Vancouver, BC 9-2015

Trip duration: 9/4/15 to 9/7/2015
Route: Dallas => Vancouver; Vancouver => Portland => Dallas
Flying Method: Award redemption (12,500 AA miles) plus cash payment

Yay to weekend getaway with the family. ūüôā¬†The last time we did a family trip together was back in 2009, so this was definitely long overdue. My parents chose Vancouver since they’d never been to Canada before. Coincidentally, my brother happened to be back in the U.S. for work that week, and¬†he was able to meet us in Vancouver over the weekend. Yay!

Being a hotel snob, the brother booked 2 nights for us at the Shangri-La hotel. The hotel is located in the middle of Vancouver downtown and we were able to get to major attractions nearby on foot. ¬†We started out the weekend by venturing out near the West End after all of us arrived in Vancouver, and had lunch at a dim sum restaurant on Robson street. Vancouver has a pretty high population of Chinese people, getting authentic Chinese food was definitely on our radar. In the afternoon, we walked along the harbour then headed¬†north to the Stanley Park¬†(here comes all the hate stares from the family since I insisted that we walk there). We only walked around 1/3 of the park¬†since everyone was complaining. =P Continue reading “Vancouver, BC 9-2015”

Saving for retirement simplified

So you’re ready to start saving / investing for your financial freedom. The main question is, how do you get started? I thought I’d¬†share my own challenges and questions to break the process down to the bare bone. Based on my current situation, retirement savings can be broken down into 3 buckets: 401K, IRA, and brokerage account. Of course there are other tools such as Health Savings Account (HSA), Simplified Employee Pension Plan (SEP), etc. I’m not as familiar with those, but just know that there are more options than the 3 buckets I mentioned. Also, the info mentioned is based on a single tax filer. There are different limits for a married couple.

401K – ¬†Some general background, it’s nothing new but a refresher instead. A 401K is something most of us are familiar with. 401K is sponsored¬†by most employers as a tool to facilitate retirement savings for employees. In most cases the employer would provide matching contribution up to a certain percentage (e.g. 100% match up to 5% annual¬†gross compensation). For a traditional 401K, the money that an employee can contribute is tax deferred (i.e. you don’t pay any taxes now on the $ you put aside to a 401K), as well as any interest or dividends earned. In 2015, you can contribute as much as $18,000 a year. If you’re 50 or older, you can contribute an additional $6,000. Upon reaching the retirement age and when you start to withdrawal funds from your 401K, you’ll then be taxed for the withdrawal. For roth 401K, the contribution you make is with “after tax” $$$, however upon retirement, you will not be taxed for withdrawals make. Continue reading “Saving for retirement simplified”