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A client recently asked me how to think about whether or not to contribute to a 401k plan that doesn’t offer a match, and while there are always nuances to decisions like this, there are some general things to consider for anyone in a similar situation. The decision comes down to a few factors:

  • Do you want to save more than the annual IRA contribution limits ($6,000 in 2021 unless you’re age 50 or older, then it’s $7,000)?
  • Is reducing your taxable income an important factor?
  • Will you save for the future otherwise?

Let’s break each of these factors down.

Do you want to save more than the IRA limits?


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A “backdoor” Roth IRA is really just a transaction that you can perform in order to contribute funds to a regular Roth IRA when your income exceeds the limits for making a regular contribution — I’ve talked to a few people who were looking to open a backdoor Roth but were unable to find a company that offers it. That’s because what you’re looking for is really just a regular Roth IRA; the backdoor part is how you get the money into the account.

The good news is that it’s pretty simple, as long as you’re willing to do a…


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One of the more common questions I get as a financial planner who doesn’t sell anything is around the topic of life insurance, specifically whether or not to invest in a whole or universal life policy. Note that I use the word “invest” because I view this decision as a bit of an investing trade-off. Here are my thoughts.

When a doctor friend of mine asked for my thoughts on a whole life insurance policy a while back, a small red flag went up right away — my husband is a physician, and I spend a fair amount of time-fighting…


Image credit: author; Olympic National Park

Looking back at my journal entries from this time last year, I was sick. I felt physically limited, weak, stiff and was worried about my longevity. I knew I needed a change, but I also knew from experience that jumping into a new lifestyle was not a sustainable way to address the issue of my physical vitality. I needed a lifestyle overhaul, but it had to happen slowly. And going on a restrictive food diet was NOT going to be the answer. (for more on that, I encourage you to read this book)

Setting an achievable goal

I’m definitely what you might call a…


Woman almost entirely underwater, with her face from the nose up above the surface.
Woman almost entirely underwater, with her face from the nose up above the surface.
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I’m a huge believer in the power that examining our personal money beliefs can have in changing not just our financial picture, but our entire life situations — so much so, that it’s really the foundation of the money coaching practice I am building. Here’s my story.

Several years ago, I had an epiphany about how my own deep-seated assumptions and issues with money were literally keeping me from getting ahead financially. One day it just kind of hit me: my annual income had more than doubled over the first ten years of my career and I was still living…


Woman in front of a fountain.
Woman in front of a fountain.
Photo of author on vacation, after escaping paycheck to paycheck living

One of my biggest pet peeves is reading or hearing the advice to make your coffee at home if you want to save more money — that’s the quickest way to lose credibility in my professional opinion.

I promise you this isn’t about that.

What it is about is hacking yourself if you’re tired of living paycheck to paycheck, especially when you do the math and find that, in theory, you should have tons of money left over each month after paying your bills.

I’ve worked with thousands of people on their money, and also personally used to live paycheck…


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Have you ever heard of the “see food” diet? I like to joke that sometimes that’s my diet: I see food and I eat it! The best way for people like me to stick to a plan to eat more nutritiously is to just have the foods I want to eat more of in sight, while limiting the junk food, right?

Well, I also use the “see money” budget to manage my cash flow, and I think a lot of people do this as well, mostly unintentionally: I see money and I spend it. That’s why the only money I…


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If you’ve ever taken the time to categorize your monthly spending, chances are you had a similar reaction that I did when I realized how much we spend on food each month — disbelief with a side of regret, anyone? It’s just the hubs and I for now, and we are pretty good about eating in, at least compared to a lot of our DINK (dual income, no kids) friends, so I’m always shocked when our grocery spending sometimes tops what I’d expect a family of four to spend.

The fact is, food is expensive and who wants to walk…


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Studies show that women have better investing outcomes than men, despite claiming less knowledge and confidence, which I find fascinating. These stats also make me feel quite smug about the countless conversations I’ve had with men who just can’t help but monkey around with their investments, thinking that they can time the market and get out before “the crash” and get back in before it bounces back. You might get that right once or twice, but multiple times throughout your savings years? Unlikely.

The reason I think that women’s outcomes tend to be better over the long run is really…


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It’s no doubt that there is no greater time to be a woman in the history of our civilization — I agree that there’s still a lot of work to be done, but I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude to be alive right now as who I am today. It’s true that there continue to be barriers for women, particularly women of color, but generally speaking, we have more choices today than ever before. In fact, we have so many choices that it can often lead to a tremendous amount of second-guessing and anxiety.

Saying yes is also saying no

In today’s…

Kelley C. Long

CFP & CPA writing about money & how it fits into life based on my work with everyday people as a financial coach. www.financialblisscoach.com

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