Tag Archives: returns

Basics of Prepaid College Tuition 529 Savings Plans

Have you noticed an upward trend in college costs over the past few years? I am guessing that you have. College costs have been increasing every year at an average of 6% per year. That means that a public university that costs $10,000 today will cost approximately $29,368 in 18 years. That’s for only ONE YEAR! Are you afraid you will not be able to save that much? What if I told you that you can lock in current college prices. Would you be able to sleep more easily at night? That is the idea behind a prepaid college tuition plan.

What is a 529 Prepaid Tuition Plan?

Prepaid tuition plans are college savings plans that allow you to lock in current college costs. In other words, if you purchase a full years worth of tuition at a state school today, that plan will pay a full years worth of tuition 10, 20, or 30 years down the road. It is guaranteed to increase at the rate of college inflation.

Prepaid Unit Plans

Prepaid unit plans allow you to purchase units that represent a certain percentage of college tuition. For example, you may be able to purchase 1 unit in the plan that represents 1% of college tuition for a year. Everyone pays the same amount for a unit and the price increases each year. You can then use these units to cover part or all of the costs of attending college.

Contract Plans

Contract plans sell, you guessed it, contracts. These allow parents to purchase a set amount of years of tuition at a certain price. Basically, the younger the child, the less expensive the contract price.

Advantages of Prepaid Tuition Plans

  • Allow parents to lock in current tuition rates
  • Very simple to understand and no personal investing required
  • Plans involve no risk of principal and are typically back by state or local government
  • Anyone can contribute to the plan for the benefit of the beneficiary
  • If the beneficiary dies or does not attend college, the funds can be transferred to another

Disadvantages of Prepaid Tuition Plans

  • Have a negative impact on need-based financial aid just like regular 529 plans
  • Cannot earn higher returns if the market has a great year
  • Typically, can only be used for tuition and not for room and board, books, supplies, etc.
  • They do not guaranteed acceptance into college
  • You are limited to the schools that are listed in the plan

Is a prepaid tuition plan right for you? It all depends on the things that were mentioned above. Look carefully at the advantages and disadvantages and make your choice based on those criteria.

You may also want to consider using the plan in conjunction with a standard 529 plan. The standard plan will allow you to invest the savings more aggressively while the prepaid plan may help you hedge against higher increases in tuition rates. One day we are going to have to start paying back all of the government debt we have and education funding may have to be cut. What will happen then? Large increases in tuition, you can be sure of that! I also recommend using the site www.savingforcollege.com. The site offers evaluations of each states plans and has some great college funding calculators.

Has anyone had any experience with prepaid tuition plans? I know they are fairly rare but someone may have an experience they may want to share.

How Long to Keep Those Pesky Tax Documents

Well, it’s Friday the 13th and I figured what’s more scary than taxes? One of the most frequently asked tax question is how long you must keep tax documents. You want to know the answer? It depends. Isn’t that the answer to everything these days? Anyway, here are some general rules for keeping your records straight with the IRS.

Three Years Might Be Enough

Most tax documents can be shred after three years. Why? Three years is the statute of limitations for tax audits at the IRS. That means that come April 15th, 2009, the IRS can no longer audit you for your 2005 tax return. Why don’t you invite your friends over that day and have a shredding party? You can even have them bring over their papers! However, don’t shred them if you filed for an extension for your 2005 return. You must hold onto those papers until three years after the due date of the extension.

Things to Keep Beyond Three Years

Wait! Step away from the shredder! There are some things that you should keep beyond three years. First, you should keep any records you have on appreciable assets that you currently own. That would include stocks, bonds, antiques, real estate, land, jewelry, etc. Chances are, you will sell these one day and having these documents will be crucial in making sure you are paying the right amount of tax. For example, if you do improvements to your home, it adds to the basis of it. This will end up helping you in the end and may lower your tax on the asset. Make sure you keep all of the documents that shows the costs of the improvements. The IRS is all about showing the appropriate documentation backing your calculations.

Another thing to remember is that if you “forget” to report income, the IRS can go back up to six years. Also, if you plan committing tax fraud, you might as well get used to metal bars because the IRS will find you and they can do that whenever!

Where to Put Your Documents

Now that you know what to keep, where should you keep it? The best place to keep your files is a bank safe deposit box (which is tax deductible if you itemize by the way). If there is no way you can have a safe deposit box, invest in a fireproof safe. Make sure the fireproof safe can take a few hours of heat that way you know it will survive almost anything.

I know it’s a pain to keep all of these records, but believe me, it’s much better than having to pay penalties and interest on taxes that you have to pay due to not having proper records.

Do you have any particular tax questions? Submit them here. As I stated before, I am studying to become an enrolled agent. Answering your questions will be a great learning experience for me!

Money Hacks Carnival #51 – The Office Edition

Welcome to the 51st edition of the Money Hacks Carnival! My name is Adam and I am pleased to be your host this week. Please feel free to poke around the site if it is your first time visiting! You can subscribe to the blog using the links on the right or you can follow me on Twitter to stay up-to-date.

NBC’s The Office is my favorite show on TV. I just love watching the office banter and politics. Every week there is a moment that reminds you of something a co-worker did recently. For this carnival, I decided to categorize the topics by some great characters in the show.

Editor’s Picks

Michael Scott is the Regional Manager of the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin. If anyone has the right to pick this week’s best articles, it’s him. He is the glue that holds his team together. Did I really just say that?

Credit Shout tells us to Beware of ATM Scams. Honestly, I really had no idea about some of these. I will be thinking twice about going to the ATM now!

Living Almost Large talks about a family that is in trouble and Their Ship Is Sinking. Looking at this person’s cash flow, it’s hard to believe that they did not see the major problem.

FIRE Finance shares a great story on how Smart Refrigeration Lowers Electricity Bills. Who better to tell you about saving energy on your refrigerator than someone who works with them every day?

PF Credit Cards shows you How to Beat Priceline and Get a Winning Bid. Personally, I have been using Priceline’s Name Your Own Price for over a year now. I will never go back to paying full price again! You really have no say in the brand of your hotel, but you still get to pick the star level. I have yet to be disappointed in the hotel I end up getting.

Career

To me, no one seems more focused on their career than Dwight Schrute. He is constantly reminding everyone about his position with the company and how he is the top salesman. He is also good at sucking up to the boss. Watch the show and learn from Dwight if you are searching for a new job!

Tom at The Strump gives his opinion on How to Translate Employment Ads.

FMF at Free Money Finance lets you know How to Waste Money on a MBA.

Debt and Credit

Kelly is really into fashion and fancy things. Only working at Dunder Mifflin, I can imagine that she has some major credit card debt. Hopefully, some of these articles can help her get on the path to becoming debt free.

Jim at Bargaineering has a Review of MyFICO ScoreWatch. He says it’s perfect for credit score junkies!

Tyler from CreditCards.com talks about how Credit Card Regulation is Brewing for College Campuses Again. Personally, I have never signed up for a credit card at a table at college, sporting event , airport, etc.

Looking for a new rewards credit card? Credit Addict tells us about the Pentagon Federal Visa Rewards Card.

Shaun from Learn Financial Planning gives his 5 Principles for Getting Out of Debt. Some great insights here!

Mr. Banker at Best Interest Rate Banks gives us his review of High Interest Savings Accounts.

Studenomics Breaks Down Student Loans in a non-confrontation manner.

Chris at StumbleForward gives you some tips on Becoming a Blogger to Get Out of Debt.

Housing

Jim just recently bought a house from his parents. I bet he wishes that he could have had some of these great articles to read!

Len Penzo provides us with A Layman’s Guide to Mortgage Application Junk Fees.

Passive Family Income talks about The Recession in America and Home Foreclosures.

Frugality and Saving Money

If anyone on the show is frugal, it’s Pamela. She dresses simple, religiously watched her money while going to college, and was thrifty while planner her first wedding.

Silicon Valley Blogger at The Digerati Life has a Valentine’s Day Tip on Using Ebates to Get Cash Back.

Pete at Bible Money Matters reminds us that Small Decisions Equal Big Results.

J Money at Budgets are Sexy says The Budget is Back, Baby!

Lisa from Greener Pastures presents Economic Collapse-R-Us: 22 Lifestyle Changes of Middle Class America.

The Writer’s Coin presents Am I a Thief or an Entrepreneur? The overwhelming majority of the comments suggest a thief. Head over there and give your input. He has even written a response post to the naysayers.

Matt at Stupid Cents gives us Five Simple Ways to Buy Everything Cheaper and Save Money.

The Shark Investor gives us Strategies for Raising Savings.

Mr. Tough Money Love show us how Arming Ourselves to Save Money on Car Repairs can be a good thing.

Patrick at Money Saving Deals has some Godaddy.com Coupon Codes to share.

David at Personal Finance Analyst gives us The Best Free Budget Worksheets on the Internet.

Dana at Not Made of Money tells us How Her Family Keeps the Breaks on Spending.

The Smarter Wallet shares some delicious Cheap Meals You Can Cook at Home to Save Money.

Debt Kid shows us Why Budgets Don’t Work for Everyone.

Hank at Own The Dollar wants to know Is Three to Six Months of Expenses Enough Money For Your Emergency Fund?

Aryn at Sound Money Matters shows you The Pros and Cons of Homemade Yogurt.

Taxes

When I think of someone who would evade income taxes, I think about Creed. Hopefully some of these articles will help him file his return this year. His first return ever?

Money Tipper lets us know about TurboTax Discounts for Vanguard Customers.

Nickel at Five Cent Nickel gives us Ten Common Income Tax Credits. Head over there to make sure you are getting all the money you deserve.

Thinking of buying a new house? Madison at My Dollar Plan talks about the Possibility of a $15,000 Home Buyer Tax Credit.

Patrick at Military Finance Network answers a question about What You Need to Do If Your Stimulus Check Was Lost of Stolen.

Christian Personal Finance found some places that have Free STATE e-file Online! Living in Maryland, I know that we have free e-file for the state return. It makes it nice and easy!

Insurance

If I had to guess which employee had the greatest amount of insurance, I would say it was Andy. I’d bet he has whole life, term, universal, two health policies and a deferred annuity. He also seems to be the most likely to be a insurance salesman. He just has that way about him!

Mr. GoTo at Go To Retirement gives you an idea about Fixed Annuities and Financial Risk. I think fixed annuities are a great thing to have in retirement. It’s unfortunate that they get such a bad rep from many mainstream media types.

Junior Boomer from The Consumer Boomer talks about Women and Long-term Care Insurance.

Economy

Now honestly, who cares more about the economy than Stanley? Just look at that face!

Kathryn at Out of Debt Christian tells us about The Importance of Shopping Local.

PFR at Personal Finance Reviews tells how the FDIC Plans to Restrict Interest Rates of Troubled Banks.

Curt at Penny Jobs presents The Fiat Money System is Failing.

Money Blue Book Finance wants to know is there a Second Stimulus Check for Obama in 2009?

Investing

Toby is the head of human resources at Dunder Mifflin. If anyone was maxing out their 401(k) there, it would be him.

Sun at The Sun’s Financial Diary alerts you to a Free Stock Analysis Tool.

The Financial Blogger shows you some Options to Secure Your Investment Portfolio.

The Intelligent Speculator wants to know if Super Bowl Ads are Really Worth It?

The Investor at Monevator gives their 10 Reasons to Be Cheerful as an Investor.

Jeff from Good Financial Cents has 7 Things to Know About the 2010 Roth IRA Conversion.

Dividend Tree shows us how Everyday Life Teaches us Dividend Investing.

Other

When I was thinking about what character would be good for the category other, I thought of Ryan. He definitely had some ups and downs with Dunder Mifflin!

MoneyNing presents What Everyone Ought to Know When Applying for Free Stuff.

Patrick at Cash Money Life has some $25 Sign-up Bonuses from Lending Club. You even have 2 chances to win $100!

Mara Rodgers at Secrets for Money gives some great Tips To Teach Kids About Money.

Chris at Financial Reflections lets you know How Identiy Thieves Sell Your Data Online.

Mighty Bargain Hunter gives you Some Great Sources for Free AudioBooks.

Miss M at M is for Money shares with you Deliverance from Debt: Budget Basics.

Mike at Money TLD shares with us 10 Places to Click for Cash. There are quite a few things on this list that I have never heard of. I think I will check some of them out!

Need a Professional to Do Your Taxes? How About a Virtual CPA?

Beyond Paycheck to Paycheck wrote an interesting post today about the state of today’s tax preparation. Personally, I’ve always completed my income taxes myself. That is mostly due to the fact that they were not complex. I imagine if my blogging income picks up or I start my own business, they will become more complex and I will need some help. I would not like to go to a chain or use a box if they are that complex. I know I/they would miss something and it may end up costing me. The only other choice would be a CPA and they can be rather expensive. But, with technology changing the way it is, a virtual CPA makes a lot of sense. Why pay for the whole CPA when you can get the tax expertise you need for much less?

Of course, if you can do your return on your own (and maximize deductions), that’s ideal. But there are many individuals who can recoup their tax prep fee (and then some) by getting a real professional involved. Furthermore, given the free 30 minute phone consultation with a Certified Financial Planner, Total Candor Tax Prep seems like a great idea. He seems to be growing his practice by word of mouth, which seems like the right thing especially since it’s a repeat business.

Michael has plenty of discounts available for his services. You can get money off for sending in your returns early, being a full-time student, referring other customers and more! Want to be my referral? Head over there and check it out!

What about you? How will you get your taxes done this year?