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We are just a few days from 2020 thankfully coming to a close.
Although it would be foolish to think just turning the calendar page will instantly make things go back to where they were, there are promising signs that rosier times do indeed lie ahead.
With FDA approval of a COVID-19 vaccine, hopefully the pandemic that raged across the world will slowly be kept at bay.
Next year will especially be momentous for me as it is the year when I turn 50 (in April).
Why 50 is so meaningful to me.
Granted I have previously written about our obsessions with numbers and how there is really no significance with hitting a “milestone” age, but even so, I still attach a slightly higher psychological value to turning 50.
Probably the biggest impact of turning 50 will be that I will be the same age as my dad when he passed away from pancreatic cancer.
I truly did not grasp how young he was when passed away when I was 14.
I do, however, fully appreciate it now.
I cannot imagine how I would feel knowing that I would only have 6 months left to live as a 50 year old.
I would say that the amount of sacrifices he and I made to become physicians was not worth it for our lives to be cut short at 50.
Choosing a life of medicine is embracing the concept of delayed gratification.
You sacrifice your youth/early adulthood going through the rigors of medical training while most of your friends enter the workforce and start a family and begin enjoying life.
The driving force behind this early sacrifice is that you eventually get to enjoy a rich life that is typically postponed until your mid 40s/early 50s.
So to pass away at age 50, right in the beginning of this prime period of a physician’s life is truly tragic and it still brings a tear to my eye this day thinking about how this happened to my father.
Some financial moves that need to be done the year before you turn 50.
Review your retirement contributions and take advantage of “Catch Up” designations.
Typically workplace retirement plans, such as the 401k, allow you to make changes to your contributions during defined periods, including one at the end of the year.
If there are retirement contribution changes that you want to go into effect the first quarter of 2021, it is vital that you make those changes prior to Dec 31, 2020.
This is especially important if you are about to turn 50 in 2021 as you can defer even more money to a retirement account by taking advantage of the IRS “Catch Up” designation.
Typically the maximum amount you can defer to a 401k in 2021 is $19,500 (same as 2020).
However, if you are 50 years or older, the IRS allows you to defer an extra $6,500, bringing the grand total to $26,000.
I was very fortuitous in that I was reminded of this fact a few weeks ago when my fiancee asked me to review her company’s retirement plan changes and it mentioned this option.
Enacting this “Catch Up” clause was incredibly easy.
I logged onto my retirement account, went to the change contribution section, and it was as simple as indicating the % I wanted withheld for the added catch up deferment.
It is also important to note that you can take double advantage of catch up contributions as the IRS also allows an additional $1k contribution to an IRA over the normal limit of $6k, bringing the total to $7k.
With these two moves, you can defer $7,500 more to a retirement account in 2021 with the added bonus that this money is typically protected from any potential litigation.
I can honestly say I am not looking forward to this, but 50 years old is traditionally the time when colonoscopies start becoming a part of your health maintenance.
From what I have heard, mainly from famous comedians like Jim Gaffigan, I am in for quite an experience.
This may be the one time it is acceptable by the frugal community to pay for an out-of-network procedure because I am not sure I would ever be able to look at my colleagues and staff in the eye again if I did it in house.
If I am still blogging when this occurs, I might just put a post out about it.
A Weight Update.
In my post, An Intentional Life: Food, Weight, And Me, I wrote about how happy I was losing 27 lbs after a life of yo-yo weight gain and loss.
I mentioned in that post that I was about to enter a period of the year, also known as my gauntlet, where there were going to be tremendous challenges that I would have to face in order to not put it all back (3 sequential birthday celebrations of loved ones in October, Radiology Tech Week in early November, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years).
I am pleased to announce that I was able to survive this gauntlet and as today (writing post on 12/18/2020), I weighed in at 178.2 lbs, body fat is actually down to 23.3%, muscle mass is up to 35.3%, and my BMI is 25.4.
Although I still have Christmas and New Year’s celebrations on the docket, I am confident I can continue this positive momentum (a welcome change from the negative momentum I have experienced in the past).
[If you are wondering how I measure these numbers, check out my Doctor’s Bag post on the fancy, and inexpensive, scale I use.]
I have actually got to the point where I can enjoy having an occasional food binge every now and then without significant long term impact.
I do hope everyone has a safe and wonderful holiday with their loved ones.
Here is hoping that 2021 brings much joy to everyone and that 2020 will soon be a blip in the rear view mirror.
If you are in search of financial help, please consider enlisting the service of any of the sponsors of this blog who I feel are part of the “good guys and gals of finance.”
Even a steadfast DIY’er can sometimes gain benefit from the occasional professional input.
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