I was honored to help US News and World Report recently in their article “How Grandparents Can Help Save for College” the author of the article and I discussed how difficult it can be for families to discuss money and saving for college and different ways to broach the subject. We also discussed how the money that a Grandparent has saved for a grandchild can sometimes hurt their financial aid prospects depending on how it is managed. We also discussed different investment vehicles and the pros and cons of each.
I was honored to help US News and World Report recently in their article “6 Mistakes Grandparents Make When Helping Pay for College” we had a nice long conversation which was used for a couple of articles. Discussed in this article are making sure that you do not miss tax breaks, that if you choose to use savings bonds that you title them correctly, and that you are careful about the timing of your gift to the grandchild so that you do not harm their financial aid chances.
I believe that just about everyone has some sort of financially related To Do item sitting on their To Do list. And they have every intention of taking care of it. However, so many other more time critical things seem to keep the financial items from getting to the top spot of the list.
If you are going to resolve to get some of your financial To Dos To Done, what actually matters – how it got done or that it got done? I will come back to that thought in a minute.
When people come to see me they have accumulated a list of tasks, and it is so easy to see how that happens in our busy lives.
You take a new job – a nice jump up the career ladder. Something needs to be done with that old 401(k). But what? You’re busy with the new job right now. So you put it on The To Do List.
Your income is higher now with the new job, should you have more life insurance? Or is the life insurance at work enough? You did buy some whole life from that guy that came to the house when you first got married. Is that still the right policy for you or not? So you put that on The To Do List.
Your kids are getting older, and you haven’t saved as much as you had intended for college. How much can you afford to put away for their college vs. how much should you be saving for our own retirement? Well, the kids are in middle school, you have a couple more years, so you put it on The To Do List.
At work they keep changing your investment choices and you don’t know what to pick. You don’t have the tools to see all of your investments together and create a diversified portfolio that incorporates all of your accounts, but you know that you need to do it one day. But you don’t have the time right now. So you put that on The To Do List.
Sometimes when potential clients meet with me in the free Get Acquainted meeting they tell me that they feel bad about not taking care of these things themselves. I stress to them, that I do not want them to feel that way. I tell them that when I have electrical problems at the house, I call an electrician. And when I have serious plumbing problems I call a plumber. I have had a handy man come to the house a few times to work though lists of little things that were annoyances. Sometimes you call in a professional to help you with your list. And it feels great to work on that list.
So if you are making a resolution to get your financial To Do items To Done, make a plan to either do them yourself, or to contact a professional to help you do them. Because when you mark them off the list, what actually matters – how it got done, or that it got done?
Resolve to take action today!
Have a Wonderful New Year!
What is the A+ program?
The Missouri Department of Higher Education has an offering called the A+ Scholarship Program. If your High School participates in the program, a student can enroll, and by fulfilling certain requirements can earn reimbursement for tuition and general fees for a two year degree at a participating community college or vocational/technical school.
Sign up for the program even if you do not plan to go to community college!
Getting your two year degree and transferring the credits to a four year college is a terrific way to save money on college costs. However, if that isn’t in your plans, and you are going to go straight to a four year college, and you are a Missouri student, you should still enroll in the A+ program. Why? Because there are many four year colleges that are offering scholarships to A+ qualified students, but your high school transcript must indicate that you are an A+ qualified student. Also, in the summer after high school graduation and before college, some students use the A+ scholarship money take general studies courses, such as math or language arts, at the community college to get a jump start on college, and doing so in smaller more intimate classroom settings, for topics that may be more challenging for them.
What are the requirements to qualify while in High School?
According to the Missouri Department of Higher Education (MDHE) website:
- Have a written agreement/enrollment form with your school.
- Have a GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale.
- Have an attendance record of at least 95%.
- Graduate with at least 50 hours of unpaid mentoring/tutoring of students, in our school district this is organized by the school.
- Beginning with the class of 2015, have achieved a score of proficient or advanced on the Algebra I end of course exam.
- Must apply for financial aid using the FAFSA form.
- Attend an A+ school for 3 years prior to graduation; exceptions are made, see the MDHE website.
- Maintain a good record of citizenship and avoid drugs and alcohol.
- Be a US citizen, permanent resident, or lawfully present in the US.
What is and is not covered
The scholarship covers tuition and general fees but does not pay for books, supplies or lab fees.
It is quite a good deal and an opportunity for families to save thousands of dollars if they use it exactly as it was set up and go to a community college or technical/vocational school. Or save hundreds if not thousands of dollars, depending on the type of scholarship you get, at the four year colleges that are offering A+ students money to skip the community college and come straight to them.
The Garrett Planning Network 12th Annual Retreat was recently held in Denver Colorado. I am a member of the Garrett Planning Network. It is a group of about 300 financial planners that offer financial planning on an hourly basis, each member owns their own firm. I have written about the Garrett Planning Network before.
I attended the conference and earned continuing education credits by going to various educational programs, which I need so that I can keep my designations and licenses such as:
- CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER
- CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR
- NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor
During the four day conference I attended various educational programs such as:
- Factors That Have the Biggest Impact On Your Client’s Long Term Financial Plan
- Understanding Longevity
- Paying for College
- Curing Social “In-Security” Part 1 and 2
Kent Smetters, PhD, the Boettner Chair Professor, at the Wharton School, at the University of Pennsylvania, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy of the United States Treasury, gave the Keynote address. Dr Smetters provided comments on the impact of using one model portfolio for all of a client’s investment goals vs. individual goal-based asset-liability matching.
Throughout the year, the Garrett Planning Network, has three or four conference calls each month. One of the most beneficial outcomes of my annual trip to this retreat , is getting together with this group in person. They are a terrific group of professional financial planners who, like me, work with clients on an hourly basis. We share ideas and act as a resource for each other all year, so it is so nice to get together once a year and see each other.