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Cash Savings vs. Retirement Savings Accounts: Where to Stash Your Money When You’re Unsure What You’re Saving For

Cash Savings vs. Retirement Savings: Retirement Savings Accounts 101Everyone knows saving for retirement is a priority, because retirement is important and compound interest is powerful — but are the tax savings for retirement accounts so great that you should use them to save extra cash, too, such as for a hypothetical future home purchase? When I was in my late 20s — unmarried, not yet a homeowner, not sure how long I wanted to do the lawyer thing — this was my serious concern: cash savings vs. retirement savings. With my future so uncertain, and with so long to go before retirement, I wondered if I was losing more opportunities by saving money where I could get to it quickly, or by putting it away in retirement accounts… If I saved in cash, then my money was always available to me in case I wanted to buy an apartment, get married, or go back to school, but everyone told me to put it in retirement accounts instead to get the tax benefits (plus, retirement is important!).

In the early years, I was lucky because Schwab’s money market fund was paying ridiculous interest by today’s standards (5%!); I also finally did start maxing out my 401K in addition to saving money in cash when I was around 28. But when I finally got my bearings and started researching different retirement savings accounts, I was shocked to find that a lot of them would let me put the money (or some of it, at least) toward school, a first home, or more. A few years ago we did a post on tax-savvy investments that looked at these kinds of questions — but it’s been too long and we need an update. Thank you so much to editor Kate Antoniades for looking into the ultimate question: How do cash savings vs retirement savings stack up? If you’re already saving for retirement but have an extra $5,000 that you think you might need soon — but aren’t sure — should you leave it in a cash account earning very little interest, or put it in a retirement account to get tax benefits? – Kat

We haven’t gone into detail about tax-savvy investments like retirement savings accounts since 2012, so it’s definitely time for an update. What are the different retirement savings accounts available to most people? What are the tax benefits of them? Can you use the money for anything other than retirement, like grad school, a vacation or wedding, or a home purchase?  In the meantime, we’re shared posts on some pretty closely related topics such as setting financial goals for the year, making end-of-year money moves, choosing a financial planner, retirement savings in general, and paying down debt vs. saving. At election time last year, we talked about reacting to a stock market drop.

Before we get into the retirement savings vehicles — where, for the most part, you can’t touch your money until 59½ at the earliest — let’s discuss cash savings. (Oh, and a note on going back to school — if you’re 100% certain you’re going back to school, a 529 may be the way to go. Here’s a post from Fidelity that weighs the options.)

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How to Use a Personal Assistant

Have you ever wished you could offload some of your life to someone else, whether it’s household chores, online research, or other drudgery, but have been unsure how to start? We recently got a reader question wondering how to use a personal assistant (and how to find a good personal assistant!), so let’s discuss. Here’s the question from Reader S:

Life and work are busy and I find it difficult to “get it all done.” I hear it’s possible to hire a personal assistant whom you can ask to research/compare homeowners insurance options, be there when the cable guy comes to install, so on. I found a blog that makes a compelling argument that this is not only a time AND money saver, but it doesn’t tell me HOW to find an experienced PA. Plus, how do you learn to delegate in a way that doesn’t take more time than just doing it yourself? Thanks!

GREAT question, S — so let’s discuss. (Pictured: Daddy Warbucks’ assistant extraordinaire, Grace Farrell, getting it all done in one of my favorite childhood movies, Annie.) We’ve talked about what to delegate to an assistant before, as well as talked about the kinds of things you can outsource to a virtual assistant through Fiverr or a U.S.-based virtual assistant service like Fancy Hands or Task Bullet — over at CorporetteMoms we also talked a bit about working with a personal assistant (in a “how to throw money at the work/life balance problem” kind of discussion). If you’re leaning towards trying a virtual assistant, you may also want to read this classic Esquire piece (reprinted in The Four Hour Workweek and now on Tim Ferriss’ site); this post on how to hire a virtual assistant also looks great.

But sometimes, virtual help just isn’t enough — so let’s discuss how to use an in-person personal assistant. A friend of mine, C, actually used to be a personal assistant to a wealthy businessman, so I reached out to her to ask her thoughts on both HOW to find a personal assistant, and how to USE a personal assistant.

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The Best Siri Hacks to Boost Your Productivity

the best siri hacks for productivitySince getting my iPhone 7, I have been shocked to find that I’m actually using Siri. I thought I’d look into some useful Siri productivity hacks to share, as well as ways to make Siri better (there has to be a way, right?) for a fun discussion today. Are you using Siri to boost your productivity? (Or Cortana, or Alexa, or Google Home?) What are your favorite Siri hacks for productivity and otherwise getting stuff done? (And a general question that’s more office-related: In general do you use dictation as an office hack, either via dictation software or dictating memos for your assistant to transcribe?) 

My favorite Siri hacks thus far:

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The Best Teas: What to Drink to Wake You Up, Calm You Down, and Maybe Even Replace Your Wine

teas for busy womenI can’t believe I’m about to write these words, but they’re true: I’m getting into tea.  For years I have resisted tea, hating the “bitey” taste of green tea, and not seeing the appeal in black tea. The closest I came to “liking tea” was either with fruity blends of crushed/dried flowers and fruits (without any tea leaves in there) or “sick tea,” which is just hot water with honey and lemon.  But then I started reading about rooibos tea as a wine replacement on random Reddit threads from people looking to moderate their drinking, and I thought, huh, I guess I’ll give it a try.  And much to my surprise, I liked it — it didn’t have the bite from green tea, it didn’t taste like warm jello like a bad fruit blend, and it didn’t require a fresh lemon. It’s just a warm, comforting, drink.  Finally! I thought. I get it! (By the way, I think I’m giving up wine for 2017 (but not liquor or beer); I can write more on this if you guys want.) Back to teas for busy women — the whole experience made me realize that there’s a much bigger world to tea than just green and black tea.  So, today I thought we’d go through a few quick benefits of different teas, but I’d love to hear from you, readers — Do you drink tea? What kind of teas do you like best, and what purpose do they fill in your life? Do you drink tea to replace wine, or wake you up, or calm you down? Do you like the routine or ritual associated with teas? Which type, brand or blend is your favorite? 

What to drink to replace wine or for an afternoon routine: I have no idea why, but rooibos was recommended by a few places I looked on the Internet. It also has a lot of other supposed health benefits, including improving blood circulation, promoting healthy hair, being anti-inflammatory, and more. I also like that it’s caffeine free, and requires a long steeping time (5-7 minutes), so if you tend to get distracted the way I do, you’re OK if you leave the bag in too long. (According to this Eat This, Not That article it’s also supposed to curb hunger, but I feel like drinking any big glass of liquid before dinner will do that.)

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How Do You Pamper Yourself When You’re Sick?

pamper yourself when you're sickWell, it finally happened. I caught the cold my husband and kids have had for weeks now, despite weeks of Zicam-ing it up. (With my husband, at least, it was actually the flu — the rest of us had flu shots, so hopefully I (and the kids) got a more mild version.) So here’s today’s fun topic: How do you pamper yourself when you’re sick? What goes out the window the second you find out you’re sick, and what little indulgences do you allow yourself that you wouldn’t normally? (We’ve talked about this before, but another good corollary question: how do you work when you’re sick?

For my $.02, I’ve gone to bed at 8:30 the past two nights (the “I have small kids” version of sleeping in), didn’t get out of my PJs yesterday, and wouldn’t dream of putting makeup on today. I’d also been trying to do low-carb before this, which promptly went out the window when the order went in to our local Chinese food place — wonton soup, shumai, and pork-fried rice, oh my. Instead of working yesterday during my youngest son’s nap like I usually do, I spent the time in bed, unable to sleep but reading an enjoyable and thoroughly ridiculous romance novel. (Which I finished. And then immediately bought the next one in the series on Kindle, another indulgence I don’t usually allow myself — I usually try to get my brain candy books from the library.)

As for working while sick, to me it’s all about energy management — I knew I’d have a few good hours this morning before exhaustion set in so I’ve tried my hardest to get what I needed to done without being tempted by my usual distractions.

How about you guys: How does your routine change when you’re sick? (And, anyone have a good recipe for chicken soup? We tried making one for dinner from leftover rice, shredded chicken from earlier in the week, and consomme broth, but it was a bit… salty.)

We’ve talked a lot about being sick at work in the past, including the six things you MUST have on hand at the office if you’re sick, how to ward off a cold, the business etiquette question of shaking hands when you’re sick, and, of course, the more particular question of whether it’s appropriate to actively network while sick.

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How to Take a Partial Social Media Break

Something I’ve noticed a LOT of friends doing lately is backing away from social media. I’ve been doing a partial social media break, since as a blogger I can’t really take a total break — but I’ve definitely modified my consumption. So let’s talk about it: What are you doing with the extra time if you’re on a break? Where are you getting your news and intel if you’re on a TOTAL break? What other ways are there to take a partial social media break? (In related news, we’ve also talked about how to focus on work when current events are stressful.) Some options I’ve heard of or have done myself for a partial social media break:

1) Modify your news feed so you don’t see people, groups, or news sources that are stressing you out. I regularly do this trick with people I’m “friends” with on Facebook for some historical reason, but don’t want to see every hourly thought from — for example, that guy who sat behind me in English class in 11th grade. I will also admit that I did this with groups like Pantsuit Nation and Lawyers for Good Government, particularly in the days before the inauguration where I felt like I kept seeing frenzied posts containing bad information.

Here’s how to hide posts from friends: Click the dropdown arrow and then choose “Unfollow ____.” You’ll stay friends but stop seeing posts.

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