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During May of this year, my son completed his sophomore year of high school. Next year brings the task of visiting colleges and the beginnings of selecting where he would like to apply, preparing and submitting applications and eventually choosing a school for the next stage of learning. This pending adventure serves as motivation to write a series of blogs about what I believe lies ahead and the possible challenges. Part 1 will address immediate and extended family dynamics that may influence children when they are young and impressionable. Part 2 will focus attention on how children reconcile these family preferences and opinions with their own. Part 3 will tackle the financial aspects of paying the costs of their choice. Some readers may have completed this journey but others may have yet to start. Regardless of where parents and children fall on this education continuum, hopefully some of what is written will resonate and be used to more successfully navigate what is to come. Planing for college can be a daunting task. The primary focus tends to be setting aside money Read on! →
A recent article in the Encore section of the WSJ, entitled “How to Add Life to Longer Lives” talks about the scientific advances which are extending our lives. The point made by the article is that although these advances are being made and the first person in modern times who will live to 150 is alive today, as a society we are not prepared to deal with all the associated aspects that significantly longer lives will impact. The idea that we, as a society, are unprepared for longer lifespans is not something just for future generations to ponder and solve, it is a conversation that needs to be elevated and discussed today. Over the past 15 years, we have seen most large employers freeze pension plans for their employees, eliminate these plans for all newer employees, and put more of the responsibility for retirement savings on the employee themselves, through 401(k) only options. The boomers who are retiring today are among the first who don’t have the safety net of an employer pension and in many cases did not adequately Read on! →
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! →