Paying for College
Paying for College
There's no escaping the fact that college and other educational costs are rising, often outpacing cost of living increases. And yet this does not have to mean that parents must save 100% of those costs by the time their children begin college. By understanding each client's educational philosophies and fully analyzing their cash flows, Money Counts helps clients understand the optimal way to approach financial planning for college and fund educational costs - which could be any combination of savings, loans, gifts, and even asset equity.
Saving Is Not Always The Most Productive Choice for Paying for College
Depending on your cash flows - both in and out - and your available resources, a 529 plan or other college savings plan is not always the most productive choice. For example, the interest in college loans remains relatively low and may be tax-deductible. By fully understanding a client's complete financial picture, Money Counts can help guide you in making productive, cost-effective choices for paying for college.
Using Other People's Money to Pay for College
Even if you haven't saved any money for college, Money Counts can assist you in developing the ideal framework for funding educational expenses. From college loans, to leveraging the equity in your home or borrowing against your 401(k), Money Counts forecasts the precise impact of these different funding approaches to your cash flow, income taxes, and your other financial goals.
Cash Flow Management and College Funding
The single most critical aspect of your financial condition is your cash flow. We believe the right way to plan for college costs means focusing on cash flow as the priority, funding educational expenses through a combination of approaches that have minimal impact on your quality of life, future goals and retirement planning. By fully understanding a client's financial condition and future needs, Money Counts is experienced at devising cost-effective strategies for college funding.
Having or Adopting a Baby
Financial Planning for Having a Baby
New parents are rightfully concerned about the impact of having a baby on their financial condition. Considerations from career choices to employer benefits, day care, and other expenses can be complex and overwhelming. Having worked with countless families over the years, Money Counts understands these implications and their impact on a family's financial health. Our goal is to create more flexibility so that when the time comes, new parents can make informed choices. Through financial modeling and forecasting for different scenarios, Money Counts helps to give you confidence in making the right financial and lifestyle choices for your expanding family.
Career Choices for the New Parent
Will both parents continue to work, or will one transition into a full-time parenting role? Can you afford to take advantage of maternity and parental leave benefits - without sacrificing your retirement and college plans? A full assessment of cash flow management for parents enables Money Counts to help you understand how best to prepare for a new baby - including changes in income, coverage of medical, adoption, or fertility treatment costs, and day care or nanny expenses.
Insurance Benefits and the New Parent
Financial planning for an expanding family is likely to include changes to health and life insurance plans. And legal documents - such as a will defining guardianship - become crucial. Money Counts assists you in gathering full details on various types of life insurance coverage, such as whether your policy has cash value which may be accessed to pay for college costs. Where there are gaps, Money Counts assists you in updating your policies in the most cost-effective way.
Education Funding and the New Parent
Even if you don't yet know whether your new baby will be home-schooled or attend a private or public college, it's time to start planning for the possibilities. Money Counts helps you plan for college and other educational needs - including forecasting for a number of different scenarios. This detailed financial planning analysis gives you confidence that you're making well-informed financial choices for your family's education.
Other Cash Flow Considerations for the New Parent
As you plan for a new baby, you may wonder whether you can afford to buy a home, upgrade to a larger home, or remodel your existing home. Money Counts invests the time and the expertise with each and every client to calculate the impact of the income changes, day care expenses, and college savings to create greater flexibility in making financial decisions. Our detailed assessments mean that you can confidently determine whether and how to buy or remodel a home, fund your family's extra-curricular activities, and finance vacations - all while remaining on track to satisfy your present and future financial needs
Losing a Job
Unemployment and Managing Your Financial Health
With corporate cost-cutting, outsourcing, and the current state of the economy, many people face the unfortunate situation of being laid off from work. Unemployment can be a scary experience. How do you survive the financial impact of a layoff?
You may have a very limited time to make important decisions about your financial situation. These decisions can involve matters such as health and medical benefits, 401(k) rollovers and retirement plan changes, relocation, and the impact of all of the above on your taxes. Before, during, and after an unemployment experience, Money Counts will help guide you in making choices that have the optimal impact on your cash flow and financial planning needs. Money Counts clients always have direct, anytime access to experienced advisors who can help you make the necessary choices for your financial goals - present and future.
The Effects of Unemployment
The effects of unemployment are varied but also universally negative. In particular, economic security becomes threatened - but that's just the tip of the iceberg. The loss of economic security can trigger major life changes: cut backs on food expenditures, selling a home, and perhaps relying heavily on government support. Consequently, it is not just financial resources that are affected. Unemployment can also lead to emotional, physical, and psychological challenges.
Money Counts Can Help You Weather a Job Loss
When you work with Money Counts to fully understand your financial situation, including planning for the unexpected, you have a greater sense of control and security. This can alleviate the stress associated with job loss as well as its financial and emotional impacts. Money Counts works closely with you in managing your financial health including cash flow, putting you in a better position to weather major changes in your financial circumstances. The advisors at Money Counts can help guide you in managing the fallout of a job loss including health insurance matters, restructuring debt or refinancing loans, decreasing household expenses, transitioning or liquidating retirement accounts, and maximizing your tax situation. At a time when you most need assistance, Money Counts offers you this guidance and support without charging you a fee.
Whether your job change is due to a new position, retirement, unemployment, or starting a business - you may have very limited time to make important decisions about your financial situation. These decisions can involve matters such as health and medical benefits, 401(k) rollovers, signing bonuses, relocation packages, and the impact of all of the above on your tax rate. Before, during, and after a career transition, Money Counts can guide you in making choices that have the optimal impact on your cash flow and financial planning needs.
Employment Benefits Considerations
Whether separation from your employer is voluntary or involuntary, and regardless of whether you will immediately begin a new job - or start your own business - you will need to very quickly make a lot of decisions about benefits including retirement plans and insurance policies, (medical, life, and disability). Money Counts clients have direct, anytime access to experienced advisors who will help you make all the necessary choices for your financial goals - present and future.
Job Changes Involving Relocation
If your job change involves relocation, then you may need to both sell and buy a home. Money Counts clients benefit from the firm's comprehensive knowledge of different state's tax rates and housing costs. If your new employer funds all or part of your relocation, including buying a home or selling a home, you will need to understand the tax implications - and you'll want to be prepared with detailed information to assist you in negotiating the ideal relocation terms for your situation.
Starting a Business
Starting a Business
If you intend to start a new business, you face many important decisions about your financial situation. These decisions can involve matters such as health and medical benefits, paying off debt, funding your start-up, and the impact of all of the above on your income and taxes. Before, during, and after you launch your new business, Money Counts advisors can help guide you in making choices that have the optimal impact on your cash flow, financial planning, and new business funding needs.
Financial Considerations Before Starting a New Business
There are many important legal, financial, and operational factors that should be taken into consideration before you start your business. Anticipating and preparing for these issues before they arise can mean the difference between a financially prosperous business that enables you to achieve your professional, personal, and financial goals, and an unstable or unsuccessful one that drains your financial resources.
It is very important that you have sufficient knowledge of your complete financial situation before you start your own business. In fact, inadequate cash flow management is the leading reason why small businesses fail: the owner doesn't have the knowledge or tools to control costs or to collect customer funds in a timely way. Debt can become unmanageable and the business may lack the liquidity to cover basic operational costs. Other major stumbling blocks in starting a business are forecasting sales, compiling financial statements, and projecting cash flows.
Money Counts Understands the Financial Impact of Starting a Business
The success of a business depends on the financial foundation on which the business expects to run. With its extensive cash flow expertise, Money Counts advisors help to guide you on the financial implications of starting a business, better preparing you for success.
Buying, Selling or Remodeling a Home
Buying, Selling, or Remodeling a Home
A home purchase or sale is often your family's single biggest financial transaction. Even if you can afford to purchase a home outright, most of us opt for a mortgage because of tax and other financial benefits. Many people are tempted to purchase a home for the largest mortgage for which they qualify, but - depending on cash flows and your financial resources - it can be a big mistake to commit to a payment as high as 40% of your monthly income. Your advisors at Money Counts understand these implications and many more, advising you on the best time and financial approach to buying, selling, or remodeling a home.
Optimizing the Impact of a Home on Cash Flow
What if you can afford a down payment of more than 20% of a home's purchase price? Do you use those funds to secure a lower mortgage, or do you do you keep those extra dollars on hand for other priorities? By forecasting different scenarios based on your needs and goals, Money Counts helps you understand a variety of options to financially structure a home purchase, sale, or remodel so that your cash flows and other resources can enable you to realize your other financial goals including retirement planning and college funding.
Fixed Rate or Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARM): What's Right for You?
Are you buying a starter home? If you're planning on having a baby, will you need to be able to cover the mortgage with one income? The answers to these questions make a big difference in the type of mortgage that is right for you and your cash flow needs. For example, if you elect to fund your home with only one income (in anticipation one parent staying at home after having a baby) with a plan to sell in about 5 years, an adjustable rate mortgage or interest only mortgage may enable you to sustain your lifestyle while keeping your expenses at a more manageable level.
Other Home Expenses that Impact Cash Flow
When you buy or remodel a home, you often have a need or desire for new home furnishings. And when you sell a home, you often have a need to be rid of some. While not as substantial as home financing decisions, these are important considerations when calculating your total costs. Additionally, every home purchase, sale, or remodel brings the need to review policies such as homeowner's and automobile insurance. If you're a homeowner who doesn't have an umbrella policy, then you could be vulnerable to coverage gaps that can drastically impact your cash flow. Through review of these factors and more, Money Counts' goal is to enable you to make the choices that are right for you so that you can attain the quality of life you desire.
Selling a Home
Whether you sell a home due to relocation, retirement, a desire to upgrade to a larger home, or downsize to a smaller one, you will want to fully understand the financial impact of the sale on your cash flow, your tax rate, opportunities for savings and investments, and your other financial goals before you sell. By forecasting the impact of the various possibilities, Money Counts will help you make the decisions that can enable you to realize both your financial and lifestyle goals.
Financial Considerations for Divorce
The end of a marriage is a stressful time when people tend to be consumed by the emotional and lifestyle impact of separation and divorce. And yet you should also be concerned about the impact of divorce on your financial condition. The effects on career choices, benefits and retirement plans, and living expenses can be complex and overwhelming. That's why Money Counts is always on-hand to offer you advice and counsel about making the choices that can help minimize your financial stress during this difficult time.
Getting Divorced: How to Separate Financials
Getting divorced means a change in tax filing status as well as adjustments to your benefits and insurance plans - everything from disability to life and automobile insurance. Money Counts assesses your current situation to identify the details that need to be addressed in the process of separation and divorce. We work closely with you to help define your future plan - updating your current services so you don't wind up with too much, or not enough, insurance coverage.
The Impact of Divorce
Getting separated or divorced can trigger the need to make a change in your living situation, such as selling or buying a home. Additionally, this situation can significantly affect your ability to pay for your living expenses, save for your children's college, and pay off accumulated debt. When you become a Money Counts client, you have direct access to financial planning professionals who can help you minimize the financial and lifestyle impact of separation and divorce.
Financial Considerations for Marriage and Domestic Partnership
When you become part of a couple, you are rightfully concerned about the impact of marriage on your financial condition. Considerations from career choices to benefits and living expenses can be complex and overwhelming. Money Counts understands these considerations and their impact on your financial health. With marriage comes a number of benefits, including a variety of rights and entitlements. Marriage also changes an individual's rights as a property owner as well as obligations toward debt. From wedding expenses to buying a home, combining incomes or consolidating debt, Money Counts helps to give you confidence that you are making the right financial and lifestyle choices for your future.
Getting Married: When and How to Combine Financials
Getting married does more than combine incomes - it also presents a new filing status when tax time rolls around. Money Counts' advisors help assess your individual financial health as well as the impact of combining your individual financial situations. Some of the issues Money Counts can help you through include spending priorities, organizing bank accounts for shared and individual expenses, and avoiding overuse of credit cards - all while managing cash flow to adequately fund your household and living expenses.
Impact of Marriage on Benefits
Getting married can provide you the opportunity to make other aspects of your financial life more efficient. For example, Money Counts performs an audit of your benefits and insurance plans - everything from disability to life and automobile insurance - to identify gaps and overlaps, and works with you to help optimize your plans so you don't wind up with too much or not enough coverage.
Financial Planning: Home Buying, Retirement, College Costs, and Other
Do you plan to buy a home together? If you're planning on having a baby, will you need to be able to live on one income? Do you need advice on the best approach to paying off debt, or paying for college? The answers to these questions make a big difference in your financial goals and cash flow needs. When you become a Money Counts client, you will have direct, anytime access to financial planning professionals that can help ensure that you're able to live the lifestyle you want - now and in the future.
Dealing with Debt
The Impact of Debt
Financial stress is common if you are forced into frugality because of a job loss, divorce, death, or illness in the family, or from having too much debt. This can lead to feelings of loss of control, insecurity, fear, anxiety, anger, and even depression - and to poor money management decisions which can make your problem worse, not better. The financial advisors at Money Counts will help you understand your situation fully and feel more in control by working with you to build a roadmap to being debt-free.
Dealing with Debt and Your Credit Rating
Depending on your unique circumstances, Money Counts offers you detailed guidance on the difference between good debt and bad debt. Money Counts advisors can help you understand how to optimize your cash flow and the return on your investment to make debt work for - rather than against – you. Choosing the best financial strategies from options such as bank loans, borrowing against a retirement plan such as a 401(k), cashing in an ESOP or leveraging the equity of your assets, Money Counts can help position you for financial well-being.
The Financial Implications of Bankruptcy
Are you struggling to pay your bills? Do you feel like you can never get ahead? Many people struggle with financial obligations. Money Counts advisors can help you be proactive in not letting a bad debt situation get worse. Don't wait for your creditors to come to you. And if bankruptcy is your best option, Money Counts will quickly help put you on the road to recovery.
The Financial Impact of Health Issues
Medical science has surpassed the expectations of previous generations, yet sickness and injury remain a major threat to the economic health of every family. The two components of that threat - either of which can trigger financial collapse in a matter of months - are the spiraling cost of medical care and the loss of income because of accident, illness, or disability. If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation - and even before - Money Counts can help you successfully navigate and prepare for the financial impact of health issues.
In one year alone, over nine million families spend more than 20% of their annual income on medical care. And no one is immune: among households that itemized their deductions on their federal income tax returns, more than five million families claimed deductions for extraordinary medical expenses.
Loss of Income
The second threat to the economic lives of Americans is the loss of income that arises from illness and accidents. Millions of Americans lose their jobs as a result of disability or lose substantial income during their recovery from an illness or accident. Every year, more than six hundred million workdays are lost for health and medical reasons.
Other Financial Impacts of Health Issues
Among the families in bankruptcy who reported medical problems as reasons for their financial condition, about 60% cite the income effects of illness or injury. Injury or illness causes lost time from work, reduction in hours worked, demotion, or even job termination. The lack of income support during illness or after injury, and the lack of rehabilitation and retraining after recovery, may be an even more significant cause of financial distress than specific medical costs.
Financial Planning for Health and Medical Issues: Money Counts Can Help
Do you have enough insurance to avoid a devastating financial situation due to health issues? Are you paying for too much insurance? Has a job change caused a need to change your benefits and insurance policies? Money Counts helps you plan for and manage the financial impact of health and medical issues. Money Counts advisors will guide your decisions about medical insurance and accident and disability insurance - helping you manage against the financial risks of health issues and ensuring that you are prepared.
Saving for Retirement
Financial Considerations of Retirement
Although often presented as an urgent and complex matter, planning for retirement is actually quite simple: you need to avoid running out of money.
In order to understand how best to achieve that, you need professional help to accurately forecast your needs - now and into the future. When you become a Money Counts client, you receive in-depth planning advice, identifying the minimum income you need to cover your expenses, anticipating many variables such as health issues and buying or selling a home. The overly simple retirement calculators available online and elsewhere can be misleading, so it's important that you talk with a financial service professional who can help you truly understand your retirement goals and how to achieve them.
Planning for Retirement
When planning for retirement, you might need to evaluate considerations such as career choices and employment benefits, which can be complex and overwhelming. Having worked with countless retirees over the years, Money Counts understands these considerations and their impact on retirement. Money Counts' goal is to create the most flexibility so that when the time comes, you can make informed choices. Through financial modeling and forecasting for different scenarios, Money Counts helps give you confidence that you are making the financial and lifestyle decisions that can enable you to enjoy a stress-free retirement.
When Money Counts helps you with your financial plans for retirement, we assess your available resources - such as retirement plans, social security, inheritances, and equity in your home - in order to maximize them in support of your retirement plans. Money Counts begins by planning for your financial resources to last until the age of 100. Once that goal can be achieved, Money Counts can help you devise better ways of managing and utilizing your financial resources to potentially improve the performance of your plan as opportunities arise.
If you have ample financial means to support your retirement, Money Counts advisors help guide you in forecasting the right amounts to gift to charities or your family - now or in the future - enabling you to maximize your ability to give in a tax-efficient way. Be wary of financial investment vehicles that are difficult to liquidate. Through experienced estate planning strategies, Money Counts helps you avoid inadvertently leaving your money to the government and provides you the freedom to use your financial resources the way you wish.
Financial Implications of Turning 65
Turning 65 is a milestone that comes with many challenges but also many benefits. An estimated 10,000 Americans in the baby boomer generation will turn 65 every day, which is expected to double the senior population to 78 million by the year 2030. Because the situation can seem complex, many Americans are not fully aware of the financial impact of turning 65 including understanding how to maximize their financial resources and medical insurance situations. When you become a Money Counts client, you will benefit from our extensive experience in helping you prepare for and manage your Social Security and other financial situations.
Social Security and Turning 65
U.S. citizens and qualified foreign residents become eligible to receive Social Security payments when they turn 62. Each year that social security is deferred after age 62, your monthly payment amount will increase, reaching the maximum amount at age 70. There are restrictions on other wages earned between age 62 and FRA (full retirement age, currently age 66) and if your earnings are over the restricted limit, social security payments will be reduced by 50 cents for every $1 of excess. After FRA, there is no restriction on earnings allowed. Tax rates on social security payments are also dependent on the amount of income you earn. As you can see, the decision on when to begin Social Security benefits is an important one and should be made carefully.
Medicare and Turning 65
Unless you are employed with an acceptable form of medical insurance, U.S. citizens who turn 65 are required to transition to Medicare - our country's health insurance program for people age 65 or older. Certain people younger than age 65 can qualify for Medicare, too, including those who have disabilities and chronic medical conditions. Financed by a portion of the payroll taxes paid by workers and their employers and the monthly premiums deducted from Social Security checks, Medicare helps with the cost of health care but it does not cover all medical expenses or the cost of most long-term care.
Medicare has four parts, and it's important for you to understand whether you are fully covered or need supplemental insurance to address what is commonly known as the Medicare gap:
- Medicare Part A: Hospital insurance that helps pay for inpatient care in a hospital or skilled nursing facility (following a hospital stay), some home health care and hospice care.
- Medicare Part B: Medical insurance that helps pay for doctors' services and many other medical services and supplies that are not covered by hospital insurance.
- Medicare Part C: Medicare Advantage plans are available in many areas. People with Medicare Parts A and B can choose to receive all of their health care services through one of these provider organizations under Part C.
- Medicare Part D: Prescription drug coverage that helps pay for medications doctors prescribe for treatment.
Financial Planning for Turning 65
When Money Counts helps you with the financial impact of turning 65, we assess your available resources such as retirement plans, Social Security, and Medicare. Money Counts advisors evaluate your financial condition as well as any health issues and help you to take full advantage of the available programs. Working with Money Counts will help you be confident in making the right lifestyle and financial choices, so that you can enjoy your twilight years.