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.
CAR # for the podcast is 0417-02947 | CAR # for the video is 0417-02942
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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
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.
Please watch the below video for answer and/or listen to our podcast below:
MONEY MATTERS PODCAST (12 min 49 sec., Podcast goes into more detail about why and how)
Investing 101 PDF (written reference provided by Wells Fargo Advisors)
If you would like more information regarding investments or tips information like the ones, please contact our office for a free consultation: You can also follow Money Matters at www.Axiomfsg.com or www.ExtolMag.com.
Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors
101 W. Spring Street, 5th Floor
New Albany, IN 47150
www.Axiomfsg.com | 812.948.8475
Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member FINRA/SIPC, CAR 0417-00313
By Vaughan Scott
Typically when we consider “Money Matters” we think about saving for retirement, saving for college, or other goals that we have set for ourselves or for our families. However, more and more, we are having conversations with clients about how and what they want to do to “give back”. And, we are building more philanthropic goals (big and small) into our clients documented plans for the future.
I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word “philanthropic”, I think about families like the Carnegie’s and the Rockefellers, but in reality, most of us are philanthropic in many ways and we don’t even realize it. Today we tend to think more in terms of our “Social Responsibilities”. Yes, charitable giving in any form is yet another way to be socially responsible. Our clients often talk about the charitable giving and the service work that they do as being something they feel “an obligation” to do, “a duty” or “a responsibility” of theirs, but always with very positive, inspirational tone. These feelings usually are born out of gratefulness for having been given great opportunities in their lives and this typically results in people giving of their time, talents and treasure (money) in traditional ways.
For example, people are often incredibly generous in the ways they give to their church, write checks to organizations that they want to support, work in soup kitchens, help build houses, help build churches, and/or donate gently used goods to Goodwill and other organizations that are funded through the sale of donated goods. These are all typically very noble and worthy causes. And, while the economic benefits that one might receive are not typically what motivates people to give, certainly anyone engaging in these types of activities should consult with their tax advisors about the deductibility of both cash and “in kind” gifts to charities.
At the same time, I also encourage individuals and families to expand their thinking about what they can do together to make a difference. For example, a few years ago, during a particularly cold, harsh, winter, my mother came up with a great idea to buy sleeping bags, pairs of gloves, warm socks, and hats for the homeless in the region for Christmas. My brother and I bought a dozen or so of each and our mother and our children handed them out to homeless people in our region. This experience was rather rewarding for all of us because, while we had done “Secret Santa” shopping in the past, we typically had fairly clear instructions on what to buy.
In this situation, we had the opportunity to think through the whole process with our children – a great learning experience for them and for us: What types of sleeping bags did we need to buy that were rated for the temperatures that we were dipping into in the middle of the night? How can we get enough of them since stores didn’t typically carry more than 3-4 of the kind we needed?
The conversations that we had together as we worked through the whole process were incredibly valuable, but the conversation our children had with the homeless people they met were even more valuable. Many volunteered their stories about how they had fallen on hard times and everyone expressed their sincere appreciation for the thoughtfulness of the gesture. Needless to say the goodwill and good feelings that our whole family was able to gain from the experience paid us dividends that had far greater value than any economic benefit that we might have gained from donating indirectly through a charity that served the homeless. And, the whole process gave us a great opportunity to teach our children about the importance of “Social Responsibility” beyond protecting the climate, recycling, etc. It also gave us a good reminder that we need to continue coming up with new and unique ways to help others.
In the interest of also trying to spark some interesting conversations around your dinner table, let me leave you with a few questions:
- What are the ways that you and your family are socially responsible?
- What are the new and unique ways that you and your family could give back or otherwise serve others?
This article was written by and provided courtesy of Vaughan Scott, MBA, CPWA®, Managing Director – Investment Officer with Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in New Albany, IN. He can be reached via email at vaughan.scott@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.’ Wells Fargo Advisors is a registered broker-dealer and a separate non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company. CAR 0317-03813.
A Money Matter’s Trio, Vaughan Scott, MBA, CPWA® Managing Director, Eric Ballenger, Senior Vice President – Investments and Michael Grau, CFP®, RICP®, Vice President – Investment, comes to the table and discusses the end of 2016, what the new President may or may not cause, along with a local look-in.
Money Matters: The Podcast is sponsored by Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors. This quarterly 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.
Michelle Floyd, CFP® | Financial Consultant
Axiom Financial Strategies Group
of Wells Fargo Advisors
101 W Spring Street, Fifth Floor
New Albany, IN 47150
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 1216-02739