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

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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Meet Karlton Childress

Name: Karlton Childress

Title: Shareholder and Certified Financial Planner™

SH&J team member since: September, 2000


What do you find most inspiring about being a financial planner?

What I find most inspiring is having the opportunity to help people fully understand and take control of their financial picture so that they can confidently concentrate on other non-financial aspects of their lives and reach their full potential.

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Inside the Economy with SH&J: August 17, 2015

The S&P 500’s possible correction, the surprise of the Yuan’s devaluation and the Fed’s looming decision are all topics covered in this week’s Inside the Economy with SH&J. Larry also touches on the decline in mortgage delinquencies and overall consumer debt, and gives some commentary on student debt. Listen in and get up to speed on the U.S. and global economy.​

Estate Planning

There was a time when reducing a very onerous form of taxation was reason enough to endure the complexities and frequent confusion associated with planning one’s estate. Many of the decisions were focused solely on death, and the process frequently sidestepped the more common and important issues like long-term care, mental incapacity and property ownership.

Currently, only estates in excess of $5.43 million are subject to an estate tax and those who are married can have a combined estate of nearly $11 million. Hence, it turns out the estate tax should not be the main motivation for most of us to do estate planning.

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Where Credit Is Due: Understanding and Maintaining Your FICO Credit Score

Digital Online Credit Score Finance Rating Record ConceptWe all know good credit is a good thing. But it may surprise you to know how critical your credit score is to your future. If you’re thinking of borrowing money for a car, home or other major purchase, your credit score will determine if a lender is able to give you a loan, and how much interest you’ll pay. Auto insurance rates can also be affected by your credit score, and some employers even check credit scores before hiring someone to evaluate reliability. Below is more information to help you understand your credit score and to keep it on the up and up. (source)

What Exactly Is a Credit Score?
Fair Isaac and Co. developed software in the 1980s to help lenders identify credit risks. Since then, their initials (FICO) have been associated with a person’s credit score. Your credit score is a number derived from your credit history. The three credit bureaus are Equifax, TransUnion and Experian, but keep in mind that you will likely receive varying credit scores from each credit bureau.

While your credit score is determined by your credit report, they aren’t the same thing. The biggest difference between the two is your score gives certain parts of your history more weight than others. A credit score breakdown looks like this:

  • Payment History: 35%
  •  Total Amounts Owed: 30%
  • Length of Credit History: 15%
  • New Credit: 10%
  • Type of Credit Currently in Use: 10%

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Inside the Economy with SH&J: August 3, 2015

The U.S. GDP number was released and despite what the media might say, Larry thinks it’s a pretty good number. While the U.S. GDP is looking good, growth around the world has slowed and it doesn’t look like there will be an increase in consumer demand anytime soon. Larry also walks us through emerging markets such as South Korea and shares his thoughts on wages, new jobs, household assets and more in this week’s Inside the Economy with SH&J.


2015 Q2 Quarterly Commentary: Slowly Simmering – Barely Cooking!

During the summer months some of us like to cook outside – and slow cookers seem to be all the rage this year! The food may seem to take forever to cook, and we often can become impatient waiting for signs of progress.

We may have the same feeling when contemplating most of the world investment markets. Investors have finally decided that a diet of foreign bonds paying negative interest is unhealthy. While in the U.S. we are still w-a-i-t-i-n-g for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates. The latest forecast is for a September rate increase. We can only hope! In the meantime the bond markets are suffering and definitely cooling. We saw big declines in bond values and returns for the second quarter, as hope for an interest rate increase in June evaporated.

Consumers in the U.S. enjoyed a little relief as energy costs declined – a useful prelude to the summer driving season instead of the usual increases in gas prices. Housing is recovering, employment is stabilizing and, although excruciatingly slow – we are indeed cooking here!

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