Financial Wellness @ Work

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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Talking to a Teenager Now May Save Them Tens of Thousands of Dollars Later

I like to write about the things I see in my daily life as well as some of the things going on in my family, and right now the family conversations have a very common theme.  My daughter is a senior in high school and recently was accepted to all of the colleges to which she applied.  Now, it becomes a matter of preference, location, and atmosphere and of course, the financial aid packages offered will factor into the decision as well.  She has known since she was 4 years old that she wants to be a teacher, so paying $60,000/year to go to an elite private school was not going to be an option for her.   Read more

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What Tootsie Rolls and Financial Aid Have in Common

Much to the chagrin of dentists everywhere, Tootsie Roll has been a staple of the candy business for a very long time.  This article talks about the Tootsie Roll Company being a very secretive organization.  And we thought it was just the CIA that operates in relative secrecy!  Tootsie Roll doesn’t give tours, they don’t give interviews to analysts and they don’t operate with much transparency.  It’s as if they have some magical mystery formulas that they don’t want the rest of us to know.  That reminds of an email that I saw from a friend at work this week… Read more

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