Pay It Forward: Saving for retirement (my personal experience)

By Sandy Bunch VanderPol

Sandy Bunch VanderPol

Throughout my entire 43-year career as a self-employed deposition reporter, I’ve prioritized funding my SEP IRA to the maximum amount each year. Not only does this benefit me now that I’m at “retirement age,” but it’s benefited my entire family and will continue to do so into the future. I’ve been paying it forward since I was 24 years old, and my plan is to continue to pay it forward by funding my SEP IRA as long as the law allows me to do such. I would challenge each of you to join me in saving for the future. It is never too late to start.

I’d like to share a few tips I have learned over the course of my career, which have made it possible for me to save for my retirement.

Start your plan today to save for retirement
Don’t wait! You can’t rely on social security, the government, or even an inheritance. When I started court reporting at the age of 19, I waited five years to start a SEP IRA. Had I not waited, I would be in an even better financial situation today, thanks to the wonders of compounding interest. It is always tempting to justify waiting another year to start your retirement account, but don’t fall into that trap. Look at the visual below, which is a chart from a wealth management company. I saw a similar one when I was young and it certainly got my attention. I made a plan and started my contributions.

Even if you are starting late, it is important for you to know that you are not alone. Every dollar of investment you put into your retirement account makes a difference. It is never too late.

Each month set aside your retirement contribution
As with my self-employed quarterly tax estimates, I set aside my retirement contribution each month. I’d suggest that you do the same — or, at a minimum, put something into your retirement account each quarter. You don’t have to fund your SEP IRA until April 15th of the subsequent tax year. You can fund your retirement every month or in one lump sum.

Note: Funding your retirement sooner rather than later allows you to earn more on your dollars, depending on how your SEP IRA funds are invested.

I always planned to contribute the maximum amount the law allows to my SEP IRA.

What is a SEP IRA?
A SEP IRA account is an IRA set up for people who own their own small business, and many freelance reporters fall into that grouping. I learned that, as a sole proprietor, I could make annual contributions between 0 to 20 percent of my net adjusted self-employment income (or net adjusted business profits) into my SEP IRA. Also, SEP IRA contributions are very flexible. The percentage of contribution can be changed at any time and may be skipped in a bad year. I didn’t skip any year — I kept up my routine contributions and made my retirement contributions a priority in my budget. SEP IRA contributions are generally 100 percent tax deductible from personal income.

Note: Contributing to your SEP IRA reduces the taxes owed to both the state and the federal government. You can consider this, as I have, as the government helping you to fund your retirement.

Automate your savings
Be disciplined. I set up automatic retirement contributions each month, as this allowed my retirement to grow without having to think about it. Many money management companies have an automated funding service available, and you can often make regular contributions to your SEP IRA from another account within their financial institute and even to self-direct your money to the investments of your choice.

Extra money? Don’t just spend it
My financial advisor used to tell me, “Dedicate at least half of the new money to your retirement plan. And while it may be tempting to take that tax refund or O&5 income and splurge on a new designer purse or a vacation, don’t treat those extra funds as found money. Treat yourself to something small and use the rest to help make big leaps toward your retirement goal.”

So every time I received a check from an O&5 depo, I didn’t spend it – at least not all of it. Instead, I increased my contribution percentage. Remember, the more income you make from your O&5 depositions, the more you can invest into your retirement account, so the more you need to put aside to make the funding.

Make a budget — rein in spending
Sometimes, over the years, my dedication to this goal meant I had to reconsider other things I wanted. I examined my budget and looked at ways to reduce my monthly expenditures, such as insurance costs. As I’ve bought homes, I always looked for one that I was way overqualified for. In other words, I didn’t stretch my budget by buying a higher-priced home. As my income rose, I “moved up” and have finally landed on five acres with a home my husband built and a second modest home in Tahoe. Patience was my friend in this journey.

In conclusion
Good luck on your journey to retirement. There will be many challenges along the way (I want that new car, a bigger house). Keep your retirement goal in mind, front and center. Enjoy the journey of life along the way. Don’t be so frugal you don’t enjoy life. Keep a balance, for sure. Just remember, for every dollar you invest in retirement, it is less you owe in taxes to the government. I was delighted to learn from my CPA this year that, on a side-by-side analysis with the new tax plan, I will be saving between 15-20 percent in taxes due in 2018. So, this money will go to retirement planning or investment planning — as much as I’d love to take a ski trip to Europe.

Sandy Bunch VanderPol, FAPR, RMR, CRR, is a freelance reporter based in Lotus, Calif. She is also credentialed as a Realtime Systems Administrator. She can be reached at realtimecsr@calweb.com.

This article should not be relied on as financial advice specific to your situation. As always, NCRA encourages individuals to reach out to a trusted CPA or other financial advisor to review your personal situation.

Cedar Rapids court reporter, still passionate about job, retires after 42 years

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Gazette newspaper in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, posted an article on Dec. 23 featuring NCRA member Debra A. Shields, RMR, CRR, from Palo. Shields, who is retiring, was interviewed about her 42 years as an official court reporter.

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Longtime court reporter considered icon to retire after 53 years

JCR logoThe DecaturDaily.com posted an article on May 11 about the retirement of court reporter Morris Anderson after 53 years on the job.

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Two longtime officers of the court retire simultaneously

On April 14, The Examiner reported the retirement of two longtime court reporters from Jefferson County, Texas. The article notes that, as guardians of the record, the jobs of Veronica “Bunny” Wimberly and Anita Seegers, RPR, CRR, required the skill and knowledge gained through their 60 years of combined service. Wimberly and Seegers retired on March 31 after 33 and 27 years serving in Jefferson County, respectively.

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Longtime court reporter retires

The Courier reported on Oct. 23 that NCRA member Vanessa Edwards, RPR, an official court reporter from Findlay, Ohio, is retiring after more than 30 years of service in the Hancock County Common Pleas Court. “It’s a little happy and a little sad because I’ll be missing the work camaraderie that we have,” Edwards said. “But happy because I’m on a new journey.”

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First modern day African-American court reporter in NOLA to retire after 43 years

An article posted on Dec. 16 by WGNO features the story of 61-year-old Daryl Duplessie, the first modern day, African-American court reporter in the New Orleans area, who is about to retire after 43 years of service.

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NCRF’s Beth Kilker to Retire

After 10 years of managing NCRF’s Oral Histories Program, Beth Kilker is retiring and relocating to the Chicago area to be closer to family. Her last day with NCRF will be Friday, April 18.

This is actually Beth’s second retirement. She left home in Pennsylvania in 1964, and came to Washington, D.C., to work for the federal government. After 38 years, the last 25 of which were spent at the U. S. House of Representatives Veterans Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill, she retired in 2002.

When NCRF became involved with the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project in 2003, it was clear that someone was needed to manage the program. Beth and NCRF’s Deputy Executive Director B. J. Shorak had worked together at the Smithsonian Institution before Beth went to the Hill. Beth was happily retired when BJ contacted her about the opportunity with NCRF’s new involvement with the Veterans History Project. Beth, and her passion for veterans, jumped at the chance. The rest, as they say, is history.

During Beth’s tenure with NCRF, she took a data entry job and developed it into a full-fledged program. NCRF’s interaction with the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project was the start. The Board of Trustees soon realized the value in having court reporters transcribe oral histories (providing access to research by creating computer-searchable records, but also by demonstrating to the public that the reporting profession gives back in the interest of public good), and in 2005, it expanded the Veterans History Project to include the Oral Histories Program. Beth sought partnerships with other organizations of national historic significance, and NCRF now has four partners and is working on a fifth. The four include the Library of Congress’ VHP, the Center for Public Policy & Social Research at Central Connecticut State University, the Illinois State Library, and the National Equal Justice Library at Georgetown University. The fifth is very exciting and well-known and will be announced as soon as the details are finalized—hopefully by the end of April.

In addition to these formal partners, NCRF supports several major state association initiatives, including the Missouri Veterans History Project, the Texas Statewide VHP in conjunction with the Texas State Bar, and the Lake County, Illinois VHP Project.

Beth has also been instrumental in creating the “VHP Day” program, whereby firms, schools, individuals, courts, and state court reporting associations can host a day specifically dedicated to collecting the histories of local veterans. Over forty VHP Days have been held nationwide, including one at NCRA headquarters and several at NCRA Conventions.

Through her 25 years of service at the Veterans Affairs Committee, Beth developed a broad network of contacts with all of the veteran service organizations. Through her contacts, NCRF has developed a strong bond with the Disabled American Veterans organization.  Because of that networking and the Foundation’s dedication to not only transcribing histories of war veterans but also of collecting them, the DAV Charitable Service Trust has awarded two grants to NCRF to pursue DAV members.

In addition, Beth managed the Student Initiatives Program, whereby NCRF will pay for a student’s annual membership in NCRA if he or she transcribes two oral histories. She created a packet for students and instructors and developed promotional materials to encourage students to participate.

NCRF is indebted to Beth and wishes her every happiness in her retirement. Her work will continue in good hands. Effective May 1, Irene Cahill will assume her new responsibilities as Director of Research and NCRF Programs. Irene has been with NCRA for more than 20 years and brings with her an intimate knowledge of the profession, membership, and IT. She has helped NCRF over those years with its database needs and is very familiar with NCRF’s programs. NCRF is very pleased that she will be joining the ranks.

If you have any questions about NCRF and its programs, contact B. J. Shorak, Deputy Executive Director, on 800-272-6272, ext. 126, or by email at bjshorak@ncra.org.

Kansas reporter retires

After more than 30 years, Carvel Reinsch, a court reporter for the Saline County District Court in Kansas, is retiring. Reinsch told the Salina Journal that she enjoyed the job and expects to still be busy for the next year completing transcripts of court proceedings she has already attended. Talking about some of her memories of the job, she said she once read back for “four or five hours.”

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