July 29

How Can I Retire If I'm Self-employed?


It’s been nagging me that I don’t have a retirement plan in place. I mean, I had a couple of 401K plans at my previous employers, but since I only had a few hundred dollars in those, I cashed them in to help cover costs when I was between jobs (i.e. having kids).

Now that I’m self-employed, I realize that, like Uncle Ben told Peter Parker, aka, Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility. With no retirement fund in place, I don’t feel very responsible. How can I retire if I’m self-employed? I didn’t have a clue.

So, I started digging around, and found some great suggestions for retirement plans for self-employed people like me, courtesy of Forbes magazine. Take a look and see for yourself if one of these would be good for you.


If you work for yourself, this is a good choice because you can set aside up to 25% of your net self-employment earnings, up to a certain amount. The simplified employee pension is built up with pretax dollars, so you can reduce your tax liability by setting aside a little extra at tax time to reduce the taxes you owe.

It’s not a great choice if you have employees, though, since you have to also make contributions to their SEP-IRA’s as well.


This one operates a bit like a traditional 401K, allowing you to borrow against the account if you absolutely need to, but it also allows you to contribute as both an employer and an employee, allowing you to set aside more pre-tax dollars.

Simple IRA

This is more of a savings incentive plan for self-employed people with a few employees. You match their contributions to their own IRA, but can deduct the contributions from your own liability. If you need to pull money out, there are hefty fees and fines, so this is more of a long-term saving plan rather than a last minute effort to secure a comfortable retirement.

Baffled by all the terminology related to these plans, or still just not sure which is right for you? I would recommend speaking to a customer service agent at a reputable financial firm. Vanguard, T. Rowe Price and Fidelity are all very good at explaining the different options available to self-employed people, and any one of them will likely steer you to the best choice for your individual needs.

Have you got your retirement plan in place? How are you planning to afford your ‘golden years’? Please feel free to share in the comments section below!

July 20

How Your Kids Can Get Free Stuff (Including Money) For Reading

read this summer


You’ve probably heard it said that reading is one of the most important things your kids can do to avoid the summer brain drain that affects so many children. It’s true, reading is important, and it’s awesome fun, but if your child just isn’t motivated to read during the summer months, how can you get them to pick up a book? How about free money?

I always enroll my kids in the summer reading program at our local library, where they can earn lots of fun freebies, including a free ticket to a baseball game. But when my oldest started balking at the library’s offerings, I did a little digging and found some other great summer reading programs that offer kids rewards for reading. After all, I don’t know a kid who doesn’t love to get free stuff, especially by doing something as easy as picking up a book.  Here are three that are well worth your child’s time, so break out the books!

TD Bank

TD Bank offers anyone who has a Young Saver’s account $10 just for reading ten books. Just drop by your local branch and pick up a reading log, then cash in by August 31st to get your money.

Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble offers kids a choice of a free book from a list of books that they have in-store. Print off the reading log from their website and log eight books to collect the free book.

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge

If your child loves a little competition, this is the perfect motivation. As they read, they can clock their minutes online at the Scholastic website. They get to see how they compare to other kids when it comes to time spent reading, and they can earn virtual rewards with every book they read. Plus, they can win real prizes (books), too. Sign up online at the Scholastic website.

Go ahead and get a book in their hands, and they’ll thank you for it when they pick up all their great freebies!