Thursday, October 28, 2010

2011 401K Limits

The Internal Revenue Service today announced cost of living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for tax year 2011. In general, these limits will either remain unchanged, or the inflation adjustments for 2011 will be small. Highlights include:

The elective deferral (contribution) limit for employees who participate in section 401(k), 403(b), or 457(b) plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan remains unchanged at $16,500.
The catch-up contribution limit under those plans for those aged 50 and over remains unchanged at $5,500.

The deduction for taxpayers making contributions to a traditional IRA is phased out for singles and heads of household who are active participants in  an employer-sponsored retirement plan and have modified adjusted gross incomes (AGI) between $56,000 and $66,000, unchanged from 2010. For married couples filing jointly, in which the spouse who makes the IRA contribution is an active participant in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, the income phase-out range is $90,000 to $110,000, up from $89,000 to $109,000. For an IRA contributor who is not an active participant in an employer-sponsored retirement plan and is married to someone who is an active participant, the deduction is phased out if the couple’s income is between $169,000 and $179,000, up from $167,000 and $177,000.

The AGI phase-out range for taxpayers making contributions to a Roth IRA is $169,000 to 179,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $167,000 to $177,000 in 2010. For singles and heads of household, the income phase-out range is $107,000 to $122,000, up from $105,000 to $120,000. For a married individual filing a separate return who is an active participant in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, the phase-out range remains $0 to $10,000.

The AGI limit for the saver’s credit (also known as the retirement savings contributions credit) for low-and moderate-income workers is $56,500 for married couples filing jointly, up from $55,500 in 2010; $42,375 for heads of household, up from $41,625; and $28,250 for married individuals filing separately and for singles, up from $27,750.

2010 limits are here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Why Cliques can be bad: Groupthink

I have posted several comments about cliques.   I've mentioned Junior High and Middle school cliques and whether cliques can be good or bad.  They can be either.  Tightly-knit groups are likely to conform, making independent thought almost impossible.  Thus, groupthink can creep in to behaviors..

Groupthink occurs when a group makes decisions (often faulty), because of group pressures and desires for conformity.  Groups tend to reach decisions without weighing all the facts, especially those facts that my contradict the "majority opinion."  Creativity and independent thinking are often lost in the pursuit of group cohesiveness.   Independent thinking can disappear in juries.  Who wants to appear foolish or be embarrassed?  Teenagers want to fit in as do new employees in group situations. A group is especially vulnerable to groupthink when members have similar backgrounds and groups are devoid of outside opinions.   It is often easier to see Groupthink, after the fact than while it is occurring.  There are many examples of groupthink in history, including the United States failure to anticipate the attack of Pearl Harbor.

There is an old adage that knowledge is power.  But what is the media currently doing to us as citizens?  US news generally is geared toward entertaining rather than educating and informing.  Today, we are especially tuned in to internet trends and viral phenomena.  How is the internet forming your opinions?  Are you being swayed by groupthink and the media?  Think about it.

Are the groups you interact in subject to groupthink?  Think about your behaviors.  Are you confident enough to speak out or to get outside opinions.  Are your behaviors based solely on your inner circle of friends?

More Powerpoint discussion

 I previously wrote a post about why I hate powerpoint presentations.  I still do because they usually are an immediate turn-off.  So, I read in CNN about another Powerpoint Fatigue article.  I really liked this quote.
We're a distracted, multi-tasking society. So presentations need to lure and re-lure an audience simply to keep their attention. Audiences are looking at the clock or fiddling with their handheld devices throughout a presentation. You don't connect with your audience by throwing information at them -- you do it by taking them on a journey toward your perspective.  
CEO's, salespeople, students, or any citizen, you need to learn to connect to an audience and learn to visually display information for maximum audience comprehension.

 Visually, I like Apple's "Keynote", rather than Powerpoint.  It helps your presentations be more interesting.  But, still you can get lost in the visuals rather than the message you are really trying to communicate.