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Tips to Manage Finances and Save Money

 To help you manage your money and reach your saving goals:

Create a Budget

A budget is your plan for how you will spend money over a set period of time. It shows how much money you make and how you spend your money. Creating a budget can help you:

  • Pay your bills on time.
  • Save for unplanned expenses in the future.
  • Prepare for retirement.

Consumer.gov offers more information about what to include in your budget, along with aspreadsheet (PDF, Download Adobe Reader) that you can use to create your own.

Consider Ways to Save

Saving money involves looking for deals and buying the items you need at the best price, using coupons or by shopping around. Check out MyMoney.gov’s spending tips for ideas. You can also set up a saving plan to help you save for emergencies and for short term and long term goals. MyMoney.gov offers tips on saving, including helping you achieve your saving goals.

Invest in Long Term Goals

You can save for long term goals, such as retirement (PDF, Download Adobe Reader) and college education, by investing. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission offers tips to help you be aninformed investor.

Saving for Retirement

As you approach retirement, there are many things to think about. Experts advise that you will need about 80 percent of your pre-retirement income to continue your current quality of life. The exact amount, of course, depends on your individual needs. Some important factors to consider include:

  • At what age do you plan to retire?
  • Can you participate in an employer’s retirement savings plan, such as a 401(k) plan, or a traditional pension plan?
  • Will your spouse or partner retire when you do?
  • Where do you plan to live when you retire? Will you downsize, rent, or own your home?
  • Do you expect to work part-time?
  • Will you have the same medical insurance you had while working? Will your coverage change?
  • Do you want to travel or pursue a new hobby that might be costly?

Resources to Help You Prepare for Retirement

To help you plan for retirement:

  • Find practical tips for building retirement savings in the Top 10 Ways to Prepare for Retirement(PDF, Download Adobe Reader).
  • Use a retirement calculator to find out the best age to claim your Social Security benefits.
  • myRA can help you start saving for retirement, when you don’t have access to an employer-sponsored plan or lack other options to save.
  • Find out the trade-offs between taking your pension in a monthly payment or in a lump sum(PDF, Download Adobe Reader).
  • Social Security pays benefits that are on average equal to about 40 percent of your pre-retirement earnings. You may be able to estimate your benefits.
  • Learn how you can boost your retirement savings at Investor.gov.
  • If you have a financial advisor, talk to him or her about your plans.

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Savings Bonds

U.S. savings bonds are one of the safest types of investments because they are endorsed by the federal government and, therefore, are virtually risk free.

Visit TreasuryDirect, a website from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, to learn about savings bonds, treasury bonds, and securities: how to buy and redeem your investments, what to do in the event of the death of an owner, and much more. TreasuryDirect is your one-stop shopping site for government securities where you can find information about the wide range of savings options, including EE/E, HH/H, and I savings bonds.

Manage and determine the value of savings bonds using these tools:

  • Savings Bond Calculator
  • Savings Bond Wizard
  • Redemption Tables

You can give savings bonds for many occasions, such as birthdays, weddings, and graduations. Learn how to give savings bonds as gifts.

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Treasury Securities

Treasury securities are debts issued by the federal government’s Bureau of Fiscal Service. When you buy a treasury security, you are lending money to the federal government for a set amount of time. In return the government promises to pay you back the entire amount, also known as the face value, when the security matures.

There are several types of treasury securities:

  • Treasury Bills—Short term securities that mature between a few days and 52 weeks.
  • Treasury Notes—Medium term securities that mature between one and 10 years.
  • Treasury Bonds—Long term securities, with a 30 year term that pays interest every six months, until the bond matures.
  • Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS)—Securities with principle values that adjust based on inflation, but with fixed interest rates for five, 10, or 30 year maturities.
  • Savings Bonds—Securities that offer a fixed interest rate over a fixed period of time.
  • Floating Rate Notes (FRNs)—Securities with variable interest rates, so that as bank interest rates increase or decrease, the interest rates on the FRNs change in the same direction.

You can purchase treasury securities for yourself or as gifts. You can purchase them in several ways:

  • Banks, brokers, and other financial institutions through the Commercial Book-Entry System.
  • Online through Treasury Direct
  • Payroll savings plans
  • Public auctions

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Trusts

A trust (or trust fund) is a legal entity that allows a person (the grantor, donor, or settlor) to transfer assets to another person or organization (the trustee). Once the grantor establishes the trust, the trustee controls and manages the assets for the grantor or for another beneficiary—someone who will ultimately benefit from the trust. To help you decide if a trust is right for you, first consult a licensed attorney experienced with estate planning and trust matters.

Reasons to Set Up a Trust

Some common reasons for setting up a trust include:

  • Providing for minor children or family members who are inexperienced or unable to handle financial matters.
  • Arranging for management of personal assets, if you become unable to handle them yourself.
  • Avoiding probate and immediately transferring assets to beneficiaries upon death.
  • Reducing estate taxes and providing liquid assets to help pay for them.
  • The terms of a will are public while the terms of a trust are not, so privacy makes a trust an appealing option.

Types of Trusts

Trusts can be living (inter vivos) or after-death (testamentary). A living trust is one that a grantor sets up while still alive and an after-death trust is usually established by a will after one’s death. Living trusts can be irrevocable (can’t be changed) or revocable (can be changed), although revocable trusts don’t get the same tax shelter benefits as irrevocable ones do.

The most common type of trust is the revocable living trust. If there’s a specific purpose in mind for the trust, dozens of different options exist (charitable trusts, bypass trusts, spendthrift trusts, and life insurance trusts). Two types of trusts can help pay for long-term care services:

  • Charitable Remainder Trusts – This trust allows you to use your own assets to pay for long-term care services while contributing to a charity of your choice and reducing your tax burden at the same time. You can set up the trust so that you receive payments from the trust to pay for long-term care services while you are alive.
  • Medicaid Disability Trusts – These trusts are limited to persons with disabilities who are under age 65 and qualify for public benefits. Parents, grandparents, and legal guardians often set up these trusts to benefit people with disabilities and a non-profit organization manages the assets. This is the only kind of trust that is exempt from rules regarding trusts and Medicaid eligibility.