Prioritize Retirement Savings and Where to Invest Cash

March 31, 2008

New York City's We’re currently in the final weeks of tax preparation season. As many of you know, I do just enough tax return preparation every year to make me wonder why I do taxes! Joking aside, I believe I’m a better adviser for my clients if I know how the tax code works. Still, it gets a little stressful trying to keep up with all of the work flow. I’m not complaining … I could have the opposite problem with nothing to do, so please know that I’m very happy to be busy!

In today’s show, I try to help you recognize that retirement savings should be a priority in your life, and that you have to take advantage of all the opportunities that are available to you.

  1. Take Advantage of Employer Matching… it’s Free Money!
    Contribute the minimum required to receive the maximum employer matching (usually 3 percent)
    * I am primarily talking about 401ks, 403bs, and Simple IRAs
  2. Fully Fund your ROTH IRA
    * There’s a reason that these accounts are only available to average investors: the government knows that they are leaving us with a bad deal, so they are trying to help you out with TAX-FREE Growth
    * It’s worth repeating: TAX FREE GROWTH!
    2007 contribution limit of $4,000 and 2008 contribution limit of $5,000
    * You have until April to still make a 2007 contribution

With the Federal Reserve Bank dropping interest rates, where do you invest your cash reserves and savings accounts?

One day while I was researching an article on SmartMoney.com I noticed a banner ad for FNBOdirect.com. The interest rate advertised was a good bit higher than INGdirect.com and EmigrantDirect.com. I decided to do a little research and I found out that the company is indeed legit. I first went to the FDIC.gov website to make sure that there was a First National Bank of Omaha. I then called the 800 number for the bank to make sure that the FNBOdirect.com was part of the Omaha bank that has been around since 1857.

I asked why I did’nt see an FNBOdirect.com link on their parent website, FirstNational.com, and was told they didn’t want their retail customers to switch for the higher rates. I also asked if their rates were teaser rates that would disappear shortly, and the spokesperson I talked with said no. They were committed to building market share in the online banking industry and knew this would mean higher interest rates.

I have no affiliation with this bank and get nothing for the referral … I just like that their rate was better than what I could find anywhere else. As of today, they’re paying 3.25 percent (compared with 2.75 percent from Emigrant Direct and 3.00 percent from ING direct).

FDIC website for First National Bank of Omaha … in case you want to do your own verification. I don’t blame you — I would 😉

Thanks for your great iTunes comments! We only need 4 more submissions to reach 100 comments — a great milestone for a fan-supported podcast like this one. And thanks as well for supporting the Money Guy show by signing up for the “Wealth Report”. The funds help offset some of my out-of-pocket expenses.

I couldn’t do the show without your enthusiastic emails, comments, and support. Feel free to drop me a note at [email protected] … although I might not respond until after tax season 😀



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