Monday, November 30, 2009

Financial Planning Tips for Married Couples

Posted by: Jessie Bruyn

The Six Financial Mistakes Couples Make

Posted by: Jessie Bruyn

IF YOU AND YOUR partner are like most couples, chances are, you fight about money. Numerous studies have shown that money is the No. 1 reason why couples argue — and many of the recently divorced say those battles were the main reason why they untied the knot.

While anyone will tell you that talking about money is the first step in resolving problems, talk alone won't do the trick.

In fact, a 2004 study commissioned by SmartMoney magazine and Redbook, another Hearst publication (SmartMoney magazine and are jointly published by Dow Jones and Hearst), found that more than 70% of couples talk about money on a weekly basis. So what's the problem? "Most of us don't know how to talk about money," says Mary Claire Allvine, a certified financial planner (CFP) and co-author of "The Family CFO: The Couple's Business Plan for Love and Money."

Click Here to read more

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Saving for Your Children's Future

By: Laura Reginelli

Besides retirement, saving for your children’s college expenses and tuitions tend to drain out bank accounts in most families. With the increasingly higher tuition costs which are rising at a rate faster than inflation, it is becoming more difficult for families to save for college costs. Many of you may be wondering what is the best way to go about paying for college. The truth is, like everything else in life, it pays to start planning early.

· FASFA: As your child goes through and applies to colleges, make sure to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FASFA form. Based on this form the government will be able to determine your financial need for that specific child. Filling out a FASFA requires the use of your W-2 forms, bank statements and mortgage and insurance forms. Also, if your FASFA estimate for need isn’t has high as you expected, don’t be afraid to appeal it.

· Loans: Although many feel that taking out loans is risky in terms of finding ways to pay them back, they also serve as a way to make paying for college feasible. Look into both Stafford and PLUS loans to determine the best way to make up the difference when it comes to paying for your children.

· Scholarships: Make sure that your kids are doing their part too! Private scholarships serve as a great way to pool in extra money for college needs. Even the smallest bit counts!

· Section 529 Plans: Look into your states Section 529 plans for an easy and relatively cheap way to save for college. The plans usually provide you with tax benefits while you have a guaranteed way for saving for tuition. And the money does not necessarily have to be used at an in-state college!

There’s no time like now to start saving for your children’s education. The earlier you start, the easier paying for college will be!


Finding A Balance Between Family and the Holidays

Posted By: Laura Reginelli

The holidays can be a budget-buster when it comes to getting the family's finances in line.So how can you be a great gift provider, while keeping your family on the right financial path?

One key is making a holiday list for all your gifts -- and don't be afraid to stick with low-cost, but creative gifts.When making purchases, shoppers carrying a credit card balance might consider paying by cash or check. Just keep track of your balance.

Click here to read full article!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Kids Learning to Manage Money by Playing Games

Posted by: Janielle Viggiano

One of the most popular games at the fair was the award winning "Green" jigsaw puzzles which allow players to grow wildflowers.

Sandra Bergeson, one of the two inventors of the green games, told Xinhua that the games were popular with many families, as they were fun and could also teach children to be "green."

Debt-free Tree Games were also popular with the children. Kids can play it with their family, making virtual earnings from part-time work and managing the money.

Dale Balder, creator of the toy, initially invented this game just for his 7-year-old granddaughter whose parents were not good at managing their money.

"Now she has learned to manage her money and started saving for her college education already," he said.

"This game helps children learn how to manage money for their future," he said. "It helps children and family members learn how to lead a debt-free life while enjoying quality time together."

Mary Couzin, executive director of Chicago Toy and Game Group, said: "Playing can have a big effect on a child's future."

"Research shows that play can increase one's IQ (intelligence quotient) and improve math and reading scores. Play improves our ability to reason and to understand the world," he added.

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Teaching Your Children the Value of Money

Posted by: Janielle Viggiano

When it comes to teaching children about money, the earlier the better. It’s not an easy task but if you start early enough there are short and long-term benefits. In the short term, they will develop strong savings habits and learn how to make smart purchasing decisions. In the long-term it will help them to avoid accumulating debt and plan for financial security. It’s also a good idea to teach your children where the money is coming from because most children only see it as coming out of mom and dads pockets. Start by explaining to your children that money is earned by working.

There are different feelings about whether or not an allowance is a helpful way to teach children the importance of money. According to the University of Arkansas, “Children need to have money of their own to learn how to manage it. An allowance is a better teaching method than simply giving children money upon their request, says the Cooperative Extension Service, University of Arkansas. An allowance for children should be a set amount, should be paid regularly, and not tied to regular tasks required of the child. When deciding on the amount of an allowance, discuss what items will be covered. The amount should be enough that the child has money to manage with no strings attached (2006).” More examples of lessons to teach your children about money include: make saving interesting, banking and investing, and compounding.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Black Friday Saves Families Big Dollars

By: Laura Reginelli

When Thanksgiving rolls around, many people tend to think about the day after, Black Friday. In this economically troubled time, families are looking for ways to cut costs and in some cases make ends meet. Black Friday allows shoppers to buy for the holiday season and receive great deals while doing it, inevitably saving them money.

Black Friday can be a competitive, mad-dash for shoppers, sometimes proving to be too much for people. When it comes to this day of shopping, make sure to plan ahead by packing snacks and wearing comfortable clothing. Also shopping may be a little easier if you go with a list of what you need and where the deals are.

Some stores are even joining in on the family planning process. This year Kohl’s is allowing their customers to use their Web site to create a shopping list that they can print and take with them. From there, the customers are off to the stores. Kohl’s will open at 4 a.m. on Black Friday this year, allowing for the madness to start even earlier.

Black Friday shoppers are often a breed of their own and some of the most determined individuals. Although many of us may not see the real importance of going out into this “mob scene,” others swear by the savings.

One Black Friday shopper confesses “I've been venturing out early on Black Friday for eight years now, and every year, I've saved at least $200 — usually much more.”

So if you are looking to save a few extra dollars in the holiday season, make a plan and venture out instead of sleeping in the day after Thanksgiving! It may just save you.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Family Credit Issues

Posted by: Laura Reginelli

Might your family be shunning a federal tax credit of up to $8,000 to buy a home because of a prior bankruptcy or foreclosure?

It's true that a bankruptcy may remain on your credit report for up to 10 years, in many cases. But a lender will give you a mortgage four years after the date of filing of Chapter 7, 11 or 12 bankruptcy, reports Dale Robyn Siegel in her book, "The New Rules for Mortgages." In some cases, with extenuating circumstances, you may even qualify after two years.

Click here to read more!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

10 Secrets to Raising More Than $15,000 for College

Posted by Jorden Meltz

Grandparents are pitching in. Students are working more, and eating less. Parents are taking out more and bigger federal loans.

As the economy has declined and college costs have risen, families have buckled down and become more resourceful to pay for college.

They have been so successful at funding tuition that college enrollment is up dramatically. A record 40 percent (or 11.5 million) of 18- to 24-year-olds are taking at least one college course this year. Add in all the adults returning to school because of the lousy job market, and the total number of college students is likely to exceed 19 million this year.

How are more students affording tuition even though many colleges' prices are at record highs and many scholarship programs, private lenders, and family savings accounts have been wiped out?

1. Relatives: College officials around the country say they are noticing more checks coming in from grandparents, uncles, and other relatives to cover student bills.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mistakes Couples Make When Mixing Love and Money Together

As I prepare for an appearance on ABC News to talk about money and relationships, I thought I would share the answers to some of my questions that were asked of me by the producers. Perhaps this can be valuable information that can be used to help others. There is more in my book, Financial Lovemaking, which goes deeply into the struggles that couples have when negotiating the challenging task of merging love and money together.Love Money have in common?

People think it's taboo to mix love and money in a conversation, but it's not. It's actually essential that you do so. Loving together means living together. In most relationships, you spend more time talking about functional aspects of life, such as paying the bills and purchasing decisions than you spend on "lovey-dovey" stuff. Also, like making love, merging your assets involves sharing something of value with another person. Similar to the act of sharing your body, merging your assets with someone else can either be a fulfilling experience or a devastating one, depending on who you choose as your partner.

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Budgeting involves understanding how much money you earn and spend over a period of time. When you create a budget, you are creating a plan for spending and saving money.

Use these printable budget worksheets and budgeting lessons to teach real life basic personal finance concepts and important fundamental money skills.

Lesson plans and worksheets may be used for a curriculum teaching budgets, household budgeting, and consumer math skills.

Follow the link for a sample budget that you can use...

posted by chris keeler

College Costs

posted by Chris Keeler

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Six Financial Mistakes Couples Make

By: Jessie Bruyn

IF YOU AND YOUR partner are like most couples, chances are, you fight about money. Numerous studies have shown that money is the No. 1 reason why couples argue — and many of the recently divorced say those battles were the main reason why they untied the knot.

While anyone will tell you that talking about money is the first step in resolving problems, talk alone won't do the trick.

In fact, a 2004 study commissioned by SmartMoney magazine and Redbook, another Hearst publication (SmartMoney magazine and are jointly published by Dow Jones and Hearst), found that more than 70% of couples talk about money on a weekly basis. So what's the problem? "Most of us don't know how to talk about money," says Mary Claire Allvine, a certified financial planner (CFP) and co-author of "The Family CFO: The Couple's Business Plan for Love and Money."

"People tend to be emotional and reactive about money, not strategic," she says.

When emotions run high, people tend to make fiscal mistakes. Allvine's solution: Approach family finances as if you were running a business. "If you put a business metaphor into the picture, you'd be surprised how much more methodical people are."

And so, to help make your next state-of-the-financial-union meeting run smoothly, we've assembled a collection of the six most common mistakes couples make when handling money issues, along with some advice on how to correct them. Do yourself a favor: Make sure all board members review this before you talk.

Click Here to read more

Social Security and Divorce

Posted by: Jessie Bruyn

Is it true that as a 64-year-old divorcee, who was married for 13 years and hasn't remarried, I would be eligible to collect half of my ex-husband's Social Security benefit? My ex-husband is 67 and has been collecting full Social Security for more than a year. I have been waiting to collect my full retirement benefit from Social Security until age 66, rather than taking reduced benefits early.

If I could collect half of his benefit now, could I switch to my own full benefit at 66? Then, could I switch again, to collect my ex-husband's full benefit, if he dies before I do? Also, could I collect his benefits retroactively?

S.A. Reagan

You don't have a choice between collecting your own benefit or your ex-spouse's until you reach your full retirement age.

If you are between age 62, which is the youngest age at which you can collect reduced retirement benefits through Social Security, and your full retirement age, which varies based on the year you were born, your application for benefits generally will be based on your earnings record, says Dorothy Clark, a spokeswoman for the Social Security Administration in Baltimore. If the portion of your ex-spouse's benefit to which you are entitled at the age you apply is greater than your own, you could receive a benefit equal to that amount.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Buy A Home, Get A Tax Credit

Posted by Mary Clare McGraw

Congress has extended the popular tax credit for first-time homebuyers and created a new tax break for homeowners looking to trade up.

Under the new law anyone who hasn’t owned a home in the past three years can claim a credit worth 10% of a home’s purchase price, up to $8,000. The new act also includes a tax credit of up to $6,500 for individuals and families who have lived in their homes for at least five years and want to move.

The deadlines are the same as for the first-time buyers’ tax credit — contract by April 30, closing by July 1.

Both credits require the home to be a principal residence and to cost no more than $800,000. These tax breaks are particularly valuable because they’re credits, not deductions.

To read more click here

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Money Management for Couples

By: Laura Reginelli

Marriage is one of the oldest sanctions and traditions known to mankind. And even though it is about love and the joining of two individuals, other areas of life must be taken into consideration as well when entering into marriage. Just like any other personal preferences, people have their own spending habits and ways of managing money.

When it comes to marriage, you have to think of the entity rather than yourself. It’s no longer just about you. Instead you really have another half to think about. So with that being said, money should not be considered yours, it should be thought of it terms of “ours.”

Like any other monetary situation in your life, you should use a budgetary system. Determine how much money you will have and where exactly it should be allocated. This means you will need to discuss spending on luxury items.

Plan ahead. I know it’s early. But it pays to start early when it comes to saving for both your retirement and your children’s education. These are not minor expenses and even saving a little from the start will be of extreme benefit to you in the future.

Communication is necessary in any marriage in order to succeed. When it comes to yours and your spouses’ finances, it is imperative that you keep open communication and discuss purchases and budgeting skills.


When Finances Challenge Your Marriage

Posted by: Laura Reginelli

When a couple first gets together, they may not have the same approach to managing money. But it’s often easy enough to get past any differences when so much of the future is theoretical anyway.

Then reality sets in. It may take years, even decades, but the gloss wears off. Children arrive, layoffs occur or housing prices collapse just as adult children run out of money.

In my last column, I highlighted a number of topics that the newly engaged should discuss to keep disagreements about money from later threatening the union. This week, I had intended to move on in my series about the financial impact of divorce and write about what happens after the split.

Click here to read more!

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Right Way to Loan Money to Family Members

Posted by: Janielle Viggiano

With three words, you can sum up the most common advice about lending money to your relatives: "Don't do it."

Financial planners warn that intrafamily loans can lead to trashed relationships, shattered finances and even trouble with the IRS. People who've lent money to family members often complain about ingratitude, missed payments and strained holiday dinners. Even the borrowers grumble, especially when their benefactors start quizzing them about their spending.

"Suddenly, (the lender) is looking at the vacation they took and saying, 'They owe us money, how can they go on vacation?'" said financial planner Karen Ramsey, author of "Everything You Know About Money is Wrong." "The borrowers pick up on that judgment, and they get resentful."

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Money & Marriage

Posted by: Janielle Viggiano

Marriage is a partnership and separating the money and splitting the bills is a bad idea. Men and women are very different when it comes to money. According to Dave Ramsey, “When it comes to money, men tend to take more risks and don't save for emergencies. Men use money as a scorecard and can struggle with self-esteem when there are financial problems. Women tend to see money more as a security issue, so they will gravitate toward the rainy-day fund. Because of their need for security, ladies can have a level of fear (2009).” One of the leading reasons for divorce is money issues. According to the New York Times, there are at least four issues you should address with your spouse before getting married.

  1. Ancestry- looking at your personal past and how your family dealt with money
  2. Credit- A credit report will tell your spouse about past mistakes and overall habits.
  3. Control- who will do what in the relationship when it comes to paying bills
  4. Affluence- how much money do you and/or your spouse want to have someday and how will you be able to accomplish your goal

Next are five financial issues that will likely cause a strife between you and your spouse:

  1. Reduced circumstances
  2. Your mistakes
  3. Your parents
  4. Your uncertainty
  5. Your children


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Front-End Loaded Mortgages hurt Family Finances

Posted by Chris O'Sullivan

Interest on home mortgages is commonly "front-end" loaded, meaning lenders are making what some may consider unfair amounts of cash on your interest payments. Often times it may take 20 years to pay off only half of the principal on a 30 year mortgage. Front-end loads are structured in a way that requires the mortgage holder to pay off the interest first before chipping away at the principle.

If large interest payments in the early years really do generate excess profits for lenders, you would think that they would prefer 30-year to 15-year mortgages, because interest payments on the 15 decline much more rapidly. You would also suspect they should charge higher rates on 15s. However, they actually charge lower rates on 15s.

The way that lenders price loans is just the opposite of what we would expect if interest was front-end loaded. Lenders actually prefer shorter-term mortgages because their money turns over faster, which reduces their exposure to rising interest rates, and the more rapid pay-down of the balance reduces the risk of loss from default. This show why it is important to know the fine print in any contract that you sign.


Effects of the Recession Linger...

By: Robert Katz

While all experts seem to be saying that the recession is over, it is the after shock of this massive economic collapse that is definitely still effecting the American population. The worst part of all is that the real problems the recession created weren't even financial.
In today's American capitalist society, life seems to revolve around money and finances. Due to such high increases in unemployment and job opportunities families' financial situations have become the least of their worries. The plummet of the economy left most Americans unprepared for the years to come. Families have a lot to worry about with providing for kids, paying a morgage, car payments, insurance, saving for retirement, kids college, etc. The abortion rate in the US during this recession has increased substantially showing that families have had to alter their mind sets when thinking about starting a family. Yet, those already with a family that depend on a single income have been the ones that are really effected the most.
Inability to pay bills or even afford some of the luxuries we have come to take for granted in every day life have become out of their price range. This creates frustration and tension in families and more specifically problems in marriages. Marriage counseling has also had a surprising increase during a recession. This just shows the importance of saving and not being frivolous with your money. While always been worried that worst is coming isn't good either, it just never hurts to just be prepared and budget money wisely.

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Personal Finance: Time to get serious about Roth IRAs

By Zach Lungo

Article By Linda Stern

For decades, people planned for retirement anticipating that they would face lower taxes than they paid while working -- but that's no longer a sure thing.
Many people have their retirement savings tucked away in tax-deferred accounts and will have to pay taxes on that money as they take withdrawals. Up to 85 percent of Social Security benefits will be taxed for many of these tax-deferred savers.
And with the federal deficit out of control and the tax cuts enacted in 2001 by President George W. Bush set to expire next year, there's the very real prospect that tax rates going forward will be higher than they were over the last decade.
Enter the Roth Individual Retirement Account.
Created in 1997 tax legislation, Roth IRAs allow workers to put away money that could build tax-free for retirement. Contributions to Roth IRAs do not qualify for tax deductions, but the money that is withdrawn years later, in retirement, is not taxed. That is especially beneficial to younger savers whose accounts have many years to earn interest, dividends and gains that can compound over time. The law that created Roth IRAs also included provisions for allowing taxpayers to convert their existing tax-deferred IRAs into Roths.
But Roth IRAs have had their limits, too. Only taxpayers who earn less than $105,000 ($166,000 for joint filers) in 2009 can contribute the maximum amount ($5,000 per person, with a $1,000 additional catch up contribution for folks 50 or older) to a Roth IRA. And only people earning less than $100,000, single or married filing jointly, can convert their traditional IRAs to Roths.
In 2010, some of those rules will change. That $100,000 limit disappears, so folks with higher incomes can convert traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs. Deciding whether to do that, and how to go about it, is going to be difficult and complex. Here are some considerations.
You will have to pay taxes. When you convert a traditional tax-deferred IRA to a Roth IRA, you will pay taxes on all of the tax-deferred money being moved over. If you have been contributing to an account that was fed with nondeductible contributions, it may be hard to figure out how much of what you move will actually be taxable. You can use IRS Form 8606, available on the IRS website (, to calculate.
For the conversion to make any sense, you need to have enough extra cash available to pay those taxes without having to reduce the size of the IRA to do it.
-- The key to deciding whether to convert comes down to whether you think your taxes on that money will ultimately be higher or lower when it comes time for withdrawal. There are several calculators online that can help you decide if it is a good option. Find one here, and another at Fidelity Investments
But even after using the calculators, you will have to make your own decision about whether to take the tax-poison now or later. The younger you are, the more likely you are to find that conversion makes sense.
-- A partial decision might be the best one. You can convert a portion of your existing IRA to a Roth IRA, and experts at Fidelity believe this might be the best option for many people. That way you can convert just enough to keep your tax bill low.
-- You can spread out the taxes, too. Just for 2010, if you convert an existing IRA to a Roth IRA, there is the option of paying the resulting tax bill as part of your 2010 income taxes or spreading it over 2011 and 2012. Usually, tax professionals advise people to defer taxes whenever possible. But with the prospects of rates going up in 2011, it might make more sense to be done with the taxes in 2010.
You can also wait and see what happens to your income and tax rates in 2010 and 2011, and then file amended tax returns for those years, switching the IRA taxes from one year to another.
-- You may want to stash more now. You still have 2009 to add to your traditional deductible (or nondeductible) IRA, so that you are in position to convert more funds to a Roth IRA in 2010.

Gift Cards this Holiday Season

Posted by Matt Maillet
Article by Gail Buckner

Sales of these credit card-sized “gifts” are expected to decline again this year, mainly due to current economic conditions. Still, they’re predicted to top $20 billion. But whether you’re the giver or the recipient, it’s critical to understand that all gift cards are not alike. The biggest differences are between those issued by stores and those issued by banks. The latter typically come with a “VISA,” MasterCard,” or “American Express” logo.

The National Retail Federation [NRF] points out that gift cards from “most national retailers do not have fees or expiration dates associated with them.” The downside, of course, is that the value of the card can only be spent at that particular store.

Click here to

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kids and Recession: Sometimes, You Just Have to Laugh

Posted by Andrew Lipsitz

As dispiriting, prolonged and unprecedented as this recession has been, adults at least have the gift of perspective -- a "this too shall pass" belief that things will get better. They always have.
For children, there is no perspective. This is all new. And a recent major survey says they're scared.
For the first time, the American Psychological Association (APA) included young people ages eight to 17 in its recently-released annual Stress in America survey. The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, found that worries about family finances ranked second to doing well in school on the stress meter, well ahead of over-scheduling and relationships with parents.
For parents who want to ease the strain, one of the most effective ways to deal with recession-induced anxiety in children is also, unfortunately, one of the qualities most vulnerable to downturns in the economy.
Fear and disappointment can suffocate the silly playfulness that defines some of the strongest and most resilient families. The inside jokes, movie lines and other reference points that can run through the narrative of family life can be pushed aside. Burping the alphabet loses its glorious silliness when the credit card company is on the phone.
The current American humorlessness is understandable. Recessions aren't funny. This one is taking a particular toll on adults. A recent Gallup-Heathways poll has taken the most comprehensive look ever at the tie between the economy and emotion.

Click here to

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Family Finances

How Much Should Your Kids Know?

By Robert Katz

Rising utility and automobile gasoline prices, college tuitions and emergency trips to the veterinarian are just a sampling of issues that put a strain on a family's budget. These expenses and more are causing many families to find themselves needing to periodically revise their budgets.

Our children overhear financial discussions and casual statements spoken about saving for the holidays or a vacation. They see prices on nearly every item in stores and malls and are aware that their parents work. Despite being aware that money is a part of life, many parents question how much financial information they should share with their children.

Whether your family is pinching pennies or fiscally sound, do you know if your child understands the concepts of saving and spending money? How much does your child know – or want to know – about your family's financial footing? Knowing when, where and how to approach financial topics with your children will alleviate your child's confusion, prevent misconceptions and ensure your family is all on the same financial page.

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Median home prices fell nationwide in 3Q

Posted by Chris O'Sullivan

Article by J.W. Elphinstone (Yahoo Finance)

A real estate group says home prices fell in eight out of every 10 U.S. cities in the third quarter of this year as heavily discounted distressed sales made up 30 percent of all deals.

But home sales continued their climb, with quarterly sales outpacing the second quarter and the previous year's figures, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday.

The median sales prices of existing homes declined in 123 out of 153 metropolitan areas compared with the same period a year ago. Prices rose in the other 30 cities.

The national median price clocked in at $177,900, or 11 percent below the third quarter last year.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

No Truth behind a 'Jobless Recovery'

Article by Matthew Maillet

In recent months, many economists have declared the recession is coming to an end while ignoring one of the strongest indicators of a country’s economic strength—employment rates. A “jobless recovery” is not very likely, yet economists have been ignoring these high unemployment rates while focusing on other economic indicators.

Even though the U.S. economy grew in the third quarter for the first time in over a year, we are still facing increased job loss for the 22nd consecutive month. Even though it appears that companies may be reducing the threat of bankruptcy, everyday Americans have been faced with the increasing threat of job loss and financial insecurity. There has been a trend in recent months that demonstrate a shorter work week. This is a bad indicator for two reasons—one, workers will be receiving less monthly income than a full 40 hour work week; second, companies are not considering hiring new employees at this time.

There has been an overall drop in private sector employment since 2000. This is disturbing due to the fact that population grew by 11% in the same period. John Harrington of Harrington investments weighed in on the matter: “To have a real recovery you need to put people to work. Right now we are not doing that.” It is ignorant for one to disregard the massive unemployment issues that this country is currently facing. To truly repair the economy from the ground up we must first get Americans back to work. While indicators such as the growing economy as well as the impressive rebound on Wall Street are positive signs for the future, make sure to take a look at unemployment statistics before buying into a “jobless recovery” theory.

Thinking about Grad School?

Posted by Matthew Maillet
Article by Emma Johnson

More than 70% of those who pursue a graduate degree find themselves saddled with debt that they may not be able to afford, according to the U.S. Department of Education's 2004 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study. On average, a person with a master's degree graduates with a combined undergrad and graduate debt of $32,858. For an MBA that figure is $41,687; for a Ph.D., plan on $53,405; and for a law degree, expect to be paying off $80,754.

The good news is that, on average, people with graduate degrees make more money than those without. According to the most recent U.S. Census figures, a person with a professional degree (law, medicine, business) will make, on average, $4.4 million over their lifetime, in today's dollars. That's more than twice the $2.1 million a person with a bachelor's can expect to earn. Even a master's degree will bring, on average, $2.5 million over your working life; a Ph.D. will pull in $3.4 million over the average career span of 40 years.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Economical Path for a Graduating High Schooler

By Andrew Lipsitz

Senior year of high school is a nice balance of partying like no tomorrow and the stress of college applications. However, other strains have recently been plaguing many senior classes and their parents whom fund many of their graduates. A recent report from the College Board showed that the costs associated with a college education are rising significantly faster than many parents’ salaries. While more students are applying to college more than ever now, costs for parents have risen, as many face unemployment, credit card debt and many other financial issues.

With this being said, many people forget about the other, more economical, paths that their future college graduates can take. Pre college breaks, started at community college and finishing at instate schools are just a couple of routes that many successful graduates today have taken and it has definitely cut down on their student loan costs.

Aside from parent or student loans, another extremely important way to cut down on student costs, which is increasing in popularity, is applying for financial aid. Two types of financial aid include merit-based scholarships and need-based scholarships. Merit-based scholarships include both scholarships awarded by the individual college or university and those awarded by outside organizations. Merit-based scholarships are typically awarded for outstanding academic achievements and minimum SAT or ACT scores, although some merit scholarships can be awarded for special talents, leadership potential and other personal characteristics. Need-based finacial aid is awarded, as the title hints, on the basis of financial need of a student. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is generally used for determining federal, state, and institutional need-based aid eligibility. At private institutions, a supplemental application may be necessary for institutional need-based aid.

In determining the amount of aid your student will receive, the federal government will calculated the expected family contribution amount and compare it to costs to determine any shortfalls in your financial plan. The bottom line is, if your future college student expects to go to any college they get into, there are always different ways to accomplish these goals, but also some tradeoffs.

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