May 15, 2015 |
YOU'VE DONE what so many others won't or can't afford to do. You've saved money in an emergency fund. In fact, through much sacrifice, delayed gratification and maybe even debt reduction you've managed to save up enough cash to cover what it costs to run your household for a few months. But then you look at all that money just sitting there earning so little. Makes you hopping mad. The interest rate your financial institution offers on a checking or savings account is so pitifully low it feels like you are paying the bank to keep your money safe.
May 5, 2015 |
How can you invest like multimillionaire Mitt Romney? Through something called a self-directed IRA. The former presidential candidate held from $20 million to $100 million in one. Self-directed individual retirement accounts let you invest in real estate, precious metals, even Eagles tickets. What is a self-directed IRA? Simply, you decide what, beyond Wall Street's offerings, to invest in your retirement account. It's a niche vehicle, with complex rules (see IRS Publication 590)
May 4, 2015 |
Children who set up a small savings account for college are more likely to attend and graduate from college than those who have no such savings, according to a report from Stateside, a project funded by the Pew Charitable Trust. Some states (alas, not Pennsylvania or New Jersey) have set up junior savings accounts for college in which $100 is automatically deposited upon a child's birth. The federal government might set up something similar if U.S. Sens. Chris Coons and Marco Rubio prevail.
January 18, 2015 |
Middle-class parents of children with disabilities: There's a new low-cost, tax-advantaged way to save money on their behalf. Low cost is the key idea here. ABLE accounts serve a purpose similar to the special-needs trusts often set up to help disabled or special-needs children without disqualifying them from government benefits. ABLE accounts don't replace special-needs trusts. They are another option. In December, President Obama signed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE)
December 22, 2014 |
Getting an inheritance, even a small one, offers financial opportunities and risks. Don't blow it, most experts say. But how, since being named a beneficiary is a rare event in most of our lives? Drawing on an interview with financial adviser Jason Flurry, Bankrate.com writer Judy Martel says many people jump into risky investments with inherited money - a move that could sweep away a windfall. "Many heirs don't know how to handle a windfall and end up no better off than they were before," Martel writes.
December 18, 2014 |
WASHINGTON - An unusual thing happened in Congress this month: The Senate and the House each passed legislation likely to create a law, with massive bipartisan support. Sen. Robert P. Casey (D., Pa.), a sponsor of the bill, wound up on the same side as House Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress. The beneficiaries of this cooperation: families facing the lifelong costs of disabling illnesses such as epilepsy or Down syndrome. If President Obama signs the bill, people with disabilities and their families would soon have the option of creating tax-sheltered savings accounts to help pay for long-term care.
October 28, 2014 |
Retirement and savings accounts, life insurance, and property are what we envision as assets. But what about digital assets? Those are the hot topic right now among financial and estate planners. Many are advising their clients to write directives into estate plans and wills about what to do with the e-mail and social media, secret passwords, and important online account numbers that constitute digital assets. "It all started when I kept getting messages from the Facebook account of a dead friend," said Trisha Hall, a trust and estates attorney at Connolly Gallagher in Wilmington.
July 15, 2014 |
Summer camp gives you a mental break. Sending your child to day camp might also provide a tax deduction. Local accounting firm Isdaner & Associates notes that day camp is a qualified expense under the child and dependent care credit, which is worth 20 percent of qualifying expenses (more if your adjusted gross income is less than $43,000), subject to a cap. For 2014, the maximum expenses allowed for the credit are $3,000 for one qualifying child and $6,000 for two or more. Be aware: overnight camp doesn't qualify for the credit.
February 17, 2014
President Obama's modest new plan to encourage saving is no match for the looming retirement crisis. Nor should it make participants saving as little as $5 a week feel secure. But it could seed a necessary cultural shift toward thrift. American savings dropped from an average of 13 percent of net household income in the 1980s to just 2 percent in 2005. While saving rebounded after the recession, it recently dropped back to 4 percent. Some experts say that's because consumers are feeling better about the economy.
November 8, 2013 |
The U.S. Treasury is finally cutting us a break on health savings accounts. Flexible spending accounts, or FSAs, are a benefit that some employers offer that allows their workers to pay some medical out-of-pocket expenses with pretax dollars. But employees often lost out when they couldn't spend enough to make it worthwhile. Then last week, the Treasury Department amended tax rules on Flexible Spending Accounts that will allow Americans to carry up to $500 of expiring funds into the following year.