Updated: Feb 2
Every time you see yet another article telling you to max your 401(k) contribution, you let out a silent scream and want to pull your hair out.
“I know that already. I’ve done that already. What else do you have for me?”
This article is for you!
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You have kicked butt and made all the right moves. You have:
Established an emergency fund. Most advisors recommend 3-6 months of expenses, but you should determine the right amount for your circumstances. You may feel better with as much as a year’s worth of expenses, or as little as two months’ worth.
Maxed contributions to your 401(k), 403(b), 457 or other employer-sponsored retirement plan. The max contribution for 2017 is $18,000
Maxed contributions to a Roth IRA or Traditional IRA.
If you make too much money to contribute to a Roth, consider a backdoor Roth IRA.
If you make too much money to contribute to a deductible Traditional IRA, consider contributing to a non-deductible IRA; however, you may need to file additional forms with your taxes annually.
Sufficient health and life insurance
Eliminated most of your debt or have a strategy to do so.
If you sometimes wonder whether to pay down debt or increase savings, a simple approach is to put more money toward the one with the higher rate. Saving more makes little sense at an interest rate of 0.5% when your debt costs 13%!
A financial plan. A financial plan includes retirement planning, but also plans for maintaining or improving your current lifestyle, and upcoming expenses such as a kid’s education.
You are done with the basics and are ready for some fresh ideas. Consider these advanced moves:
Begin (or ramp up) contributions to a personal, non-retirement brokerage account
A personal brokerage account provides you with a wider range of investments including individual stocks, low cost ETFs, index funds, bonds, CDs, and REITs. There are no limits to how much you can deposit in your account. Your investment selections will depend on your investing experience, your risk profile and your investment goals. Vanguard’s Investing Principles is a good place to start.
Diversify how you invest your money
Real Estate: Real estate investing is a classic, time-tested investing strategy. (Not cut out to be a landlord? Invest in a REIT – Real Estate Investment Trust. They are traded on stock exchanges just like stocks and ETFs.)
Gold/Precious Metals: Want to lay your hands on something tangible? You can invest in gold by buying gold coins or bars. Gold is a common hedge against inflation. (Not interested in storing gold bars or coins? You can invest in gold mining companies by purchasing their stock, or purchasing gold index funds or ETFs.)
Cryptocurrency (example Bitcoin): Cryptocurrency is a hot topic these days. The value of one bitcoin is now close to $2000 ($1865 at the time of this writing) and it is becoming more acceptable as a form of payment. Cryptocurrency is still a fairly new concept and is a volatile form of investment. Do your own research prior to investing! Learn more about Bitcoin here.
Angel Investor/Micro Ventures/Equity Crowdfunding: Know someone with a great business idea? You could invest in their idea for a share of the business. You could also use a platform like SeedInvest to participate in crowdfunding a business idea. As with any investment, you should do your own research and definitely consult a lawyer before funding any business!
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This article isn’t a recommendation to purchase an investment or an endorsement of any product. Consult with an advisor before investing.