Holding Onto Too Much Cash? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t 

Accumulating a large sum of cash in your bank account can be a good feeling and it might bring you a sense of security and safety. Building up your savings accounts knowing that the cash is sitting there risk-free and easily accessible can give you a sense of comfort. However, this isn’t always the smartest option when it comes to your finances. Sitting on too much cash in a savings account can often hinder your ability to build wealth for retirement and other long range financial goals. In addition, you could actually be losing money due to inflation instead of growing your assets, and here’s why. 

At Sherman Wealth, we often talk about diversifying your portfolio and the importance of long-term market investment in order to increase and grow your money over time. In a recent survey by Personal Capital and Kiplinger Personal Finance within retirees and soon-to-be retirees portfolios, 26% was made up of cash, which tends to be on the conservative side of diversifying and investing. It’s okay to be nervous about market volatility and the natural ups and downs in the stock market; however, holding on to too much cash can actually hurt you in the long run. It’s crucial that you find an equilibrium point between your cash and investments that works with your financial situation and risk comfortability.

So how do you know if you are sitting on too much cash? As mentioned in our previous blogs, you should always have an emergency fund that typically has enough liquid cash to sustain your monthly bills for about 3-6 months. If you have any upcoming large purchases, you should have a separate bucket of funds available to pay for those goals as well. When planning your budget, think about your wants versus your needs, while also taking your cash flow into consideration. Once you have fulfilled these liquid cash buckets, you should then determine your risk tolerance and think about allocating your dollars towards diversified investments that will gain long term returns, such as equities, fixed income and real estate. 

We know choosing the right investments and asset allocation for you can be overwhelming, which is why there are professionals to help in this process. So, if you have questions for us or would like to use our risk tolerance software to help determine where your investment risk comfortability stands, email us at info@shermanwealth.com or schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation here


What to Know About 2021 RMDs

After being waived for 2020, Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs), which are amounts you must take each year from most retirement accounts once you reach a certain age, are happening again in 2021. Make sure you don’t overlook taking these distributions from your retirement account. 

Last year, the RMD age changed to 72 from 70½ and new IRS life expectancy tables are to go into effect next year. Anyone born July 1, 1949, or after can wait until 72 to take their required distributions. 

In a recent CNBC article, they stated “The amount you must withdraw each year is generally determined by dividing the balance of each qualifying account by a “life expectancy factor” as defined by the IRS. And, if you already were taking RMDs before 2020 (you had already reached age 70½),  you would simply resume those distributions this year, using the current life expectancy tables, your age and your account balance at the end of 2020.”

Also included in the RMD data is that if you turned  70½ in the first half of 2019 and planned to take advantage of the April 1, 2020, deadline for taking out the RMD — and did not do it — it must be taken by December 31. That being said, if you turn 72 this year, you have until April 1st 2022 to take your 2021 RMD. 

“There are also withdrawal rules to take into account. For inherited IRAs, 401(k) plans or other qualified retirement accounts, the balance must be entirely withdrawn within 10 years if the owner died after 2019, unless the beneficiary is the spouse or other qualifying individual. The 2019 Secure Act eliminated the ability of many beneficiaries to stretch out distributions across their own lifetime if the original account owner died on Jan. 1, 2020, or later,” according to an article by CNBC. 

The specifics of RMDs can seem complicated, so if you have any questions about whether or not you are eligible or other concerns relating to your required retirement withdrawals, send us an email at info@shermanwealth.com and we are happy to further explain it for you. 

Millennials Top $10 Trillion in Assets for First Time

Despite the pandemic-induced recession of 2020, new data from the Federal Reserve shows that America’s young adults have doubled their assets over the past four years.

According to the Federal Reserve data, this marks the first time the assets millennials have exceeded $10 trillion. 

It is interesting to see the shift in wealth from one generation to the next. The covid-19 pandemic has definitely had a large impact on millennials as there has been a great deal of layoffs amongst this demographic. Overall, “the percentage gains seen by millennials in 2020 far exceed advances by Gen X and the baby boomers, but younger Americans still only hold a small fraction of the wealth of older adults.”

Further, the wealth of many younger Americans could see a rocky future.  A recent survey found that people 40 and younger saw the lowest likelihood of finding a job in the next three months than at any time since 2013. 

While millennials have certainly accomplished a lot when it comes to accumulating assets, there is always room for learning and improvements. Whether you are just starting out and need someone to help you establish a budget or financial plan, or are questioning what to do with any extra cash you may have laying around, book a complimentary 30-minute consultation on our site. 

Are Inflationary Prices Here To Stay?

Have you been feeling the impacts of inflation over the last 6-9 months? As many of us are starting to spend more money again on things we had been accustomed to pre-Covid, you are likely noticing that costs related to dining, travel, gas, and more have been on the rise. Over the last few months, we’ve been talking a great deal about inflation and the impact it is having on us all. 

As you may have been seeing in the headlines of CNBC and The Wall Street Journal, higher prices seem like they are here to stay when it comes to Uber and Lyft, FedEx and UPS, and even the dollar store. Last week we even saw US Crude Oil hitting a record high since 2014, reaching over $80 a barrel. We’re not the only ones talking about it- A CNBC article noted that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen cautioned that inflationary pressures hitting the US economy could last a while. 

As we focus on this data and the likelihood of a longer term inflationary impact, how are you feeling about it? Some of you may be not panicking over the increased dollar here or there, but others are certainly feeling the impacts. What’s important to remember during a time like this is to not get overwhelmed, but to adjust your financial plan and budget. Revisit your wants versus your needs and decide what is a priority for you and your family. Since it now costs more to fill your tank with gas, maybe you can scale back on some of your take-out meals. In the event your spending habits change as a result of inflation, it’s key to align your budget with your cash flows and monthly expenses. If you have questions about how to realign your budget and spending habits with your financial goals and current economic situation, email us at info@shermanwealth.com or schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation here.

The Financial Services Industry Is Evolving

As our world is evolving and industries are becoming more complex, we have found that consumers too are heightening their expectations in terms of products and services received. A recent survey by Spectrem Group found that there is quite a gap between what consumers expect and what they receive in actuality, especially in regards to the financial services industry. 

As you can see from the chart below, financial planning and wealth management were two areas in which consumers found that services expected and services received had the least discrepancy. As a financial advisor, we recognize that the financial services industry is evolving, relationships continue to grow and adapt, and advisors must strive to deliver a holistic service to their clients. 

The chart above shows the client demand for an all-encompassing approach to the financial services industry and the importance of finding an advisor who truly understands the value of a financial plan. At Sherman Wealth, our focus is on helping the whole client, whether it involves setting up a 529 for those with young children, making sure retirement goals can be attained, knowing how to best maximize your 401(k) or creating a monthly budget and thorough financial plan for those just starting out. We are constantly adapting our technology solutions to keep up with the ever changing advancements as well as refining our relationships with clients. If your needs align with our values, please reach out to us at info@shermanwealth.com or schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation here.

Unpacking The Recent Tax Proposal and How it May Affect You with Shawn Donovan

Curious about the recent tax proposal and how it may affect you?  If so, check out our recent podcast or the transcript below as we were joined by special guest Shawn Donovan for a second time to discuss the fine print of the recent proposed tax plan. Shawn Donovan is a CPA and Partner at Turner, Leins, & Gold, LLC.

Shawn is a Partner in the firm’s Maryland office. He has more than 15 years of public accounting experience as a trusted business advisor for his clients. He is experienced in tax preparation, planning and consulting for high net-worth individuals, partnerships and corporations. Specifically he enjoys working with real estate developers, commercial real estate investors, other professional service firms and government contractors. Shawn also has experience in auditing and attestation for small and medium-sized businesses.

Brad Sherman:  Good morning, and welcome to a special edition of Launch [00:00:30] Financial. Ash’s going to take a backseat today, but we are joined again by Shawn Donovan. Shawn, as you know from our early May episode, gave us wonderful primer on the proposed tax changes that the Biden administration had been going over. And, last week right before the September 15th quarterly deadline, they dropped this bomb through the House Ways and Means Committee on some proposed taxes. [00:01:00] And we wanted to bring back Shawn. For those of you who didn’t hear the first episode, go back and take a listen. Shawn joins us today to talk about some of the proposed changes. Shawn, welcome to the show. Welcome back. Great to see you and have you on. What’s new with the Committee?

Shawn Donovan: Good morning, Brad. Great to be back. Now we have some more specific clarity on some things that we thought may happen from the Biden proposal when he was running for President. Now we’re getting some [00:01:30] more clarity and more specifics about what’s going to be changing.

Brad Sherman: Great. For those small group that don’t know who you are, why don’t you tell everyone a little bit about yourself, and about the firm and whom you represent?

Shawn Donovan: Right. I’m a partner at one of the CPA firms here in Rockville. It’s Turner, Leins, & Gold. We have a Virginia office and a Maryland office. We handle high net worth individuals, small, medium sized businesses, and [00:02:00] we’re pretty much a full service CPA firm.

Brad Sherman: Great, great. A lot of things to unpack for high net worth individuals, as well as the small to medium sized business owners that we both collectively serve. In full disclosure, Shawn is the accountant to our firm and is a trust advisor, and wanted to make sure that he could share his guidance and wisdom with the audience.

[00:02:30] Where would you like to start? I know we talked before we recorded about some highlights for the two of us. Why don’t you start first with something that sticks out at you for folks to be thinking about in this new tax proposal?

Shawn Donovan: I think the thing that’s been really the headliner, the one everyone’s been concerned about is the capital gains rates increasing. When Biden was running for office, he’d initially said he wanted to raise it up to 39.6% from where it currently is, if you know, 15 to 20%. 20% if you’re [00:03:00] a high net worth individual making over $430,000 a year. Now, it’s going to be 25% for those households, 400,000 single, 450 married. It’s not quite the huge increase we were expecting. The one key point I noticed was there’s possible transitional rules effective September 13th, 2021. So, there might not be anything you can do about the capital gain at this point if they go back retroactively [00:03:30] to September 13th. We’ll just keep an eye on that one going forward. Hopefully, they allow all of 2021 to be under the old rules, but, we’re kind of at the mercy of their decision with regards to that.

Brad Sherman: Yeah. September 13th, I saw Twitter was exploding with highlighted numbers of the bill itself. September 13th was when this came out, so I guess pros and cons to everything. The pro is that it’s not retroactive to January [00:04:00] 1st of 2021.

Shawn Donovan:  Yeah.

Brad Sherman:  So, if you did have a capital gain event before September 13th, I guess you’re okay. From a planning perspective, really hard if you were in the middle of a transaction. Again, this is just a proposal, hard to believe that it’s going to pass as it stands. But it could, and definitely something to be mindful of after September 13th capital gain.

Shawn Donovan:  Absolutely.

Brad Sherman:   If you’re in the middle of a transaction [00:04:30] or wanting to sell some appreciated stock, not anything to plan for at least in the current bill as it’s written. But, definitely not fully retroactive to 2021, which there was rumblings of as well.

You brought up an interesting point. I think the definition that we talked about as we’ve had some clients who live in big cities and the definition of high net worth seems to be changing under this administration. I think one of the [00:05:00] big numbers that we’re seeing is $400,000 for single, 450 married filing jointly, which is a much lower number than the world was utilizing under the 2018 and prior.

Looking at these proposed income tax, capital gains 25% over 400,000. That’s basically a 10% reduction in income from the initial higher [00:05:30] end of the bracket, which as Shawn mentioned was 20, plus of course the Obamacare surcharge. And married filing jointly goes down another 10%, from 501 to about 450 there. Those are the new numbers of high net worth, which I know that some folks would argue can’t really get you much in high rent in high cost areas of living, such as the DC Metro area and New [00:06:00] York and California, and of course other major metropolitan areas where we’re seeing incomes a little bit higher than that.

Shawn Donovan: It’s for sure going to be an increase for people making in between that 400 to $600,000 married filing joint range. You were basically at different levels of 32 to 35 to 37%. Now once you hit 450 married filing joint, it’s [00:06:30] going to be 39.6% for couples making over 450,000, 400,000 for single. That could be a potentially big tax burden for those people, especially your friends in New York and around this area, the DMV. It’s going to be quite a headache for some tax payers for sure, when you look at the 2021 rates versus what it’s going to be going forward, if this bill passes.

Brad Sherman:  Yeah, another thing that was really surprising to me and serving the [00:07:00] entrepreneurial community also, without making this a political discussion, but it seemed like a lot of the lobbies for Biden were Silicon Valley. One of the things that stuck out at me was the qualified small business stock. Maybe you can go through that for folks, slowly, who don’t know what that is, who may be small business owners or thinking of that as something to consider.

Shawn Donovan: Yeah, there’s a code section 1202 that basically will allow [00:07:30] you to invest in smaller corporations, startups and whatnot. And you get to, based on when you had your investment, you can exclude upwards of 75% to even 100% of your gains on the sale once you actually get out of that company, sell your stock, everything like that.

Now what they’re proposing is, any taxpayer whose AGI exceeds 400,000, or if you are a trust or an estate, you [00:08:00] no longer get that exclusion anymore. I don’t know what that’ll do to the startup industry to investments in these smaller companies, knowing that the investor is going to have to have a tax bill afterwards, once they sell their shares.

Brad Sherman: Yeah. Something definitely to consider. A lot of folks are using this small business stock as ways to plan for not only estate planning purposes, tax planning. To get that deduction, especially [00:08:30] on the sale, is a big deal. I don’t know, maybe the Biden administration wants everyone to push to W-2.

Shawn Donovan:    Right.

Brad Sherman:  We’ll see what happens and how it comes out, but definitely a shot in the foot for people who want to start something, and some of the incentives from a tax perspective to grow an entrepreneurial organization. So, definitely keeping that in mind.

One of the things that’s of interest that we do around this time [00:09:00] of year of course, is Roth conversions. The internet kind of got lit on fire with Peter Thiel’s $5 billion Roth IRA from the donating of the original, I guess, the PayPal seed shares that grew and grew within the Roth. And it looks like legislative powers that be are really coming after some of these loopholes, or whatever you want to call them, backdoor [00:09:30] Roths funding the IRA account, then converting it immediately. Looks like they’re really trying to tackle that, eliminate that. I saw, it was interesting that prohibits Roth convergence for the highest income bracket starting in 2032.

Shawn Donovan:           Right.

Brad Sherman:              So, have some time to plan for that.

Shawn Donovan:           Right.

Brad Sherman:              But then, also eliminate back door Roth as a planning strategy, at least in this proposal, [00:10:00] starting Jan 1, 2022.

Shawn Donovan:           That’s going to be a big deal to some people, for sure.

Brad Sherman:              Urge people as always to take a look at, especially if you’re in that real sweet spot between retirement and claiming Social Security where your marginal bracket rate might be lower from when you were working. So, if you have lower wages due to either a partial year retirement or something else, and you need to fill those [00:10:30] brackets up like we’re talking about, Roth conversions have always been a great strategy for those who are in a lower bracket. But, I think the next three months are going to be full of Roth conversions and people really taking a look at their effective tax rates now, if this bill passes, and what their effective tax rates will be in the future. If you want to speak about some of those changes that you might have seen.

Shawn Donovan:           Yeah, for sure. The Roth conversion’s going to be a great [00:11:00] tool for 2021. Especially if you’re in between that 400 and $630,000 married filing joint, adjusted gross income range, you’re going to be paying 32% to 37% in 2021. Whereas next year, it could be 39.6, or in the future it could be even higher. We don’t know that. Plus, it reduces your future minimum distributions going forward, [00:11:30] required minimum distributions from your IRA. There’s a lot of good to doing Roth conversions.

Last year it was really good because of the removal of the requirement to withdraw from IRA. So, you could almost convert that Roth to replace the income and keep your income smooth throughout from ’19 to ’20. I would again consider doing it for 2021, for sure. As long as you can keep yourself in between the 32 and 37%, even if you’re at 37%, it might be worth considering [00:12:00] for 2021.

Brad Sherman:              Yeah, definitely something to think about for those listening to reach out to your financial advisor or tax professional. Take a look at what your effective tax rate was on your 2020 return. Of course, as Shawn’s mentioning, just to go through, required minimum distributions did change from 70 1/2 to 72. Some folks that are in that retirement age, [00:12:30] that may not have an income distribution from their IRA, might be wanting to take advantage of a conversion. As Shawn says, it does reduce the amount that is required to be taken out. You do pay tax today, so definitely can model out the benefits to that on a case-by-case basis. But, if we are looking at higher tax rates in the future, this could be a huge planning opportunity for a lot of reasons.

[00:13:00] Going back to the Peter Thiel example, they really did come after it hard. It looks like within this bill, eliminating the ability to put company stock and some other things within the IRA, which is an interesting little caveat that I know a lot of folks were potentially buying other things, real estate, some other non-traded instruments within your IRA.

That’s another shot at this. It says, [00:13:30] according to this bill, “Prohibits IRAs from investing in entities in which the owner has a substantial interest, 50% ownership threshold for public companies, 10% for privately held.” We’ll see how that impacts IRA and retirement plans as well.

Shawn Donovan:           The corporate tax rate, that has been a big one in the news that you’ve been hearing about. In 2017, it was reduced from 35% to 21%. That [00:14:00] was a pretty big decrease. I know the Democrats were not a huge fan of that big of an increase for huge C corporations that pay their own taxes. They’re coming up with now 26.5%, which is down from Biden’s original proposal of 28%. Sounds like a compromise was made somewhere. So, 26.5% is the corporate tax rate we’re looking at. It would still be the third highest I believe in the whole world, but much less than it was before at 35% pre- [00:14:30] Trump tax cuts. It’s a little bit of an increase. Not sure how it’ll affect clients of our realm where they’re smaller. You could still use planning to make sure the corporation doesn’t pay any tax at the end of the year by calculating year end bonuses, et cetera. That’s just another thing to keep in mind of the corporate tax rate, it will probably be increasing from 21%.

Brad Sherman:     Got it. Definitely something to really [00:15:00] take a look at there. Just another opportunity to talk about the child tax credit. We’ve been back and forth on that. As some of you know, checks were sent out at some folks that were taking the child tax credit as a deduction on their returns. Just in this new bill, they’ve extended the child tax credit, but also want to make people aware that if you are getting the check and depositing it, you might be in for quite a surprise.

Shawn Donovan:           Right.

Brad Sherman:              [00:15:30] Because that money was previously being deducted off of your return. If you’re doing that, kind of be mindful.

Shawn Donovan:           For sure.

Shawn Donovan:           It was increased a little bit. It went from 2,000 to 3,000, so it won’t be such a huge hit for some. And I know it’s 3,600 for if you have kids under five, so it’s a little bit of a age difference, at five at the end of the year. If your kid turns six, like mine does at the end of December, 2021, you don’t get the 3,600. You [00:16:00] will probably lose a little bit of your credit on your return for 2021, but you’re getting the money up front. So, just keep in mind that your tax bill might be a little bit higher by the time you file 2021. You probably want to reach out to your CPA just to figure out how much higher.

Brad Sherman:              Great tip there. For those crypto folks, the IRS has added also wash sale rules. Not fair that the equity markets are wash sale and then the crypto folks [00:16:30] could do what they want. It looks like some tightening there.

As a reminder for all those that have been investing in whether it’s NFTs, Cryptopunks, Bitcoin, Ethereum, whatever, to be mindful of the tax rules there, and make sure that if you’re operating on Coinbase, PayPal, et cetera, they are sending 1099s to the IRS. So, don’t be in for surprise when tax season comes along there.

Anything else? I [00:17:00] think that this is a really good unpacking of this bill. It looks like we have not done a full phase out of the 199A, which is good. Their elimination of step-up in basis, which was a big deal for wealthy families, seems to be out of this initial proposal. Big, big rumblings on, on salt, and that’s the state and local tax deduction that hit hard. [00:17:30] A lot of the clients in this area, the Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, et cetera, that have higher property taxes. We’ll see what happens there. Again, we could debate the inequality and wealth gap and how to change that, and the views on some of these things that were left out. But, those are the things that were at the top of my list of things that I know people were concerned about from our first conversation in May, that didn’t make it to the bill. [00:18:00] And I think we’ve covered-

Shawn Donovan:           And one more thing to add Brad, the estate exemption. There’s talks about lowering it from 11.7 million to five million, which could affect some people, especially with rising real estate values around the country right now. A lot of estates, a lot of parents that are dying, passing away, their estates might be in between that 5 million to 11 million dollar range now that real estate’s so much higher than it used to be. [00:18:30] So, you might want to keep an eye on that for estate planning purposes as well.

Brad Sherman:              Right. And remember to check with the state laws, because a lot of the state laws are obviously lower than the federal exemption. If you’re doing your state planning and updating that leading up to it.

Shawn Donovan:           Maryland being one of them.

Brad Sherman:              Maryland being one of them, of course, and DC as well. Make sure that you’re working in conjunction with all of your other esteemed [00:19:00] colleagues, whether that’s your estate lawyer, your CPA. If insurance is something that you want to discuss as a way to pay for a bill like this, some folks like to use insurance for that. Not recommending that as a strategy. But, having all of your players on your team understanding what’s in the law, bringing in estate’s tax, and of course financial planning would be the biggest, [00:19:30] but those are all good points.

Someone asked me, we have some New York clients that called right away and they said, well, what do we do? When’s the latest that something like this could pass? And then I was reminded of your horrible Christmas to New Year’s a few years ago when everything changed on a dime for you. We hope to not get you out of your Christmas pajamas to tell us that this has passed, but we hope to have you on again to follow [00:20:00] as this bill progresses through Congress and the changes that may or may not occur.

But I thought that this was a really great primer on what to expect and the changes that folks can think about. And the key takeaways to do between now and the end of the year seems like Roth conversions, and some ways to either through donor-advised funds, which we’ve talked about in the last episode. And of course, check out the episode of Elizabeth Goldstein on donor-advised funds. But it [00:20:30] seems like getting yourself through either charity or other deductions into this 400,000 range if you’re single, and 450 if you’re close on married filing jointly, will save a ton of tax. And might be beneficial to donate a couple thousand bucks just to save even more on tax.

We’ll be looking for individualized ways to help our clients. I know Shawn is always mindful of that as well. We’ll give you the final [00:21:00] word.

Shawn Donovan:           I appreciate it a lot, Brad, for having me on again. And hopefully, we can do it again once we have finalized rules, and we know exactly the type of planning and tips and things that we need to have our clients do for the year 2021 and 2022. A lot of exciting changes though, for sure.

Brad Sherman:              All right. Well, only a CPA would say that these changes are exciting, so that’s good to always have you on. Some of these scare me a little, and [00:21:30] I think what you said, the September 13th hard rule, I think will scare some folks.

Shawn Donovan:           Absolutely.

Brad Sherman:              As they’re in the middle of probably a lot of end-of- the-year transactions and preparation for what was anticipated for 2022. But, we really appreciate you coming on. We value your time and your opinion and advice. And, thank you to the audience for listening. Let us know what you think. Let us know, hit us up privately if there’s a specific issue that you want to [00:22:00] tackle. Or, if you think that this proposal impacts you directly, let us know.

And, as always, be well. Be safe. Hoping for a healthy continued school year. I know everyone on this microphone set is, between Shawn and I. And be well, everybody and we’ll talk to you soon.

Shawn Donovan:           All right. Take care, Brad.

Have Your Finances Changed Since The Pandemic’s Lockdown?

We’ve been talking a lot about budgeting, spending, and saving money, but what we have yet to touch on is how the pandemic has affected these things and how you may be feeling. While everyone’s financial situation differs and the coronavirus pandemic had a different financial impact on just about everyone, take a second to think back to your financial habits when we were in lockdown. 

Were you saving tons of money since you weren’t going out and spending on things such as dining, travel, and clothing? Were your paychecks going right to your savings account and towards other investment vehicles?  We saw an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal regarding a young man who felt he was in the best financial position he has ever been during lockdown. Since he retained his stable income through the unprecedented times, naturally his expenses were lower as there was not nearly as much to do and spend on. Can you relate? If so, has this feeling of financial power and abundance of cash flow changed in the last few months? 

As we head into the last quarter of the year and the world is starting to resume to a sense of normalcy, with many individuals dining and traveling again, are your expenses starting to creep up? Most likely they are. Despite these changes and fluctuating expenses, keep in mind that it’s okay to adjust and find a new balance in your spending. If you feel that you are not able to save as much money as you were, make sure that you take a step back, think about your wants versus your needs and create purpose for each and every bank account you have. Life gets complicated and things change, but adaptability and making a financial plan will help you navigate these changes. If you have any questions about creating a financial budget or plan for your situation, let us know at info@shermanwealth.com or schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation here


Have Young Kids? Why You Should Set Up A 529 Plan

Are you a parent of young children? If so, you may not be thinking about planning for college when you might be dealing with diapers, baseball practice and packing school lunches each day. But, it’s important not to wait too long before putting money aside for your child’s future education. With the cost of college rising each year, it’s hard to imagine what the tuition sticker price will be when your young children are finally old enough for college. So, now is the time to start looking into the option of a 529 savings plan. 

529 plans are a type of investment plan which offer incentives to encourage parents to set aside money by offering tax benefits, such as tax-free earnings and withdrawals for qualified educational expenses. 

Depending on where you live, choosing your state’s 529 plan may offer additional tax benefits, but you can also expand your search to look at other state’s offerings. You should shop around for a plan offering the best investment options and lowest fees so you can maximize your money. 

You can think of a 529 account like a Roth IRA account, but a 529 is for education purposes instead of retirement. You can save money by not paying taxes on your earnings and when you withdraw it for qualified education expenses like tuition and textbooks.

In addition, parents and guardians have the potential of earning more compared to sticking their money in a savings account. While growth isn’t guaranteed, many 529 plans typically have a higher than average rate of return than what you’d find with deposit accounts. 

Another type of 529 plan is the prepaid tuition plan. The difference between this and the 529 college savings plan is that it allows account holders to purchase credits or “units” at participating educational institutions that can be applied in the future toward tuition and fees for their child. While you can prepay for tuition, these plans don’t typically cover future room-and-board costs, which is an expense covered by a 529 plan. 

The main benefit of a prepaid tuition plan is that you have the potential to save on tuition, since you’re paying today’s price for future tuition. However, if your child doesn’t attend a specific school (typically public and in-state participating colleges), you may lose part or all of your money. Even if you’re able to transfer some or all of your funds to another participating institution, the value may go down. 

When it comes to selecting a 529 plan, you should look into whether your state offers any tax advantages. Before opting for your state plan, check to see if there’s any special tax incentives and whether the advantages outweigh any drawbacks, like high fees or poor fund performance.

If your child doesn’t end up going to college or you don’t end up needing all your 529 savings to cover their education expenses, you have a few options. First, you can transfer whatever is left in the 529 plan to another child, eligible dependent or use it yourself for qualified educational needs. To do so, simply change the beneficiary on the account — your 529 plan provider will have instructions on how to. Otherwise, you can withdraw the cash, though you’ll pay a 10% penalty, plus any income taxes you may incur. You can also roll it over to a family member’s ABLE account without incurring any penalties. These tax-advantaged accounts are for people who were disabled and received Social Security insurance benefits before turning 26.

A 529 plan is a great idea for parents who place importance on a college education and want to save money when making financial contributions. The benefits seem like a no brainer! So, even if you think your children are many years away from college, it’s never too late to start thinking about how you are going to pay for it. If you have any questions about setting up a 529 plan, please reach out to us at info@shermanwealth.com or schedule a 30-minute complimentary intro-call here -we are here to help!


Fall College Action Plan

Is your child a senior in high school this year? If so, you are likely in the throes of the college planning process. While this process is usually quite overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be too stressful if you plan accordingly. Here are some helpful tips to help you understand what you and your child should be doing this fall to be prepared for the college application process.

Encourage your child to meet with their school counselor. The counselor will help your child work on and submit their applications and make sure they are hitting the most important points they need to. Most high schools will have colleges visiting each week over the next few months so make your child takes advantage of these opportunities. Next, create a college calendar. This calendar should include application deadlines and other crucial dates.  

If your child hasn’t already taken their college admission test(s), make sure they are signed up to take them in the fall.  Many seniors also retake college admission tests at this time to improve on a previous score. In addition, make sure to check out whether the colleges your child may be interested in are “test optional” since many colleges no longer require tests for admission.

If your child is applying to and thinking about scholarship opportunities, they should reach out to the school counselor. Typically these can be found online, but the school counselor should have the most in depth information and can help the students submit these applications. In addition to school scholarships, if your child is applying for financial aid, remember to fill out the FAFSA beginning October 1. If applicable, also make sure your child completes the CSS/Financial Aid Profile, if required. 

Encourage your child to set up college interviews. These interviews will help your child get prepared and learn more about their desired schools. Each school has its own interview process, so have your child check out the individual school information on their websites.

Senior year is a big year for your child as they balance schoolwork, extracurricular activities and the college application process. The guidance listed above will give you and your child the necessary preparation to start applying to colleges over the next few months. If you need any additional help or information about the college financial aid process, be sure to reach out to us at info@shermanwealth.com and we can point you in the right direction. 

If you have younger children and aren’t quite in the college planning process just yet, you can at least make sure you’ll be financially prepared for when they do head off to college by starting a 529 plan. We’ll talk more about this in our next blog. 

Understanding The True Value Of A Financial Plan

In our previous blog we discussed the importance of having a diversified portfolio in terms of having a solid emergency fund while also investing and not sitting on too much cash. It’s often hard to see the whole scope of your financial picture on your own, which is why we want to discuss the value of establishing a financial plan. 

Whether you work with a financial professional or build a financial plan on your own, having all your finances in one place with a strategic plan and goals in mind is crucial. Financial literacy in this country is lacking, so it’s extremely important to educate individuals on the true value of financial planning. Financial planning isn’t as daunting and scary as you might think – it’s actually quite a seamless process that allows you to organize yourself and set you and your family up for financial success in the future. 

As mentioned in the previous blog, we know many people sit on too much cash that is not growing as inflation rises, while others find themselves with too little cash when an emergency pops up. It’s okay not to know what to do with your money, but it’s important to seek advice or ask for help. A solid financial plan can help you separate your needs from your wants and create a budget that allows you to put your money into “buckets” – one for saving, one for investing and one for spending. 

Many people think they are in a good financial situation if they can simply pay their monthly bills and have some money in a savings account; however, oftentimes, this mindset won’t allow you to reach your financial dreams. While this isn’t necessarily a bad position to be in, creating a financial plan can help you learn some different ways to grow your money and how to save for retirement. 

At Sherman Wealth, we say that life is complicated, but your finances don’t have to be. We have designed a customized and comprehensive financial plan system that helps you see your whole financial picture and makes sure you don’t forget about things such as investing, employee benefits, and more. Encourage your friends and family to start thinking about their personal finance and empower them to seek help to better their financial future. If you have any questions or would like to demo our financial planning software, email us at info@shermanwealth.com or schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation here