I hate sipping through coffee lids. Anyone else with me? I’ll give lids credit, they’ve come a long way. It’s a rarity that I run into that little pull tab that refuses to tear back properly as I balance the cup between my legs sitting in the front seat. To keep my rant as short as possible, the main reason for my disdain is I feel like that tiny little opening in the lid is telling me how much coffee I am allowed to drink with each raise of the cup. It’s a power struggle and I just don’t have it in me anymore. Last week on vacation, I took my ceramic mug half full of coffee with me as we climbed into the minivan. It didn’t fit great in the cup holder, and gave my wife plenty of ammunition, but it didn’t matter. I was free to gulp to my desire and spill on my own terms as we hit each and every pot hole. This may seem like a trivial example, and at the same time, a large part of my job is managing/picking or avoiding “lids.”
Let’s pick on the Traditional IRA. Quick aside, If you want to seem really cool the next time you’re out or have friends over, you can drop the fact that “IRA” actually stands for Individual Retirement Arrangement, not Individual Retirement Account… you’re welcome. The IRA, a savings vehicle we use quite often, has OH so many restrictions. Let’s say nothing wakes you up like saving money, so you hit the drive through and invest $5,000 in a nice hot Traditional IRA. You technically cannot get access to that money again, your money, without paying taxes and fees until your 59 ½! Now if you want to take a little sip before 59 ½, you can – you’ll pay taxes, but no penalty and here are a few ways:
- Pay health insurance premiums after a job loss, sip.
- Use $10,000 when buying your first home, sip.
- Use for tuition for you, your spouse or child, sip.
If I try to see things from the lid’s perspective, I guess maybe it’s doing me a favor. It’s keeping me from burning myself, drinking too quickly, and making the enjoyment of drinking my coffee last longer. I still don’t like it, yet this is the dance we do with coffee lids and most of any financial planning vehicle which encourages us to save for the future. We weigh the lack of ultimate control, with the benefits that some stringency and rules provide. My job is to come up with a strategy that lets you sip with balance and also make sure there is money for another cup if you run out too soon.
Happy Friday & Happy Sipping!