Many Americans are eating healthier and treating themselves better and those factors combined with the advancement and increased availability of quality healthcare, people’s life expectancy is increasing. This means that in order to enjoy a long and prosperous retirement, one has to prepare themselves far in advance. Working and saving money does not do the trick anymore; smart investments are needed now in order to build a proper retirement fund that can be counted on to get someone through 40 or more years of their lives. People who retire around the age of 60 and live to be 100 have almost half of their lives to save up for, and most people do not start saving until they are in their 20s or 30s.
401K retirement plans have become a popular way for people to save for their retirements because they can do so before taxes are taken out. The annual contribution limit is $17,500 and most companies who offer this kind of retirement plan to their employees match a certain percentage. Anyone who is concerned about saving for their retirement who can afford to personally contribute a portion of their salary that is equal to the percentage that their employer is willing to match should definitely do that because otherwise, it is like tossing money down the drain. Any employer who reaches at least 100 eligible participants for their plan are required to hire a CPA firm to perform an audit of their retirement plan.
401K audits are mandatory for employers who administer large plans because it is very important that their employees retirement savings are protected and they are not being taken advantage of. Many companies who offer these plans obviously have good intentions because they do not have to, but at some point it became clear that too many of them did not fully understand their fiduciary duties and take this responsibility as seriously as they should have. Timely employee payments must be made, accounts must be stated fairly, all employees must have access to the plan, and the plan should be valued accurately and fairly. This all may sound like jargon to a laymen, but these are important matters that a 401K audit is designed to assess.
Many companies who reach the 100 eligible participant threshold decide to hire one of the big four CPA firms to perform the mandatory audit. Over 95% of large corporations that are publicly traded use one of the major international CPA firms to perform this audit because they are priced and designed to handle very large accounts. It does not matter what firm is chosen to perform the audit as long as the audit is performed by a licensed Certified Public Accountant. Sometimes a company will choose a local CPA firm to perform the audit because they are more reasonably priced or because they take a more personalized approach. Whatever the case may be, the information obtained from the audit is included with form 5500 that is submitted to the Internal Revenue Service for processing along with a company’s other important tax documentation.
A CPA accounting firm does not have to be the biggest and best in order to perform a thorough audit. Any CPA has proven by passing the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination that they are more than capable of utilizing their resources and figuring out what is required for an audit like this. Most 401K auditors though have a lot of experience, specifically with 401K retirement accounts and often they also are well-versed in mutual and hedge fund audits too. There is a very strict set of guidelines that an auditor uses through the audit process in order for them to produce an objective opinion about how the plan is performing and if any of the companies practices need to be improved upon for any reason.
Although it is considered mandatory for a 401K plan with a 100 or more eligible participants to have an audit performed, many companies would choose to do it periodically anyway just to make sure that everything is copacetic with their plan. The financial burden of an audit falls on the company who is having it performed whether it is of their own volition or not; however this cost may be peanuts compared to what an audit could reveal about a company’s internal processes or the performance of their plans that ultimately could improve their bottom line. They say that you have to spend money to make money but in this case, a company may have to spend money to help them and their employees save money.
When you look at photos of celebrities or models or politicians, you will see the same thing: white, straight teeth. It is so common that it may seem like everyone has beautiful teeth except for you, and considering all the competition between your peers who also have straight teeth, you may feel like you will not be able to make a good first impression. Or you may feel completely unattractive because your smile isn’t something that others want to see. It’s a terrible position to be in, but orthodontic treatment is advancing and with it, come many options to wear braces. First off, you don’t have to worry about wearing braces because there are more discreet options that can help you achieve the beautiful smile that you have been wanting for a while. Also, if it comes to the point that you will have to wear braces at the front of your teeth for any number of reasons – due to low budget or because of the severity of your case – take comfort in the fact that your orthodontic treatment will be temporary for a few months, and then you can spend the rest of your lifetime with the comfort of knowing that you will have a more attractive smile. When you are ready to get braces, you will have to make an appointment with an orthodontist first of all to talk about the different options that are available for your particular needs.
When it comes to choosing between a myriad of braces, it will mostly depend on the small details of your case. You don’t have to make the choice to wear the embarrassing looking metal ones, but it may be a good idea that you learn about the way they work so you can understand the rest. Here is the list:
First off, there are metal braces. These are the obnoxious looking ones that will make you feel as if everyone is paying attention to the fact that you have braces on. They are made of steel, which is essential to the way they work as they help in the giving proper alignment to your teeth. The system that they work on consists of two parts: brackets, which are glued to the front of your teeth, and wires, which connect them all and are the tool that orthodontics use in order to tighten the braces throughout time as the treatment continues. These metal braces are highly effective in treating all kinds of orthodontic cases, which makes them extremely versatile. For those on a budget, these are least expensive as well, which is why they are so common, but not popular.
Secondly, there are also clear braces, which is essentially by its very nature of its mechanism a copy of metal braces. They work the same way, down to their brackets and their wires, except that they are not made of steel. They are made of different materials that make them clear and see through, or of a ceramic alloy which allows them blend well with your teeth. They should give an illusion that they are not there. These are not completely unnoticeable however, but they do avoid getting so much attention that normal metal braces seem to get.
Third, there are also lingual braces for patients who are really adamant about the privacy and discreet necessities of wearing braces that no one can see. What makes lingual braces popular is because these are among the most unnoticeable type of braces, which is why they have another name: hidden braces. They are put on behind the teeth, away from public vision, which will give you the privacy of dealing with the orthodontic treatment on your own without having to have anybody else know. It sounds magnificent, but there are some setbacks to this method. First of all, they are not comfortable (just think about where they are in the mouth, wedged into the roof of your mouth). Secondly, not everyone is eligible to wear them. Normal braces are variable and malleable to the dental case that is applied, but lingual braces aren’t, so you will need to have the right orthodontic case for this option to work for you.
Fourth, you have invisible braces, and they are among the most popular. They are plastic molds that are specifically designed to the shape of the patient’s mouth, and they attach to the teeth much like a mouth guard, so there is no need for wires or glue. A computer software program designs them after taking a scan of a mold of your teeth. Think of Invisalign, as this is the most well-known example of what invisible braces are. However, these are so much more costly in comparison to the other treatment methods, so it is up to you to make sure that you have the budget to use this treatment option.
Finding the right home loan can seem like a daunting task but if you are in the position that most first time home buyers are, it is most likely pretty simple. Most people buying a home plan to be home owners for the rest of their lives which means that they are most often looking for a house with an affordable 30 year fixed-rate mortgage. This is a predictable scenario for someone with a job, a career and a family but those who have chosen a different path can use their first real estate purchase as a way to build future wealth. Just about anyone in this country who has built any sizable amount of wealth has done so with the help of smart real estate investments, starting with choosing the right home loan for their first house. Often, because they or even a family man or woman who is not starting with a lot of money, they do not have much for a down payment so they seek out loans that require the least amount in order to qualify. What they find in most cases are FHA loans and because they are backed by the federal government, FHA-approved lenders can approve and fund loans with a less stringent qualification process.
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is a government entity whose main focus is to make home loan opportunities available to working Americans who want to be home owners. The FHA guarantees these loans in order to provide an incentive for lenders to want to fund these loans because they are taking a mitigated risk were otherwise, they are completely responsible for loans they fund if the borrower were to ever go into default and not be able to continue paying the loan. The Veterans Administration (VA) also has a lending program where they do the same thing that the FHA does in terms of guaranteeing the loans, but there are many differences between the two starting with who qualifies. Both programs offer some form of assistance if the borrower were to ever experience a financial hardship and have difficulty paying the loan. The VA will assign a representative to deal with the lender personally regarding the matter and those with an FHA loan may be able to get a forbearance approved where their loan is modified or a portion of is deferred without interest to give the borrower an opportunity to regain control of the situation.
Only active military personnel, veterans and their widowed spouses (if the killed during active duty), military reservists and those who served in the National Guard are eligible for VA loans. Anyone with a 580 credit score, a decent debt to income ratio and access to a 3.5% down payment are qualified for an FHA loan because there are no military qualifications whatsoever. Unlike FHA loans though, VA loans do not require a down payment at all. These are some of the only home loans available to anyone that do not require a down payment, which is quite remarkable considering that conventional loans are going to demand anywhere between 10-25% for a down payment. For this reason alone, FHA and VA loans are great for people who do not have access to tens of thousands of dollars for a home. VA loans do require that a 2.25% funding fee is paid though in order to qualify for the loan. It should be noted that the 3.5% down payment that is required for an FHA loan can be provided as a gift from one of the borrower’s family members, employer or a state down payment assistance program.
For those who qualify for the VA loan program, there is another benefit that often makes this loan the best possible one for them. VA mortgage loans do not require private mortgage insurance (PMI). This is a huge help because for anyone who gets a home loan these days whether it is a conventional loan or one given under the FHA guidelines, if a 20% down payment is not provided then PMI has to be paid on an annual basis. PMI is normally rolled into the borrower’s monthly mortgage payment but even on a house that costs as little as $200,000, it adds $200 a month to the payment. Over the course of a 30 year fixed-rate mortgage this will turn into $72,000. That is a lot of cash that most people would rather keep in their pockets to spend on other things that they want or need in their lives. Getting the right loan is important, because it can keep a lot of money in the pockets of borrowers during the course of their home loan that can help them with their other expenses in life.