smart spending

9 ways to build wealth in 2011

If you have an HSA, max it out
8 of 11
Eric Tyson

Eric Tyson, author of "Investing for Dummies" and "Personal Finance for Dummies":

"I'm a very big fan of (health savings accounts) because they offer better potential tax benefits than a traditional retirement fund," Tyson says. With HSAs, investors receive an upfront tax break, compounding investment earning, and pay no tax on the money that is withdrawn "as long as its use is for health expenses," he says.

But the device might not work for everyone. "Obviously, you have to have a high-deductible health plan," he says.

Before 65, if you pull money from your HSA for nonhealth expenses, you'll pay income tax and a 20 percent penalty on the withdrawal. After 65 (or in cases of death or disability), such withdrawals are taxed as income -- without the 20 percent penalty.

The maximum you can put into an HSA in 2011 is $3,050 for an individual account (plus an extra $1,000 if you're 55 or older), and $6,150 for a family account, he says.




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