Financial Planning Blog & Articles

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10 Tips for Maximizing Financial Aid

10 Tips for Maximizing Financial Aid

Photo courtesy of Pexels

By Elaine Floyd, CFP®

College tuition is so expensive that even high-income families can get offers of financial aid. Your first step is to complete the federal forms, and then contact the school directly to further negotiate a financial aid package.

Every year the College Board faces a public relations challenge: how to accurately report trends in college pricing without discouraging high school students from going on to college. So in addition to its annual booklet “Trends in College Pricing,” the College Board publishes the annual report “Trends in Student Aid,” which describes the widespread availability of money for college. Both publications run 40 pages or more.

And to make sure students and parents understand why they should spend all this money or take out all these loans, there’s the report “Education Pays,” which offers a cost-benefit analysis in its 50 or so pages.

The typical bachelor’s degree recipient can expect to earn about 60% more annually than the typical high school graduate, according to a 2014 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Or, to put it another way, by the age of 36, the typical college graduate who enrolled at age 18 has earned enough to compensate for not only tuition and fees at the average.

Average cost of a college education

So what does it cost to achieve this lifetime enhancement? The average cost of college (tuition, fees, room, and board) is around $19,000 for in-state public schools and

$43,000 for private universities, as reported by the College Board. Keep in mind that these are averages. Also keep in mind that these amounts are for one year of college only. To plan accurately for college costs, it’s best to 1) identify the college the student is likely to attend and use those numbers; 2) multiply the one-year cost by 4 (or even 5); and 3) add an inflation factor.

Applying for student aid

Your income may lead you to think it’s not worth the trouble of applying for student aid. But because a greater portion of institutional grants is now going to higher- income families, and because subsidized loans offer such attractive rates and terms, anyone with a child enrolling in college should fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid at www.fafsa.ed.gov).

 

 

 


Retailers should be rolling out back-to-school deals even earlier

Back to School

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

By Lauren Thomas

You snooze, you lose.

Retailers that are choosing to wait until later in the summer to roll out their back-to-school deals could be missing out on a greater portion of the summer sales, according to a new survey from consulting firm Deloitte.

Read the full article here.

 


Organizing Your Finances When Your Spouse Has Died

Organizing Your Finances When Your Spouse Has DiedPrepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc.

Losing a spouse is a stressful transition. And the added pressure of having to settle the estate and organize finances can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make dealing with these matters less difficult.

Notify others

When your spouse dies, your first step should be to contact anyone who is close to you and your spouse, and anyone who may help you with funeral preparations. Next, you should contact your attorney and other financial professionals. You’ll also want to contact life insurance companies, government agencies, and your spouse’s employer for information on how you can file for benefits.

Get advice

Getting expert advice when you need it is essential. An attorney can help you go over your spouse’s will and start estate settlement procedures. Your funeral director can also be an excellent source of information and may help you obtain copies of the death certificate and applications for Social Security and veterans benefits. Your life insurance agent can assist you with the claims process, or you can contact the company’s policyholder service department directly. You may also wish to consult with a financial professional, accountant, or tax advisor to help you organize your finances.

Locate important documents and financial records

Before you can begin to settle your spouse’s estate or apply for insurance proceeds or government benefits, you’ll need to locate important documents and financial records (e.g., birth certificates, marriage certificates, life insurance policies). Keep in mind that you may need to obtain certified copies of certain documents. For example, you’ll need a certified copy of your spouse’s death certificate to apply for life insurance proceeds. And to apply for Social Security benefits, you’ll need to provide birth, marriage, and death certificates.

Set up a filing system

If you’ve ever felt frustrated because you couldn’t find an important document, you already know the importance of setting up a filing system. Start by reviewing all important documents and organizing them by topic area. Next, set up a file for each topic area. For example, you may want to set up separate files for estate records, insurance, government benefits, tax information, and so on. Finally, be sure to store your files in a safe but readily accessible place. That way, you’ll be able to locate the information when you need it.

Set up a phone and mail system

During this stressful time, you probably have a lot on your mind. To help you keep track of certain tasks and details, set up a phone and mail system to record incoming and outgoing calls and mail. For phone calls, keep a sheet of paper or notebook by the phone and write down the date of the call, the caller’s name, and a description of what you talked about. For mail, write down whom the mail came from, the date you received it, and, if you sent a response, the date it was sent.

Also, if you don’t already have one, make a list of the names and phone numbers of organizations and people you might need to contact, and post it near your phone. For example, the list may include the phone numbers of your attorney, insurance agent, financial professionals, and friends–all of whom you can contact for advice.

Evaluate short-term income and expenses

When your spouse dies, you may have some immediate expenses to take care of, such as funeral costs and any outstanding debts that your spouse may have incurred (e.g., credit cards, car loan). Even if you are expecting money from an insurance or estate settlement, you may lack the funds to pay for those expenses right away. If that is the case, don’t panic–you have several options. If your spouse had a life insurance policy that named you as the beneficiary, you may be able to get the life insurance proceeds within a few days after you file. And you can always ask the insurance company if they’ll give you an advance. In the meantime, you can use credit cards for certain expenses. Or, if you need the cash, you can take out a cash advance against a credit card. Also, you can try to negotiate with creditors to allow you to postpone payment of certain debts for 30 days or more, if necessary.

Avoid hasty decisions

  • Don’t think about moving from your current home until you can make a decision based on reason rather than emotion.
  • Don’t spend money impulsively. When you’re grieving, you may be especially vulnerable to pressure from salespeople.
  • Don’t cave in to pressure to sell or give away your spouse’s possessions. Wait until you can make clear-headed decisions.
  • Don’t give or loan money to others without reviewing your finances first, taking into account your present and future needs and obligations.

 

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES

Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., Mutual of Omaha Investor Services, Inc. and its representatives do not provide tax or legal advice. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances. To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.

These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable—we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

Registered representatives offer securities and investment advisor representatives offer advisory services through Mutual of Omaha Investor Services, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Mutual of Omaha Advisors is a marketing name for Mutual of Omaha Investor Services, Inc. Mutual of Omaha Investor Services, Inc., Family Wealth Management and Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. are not affiliated.

Trading instructions sent via e-mail will not be honored. Please contact my office at the number provided above or Mutual of Omaha Investor Services, Inc. at (800) 228-2499 for all buy or sell orders. Please note that communications regarding trades in your account are for informational purposes only. You should continue to rely on confirmations and statements received from the custodian(s) of your assets.

 


Lower Fees Are Great, if You Actually Get them

By M.P. Dunleavey

With Investment costs, less is more. Many investors are getting the message that paying less of mutual funds (or for any investment, really) will put more money in their pockets in the long run.

Read the full article here.


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This is not an offer or solicitation in any jurisdiction where we are not authorized to do business. Registered representatives offer securities through Mutual of Omaha Investor Services, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisor representatives offer advisory services through Mutual of Omaha Investor Services, Inc. Family Wealth Management and Mutual of Omaha Investor Services, Inc. are not affiliated.

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