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December 12, 2010

Use Your Hobby to Supplement Your Retirement Savings


By Denise Appleby (

Do your friends and family express delight when they taste the results of what you ‘cook-up’ in the kitchen? How about those ‘snazzy’ scarves, sweaters and mittens which   your relatives and friends seem to appreciate getting in their holiday gift bags? If they like them so much, others will too, which presents a money making opportunity for you. Making money from what you enjoy is a fun way to fund your retirement nest egg.
How: Your Hobby Can Finance Your Retirement Nest Egg
If you possess a money making talent, why not use it to make money? And while you are at it, use some of that money to fund a retirement account. As the saying goes, “every little bit adds up”. Let’s look at Sally and John:
  • Sally (name changed to protect the retirement savvy), has a passion for knitting baby booties, sweaters and hats.  She started out by selling to friends and family and now she makes an average of $20,000 per year from her expanding market base. Sally plans to save at least $5,000 of that per year in her IRA, for 20-years, at the end of which she plans to retire. By then, Sally will have saved about $155,000, assuming a conservative 4% rate of return. This will be more when her profits and her savings increase.
  • John flips houses, and he is also a freelance web designer. These are just two of the things that John loves to do and he earns about $200,000 per year from these and other ventures. He sets up a Solo-K/Individual-K [401(k) plan] which he funds from his business to the tune of $49,000 per year. If John continues to save that amount per year, he would amass in excess of $1.5 million after 20-years, again assuming a rate of only 4%.
The amounts which are saved in an IRA , 401(k) or other retirement  savings may be eligible for a tax-deduction, which can offset the expenses of funding the account, and additionally the earnings grow on a tax-deferred basis ( tax-free if your account is a Roth)
  • With IRAs, you can save up to $5,000 per year, or $6,000 if you are at least age 50 by the end of the year.
  • With 401(k)s, you can save up to $49,000 per year, plus an additional $5,500 if you are at least age 50 by the end of the year, depending on your total earnings for the year
Why: You Are On Your Own
This is not your parent’s retirement. They had social security and very likely workplace pension plans which served to finance their retirement years. But with social security set to be depleted by 2040 (according to the trustees), and pension plans performing disappearing acts, you are on your own when it comes to financing your retirement. This means that the steps you choose to take now with regards to funding your retirement nest egg will determine the quality of your retirement, financially speaking.
Who: Knowledgeable Professionals
You may need the help of professionals to make sure your retirement plan is properly set up and managed effectively. Simple mistakes can result in losses which could be detrimental to your retirement nest egg. Your team of experts should include – at a minimum- your financial advisor who can help you to set up and fund your account, as well as manage your investments; your tax professional to help ensure that you receive any available tax-write offs for your retirement savings; and, your attorney, who can help to chose the type of business structure most suitable for you.
Where: Any Eligible Financial Institution
Your retirement account can be maintained with any eligible financial institution, including banks, mutual fund companies and eligible brokerage firms. Talk to your financial advisor for help with choosing the financial institution that is right for you.
When: By Year-End
If you plan to set up a 401(k) for your business and would like to add money to it for this year, you have until the end of the year to do so. Some financial institutions have instituted earlier deadlines, as a means of ensuring that they meet the IRS’ December 31 deadline. This means you may need to contact your financial advisor no later than today.  IRAs can be established as late as your tax filing due date, not including any tax filing extensions.
What:  Conclusion
Diligently adding to your retirement nest egg today (or not), could determine the extent to which you can afford the little ‘extras’ during your retirement.  If you possess a talent for which others are willing to pay, consider turning that talent into a money making venture and save some of the resultant income for your retirement.



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