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Welcome Hayley Harris

Hayley Harris, Personal Banker | SouthStar Bank Franklin

HH Collage

Hayley Harris has joined the SouthStar Bank Franklin team as a Personal Banker. Hayley is new to the banking industry and, being a hometown Franklin girl, is excited to bring excellent customer service to the community she has grown up in and help all the familiar and new faces around town!

Outside the office, Hayley enjoys traveling and spending time with her friends and family. Her favorite travel destination is Florida. A fun fact about Hayley is that gift-giving is one of her many hidden talents. She loves putting lots of time and thought into finding the perfect gift to make people feel special and appreciated.

Employee Spotlight – Lucia Fernandez

Lucia Fernandez, Assistant Electronic Funds Manager | SouthStar Bank Gonzales Annex

Lucia Fernandez is an Assistant Electronic Funds Manager at the SouthStar Bank Gonzales Annex. Lucia has been with the bank for 10 years and holds 15 years of total banking experience. She received her Associate of Science Degree from Victoria College and is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Houston at Victoria. As a member of the Wire, ACH, and Business Online Departments, Lucia’s position is vital to the bank’s function and customer safety. The preventative measures the bank has in place enable Lucia and her peers to protect customers and their best interests. She finds the most rewarding part of her job is being able to prevent customers from falling victim to fraud. Lucia’s role also allows her to work with the branches and develop relationships with her coworkers across all locations, which she values greatly.

When Lucia finds time outside of school and work, she enjoys several activities. She has spent the last five years serving as the Treasurer for the Smiley Bantam Activity Group, which works to provide safe, fun-filled events for the children of their community to enjoy. She also enjoys going out dancing with her husband, trying new restaurants, or enjoying a good movie with her family. Her favorite travel destination is Colorado Springs, where she and her family climbed the 224 steps to see the beautiful views of Seven Falls.

Rules Governing IRAs

Senior Couple Walking Through Autumn Woodland

The previous IRA blog discussed the benefits of IRAs. However, understanding the unique rules governing IRAs is also essential. Knowing these rules is crucial in securing retirement savings and avoiding penalties.

Rules Governing IRAs:

  • Contribution Limits: As of 2023, the annual contribution limit for IRAs is $6,500 for individuals under 50 years of age. Those aged 50 and above can make an additional catch-up contribution of $1,000, bringing their total annual limit to $7,500. It is essential to adhere to these limits to avoid potential tax penalties.
  • Withdrawal Age: With Traditional IRAs, withdrawals before age 59½ may incur a 10% early withdrawal penalty in addition to regular income tax. However, Roth IRAs allow for tax-free withdrawals of contributions at any time, and earnings can be withdrawn tax-free after age 59½ and a five-year holding period.
  • Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs): Traditional IRA holders are required to start taking RMDs at age 72 (73 if you reach age 72 after December 31, 2022), ensuring gradual distributions during retirement. Failing to take RMDs on time may result in a 50% excise tax on the amount not withdrawn. You can review the recently updated rules attached to RMDs provided by the IRS, here.
  • Contribution Deadline: Contributions to IRAs must be made by the tax-filing deadline, typically April 15 of the following year. The deadline can vary depending on the year (the contribution deadline for 2022 was April 18, 2023), so be sure to verify the contribution deadline for each year.
  • Income Limits for Roth IRAs: Roth IRA contributions have income limits that restrict high earners from contributing directly to Roth IRAs. The income limits for Roth IRAs depending largely on how you plan to file your taxes, the below chart shows the income limits for each tax filing type:
IRA Income Limits

For further explanation and detail, please visit the IRS website.

Navigating the rules of IRA accounts is vital for successful retirement planning. By adhering to contribution limits, understanding eligibility criteria, and being aware of withdrawal and distribution rules, you can harness the full potential of your IRA to achieve your financial goals. Remember that IRS regulations may evolve, so staying informed and seeking guidance from financial professionals is essential.

For more information or to inquire about IRA accounts, please contact SouthStar Bank’s IRA team at or 512.384.3948

Please note that all dates and rules are based on the year this article was published. Please check back with the IRS for important dates and regulations.

Employee Spotlight – Jordan Collier

Jordan Collier, Personal Banker | SouthStar Bank Franklin

Jordan Collier is a Personal Banker at the SouthStar Bank Franklin branch. Jordan has been with SouthStar Bank for seven months and holds two years of banking experience. The aspect of her job she enjoys most is interacting with her customers. Jordan’s love for people makes her an ideal fit for her position and allows her to build meaningful, lasting relationships with everyone who enters the bank.

Outside the office, Jordan enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter, and foster child. Jordan spent her honeymoon in Hawaii, which has since become her favorite vacation destination. If she could speak to anyone in the world, it would be her husband’s grandma, who created a strong legacy in her family.

Employee Spotlight – Jeremy Bernal

Jeremy Bernal, Information Technology Specialist 1 | SouthStar Bank Harker Heights Annex

Jeremy Bernal has worked as an Information Technology Specialist I for the last three years at SouthStar Bank. He is located at the SouthStar Bank Harker Heights annex. In his role, Jeremy works hard to assist all employees with any technical issues they may run into. He takes pride in remedying these often frustrating issues and allowing the staff to work smoothly without interruption.

Outside of work, Jeremy likes to spend his time helping people who struggle with substance abuse or alcoholism. He also enjoys saltwater fishing, traveling, and spending time with friends. His favorite destination he has traveled to is London, Ontario.

Understanding the Benefits of IRAs

Mature woman learning to row in kayak

Understanding the benefits of Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) is essential for maximizing their potential and ensuring a secure financial future.

Benefits of IRAs:

Tax Advantages:

IRAs offer significant tax benefits that vary depending on the type of IRA chosen. For example, contributions made through a Traditional IRA are typically tax-deductible, while Roth IRA contributions are made with after-tax dollars, which makes qualified withdrawals through that account entirely tax-free. These tax advantages can help you optimize your retirement savings and minimize tax liabilities.


Many people will often forgo IRA accounts in favor of traditional Savings accounts with lower interest rates. IRA accounts often offer more interest than a Savings account, so be sure to do your due diligence and maximize the interest earned on your retirement savings.

Investment Flexibility:

Self-Directed IRAs allow for a wide range of investment options, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, and more. This flexibility empowers you to tailor your investment strategy to match your risk tolerance and financial objectives. Diversifying your IRA investments can help spread risk and increase potential returns.

Rollover and Portability:

Changing jobs or retiring doesn’t mean leaving your retirement savings behind. You can roll over funds from employer-sponsored retirement plans, such as 401(k)s or 403(b)s, into an IRA without tax penalties. This manageability gives you greater control over your retirement savings and investment choices.

Supplementing Employer Plans:

IRAs serve as valuable complements to employer-sponsored retirement plans. If your employer’s plan has limited investment options, opening an IRA allows you to access a broader range of investments and tailor your portfolio to suit your preferences.

Estate Planning Benefits:

IRAs offer potential estate planning advantages. Beneficiary designations allow you to pass on your IRA assets to your beneficiaries, potentially continuing the tax-deferred growth or tax-free growth in the case of Roth IRAs and enabling a more efficient transfer of wealth.

Understanding the benefits of IRAs is essential for successful retirement planning. These tax-advantaged accounts offer tax benefits, investment flexibility, and continued growth and security opportunities. By taking advantage of these unique benefits, you can harness the full potential of IRAs and build a robust retirement portfolio. SouthStar Bank is excited to offer a variety of IRA accounts with competitive interest rates. Look at SouthStar Bank’s rates and start maximizing your retirement savings today!

For more information or to inquire about IRA accounts, please contact SouthStar Bank’s IRA team at or call 512.384.3948

Please note that all dates and rules are based on the year this article was published. Please check back with the IRS for important dates and regulations.

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