Hope for your financial life and beyond

Here’s What a 529 College Savings Plan Covers

It’s no secret the cost of college has and continues to skyrocket. It makes it very difficult to go to college debt free. This is especially true if you do not start saving early enough. If you can start saving though, you have some options. A 529 college savings plan is one of the smartest investments you can make for your child’s future success.

college savings planA 529 college savings plan is a state-administered plan. The IRS does not tax withdrawals, as long as they are made for qualifying educational expenses. As an added bonus, a 529 plan can be used for a beneficiary’s tuition expenses for elementary through high school, in addition to college, graduate school or trade school.

The rules change however, when a withdrawal is made that the IRS doesn’t consider a qualifying expense. 529 college saving plans are federally taxed, even though they are administered at the state level. If you want to use the plan to pay for a non-qualifying expense, the withdrawal will incur a 10% penalty and receive the federal tax.

That’s why you should be absolutely sure which withdrawals qualify. So here is a brief guide to assist in your decision-making on whether this type of plan is right for you. 

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The Benefits to Hiring a Higher Education Marketing Company

Going to a college or a university whether in-person or online has become a competitive endeavor for high school students. However, within the world of higher education, it’s just as competitive. The marketplace for students is opening up, especially due to advances in information and communications technology. Colleges and universities are competing with one another now more than ever to draw in the best and brightest to their institution. 

It is therefore important to stand out in this industry. An institution that doesn’t won’t be successful. Many of the higher education businesses that are able to stand out do so because they have hired the services of a higher education marketing company. So, if you manage or own a business in this industry, this should be a consideration. If you don’t, your business may be left behind. 

Why so? Because these companies have insights about what is going on in the broader industry that you may not have. They exist to study the trends in the marketplace and relay those on to their clients. So, put simply, if you are not working with an agency trained for this, you are falling behind.

Here are several ways they can help you reach your goals.

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Secret Advice For Teenagers Who Love to Spend Money

You know who you are – a teenager who loves to spend money like it’s going out of style. You spend money faster than it takes a Snapchat to disappear. Money comes into your hand one minute and flows out like water the next.

spend moneyAnd you like it that way!

If that’s you, I have some special advice today. It’s unusual, maybe even secret advice. I’m pretty sure you’ve never heard any adult say this to you before. In fact, your parents may hate me for saying this because it might go against how they have instructed you to handle money. So I’m actually running a big risk here.

But before I reveal this big secret about spending your money, you have to promise me something.

The promise I’m asking you to make is to read this entire post. You are going to love what I have to say about spending money,  but you can’t take it as stand alone advice without understanding the bigger picture. As they say, the devil is in the details. So I’m asking for five minutes of your time to help you avoid a huge potential failure when spending money.

Ready for the big, secret advice? OK, here goes…

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The 10 Best Summer Jobs for Teens and College Students

Memorial Day marks the official beginning of summer. For teens and college students that means one of three things. Either you are:

a) continuing school by choice (to get ahead) or out of necessity (because you failed)… summer jobs for teens

b) looking for a summer job to earn money or…

c) in for a really boring summer sleeping in and playing video games.

We all know that teens and college students love money. But we also know that some of them NEED money in a bad way. They have lots of expenses, from gas for the car, to eating out with friends, to paying for college tuition and expenses. Many times, parents are unable to fully fund (or refuse to fund) these expense categories. So teens and college students are left to support themselves. And the time to rack up the big money in a paycheck is over the summer when they are out of school.

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Should I Save For Retirement or the Kid’s College First?

I’m a very linear person. My default mode is to move in a chronological order, doing things step by step according to a predetermined plan. So it’s confusing when trying to decide whether to save for retirement first or our kid’s college.

save for retirementOn the one hand, it’s been drilled into me that saving for retirement is important. However, I know the costs of college tuition are increasing every year with no end in sight. I’d love for my kids to graduate from college debt free and feel an obligation as a parent to help with some of my own money to make that happen.

College is a nearer-term goal than retirement. That fits with my linear life narrative. Prepare for the financial situations that are coming sooner and push off financial decisions that can be made later. For most people, college costs will come before retirement costs so shouldn’t we be focusing on that first?

It seems logical to prepare for college first but I’m going to suggest today that we should do the illogical. The exact opposite should happen. Save for retirement first and college second.

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Does God Want Me To Attend College?

Every fall like clockwork, the same ritual happens during the months of August and September – students return to high school. Each year a special group of these students enter their senior year, excited about wrapping up one of the most exciting times of their life thus far. And chief among their thoughts as they start their final year of high school is this question, “Should I go to college or not?”

should i go to collegeFor people of faith, there is an underlying component to this question that sometimes factors into the answer to the college question. That element is this – “Does God want me to go? Does He really care if I attend college or not?” Mom and dad sure have made it clear they think it’s important. They’ve been pounding the table for months to get those applications finished.

But what about God? Does He even have an opinion on college?

To those with no religious inclination this may seem silly. Why consult a higher power at all about a non-spiritual issue like whether or not to attend college? I understand that line of thinking.

However, for those who value their relationship with God, it’s huge for several reasons.

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20 Flexible Part Time Jobs For College Students

Every fall about this time, parents are gearing up to send their kids back to school. In some cases, that means sending them to college. It’s an expensive proposition putting a child through college. But there are so many part time jobs for college students that can help bring in some extra spending money.

part time jobs for college studentsMore than likely, students have figured out how to finance college tuition, student fees and room and board. However, there are so many hidden costs of college for which students don’t prepare. These little incidental items can certainly add up. So, unless an endless stream of cash is flowing from mom and dad, students will need to secure some extra spending money.

The big question though is, what part time jobs can reasonably be done by college students? Yes, you could work a full-time job and attend classes but that’s not what most students are looking for. The average student just wants enough spending money to go to parties, put gas in the car and pay for their books.

With that in mind, here is a list of 20 part-time jobs and activities that could earn a college student a little bit of extra spending money.

Part Time Jobs for College Students: On Campus

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Choosing the Right College Starts by Answering These Questions

Choosing a college at 18 years of age presents a daunting challenge. For most high school students, the decision represents the most difficult one they’ve ever made. With so many choices, it’s easy to lose a few hours of sleep trying to sort it all out.

choosing a collegeOur first child is beginning the college search right now. She’s not losing sleep over it, thank goodness. However, with so many options it’s easy to not know where to start.

Information from the College Board shows there are approximately 4,000 private and public, two or four-year colleges and universities in the United States. Whittling that number down to a manageable few is some task. How can a high school student narrow their list so they can select the right school?

I did it by asking questions.

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The Hidden College Debt Statistics You Never Hear About

The cost of college continues to expand with each passing year. With it, so does the amount of student loans being processed. It’s leading to an alarming amount of college debt that is hamstringing the life of graduates.

college debtBy now I’m sure you’ve heard the alarming student loan statistics. Americans now owe over $1.3 trillion in student loan debt. For the class of 2016, the average borrower will owe just over $37,000, a figure that is up 6% from last year.

But those are just your basic top line college debt statistics. They are the most visible numbers but they don’t tell the whole story. There are some hidden statistics (i.e. not usually reported) that highlight what this college debt is doing to students later in life. They show that virtually every decision in life can be impacted by college debt.

How College Debt Impacts Your Life

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6 Tips for Improving your Finances in College

College is one of the most exciting times in a person’s life. Yet at the same time it can be one of the toughest, especially when it comes to your finances. All those stories you’ve heard about college students eating instant noodles for weeks and never going out with friends can be a reality. It’s what happens when you don’t have any money.

Finances are a huge challenge in college. As I’m sure you know, the cost of a college education keeps going up and up. So if you are about to enter college or know someone who is, here are some basic tips that will help you improve your finances.

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What to Do if You Fall Behind on Your Student Loan Repayment

So, the bills rolled in this month and you cannot afford to make your monthly payment on your student loans. You promise that you will catch them up next month, but then you can’t afford it again. Before long, you are trapped in a cycle of debt. No matter how hard you try you cannot get out.

Student Loan repaymentWhat do you do? Luckily there are some options if you fall behind on your student loan repayment. It’s important though that you take action immediately instead of waiting until your balances are seriously delinquent.

We all know that bills can be hard to pay, especially when you owe more than you make in a single month. The only way to save yourself is to explore some alternative options. This post will detail some of those choices when you fall behind on your student loan repayment plan.

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