What the experts say
Tips for empty nesters
With your kids out of the house, “now is the time to really ramp up your retirement savings,” said Trent Hamm in USNews.com. One of the first financial moves new empty nesters should make is to sit down with a retirement calculator. Figure out how much you need to increase your savings to hit your goals, “remembering your ability to save is better than it has been in decades.” If that’s not the case because you’re still supporting your adult children, it’s time to start weaning them off any “financial outpatient care” they’ve been receiving. “Start reducing the handouts now and set a deadline for a clean break.” Your kids need to master true independence, and you need to make sure you can afford to move on to your next stage of life as well.
IRA to HSA rollovers
Transferring money from an IRA to a health savings account can be a good way to build up your emergency medical savings “if you don’t have other cash to contribute,” said Kimberly Lankford in Kiplinger.com. People who qualify to make HSA contributions— that is, they currently have an HSA-eligible health insurance policy—can make a one-time rollover from an IRA, with that money counting toward their annual contribution limit.
“By doing a rollover, you’re converting taxdeferred dollars into tax-free money if you use the withdrawals from the HSA for medical expenses.” However, if you have the means, it’s better to contribute new money to your HSA. “That way, you can keep more money growing tax-deferred in the IRA and get a tax deduction for the new HSA contribution.”
Claiming a college tax credit
The American Opportunity Tax Credit is a big help to families paying college tuition, “but the rules for claiming it are complex,” said Ann Carrns in The New York Times. Families can reduce their annual tax bills by as much as $2,500 per student during the first four years of college if they meet certain income requirements and the student is enrolled at least half-time. To receive the full credit, a student must have at least $4,000 of eligible expenses, including tuition, fees, and books. Families who’ve also saved money for college in a 529 account “need to plan carefully,” because the same expenses can’t be used to justify claiming a credit and withdrawals from their tax-advantaged account. Taxpayers should also save receipts and other records “in case the IRS asks for documentation.”