Tag Archives: Axiom

2017-money-matters-feature-generic-for-articles

Money Matters | Elder Financial Abuse: The Silent Crime

 

Michelle Floyd, CFP, Financial Consultant

Michelle Floyd, CFP, Financial Consultant

Elder financial abuse has the potential to impact all of us on some level. Whether you are protecting a loved one from becoming a victim or actively taking precautions to protect your personal estate, fraud and exploitation is a risk that grows as people age.

It is important for individuals to understand the magnitude of this crime, identify ways to both actively prevent and stop abuse, as well as understand how to escalate if it is suspected.

Understand. Seniors lose an estimated $36.5 billion every year to the crime of elder financial abuse.i In fact, according to the 2010 Investor Protection Trust (IPT) Elder Fraud Survey, more than seven million older Americans — one out of every five over the age of 65 — have fallen victim to a financial swindle. [i]i As Baby Boomers turn 65 at a rate of 10,000 a day, the threat of potential abuse heightens.

It is imperative we take preventative measures to confront this epidemic, including educating ourselves on the potential warning signs and using the resources and tools available to stop fraud and abuse from occurring.

Identify. Spotting exploitation can be difficult as the perpetrators of these crimes tend to be close friends or relatives. Studies project that approximately 70 percent of elder financial abuse is committed by family members, friends, trusted persons or others known to the individual being exploited.[ii]i This increasingly blurred line of those who have one’s best interest at heart and those who don’t makes spotting these scams a challenge.

Here are a few warning signs:

  • Sudden reluctance to discuss financial matters
  • Sudden, atypical, or unexplained withdrawals or wire transfers from their accounts, or other changes in their financial situations
  • New best friends and “sweethearts”
  • Behavioral changes, such as fear or submissiveness, social isolation, withdrawn behavior, disheveled appearance, and forgetfulness
  • Changes in the will, especially when they might not fully understand the implications
  • Large, frequent “gifts” to a caregiver
  • Missing personal belongings

Report. Reporting is single-handedly the most important step to escalating suspected elder financial abuse. Studies show that as few as one in 44 cases of elder financial abuse are reported.iv Victims tend to keep details secret for a number of reasons – fear of being victimized again, reluctance to incriminate a family member or friend, or admitting vulnerability are among them. To properly report suspected elder financial abuse, contact a state agency or the National Center on Elder Abuse.

Remember, elder financial exploitation is not exclusive. Consider the below to help protect yourself from potential abuse:

  • Organize your estate. No matter how old you are, it’s a good idea to update and organize all your financial documentation, including your will, financial powers of attorney, real estate deeds, insurance policies, pension and trust documents, birth and marriage certificates, and Social Security paperwork. Maintaining an organized file, and helping others (such as a parent, uncle or close friend) do the same, can make it easier to spot the inconsistencies and red flags that could signal financial abuse.
  • Make a list of financial contacts. Bankers, insurance agents, attorneys, accountants, stockbrokers, and other professionals should be on it. Share your list with these professionals and with family members you trust. In addition, ensure you have a trusted contact on file. This is an individual who the advisor could contact in the event of an emergency or suspected abuse.

i True Link Financial. “True Link Report on Elder Financial Abuse,” 2015.

ii Investor Protection Trust (IPT). “IPT Elder Fraud Survey,” 2010.

iii Jewish Council for the Aging, National Center for Elder Abuse. Paley Rothman article, “Who Commits Elder Financial Abuse and Why Isn’t It Reported?” 2016.

iv National Adult Protective Services Association. “Policy and Advocacy.” www.napsa-now.org. 2017.

 

This article was written by Wells Fargo Advisors and provided courtesy of Michelle Floyd, CFP®, Financial Consultant with Axiom Financial Strategies Group in New Albany, IN 47150 at 812-948-8475.

Investments in securities and insurance products are: NOT FDIC-INSURED/NOT BANK-GUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE

Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

© 2017 Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC. All rights reserved. 0617-01508

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Money Matters | Is Divorce on the Horizon?

Todd Harrett, Financial Advisor with Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in New Albany, Ind.

Todd Harrett, Financial Advisor with Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in New Albany, Ind.

A divorce is obviously an emotionally charged time for you and your family. You’re juggling a lot of arrangements and financial details. Most divorce attorneys suggest thinking about how to divide your financial responsibilities as early as possible ‒ particularly if you have shared debt.

Look at shared debt. With the help of a mediator and/or your financial advisor, you may be able to decide which of you will take which debts. You may consider paying off or closing any credit accounts before you divorce. Most states allow you to settle debt issues between you. If you can’t come to an agreement and the court has to decide for you, the divorce can get very complex and expensive.

Another reason to be proactive about your shared debt: It can help you both maintain good credit ratings after your split and, perhaps most important, prevent uncomfortable conversations about unresolved debts with your ex-spouse in the future.

Get help as soon as you consider a separation. Meet with your financial advisor at the first hint of impending separation. A good financial advisor will be compassionate and willing to remain neutral if he or she serves both you and your soon-to-be-ex. Your advisor can revisit your investment portfolio and do a cash-flow analysis to illustrate what you might draw as future income. He or she can also offer advice about which shared debts might be best for you to take on (or avoid), given the amount of risk with which you are comfortable.

Start with your credit report. A smart way to begin reviewing your debts is to request a copy of your credit report so you can verify which liabilities are in your name. If your spouse is willing to share his or her credit report, that can help you get a full breakdown of all shared debts. Your obligations might include assets such as a primary home, vacation home, vehicles, credit cards and lines of credit, family business–related debt, and possibly student loan debt.

Once you have a full picture of your debts and assets, you can discuss dividing them.

What about the house? Research confirms most divorcing women want to keep the matrimonial home whenever possible, especially when children are still living there. The spouse who keeps each home should also take responsibility for its loan, refinancing it in their name if at all possible.

Information is important to handling debt well during a divorce. One situation where you might have to continue working together with your ex-spouse on a shared debt is if you have an unresolved tax obligation. You should talk to the IRS about setting up separate payments on that joint debt.

You may not agree on how to split contentious debts, such as secret credit card debt created by your spouse. In that case, your state’s laws will come into play. For instance, in most states, ownership of debts is decided by “equitable distribution.” A judge or mediator assigns debts to spouses according to factors such as who signed for it, got greatest value from it, or has the larger income.

Overall, information is the most important key to handling debt well during a divorce. Collect tax returns, credit reports, and bank and brokerage statements as early as possible. The more you know about your marital finances, the easier it should be for you to negotiate over outstanding debts at the settlement table.

 

This article was written by/for Wells Fargo Advisors and provided courtesy of Todd Harrett, Financial Advisor with Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in New Albany, IN at 812-948-8475.

Investments in securities and insurance products are: NOT FDIC-INSURED/NOT BANK-GUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE

Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

© 2017 Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC. All rights reserved.  CAR 0217-04883

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Money Matters | Focus on Year-End Tax Planning

 

Michelle Floyd, CFP, Financial Consultant

Michelle Floyd, CFP, Financial Consultant

Our company is committed to helping you succeed across all areas of your financial life.  Here are five considerations to think about when it comes to tax planning.

Five areas to consider at year-end:

  1. Analyze your investment portfolio.
  • Review your portfolio to help ensure your allocation still aligns with your goals.
  • Assess tax consequences if you have sold assets earlier in the year.
  • Review tax-loss selling strategies if you have capital gains but wish to keep exposure to a depreciated sector or security.
  1. Manage your taxes.
  • Evaluate the pros and cons of deferring taxable income, if you expect to be in the same or a lower tax bracket next year.
  • Talk to your CPA about increasing your tax deductions.
  1. Maximize your tax-saving opportunities.
  • Consider increasing your retirement savings for the year.
  • Find the right type of IRA for you.
  • If suitable for your circumstances, consider consolidating your assets.
  • Take advantage of an FSA or HSA for health care expenses.
  1. Protect what matters.
  • Review your insurance coverage to help make sure it is adequate for your needs.
  • Review your beneficiary designations and make any necessary adjustments due to life changes (i.e., marriage, divorce, birth of child/grandchild, death, etc.).
  1. Leave a legacy.
  • Review your estate plan to help ensure it is aligned with your wishes.
  • Think about creating or adding to a tax-advantaged college savings plan.
  • Consider developing a plan to complete charitable and family member gifts by year-end.

Taking the time to create, review, or update your investment plan can help you reach your short-term and long-term financial goals. Contact us to schedule a review of your financial situation.

Wells Fargo Advisors is not a legal or tax advisor. However, we will be glad to work with you, your accountant, tax advisor, and/or attorney to help you meet your financial goals.

This article was written by/for Wells Fargo Advisors and provided courtesy of Michelle Floyd, CFP®, Financial Consultant with Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in New Albany, IN.  She can be reached at 812-948-8475.  Visit our website at www.AxiomFSG.com.

Investments in securities and insurance products are: NOT FDIC-INSURED/NOT BANK-GUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE

Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

© 2017 Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC. All rights reserved.   0817-02327

 

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Money Matters | Which Retirement Plan Is Right for Your Business?

By Todd Harrett | Financial Advisor with Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in New Albany

Todd Harrett, Financial Advisor with Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in New Albany, Ind.

Todd Harrett, Financial Advisor with Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in New Albany, Ind.

If you own a small business, there are many retirement plan alternatives available to help you and your eligible employees save for retirement. For most closely-held business owners, a Simplified Employee Pension Individual Retirement Account (SEP IRA) was once the most cost-effective choice. Then the Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE IRA) became a viable alternative. Today you may find that a defined benefit or 401(k) plan best suits your needs. To make an informed decision on which plan is right for your business, review the differences carefully before you choose.

Simplified Employee Pension Individual Retirement Account (SEP IRA). This plan is flexible, easy to set up, and has low administrative costs. An employer signs a plan adoption agreement, and IRAs are set up for each eligible employee. When choosing this plan, keep in mind that it does not allow employees to save through payroll deductions, and contributions are immediately 100% vested.

The maximum an employer can contribute each year is 25% of an employee’s eligible compensation, up to a maximum of $270,000 for 2017. However, the contribution for any individual cannot exceed $54,000 in 2017. Employer contributions are typically discretionary and may vary from year to year. With this plan, the same formula must be used to calculate the contribution amount for all eligible employees, including any owners. Eligible employees include those who are age 21 and older and those employed (both part time and full time) for three of the last five years.

Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE). If you want a plan that encourages employees to save for retirement, a SIMPLE IRA might be appropriate for you. In order to select this plan, you must have 100 or fewer eligible employees who earned $5,000 or more in compensation in the preceding year and have no other employer-sponsored retirement plans to which contributions were made or accrued during that calendar year. There are no annual IRS fillings or complex paperwork, and employer contributions are tax deductible for your business. The plan encourages employees to save for retirement through payroll deductions; contributions are immediately 100% vested.

The maximum salary deferral limit to a SIMPLE IRA plan cannot exceed $12,500 for 2017. If an employee is age 50 or older before December 31, then an additional catch-up contribution of $3,000 is permitted. Each year the employer must decide to do either a matching contribution (the lesser of the employee’s salary deferral or 3% of the employee’s compensation) or non-matching contribution of 2% of an employee’s compensation (limited to $270,000 for 2017). All participants in the plan must be notified of the employer’s decision.

Defined benefit pension plan. This type of plan helps build savings quickly. It generally produces a much larger tax-deductible contribution for your business than a defined contribution plan; however, annual employer contributions are mandatory since each participant is promised a monthly benefit at retirement age. Since this plan is more complex to administer, the services of an enrolled actuary are required. All plan assets must be held in a pooled account, and your employees cannot direct their investments.

Certain factors affect an employer’s contribution for a plan, such as current value of the plan assets, the ages of employees, date of hire, and compensation. A participating employee with a large projected benefit and only a few years until normal retirement age generates a large contribution because there is little time to accumulate the necessary value to produce the stated benefit at retirement. The maximum annual benefit at retirement is the lesser of 100% of the employee’s compensation or $215,000 per year in 2017 (indexed for inflation).

401(k) plans. This plan may be right for your company if you want to motivate your employees to save towards retirement and give them a way to share in the firm’s profitability. 401(k) plans are best suited for companies seeking flexible contribution methods.

When choosing this plan type, keep in mind that the employee and employer have the ability to make contributions. The maximum salary deferral limit for a 401(k) plan is $18,000 for 2017.  If an employee is age 50 or older before December 31, then an additional catch-up contribution of $6,000 is permitted. The maximum amount you, as the employer, can contribute is 25% of the eligible employee’s total compensation (capped at $270,000 for 2017). Individual allocations for each employee cannot exceed the lesser of 100% of compensation or $54,000 in 2017. The allocation of employer profit-sharing contributions can be skewed to favor older employees, if using age-weighted and new comparability features. Generally, IRS Forms 5500 and 5500-EZ (along with applicable schedules) must be filed each year.

Once you have reviewed your business’s goals and objectives, you should check with your Financial Advisor to evaluate the best retirement plan option for your financial situation.

This article was written by Wells Fargo Advisors and provided courtesy of Todd Harrett, Financial Advisor with Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in New Albany, IN at 812-948-8475.  Visit our website at www.AxiomFSG.com.

Wells Fargo Advisors does not provide legal or tax advice. Be sure to consult with your tax and legal advisors before taking any action that could have tax consequences.

Investments in securities and insurance products are: NOT FDIC-INSURED/NOT BANK-GUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE

Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC and Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, LLC, Members SIPC, separate registered broker-dealers and non-bank affiliates of Wells Fargo & Company.

©2016 Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC.   All rights reserved.         1216-01966 [86913-v6] 1115 e6830

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Money Matters | Episode 6: What to Do, Before the I Do’s

Are you ready when the wedding bells ring?
The team from Axiom talk about the financial side — and contract side — of what a wedding brings.
So again, I ask you, are you ready when the wedding bells ring?
Money Matters: The Podcast is sponsored by Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors.  This monthly podcast is in addition to a monthly article titled, “Money Matters,” that is posted online at www.ExtolMag.com and www.axiomfsg.com.
**************************************************************************************************************************
At Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors we sincerely appreciate our clients making opportunities like this possible. Without their support of our business, we would not be able to support programs like this.
Axiom Financial Strategies Group
of Wells Fargo Advisors
101 W Spring Street, Fifth Floor
New Albany, IN  47150
P 812.542.6475 | F 812.948.8732 | www.axiomfsg.com
At Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, our team caters to a select group of family-owned businesses, entrepreneurs, individuals, institutions, and foundations, helping them build, manage, preserve, and transition wealth. We accomplish this while providing top-notch service through a team approach that puts our clients’ needs, goals, and interests first. To learn more visit our website at www.axiomfsg.com. Wells Fargo Advisors. Member SIPC.
The information provided is general in nature and may not apply to your personal investment situation. Individuals should consult with their chosen financial professional before making any decisions.

Any estate plan should be reviewed by an attorney who specializes in estate planning and is licensed to practice law in your state.  Insurance products are offered through our affiliated nonbank insurance agencies.

Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.
Video: CAR# 0817-03149.
Podcast: CAR#  0817-04140
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Money Matters | Looking to Ease College Tuition Anxiety?

By Michelle Floyd, CFP®, Financial Consultant of Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in New Albany, Ind.

michelle-floyd-money-matters-featureDid you realize that, according to the College Board, more than $240 billion in grants from all sources (federal loans, federal work-study, and federal tax credits and deductions) was awarded to undergraduate and graduate students in the 2015-2016 academic year? And that those students came from households spanning a wide range of household incomes?

During that academic year, the average aid for a full-time college student amounted to $14,460, including $8,390 in grants (that don’t have to be repaid) and $4,720 in federal loans.

Once you realize how many resources may be available and begin your research on financial assistance, you could be on your way toward easing some of the anxiety often associated with paying for college.

5 lessons for seeking help for college costs

 Start planning during the high school years. Pay particular attention to your child’s junior year of high school and reposition assets or adjust income before it begins. When financial aid officers review a family’s need, they analyze the family’s income in the calendar year beginning in January of the student’s junior year.

 Assume you’re eligible for aid … until you’re told you’re not. There are no specific guidelines or rules of thumb that can accurately predict the aid you and your child may be offered. Because each family’s circumstances are different, keep an open mind as you consider financial aid alternatives. A number of factors ‒ such as having several children in school at the same time ‒ may increase your eligibility for assistance.

 Reassess assets held by your children. Federal guidelines expect children to contribute 20% of certain assets toward their education’s costs, while parents are expected to contribute up to 5.64%.

That’s why assets held in custodial accounts (bank accounts, trust funds, brokerage accounts) in your children’s names may reduce the aid for which the family qualifies. But assets held in Coverdell Education Savings Accounts and 529 plans are factored into the parent’s formula, having less effect on the aid for which the family qualifies.

 Help grandparents’ target their gifts. Grandparents’ hearts often lead them to make gifts directly to grandchildren or to pay their tuition expenses. Even though payments made directly to a college avoid gift taxes, financial aid sources generally count these payments as an additional resource the family has to pay for college expenses. Distributions from grandparent-owned 529 plans are also considered as resources and assessed as your child’s income, which can reduce eligible aid.

A better idea for grandparents may be to make a gift to a 529 plan owned by the parent or grandchild. The financial aid treatment of gifts to 529 plans is generally more favorable than for gifts made directly to the grandchild. Plus grandparents using this alternative may also realize estate tax and gift tax benefits.

Assess your family’s financial situation to determine what your children will need. Gather records and begin researching available financial aid, grants, loans, and scholarships. Two forms will be key to your aid application process: the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the College Scholarship Service Financial Aid Profile (PROFILE).

The FAFSA helps you apply for federal aid, and many states also use it to determine a resident student’s eligibility for state aid. You can find forms in high-school guidance offices, college financial-aid offices, or online.

Many schools use the PROFILE to collect additional information before awarding their own funds, i.e., institutional student aid.

 Please consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses carefully before investing in a 529 savings plan. The official statement, which contains this and other information, can be obtained by calling your Financial Advisor. Read it carefully before you invest.

 Our firm is not a tax or legal advisor.

This article was written by/for Wells Fargo Advisors and provided courtesy of Michelle Floyd, CFP®, Financial Consultant of Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in New Albany, IN at 812.948.8475.Visit our website at www.AxiomFSG.com.

Investments in securities and insurance products are: NOT FDIC-INSURED/NOT BANK-GUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE

Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

© 2017 Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC. All rights reserved. 0317-00230

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Money Matters | Episode 5: College Prep 101

Are your (parents) prepared to send your child away to college?  Not so much mentally, but are you fully prepared legally and have you prepared your child financially?
Money Matters: The Podcast is sponsored by Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors.  This monthly podcast is in addition to a monthly article titled, “Money Matters,” that is posted online at www.ExtolMag.com and www.axiomfsg.com.
**************************************************************************************************************************
At Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors we sincerely appreciate our clients making opportunities like this possible. Without their support of our business, we would not be able to support programs like this.
Axiom Financial Strategies Group
of Wells Fargo Advisors
101 W Spring Street, Fifth Floor
New Albany, IN  47150
P 812.542.6475 | F 812.948.8732 | www.axiomfsg.com
At Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, our team caters to a select group of family-owned businesses, entrepreneurs, individuals, institutions, and foundations, helping them build, manage, preserve, and transition wealth. We accomplish this while providing top-notch service through a team approach that puts our clients’ needs, goals, and interests first. To learn more visit our website at www.axiomfsg.com. Wells Fargo Advisors. Member SIPC.
The information provided is general in nature and may not apply to your personal investment situation. Individuals should consult with their chosen financial professional before making any decisions.
Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

CAR # for the podcast is 0417-02947 | CAR # for the video is 0417-02942

2017-money-matters-feature-generic-for-articles

Money Matters by Michelle Floyd | Involve Your Child in the Finances of College

By Michelle Floyd

The cost to attend a university continues to increase: between the 2011–2012 school year and the 2016–2017 academic year, tuition and fees rose by 13% at private, nonprofit, four-year institutions, reaching an average of $33,479, according to The College Board.*

If you’ve diligently saved over the years to help pay for your child’s education, now is the perfect time to bring him or her into the equation. “When it comes to financing school, students need to be involved in the process,” explains Tracy Green, a Life Event Services consultant at Wells Fargo Advisors.

By walking through the financial steps of paying for college together, you’ll help your son or daughter understand the overall expenses and learn valuable fiscal skills for the future, especially the importance of goal-based saving.

Green recommends following these five steps to get your child involved before mailing in that acceptance notification and deposit.

  1. Start with a conversation. Before your child even begins applying for college, have a discussion about finances, suggests Green. A good time to have this conversation tends to be during the student’s junior year of high school.

When you sit down together, ask your child about his or her upcoming goals. Talk about expenses for school, as well as who will be covering costs or how they might be split. If you or other family members have contributed to a 529 plan, show it to your child and go through the details of how it can be used.

  1. Set a budget. As a family, consider setting certain guidelines and limitations for the college experience. Perhaps you agree to cover the cost of tuition and room and board, but ask your child to pay for his or her entertainment expenses while on campus.

“Having those discussions may prevent future disappointment,” adds Green. If your son gets accepted into his dream school, for instance, but later learns the family won’t be able to pay for it and he doesn’t want to take out his own loans, the reality could be difficult to face.

  1. Look at financial aid packages together. With your child, fill out and submit forms for financial help, such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Learn more at https://fafsa.ed.gov/. To identify additional types of financial aid that may be available, visit https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/.

Some universities have a net price calculator on their websites. With this tool, you’ll be able to see what the overall cost for the school is and then subtract any financial aid packages available to identify what your expected expenses will be. Once you start receiving acceptance notifications, go through aid packages with your child to compare and contrast them so that you and your child have a clear vision of what the bottom line is and how different aid options are treated.

  1. Think about work. If you want your child to be responsible for paying for part or all of their schooling, a part-time job may be a good fit.

As a family, you’ll want to decide if it makes sense for your child to work while he or she is at school, or only during summer and winter breaks. “Some kids may have a heavy class load or extracurricular activities,” notes Green. If certain scholarships require your child to attain or keep a certain GPA, you’ll want to weigh the time spent away from academics against the amount of money your student will be earning from a part-time job.

In addition to helping cover college expenses, employment can offer other key benefits for your child, including the chance to manage an income, build a strong work ethic, and grow in self-worth. If working during the school year will put too much of a strain on your child, set savings goals together for his or her summer job. 

  1. Understand scholarship possibilities. If your child wants to attend a school that doesn’t fit into the budgeted amount you planned to spend, consider sitting down to talk about the situation. It may be time to look at other options, or your child may want to increase his or her efforts to identify and apply for scholarships to help cover some of the costs.

The site TuitionFundingSources.com, sponsored by Wells Fargo, provides a database of scholarships available. After looking through the options together, help your child set up a schedule to apply for ones that are the best fit, paying close attention to deadlines and other requirements. Some scholarships involve writing an essay, but the rewards offered could make the effort worthwhile. 

*https://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-fees-room-and-board-over-time

 Please consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses carefully before investing in a 529 savings plan. The official statement, which contains this and other information, can be obtained by calling your Financial Advisor. Read it carefully before you invest.

This article was written by/for Wells Fargo Advisors and provided courtesy of Michelle Floyd, CFP®, Financial Consultant with Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in New Albany, IN at 812-948-8475.
Investments in securities and insurance products are: NOT FDIC-INSURED/NOT BANK-GUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE

Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

© 2017 Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC. All rights reserved.   0317-00810

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Money Matters by Michelle Floyd | Tired of Living Paycheck to Paycheck? Pay Yourself First

By Michelle Floyd

Are you one of the many Americans who doesn’t have a personal budget? Do you find yourself living from paycheck to paycheck, never having anything left over to save for a rainy day?  More and more of us are faced with this dilemma than we care to admit.  It seems we all have the intention of creating a budget later, but somehow later never comes.  We’re also faced with the dilemma of whether to save for retirement, children’s college, a rainy day, a vacation or countless other things that we can’t seem to prioritize and begin saving.  First, let me just say that no one likes to talk about a budget, it is the dreaded six-letter four-letter word!  Unfortunately, it is one of the most important conversations you can ever have.

How do I create a budget? I don’t know where to start.

Create a record of your expenses and income. Start by writing down everything that you’ve spent that month. There aren’t too many people who still use a check register, but your bank still has them available. Some of you may ask, “What is a check register?” Well, in the not-so-distant past we weren’t connected and online via our smartphones with balance alerts and everything else available at our fingertips. We had to keep a record of all of our purchases and deposits in a check register and wait for our monthly bank statement to come in the mail to reconcile, or balance, our checkbook. There is something to be said for that now nearly nonexistent ritual: It really helped you know where you were spending your money. After you’ve created that record of your expenses and income, do you have money left over or are you negative? If you’re negative, you truly need to take a hard look at where your money is going.

Next thing is to categorize your spending: housing (rent, mortgage), utilities, restaurants, shopping, credit card or car loan payments, to name a few. Now ask yourself, “Can I skip the coffee today? Do I really need that dress (handbag, golf club, etc.)?” More often than not, the answer is no on the coffee and yes on the dress. It may be difficult to drive past the coffee shop, but let’s put it in terms of your future. You spend $15 a day on coffee and lunch during the work week, that’s $3,900 per year. Wow!

Now comes the hard part, actually making these things happen.

So, you’ve set a goal to save $50 per week. Easy way to do that? Set up an automatic transfer from your checking to savings or update your direct deposit information so that the money goes straight to your savings without a stop in the checking account. Out of sight out of mind, right? Let’s look at that $50 per week over five years – that’s $13,000! Now, that is simple math and not including the power of compounding which we spoke so much about in our previous video and podcast (both of which you can find at ExtolMag.com). When you add in the interest element, that number quickly exceeds $13,000.

Which should I focus on first – retirement, rainy day money, debt repayment, children’s education?

This question is best answered case by case, but as a starting point, look at your employer’s retirement plan. Is there a matching component? Such as, if you contribute 3 percent of your salary they will match you 3 percent of your salary? If so, great! Let’s start there. That 3 percent match is free money! Be sure that you are contributing enough to take full advantage of the match (3% is only $3 for every $100 you make. I promise, you won’t miss it after a couple weeks). Never has anyone said to me or anyone on my team, “I wish I hadn’t saved so much for my retirement.”

Having rainy day money, or an emergency fund, is one of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself.

You never know when the washing machine is going to go out or you have to replace tires on your vehicle unexpectedly. As a general rule, you should have enough cash on hand to cover three to six months’ worth of household expenses. We start this by simply putting a few dollars away at time using the methods above. The hardest part is staying out of it! So maybe you open a savings account at a different bank than your checking. Whatever it takes to help you remain disciplined. The next part, and the harder part, is seeing the big picture and not giving in to that new trendy outfit. It is easy to set a goal, but no one else will hold you accountable.

“How am I ever going to pay for my child’s college?”

While having the goal of paying for your child’s education is wonderful, you must be able realize that you are not doing them a disservice by planning for your retirement first. Let’s face it; they don’t want you living in their basement because you planned for their college and not your retirement! We all want our kids to have it easier than we had it, and that is wonderful if you can comfortably make that happen. Just don’t sacrifice your financial well-being to make it happen.

Debt repayment is sometimes a huge mountain to climb.

Have high interest credit cards? Did you know that you can transfer the balance of that high interest credit card to a new credit card, oftentimes with little to no interest and a nominal fee? Check that out, it may save you hundreds of dollars. There are several online resources you can use to find the right credit card for you. In most cases, you can even apply and input your balance transfer information right there. Starting out with student loans, remember they were worth it. I promise you’ll thank you parents later when they still have money to retire and aren’t living in your basement. The key word to any debt is consolidation. You can consolidate your student loans into one payment. This will help you chip away at the principal faster. Have a 30-year mortgage? Keep in mind that you’re not tied to that mortgage for 30 years; you can refinance to take advantage of lower rates. Another great advantage to home ownership is the ability to access your home’s equity to – here it is again – consolidate debt.

To sum all of this up, it is up to you to determine which route makes you feel better and be able to sleep at night. Unfortunately, finances are not all dollars and cents. It is mostly behavioral.

While we all want to all be debt free and have plenty of savings, we must first take the small steps that will lead to greater strides. I encourage you to sit down and take a hard look at everything to determine what is best for you. No one else can plan for your future but you. Still have questions or need some guidance? You can check out the resources available on our website www.AxiomFSG.com or contact me for more information at michelle.floyd@wfadvisors or phone at 812.948.8475.

Wells Fargo Advisors is not a tax or legal advisor. Any estate plan should be reviewed by an attorney who specializes in estate planning and is licensed to practice law in your state. This article was written by and provided courtesy of Michelle Floyd, CFP®, Financial Consultant with Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in New Albany, IN.  She can be reached via email at michelle.floyd@wfadvisors or phone at (812) 948-8475.  Visit our website at www.AxiomFSG.com. Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC. Member SIPC.   CAR 0517-02348.

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Money Matters by Eric Ballenger | Five Money Tips for Your College-Aged Child

When his daughter was looking at colleges, Dan Prebish, Director of Life Event Services at Wells Fargo Advisors, approached things a little differently than many parents. He raised the issue of college finances while on college tours, asking tour guides questions such as, “How much do you budget for meals outside of the dorm?” and “Where is the nearest ATM?”

Prebish found that sprinkling in financial questions provided an opportunity to get his daughter thinking about more than just the school’s curriculum, sporting events, and Greek life. Dinner conversations about schools she was applying to often featured discussions of scholarships. It was a strategy designed to help sensitize his daughter, Lydia, now 19 and a college freshman, to managing money.

Tracy Green, Tax and Financial Planning specialist at Wells Fargo Advisors, says money management is the most important lesson you can teach your children, because “they’ll need that in their college years and beyond.” Green, along with Prebish and his wife, Anne, share some tips for parents to help prepare their children for the challenges that lie ahead when they’re living independently as college students.

Tip 1: Discuss tuition and responsibility

Green says that before even applying to college, parents need to talk with their child about what type of school is within the parents’ budget and what portion, if any, the child will be responsible for covering. “Everyone needs to know up front what they’re going to be responsible for by the spring or summer before college,” she says.

Lydia Prebish, for example, pays for her own entertainment expenses, such as movies or meals at a restaurant with friends. She saved money from a summer job and also works on campus. “I think it’s always valuable for kids to have work skills, whether you need the money or not,” Dan says. The independent source of income helps provide students a sense of satisfaction and self worth, he adds. Because Lydia works two four-hour shifts a week, it’s manageable for her. But Dan says working, especially during the first semester as a student adjusts to college, may not be ideal for every student. Those who want to participate in many extracurricular activities or have a demanding curriculum may find it more difficult.

Tip 2: Focus on budget fundamentals

Anne Prebish says your children should learn the core concept of money: understand how much money they have and know not to spend more than that. “We have to be careful not to assume our kids know these things,” she says. Both she and her husband say it makes sense for kids to have a job the summer before college so they can accumulate savings. But managing that money during the course of a six-month semester can be a challenge. They suggest sitting down with your child and dividing the total amount of money available by the months at school to determine a monthly budget. “The first semester is about learning and keeping track of how you’re spending your money,” Anne says.

Tip 3: Think about debit and credit cards

The Prebishes and Green agree that a debit card is a key way to help students manage money. Dan says it’s an easy way to pay for items such as books, while Green adds it has oversight value — parents can limit spending on the card to the checking account balance. She also suggests that parents get their child a secured credit card, where the parent fronts the cash deposit but the child is financially responsible for making on-time payments, as this is a way of helping the child establish a credit history without giving him or her free rein over a traditional credit card.

Tip 4: Don’t forget their health

Dan recommends verifying in advance what your insurance covers while your children are at college, specifically whether they’ll be covered for visits to a clinic on campus or whether the school requires that you purchase their health insurance. Make sure to schedule routine medical or dental appointments during summer or school breaks so that they don’t go by the wayside. And he says it’s essential for a child to have his or her own durable power of attorney authorizing a parent to make financial or legal decisions if the child is incapacitated. A durable power of attorney for health care is also recommended, since professionals aren’t authorized to share medical information with parents without explicit permission if the child is 18 or over. He suggests scanning those documents onto the child’s phone and keeping a copy for yourself, so the documents are readily accessible. Green adds that doctor’s phone numbers and medical and insurance information should also be kept on the child’s phone.

Tip 5: Empower your children to ask for help

One suggestion Anne considers critical is to send the message to your college-aged children that just because they are adults living on their own, asking for a parent’s advice isn’t a sign of weakness. “Part of being an adult is realizing other people are there to help you,” she says. And parents shouldn’t think they’re hovering if they assist.

“We have consistently been there giving our daughter our two cents and also letting her make choices,” Anne says. Those discussions on college survival skills have helped their daughter transition well to her new environment. “She was prepared for anything we could prepare her for,” she adds.

This article was written by/for Wells Fargo Advisors and provided courtesy of Eric Ballenger, Senior Vice President – Investment Officer of a Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in New Albany, IN.  He can be reached at 812.948.8475.  Visit our website at www.AxiomFSG.com.

Investments in securities and insurance products are: NOT FDIC-INSURED/NOT BANK-GUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE

Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

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