Want to Get More “Financially Fit” in 2018? Set Savings Goals Now

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One of the most important elements of a good financial plan is regular saving. Unfortunately, it is one of the biggest stumbling blocks as well, with 57% of Americans reporting they had less than $1000 in savings in a 2017 survey. To make matters worse, 1 in 3 American has no retirement account, and only 1 in 4 Americans has over $100,000 in their retirement account.

These are concerning figures, particularly now. As interest rates keep rising – short term treasuries at their highest in nine years – and the market continues its climbing streak, you’re missing out if you are not putting savings to work for you.

Why aren’t more people saving when, according to a recent you.gov survey, “saving more money” was the 4th most popular New Year’s resolution for 2018?

One factor our clients have cited that kept them from saving in the past is discouragement due to past failures. The solution is to make sure your goals are SMART goals: goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and linked to a Timetable.

It is important to set Specific and Relevant immediate, short, and long-term savings goals that you can visualize – like a beach vacation, a bigger home, or a child’s graduation ceremony. Tying savings goals to images that align with your life and your values can make them more emotionally compelling and easier to keep in mind.

Equally critical is to make your goals Measurable and set a Timetable: how much you are planning to save each month, or by a certain date. Don’t set figures or dates that are impossible; make sure they are Attainable as well.

Just like physical fitness, financial fitness is best achieved by setting specific, achievable, and measurable goals. A defined goal, whether it’s “save 5% of each paycheck” or “add extra hours to save for a vacation,” gives you a much better shot at success rather than a simple “I should be saving more.”

A huge part of good financial planning is goal setting. A good financial planner can help you calculate the long-term benefits of saving more and on a regular sustainable basis. It’s particularly important that your financial planner is a fee-only Fiduciary: that means there will be no “additional charges” or investment recommendations with commissions for the broker that could throw off your savings calculations.

And if you’d like help defining financial goals and evaluating whether you are saving enough to achieve them, please feel free to contact me for a free introductory call. We are always on call to help you realize your highest financial potential.

How to Make “Cents” of the Changes to 529 Plans

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Are you saving for your child’s education with a 529 account?

If you are already contributing to a 529 plan, reduced deductions in the new 2018 tax law mean you may want to increase your contributions – or even create a second 529 account – to offset higher state taxes.

If you haven’t yet opened a 529 account, this year’s important changes in tax and 529 regulations have made 529 accounts an even more valuable option for parents of school-aged or college-aged children.

Here are the changes and why contributing to a 529 account is more important than ever:

K-12 Tuition is Now Covered by 529 Plans

529 plans were originally created to let you to save and invest for your child’s college education – while paying no federal tax on qualified withdrawals. The good news is that benefit has now been expanded: you’ll be able to withdraw up to $10,000 per year per student for elementary, middle, and high school tuition if your child attends or will attend a private or religious school. And, if you’ve already been saving for K-12 with a Coverdell ESA, you can also rollover that account to a 529 plan without tax consequences.

Saving by Off-Setting State Taxes

The new 2018 tax law limits deductions for your state income and property taxes to $10,000, so you might find yourself paying more state tax this year. But if you live in one of the 34 states that offers a state tax deduction for contributions to a 529 plan, you can lower your state taxes by contributing more to your 529. In most states you have to be enrolled in one of that state’s own plans to take the deduction, but several allow you to deduct contributions from any state plan. And, if you live in one of the several states whose 529 plans include state tax credits, you could also find yourself paying considerably less.

Turbo Charging the Benefits for Younger Children

529 plans allow “front-loading,” a term for making up to five years of contributions at once. This not only allows you to “catch up” for a child already in elementary or secondary school, it also allows you to maximize state tax deductions or credits. And anyone can make contributions to your child’s 529 plan. Friends and relatives can each contribute up to $15,000 per recipient, they can also “front-load” up to five years of contributions as well, maximizing their own tax savings. Additionally, if they make direct payments to services provided for beneficiaries’ tuition or medical expenses, these expenses would be tax-free, even though the costs surpass the annual gift tax exclusion.

New Benefits for Special Needs Students

The new tax law allows assets in 529 accounts to be transferred to ABLE accounts without any penalties as long as they are transferred by 2025. ABLE plans – named for the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act – are designed to provide tax-favored savings for people with disabilities without limiting their access to benefits such as Medicaid, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The annual contribution cap for ABLE plans is $15,000 and an account can reach $100,000 without affecting SSI benefits. You can also make tax-free withdrawals when paying for expenses such as housing, legal fees and employment trainings.

Plans Can Be Transferred to Another Child

If you no longer need the account for the child it was created for, you can change the plan’s beneficiary to another family member, saving you the income tax on 529 earnings and 10% federal penalty you pay if you withdraw money for non-educational purposes.

The Bottom Line

Every parent – and grandparent – should consider opening one or more 529 accounts for their children’s education. There is no limit to the number of plans you can contribute to, or the number of accounts that can be opened for any child, so study up to determine which plans make the most sense for you. But remember: each state’s rules are different so – like your kids – you’ll want to do your homework.

Then, as with all smart savings plans, contribute on a regular basis over time, through market ups and downs, to benefit from dollar cost averaging and watch your interest compound – and your child’s educational opportunities grow.

 

For how the new tax law affects the “Kiddie Tax” for Uniform Gifts and Transfers to Minors (UGMAs and UTMAs) please click here.

At Sherman Wealth Management we’re passionate about children’s education so please give us a call if you have any questions about your state’s 529 options.

A version of this article initially appeared on Investopedia.com

 

 

The “Kiddie Tax” is Changing: What You Need to Know Now

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Saving on taxes, while saving for your child or grandchild’s college education, just got a little trickier thanks to important changes in the “Kiddie Tax”.

The tax bill that was signed into law in December made some significant changes to how Uniform Gifts to Minors Accounts (UGMAs) and Uniform Transfers to Minors Accounts (UTMAs) are taxed.

What is the “Kiddie Tax”?

“The “Kiddie Tax” was first established in 1986 to keep parents from shielding income by placing investment accounts in the names of their children, who typically are in lower income tax brackets,” explains CPA Joshua Harris of Santos, Postal & Company. “The initial Kiddie Tax rules expired when a child turned 14. In 2008, this threshold increased to cover children through age 18 and full time students through age 23.”

How were Uniform Gifts and Transfers Taxed?

UGMAs and UTMAs have been a popular way to save money in a child’s or grandchild’s name precisely because of their significant tax advantages. A portion of the money earned – the first $1,050 of the child’s investment income (including interest, dividends and capital gains distributions) has been tax-free; the next $1,050 has taxed at the child’s rate; and investment income above $2,100 was taxed at the parent’s or grandparent’s “marginal” tax rate, ie the highest rate applied to the last dollar earned.

How is it Changing?

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made an important change to this graduated “Kiddie Tax.”

Instead of a child’s investment income above $2,100 being taxed at the parent or grandparent’s individual tax rate, it will be taxed at the 2018 trust and estate tax rates:

 

Investment Income Trust & Estate Tax Rate
Up to $2,550 10%
$2,551-$9,150 24%
$9,151-$12,500 35%
Over $12,500 37%

Will You Pay More or Less?

How much you will pay depends on the amount of investment income and your own marginal tax bracket. As a rule of thumb, the more you have the more you may be taxed this year.

While the Tax Code changed with this law, it unfortunately did not get simpler. And one alternative, if your rates are going up, may be to consider rolling the UTMA or UGMA into a 529 plan. Because of the complexity, it’s a good idea to speak with your Financial Planner about how the new law affects you, and what your best alternatives are now among the wide array of educational savings plans.

 

Please give us a call if you’d like to schedule a free consultation.

Saving for College and Wondering about Your Options?

Start saving early for college

For many parents, the Spring months are full of happy news, as high school seniors announce their college choices. For parents of younger children, however, those happy announcements may make them wonder if they are being savvy about starting to save for college.

One thing any parent will tell you is that time flies. Before you know it, your toddler will be taking the SATs. And one thing any financial advisor will tell you is that the earlier you start any savings plan, the better off you’ll be (although any time is better than no time.)

Not all college savings plans are created equal

The good news is that more parents than ever are already saving, including an impressive 65% of young millennial parents, according to Sallie Mae’s 2016 report How America Saves for College.

Unfortunately, 61% of the parents surveyed said they are putting their savings in regular savings accounts, and a whopping 44% of all money saved is held in savings & checking accounts, CDs, savings bonds and other low-yielding instruments. And too many of the non-savers are hoping that earnings from their own investments or savings will cover college.

So what are the best ways to save for your child’s education?

Better Ways to Save – 529s, ESAs, and UTMAs

With the availability of excellent plans with significant tax benefits and the potential for compound interest gains, why are so few parents taking advantage of them? One reason may be that the various plans, while excellent, are not always easy to understand. Even the alphabet soup of names is daunting when you’re also worried about packing lunches, soccer practice, and missing work for parent teacher conferences.

Here’s a simplified look at the top plans:

529 Plans

While 529 plans have been around since 1996, they still seem to be a well-kept secret, with only 22% of college savings invested in these portfolios of investment funds (here too, savvy Millennials are leading the charge with 44% planning to take advantage of 529 plans, while Gen X and Baby Boomer parents trail at 36% and 23%.)

529 plans are offered by each of the 50 states and allow you deposit post-tax money that grows and compounds tax-free. While you can invest in any state’s plan, investing in your own state’s plan may offer state income tax deductions in addition to the federal tax break for earnings.

Advantages: Anyone can create a 529 account (including the future student) and anyone can add up to $14,000 per year to the account (or $28,000 if married) without paying a federal gift tax. Up to a total of $400,000 can be invested in a 529 plan account per beneficiary (each state sets its own limits) and for most plans there is no age restriction for the beneficiary. They also allow withdrawals to pay for educational supplies such as computers and books, and the account owner can change the beneficiary to another eligible family member if the funds aren’t used.

Potential drawbacks: when you invest in a state plan, you do not control the financial decisions. Instead, you invest in the portfolio of funds offered by the plan. So shop around for the state plan you feel most comfortable with and that best matches your risk tolerance (a good Fiduciary Financial Advisor can help you evaluate the choices.)

Coverdell Educational Savings Accounts (ESAs)

ESA accounts are similar to a 529 plan in that you contribute post-tax money then growth in value is tax-free. Unlike 529 plans, however, you are free to invest the money as you please.

Advantages: You control the investments in the account and, like 529 plans, can use the funds to pay for educational supplies such as computers and books. You can also use ESA funds to pay for K-12 costs if your child goes to a private school. Any funds not used, may be rolled, tax-free, into the ESA of another family member.

Potential drawbacks: Contributions are capped at $2000 per year per beneficiary and must come from contributors whose adjusted gross income for that year is less than $110,000 (or $220,000 for individuals filing joint returns) so this option is not available to higher income contributors. The beneficiary must be under 18 when it the ESA is created and funded, and the funds must be used by age 30 or be subject to federal tax and a 10% penalty.

UGMA/UTMA Custodial Accounts

The UGMA (Uniform Gift to Minors Act) and UTMA (Uniform Transfer to Minors Act) allow larger gifts to be made to minors, while still qualifying for gift tax exclusion. They allow a parent or grandparent to reduce their estate for tax purposes with greater flexibility in how the money is invested than a 529 offers.

Advantages: Custodial accounts have the greatest flexibility. You can contribute as much as you want, invest it as you please, and – while 529 accounts and ESAs are exclusively intended for education expenses – funds in a custodial accounts can be used for any purpose.

Potential drawbacks: Unlike 529 plans and ESAs, the earnings are not tax-free. And, while custodian controls how the funds are used while the student is a minor, after the student turns 21 (or 18 in some states,) control is transferred to the student. Another important consideration for both taxes and financial aid applications is that custodial accounts are considered the child’s assets and the income they produce (over $1,050 and up to $2,100) will be taxed as income to the child, then any earnings beyond that are taxed at your rate.

Prepaid tuition plans

If you live in a state with excellent state schools, prepaid tuition plans may be a smart solution for you. Administered by the individual states, these investment accounts allow you to pay for – or contribute to – your child’s future state school tuition at today’s rates.

Advantages: Paying now is a great hedge against rising college costs and the increase in value is not taxed.

Potential drawbacks: The funds can only be used at state schools and do not cover room and board.

Get a head start on your child’s financial education too

Once you’ve chose the plan – or combination – that makes the most sense for you, it’s a smart idea to share your investment plan with your child, as soon as they’re old enough to understand. If you get them started early understanding the power of planning, saving, and compound interest, they’ll already have an A+ in financial literacy when they get into the college of their dreams.

 

This post originally appeared on Investopedia.

The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.

Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.

 

 

6 Questions to Ask A Financial Advisor

6 Questions for Financial Advisor

Finding a financial advisor who is right for you is an important process. A good financial advisor is there to prevent you from making decisions that would have a negative, unintended impact on you. Who wouldn’t love to have a financial coach to keep you on track to achieve your financial goals?

Just like with any working relationship, it’s a good idea to interview advisors until you find the one who is the best fit for you, your life, and your financial goals. Since you are entrusting your financial well-being to someone, you should get to know them and their financial planning and investing philosophy before committing to a long-term relationship.

As you may have heard the Department of Labor (DOL) has just released its new fiduciary rule in its final form. We previously wrote about the reasons why someone would oppose this rule considering it was created to improve financial transparency and eliminate conflicted advice from advisors. While this rule would still allow advisors to keep their “conflicted” commissions in some instances, it would require advisors to act as fiduciaries (a.k.a. “best interests contract”) when handling client’s retirement accounts.

We have long been proponents of more transparency and conflict-free advice and feel this is a step in the right direction.

So how does this affect your search for the right financial advisor? Here are 6 questions to ask to help with finding a financial advisor.

1. Are You a Fiduciary? (Are You ALWAYS a Fiduciary?)

As we mentioned earlier, this new rule will only require financial advisors to act as a fiduciary for client’s retirement accounts. A fiduciary is regulated by federal law and must adhere to strict standards. They must act in the client’s best interest, in good faith, and they must provide full disclosure regarding fees, compensation, and any current or potential conflicts of interest.

Until now, broker-dealers, insurance salesman, bank and financial company representatives, and others were only required to follow a Suitability Standard. That means they only had to provide recommendations that are “suitable” for a client – based on age or aversion to risk for example – but this may or may not be in that client’s best interest.

The brokerage industry, as you can probably imagine, and all those who earn their compensation from commissions are strongly against these new rules.

Even with this new law passed, we feel it is important to make sure your advisor is acting as a fiduciary when dealing with ANY of your finances, not just retirement accounts.

 

2. What is Your Fee Structure? (Difference Between Fee-Only, Fee-Based and Commission)

Advisors throw out terms like “fee-based” and consumers assume that is the same as
“fee-only.” That is not the case. At Sherman Wealth Management, we are fee-only which means that we are paid exclusively by our clients, so we are completely conflict-free. We do not get commissions from the investments or products we recommend. We do not get bonuses based on how many clients we get to invest in company products. We are paid an hourly or quarterly fee by our clients who retain us because we are making their money work for them with only their best interest in mind.

Think of it this way: would you want to work with an accountant who also gets commissions from the IRS? Of course not. You want your accountant to represent your best interests. Would you go to a doctor who makes money each time he prescribes penicillin? No, you want your doctor to prescribe what is right for you.

Do not assume that an advisor is following a fiduciary standard with their compensation now. The new rules will not be enforced until 2018. Ask your financial advisor to clearly specify their fees. With many layers of diversification that can be applied to your portfolio, you want to be aware of whether you are exposed to up-front charges, back-end fees, expense ratios, and/or whether a percentage of your returns will be deducted.

 

3. Why Are They Right for YOU?

A financial advisor should be able to tell you their strengths and what sets them apart. Some advisors will advise on investments while others specialize in comprehensive financial planning. While you may think all advisors are the same, and it certainly may seem like that on the surface, by now you should be seeing that is not the case.

Ask how involved they are with their client’s portfolios. Are they hands-on in their approach? How available are they for their clients’ needs?

For us, we enjoy serving a wide-range of clients, from young first-timers who are just getting started with investing and financial planning, to experienced savers, to high-net-worth investors who are well on their way to financial independence.

We strive to understand our clients wants and needs. We help our clients plan for the long term while simultaneously working to avoid short-term roadblocks. We do so by making it a point to SHOW you that you are not alone. We’re just like you, we’ve been there, and we know that financial planning can be an anxiety provoking activity for many. We use a fluid process to help set clear, realistic goals with an easy to understand roadmap of what you need to do to get there. We are right there with you every step of the way.

In today’s world you don’t just want a trusted advisor, you want instant access to your accounts and the progress you are making. That is why we offer some of the best in new financial services technology tools.

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The relationship with your financial advisor is an important one. You need to feel comfortable with whom you are working with.

 

4. What is Your Investment Philosophy?

Every financial advisor has a specific approach to planning and investing. Some advisors prefer trying to time the market and actively manage funds versus passive investments. Others may seek to gain high returns and make riskier investments. Your goals and risk tolerance need to align with the advisor’s philosophy.

When anyone invests money, they are doing so with the hopes of growing it faster than inflation. While some traditional investment managers not only want to generate a profitable return, they aim to beat the market by taking advantage of pricing discrepancies and attempting to time the market and predict the future. Some investment companies offer “one-size-fits-all” investment management solutions that only take into account your age and income.

We have a different approach. We believe an individuals best chance at building wealth through the capital markets is to avoid common behavioral biases in the beginning and utilize a well thought out, disciplined, and long-term approach to investing. We create a well diversified, customized portfolio that focuses on tax efficiency, cost effectiveness, and risk management. Read more about how we do this.

Make it a top priority to understand the strategy your advisor uses and that you are comfortable with it.

 

5. How Personalized Are Your Recommendations for Your Clients?

It is important that your financial advisor tailors your financial plan to your specific goals. Your retirement plan and investment strategy should be customized to take into account your risk tolerance, age, income, net-worth, and other factors specific to your situation. There should not be a one-size-fits-all approach to managing your money.

Some traditional brokers and insurance companies are so big that it becomes impossible for them to give you a truly individualized experience. They have a corporate agenda that they must follow and it can restrict the service they provide to you.

As frustrating as the requirement for a high minimum balance is for first-time investors, it has also inspired a new breed of smaller independent Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs), like Sherman Wealth Management. What our clients all have in common is that they appreciate the focus on their own individual goals and best interests that we guarantee as a boutique, independent, fee-only fiduciary.

We know that each client is unique.  We don’t look for “market efficiencies” or work for sales commissions on the products we recommend. Our focus is different. We strive to help investors build a strong foundation and grow with them, not by profiting off good or bad trades. This gives us the opportunity to create individual strategies and plans that are uniquely suited to each client, not just a cookie-cutter plan based on age, income, or broadly assessed risk tolerance.

 

6. Do You Have Any Asset or Revenue Minimums?

Some have argued that the proposed DOL rule will end up hurting the small investor because larger institutions will not be willing to serve small accounts. This logic is fundamentally backward and flawed, as those clients were never on their radar to begin with. In fact, the ability for these large institutions to generate commissions and thus charge more to these small investor clients have driven that business, without regard to the best interests of the individual investor.

For example, In a company statement quoted by Janet Levaux in Think Advisor, Wells Fargo, the most valuable financial institution in the world according to the Wall Street Journal, said that in 2016, “bonuses will be awarded to FAs with 75% of their client households at $250,000.”

Wells Fargo isn’t the only large institution effectively ignoring Millennials and other smaller and entry-level clients. Most of the corporate institutions prefer high-net-worth clients because it creates “efficiencies of scale” and a higher profit margin on larger trades.

The complaints against the new DOL rule have nothing to do with protecting the little guy. Rather, the complaints are driven by the desire of commission-based large institutions, insurance companies, and broker-dealers who are trying to protect their ability to generate commissions and charge clients unnecessary fees.

Make sure you understand your advisor’s motivations. If they don’t want you, why should you want them?

***

The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.
Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.
If you have any questions regarding this Blog Post, please Contact Us.

5 Important Planning Tips for New Parents

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Expecting a visit from the stork soon or has it already dropped off a new bundle of joy? If so, you know the full range of emotions that come with a growing family. Along with the love and excitement you feel with a new baby boy or girl, comes the pressure of new responsibilities and additional financial obligations.

Babies change your life in many ways, including requiring large amounts of time and money. While you may already be thinking about childcare costs and options, or about paying the medical bills that accompanied your new child, there are several other – important – financial considerations you should be thinking about even before the new baby arrives.

Evaluate Financial Priorities. It’s important to consider both short-term and long-term expenses that come with the addition of a new family member. It is a natural impulse, for instance, to want to put your child first and redirect retirement savings into college savings. But remember, you can borrow for college but you cannot borrow your way through retirement. It’s also important to balance long-term goals, like retirement and college expenses, with current financial needs, to help you allocate resources in an appropriate way.

Update Insurance Needs and Your Will. With the expansion of your family, insurance needs can change significantly. Having enough insurance is important in feeling confident about your family’s financial future. Adding your child to your health insurance policy can usually be done with a phone call. Making sure you have enough life insurance for both parents can help ensure you have the funds to raise your child if the unthinkable happens. Short-term disability insurance provides benefits if you have an accident that takes you out of work temporarily. Long-term disability insurance is critical in case a major accident has a permanent impact on your ability to work and earn. While some companies offer disability insurance, it can also be purchased independently.

Updating your will or creating a trust can provide care instructions for your child and allocate resources for their upbringing. Without a will or trust, if you and your spouse die, the state will decide who will raise your children. A will establishes your wishes for who will care for your child. A trust can direct funds specifically earmarked for raising your children and can be an effective way to cover financial expenses and provide for college expenses.

Start Planning For College Early. The sooner you start the better. While it is impossible to know exactly how much you’ll need to save – given that you don’t know what kind of college your child will choose – consider that in 2013-2014 the cost of a moderate in-state public university was $22,826 per academic year and the cost of a “moderate” private university averaged $44,750, according to a College Board survey. ¹

For new parents this means that college could cost over $100,000 for a public college and more than double that number for private school. Instead of trying to fund the entire cost of their education, determine how much you want to contribute. Having children be responsible for a part of their education is often a good lesson in work ethic, even if you can afford to pay for everything, and a critical life lesson if you can’t.

Keep Spending and Debt under Control. When you have an adorable child it’s very easy to overspend. You want them to have the best of everything. Setting a budget and sticking with that can help you keep your spending in line with your established budget. This can also help you maintain the discipline needed to continue contributions to long-term financial goals like retirement and their college education. And remember, the best gift you can give your children – your time and attention – is free.

Another important consideration is debt. When you carry debt, you are paying today for yesterday’s bills. Investing potentially allows you to pay today for tomorrow’s bills. By keeping yesterday’s bills settled and debt to a minimum, you lay the foundations for having enough to enjoy today with your children and plan for tomorrow.

Teach Children About Finances At An Early Age. Finances are a part of our daily lives. When you involve children early on they gain an appreciation for what things cost and how to choose what we want and what we can live without. As soon as your child old enough, start helping save their pennies for something they really want, and teach them that work is part of the process of earning money. These skills, if taught early, can lead to a lifetime of responsible money management.

Parenting is an amazing adventure that changes the way you see yourself and the world. Keeping an eye on finances can provide you with the confidence you need to not only enjoy your growing family but help lay the foundations for a stronger future.

 

¹ http://www.collegedata.com/cs/content/content_payarticle_tmpl.jhtml?articleId=10064

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It’s National 529 Day!

National 529 Day

Friday, May 29 is “National 529 College Savings Plan Day,” to raise awareness about the benefits of college savings plans.

Surprisingly, nearly 70% of Americans are unsure of exactly what types of college savings plans are available. Are you one of them?

If you have children, a college savings plan should be considered as an important part of a diversified long-term savings plan!

With all 50 states and the District of Columbia offering at least one type of college savings plan, many states also offer state tax favored treatment of contributions to those who use their state’s plan. And, in honor of National 529 Day, many states are having promotional offers.

Don’t procrastinate when it comes to your child’s future. Sherman Wealth Management can offer further information and detailed explanations with regards to opening and contributing to a diversified college savings plan. With Sherman Wealth Management’s experience, you can start saving for your child’s future today.

 

 

Withdrawals from a 529 Plan used for qualified higher education expenses are free from federal income tax. State taxes may apply. Withdrawals of earnings not used to pay for qualified higher education expenses are subject to tax and a 10% penalty. Participation in these plans does not guarantee that contributions and the investment return on contributions, if any, will be adequate to cover future tuition and other higher education expenses or that a beneficiary will be admitted to or permitted to continue to attend an institution of higher education. The plan is not a mutual fund, although it invests in mutual funds. In addition to sales charges, the plan has other fees and expenses, including fees and expenses of the underlying mutual funds. The plan involves investment risk, including the loss of principal.

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7 Things Married Couples Should Discuss Today

Financial Planning for Married Couples

We all know that being a part of a couple takes work and that open, honest communications is key!  In order to have a relationship that is strong financially, as well as emotionally, remember to regularly discuss and review your finances and goals to help make sure that you and your partner are not only on the same track, but on the right one for you as a couple.

Here are 7 of the most important things that couples should regularly review:

  1. Retirement Plans – If you’re a young couple, retirement may seem far off, but it’s important to remember – through compounded interest –  a small amount invested now may go a long way in the future. Be sure to reexamine your goals and your portfolio to make sure that you’re both saving enough for retirement, and that you maintain a proper asset allocation.
  2. Life Insurance – While not a pleasant topic, it’s important to discuss with your partner what will happen in the event that one of you passes prematurely. If one, or both of you, are dependent on the other person’s income, you may want to consider purchasing a term-life insurance policy.
  3. Wills and Trusts – Like life insurance, wills and trusts also are important for protecting your loved ones. They’re especially critical if you have children, or a significant amount of assets. Make sure that your assets are directed in a way that’s consistent with your wishes.
  4. College Funds – If you have children, or are considering having children, you definitely want to discuss a saving strategy to help pay for college tuition. Like retirement savings, a little bit now can go a long way.
  5. Health Insurance – Make sure that you and your partner are both covered, and that you understand the differences – and overlaps – in  your plans. Is there any unnecessary overlap? Should you purchase more coverage to protect yourself? Or should you switch to a high-deductible plan to save money? These are questions that should be reviewed at least once annually!
  6. Major Purchases – If you are planning to make a major purchase such as a home, or a new car, you’ve probably already talked with your partner about it. You may not have talked about how you’ll pay for it though! Some questions to consider: whether or not you’ll pay cash for the purchase;  if you finance it, what type of down payment you will make, and over what period of time; and if you need to cut down on expenses elsewhere to save up for the purchase.
  7. Monthly Expenses – Review your expenses each month to see where you can make changes and cut back. Consider making a budget together to make sure that you are allocating your income in the best possible way for both of you.

While financial topics can be difficult to discuss, they’re an important part of a happy and successful relationship. Make sure that both you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to finances, and set short and long term goals together to help keep you both on track.

If you need help going over your finances or coming up with a plan, it may be wise to contact a financial planner. Financial planners can help point you in the right direction, based on your own goals, and help facilitate difficult, but important, discussions.

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The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.

Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.

If you have any questions regarding this Blog Post, please Contact Us.

YOLO (You Only Live Once) So You Need A Retirement Goal

Yolo Retirement Goal

When you read through blogs or scroll through hashtags and memes on social media, there is a recurrent theme among millennials regarding the live-for-today sentiment. Whether it’s the acronym, #YOLO (You only live once) or the older, maybe not-so-cool phrase, ‘Carpe Diem,’ we are constantly reminded that we should stop worrying about the future and focus on today. But when it comes to your finances, is society sending us a detrimental message?

When addressing one’s plans for retirement, it is sometimes difficult to find a happy medium between the avoidance of financial responsibilities and the overwhelming, anxiety-inducing worry over one’s financial future. Below are two very common thought processes that I see often.

1) I am not worried about the future now, I’ll deal with it later

Unfortunately, our day-to-day pressing needs and our live-for-today goals become the priority and we cannot focus on or visualize what is not right in front of us. We tell ourselves, ‘I’ll do it tomorrow.’ Whether it’s not participating in a 401K because the extra monthly money is needed for utility bills or prolonging the start of a college savings fund for your child because you have mortgage payments to make, you are setting yourself up for a worrisome retirement.

It is important that you stop and visualize, in vivid detail, a big retirement goal. Are you visualizing being able to enjoy the finer things in life or are you just hoping to maintain the lifestyle that you are living today? What details do you see when you make this visualization?

Consider these important factors while you are visualizing:

If I continue at today’s rate-of-saving, what will my savings be at retirement?

Do I have children? Do I plan to have more children?

Do I plan to send my children to college?/Can I afford college tuition?

Do I own a home? Do I have a mortgage?

Have I planned for rising health concerns as I get older?

If something should happen to me, will my family be taken care of?/What kind of debt will they incur?

2.) I worry so much about my future financial position, that I sacrifice my daily happiness

Studies have shown that intense worrying about money or financial situations can affect many aspects of your life from mental health, to relationships, to career. When consumed with worry over your finances, it can inflict on your ability to focus thus creating a distraction and inability to enjoy the present.

While it is important to plan for the future, it should not be so overwhelming that it interferes with one’s day-to-day abilities. Ask yourself:

What am I really worried about?

Is it something in my control? If so, am I taking the necessary steps?

If it is not in my control, what steps can I take to ease my anxiety?

Do I have a financial advisor that can help to address financial concerns and alleviate unnecessary worry?

Whether you identify more with the first or second way of approaching your finances, or possibly somewhere in the middle, it is important to address your financial concerns with a trusted financial advisor. Unnecessary worry can cause you to feel paralyzed, out of control, and unable to make the right financial decisions concerning your retirement. However, failing to address future financial responsibilities, and avoidance altogether, can prove to be counterintuitive, creating anxiety and worry at a later date. Suddenly financial responsibilities show up at your door and you no longer have the option to ignore or put off. In taking small steps along the way, you can gain control of both your finances and your worry.

Call Brad Sherman at Sherman Wealth Management today and set up a no-cost financial consultation.

Learn more about our Retirement Planning services.

Related Reading:

Four Things Entrepreneurs Can do Now to Save for Retirement 

Finding Financial Independence

Your 401K Program: A Little Savings Now Goes a Long Way

How Much Money do you Need for Retirement These Days?

The Benefits of Saving Early for Retirement

Advantages of Participating in Your Workplace Retirement Plan

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