Think Your Credit Score Doesn’t Matter in Retirement? Think Again.

credit score

You have battled with your credit score your whole life. You wanted a good score so that you can could get the best loans, especially for your home mortgage. Finally, you’ve reached retirement, and you have it in mind that you can rest easy. You have your mortgage, you are done taking out loans for education, so you don’t have to think about your credit score any more right? Wrong. Your credit score still maters in retirement.

You Need to Watch Your Money Carefully in Retirement

Unless you happen to retire with extreme wealth at your disposal, you need to be frugal after retirement. You need to budget. After all, you don’t have the kind of income coming in that you once did. You aren’t going to get raises and other windfalls. You have to make do with what you have.

Therefore, it’s really important that you watch your money carefully. If you have bad credit, then you put yourself at risk. What if something happens and you need to refinance your home? Or what if you need to take out an emergency loan? So many things can go awry in life. Medical expenses, natural disasters, the needs of adult children … you just might need to get credit or a loan again even after you’ve retired.

If you don’t have good credit, then you’re going to end up with a loan that has terrible terms (if you can get a loan at all). A bad credit score means you’ll have a higher interest rate, which in turns means that you’ll have higher monthly repayment bills. If you’re trying to budget in retirement then you can’t afford to waste money on those exorbitant fees. If you maintain a good credit score in retirement then you don’t have to worry about that so much.

You Probably Have More Bills in Retirement Than You Anticipated

People like to paint a rosy picture of retirement. You’ve worked hard your entire life, so now you can rest. You can take the money that you set aside and enjoy your sunset years. However, this financially lovely picture simply isn’t the reality for many Americans reaching retirement age today.

Baby boomers who have retired or about to retire have much higher bills than they might have expected. In fact, many still owe on their homes, either due to an original mortgage or to refinancing over the years. Additionally, older people increasingly have high levels of credit card debt to their names. Some people even still have student loan debt when they retire!

If you have these types of outstanding debt, then you really need to make sure that you have a good credit score in retirement. You should work to improve the score as much as possible. You can do that through debt repayment, increased credit lines, disputing incorrect credit report information, etc. Once you have boosted your score as much as possible, you can then use that good credit score to get a great rate on a consolidation loan. This will allow you to repay that debt as quickly as possible so that it doesn’t hang over you throughout your entire retirement.

Plus more and more Americans retire but then start a post-retirement business of their own. If you’d like to start a new business, then you might need a business loan. If you have a good credit score in retirement, it’ll be significantly easier to get that loan.

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LLC vs. Sole Proprietorship: Which One Makes More Financial Sense?

llc vs sole proprietorship

Should I select an LLC vs. sole proprietorship? That’s the question that I’ve been asking myself lately as I look at small business planning.

You see, I’ve been an independent contractor / freelancer for a long time. However, I’ve recently started thinking that it makes financial sense to separate my personal and business money. Of course, there are many different ways to do that, but setting myself up as a business seems to be a good next step.

Most likely I’m going to go with a sole proprietorship. I had that kind of business a long time ago and it seemed to suit me just fine. Nevertheless, I don’t just want to jump in willy nilly, so I’m carefully exploring the differences between LLC vs sole proprietorship to make sure I go down the right path.

LLC vs. Sole Proprietorship: Liability

There are many different ways to structure a business. I’ve narrowed it down to LLC vs sole proprietorship. The main difference as I’ve always understood is about my own personal liability. An LLC is a “limited liability corporation” which means that I as an individual have limited liability in comparison to if I were a sole proprietor. In other words, if someone sues my business and I lose, the costs can only affect my business, not my personal finances. In contrast, as a sole proprietor, I’m personally still responsible for the costs of the business. The same is true for creditor issues. It’s worth taking that liability into consideration.

LLCs Cost More to Set Up

Although that limited liability is nice, it comes with a price. It doesn’t really cost much at all to set up a sole proprietorship business. In contrast, there are a lot of fees involved with setting up an LLC. You have to register with the state so there are fees associated with registration and filing documents. Oftentimes, LLCs are also subject to ongoing annual fees. In other words, if you don’t pay each year, then you don’t maintain your LLC registration. You don’t have those costs associated with setting up a sole proprietor business. In general, LLCs are subject to a lot more regulations, which can mean more paperwork, which can mean more time and money.

LLC vs. Sole Proprietorship: Taxes

I currently pay taxes as a self-employed person. If I choose to set up my business as a sole proprietor then I will still pay taxes as a self-employed person. Therefore, for better or worse, my tax situation isn’t going to change. Things seem a little bit more complicated if I decide to set up an LLC. An LLC can be a partnership or a corporation, but it can also be solely-owned. In the later case, it would be taxed like a sole proprietorship.

Therefore, there doesn’t seem to be a huge tax difference for me personally by doing LLC vs sole proprietorship. That said, if I opted to file as a corporation, that could make a difference, which is something worth exploring more. If I do an LLC, I’ll have to file separate business and personal taxes, which I wouldn’t have to do if I set up as a sole proprietor.

Separating Business and Personal Finances

The main reason that I was planning to set myself up as a business is because I want to separate my finances. However, I’m leaning towards doing a sole proprietorship, which actually doesn’t require me to separate my finances. An LLC strictly requires that you keep your business and personal expenses entirely separate. In contrast, you don’t have to do that with a sole proprietorship. You are the business. Therefore, that part wouldn’t actually be different than what I’m doing now as a freelancer. Of course, I still want to separate them, but in the eyes of the government, they wouldn’t need to be.

A sole proprietorship is the right thing for me. My business finances are pretty simple. I don’t run a lot of risk regarding liability. And I don’t want to spend the extra money to become an LLC. But anyone making this decision should certainly look at both options with an eye towards what makes financial sense for them.

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Write-Offs For Small Businesses That Are Often Missed

Write-offs for your small business

Write-offs for your small business

Write-offs are often hiding right under our noses.

If you’re a small business owner that has yet to file your 2015 taxes, you’re probably jumping for joy over the news that taxes are now due April 18 instead of April 15. And, if you do have yet to file, this also buys you a little more time to review and evaluate your expenses and potential deductions with your accountant.

As you finish the filing process, be sure to keep these write-offs for small businesses that are often missed in mind:

  1. Your startup costs. As surprising as it may be, if you are in your first year of business, costs accrued to start up your business count as capital expenses and can be deducted up to $5,000. If fees go beyond this limit, you can opt to write-off certain initial investments over a period of 15 years. Also, if your attempt to start your business is sadly unsuccessful, you can still deduct the costs as a capital loss.
  2. Health insurance premiums. While this expense would not be considered a business write-off, you can deduct this as a personal expense on a 1040 form if you are self-employed. Deductible premiums includes ones paid for yourself and your immediate family.
  3. Home office. You may already be aware of this one, but small businesses tend to forget about this or often surprisingly steer clear of trying to include this in their write-offs due to worry of an audit to the business owner. If the space is used strictly for business, though, and nothing else, such as entertainment for guests or other family members, this is a business deduction from your taxes. Your home office doesn’t need its own room to count; it can still be a part of another room in the home. To determine the amount that is deductible in a shared space, you would measure the work space and divide by the square footage of the room. Read more about the home business tax filing and deduction process here.
  4. Bank fees. Charges from your bank for ATM withdrawals, account fees and the like are completely deductible. Make sure to keep this in mind when filing and reporting your expenses throughout the year.
  5. Office supplies. Keep a steady record of the receipts and purchases of your office supplies used for your small business. These will help to provide a tax break for you.
  6. Furniture and other equipment. Office furniture or furniture and equipment used for your company can be deducted in full the same year of purchase or depreciate, which is taking a portion over a period of time. For furniture, you would deduct through the course of seven years. For other equipment, such as computers and printers, you would depreciate for five years.
  7. Driving your car. If your vehicle is a staple for your organization, the IRS permits you to write-off some of the costs. Even if you only periodically use your car for meeting with clients or other business-related exchanges in between your personal errands, you can still receive a tax break for related costs. Just be sure to maintain strong documentation on mileage, gas, parking and toll fees and even the justification for drive. We recommend immediately writing this information down per trip with the date included to avoid having to go back and remember these tedious details.
  8. Credit card interest. If you were paying for business items with your credit card, you can deduct the interest paid on the card on your taxes.

Some other expenses that can be write-offs for your small business include but are not limited to: education costs, subscriptions to industry publications or memberships related to increasing knowledge in your trade, travel charges, and even some entertainment expenses. You can read more about those tax breaks in this helpful guide.

Make sure to always inquire about what can be included as a deduction for your small business so that you can use more funds to do those bigger things we know you are all meant to do.