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college savings Archives - Sharkey, Howes & Javer

How to Responsibly Handle Your Tax Refund

By | SH&J Blog, Tips | No Comments

It’s tax season and for almost 80% of Americans, (source) a refund check may be in the mail. It’s easy to view a tax refund as free or easy money, but remember you worked hard to earn that money. Using your tax refund responsibly now can assist in reaching your financial goals in the future.

Here are 8 suggestions for using your tax refund responsibly:

Top Off Your Emergency Fund

An emergency fund is an important part of any smart budget. If your emergency fund has been depleted recently, think about using your tax refund to top it off. Depending on the circumstances, we typically recommend having an emergency fund that covers three to six months of basic living expenses.

Build Your Investment Portfolio

Consider using your tax refund to add to your investment portfolio. Talk to your Certified Financial Planner® about how to allocate your tax refund dollars amongst your investments.

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The 411 on 529 Plans: Taking Saving for College to the Next Level

By | Investing, SH&J Blog, Tips | No Comments

Having children creates a host of concerns, the least of which is how to save money for college. On top of paying for sports equipment, piano lessons and karate classes, parents’ thoughts soon turn to paying for tuition, books and housing. But a little early planning can help mitigate a lot of worrying down the road, and a lot of people find that a 529 College Savings Plan is a good solution.

What is a 529 Plan?

Developed in 1996, 529 plans were designed to help families save money for higher education without paying taxes on the investment. As such, 529 plans are exempt from federal taxes if the proceeds are used for qualified higher education purposes. Most states, including Colorado, will also allow you to deduct your contributions to the plan for state tax purposes.

Any adult can open a 529 plan account for themselves or for someone else, usually a child or grandchild. Another benefit of such a plan is that anyone, whether they own the account or not, can contribute to the account. So if you open an account for your child, anyone you know can make a contribution directly to the account.

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How much should I save for college?

By | Harold Kirschner, Planners, SH&J Blog, Tips, Videos | No Comments

Most of our clients are saving for college at some point during their time with SH&J. Some are saving for their children and others for their grandkids. As Harold highlights in the video, the number one rule when saving for college is:

Save for retirement first.

That said, when you are looking at how much you should save, consider the following factors:

  • Private or public college
  • In-state or out-of-state tuition

Working with a financial planner can help you look at these factors along with your retirement and other financial goals to decide on the best path for your college savings goals.

At SH&J, we usually start with 529 plans for college savings. 529 plans:

  • Receive federal & state tax breaks
  • Are low maintenance
  • Allow you to maintain control of the funds
  • Grow tax free as long as the money is used for college education

Take a look at our College Planning page for more information about 529 plans and other college saving questions.

If you are looking at saving for college soon, we’d love to meet with you to hear more about your goals. Give us a ring at 303.639.5100 and let’s set up a time.