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Over 40 million Americans currently carry student loan debt with average balances of $29,000. If medical school was part of the equation that number could easily triple or quadruple. If you find yourself grappling with hefty student loans and all the decisions that come along with them, make sure you fully understand the details of your loans and all of your options before devising a plan to deal with your debt. The details can be overwhelming, so we’ve done our best to break down some key points for you here. The Basics There are a number of different types of student loans available to borrowers. If you’re in the process of applying for a student loan, understand the details before accepting the loan. If you already have student loans, understand consolidation options and payback choices so you know how to properly deal with them. Federal Loans are loans offered by the federal government which offer benefits that are not available if taking a loan out from a private institution. These include flexible repayment options (see below), deferment (postponing payment for Read on! →
Most of us understand we need to give careful consideration to planning, saving and preparing for the future. This typically includes planning for the purchase of our first house, saving for the education of our children, mapping out our careers, our retirement, and even our eventual death. However, I’ve seen too many consumers get to retirement, breathe a sigh of relief and then put their lives on auto-pilot, thinking they’ve handled all the big decisions. The reality is that many times the decisions which will be faced in the years between retirement and death can be some of the most overwhelming, impactful and costly decisions of our lives. When these things are left to chance, or are assumed it won’t happen to us, we effectively take ourselves out of the driver’s seat and hand over the controls to someone else. If you’ve spent the first 50 or 60 years of your life trying to plan and prepare for what’s ahead, why would you leave the rest of your life to chance? When you first had children, you likely began saving Read on! →
Reducing your tax liability and saving more are noble goals and are both still possible. The key to achieving this double bonus during tax season is to take advantage of annual opportunities before it’s too late. [Please note: all contribution and limit numbers that follow are specific to 2014. If you would like updated numbers for 2015 contributions and limits, please visit www.irs.gov] 1. Fund a current or new traditional individual retirement account (IRA) The quickest and easiest way to lower your taxes and increase your savings is to make a Traditional IRA contribution. If you already have one, contributing is easy and can be done in a matter of minutes. If you don’t have an existing IRA and you haven’t yet filed your 2014 return, it’s not too late to get started and meet the 2014 deadline. IRA contributions can be made up to the time you file your return or no later than April 15th. Contribution limits and deductibility vary based on income and filing status. Below is quick reference to contribution amounts and filing status variations. Contribution Read on! →
As spring’s arrival gets closer, you may also be anticipating the arrival of a large inflow of “extra” income. This may be in the form of an income tax refund, pay raise, annual bonus, stock grant or restricted stock vesting. Before this extra income actually hits your bank account, take some time to consider the best use for these additional assets. Otherwise, it is too easy for the additional dollars to erode away while they sit in your checking account commingled with your regular income. Tax Refunds: In the case of a tax refund, let’s first examine the circumstances surrounding a big refund. If this is a rare occurrence, then you need to consider the best use for your one-time windfall. This might include a contribution to a Roth IRA, rebuilding your emergency savings or setting aside for an upcoming car purchase. If a sizeable refund is an annual event for you, consider the following. By withholding more tax than you need on all your paychecks throughout the year, not only are you forfeiting use of that money, but typically Read on! →
Conversations are essential, especially concerning the end of life. I am currently reading the book “Being Mortal – Medicine and What Matters in the End” by Atul Gawande. Recently on PBS, Frontline chronicled Dr. Gawande and others about how the medical profession deals with the end of life with patients and their families. You can view the feature here: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/being-mortal/ While none of us want to think about the end of our lives or those of family members, one of the main focuses of the show was on patients at the very end of life and being able to have conversations about their preferences as the end drew near. Frontline’s documentary brought to light that for some patients, emphasis was placed on the quantity of their remaining days, rather than the quality of their last days, which can make the end of life even more difficult. This scenario can sometimes place physicians, patients and family members at odds so it is important the patient, or family members advocating on their behalf, have a voice in end of life choices and Read on! →