Questions to ask employers about their 401 (k) plan

When interviewing for a job or searching for your next retirement investment, 401 (k) plans are always a standard option for most individuals. When it comes to a plan provided by a potential or current employer, here are some questions you may want to ask:

Do you have a 401 (k) plan?

Always make a point to directly ask the potential employer if they carry a 401 (k) plan for employees. Note: Many companies require you to be a full time employee to receive 401 (k), health insurance, and other employment benefits.

Does your 401 (k) plan match after a specific amount? How much?

Ask if the company matches a designated amount. If so, ask how much that amount is. For example, this means a company might match your first $75k. This says the company will also provide $75k once you begin to “cash out.” So your initial target is a minimum of $75k investment to get it matched. Then, either consider to invest in other options or continue to invest in that retirement plan.

How long until the 401 (k) plan matches the designated amount?

Consider asking the employer if there is a timeline/time frame in which you have to complete the 401 (k) plan. Most retirement plans have a time frame or age restriction on “cashing out.”

How were the 401 (k) plan package options chosen or selected?

Ask the employer if an individual, committee, or affiliated party selected the retirement plan. Also ask how they came to this conclusion and how it compares to other options. What is the rate of return, level of risk, and influences on stocks/shares. Then begin to ask yourself, is this the best option for my retirement goals.

Is there a conflict of interest between the company, affiliated parties, and the chosen 401 (k) plan?

While asking how the package plan was selected, begin to investigate if it was only chosen to benefit select parties. If this plan was only selected because it is the lowest form of benefit provided by the company, but is just enough to encourage/entice employment, then maybe you should consider other options.

Who dictates the addition/removal of investments choices or packages?

Understand how packages/investment options are manipulated. Be aware of who changes them, adds options, or eliminates previous choices. Also ask how these decisions are made and why?

How much are my monthly contributions?

For the sake of budget, does the employer have minimum monthly contributions. Sometimes, a payment plan can be set up to pull x amount from your payroll to dedicate toward the retirement plan. Age will also be a huge factor if there is a time frame toward retirement and how much must be contributed each month.

Do I have administration fees? If so, how much are they monthly?

Ask if the employer requires fees to handle your 401 (k) plan, transaction fees, admin fees, etc. How much is the company charging you on the back end to monitor and perform transactions?

Should you invest in a Roth IRA Brokerage account instead?

There are differences between a 401 (k) and Roth IRA that we can explore in another article. For the sake of this one, understand that if a company doesn’t match a set amount of your investment, you might consider a Roth IRA account that won’t tax you on your pay-out. Meaning when you cash out for retirement, you won’t be taxed like an income.

Hope these questions assist you in finding a retirement plan that works for you, or at least provide you with questions you can ask to determine which plans may NOT be for you.

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us via contact form.

Surviving loss of work: Re-Investing into the business world post-crisis

With the financial impact that COVID-19 has on the community around you, we start to understand the risk that we may have at maintaining or acquiring work in the immediate future. For instance, at this moment in time, many major cities are either “shelter-in-place” or have closures to “non-essential” businesses. That means that you are either 1.) a healthcare provider or essential worker like educators/teachers, 2.) food/grocery stockers, cashiers, etc, 3.) first responders, 4.) delivery system personnel like Fed Ex or Amazon Prime, or 5.) essentials for transportation like gas stations. If you are not one of those personnel, you risk the chances of losing your job or not being able to find work for a duration of time.

Understanding the risk of losing work, or preparing to acquire work once possible, here are a few tips toward getting ready for the re-opening of businesses.

  1. Understand Investments/Stocks/Retirement

Being aware of the fluctuation of stocks, bonds, and investments during this crisis is vital for anyone investing anything of value. A few tactics to consider, such as: A) pulling out your investment before your stocks drop too low (understanding the financial or fee penalties), B) riding the wave and hoping your stocks bounce back after the crisis, and C) Investing in other sources of revenue. Personally I am looking at a diverse portfolio and trying to find multiple avenues of investments in case of future risks. Sources of passive or residual income are always a great choice when available to limit the impact that loss of active work has on a household. Sometimes it is good to invest in some high risk and some low risk financial decisions.

2. Begin An Emergency Fund

Start setting some money aside in a savings account, especially if you are still getting paid during the crisis. Understand that ANYTHING can happen, and you need at least 3-6 mo of rent/necessities worth of finances set aside. If you are currently working, start setting aside a portion of your overall “profit” after expenses. If you are currently unemployed, set a minimum bank balance monthly, in which you try to limit yourself from going under that amount.

3. Prepare Business Documents

Start typing up or modifying application documents, such as resumes, cover letters, letters of recommendation, etc so you can begin applying as soon as possible. If you need assistance in writing or reviewing your resume, feel free to click here, and we will get you all set up and ready to apply for jobs!

4. Understand Essential Work and Markets

Now that both the previous and current generations have witnessed an international health crisis, we are all aware of which jobs come and go, which jobs are “essential,” which markets crash, and which investments thrive. We know that there will always be room for work and investments in the medical/health/tech world. Know that if you ever want guaranteed work, invest in these career paths, and consider the financial investments as well.

Understanding even just these few tips toward surviving the business closures and community “re-development” could give you an edge throughout you and your family’s lives.

Passive income investing: Are crowd-funded online real estate sites worth the investment?

Hello everyone, a brief intro on the discussion before I dig into the facts and performance summary of my Fundrise Online Real Estate Investments! In May of 2019, I invested $500 into a crowd funded real estate online investment site. Crowd funded means the platform takes the investments of multiple (basically hundreds and thousands) of investors and throws them into an investment pool to fund the creation of a project. The start-up cost for a basic/beginner package is $500, which was the maximum I was willing to spend on something that I just heard about and without anyone’s referral that I knew of. With that being said, yes I paid the 5 x $100, or 10 x $50, or well.. basically 50 x ten dollar bills to a website I just heard of! Just kidding 🙂 I did some online research and with extra cash that I would’ve spent on fitness supplements or something, I decided to invest it into potentially a source of passive income for myself for the future.

I provided a screenshot of my dashboard to show that I indeed invested in May of 2019, and began with the starter level pack.

Okay! The Fun Part! Analyzing the worth of your investment…

So, $500 can be looked at as $500 spent or $500 invested. An investment is a purchase in which you intend to receive the initial investment plus a profit, correct? I mean, why even invest if you aren’t going to profit? The dashboard of Fundrise will show display your portfolio performance, dividends, appreciation, etc. Basically, it will show how much you are making off of your investment like such:

As you can see, my account value is always increasing over time. It seems to be progressing at a constant pace, but does demonstrate a jump in value around January. That is become, since I have my dividends and payout set to re-invest, I had re-invested in new projects that were completed around that time.

The best part about the site, is that you have professionals who already do the calculating, analyzing, and investing for you. I didn’t have to select anything other than which investment package, and what investing approach and style I would like for my profile.

Here, I will show you how the dashboard displays your portfolio, presenting your portfolio worth, active projects, and investment format (equity or debt).

Taking this breakdown and considering if the investment is worth it, let’s look at the day to day investing.

It took about 3-5 months after my initial investment to start making 3-6 cents per day ($0.03-0.06). Now, I am making about 13-15 cents per day ($0.13-0.15). At this rate, accumulating approximately $3.90-$4.50/month or $46.80-$54.00/year. That would be accurate if I was not re-investing into the system. This means I will increase my daily value from week to week, so by the end of 2020, I might be collecting 20-30 cents per day. With that logic, maybe by 2030 I could be collecting $5-15 per day… and the pattern continues on and on….

Even if my daily re-investments were transitioned to direct deposit and my investment value stayed at a set number, I would still make my initial investment back in about 3-4 years of just letting it sit… which makes no sense to just make back the cash you invested, so why not let it re-invest and make you initial investment back and then some.

The concept is, possibly by the time I am 40 or 50 years of age, I could be receiving a monthly deposit for passive income from the Fundrise crowd funded source for $100-500. It will not be a anything close to full-time income or anything that you can solely live off of, but anything helps when it comes to acquiring multiple sources of passive income.

Feel free to post any comment, questions, or concerns! I am always looking at new perspectives, new ideas on investments, and interested in meeting like-minded individuals.

Firefighter Health: Exploring Why Departments Need Wellness Programs

Intro and Purpose

With the accumulation of 58,835 documented fire fighter injuries within the nation for the year of 2017, departments should start (or continue) to analyze how the injuries arise and what methods of preventative measures might decrease the injury count for future years. This article will explore some injury and fatality statistics for fire fighters within the US, along with possible poreventative measures to aid the departments.

Statistics

US Fire Fighter Injury Statistics in 2017

  • 58,835 injuries reported in 2017
  • 24,495 fireground injuries reported in 2017
  • 1/3 of Injuries result from Overexertion
  • per‐claim average worker’s compensation cost: $5,168
  • per-claim average worker’s compensation cost for overexertion injuries: $9,715

With overexertion being the leading cause of fireground injuries, how can we prevent such a common and costly injury? Overexertion is the lack of ability for the body to withstand an external or internal force, tension, or stress. How can departments construct or impliment programs that better prepare or screen personnel to overcome overexertion and observe potential risk factors prior to an injury occurance?

US Fire Fighter Fatality Statistics in 2017

  • 60 on-duty deaths (29 were cardiac)
  • 32 volunteer firefighters, 21 career firefighters, 3 employees of federal land management agencies, 2 contractors with state and federal land management agencies, and 2 prison inmates

With 29 out of 60 on-duty deaths being a result of cardiac fatality, how can fire departments impliment medical screening to filter those with potential risk factors and develop a fitness program to improve the health of their personnel?

Research

Evaluating areas to monitor within the profession of fire fighting, Kuehl et al. (2012) concluded that the BMI of fire fighters is worth analyzing. They researchers’ presented study of 2012 displayed that “The odds of filing a compensation claim were almost three times higher for firefighters with a BMI >30 compared to firefighters with normal BMI (Kuehl, et al. 2012).” The study suggests that BMI might be a risk factor for potential injuries, and department staff need to closely monitor the BMI of their personnel. Although BMI might not directly mean someone is obese (since someone can have a high BMI due to a large amount of lean muscle for their height), it could be a potential risk factor since more mass on someone’s frame is a potential for limitation of ROM (range of motion).

A research study by Bates, G. et al. (2007) utilized FMS tests to analyze core strength of fire fighter subjects. The intent of the study was to “improve flexibility and strength in trunk stabilizer or core muscle groups through a training program was evaluated (Bates, et al., 2007).” The results of the study displayed that the twelve month program “reduced lost time due to injuries by 62%” and the injury count by 42% as compared to a historical control group (Bates, et al., 2007). The study suggests that a focus on core strength could decrease the amount of injuries among fire fighters in the field, as well as decrease the amount of time that fire fighters can’t work due to injury.

Become The Solution

Jabai Performance’s Fire Fighter Training Systems Program is devoted toward the prevention and management of injuries that fire fighters might become at risk of or exposed to during their career. The program’s mission is to establish proper assessments to analyze and improve all aspects of health & wellness. Jabai Performance focuses on utilizing movement screening, exercise testing, and job task analysis protocols in efforts to prevent overexertion and strains, the leading cause of injury among fire fighters. The company devotes time and effort into building essential resources, such as partnering with medical companies, seeking guidance in the realm of mental wellness, and collaborating with departments to understand the needs for other resources that can improve the quality of life of fire fighters. A single injury, such as those caused by overexertion, can result in costing the department nearly $10,000 per claim filed. This does not even take into account the cost, time, and efforts of hiring and training new personnel to fill the role of the injured fire fighter during the recovery process. Jabai Performance’s goal is to be able to assess and evaluate department personnel, develop strength & conditioning programs, and build a strong network of resources in which fuel the increase in performance output, injury prevention, and overall wellness of our fire fighters.

Resources

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ajim.10200

https://www.usfa.fema.gov/data/statistics/

https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Publications-and-Media/NFPA-Journal/2018/July-August-2018/Features/Firefighter-Fatalities

https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Publications-and-Media/NFPA-Journal/2018/November-December-2018/Features/US-Firefighter-Injuries-2017

Citations

Kuehl, K. S., Kisbu-Sakarya, Y., Elliot, D. L., Moe, E. L., Defrancesco, C. A., Mackinnon, D. P., … Kuehl, H. E. (2012). Body mass index as a predictor of firefighter injury and workers’ compensation claims. Journal of occupational and environmental medicine, Retieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3349447/

Bates, G., Lunda, K., Francis, S., Bellamy, K., & Peate, W. (2007, April 11). Core strength: A new model for injury prediction and prevention. Retrieved from https://occup-med.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1745-6673-2-3