Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Maxing out my Roth in 2017

I do pretty well with retirement savings. I get a 4% match from my employer, which helps a great deal, and I try to contribute to my Roth IRA as often as I can.  I am behind in retirement savings, however, because I got a late start, and my account reminds me of this painful fact every day. 

It makes the most financial sense to really double down on that savings immediately, so that I can get as much interest compounding as possible. I'm planning to increase the percentage I save through work, which will up my match, but my plan for 2017 is to also max out my Roth IRA contribution, which is something that I should be able to do for the first time--maybe ever.

The maximum amount you can contribute to a Roth IRA is $5500/year.  I'm starting this year out with an advantage in that I already have about $2300 in that account because I cashed out a life insurance policy and rolled it into last year's and this year's Roth.  So I just need to find an additional $3200 or about $350/month.  My plan is to divide that amount up into tiny dollar amounts and see how quickly I can snowball it.

My financial goal last year was to be more charitable.  I set up a monthly sustainer donation with NPR, ACLU, got a subscription to the New York Times (which I know isn't a charity, but good journalism is important) and I made donations to a few local theatres.  The amounts donated were small and relatively painless at the time, so I'm going to approach my Roth with the same mindset.

  1. Schemes and found money. I have a few ways to earn a bit of extra money, and that had previously gone into my travel fund.  For now, I'm going to re-route all those revenue streams to my Roth until I hit $5500, then they'll go back into my travel fund.
  2. Interest income.  I generate a little money every month in interest income on my savings accounts.  Normally I just leave it alone and let the account balance grow,  This year, I'm going to move it into my Roth.  I can't do this every month, since you're only allowed to make five withdrawals from savings per month, but I can move this money over quarterly.  My capital one savings accounts tell me exactly how much interest I've earned in the calendar year, and having that money in my Roth rather than regular savings will help it grow faster.
  3. Returns/ Refunds/Rebates.  When I buy something and return it, that refund money is going to go into my Roth unless I absolutely need it.  I have a pair of shoes that I need to return, so that's $60 extra dollars right there. I've also been doing very well with ibotta lately, so all of that money will be funneled right into retirement.  Same thing for my quarterly Big Fat Check from Ebates, which is currently sitting at $34.99.
  4. House Cleaning. I have a lot of things I no longer need. There's an older macbook pro power cable that isn't compatible with my current computer, a TV/DVD player that I haven't used in two years but that works perfectly well, etc.  I'm looking  at the things in my house with a critical eye, and listing anything that I don't use, but that someone else could use on craigslist.  I find craigslist generally annoying, but I have four listings that net me enough money the hassle of dealing with people should be worth my time. I also have a gift card that I got as a gift that I am selling on ebay.  I was stressing out trying to think of what to spend it on, when I realized that I don't want to buy anything and I'd be much happier with cash.  Maybe this is tacky, but I don't really care.
We're also approaching a more temperate time of year, so hopefully heating bills will finally go down, and that will free up a little bit of extra cash.  I'm like a magpie looking for that shiny money, and I think I'll be able to make my goal!

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