We often stress that spending your money is not a bad thing. In this culture you have to buy stuff, but we want to plant this seed: it is possible to buy stuff that creates greater value than not owning it, and it’s possible to do so without adding another expense to your monthly expenditures. When you can do this you are making buying decisions based on making your life better or easier, and this is leverage.
Here’s a great example: one of our clients is dedicated to making her home more energy efficient by installing solar panels. Not only will doing so decrease her overall heating and energy costs, for her it’s the right thing to do as a global citizen. The initial installment is about $15,000 which isn’t something she has all up-front, but that’s not ultimately an issue because it’s something she can finance over 12 years at 2.9%. And given the current $5,000 tax incentive plus the monthly energy savings, the total amount of her monthly expenses doesn’t increase at all.
So, without positioning herself for more debt, she is able to go ahead with the addition of solar panels to her home which increases her home’s value and decreases her monthly energy costs while decreasing her carbon footprint. Moreover, she is an example for others interested in doing the same and is now able to share with them how she made this possible!
This is leverage.
You don’t have to pay for everything. Running the numbers with a leverage mind-set will give you all the information you need to make intentional buying decisions that will support you on your financial journey. You can hire a financial advisor the same way, one that adds value and ends up costing you less than going without one.
Learn it. Do it. Share it: Raise your game.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that these techniques are suitable for all individuals or will yield positive outcomes. Tax laws and provisions are subject to change. Consult your tax advisor.
The experiences described here may not be representative of any future experience of our clients. Individual results may vary.
Boeing employees turned down $98 million in 401K employer match contributions by choosing not to contribute to their own retirement. Why would anyone do this? They most likely were too afraid of not having enough money to live on and didn’t do the math.
A wealth education would teach workers to evaluate their options and figure out how to at least get a bigger piece of the pie. 401K contributions are made before tax is calculated on someone’s paycheck; if that money is instead paid to the employee, the employee pays tax on it. But money in a 401K feels inaccessible, or not even real, and withholding on a paycheck feels very real and therefore feels like something is being taken away, like taking a loss.
Stop right there.
It’s likely the feelings have gotten in the way of clear thinking, the fear of not having enough money is too strong for logic. 401K money can be accessible when necessary through a hardship withdrawal if the money were needed to help meet living expenses. There would likely be taxes due and a possible 10% penalty upon withdrawal, but it may be possible that an employee taking advantage of an employer match program would end up in a much better financial position even when taking a hardship withdrawal.
401K contributions are taken from a paycheck before taxes are assessed, and the other withholdings are calculated on what’s left over meaning the employee pays less in taxes overall. When a participant withdraws their original contribution amount it’s important to remember the taxes he or she didn’t pay on that income. If the participant pays a 20% income tax rate, the 10% penalty is still less than paying the income tax. Because their employer has matched their contribution, it’s possible for the participant to withdraw their contribution amount and still have some retirement savings remaining despite penalties and taxes.
There is no cash flow excuse for not taking advantage of what employers are offering. It’s possible to hold out for a higher wage, but the benefits left on the table likely amount to trillions in wealth that has been given to those who put themselves in the position to receive it. You want to be rich? Then put your hand out and wrap it around the package of gifts.