May 16, 2018

Health Savings Account Contribution Limits for 2019

The IRS has released contribution limits for health savings accounts for 2019. The individual limit will be $3,500, a $50 increase over 2018, while the family limit will increase $100 to $7,000.
"A type of savings account that lets you set aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualified medical expenses. By using untaxed dollars in a Health Savings Account (HSA) to pay for deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, and some other expenses, you can lower your overall health care costs."
"An HSA can be used only if you have a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) — generally any health plan (including a Marketplace plan) with a deductible of at least $1,350 for an individual or $2,700 for a family. When you view plans in the Marketplace, you can see if they’re "HSA-eligible."
For 2018, you can contribute up to $3,450 for self-only HDHP coverage and up to $6,900 for family HDHP coverage. HSA funds roll over year to year if you don't spend them. An HSA may earn interest, which is not taxable."
"Some health insurance companies offer HSAs for their high deductible plans. Check with your company. You can also open an HSA through some banks and other financial institutions."

May 11, 2018

CFPB backs down on student loan oversight

Just when student loans outstanding exceeded all other debt categories except mortgages and hit the $1.5 TRILLION mark.... Acting Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head Mick Mulvaney is shrinking efforts of the CFPB to protect students from unethical and illegal lenders. The May 11 Wall Street Journal reports that "Mulvaney dismantled a group that helped direct the agency's actions against predatory student loan debt collection practices...."

May 10, 2018

More Bad News About Wells Fargo

As reported in The Wall Street Journal (5/10/18, p. B1): "Wells Fargo & Co. has acknowledged that it pocketed fee rebates that should have been passed on to a public pension fund in Tennessee while acting as its trustee...."
Wow! What hasn't this bank done to screw its consumer and corporate customers? Drop this bank like a hot potato. Find a credit union that will treat you right. Need I say more?

Avoiding "Lifestyle Creep"

"You've heard the seemingly outrageous stories of families who earn hundreds of thousands of dollars and still can't make ends meet. How can that happen?"
Trent Hamm explains: "One of the biggest reasons that high-earners struggle to pay their bills is lifestyle creep. Here's how it happens: As people gradually earn more money, they begin to buy more expensive things, and those purchases often result in a lot of debt, maintenance, taxes and expensive insurance bills. Over time, the bills required just to keep and maintain those expensive items can gobble up your income, leaving you with all the old worries and more career stress than before."
Sound familiar? I hope not but, if it does read Hamm's article: 5 Ways to Avoid Expensive 'Lifestyle Inflation.'
"Don't let mindless overspending decimate your increasing salary and delay financial milestones."

May 6, 2018

Which generation has the highest student debt load?

Millenials? Gen-X? 
Guess again!
Boomers age 45 to 74 "now owe more money in education-related debt, on average, than do younger college graduates."
"People under age 35 with student debt owe $32,900 on average, according to data from the Fed’s 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances. That debt number is higher for every other 10-year age bracket up to age 75: It peaks at $37,000 for 45- to 54-year-olds, but even 65- to 74-year-old borrowers owe an average $35,400."
Much of the debt is due to helping children and grandchildren with higher education expenses. 

Kerri Anne Renzulli explains the details in Money magazine

This Generation Has a Huge and Growing Student Debt Burden. It's Not Who You Think

Locate a "lost" pension from a former job

The Squared Away Blog tells the story of two sisters who worked for Spiegel decades ago.  Blogger Kim Blanton explains:
"Betty Taylor is 74 and retired from a job she held for more than a decade filling Spiegel catalog orders and packing them up for shipping – she left in 1984. Diane Taylor, 70, was a packer and then a keypunch operator there between 1982 and 1995."
"But the sisters, who live together in their late mother’s house on Chicago’s Southwest Side, couldn’t track down anyone who could confirm that their low-paying jobs entitled them to Spiegel pensions.
This is more common than one might think." Blanton explains how the Pension Action Center (PAC) at the University of Massachusetts Boston helped the sisters receive their hard-earned benefits.

Dealing with Alzheimers

The Squared Away blog offers a short video about Alzheimers disease and thoughtful comments.
The video "provides invaluable information and insight into the myriad causes of Alzheimer’s and the unique way its symptoms manifest in each individual. It also explains why diagnosis by a physician is critical – turns out, some people appear to have dementia, but the cause of their cognitive decline isn’t Alzheimer’s and may be reversible."

Massive and Growing Federal Deficit

Happy about the new tax bill? Looking forward to having more money to spend? Have you thought about the services that will no longer be available because of the growing deficit? Are you at all concerned about the effects of the growing deficit on Social Security and Medicare? What about your kids and grandkids who are saddled with massive and growing deficits?
"President Donald Trump’s massive fiscal stimulus plans are adding to the U.S. debt overload...."
It's past time to recognize the link between the short term "high" of tax cuts and the long term implications of cuts in services that you and your family rely on now and in the future.
"After keeping borrowing relatively stable in recent years, the Treasury highlighted the Trump administration’s need to sell debt to help pay the government’s bills as the deficit swells and the Fed allows maturing securities on its $4.4 trillion balance sheet to roll off gradually."
The future we all face is fewer government programs, attacks on Social Security and Medicare, crumbling infrastructure and higher state and local taxes to make up for cuts in federal grants to states and municipalities.
Any savings you get on your federal taxes will be more than made up for by higher state and local taxes, fees, and cuts in services and programs.
Source:U.S. Lifts Debt Sales as Deficit Grows, Plans 2-Month Bills, By and

May 2, 2018

Resources & Discounts for Persons with Disabilities

Check out this guide:
It contains "an updated, definitive list of all the government and private sector benefits for the disabled, a list of health insurance and medical device savings (among a slew of other discounts), and even a list of college scholarships. New for 2018, we’ve added a section of helpful apps for people with disabilities, like Access Earth and Be My Eyes."
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