May 28, 2014

How has health care reform worked in Massachusetts?

It’s long past time to get past the politics, stop bashing “Obamacare,” and understand how the Affordable Care Act is likely to affect our health care system. Research at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College reports on how former Gov. Romney’s health care reform played out in Massachusetts.
“What We Know About Health Reform in Massachusetts” by Geoffrey T. Sanzenbacher
The brief’s key findings are:
  • Numerous studies have examined the impact of Massachusetts’ landmark 2006 health care reform, the basis for the national Affordable Care Act.
  • The results suggest that the Massachusetts reform has largely succeeded by:
    • reducing uninsurance rates;
    • improving health care access and health outcomes; and
    • inducing more firms to offer coverage, without raising unemployment.
  • At the same time, improving access to non-employer coverage may have reduced labor force participation for men age 55-64.
  • Finally, while health care cost growth has slowed in recent years, cost control remains a challenge.

Celebrate National 529 College Savings Day!

With college tuition rates rising faster than inflation, saving for college can be daunting. Jump start the process with a Utah Educational Savings Account, an IRS-approved 529 plan.  “529 plans are a tax-advantaged savings to encourage individuals to begin to save for the future costs of higher education,” according to A 529 plan offers tax-free growth as long as the funds are used for qualified higher education expenses including tuition and fees, books, and room and board, as long as the student is enrolled at least half-time.
            Although part of the federal tax code, 529 plans are state run, and vary greatly from one state to another. Utah’s 529 plan is Gold-Rated by Morningstar (only three other states share that rating) as well as high ratings from other sources. Part of the reason, is the low expenses. On average, Utah’s 529 plan charges an ultra-low expense ratio; averaging just 0.24%. It’s easy to start a 529 plan. Simply go to, enter information about yourself (as account owner), the child you wish to start an account for, and how much you’d like to contribute. There is no minimum amount needed to start and it only takes about 10 minutes to get set up.
            Utah’s 529 plan offers great investment choices. The four age-based options gradually become more conservative as your child gets closer to entering college. You can also choose from 8 static (unchanging) options or you can customize your investments. 
Adults can save for their own education using 529 plans. In fact, you don’t have to live in the state of Utah to start an account with UESP! State residents enjoy tax benefits for their contributions. Grandparents, aunts and uncles can also start an account or contribute towards Junior’s college fund. When it comes to opening a 529 plan, you don’t have to be the parent or the legal guardian to open or contribute to the account.
            Another way to add to Junior’s account is with Utah’s Fast Forward Matching program. UESP will match you dollar for dollar (minimum $100 annual contribution) up to $400 annually. That means if you qualify, and put $320 into your child’s 529 plan, Utah will put an additional $320 into their account.* To qualify, the family’s income must be below 200% of the federal poverty level. See the table below for details:
Persons in Family or Household

(including parents)
Income Must Be Below
For each additional person, add
To take advantage of the Fast Forward program contributors must be the parent or guardian of a child under age 17. Check out UESP’s Fast Forward Matching program for more information.
Celebrate National 529 day (May 29th) by setting up a 529 plan for you or a loved one!
* Utah’s Fast Forward matching program for more details or call (800) 418-2551

May 14, 2014

Are You Managing Someone Else’s Money?

Millions of Americans are managing money or property for a family member or friend who is unable to pay bills or make financial decisions. This can be very overwhelming. But, it’s also a great opportunity to help someone they care about, and protect them from scams and exploitation.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau produced four booklets to help financial caregivers. The Managing Someone Else’s Money guides help people acting as fiduciaries in three ways:
• explains their duties.
• tell them how to watch out for scams & financial exploitation & what to do if their loved one is a victim.
• tell them where to go for help.
The guides are available to download on the CFPB website at

May 6, 2014

Understand Compounding

You probably think you understand compound interest... interest earns interest, multiplying over time.  However, a short article in the Journal of Financial Planning explains why you need to start early and why you don't see big gains in the first few years. Check out this article "Why Investors Need to Understand the Shape of the Compound Growth Curve" by Jeff C. Parsons, CFP®
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