Financial Resolutions for 2023
The beginning of the year is a great time to set and review your financial goals. Thinking through and creating a plan can go a long way towards achieving your long-term financial success. With that in mind, consider the following:
☐ Learn more about upcoming changes surrounding the SECURE Act 2.0, which include everything from retirement savings opportunities to student debt management. Please click here to listen to our webinar on the SECURE Act 2.0.
☐ Look at the balance of your emergency fund and the interest it is earning. Better interest rates may exist than what you are getting through a normal checking/savings account. Give us a ring if you want to learn more.
☐ Review your credit report for free at www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
☐ Examine your credit/debit card statements including subscription charges (i.e., television streaming, magazines, games, etc.) and discontinue any that you no longer use.
☐ Automate monies going into your savings as well as debt reduction programs for simplicity and increased peace of mind.
☐ If working, review your 401(k) and IRA contributions and determine if you can increase your contributions in alignment with the new limits for 2023.
The US Debt Ceiling
You may have read recently about the US debt ceiling and the possibility of a default. The debt ceiling is the maximum amount of national debt that the Federal government can borrow that’s already been approved to fulfill all its obligations. The US hit its debt limit on January 19th, setting the stage for a potential political showdown. The US Treasury has several “extraordinary measures” (which is a series of accounting moves) that it can use to continue to pay its bills for the time being. The US Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, recently said that the government should have the ability to continue to pay its debts until early June.
US lawmakers have raised or suspended the debt ceiling nearly 80 times since 1960. Many times, Congress will wait until the last minute to come to an agreement on raising the debt ceiling. The consequences of a default would be unprecedented and would cause severe issues. Managing the US debt is an important part of the financial system and overall economy and more likely than not, Congress will come to a resolution (but possibly a drawn out one). This may create more volatility in the markets in the short-term, but it is likely that this too shall pass.
SECURE Act 2.0
There has been significant buzz surrounding the recently passed SECURE Act 2.0. Signed into law on December 29, 2022, this important piece of legislation is designed with the ultimate goal of improving retirement readiness. Many notable provisions will be rolling out after 2023, but here are a few key terms taking effect immediately for employees and business owners:
Employer matching can be made on a Roth basis
A feature can now be added to defined contribution plans for participants to direct employer matching contributions to an after-tax Roth source.
Catch-up contributions will be required to be made on an after-tax Roth basis
By 2024, catch-up contributions will be directed to a Roth source only for participants with wages exceeding $145,000.
Enhanced startup credit for small employers
Building on the SECURE Act’s tax credit of 50%, SECURE Act 2.0 will increase this limit to 100% for employers with 50 employees or less.
Tax credits for plan contributions made by small employers
Employers with 50 or fewer employees may be eligible to receive credit for contributions made to employees for the first five years of the plan’s existence.
Small incentives can be made to boost employee contributions
Employers are now allowed to provide a low dollar incentive to help improve employee participation in 401(k) and 403(b) plans.
Ability to make matching contributions to employees repaying student loans
Employees who are paying off student loans may be missing out on the ability to make contributions to their retirement accounts. Employers may make matching contributions to 401(k), 403(b), 457(b) and SIMPLE IRA plans on their employees’ behalf.
This is only the tip of the SECURE Act 2.0 iceberg. Containing 92 new provisions in total, it’s a lot to navigate through and we anticipate further guidance by the Department of Labor and Internal Revenue Service in the coming months. Learn more about the SECURE Act 2.0, and its impacts on you, by listening to our webinar presented by Wealth Advisors Jill Carr and Jason Guenther.
Stay on Top of Your Cybersecurity Risk
In this month’s podcast on cybersecurity with guest Ryan O’Hara, Advisor Jill Carr discusses the risk to both businesses and individuals. Please take the time to listen to the podcast here, as Ryan provides great advice and taught us a lot. Did you know that if cyber criminals were a country, the money they make on a yearly basis would place them having the third largest GDP in the world?
Our Key Five Takeaways:
- If you are not expecting an email from a colleague or friend and something seems slightly off (even just a little off) in the message, DO NOT click on links, or call any phone numbers (unless you know it is your acquaintance’s number). If the email is from a company, find the company’s main phone number online and call them directly to check-in.
- Multi-factor authentication is important (and there are already beginning to be ways for cyber criminals to work around it).
- Using password manager applications is helpful. Effective password managers include lastpass, 1password, and keepersecurity, to name a few. These applications can be difficult to learn, but once you are set up, usability improves. Avoid web browser username/password keepers as they are less secure.
- Set up a separate network for your “internet of things” (IoT) devices (i.e., thermostats, refrigerators, car starters, etc.). Use a different network for things like your computer.
- OK – this one is not a tip. It is your opportunity to receive a set of google tiles to help you locate missing items, such as phones, keys, iPads, luggage, etc. Send an email to email@example.com, enter Google Tiles in the subject line, and let us know how you will put the tiles to work to keep your important items safe – we will include all entries in a drawing.
Being Community Conscious is one of our five core values at Stephens Wealth Management Group. We have defined the value in this way:
Getting to know and supporting the local community and its members through individual and firm time and resources. It means making a difference in big ways and small, with attention to a broad range of causes including financial literacy, education, and proper nutrition.
Jill Carr is a great representation of this value at work. As a proud Flint resident, she has always been a proponent for the community. Over the past few years, she has taken her engagement and advocacy to another level. Below Jill shares information about her involvement in the community and what it means to her.
Since 2020, Jill has served the YWCA of Greater Flint as a Finance Committee member and as a member of the Board of Directors, in the role of Secretary, since 2021. She is also Chair of the Investment Committee. “The YWCA seemed like the perfect fit for me, as I’ve always wanted to support women and children.” The YWCA is currently launching a new Women’s Empowerment Center which opens later this year. They will offer leadership workshops, mentoring, life coaching and other programs to help women not only survive their challenges, but eventually thrive.
Jill recently joined the Flint Institute of Music (FIM) Board of Trustees. “I was always involved with music growing up (I played the clarinet and sang in choirs), and it is a pleasure for me to serve an organization that brings so much joy and fun to the community.” The FIM encompasses the Flint Symphony Orchestra, Capitol Theatre, Whiting Auditorium, Flint Repertory Theatre, and the Flint School of Performing Arts.
Since 2020, Jill has been a member of the Flint Women’s Forum Board of Directors, serving as a Member-at-Large starting in 2020, moving to the Treasurer role, and now as President-Elect. “I love serving with this organization because I think of it as the place to be for women who are “movers and shakers” in the Flint area. We are a networking organization with a charitable component. We partner with a different non-profit organization each year and provide donations and service in whatever capacity needed.”
Most recently, Jill joined the Junior League of Flint and is enjoying the comradery with several friends who also serve the community.
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