How to Save for Retirement & Receive Credit on Your Taxes

Dear Taxpayers:

It is possible to save for retirement and receive tax credits for it! It is well worth looking into these savings options to receive tax breaks while saving for the future. These retirement savings accounts are called Traditional IRA, and Roth IRA. Contributing to IRA accounts allows you to grow your money tax-free!

To qualify for benefits in both IRA and Roth IRA, you must have work earnings that are higher than the amounts contributed. Someone who is not currently working or has earned less than the contributed amount will not qualify for the credit.

The maximum amounts that can be contributed for a tax credit on both IRA accounts are $5,500 if you are under age 50, and $6,000 if you are over 50 years old. That is the amount that you can contribute from your yearly income, and that qualifies for credits on an IRA and a Roth IRA

On a traditional IRA, the amount added is not only tax-free, but it also lowers your Tax Liability for the year. In a traditional IRA, money remains tax-free as long as it is not withdrawn before retirement age. If you do remove the money before retirement age, you will be liable for taxes. This is because the money went into the account untaxed; penalties will depend on the reasons for removing the money.

Contributing to a Roth IRA allows you to grow your money tax-free! It is different from a 401k because it is more flexible in case you need to withdraw any money before retirement age. This is because funds contributed into a Roth IRA account will have already been taxed, it is the earnings from them that will be tax-free. The earnings from it must remain in the account until retirement age, or they will be subject to tax and penalties.  For more details, see Publication 591-A (2018) https://www.irs.gov/publications/p590a.

Both IRAS can be opened up to April 15th of 2019, for a tax break in 2018 taxes. For more information on calculating your tax benefit contact your tax preparer, investor, or check out the details under https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/roth-iras.

Attentively,

The StateChoice Team

How Your Relationship Status Can Affect Your Insurance

Who you live with and your relationship to them can have an impct on your premium. As your relationship and living status changes, make sure to update your policy. Without your policy properly updated, you could have too much or too little coverage on your vehicles.

Single with Roommates

Whether your home is owned or rented, you should have a policy that covers your home and your possessions. Anyone can cause damage to your home whether it be your guests, your roommates, or yourself.

If you are renting, you should be purchasing renters insurance. Each person whose name is on the lease needs their own policy. If one name is not on the lease and they do not have a policy, then their possessions are likely covered under the policyholder’s insurance.

If you’re living with roommates, your insurance company may even want to add your roommates to your auto insurance. This can serve as a preventative measure in case they have access to the vehicle an could potentially get into an accident with it. It would be much worse to have your roommate damage your car and then find out it will not be covered.

Cohabiting

Most states (including Connecticut) require insurance companies to recognize domestic partners under the same auto policy. Depending on the company, if you and your significant other are not domestic partners, you may need to purchase separate policies as roommates would do.

Sharing a home does not necessarily mean that you are sharing a car, but if your partner uses your vehicle at all, they should be listed on your auto insurance policy.

Some couples may elect to insure themselves separately due to driving records or easy payments. However, you might be eligible for a discount if you combine your insurance policies into one.

Married

Once you get married, your spouse will be covered under your homeowners, renters, or condo insurance. However, you still need to inform your insurance agent of your status change (maybe even invite them to the wedding!).

Make sure to review your coverages to make sure you are covered for all of your new additional possessions. For example, you may want to schedule your engagement ring and wedding bands as they are often worth more than what your insurance will cover.

If you are married but separated– with your spouse living elsewhere–they are no longer considered an insured on the policy.

Your auto insurance should also be combined. If your spouse gets into an accident while driving your car, you want to make sure you’re covered. Not to mention, you’ll likely receive a discount by combining your policies.

Divorced

If you and your spouse are divorcing, and one of you is keeping the home, you will need to reissue the deed in the sole owner’s name.

The homeowners policy is tied with the deed and insures whoevers name is listed there. If both names are on the deed, deleting your spouse from the policy is not enough.

You’ll also need to get a new title issued for your car if both spouses are listed as owners. Keep in mind that when an accident occurs, the other driver goes after the car owner, not the driver.

Umbrella Insurance

Your umbrella policy increases liability coverage for both your home and auto insurance. As with all of your other policies, your umbrella policy should be reviewed anytime you make big life changes.

Whether it is combining households or divorcing, your coverages need to be adjusted to fit your new life.

Need to reassess your policies? StateChoice can review your coverages and make recommendations, even if you are not currently insured with us. Give us a call 860-232-1234.


For more info see article in The Hartford where this information was found.

New Year’s Resolutions: How to Follow Through

Yes folks, it is indeed that time of year again. Co-workers chit chat about how they are going to completely transform. Family members press wondering what you are doing next to become a better person. Often times people feel discouraged at this time of year; how many times do I have to swear I’m going to give up Gluten before I realize I can’t do it? However, rather than feel discouraged, we should take our past resolutions, and learn from them. Why didn’t I succeed last year? What can I do better?

I do not wish to be in the group of those discouraged and let down. The Journal of Clinical Psychology found that 46% of people who made New Year’s resolutions last year were successful in achieving their goals. This may sound bleak, but in reality this is far better than the mere 4% of those that refuse to make resolutions.

As a result, no matter how discouraged you feel, this is not the year to be a naysayer. Join the camp of hopefuls, still making resolutions and fighting to be a part of the 46%. To give you an extra hand, here are tips on how to make your resolution a reality.

Keep your resolutions simple.

Often times people see New Year’s resolutions as a time to change their entire lives. If your goals are too large, it will be way more difficult to stay focused. The best approach is to stay focused on one or two of your most important goals.

Choose carefully.

What resolutions should you focus on? Stick with the one which will have the biggest impact on your overall wellness (whether that be mental or physical).

Plan and set schedules.

Setting a time-frame can make sure that you stay on track and keep yourself going. If you tell yourself you are going to lose weight, you can put this off for months. However if you tell yourself that you will lose 10 pounds by February, then you will have to buckle down.

Don’t give up!

This one may seem obvious. It may also seem like it’s easier said than done. However, we have to remember that slip-ups are inevitable. Do not lose hope! Do not let yourself make up excuses to give up, you are better than that!

With these tips in mind, you are in the best possible place for self-improvement. Remember to keep it simple, but to work hard. Don’t lose hope, we are all on our own journeys of self improvement.

10 Unique Holiday Gift Ideas

The holidays are upon us, which means purchasing thoughtful presents for our loved ones is top of mind.

Whether you’re looking for the perfect gift for your significant other, your children, or your grandchildren we’ve compiled a guide that will help make checking people off your list easier.

Gifts For Your Significant Other

Something Sweet

Sweet treats are always a great gift idea—especially when they can be delivered right to your door.

Toffee Boutique offers milk chocolate, dark chocolate and vegan toffee options so you can find the perfect nutty, crunchy treat for your loved one.

Vegan Treats Bakery ships dairy and egg free sweets like cannolis, cakes and truffles country-wide.

Cost: $7.49 and up

Something Sentimental

A membership to Ancestry.com will allow your significant other to unearth details about their family history and gain access to records and photos.

Cost: $99 to $199 for Ancestry.com subscription (AARP members can save 30 percent)

Something Memorable

Giving the gift of an experience is a great way to make memories and possibly learn something new.

Whether your loved one has always wanted to learn how to bake, ride in a hot air balloon, or take dance lessons TrulyExperience.com allows you to customize the experience.

You can even book an extraordinary getaway to places like Romania and Switzerland. If you do decide to travel, these apps will make it easier and these tips will help you prep your home before you go away.

Cost: From under $100 to over $5,000

Gifts For Your Children

Something Spicy

Hot sauce is the perfect stocking stuffer for your adult children. They can mix it into homemade salsa, put it on pizza, stir it into chili and so much more. Horsetooth Hot Sauce offers individual bottles of hot sauce and barbeque sauce – or you can purchase a gift box.

Cost: starting at $6

Something That Will Last

Holiday cards, senior portraits, newborn snapshots, wedding shoots– the list is endless when it comes to moments your children want to capture. Support a local photographer and give the gift of a photo session or purchase prints.

Cost: prices vary depending on photographer and length of session

Something to Help Relax

Everyone could use more relaxation in their lives. Give the gift of yoga by purchasing a membership to Yoga Download, where your son or daughter can access hundreds of classes online with nationally known instructors.

Cost: $120 for a one-year unlimited subscription (or $18 a month if you prefer to pay monthly)

Something Sleek

AfterShokz wireless headphones transmit sound via bone vibrations meaning they sit outside the ears, allowing the wearer to hear what’s going on in the world around them as they walk, jog, or bike. These sleek headphones come in cool colors, from pink to ocean blue to metallic green.

A bonus: they can also be used with Bluetooth technology for making and taking calls on the go.

Cost: starting at $99

Gifts For Your Grandchildren

Something Indulgent

Whether your grandchildren are five or 25, FunkyChunky has a variety of indulgently crafted gourmet popcorn and pretzel flavors that make for delicious stocking stuffers.

You can order individual canisters or gift sets with flavors like peppermint bark and peanut butter cup.

Cost: starting at $3.50

Something Shiny

Chicky Chicky Bling Bling sells embellished headbands, clips, hair bows and jewelry.  From soft pastels to vibrant hues, from playful patterned prints to glittering designs, these accessories will make dressing up a blast.

Cost: starting at $1.00

Something Educational

Kiwi Crate will send your grandchild a kit each month containing a fun project that focuses on building skills in science, technology, engineering, art and math. You can pick from different age ranges and interests. These crates are educational, creative, convenient and entertaining.

Cost: starting at $16.95/month

This handy guide should help make your holiday shopping a breeze – leaving you with more time to enjoy sitting around a fire, spending time with family and friends, and taking in all that season brings.

 

 

Content supplied by The Hartford Social Share. Original article: https://extramile.thehartford.com/technology/unique-holiday-gift-ideas/

Our Favorite Tailgating Snacks

Everyone knows that one of the best parts of football season is food. Whether it’s tailgating or watching games at home with friends, football is best enjoyed with loved ones and snacks. We have compiled together our favorite office recipes! Take a look below to see what each of your favorite StateChoice employees nominated as their favorite tailgating food!

1. Slutty Brownies

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Let’s start sweet with some dessert. Angie loves to make slutty brownies for her guests. These delicious treats are a twist on a brownie. They start with a layer of cookie dough, followed by Oreos, and are topped off with brownie. Check out a recipe here to give it a try!

2. Pulled Pork Chili

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Chris couldn’t decide between chili and pulled pork, and we didn’t want to decide either! So instead we present to you, Pulled Pork Chili. Chili is a staple at all parties whether as a meal or a dip. This twist uses pulled pork instead of ground beef, PLUS it can be made in a slow cooker for an easy meal! Check out the recipe here!

3. Pepperoni Bread

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June is a big fan of tailgating food and one of her favorite things to make is pepperoni bread! Roll together pizza dough, cheese, and pepperoni with some marinara sauce for dipping and you’ve got handheld pizza. Who doesn’t like pizza as an appetizer before pizza? Try the recipe here!

4. Anticuchos

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When it comes to food, Cathy insists you try everything Peruvian! For this reason, she suggests anticuchos as her go to tailgate food. These skewers are made of grilled cow hearts. If you bring the grill to every tailgate, this bite size beef is a necessity! Check out the recipe here.

5. Pigs in a Blanket

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Pigs in a blanket is simple, classic, and my favorite tailgate food. You can’t go wrong with mini hot dogs wrapped in crescent dough! They are easy to make and sure to be a hit, especially served with a variety of dipping sauces! Follow this simple Pillsbury recipe!

6. Ropa Vieja

Rui loves all types of slow-cooked meats, but ropa vieja is for sure a favorite! Typically this dish is made using flank steak which easily shreds into tender pieces of meat. At the end of the day, this dish is good with any meat you have at home! Rui loves it served over rice with a side of platanos maduros. Check out the recipe here!

7. Wings

Wings are of course a classic for tailgating! Nellie says wings are a staple at her house when it comes time to watch a game. She likes various different flavors, but we all know buffalo is the classic. Check out this recipe here to have the best wings at every tailgate.

Fall Activity Bucket List

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As the air gets crisper and summer comes to a close, excited Pumpkin Spice lovers everywhere are planning fall activities to fill the season. Whether it be picking apples, jumping in leaves, or attending fall festivals, there are plenty of activities to fill the fall season. Here is our bucket list of must do fall activities

Celebrate Oktoberfest with beer and sausages

Re-watch your favorite scary movie on Halloween (Nightmare before Christmas? Hocus Pocus? Halloweentown?)

Throw a Halloween party

Give out candy to trick o’ treaters

Thanksgiving with friends and family

Go apple picking

Tailgate at your local football game

Bake a pie (apples and pumpkins and pecans, oh my!)

Get lost in a corn maze

Play a game of two-hand touch football

Go for a hike

Go for a hayride

Take a drive to admire the fresh fall foliage

Make a pinecone bird feeder

Buy something from a bake sale

Make rice krispie treats

Jump in a pile of leaves

Eat a candy apple (or make them yourself!)

Make butternut squash soup

Drink hot spiced cider

Eat a slice of warm pumpkin bread (see bake sale above)

Carve your own pumpkin

Make your kid’s (or your own) Halloween costume

Get spooked in a haunted house

Breath in the cool, crisp air

Dig up your sweaters from storage

Listen to the sound of leaves crunching under your feet

Spend a day antiquing

Build a bonfire

Collect pinecones to decorate for the holiday season

Watch a kids’ soccer game

Attend a fall festival (or 2 or 3 or maybe 7?!)

Remember what you’re thankful for so of course enjoy all of these activities with your loved ones.

5 Ways to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

 

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Hispanic Heritage Month (El Mes de la Herencia Hispana) was started in 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson, originally set to be just a week long celebration.  However in 1988, it was expanded to 30 days by President Ronald Reagan. Hispanic Heritage Month lasts every year from September 15th-October 15th. September 15th marks el Día de la Independencia for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua thus it was a fitting day to begin a celebration for Hispanic Heritage.  September 16th marks the Independence Day for Mexico, September 18th marks the Independence Day for Chile. While in the United States, October 12th is celebrated as Columbus Day, in much of Latin America it is celebrated as Dia de la Raza, or Hispanic Heritage Day. Since that time frame is filled with a lot of history, it serves as a great time to honor and celebrate the cultures of Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

So how do you celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?

1. Education

The first step is to understand the culture. Learn a little bit about your Hispanic counterparts whether that be through research or asking questions! With so many different countries making up Latin America, there is always new information about traditions, food, and culture. Whether through art, literature, or conversation, you are sure to enjoy some of what you hear. Check out one of these books by Latino authors!

2. Music

Latin Music from Gasolina to Despacito has always made it into the hearts of listeners regardless of language preference. Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, here is a playlist of all of our favorite latin hits. There is sure to be a song here you would love!

3. Food

Without good music and good food can you even consider yourself Latino? Celebrate the delicious varieties of food from Latin America by hosting a potluck with friends. Everyone can bring a dish inspired by a different Latin American country! Don’t worry, we’ve got a few suggestions to get you started.

4. Movie Night

Not into food or dance? Why not host a movie night instead! Movies from Selena to Mi Familia all celebrate Hispanics and Hispanic Americans. Many films like Disney’s Coco (also on Netflix!!) will probably jerk some tears out between the smiles. Need some more ideas? Here is a list of great films to watch this month.

5. Speak Spanish!

Whether you speak fluently, proficiently, or not at all, a few words in Spanish can make you new connections whether that be through work, family, or friendship. If you don’t speak Spanish, try out Duolingo (a ~*free*~ language learning app) for the month to see how much you can learn! Even one word a day can make a difference.

 

Finally, if you are Hispanic/Latino, share your culture with others, let them know that you are proud of where you come from. Now is a time to celebrate, learn about different cultures, and break down barriers. Don’t be scared to try new things; embrace the differences and similarities that bring us together!

Fall Festivals in Hartford County

One of the many perks of living in Connecticut is the festivity and beauty of the Autumn. As the fall season begins, we all begin looking forward to the festivals and fairs that can be found across the state. In an effort to help everyone find fun ways to spend their weekends we have put together a list of Fall Festivals in Hartford county. Don’t miss out on the fun!

September

September 6th-9th – Wapping Fair

75 Brookfield Street, South Windsor, CT 06074

Check it out here!

September 7th-9th – Septemberfest

22 Iron Horse Boulevard, Simsbury, CT 06070

Check it out here!

September 8th-9th – Suffield on the Green

Suffield Town Green

Check it out here!

September 14th-16th – Berlin Fair

Beckley Road, Berlin, CT 06037

Check it out here!

September 22nd – Wethersfield Corn Fest

Broad Street Green

Check it out here!

September 28th-30th – Southington Apple Harvest Festival

75 N Main Street, Southington, CT 06489

Check it out here!

September 29th – Old Wethersfield Arts & Crafts Fair

Cove Park, State Street, Wethersfield

Check it out here!

October

October 5th-7th – Southington Apple Harvest Festival

75 N Main Street, Southington, CT 06489

Check it out here!

October 6th – Windsor Lions Club Fall Arts & Crafts Festival

Windsor Town Green on Broad Street in Windsor

Check it out here!

October 7th – Max’s Fifth Annual HOPtoberfest

Rosedale Farms & Vineyard

Check it out here!

October 12th-14th – Glastonbury Apple Harvest Festival

Riverfront Park, 300 Welles Street, Glastonbury, CT 06033

Check it out here!

October 13th – Rocky Hill Fall Fest

Veteran’s Memorial Amphitheater

Check it out here!

October 20th – The Plainville Pumpkin Fest

Downtown Plainville, in front of Town Hall

Check it out here!

October 27th – Simsbury Spooktacular Chili Challenge

22 Iron Horse Boulevard, Simsbury, CT 06070

Check it out here!

10 Lunch Ideas for Back to School

With school just around the corner, it is planning season. Whether buying school supplies, new clothes, or groceries, we are all a little stressed to have everything ready in time for the big first day. Many children and parents opt to pack lunches rather than purchase hot lunch at school for various reasons. Perhaps waiting in line takes away too much time, maybe packing is cheaper or healthier, or maybe your kids simply do not like what the cafeteria has to offer. Either way, it can become difficult to come up with new ideas of what to pack for 180 days and kids definitely get tired of the same old PB&J. Whatever your reason may be, we’ve put together a list of lunch ideas that for sure will not bore!

 

1.Pepperoni Pizza Pockets

What child doesn’t like pizza? This home made HotPocket can be filled with anything to suit your kid’s tastebuds, or even to be healthier. Try the recipe here!

2. Turkey & Cream Cheese Pin Wheels

A new take on the classic sandwich. These pinwheels are both delicious and fun to eat. Check out the recipe here!

Also check out turkey and cheese pin wheels for another twist here!

3. Turkey, Cheddar, and Crackers

The fun shapes and fresh food will have your kids never touching another Lunchable! Use cookie cutters to cut deli meat and cheese into fun shapes that your kids can use to put together their own sandwich crackers. Check out the recipe here!

4. Crust-Free PB&J

Uncrustables who? Everyone loves a classic PB&J, use this fun and easy recipe to eliminate the crust for any picky eater or just for a fresh take on a classic. Check out the recipe here!

5. Chicken Marinara

You can make this meal fresh for lunch or enjoy it for dinner and pack up the leftovers. With a thermos like this, your child won’t feel like he’s missing out on warm food by packing. Check out the recipe here!

6. Classic Sandwiches

Sometimes a simple sandwich is all it takes to keep a kid satisfied. By changing up the ingredients and sides, lunches won’t get boring. Check out this video for a whole week of sandwich packing ideas!

7. PB&J Triangles

Try out this modern twist on a classic. Using tortillas instead of bread in a PB&J (or any sandwich) can provide a whole new lunch. Check out the recipe here!

8. Build Your Own Pizza

Kids love hands on activities, even for lunch! With a few simple ingredients, your kid will have the best lunch at the table. Check out the recipe here!

9. Grilled Cheese Roll-Ups

For a fun and easy to eat lunch, consider these grilled cheese roll ups with a side of marinara sauce. Like mozzarella sticks but better, any kid is sure to love these. Check out the recipe here!

10. Pasta Salad

Both you and your kid are sure to love this fresh, easy to make pasta salad. Pro Tip: Change up the noodles with different shapes and colors to make it even more exciting for your kid to eat. Check out the recipe here!

Memorial Day Weekend Safety Tips

Yes, that’s right, it is that time of year again. Time to bring out the grill, open the pool, and enjoy some s’mores around the fire pit. As Memorial Day weekend begins, we are all excited to spend time outdoors with family and friends. However, during your festivities, do not forget to be careful and avoid risks that could spoil the fun. Here are a few tips from your StateChoice team to stay safe this weekend!

1. Attention Grill Masters!

Remember to always watch your grill while it is in use. Keep the grill away from anything that could catch fire and avoid burns by using long handled tools and keeping pets and children away from the grill.

2. Fun in the Sun!

A long day out in the sun is fun but can have negative consequences if you aren’t careful. Avoid dehydration by making sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Keep your skin protected with sunscreen and lots of shade; overexposure to the sun can lead to bad burns and skin cancer in the long run. Don’t forget to reapply!

3. On the Go!

If you are traveling make sure to drive safely. Driving the speed limit, wearing seatbelts, and keeping a designated driver will not only keep you safer, but help you avoid a ticket! If you can’t find a DD sign up for uber using this code (ruis213ue) to get one free ride.

4. Let Your Colors Burst!

Nothing wraps up a great weekend like the excitement of fireworks, but make sure to use only small, at home fireworks. Improper use of fireworks can lead to injury or damage so ensure that fireworks are used properly, by an adult, and at a safe distance.

5. Just Keep Swimming!

If weather permits, many of us will be enjoying time in the pool this weekend. Make sure children and weaker swimmers are always supervised around the water.

 

6. Have fun, but remember who this day is all about!

While you enjoy your holiday, remember to think about all of those who have died protecting our lives. Use Red Poppies as decorations or pinned to your clothes to honor these lost lives.

“We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.” – Moina Michael