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"Money Matters"
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Before I begin this month's column on money I would like to remind you that we will again present The Individual Retirement Program at the Fall Trustees School in Tampa.

It will be a two-day commitment. On Monday we will cover personal finance and then on Tuesday we’ll have Social Security planning with Kurt Czarnowski, Estate Planning with Peter Rivellini, and Maximizing Pension Benefits with Chuck Jeroloman.

The thinking behind the program is that as trustees you worry and fret over the pension plan and your members but who is helping you personally to plan your retirement. This course will help you formulate your personal retirement plan and give you tools to help your members.

The program is open to all members and will be limited to the first 50 individuals who sign up. Spouses and partners are welcome but included in the 50 participants.

September is my favorite month. And for me it feels more like the beginning of a new year than January. As a kid Labor Day ended our summer fun and forced us into a new school year. And I think that carries over into adulthood. Then we have kids of our own and the cycle continues.

As with all new beginnings, I create lists. And this year as my fall list grew I realized I was creating New Year resolutions. With all resolutions, you need to plan. So as you generate your own fall list break down each item with a note on how you plan to achieve it.

First on my list was saving more on our energy costs. Yes, my winters may be colder than yours but to save money everyone needs to get their home energy efficient. If you are not heating your home you are cooling your home, which often times is more expensive than heating.

Check out the U.S. Department of Energy’s website on how to begin. (Yes, we have a department of energy!)

How much are you spending?. What can you do to use less energy? I do not want you to be cold this winter or hot next summer but I do not want you to be broke either.

Is your attic insulated? Simply laying insulation up there can reduce your energy loss. How about your windows? Are they tight? Can you caulk them yourself? Do you need new windows? Weather stripping? Check the doors. Most of our energy loss is through our attics, windows and doors.

Check what you can do this fall to save on energy costs. We have slowly replaced our light bulbs with LEDs whenever they went on sale. May not seem like a big deal but we could see the savings after a couple of electric bills. We installed programmable thermostats. And we got a new water heater which was programmable also. And we turned down the water temperature. If I want to wash the dishes with hot, hot water my dishwasher will heat it up for me.

We also got rid of the extra fridge that we kept in the garage for parties. Also on the list is rechargeable items. If you leave them plugged in, they are actually drawing power. So the phone chargers, electric toothbrushes, electric razor and dust buster all get unplugged when not in use.

So how much can you save a month or annually by making some changes? You would be surprised. We are saving almost a $100 a month. That money is now going into a 529-college fund for our granddaughter. You may want your savings to pay down credit card debt or save for retirement.

An extra $1200 annually in your 457-retirement plan in 30 years could be worth over $140,000. To come up with this number I used an 8 percent return, which is very doable over 30 years.