December 27, 2013

Misconceptions about College Savings

Occasionally I hear people express the view that they will be penalized for saving for their children’s college, saying that kids whose parents did not save are getting scholarships and their kids who have savings will not.  Yet the reality is that for most families, college savings does NOT hurt eligibility or financial aid. Utah’s 529 college savings plan ( is one of the best in the country.
“The reason is an asset protection allowance in federal student aid guidelines that covers non-retirement money based on a formula.  So, for example, for the 2013-2014 academic year, a family where the older parent is 52 can exclude $43,100 from a 529 plan from calculating EFC (expected family contribution). If that same family had saved $44,100, then they need only consider 5.64% of the extra $1,000 as part of their EFC.”
According to college consultant Lynn O’Shaughnessy, “You’re much better off with savings than not when it comes to college since a lot of college money comes in the form of loans.” So make a new year’s resolution to set up a regular contribution to your child or grandchild’s 529 college savings plan (and take advantage of the tax breaks, too).
Source: December 26, 2013
3 Steps Advisors Can Take to Help Clients Pay for College
By Gil Weinreich, ThinkAdvisor Editor-in-Chief Research Magazine

December 17, 2013

Give the gift of education with help from Zions Bank & Utah Education Savings Plan

This holiday season give a child a gift that they will remember for a long time. Establish a college savings account. The accounts offer tax savings and are an excellent way to save for college. There is no minimum contribution so no excuses. Skip the gift cards and toys imported from China. And get a $25 bonus!
"The Utah Educational Savings Plan (UESP), Utah’s official nonprofit 529 college savings program, is teaming up with Zions Bank to help Utah residents give the gift of education this holiday season. Utah residents and beneficiaries who are new to UESP when they open a UESP college savings account before December 23, 2013, may be eligible to receive a $25 matching contribution, compliments of Zions Bank. To enjoy an extra $25 toward your college savings: visit to open a new UESP account or download an Account Agreement; enter the promo code 1213HOL; and contribute at least $25 to the new UESP account."
To qualify, both the account holder and the beneficiary must be new to the plan. Go to: for details. Thanks to Lindsay Whitehurst at The Salt Lake Tribune for info.

December 8, 2013

Utah Legal Guide for those 55 and Older

Seniors and their children should check out "Navigating Your Rights: The Utah Legal Guide for those 55 and Older" produced by the Utah Department of Human Services. You can download the book and find other resources for seniors at:

Vehicle Leasing Resource

If you are considering leasing a vehicle, check out this excellent resource:
“Don't Get Ripped Off Leasing a Car!  Get the best deal for your money” at:

December 5, 2013

Estate Planning 101

The Squared Away blog has a great summary of basic estate planning steps: Estate Planning 101: Who Knew?
Quoting the blog:
A good estate plan achieves four goals:
  • Distributes one’s assets to the desired person or people.
  • Ensures beneficiaries receive the money when you want them to.
  • Makes appropriate bequests either directly or indirectly through a trust, rather than a will.
  • Minimizes taxes.
What's missing from the excellent summary is the need for an Advance Health Care Directive (aka Living will) where you specify your wishes for end of life care and name a health care Power of Attorney to speak for you if you are unable to express your wishes. Each state provides specific guidelines. For Utah residents:

December 4, 2013

Reduce Junk Mail!

Tis the season when mailboxes fill with catalogs and various solicitations to attract our dollars. To reduce the amount of junk mail you receive, register for the "National Do Not Mail" list at
To register online you have to provide an email address so it's best to use one for an account that you rarely use. 
To opt out of mortgage, credit card and insurance offers, register at
Why bother? According to the Center for a New American Dream reducing junk mail you receive will "save energy, natural resources, landfill space, tax dollars, and a lot of your personal time." 
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