Lifetime income and net worth Capping must-haves can help you survive a job loss or other financial setback. You also can use the limits to determine if you can afford a new loan payment. If the payment pushes your must-haves over the 50% mark, the answer may be no. You can access your Social Security statement, including your lifetime earnings history, by signing up at socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. Add up your annual earnings, plus any other income you’ve received such as gifts, inheritances, investment income, pensions, under-the-table earnings or government benefits. (Estimates are fine.)
Divide your after-tax income by the number of hours you worked to earn it. That gives you a rough idea of how much time you’re trading when you buy something. For example, if you make $20 an hour after tax and something costs $100, you have to work five hours to afford it. Knowing that figure can help you make more conscious money decisions. Your after-tax income is your gross income minus the taxes you pay (federal, state and local income taxes, plus Social Security and Medicare taxes). If you get a steady paycheck, you can use your latest pay stub to calculate this figure. Otherwise, check your most recent tax return.
Your after-tax income also is the basis for the 50/30/20 budget, a spending plan that helps you balance current expenses, debt payments and savings. That budget suggests limiting your essential or must-have expenses – shelter, utilities, transportation, food, insurance, minimum loan payments and child care needed to work – to 50% of after-tax income. Wants, such as vacations and dining out, make up 30%. That leaves 20% for savings and extra debt payments. After-tax income and ‘must-have’ expenses
Your full retirement age is the age at which you are entitled to 100% of the Social Security benefits you’ve earned. If you apply for benefits before that age, your checks will be permanently reduced. If you delay your application until after full retirement age, you can qualify for delayed retirement credits that boost your benefit by 8% each year until 70 years old, when benefits max out. The full retirement age has gradually been increasing. For those born 1943 through 1954, your full retirement age was 66. After that, full retirement age increases by two months each year: it’s 66 and two months for people born in 1955; 66 and four months for people born in 1956, and so on. The full retirement age is 67 for people born in 1960 and later. Full retirement age and expected Social Security benefit
There’s no objective scoring system. Like the hourly wage figure, this exercise is meant to make you more aware of what you do with your money. If you think you should have more to show for the money you’ve received, consider trying to save more of your income. Now, calculate your net worth by subtracting what you owe (your debts, including loans, credit card debts and mortgages) from what you own (your assets, such as your home, retirement accounts, investments and savings). Compare your net worth to your lifetime income to see what you’ve done with the money that came into your hands.
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