Feature

What the experts say

Retirement for the self-employed; Dealing with debt collectors; Shopping for disability insurance

Retirement for the self-employed
It isn’t as easy for the self-employed to save for retirement, said Farnoosh Torabi in Yahoo.com, but it’s no less important. To amass a nest egg that will carry you through your senior years, consider these three tax-deductible investment tools. The first is an IRA—if you’re planning to save less than $5,000 per year, this is the easiest option. If you’re putting aside more, consider a Simplified Employee Pension IRA. A SEP IRA allows you to contribute a quarter of your income each year, up to a maximum $51,000 in 2013. And if you want to defer even more, consider a Solo 401(k). These accounts let you defer up to $17,500 in 2013, plus the quarter of your income (up to $51,000) allowed by a SEP IRA. But managing these can be complex and expensive, so consider working with an accountant or financial consultant. 

Dealing with debt collectors
“Be wary of debt-settlement calls,” said Ann Carrns in NYTimes.com. Firms that offer to negotiate down your debt with creditors for a fee know they’re dealing with desperate people, and often charge too much and fail to provide what they promise. “The better choice is to hang up and do your own research about the legitimate resources that are available to help you.” It’s usually better to negotiate with creditors yourself, using the thousands of dollars you saved in fees to pay down your debt instead. If you really do need help negotiating your debt, the U.S. Department of Justice’s website lists accredited debt counseling organizations you can trust. 

Shopping for disability insurance
Even if you’re healthy, disability insurance is worth considering, said Jeff Reeves in USA Today. While the Social Security Administration provides disability benefits as a safety net, they’re “hardly enough to live comfortably.” If living on a few months’ income or half your paycheck isn’t an option, disability insurance might make sense. Your employer might offer a group plan, but benefits vary widely. They typically “don’t come close to replacing your full paycheck,” with a reimbursement rate of 60 percent and monthly or annual caps on how much you can be paid. If that sounds insufficient, look into supplemental plans, which can make up some of the difference for a modest monthly fee. But remember, like health insurance, their price “is based on your unique situation and needs.”

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