Financial Wellness @ Work

Celebrate 529 Day this Thursday, 5/29

This Thursday is 529 College Savings Day, a day to raise awareness about the value of planning ahead for college expenses with 529 plans. The general theme is: Don’t panic, plan. Any amount saved in advance can lower amounts that may need to be borrowed for college, trade or technical school down the road.  Read more

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Five Myths About Your 529 College Savings Plan

As the school year winds down and the invitations to high school graduations start pouring in, I can’t help but think about the day when my own little girl Rachel—who is finishing up her sophomore year—will be sending out her own invitations.  It all seems to be going by so fast but fortunately Susan and I have been preparing for that day by saving in a 529 college savings account.  For some of you moms and dads out there, you too have been using this savings vehicle to help pay for those oncoming college expenses but as Kathryn Flynn writes in a recent post called “Clearing up the confusion: Five popular 529 plan myths,” there are a number of myths floating around out there that could cause confusion when it comes time to using these accounts.  Understanding each one will help you and I when it comes time to funding our child’s higher education. Read more

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Common Myths About 529 Plans

For my grandson’s upcoming first birthday, I mentioned to my daughter-in-law that we might invest in a Pennsylvania 529 college savings plan as our gift. She was a bit concerned since my stepson and his family are Maryland residents, not Pennsylvanians, and would that mean that he’d have to go to a PA school? The reality is that the 529 funds can be used at any college across the country and even accredited schools abroad so her fear was unfounded. My grandson will have the ability to use the money for any college of his choosing and by opening the PA 529 plan, we get the benefit of up to a $14,000 state income tax deduction and the advantage of Vanguard investment options. Read more

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Say NO to Student Debt (Part II)

A couple of weeks ago, I discussed a call from a father who was trying to do the right thing by helping his daughter pay for her education through the use of parent loans, a.k.a. PLUS loans.  PLUS loans are often used to help pay for education when there is an insufficient amount available through regular student loans, savings, or other forms of borrowing. In many cases, PLUS loan repayments begin within 60 days of disbursement but in some cases, repayments can be deferred until 6 months after graduation. Read more

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Say NO to Student Loan Debt (Part I)

My colleague, Erik Carter, and I just recently finished our 2013 research report on generational financial issues. In this report, we looked at internal and external data to see what Millennials, Generation Xers, and Baby Boomers are dealing with in terms of financial planning. As I began to look further into the lives of Millennials, I was shocked to discover just how much college debt the average graduate carries these days—averaging $35,200 according to a recent Fidelity studyRead more

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Don’t Fear the FAFSA

One of the great things about the holidays is that you get to spend time with family members you don’t otherwise see throughout the year.  For me, that meant seeing my nephew for the first time since he graduated from high school last summer.  I had assumed he had started his freshman year at college this fall, but sadly that was not the case.   Read more

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You Are Not Your College Major

In this blog post, my colleague Michael Smith writes about his daughter going to college next year and the big decision she’ll have to make about what to major in. But I’m not sure that I agree that it’s as big a decision as he thinks it is. As you’re probably aware, some of the most financially successful people like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg didn’t even graduate from college at all. Read more

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A Major Decision

It seems that lately my personal life has been dominated by questions about “next year,” “next phase of life,” “what do you plan to do after….”  Actually, not so much my life, but my kids. All 3 are in the last year of their respective schools right now.  Read more

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The College Fund You Don’t Know You Have

I talk to many parents of students approaching college age who fret about having little or nothing saved for college. They know how important a college education is and want their children to be able to go to the school of their choice while graduating with as little debt as possible but at best, they only have a few thousand dollars set aside for college expenses, barely enough for one semester’s worth of meals. The rest of their money is tied up in emergency savings, retirement accounts, and a home with little or no equity. Yet, there is one potential bright spot… Read more

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