When you think about it, the government allows you to put a ton of money into tax-advantaged accounts. You just wouldn’t know it at first glance. Technically, a traditional or Roth IRA is the only tax-advantaged account that every working person in the US has access to. As of 2018, the max contribution per person to […]
One of the things I’ve always wondered is why anyone would invest in expensive funds (I typically define an expensive fund as one with an expense ratio of around 1% or more). Since there are options – like Vanguard – with expense ratios of 0.1% or less, it’s never made much sense to me why anyone would invest in anything else. Why pay ten times more to invest your money in what amounts to basically the same thing?
One problem I have is that, as a dude who’s really into personal finance, I fall into a sort of personal finance bubble. I take a lot of the stuff I know for granted and assume that everyone just knows this stuff too. In reality, the vast majority of people have no idea what anything I said even means.
One of my more financially interesting friends is my friend Jay (not his real name). While the rest of us are beginning or in the middle of our “real” careers, Jay still works as a bartender at the same restaurant he worked at while we were in college. He recently turned 30 years old, and if my calculations are correct, that means he’s been working as a bartender at the same place now for 8 years (longer if you count the summers that he worked there while in college).
Bartending always seemed like it was supposed to be a temporary stop. My friends and I all graduated college in 2009 – right in the midst of the financial crisis – and found ourselves unable to get any “real” jobs. I worked two minimum wage jobs and lived at home with my parents. My other friends did similar things. One friend worked at a sporting goods store. Another worked at a golf course. Some people worked at restaurants – typical post-college jobs that you’d expect a 22-year old to have to take after the worst financial meltdown in a generation.
Earlier this week, we talked about the Health Savings Account (or HSA as it’s commonly called). The thing that always bothered me about HSAs are how confusing they are compared to a 401(k). I think this is part of the reason that a lot of people don’t really know what an HSA is or how it works. Almost everyone I’ve ever talked to has heard of a 401(k). But very few people in the regular world have heard of an HSA.
The problem with the HSA has to do with the fact that it requires a little bit more work to set up. 401(k)s, for the most part, are basically automatic at this point. Most employers opt you in by default, deduct a certain percentage from your paycheck each pay period, and put your contributions in a default investment option in your 401(k) – typically some sort of balanced fund or a target date fund.
Setting up an HSA, on the other hand, requires a little more work…
Read enough personal finance blogs and at some point, you’ll probably stumble across someone writing about the “secret” retirement account known as the Health Savings Account (“HSA”). For those of us who are entrenched in the personal finance world, the HSA really isn’t all that much of a secret. Most of us who are into this money stuff know that it’s a pretty advantageous savings vehicle.
The thing that I think doesn’t get pointed out enough is how perfect the HSA is for millennials. By giving yourself access to an HSA, you get two awesome things. You gain an extra tax-advantaged account that can really help you maximize your savings. And you lower your monthly health insurance premiums at a time in your life when you probably have very low healthcare costs.