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How to Organize Your Finances for a Secure Future in College

Posted on May 23, 2018 with No comments

May 23, 2018

When it comes to financial planning, gaining financial security should always be the first objective. Without financial security, what good does it do to have a nice house, drive a flashy car, and dream of the day you can retire and live off your 401(K) contributions? If your financial security remains elusive, all of these things can disappear rapidly, leaving you broke or even worse, in debt.

Pay Yourself First

Most people are living paycheck to paycheck. They work all month to pay everyone else. This gives them no real control of their financial future, while also leaving them unprepared for emergencies. Before paying any bills, transfer money to your savings account.

Experts recommend saving 10 percent of every paycheck and having at least 6 months’ worth of your minimum living expenses and debt payments in cash equivalents. If your budget is too tight, look for ways to trim expenses until you can squeeze out the 10 percent you need.

Get an Accounting Pro at Tax Time

Most people who file on their own miss deductions, not to mention all the time lost fiddling with tax returns. For instance, accounting services get you the max return or minimum payment and ensure you remain audit-free.

Accountants can also help you organize other financial matters, such as investments and personal expenditures. You always end up with more money at the end of the year when you use an accountant.

Say No to Debt

Unless the debt you are taking on funds something that benefits you in the long term, say no. While you may decide it’s worth it to borrow for buying a house or funding an education, buying clothes, going on vacations, eating out, etc.

These things should be paid for only in cash. This not only saves interest, it gives you the impetus to build up your savings account.

Invest in Yourself

Now that you have a handle on how to get free of the paycheck-to-paycheck trap, consider the future. Are you in a job and industry you feel provides enough security to make investing in an education or home worthwhile? Or are you always nervous about whether you’ll still have a job at the end of the month or year?

Also, are you comfortable and happy to the point you know you won’t feel burned out down the line? The bottom line: if you can’t see your current situation remaining secure, start planning for a career change. For long-term financial security, you need to know your income is safe.

While there is no one formula for financial security, largely because the definition of financial security differs from one household to the next, there are a group of principles most people recognize as helpful to all people in achieving their definition of financial security.

Some of the most universal and practical suggestions have been illustrated in Kiplinger. The following four principles can be applied by anyone right now.


How Smart Families Save Money on Their Monthly Expenses in College

Posted on May 17, 2018 with No comments

May 17, 2018

There are many smart families out there that know how to manage their finances well. That means that they know how to save big on monthly expenses, too. If you want to join their ranks and feel wise, then these strategies can change your existence for good.

Devise a Budget

Smart families take the time to devise budgets. They have enough self-control to keep to them as well. If you have a budget in mind, you’ll think twice about spending money on frivolous purchases. 

Having a budget can keep all of your purchases in check. It can help you think in more detail about your purchases at the grocery store, at the mall and elsewhere. If you want to reduce your monthly costs greatly, putting a budget together can make an excellent and effective foundation.

Use Coupons During Shopping Trips

Don’t be too lazy to search for coupons in your newspaper each week. Don’t be too lazy to check the Internet for coupons, either. Saving a few dollars here and there on your grocery store purchases can add up dramatically. Saving money on toiletries can add up significantly, too. Cutting out coupons is easy and free. Smart families have no excuse to avoid this hassle-free and basic strategy.

Get Professional Air Conditioning Maintenance Service

Intelligent families make a point to plan ahead. They anticipate all kinds of problems. If you want to prepare for potentially costly air conditioning problems, professional air conditioning maintenance service can help you do so. Experienced HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) technicians can assess your unit for possible issues. They can repair problems and stop future breakdowns from taking place as well.

Eat at Home Whenever Possible

Dining out at restaurants can cost a lot of money. People have to set aside money for tips, too. If you’re serious about reducing your monthly expenses as a family, you should go above and beyond to dine at home any time you can. Refrain from purchasing expensive takeout during your lunch breaks at work. Try to pack a quick ham and cheese or peanut butter and jelly sandwich, instead. It doesn’t matter if you go for fast food or for a meal at a formal sit-down dining establishment. Eating at home is in most cases a lot more economical.

Saving money doesn’t have to be a sacrifice. It can be a simple way of life. These techniques can make cutting your monthly expenses down a lot easier, too.


How to Save Money Over Time and Avoid Bankruptcy in College

Posted on May 10, 2018 with No comments

May 10, 2018

Bankruptcy is often a last resort for people who have encountered significant financial hardships. It can be a solution for individuals who are dealing with enormous amounts of debt. People naturally want to do everything and anything they can to steer clear of it. If you want to dodge the extraordinary stresses of potential bankruptcy, these money saving tips can be highly effective.

Plan out a Budget

People who experience financial difficulties often haven’t planned thoroughly. If you want to be ready to deal with any financial situations that may come your way, you need to write out a detailed budget. You need to fully commit to maintaining it as well. Don’t be lenient and make excuses for yourself. Try to do anything you can to not go over your designated monthly allowance.

Cut out Unnecessary Spending Whenever Possible

People often spend their hard-earned money on things that just aren’t necessary. If you want to save big, you should think twice before buying an espresso from your local coffee shop. Think about making your own coffee at home. You should think twice about getting takeout for lunch while at work, too. It can be so much more economical to pack a sandwich from home.

It’s also critical to steer clear of going overboard with activities such as going to the movie theater and going out for drinks or karaoke with friends and coworkers. Remember, seemingly small costs can add up significantly over the course of a month or less.

Talk to a Bankruptcy Lawyer

There are many experienced lawyers who focus exclusively on bankruptcy and on bankruptcy-related matters. If you don’t want bankruptcy to be in your future, you should think about scheduling a consultation with one of these attorneys. A bankruptcy lawyer will know about all of the pitfalls that frequently lead to severe financial issues. Try to learn invaluable lessons from people who truly are well-versed in debt.

Be an Intelligent Shopper

You can keep bankruptcy out of your life by adopting intelligent and resourceful shopping practices. Try to check out weekly grocery store circulars to learn about upcoming sales. Check your newspaper for coupons for staples you regularly buy. You can find coupons for all kinds of items on the Internet, too. There are so many diverse ways to cut your costs. It’s always a matter of putting in the right amount of time.

Bankruptcy doesn’t have to be inevitable for you or for anyone. If you’re detail-oriented and diligent, you can stay blissfully oblivious to its realities.


What If I Don't Need My 529 Plan?

Posted on May 5, 2018 with No comments

May 5, 2018

529 plan
So what happens if you save money in a 529 plan and then your kid doesn't go to college or if they get a scholarship. Firstly,  529 plan money is not just for college, it's for any post-secondary education and training so that also covers the vast vast majority of vocational and trade schools.

I know that it's super easy to transfer 529 plan money between family members, in fact the IRS publishes a list of nine categories of family members to whom you can move 529 plan money without incurring any taxes or penalties and it's really broad, it even includes first cousins and any future grandchildren you might have, it's very flexible.

Moving the 529 Plan to Another 

Let's use an example, you've got two kids, one wants to become an auto mechanic and completes a two-year program. You saved enough money for a 4 year degree. So you've got this extra money left over in the 529 plan. But they're done with their education. Do you assume that they're not going to need that money? At the same time your other kid has chosen to get an MD PhD so you've got loads of higher education expenses. You can very easily move the money from one child to the other to pay for those educational expenses. 

That's great, but don't think that none of that applies to you, you're been sitting there just saying look, all I really just want to do is take this money out and move on. What happens then? 

Closing the 529 Plan

Let's talk about what happens at the federal level and then I'll comeback to what happens with the state. For federal taxes I'll use the example that you're gonna pay income tax on the gains and a penalty. So what does that mean, in our example, let's say that you saved up $20,000 in contributions and over time that $20,000 of contributions grew into $50,000, total. Meaning you had investment gains of $30,000. You choose to pull all the money on at once. What happens now is the $20,000 is going to come back to you free and clear, no penalty no taxes.

That's great, now on the $30,000 of investment gains you're going to have to declare that as income. Two things will happen, if you're just pulling the money out and were not talking about a scholarship here, you're gonna pull out that money and on the thirty thousand dollars declare it is income and pay income tax on it and an additional ten percent penalty. Note that you would get bumped for the capital gains which you would have paid in a regular brokerage account to income tax which you have to pay because it's coming out of a 529 plan but still not the worst penalty in the world, actually pretty reasonable. But naturally they're trying to encourage us to use 529 plans for education expenses so there has to be some penalty but it's not the worst penalty in the world. 

Scholarship Exemption Rule

If your child received a scholarship, you can shelter that amount of money from the 10% penalty. Basically you just have to pay the income tax that you had previously avoided by putting the money in a 529 plan but you don't pay the 10 % penalty. You can use that rule for the amount of the scholarship only. So if the kid received a $10,000 scholarship and you're comparing that $10,000 to $50,000 account balance you can only avoid the 10% penalty on the amount equal to that $10,000 scholarship not on the full account balance. 

State 529 Plan Issues

Now what happens with state rules? This can get complicated and it varies by state so we highly recommend working with a qualified tax professional. If this is your situation or if you DIY make sure you understand how to do this right it's gonna vary by state. But broadly, many states will look to take back some of the benefit they previously gave you. Some take all of the benefit they previously gave you from you using a 529 plan. This can be things like looking to get the taxes owed the state that you previously avoided by putting the money into a 529 plan. Looking to even take back some of the deductions you might have taken previously if you're in a state that gives state tax deduction again it's very estate specific and if this is your situation you want to really make sure that you get that right.

Remember to get some good advice and help when it comes to financial situations like this. A few hundred dollars spent can help you save thousands in taxes.


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