest, the interest you makes makes you interest and so forth.  It’s a saving snowball effect.
  • Match Me Up! – Most companies offer a match of 3% or higher.  If your company offers this benefit, please take advantage of it.  It’s basically free money if you contribute to your 401k.  For example if you deposit 3% of your pay in your 401k, the company may offer a match of 3%.  It’s a great incentive to save money for your future retirement.
  • You can save up to $18,000 per year in 2016 or $24,000 if you are 50 years or older.  Contributing to your 401k can bring your taxable income down.  For example, if you made $100,000 per year, instead of being taxed at the 28% percent tax bracket, you will only be taxed at the 25% bracket because you maxed out your 401k account.  This means you will only be taxed on the $82,000 ($100,000 – $18,000 = $82,000).  This allows the government to take only $16,293.35 of your hard earned money.  If you decide not to contribute to your 401k and have Uncle Sam to tax you at $100,000 the government is entitled to take $21,070.57 of your hard earned money in taxes.  Do you really want to give Uncle Sam that extra $4,777.22 or would you prefer to save that money and allow it to grow tax deferred until retirement?  (Please refer to khanacademy.org for basic US tax rate schedule to gain a better understanding of the mathematics)
  • Penalty free access through a loan process.  – While I don’t recommend borrowing against your 401k balance because you may miss out on compounding growth, there are situations where it may be in your interest to borrow against your 401k.  The contract of your loan process depends on each individual’s employer.  The government allows you to borrow up to 50% of your vested account balance to a maximum of $50,000 where you will have 5 years to repay your 401k loan with interest paid back to yourself.  The 4 situations when you are allowed to borrow against your 401k balance are:
    • Education expense for yourself, spouse or child.
    • Preventing eviction from your home.
    • Medical expenses
    • First time home residence.

*The information provided on this blog is intended to help you understand the general issue and does not constitute any tax, investment or legal advice.  Please contact your financial advisor or your company’s benefits for specific rules to your retirement plan.  

Strawberry Spinach Salad

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So lately I’ve been obsessed with salads due to the warm weather in Los Angeles.  This salad requires very few ingredients and can be quickly put together to enjoy with any grilled dish or by itself for a quick bite to eat.

Salad

Spinach (1/2 bag of pre-washed spinach)

10-12 strawberries sliced – layer on top

1/4 cup of sliced almonds ( I like to toast the almonds on a pan first for about 2-3 minutes then scattered on top of the salad)

Feta cheese (optional) – May sprinkle crumble feta cheese on top

Dressing

1/4 cup of olive oil

1/4 balsamic vinegar

1 garlic clove

1/8 of a red onion chopped

1-2 tablespoons of honey

Healthy and delicious.  It’s the perfect summer salad treat!

 

21 Spice Chicken Wings

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The weather in LA has been extremely hot the past couple of days. I didn’t want to heat up our place with the oven so opted for a healthy BBQ option of lemon pepper chicken wings.  I wanted to try something different and asked the Trader Joe’s clerk if she recommended any good spice rub.  She suggested the 21 spice. Created this simple marinade, grilled it, then served it.

Marinade

2 lbs of organic chicken wings

1/4 cup of olive oil

5 cloves of minced garlic ( I love garlic)

1 lemon juice squeezed

1 tablespoon of 21 spice from Trader Joe’s

1 teaspoon of sea salt

Marinate chicken wings for 30 minutes or overnight

Grill chicken wings, 7 minutes on each side.

Keep the remaining the marinade after grilling.  We will use to make a sauce to pour over the chicken wings.  In a sauce pan, on medium heat, melt one tablespoon of butter, combine the left over marinade and allow the ingredients to come to a simmer. Pour mixture over chicken wings and garnish with parsley. This is great as an appetizer or main dish.  Bon apetit!

Simply Kale

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Who doesn’t love Pinterest? While browsing through for kale salads, I came upon the blog thegarlicdiaries.com – If you are a garlic lover, like myself, you should definitely visit her blog.  She has an array of recipes that look amazing.  This is the first recipe I tried, minus the mustard, but this recipe will become a main staple at home.  It’s extremely easy to make and will go with any main dish you decide to serve at home.

Salad

2 bunches of kale (I used half a bag of trader joe’s pre-cut kale)

1/2 cup of Sliced almonds

1/2 cup Freshly grated parmasen cheese

Dressing – Mix all ingredients together

1 lemon – squeeze all juices out

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 garlic clove minced or roast a garlic and puree into dressing  (Tender Greens offers a kale salad with a roasted garlic lemon vinaigrette – absolutely delicious)

Salt and pepper to taste

Lemon zest (optional)

Pour dressing over salad and mix.  Simple, easy, and delicious.

Check out thegarlicdiaries.com for more yummy recipes with garlic. This was my first but it definitely won’t be my last. ❤️

 

Many Happy Returns

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July is my favorite time of the year because (1) it’s summer and (2) it’s my birthday month! Yay! This year, my boyfriend took me on a sweet romantic trip to Maui–one of the Hawaiian islands I had not yet explored.  We shared some incredible, unforgettable experiences, like running along the beach, hiking, zip-lining, snorkeling and relaxing.  Although I was sad to wave goodbye to the island, I returned back to LA to celebrate my birthday with my dear friends, exploring one of my favorite exercise endeavors!

I initially started “Three-E-Beverley” this past February in an attempt to keep myself accountable for my bike training in preparation for the Solvang 1/2 century ride.  It was going to be my first long bike ride and I wanted a way to journal my progress.  I took spin classes at various studios around the city before work, after work, or on my days off–rain or shine, I wanted to stay committed.  With the help of Classpass, I have been able to experiment with several different studios within the South Bay area, and around the city of Los Angeles.  When you shop around to multiple studios, you’re bound to find your favorites.  Bespoke Cycling Studio is definitely at the top of my list.  In fact, I love this studio so much, I thought, why not throw an amazing birthday party for myself and friends?  My birthday was the perfect opportunity to introduce my friends to my favorite studio, whether they’ve been spinning before or if they are first timers.  Not only is Bespoke conveniently located off the 110 freeway, they provide free parking, free spin shoes, and free alkaline water.  And the cool eucalyptus scented towels at the end of class is always just the cherry on top.  Once Bespoke gave me the OK to throw my birthday party at the studio, invitations were sent out and my Sunday Funday Birthday Spinning Party planning began.

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I was lucky to have Elady agree to teach my birthday ride.  Not only does she bring a fun and inspiring energy to the classroom, but she always plays music that keeps you moving and grooving.  I feel so honored that she came into the studio, along with another incredible instructor named Jackson, to teach on her day off — what a special birthday treat.  My friends arrived early to the studio in preparation for my birthday ride; shoes on, bikes set, head in the game.  As we all clipped into our bikes and the music started pumping, Elady warmed us up and got the party started.  Her chemistry with Jackson was electrifying and the rhythm of the music got everyone motivated to conquer the next 60 minutes.  We danced on our bikes– tap backs and push ups, and Jackson introduced us all to the sexy body roll. Everyone, including myself, was sweating from absolutely every pore.  It was by far one of the sweatiest spin sessions I have ever challenged myself to.  After class, the guys in the group were joking about the pools of sweat they created around their bikes–mission accomplished!

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After 60 minutes of amazing cardio goodness, we all enjoyed a spread of mimosas, cold brew coffee courtesy of Sole Coffee & Tea, and fresh fruit.  Everyone was on an adrenaline high and I couldn’t be more grateful to the amazing host, Bespoke Cycling Studio, the hard working instructors, Elady and Jackson and to all my wonderful friends who woke up early (some hungover) to celebrate my birthday on a Sunday morning.

 

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“To ClassPass Or Not?” – That is the Question!

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It’s happened! ClassPass has officially increased its prices in Los Angeles.  Originally known as the best start-up app that gives you as many workouts all across Los Angeles for one low price, ClassPass is now known as the app that is only catering to those who are willing to fork out the cash.  I joined the fitness startup last year, on a recommendation from a friend.  It was an amazing deal.  Take as many classes across the Los Angeles region for one low price of $99/ month.  No commitments and no contracts so I gave it a try.  I initially joined Classpass in an effort to supplement my outdoor bike training with spin and yoga classes. I was having trouble committing to one studio, so this was a great opportunity to explore my options in the Los Angeles region.  The app was perfect since I work in Hollywood but live in the South Bay.  I had the option to either take classes before or after work and take classes near home on my days off.  Then they increased their prices in January up to $119.  Still a good deal in my opinion so it didn’t deter me from cancelling the app.  Then I heard that prices increased in NYC, so I knew that prices would eventually increase in LA.  I have to admit, I have been anticipating this day.  So what do you do?  $175 is definitely a bit steep, but the decision to stay or cancel will be based on every individual’s situation. The once beloved fitness app now has everyone agonizing over this decision, forcing every member of ClassPass to re-evaluate their love for this fitness application.  To continue their membership, drop to a lower tier, or cancel completely.

Benefits

  • Unlimited number of studios with different workouts for one set price per month
  • Changing your workout regimen from HIIT, boxing, pilates, yoga, spin, aerial yoga, rock climbing, paddle boarding and trampolining
  • No commitment to one studio or the application
  • Can take classes in the US and internationally – not set to one location, helps increases your opportunities to continue fitness within other cities (I just came back from Miami and was able to check out 5 studios during my stay) 

Disadvantages

  • Maximum number of classes you can attend is 3 classes per studio per month
  • Can only reserve up to 4 classes at a time
  • The unlimited package has become quite expensive, rivaling other fitness studios such as Equinox that provide luxurious amenities and unlimited fitness classes with no restrictions.  

Personally I love the ClassPass phone application.  It has definitely given me a wide range of fitness opportunities that I would have never initially thought of opening myself up to.  It forced me to change my fitness habits and embrace changing my fitness regimen.  Fitness classes that I would have never even given a second thought about has now become one of my favorite workouts that I attempt to incorporate into my fitness schedule.  It’s helped me foster my friendships with coworkers and friends and has created opportunities to develop relationships with other fitness enthusiast.  While it saddens me that the price has increased, it amazed me how Classpass has sustained themselves for this long.  While it would have been less painful for us that Classpass increased their prices incrementally, I’m not sure how much longer Classpass would have survived if that were the case.  You have Classpass users who completely take advantage of the system.  Guilty as charge! I am one of them and I also know many others users who seized upon this opportunity as well.  On my days off I sometimes would take 2-3 classes per day, maximizing my Classpass worth.  During the month of May, I took 32 classes in 30 days as a challenge that my co-workers and I had to encourage each other to stay active.  Classpass gave us that opportunity.  It was fun for us to take a class after our shift, near where we worked and it was fun for us to plan classes outside of our homes.  Classpass made it fun to organize fitness dates with friends.  It was easy and made working out enjoyable and affordable.  Unfortunately with the price increase we all need to re-evaluate our love for this fitness app.  My boyfriend joined ClassPass to create opportunities for us to workout together.  We had fun working out together, however it doesn’t suit his own personal fitness goals, so he lowered his membership to the base program in an effort to take a few fun fitness classes with me.  He’s a part of Equinox, so if ClassPass doesn’t further suit your own personal needs, I recommend you to check out one near you.  Don’t want to fork out the cash, many fitness studios have taken this Classpass price increase as an opportunity to offer new membership deals for previous Classpass users.  Now is the opportunity to take advantage of these deals.  Only enjoy certain classes then take advantage of the 10 classes per month and supplement your work outs with Kayla Itsines, running or biking.  We live in Los Angeles where we have an unlimited amount of outdoor activities that we can explore.  Yes, it’s a sad moment in which Classpass will no longer serve our every day needs, but maybe we can see this as an opportunity to be creative with our individualized fitness programs.              

* I’m currently training for my 1/2 marathon in July & August, so I opted to be on the base program (5 classes per month), but once I complete my 1/2 marathon I believe I will return to the monthly unlimited.  As for now, I will be using classes for cross training.

 

“Saving for Your Future Healthcare” – What is a Health Savings Account?

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It’s that time of year again at my hospital where all the nurses are looking at benefits and figuring out what medical plan is best for them.  I’ve been getting a ton of text messages and questions at work on what is a Health Savings Account (HSA) and what medical plan is best for them.  Every medical plan will be unique to everyone’s health situation, so please read the comparisons charts offered at your company to figure out what is best for you and your family.  This article will only give an overview of what is an HSA and hopefully help you evaluate if this type of plan is best suited for your own personal health care needs. 

When I first started working in the States, I didn’t understand much about how health insurance worked.  I came from Canada (yes I’m Canasian) and the fear of dealing with large health insurance bills scared me. Hence I went ahead and did my research to figure out what is the best health care plan for me.  I opted for a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) which gave me the option of opening an HSA account.  So what is a Health Savings Account?  An HSA allows you to save pre-tax money into a savings account.  It is similar to your 401k, but it is different because it is ONLY intended to pay for health care expenses today or in the future.  What I personally love about the Health Savings Accounts is the opportunity to save money for future health care dollars.  

Make note that in order to be eligible for an HSA, you need to be enrolled in a HDHP (High Deductible Health Plan) or CDHP (Consumer Directed Health Plan).  Say What?! – These plans offer significantly lower premiums – meaning you pay less per paycheck, but when you need to go see your primary care physician or get a prescription filled, you will need to fulfill a higher deductible before your insurance begins to pay. That is the trade off, you pay lower in premiums, but you need to pay for your own health care until your deductible is met.  The deductible for an individual has to be at least $1300 and for a family it has to be at least $2600.   Now you are asking me, “Why the heck would I want to pay that high of a deductible?” I will list out 7 important points about the HSA to help you determine if enrolling in a HDHP or CDHP may be the best option for yourself and your family.

  1. It pays for you and your dependent’s eligible healthcare expense – including eligible dental, vision charges, and health care supplies, – eligible expenses is included towards your deductible (what you pay before the insurance plan pays benefits)
    1. Eligible Expenses: Dental, vision, health care supplies, copays, coinsurance, office visits, prescription drugs, dental x-rays, fillings, crowns, eyeglasses (you can use your HSA to pay for these eligible healthcare expenses that will be included in your deductible)
    2. Expenses not eligible – premiums, over the counter medications without a prescription, cosmetic medical procedures not medically necessary
  2. Using an HSA is easy – it works like a normal debit card, you can only use funds if they are in your account – just remember to keep your receipts for your tax records – there is no need to send them in to get reimbursement.
  3. You can contribute to the annual IRS contribution limits – Individual is $3,350 and Family is $6,750. – If you contribute the maximum annual, every year, that helps covers your deductible and your out of pocket maximum per year if you need to use it for health care expenses.   
  4. Any unused HSA funds roll over year after year.  For example, if you contribute $3000 per year and for the past 5 years did not need to use any of your HSA funds for health care expenses, that means you would have $15,000 dollars that you could use towards your heath care in the future.  
  5. HSA offers a TRIPLE tax advantage – contributions made to your HSA are tax deductible (lowers your taxable income – meaning more money in your pocket), grows tax free, and withdrawals are tax free for all qualified medical expenses.  This means you don’t have to pay the government any taxes if you use your funds for any medical expense.  
  6. The money in your HSA is yours, every dollar, dime and penny is yours even when you leave the company or retire, its all yours to use for future health care.
  7. Tax advantage way to save for medical care expenses in retirement.  You can use it to pay for medicare parts A, B, and D and medicare HMO premiums. It’s tax free and penalty free. Thus meaning saving today will help you pay for your health expenditures during retirement.

Remember every company offers different health care plans with their HSA.  I advise you to read your company’s information carefully or consult your health care insurance carrier for more information.  Need more information about what is an HSA account? Please refer to http://www.hsacenter.com or if you have any questions please email me at threeebeverley@gmail.com and I would love to help you out with any questions to the best of my ability.

*The information provided on this blog is intended to help you understand the general issue and does not constitute any tax, investment or legal advice.  Please contact your financial advisor or your company’s benefits for specific rules.