As a police officer it is difficult to find extra money to save. With all of the money we pay in taxes, bills and maybe even child support or alimony, it can seem impossible to begin saving. I am going to share a secret that will help you increase your savings from nothing to over $15,000 dollars per year, while still taking home more money. This may seem too good to be true, but if you patiently follow this method you will be amazed at how much your savings grow.
The trick is to let the government and your employer subsidize your savings. Most cops are eligible to participate in some type of tax deferred savings plan. Most likely you have a 457 or similar plan. If not, you may be eligible to participate in a tax deductible IRA. These plans allow you to put money away while significantly saving on taxes. Not only will you save taxes today, but you will also be able to put off paying taxes on the growth of your investments.
You probably have already heard of the power of tax deferred growth, but how does this translate into bringing home more money while increasing your savings. Almost every law enforcement employee receives some type of annual raise. These pay increases are often tied to annual cost of living adjustments or other contract negotiations. It is very common for government employees to also receive pay grade raises as their time of service increases. The cost of living increases and/or pay grade increases are very often 3-5% or salary.
The secret, which is not really a secret but made for a catchy title, is to increase your savings percentage by at least half of each of these pay increases. For example, if you earn $100,000 per year and receive a 5% annual raise, your income will increase to $105,000. If you increase your savings percentage by half of each raise you will now be saving 2.5% of the entire $105,000 which is $2,625. Your savings will have increased, but you will also be taking home $2,375 more than before the raise.
If you do this every time you receive a pay raise, your annual tax deferred savings will reach the current $15,500 annual limit sooner than you can imagine. If you are more aggressive with your savings you may decide to increase your savings rate equal to each raise. You will probably not see an increase in your take home pay, but your savings rate will grow very quickly.
Do not get bogged down by the example above. Some of you earn smaller or maybe even larger salaries. The numbers are not important, it is the simple concept that I hope you take away from this article. Simply put, always increase your percentage of savings by at least half of the percentage of each pay raise and your savings will quickly grow.
Chuck J. Rylant
“Fee Only Financial Planning”