Jim Wang on Roth IRAs, Student Loans and Retirement Planning

Calendar Icon Updated January 17, 2019
Experts

What is Wallet Hacks?

Wallet Hacks is a personal finance blog where I share strategies to get ahead financially and in life. Whether it’s how to better management your money, invest your savings, or just save money on your next trip to the store – we cover it all.

I like how personal you are in your posts and emails to the Wallet Hacks list.  How is the tone you’re taking different than with your previous sites?

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I’ve been trying to be more personal on Wallet Hacks than on any other project ever before. My college education was as a software engineer and we’re not really known for our personal and social skills, sometimes that comes out if I’m not too careful! I find that being more personal lets me connect with readers better and makes the articles more entertaining to read. If it’s more entertaining, they’re more likely to read the whole thing and, hopefully, learn something.

You’re in your 30’s. How much do you focus and talk about retirement planning on WH?  What’s important to know and do at age 35 vs age 55?

I view retirement planning much like preparing and enjoying a meal. When you’re 25, it’s like you’re setting the table and buying the groceries. At 35, the food should be on the stove and cooking. You don’t mess with it. At 55, you start thinking about what wine you’ll have with dinner and enjoy the meal that will be your “retirement.”

Do you personally have a Roth IRA?  Why or why not?

I do, I started it when I first started working because tax free growth is really appealing. My dad was the one who told me about it, since they were relatively new then, and I’ve contributed every year I could.

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I acknowledge and understand that by submitting this Contact Request form through clicking "Check Eligibility!", I provide my express consent to the following: (1) That I am bound by Eligibility.com LLC’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use; (2) That I am not required to submit this form, and thereby agree to all terms located herein, as a condition to receive any property, goods, or services that may be offered, and that I may revoke my consent at any time.

When you hear “student loan debt” what comes to mind?

Honestly, it’s part of the game. College is expensive, sometimes too expensive, but if you want to go and need more funding then student loans are your only options. You can choose to go to a less expensive school or you can choose to work for a few years to save up, but student loan debt is just a financial tool. I think college is too expensive, my alma mater Carnegie Mellon now costs nearly $52,000 a year!

2016 brought changes to social security, including nixing a few popular claiming strategies that were very much “financial hacks” for those in the know. What do you make of those changes and how do they affect how older Americans should approach social security?

Social Security seems to be a constantly moving target with strategies changing all the time. I think that older Americans, especially those who are married, need to learn the right strategy for their financial needs in terms of delaying or accelerating disbursements. It can be very complicated once you factor in 401(k)s, pensions, and other retirement benefits.

Where do you see the biggest gap in awareness with regards to eligibility for benefit programs or even financial products?  What do Americans miss out on because they simply “don’t know”?

The biggest gap is that there are very few all encompassing resources where you can see them all. There is a lot of specialization, which is great for when you want to learn the latest and greatest about one program, but where can folks go to see how the different programs are interrelated.

Kyle Stapp

Kyle researches and publishes insights on government programs and their effect on everyday people.  He oversees the educational centers inside Eligibility.com and works daily with program applicants to answer their questions.  His programs include Medicare, Unemployment, and more.

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