How are you doing on your New Year’s resolutions? By now you are probably aware of the research that shows as many as 50 percent of adults in
It turns out that the ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4,000 years ago. They were also the first to hold recorded celebrations in honor of the New Year, even though for them the year began not in January, but in mid-March, when the crops were planted. During a 12-day religious festival known as Akitu, the Babylonians crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king. They also made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. These promises could be considered the forerunners of our New Year’s resolutions. If the Babylonians kept to their word, their (pagan) gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of the gods’ favor — a place no one wanted to be.
If you made some resolutions for 2021, I hope that one of them, like the Babylonians, was to pay down any high-interest-rate debt that you may be carrying, and, also, to accelerate the repayment of any debt, including a mortgage or a student loan, I hope that you keep that resolution so that the” the gods will bestow favor on you,” in the form of more money in your pocket to use for other things, because you will be spending less of your hard-earned money on interest costs.
Another subject that we have discussed in the past is the use of any Required Minimum Distribution from your IRA or other qualified income tax deferred retirement account to make charitable donations. As we have discussed, even if you otherwise itemize on your tax returns, and could take those donations as a deduction, making them as a RMD results in a slight tax advantage. In these challenging times for so many, this is something that you may want to consider more than in past years if you must make these distributions.
New for this requirement is that under the Secures Act, the required beginning date has moved to age 72 from 70 ½, effective for retired individuals who reach age 70 ½ after
A final point is that the Required Minimum Distribution is determined on
While we are on the subject of taxes, we don’t know yet whether the new
On a different subject, I have yet to hear or read a detailed explanation for why some Americans, who a number of politicians say don’t “need” them, are getting presently passed or proposed stimulus/relief checks. An example is, couples earning a combined income of
In any event, if there are Americans who will be receiving a stimulus/relief payment that they don’t need, I hope they will consider giving at least a portion of it to a charity helping those who are in need.
There was almost nothing normal in 2020, but it wouldn’t be normal if I didn’t include at least a few financial survey results at this time of year. So here are some not very surprising results from a recent WalletHub survey. One in 3 Americans say the 2020 holiday season was worth going into debt for — a 46% increase over last year; 53% of Americans think the
This article originally appeared on MPNnow: PERSONAL FINANCE: The history of resolutions
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