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3: Analyze Your Circumstances

Grow the Money You Have

two money plants growingOne characteristic of financial well-being is having the financial freedom to enjoy your life. For many, that means accumulating monetary wealth. But, what if getting a better paying job or inheriting money from a loved one is not in your future?

SAM’s principles suggest that you work to grow the money you have. Think of money as a valuable employee in your quest to accumulate more and achieve financial security. Examine your habits regarding:

  • Working with advisors to grow your money
  • Contributing to employer retirement plans
  • Living off a set income when you have a windfall

Work with Advisors to Grow Your Money

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You’re an expert in many areas: performing your job, playing a sport, caring for your family, running your household, playing an instrument, engaging in a hobby, etc., yet when it comes to building and maintaining your financial security and well-being, you may need help.

According to a Harris poll by the National Endowment for Financial Education, about 36 percent of Americans don’t know what financial advisors do. Here is just a sampling of services they can offer:

  • Advise on spending and debt repayment goals
  • Prepare financial and retirement plans
  • Assess savings and investment options
  • Evaluate tax advantages
  • Create estate plans

Contribute to Employer Retirement Programs

Although fewer companies provide traditional pension plans these days, many employers offer tax-deferred retirement savings plans, e.g., 401(k) and 403(b) accounts. Your contributions to these plans are tax-deferred, meaning that your contributions and any earnings on them are taxed only when you take the money out (usually after age 59 ½ when your tax liability should be lower).

  • Have an employer plan? In addition to being one of the better tax shelters, many employers will match your contributions up to a certain amount, giving you free money toward retirement. Maximize your contributions to get the greatest contribution from your employer.
  • Self-employed? You can set up your own tax-deferred retirement account, such as a Keogh plan, a simplified employee pension plan (SEP), savings incentive match plan for employees (SIMPLE), or IRA, and contribute the maximum amount possible.
  • Don’t have an employer-sponsored plan? Save through myRA, a plan that has been established for people who can only save a little bit here and there or who otherwise lack tax-deferred programs in which to contribute. As of July 2017, the U.S. Treasury Department discontinued the myRA program. Existing myRA account holders are encouraged to log in to and update contact information. Account holders will be notified of the deadline for rolling remaining myRA funds into a Roth IRA. Please visit for more information.

A tax advisor can help you structure your contributions to these plans and suggest how to maximize tax advantages, grow your retirement savings rate and increase your net worth.

Live Off a Set Income When You Have a Windfall

When you start to make more money as you mature in your career or when you have a windfall such as a bonus, inheritance, sale of a property or tax refund, it is a good practice to continue to live off a set income. This sounds like another lesson in budgeting, but the focus here is using cash surprises to bolster your savings and increase your net worth.

No matter how these windfalls come to you, what you do with them matters. If you know your goals, and you’ve thought about your values, you can feel confident when making decisions about what to do with that extra money.

How Would You Fare?

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In a recent study by the Federal Reserve Board, half of the respondents said they would “save some and spend some” if they received an unexpected $1,000.

Infographic regarding spending habits

* Harris Poll survey in April 2016 by on behalf of McAdam, LLC.


Before beginning to work with a financial advisor, use these sites to research and verify information about them:

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