News and Commentary

7 Smart Money Moves to Maximize Bonuses and New Income Tax Rates by Kathleen Marteney, CRPC,

Upon the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December 2017, several U.S. businesses announced that they would be issuing year-end bonuses to their employees. If you are among one of these lucky workers, consider committing some time to think about where you could maximize those extra dollars. As gratifying as it may be to immediately splurge on a gift for yourself, you may reap far more benefits when you put those dollars to work for you and your future. Following are seven smart money moves to help you solidify your financial footing.

  1. Pay down high-interest credit-card debt,
  2. Pay off a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) to free up cash flow,
  3. Establish or bolster an existing emergency fund with at least three months of expenses,
  4. Increase your salary deferral contributions to an employer-sponsored 401(k) retirement plan, which for 2018 can be as much as $18,500, or $24,500 for individuals age 50 or older,
  5. Make a 2017 contribution to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or set one up, if you qualify,
  6. Save for a child’s education by establishing a 529 savings plan, which can be used to pay for college tuition, or beginning in 2018 up to $10,000 per year to pay for a child’s pre-college private school education, or
  7. Assess your budget and find ways to cut expenses, especially if they exceed your earnings.

Even if you did not receive a bonus in 2017, you are likely to see an increase in your take-home pay in 2018, thanks to the lower individual tax brackets of the new tax law. In either case, individuals should consider meeting with experienced advisors to assess their current financial condition and learn other ways they may improve their ability to meet their short-term and long-term financial goals.

About the Author: Kathleen Marteney, CRPC, is a financial planner with Provenance Wealth Advisors, an Independent Registered Investment Advisor affiliated with Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors and Accountants, and a registered representative with Raymond James Financial Services. She can be reached at (800) 737-8804 or via email at

Provenance Wealth Advisors, 200 S. Biscayne Blvd., Miami FL  33131 (800) 737-8804.

Kathleen Marteney, CRPC, is a registered representative of and offers securities through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., Members FINRA/SIPC.

Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse the opinions or services of Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors and Accountants. PWA is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services. Investment Advisory Services offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc., and Provenance Wealth Advisors.  

This material is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. Any opinions are those of the advisors of PWA and not necessarily those of Raymond James. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.

This information is not intended as a solicitation or an offer to buy or sell any security referred to herein. Investors should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses associated with 529 plans before investing. This and other information about 529 plans is available in the issuer’s official statement and should be read carefully before investing. Investors should consult a tax advisor about any state tax consequences of an investment in a 529 plan. As with other investments, there are generally fees and expenses associated with participation in a 529 plan. There is also a risk that these plans may lose money or not perform well enough to cover college costs as anticipated. Most states offer their own 529 programs, which may provide advantages and benefits exclusively for their residents. The tax implications can vary significantly from state to state. Investors should consider, before investing, whether the investor’s or the designated beneficiary’s home state offers any tax or other benefits that are only available for investment in such state’s 529 college savings plan. Such benefits include financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors.

401(k) plans are long-term retirement savings vehicles. Withdrawal of pre-tax contributions and/or earnings will be subject to ordinary income tax and, if taken prior to age 59 1/2, may be subject to a 10% federal tax penalty. Investments mentioned may not be suitable for all investors. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct.

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