Finance Made Simple

Saving for college is one of the primary financial concerns of most Gen X parents, and more and more often grandparents are getting involved in college savings for their grandchildren. With the cost of college constantly climbing, it’s no wonder that funding continuing education for future generations is becoming an all-hands-on-deck endeavor. The average cost of college in the United States is $11,171 a year for an in-state public college. Private universities cost an average of $41,411 a year. 

There are several different ways to save for college. Of course, families can save cash, but it’s usually more efficient to save with an investment account to grow your college savings over time. One common method people use to save is the 529 Plan. 

A HELOC, or Home Equity Line of Credit, is often viewed as a “second mortgage.” But when should a homeowner consider a HELOC? And are they actually a safe way to borrow? Let’s find out.

When the words “estate planning” are heard, it’s common to think of retirees mapping out their legacy through a will, trust, and other methods of passing on their wealth and assets. You may even think of young parents setting up an estate plan to ensure their children are protected in a worst-case scenario. Most people, however, don’t imagine college students setting up an estate plan. After all, they rarely have any wealth or assets worth passing on, and they typically don’t have dependents who need to be taken care of. 

However, college students still need an estate plan in place. Now, during coronavirus, when college students are on campus and at risk, this is more true than ever.

College funding is complicated and stressful for many families. One option for funding your child’s college education beyond leveraging a 529 Plan or traditional student loans is the Parent PLUS Loan. Many parents choose to apply for a Parent PLUS Loan as part of their funding strategy. Unfortunately, many of those same parents don’t know much about the loan itself! Let’s review what the Parent PLUS loan is, and what you can expect in terms of how it impacts your financial plan. 

If the past several months have taught us anything, it’s that we as humans are so much more adaptable than we realized. The coronavirus pandemic took the world by surprise, and individuals and families across the nation had to adjust their lives to accommodate social distancing, widespread shutdowns, and mask mandates. Although these times have been trying (to say the least!), it’s been truly inspiring to see how resilient people are. Many individuals and families have been making adjustments to their lifestyles to better reflect their priorities within the confines of quarantine. 

Retirement can be an exciting new chapter in your life. Still, many people are surprised that once they make the transition to retirement, they find themselves to be anxious and possibly depressed. It’s all too common to have the “retirement blues” when you first retire for a number of reasons. Retirement is a colossal lifestyle shift that you may or may not have been ready for emotionally. However, you can get in front of any potential emotional turbulence by following three simple steps. 

When it comes to financial planning, many people benefit from understanding how certain psychological concepts impact their decision making. The truth is that managing your money is one of the most emotional things you’ll ever do. Finances and psychology are inextricably connected. Unfortunately, that sometimes means that individuals are limited by their own behavioral biases. 

Being cognizant of what biases may be influencing your financial decisions can help you to set yourself up for success in retirement. Let’s review three common behavioral biases, and how they impact your financial plan.

Estate planning can feel intimidating to many people. The idea of organizing all of your finances and assets and deciding how you want to distribute it may seem time-consuming. In addition to the difficulty of the work involved, there are also uncomfortable emotions associated with estate planning. 

Thinking about passing away, or becoming incapacitated and unable to make decisions about our lives and our wealth, isn’t fun. This is the number one reason so many people avoid estate planning in the first place!

2020 has been an unprecedented year in more ways than one. With unexpected market turbulence in March, many people have been on edge when it comes to their finances. However, in the midst of the pandemic, there is one silver lining: interest rates continue to stay low. For student loan borrowers, now may be the time to refinance at a lower interest rate. However, before you choose to move forward with refinancing, it’s important to determine whether it’s the right decision for your unique financial situation.

Many people view retirement as a kind of finish line. They plan to save and grow their wealth up until they retire, and then will pull from that nest egg for the next several decades. While this strategy can be effective if you’ve built sizable retirement savings, it can also be intimidating. 

Many retirees count Social Security as part of their retirement income plan. However, modern retirement is often not a linear journey. It’s incredibly common for people to go in and out of retirement. For example, you may “retire” from your lifelong career but decide to launch your own business or start to consult after traveling for a few years. Alternatively, you might be pushed to retire early during a voluntary layoff, but choose to return to the workforce in 6-12 months. 

The beauty of forward-thinking retirement planning is that you can have a level of flexibility in retirement that allows you to work, travel, and take time off in any combination you choose. One way you can plan ahead is to consider leveraging the flexibility of Social Security to fund your retirement lifestyle.

Everyone has an ideal retirement timeline. This schedule might revolve around when it’s typical for professionals in your unique industry to retire, or when you personally feel as though you’ll be ready to make the transition to full-time retirement. However, in life and finances, sometimes things don’t go exactly as planned.

2020 has seen several unexpected market highs and lows. When it feels like the market is inconsistent, or there’s a fear that it could potentially drop, many people act emotionally in their investment decisions. Rather than staying on track with their investing strategy, they deviate from their plan. In some cases, investors may choose to stop contributing to their retirement or other investment accounts altogether if they’re concerned about losing a large percentage of their portfolio. They may even be tempted to sell while the market is low in order to have some sense of control over their investments.

Have you wondered whether or not now is a good time to refinance your mortgage? With interest rates at a recent low, many people are questioning whether now is the best time to move forward with refinancing at a lower interest rate. It’s true that a lower mortgage interest rate can potentially save you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. However, refinancing isn’t for everyone! Let’s look at when refinancing may not make sense for you.


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