How Often Should I Trade

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How Much Can You Contribute to an IRA — and How Often?

Traditional IRAs are a great way to save for retirement, because they give you a tax break for doing so. It’s basically a reward for looking after your future self. Roth IRAs are another great way to save, but the tax benefit is delayed — all of your money grows tax-free and comes out tax-free in retirement.

But how do you maximize the benefits of an IRA? Here’s how much and how often to contribute to your traditional or Roth IRA.

How much can I contribute?

In a perfect world, the answer is, as much as possible, up to the limit. For 2020, the contribution limits are $6,000 ($7,000 if you’re 50 or older), the same as in 2020.

However, the real world isn’t usually that simple. You may have a limited amount of money, and you may have a retirement plan at work.

The good news? IRAs can complement workplace plans like 401(k)s, or fill in for them if your employer doesn’t offer one. Here’s one way to think about divvying up your money:

  • Contribute enough to your 401(k) or other workplace retirement plan to get the full company match. That’s free money, sometimes dollar for dollar up to a specific percentage of your pay. You don’t want to forfeit it.
  • If your 401(k) offers a good variety of low-cost investments (a mutual fund expense ratio of 1% or more is a red flag), you could put as much money as you can into it. The annual maximum is $19,500 in 2020, up from $19,000 in 2020. If you’re 50 or older you can make an additional $6,500 catch-up contribution in 2020.
  • But if your 401(k) isn’t great, then focus on maxing out your traditional or Roth IRA.
  • If you have enough money to keep going beyond your preferred account’s limits, then max out your second choice.

This assumes that you’ve already picked between a traditional and a Roth IRA. Traditional IRAs offer tax-deferred growth — you pay taxes when you take the money out. Roth IRAs, into which you contribute after-tax money, offer tax-free growth on investment earnings.

There are income restrictions on IRAs, which may reduce or eliminate the tax deduction you can take for your traditional IRA contributions. They also may reduce or eliminate your ability to make Roth IRA contributions outright.

» Not sure if a Roth or traditional is best for you? Here’s how to decide between a Roth or traditional IRA.

When should I contribute?

If you’ve got the money on hand, then contributing the maximum amount at the beginning of the year means your money has the most time to gain returns.

Contributing the maximum amount at the beginning of the year means your money has the most time to gain returns.

“Chances are you gain a year’s worth of tax-deferred or tax-free growth rather than waiting until the end of the year or April 15,” says Rick Kahler, a certified financial planner and founder of Kahler Financial Group in Rapid City, South Dakota.

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You can contribute only as much as you earn in any given year (up to the standard contribution limit), but you don’t have to wait until you earn the money, Kahler says.

“Say all your money comes in in December. You can make the contribution in January as long as you have funds to make it. The IRS looks at this on a yearly basis,” he says.

If you’re more of a procrastinator, you can contribute to an IRA as late as the tax filing deadline of the following year. That means your contribution deadline for tax year 2020 is April 15, 2020.

But I don’t have $6,000!

For many people, contributing the annual maximum to their IRA all at once is difficult. The next best thing is to set up automatic payments that move money from your bank account to your brokerage account regularly, such as every two weeks or once a month.

Setting up periodic contributions has another benefit, too. You’re embracing the practice of “dollar-cost averaging.” That’s when you buy investments in small periodic payments, rather than in one big lump sum.

Doing that means you buy no matter what the market is doing, and over time the variations average out.

“It’s the opposite of market timing,” says Patrick Meyer, CFP and director of wealth management client services at Unified Trust Company in Lexington, Kentucky.

Market timing is when you try to figure out the best time to buy, that is, when prices are low. The problem with market timing is it’s impossible to know what the market will do tomorrow, so you never know if you’ve timed it right.

If market timing was easy, Meyer says, “everybody would do it.”

Why should I contribute?

You want to save for Future You, and the earlier you start, the more time your money will have to grow. Even if you have debt, that’s no reason to put your retirement savings on hold.

If you’ve got time to let your investments grow, then even just a few years of maxing out that IRA contribution can get you a long way to retirement success.

Interested in opening a traditional IRA or Roth IRA? Here are some of our top picks for IRA accounts:

How Often Should I Switch Jobs?

“Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, is a common type of refractive error where close objects appear clearly, but distant objects appear blurry.”

–National Eye Institute (NEI)

You’re likely to make more than a handful of key job decisions in the long march of a complete career — some thoughtfully planned, and some due to pleasant serendipity. But we can be prone to myopia as we move from position to position throughout a career, or remain past the shelf-life expiration date of a job we once loved.

Guess who doesn’t suffer from nearsightedness when it comes to your career? The recruiter or hiring manager who sees your entire work experience of thousands of days reduced to a series of bullet points on a sheet of paper or a LinkedIn profile. They weren’t around for the trees you witnessed up close; they truly only see the forest.

Image source: Getty Images.

How often should you switch jobs — and what frequency alarms human resources (HR) departments? If you want to get grounded in what’s admittedly an extremely broad question, it’s fruitful to be aware of job movement across the broader economy. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publishes a biennial report on job tenure — i.e., the length of time workers have stayed in their current positions.

The BLS last published its “Employee Tenure Report” in 2020. Per the study’s findings, the median number of years which workers had been with their present employers in the baseline month of January 2020 was 4.2 years, down from 4.6 years in January 2020.

Perhaps not surprisingly, “Food services and drinking places” had the lowest employee tenure, at 1.8 years, while Federal government jobs boasted the longest employee tenure, at 8.8 years.

It depends, part one

For all careers between these two poles, job-switching frequency is one of those topics where the best answer is,”It depends.” As I put forward at the outset, your professional growth over the years always exists as an easily digested narrative that your next prospective employer will read and parse.

In any role, you should be able to extend your capabilities and demonstrate measurable value to the organization that employs you. Sometimes, both can occur in an extremely short amount of time (to recruiters and employers, “extremely short” usually means one year or less).

Thus, beware of stringing together too many compressed job stints. Even though you may have had good reasons for flitting from one job to the next, such a paper trail will cause a potential employer to wonder if you’ll stay after the organization invests considerable resources in you.

Now for a rule of thumb: In most job categories, a one-year window surrounding the U.S. median job tenure creates a perfectly acceptable frame to most folks on the other side of the hiring process. In other words, it’s generally OK to switch jobs every 3-5 years.

As for catalysts for a move, once you believe you’ve maxed out learning and compensatory opportunities, or heaven forbid, fall into career depression as I’ve discussed in a related article, it’s probably time to look abroad for new adventures.

Want to be C-Level? Not everyone can put together the bona fides to become a chief executive of an organization, and the larger the organization, the steeper the hurdles you must leap. If you’re working up the proverbial corporate ladder, numerous jumps early in your career won’t necessarily hurt you — but you must show tangible results, and your titles should reflect increasingly greater responsibilities.

By mid-career, you’ll need to slow down — 3-7 years in a meaningful role is par for the course. The reason is simple to grasp: Organizations that are hiring a CEO or CFO typically think, at minimum, in 5-10 year increments. That’s because the long tenure of a highly qualified individual enhances stability and rewards the entire enterprise with economic value creation.

Longer time periods also apply to highly qualified professionals (architects, engineers, doctors, lawyers, CPAs, etc.) and academics. For example, 5-7 years in a single position is often expected at numerous points during your work history. For those over 25, the BLS’ tenure report pegs the median tenure of highly skilled and academic jobs at 5.6 years.

Now, suppose you’re a millennial working in a start-up or fast-moving services company, say in the advertising industry. Do different rules apply to you?

While it’s true that the nature of work is rapidly changing, and average tenure across industries is declining according to a recent Deloitte study , millennials are staying in jobs roughly in line with other generations. The study reveals that millennials are staying put in pursuit of the same goals as their older peers: adequate compensation, stability, and opportunities to grow personally.

It depends, part two

Of course, everything we’ve discussed above falls into the realm of generalization. If and when you switch jobs, and how often, depends on numerous internal and external factors. It depends on your immediate needs and your temperament. It depends on your financial value in the marketplace, and whether you’re getting the value you deserve.

And it depends on the economy. There’ll be periods where you may feel lucky to be employed, regardless of your profession. Remember the financial crisis of 2008-2009?

Finally, I can say from personal experience and from reading innumerable studies over the years that it also depends on happiness. Those who are pleased in their positions tend to stay put. Those who can’t reach a level of financial equity and personal fulfillment will move on, often with disregard to their length of tenure.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

How Often Should I.

How often you should change your sheets? Wash your towels? Dust? Domestic CEO is here with answers to those, and other “How often should I. ” questions.

Every September, my company Moxie Girl Household Assistants, gets calls from recent graduates who are living on their own for the first time. They may have moved into their grown-up, real-world apartments a few weeks or even a few months ago, but they’re starting to realize just how much time it takes to clean and manage a home. And then, inevitably, we get a call from a young professional who moved into their house a few years ago but clearly hasn’t done a whole lot of cleaning since moving day.

What we find in those cases is not that the young professional is lazy, but usually that they simply don’t know how often things need to be done around the house to maintain a basic level of clean. So, if you are living on your own for the first time, these tips are for you. If you are a domestic diva already, stay with me because we can all use a refresher sometimes.

How Often Should I Change My Sheets?

This depends on how dirty you get in bed.

Get your mind out of the gutter! I mean how dirty you literally are in bed. Do you shower in the morning (that is, go to bed sweaty)? Do you allow pets to sleep in your bed? Do you eat in bed? And how “active” you are in bed matters, too. If you shower before going to bed, never eat where you sleep, and never share your bed with pets or other people, you can probably get away with changing your sheets every 3-4 weeks.

But if you go to bed without showering or enjoy company or snacks in bed, you should be changing your sheets every 1-2 weeks. In general, if you see a yellowish spot where you normally lay in bed, you aren’t changing them often enough. Up your frequency and you won’t have to worry about a gross body print on your linens.

How Often Should I Wash My Towels?

In general, I recommend once a week washings for bath towels. If you like to live on the edge, you can push this to two weeks, but no more. If they start to smell funky or feel crunchy, that’s a signal to toss them in the laundry asap. Hand towels in high traffic bathrooms can be done weekly, or after having guests (you never know what germs those guests wiped on the towels). Keep an extra set of hand towels ready to go so you can replace with fresh ones as needed and wash them all at once. Just like with sheets, if you start seeing or smelling grime, you aren’t washing your towels often enough.

How Often Should I Vacuum My Carpet?

Carpet has a big job. Its main purpose, other than making your house look pretty, is to absorb the dirt that would otherwise be floating around your home. Just like an air filter, it collects the dirt to clean the air, but if it doesn’t get vacuumed often enough, that dirt will start to work its way back into the air. You may be surprised to learn that the flooring industry recommends vacuuming every day.

Unless you have a vacuuming robot (or a live-in maid), this is probably not realistic for you. Rather than give up because you can’t do it daily, make it a priority to bring out the vacuum once a week for a quick sweep of the main traffic areas. Then, once a month, do a more thorough vacuuming of all the floors.

How Often Should I Dust?

Simple answer here: If you can write “Dust Me” on your furniture, you need to dust more often. Many things contribute to the amount of dust you accumulate in your home: where you live (the desert is dustier than rainy places like the Pacific Northwest), if you keep your windows open, and whether you have pets, are just a few of the variables that can increase or decrease the amount of dust you see in your home.

I personally enjoy walking around the house with a duster every week or so, but you may not need to do it more than once a month if you’re lucky. I wouldn’t go past that, though. Otherwise you will be breathing more dirt than during an Arizona dust storm.

Should I Dust High Ledges and Ceiling Fans?

Nothing grosses me out more than a ceiling fan with so much dust hanging off the edges, it looks like there are fur patches growing on the blades. Once you get to this point, it’s a real pain to clean because the dust bunnies want to fall all over your furniture and floors when you try to dust them. Not pretty! High ledges tend to gather grease and moisture, so going too long between cleanings will mean you need to scrub, not just dust.

Ceiling fans, because they are circulating the air around, should be done at least once a quarter (if not on a monthly basis) to make sure your indoor air quality is at a safe level. And those high ledges should be done every 3-6 months if you want it to be an easy task. Waiting more than that will mean you’ll need some elbow grease to scrape the grime off. Check out my episode on Kitchen Nightmares to learn how to scour those high ledges. Both fans and ledges can be easily cleaned with an extendable duster if they are done more frequently and the dust isn’t allowed to stick.

Hopefully, this answers some of your questions about how often you should do certain household chores. If you have any other questions, or additional suggestions, please post them in comments below, or on the Domestic CEO Facebook wall. You can also find me on Twitter @TheDomesticCEO.

Until next time, I’m the Domestic CEO, helping you love your home.

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