College Savings! The 529 Plan You Likely Have (...and Why It Might Not Be the Best)
Is 0% Car Financing a Good Deal??
According to University of Virginia law professor Quinn Curtis, of the over 300 billion dollars of 529 assets that Americans have saved for higher education expenses, 20% of those assets are in just one 529 plan. If you are wondering why that might be and, also, which 529 College Savings Plan might be right for you, watch “College Savings! The 529 Plan You Likely Have (…and Why it Might Not Be the Best.)”
Employer Matching Contributions-Don't Leave Money on the Table
So, in buying a new car; 0% financing, rebates…just paying cash…how do you know you are making the smartest decision? The decision that will produce the best financial result? Taking into consideration the Time Value of Money and Opportunity Cost, Jeff looks at a number of scenarios to help you understand how each of these options might influence which option might be best for you.
Steve Lehto; “0% Financing is Bad? Whiteboard!”
The Truth About Debt! How Much Is Too Much?
When it comes to employer matching contributions to your 401(k), 403(b), etc., this should be a no-brainer. A matching contribution is basically free money that is just waiting for you to claim. So, why would anyone choose not to participate? In this video, Jeff goes over the basics of employer matching contributions and reasons why you might be overlooking this powerful opportunity to build your wealth.
Investing Basics! Understanding Stocks & Bonds
There is probably no greater threat to a household’s financial health than excessive debt and, yet, most of us are carrying some. So, how do you know when you have too much? In this video, Jeff talks Debt Ratios and Opportunity Cost to answer the question, “how do you know whey you have too much debt?”
Social Security-What You Need to Know
There are two asset types that are likely well represented in your portfolio of investments: stocks and bonds, what we refer to as equity and debt. For many investors, those two asset classes, plus cash or its equivalents, might very well make up their entire portfolio. So, when you buy a stock or a bond…what exactly is it that you own? Not sure? Watch “Investing Basics! Understanding Stocks & Bonds” to learn what stocks and bonds are, and to get a better understanding of the potential benefits and risks of each.
Exchange Traded Funds & Mutual Funds-What's the Difference?
According to the Social Security Administration, in 2019, about sixty-four million Americans will receive over one trillion dollars in Social Security benefits. Wow! That’s a lot of people, and a lot of money. And the difference between a poor vs optimal strategy in taking your benefits might be tens, possibly hundreds, of thousands of dollars of lifetime earnings or eventual wealth. Therefore, I find it a bit amazing the cavalier nature with which many retirees treat the decisions surrounding how to take their hard-earned Social Security retirement benefits! In this video, I go over what it takes to qualify for Social Security retirement benefits, as well as how your benefit is calculated and ways in which it can be received. Watch Social Security-What You Need to Know! to learn more.
How to Save for Retirement Without a 401(k)
You’re probably familiar with mutual funds; they’re likely in your 401(k), IRA or brokerage account. But, more and more, ETFs or “Exchange Traded Funds” are gaining in popularity. In conversations I have with my own clients, I know that there is a fair amount of confusion between the two. For this reason, in this week’s Vlog, I explain some of what the differences are, and how they might be relevant to you. Click and watch “Exchange Traded Funds & Mutual Funds-What’s the difference?” to learn more.
Retirement Savings-How Much Should You Be Saving?
Working for a large employer, some type of employer sponsored retirement plan is just about guaranteed. For a publicly traded company, likely that’s a 401(k). But what about people who don’t? Maybe you work for a small company or, maybe, you work for yourself as a business owner; what then? Does this mean you’re simply not invited to the party? Well, fortunately no, there are options available. And in this video, I’m going to go over three. Three retirement savings options that you do, or might, have available to you even if you do not have an employer sponsored plan, such as a 401(k).
Taxes in Retirement-Avoiding the Tax Time Bomb
Is saving ten percent of your income enough for retirement? Well the answer is…it depends. In this video, Jeff goes over some of the variables and inputs needed to determine the percentage of your current income that you need to be setting aside to insure that you will have the retirement that you desire.
Teaching Your Child to Save-The Parent Sponsored 401(k)
Up unto a point, you are allowed to let the money in tax-deferred retirement accounts; accounts such as a 401(k), traditional IRA, 403(b), and the like; stay in those accounts and continue to produce investment returns with no tax consequences whatsoever. It is all tax-deferred. But at age seventy and a half, the party comes to a bit of an end. At that point, you will be forced to start making withdrawals in what are called Required Minimum Distributions, or, RMDs. So, why does that mean not having a tax bill early in retirement is a big red flag? The answer is a bit complicated. Watch “Taxes in Retirement-Avoiding the Tax Time Bomb” to learn more.
Investing! Be the Casino, Not a Gambler
What if I told you, you could help your 16-year-old child save enough money in two years to potentially have close to fifty-thousand dollars, tax-free, when they retire. And it would cost you about what you are paying for their cell-phone. Is that a lesson worth teaching?
If you would like to teach your children about money and saving, Jeff tells you a way that a relatively small amount of money now could give them a start towards tens of thousands of dollars for their retirement. Click the image above to see “Teaching Your Child to Save-The Parent Sponsored 401(k)” video content.
Playing Defense! The Role of Insurance in Your Financial Plan
Gambling is gambling whether it takes place in a casino…or at a brokerage house. So how can you tell if you are investing…or just gambling? Gambling has one set of principles that it follows, whereas investing has a different set of principles entirely. Principles that are much more akin to the way a casino operates than that of the casino’s customers. Watch “Investing! Be the Casino!...not a Gambler” to get an idea of where your investment philosophy falls.
Financial Planning 101: Avoiding Bad Advice
Vince Lombardi once said, “the best defense, is a good offense.” Well, that may be true in football, but, in financial planning, the best defense…is defense. In a financial plan, some set-backs have the potential to be so catastrophic that, recovering from them on one’s own, might be next to impossible. So how do we deal with these? The potentially catastrophic risks? Well, in a word, this is most likely a time for the application of insurance.
Watch “Playing Defense: The Role of Insurance in Your Financial Plan” to hear Jeff’s thoughts on making sure you have proper risk protection incorporated into your plan.
529 Plans & College Savings!
In today’s vlog, Jeff speaks on how to avoid bad advice. Or, maybe, more positively stated: how to insure you are being advised well. In this video, Jeff distills his advice into just two principals: 1) choosing a planner or advisor who is competent, and 2) choosing a planner who is unbiased. To hear Jeff’s thoughts on seeing to it that you are advised well, watch the “Financial Planning 101-How To Avoid Bad Advice” video content.
Should You Buy Real Estate?
In this video, Jeff is talking about 529 College Savings Plans and what he calls: the Good, the Bad, and the sometimes Ugly. 529 Plans have a little of each!
With a 529 College Savings Plan you make contributions with after-tax dollars. However, when you go to withdraw these funds, you will owe no taxes on the gains that your savings have produced, provided that those funds are used to pay for qualified education expenses. That’s a good deal! Furthermore, as of 2018, these funds are no longer restricted to exclusively higher education expenses. Now 529 assets can also be used for private education at the primary or secondary level.
Watch “529 Plans and College Savings!” to learn more about whether a 529 Plan might be right for you!
What Every Millennial Should Know! AKA, The Time Value of Money
So, here’s a question: should you consider direct investment in real estate? Possibly, purchasing a house and then using the rental income to pay off the mortgage that you used to finance the purchase. Certainly, the idea of adding real estate to your investment portfolio has merit. Real estate is a distinctly different asset class. It has different characteristics than other common investment options such as, stocks or bonds. Adding that diversity to your portfolio might be a good idea. However, this question goes a bit beyond that. Here one is asking: should I consider direct investment in real estate? Purchasing an individual piece of property and taking on all the risks and responsibilities that go along with being a property owner. Watch “Should You Purchase Real Estate” to get Jeff’s thoughts on real estate as an investment.
Roth Savings! To Roth or not to Roth: that is the question...
Something that young people far too often waste is that which is among the most powerful wealth generating investment tools, possibly the most powerful investment tool, and it is a something that they have in greater abundance than anybody else. It’s not a stock, it is not a tax strategy or a particular type of retirement account, it is simply the wealth compounding power of: time. In this video Jeff goes through a case study; a scenario in which two friends each begin a savings and investment strategy, and shows the investment compounding power of time on their accounts.
Budgets! 5 Reasons Why They Fail ...And Ways To Fix Them!
In 1997, there came an alternative to traditional, tax-deferred savings. Named after the late senator from Delaware, the Roth IRA, and, some years later its close cousin, the Roth 401(k), was born. With this type of account, things work quite a bit differently. There is no tax deferral for your contributions to the account; you will bear the full brunt of your current year’s income tax when you make the contribution. However, presuming that you let your money stay in that account for the required length of time, not withdrawing it prior to reaching the age of fifty-nine and a half, you will never pay taxes on that money again. Wow.
So, which is better? Are you better off keeping more of your money now, allowing it to grow and collect investment returns, deferring the taxes until later? Or, would it be better to simply bite that proverbial bullet and pay the tax bill, never having to worry about taxes on that money again? Unfortunately, these are questions that do not have simple answers. Watch “Roth Savings! To Roth or not Roth” now to see which type of savings might be right for you and your retirement savings!
Should You Prepay Your Mortgage?
Budgeting! There are few topics of greater importance to successful financial planning than this one! Some would say, it is the cornerstone. And whether your income is five figures, seven, or anywhere in between, failing to have a firm grip on your cash flow can spell financial disaster. So, why would anybody not make a budget?? Well, budgets can be discouraging! And, like having been on one too many diets that failed, when budgets fail it can be tempting to just give up. However, doing so is about guaranteed to result in your own, personal financial chaos! So, in this video, Jeff suggests another option: five reasons why budgets fail…and ways to fix them!
Link to view the Cash Flow Questionnaire: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/e/2PACX-1vQNFaN6-OW2kT2cP8xkdgaPIjyOug8YdaqPtO2e-KeVQn3QbtBqBolHutGD4jGdhTk2q8G76_sNaQoa/pubhtml
There probably isn’t a month that goes by that I do not get asked the question, should I be prepaying my mortgage? Seeing the interest expense of your mortgage, paying on an accelerated schedule, and reducing that expense, might seem like the obvious thing to do. In this video, Jeff goes through a few scenarios. He compares prepaying your mortgage, versus other options available to you, and looks at the financial consequences of each.