Ways to Save for College

Ways to Save for College

Comparing & contrasting the potential of some popular vehicles.

 

Provided by Michael Fassi CLU, ChFC  

 

How expensive will college be tomorrow? The Department of Education projects that by 2030, the tuition cost of obtaining a four-year degree at a public university will surpass $200,000. Staggering? Indeed, but college is plenty expensive already. In 2012, tuition averaged $15,100 a year at public colleges and $32,900 a year at private colleges.1

A Sallie Mae study finds that today’s students, on average, can only pay for 24% of their college expenses. It is little wonder that student loan debt exceeds credit card debt today.1

How can you start saving to meet those costs today? With interest rates being what they are, don’t look to a garden-variety savings account. Even if current interest rates soon ascend to 2% or 3%, you would be at a disadvantage even if the bank account was large as tuition costs are climbing more significantly than inflation.

The message is pretty clear: to meet college costs, you need either a prepaid tuition plan or a savings vehicle that taps into the power of equity investing. Let’s look at some options.

Prepaid 529 plans. Offered by states and public colleges, these plans let you buy tomorrow’s tuition with today’s dollars. You purchase X dollars of tuition today, and that is guaranteed to pay for an equivalent amount of tuition in the future.

You can do this in two different ways. Some of these prepaid plans are unit plans, in which you pay for X number of college credits or units now with a promise that the same amount of credits will be covered in the future. In other words, you’re locking in tuition at current rates.

As an example, let’s say a year of college at Hypothetical State University requires 36 units. Mom and Dad use a unit plan to pay $7,500 for those 36 units now for their 6-year-old daughter. In turn, the plan promises to pay whatever those 36 units cost when she starts her first semester at Hypothetical State 12 years from now, even though it might be much more.2

The other prepaid 529 plan variant is the contract plan, or guaranteed interest plan. In these prepaid plans, you make a lump sum contribution (or arrange recurring contributions), essentially buying X number of years of tuition. In turn, the plan guarantees to cover this predetermined amount of tuition expenses in the future.2

Usually, beneficiaries of prepaid tuition plans must be residents of the state offering the plan, or prospective students of the college offering the plan. In the wake of the recession, some of these plans are not accepting new investors as some states are worried about underfunding.2,3

529 college savings plans. These state savings plans allow you to invest to build college savings rather than simply prepay them. Plan contributions are typically allocated among funds, and possibly other investment classes; the plan’s earnings grow without being taxed. The withdrawals aren’t taxed by the IRS either, as long they pay for qualified education expenses.2

You can contribute up to six-figure sums to these 529 plans – there’s a lifetime contribution limit that varies per state. Most of them are open to out-of-state residents. If the market does well, you can harness the power of equity investing through these plans and potentially make a big dent in college costs.2

There are two caveats about 529 plans. Should you elect to withdraw money from a 529 plan and use it for non-approved purposes, that money will be taxed by the IRS as regular income – and you will pay a penalty equal to 10% of the withdrawal amount. 529 balances can also negatively affect a student’s chances for need-based financial aid. In a given school year, that eligibility can be reduced by up 5.64% of your college savings.3

Coverdell ESAs. Originally called Education IRAs, Coverdell Education Savings Accounts offer families some added flexibility: the withdrawals may be used to pay for elementary and secondary school expenses, not just college costs. These are tax-deferred investment accounts, like 529 savings plans. Unfortunately, the current annual contribution limit for a Coverdell is $2,000. Any remaining account balance must generally be withdrawn within 30 days after the beneficiary’s 30th birthday, with the earnings portion of the balance being taxable.3,4,5

Roth IRAs. Yes, it is possible to use a Roth IRA as a college savings vehicle. While the IRA’s earnings will be taxed, withdrawals used to pay for qualified college expenses will not be taxed and will face no IRS penalty. Additionally, if your son or daughter doesn’t go to college or comes into some kind of windfall that pays for everything, you end up with a retirement account. While Roth IRA balances don’t whittle away at a student’s chances to get need-based financial aid, the withdrawal amounts do come under the category of untaxed income on the FAFSA.3

Life insurance. Some households look into so-called “cash-rich” life insurance – whole or universal life policies – as a means to fund a college education. This requires a big head start, as when you buy one of these policies the bulk of your premiums go toward the life insurance part of the contract for several years and you have yet to build up much cash value. The big feature here is that most colleges don’t consider life insurance when evaluating financial aid applications.3

Would a trust be worth the expense? Rarely, families set up tax-advantaged trusts for the purpose of college savings. In the classic model, the family is incredibly wealthy and the kids are “trust-fund babies” bound for elite and very expensive schools. Unless you have many children or your family is looking at potentially exorbitant college costs, a trust is probably overdoing it. The college savings vehicles mentioned above may help you save for education expenses just as effectively, all without the administrative bother associated with trusts and the costs of trust creation.

Michael Fassi, CLU, CHFC  is a Representative with Centaurus Financial Inc. and may be reached at Fassi Financial, 970-416-0088 or mike@fassifinancialnetwork.com.

 

This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.


Citations.

1 – money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2012/07/25/how-much-will-you-need-to-send-your-child-to-college-in-2030 [7/25/12]

2 – www.axa-equitable.com/plan/education/529-plans/529-vs-prepaid-tuition.html [2011]

3 – money.cnn.com/101/college-101/savings-plan.moneymag/index.html [1/10/13]

4 – money.msn.com/tax-tips/post.aspx?post=9dba01a0-b233-4e6e-97ef-aecbc62188e3 [1/9/13]

5 – www.irs.gov/uac/Coverdell-Education-Savings-Accounts [9/11/12]

Posted in financial

The Lottery Is No Retirement Plan

The Lottery Is No Retirement Plan

Pay yourself first instead, with your future in mind.

Provided by Michael Fassi CLU, ChFC  

Powerball fever swept across America last week, with a record jackpot of $1.5 billion eventually being split by three winners in the January 13 drawing. Millions lined up for lottery tickets, hoping to realize their dreams of being rich, independent, and carefree.1,2

This infinitesimal chance at massive wealth was certainly alluring – to too many, more alluring than the practical steps that can be taken in pursuit of personal wealth and retirement security.

The passion for Powerball defied logic. It may have been a commentary on our wishful thinking, and on the lack of financial literacy in America as well.

As Creighton University professor Brad Klontz remarked to CNBC, “A lot of individuals who are not saving for their retirement are standing in line to buy a Powerball ticket. It’s a lot more seductive than instituting a savings plan.”1

On January 13, a Powerball ticket buyer had a 1-in-292-million chance to win the big prize. In comparison, the odds of someone being killed by a falling vending machine within the next 365 days are 1 in 112 million, and the odds of a person being struck by both lightning and a meteorite during their lifetime are 1 in 210 million.2

When the Powerball jackpot reached $1.3 billion last week, a widely circulated Internet meme claimed that the jackpot could end poverty, stating that every American would get $4.3 million if it were divided equally among the population. This was passed along as truth rather than colossally bad math – it would only apply if there were 300 Americans. Since there are roughly 300 million Americans, divvying up the $1.3 billion across the entire U.S. population would give each of us $4.33, give or take a few cents – enough to buy a flavored latte.3

What if we simply saved $4.33 per day, or more? Our financial lives might take a turn for the better.

Usually, wealth is not a matter of fate or luck. We can all take practical steps toward financial freedom, and even if we do not end up rich, those steps may improve our personal finances and retirement prospects.

First, spend less than what you make. Two or three percent less, 5% less, 10% less – whatever the number, it must be calculated from a comparison of your monthly income versus your monthly budget. That comparison may take a half an hour, but it is time well spent. Size up the money coming into your household per month with the money going out of it per month, and set a percentage that you would like to save every month. In effect, you will be paying yourself X dollars a month – and paying yourself, rather than your creditors, is a fundamental move for financial independence.

Two, direct these savings into investment accounts as well as savings accounts. It is vital to build up savings so that you can have an emergency fund – a good, strong emergency fund amounts to several months’ worth of salary. Another portion of the money can go into retirement savings accounts, preferably to be invested in equities. Yes, 2016 has started poorly on Wall Street, but one bad month (or year) is not the historical norm for the market.

Three, cut down bad debts. There are some “good debts” in life – debts that we take on in pursuit of a worthy outcome, such as a home loan or an education loan. Bad debts outnumber them, and the average credit card statement will note many. Some financial professionals and consumer advocates will tell you to try and pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first, then the one with the next highest interest rate, and so on; others will tell you to eliminate the smallest debt first and work your way up to the largest. One way or the other, you want less debt and you want to pay off any credit card balances in full each month.

Four, chat with a financial professional to determine your money goals. When will you have enough savings to retire? When should you claim Social Security, and how long should you keep working? How much monthly income might you need when you are retired? Most people retire without any answers to these questions, only guesses. It is important to know not only what you are doing, but also where you are going – and through a long-run saving and investing strategy, you can set objectives and measure your progress toward them over time.

The fantasy of receiving great wealth with no effort inspires people to play the lottery and try other forms of gambling. The reality is that saving for retirement takes planning and commitment. While some may not want to acknowledge this reality, those who do may find themselves making financial strides as others struggle.

 

Michael Fassi, CLU, CHFC  is a Representative with Centaurus Financial Inc. and may be reached at Fassi Financial, 970-416-0088 or mike@fassifinancialnetwork.com.

 

This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

 

Citations.

1 – cnbc.com/2016/01/14/lost-the-powerball-now-its-time-to-really-focus-on-finances.html [1/14/16]

2 – latino.foxnews.com/latino/money/2016/01/13/what-powerball-chances-likelier-hit-both-meteorite/ [1/13/16]

3 – cnet.com/news/can-powerball-end-poverty-lottery-meme-fails-to-check-the-math/ [1/12/16]

Posted in financial, insurance

Medicare Enrollment Options for 2015-16

Medicare Enrollment Options for 2015-16

A summary of what you need to know.

 

Provided by Michael Fassi CLU, ChFC

  

Key Medicare enrollment periods are approaching. This fall and winter, there are three periods in which Medicare beneficiaries can either enroll or disenroll in forms of coverage.

>> Oct. 15-Dec. 7: Open enrollment period. This is when you can exit Original Medicare (Part A & B) for a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) and change your prescription drug coverage (Part D). You can also get out of a Part C plan and go back to Part A & B during this period, although you will certainly want a Medicare Supplement (Medigap policy) in place before you make such a move. (In most cases, that means having to pass underwriting.)1

>> Dec. 8: Annual enrollment period begins for 5-star plans. All Part C and Part D plans are assigned ratings. Beginning December 8, 2015 and ending November 30, 2016, a window opens for you to enroll in a 5-star Part C or Part D plan. You can do this once per 365 days. How do you find the 5-star plans? Visit the Medicare Plan Finder: medicare.gov/find-a-plan.2

>> Jan. 1-Feb. 14, 2016: Disenrollment period. If you join a Part C plan in late 2015 and decide you want to leave it, you can do so within this window of time and go back to Original Medicare (Part A & B) with a stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan (Part D). Again, having a Medigap policy before making such a switch is only prudent.1

Do you have to confirm Medicare enrollment at the Health Insurance Marketplace? No. If you have Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan through an HMO or PPO, you are covered under the Affordable Care Act. If you need to make changes to your Medicare coverage, you don’t need to go to the HIM to do so. (For the record, you can’t buy any Medicare plan through the HIM.)3

The ACA has enhanced Medicare benefits. It gives Medicare recipients in the “donut hole” avenues to brand-name prescription drug discounts, and recipients may now take advantage of free preventive benefits, cancer screenings and an annual wellness visit.3

If you only have Medicare Part B coverage (medical insurance), then you lack minimum essential coverage under the ACA, and you may have to pay a penalty. If you just have Medicare Part A coverage (hospital insurance), you are considered covered under the ACA.3

Should you get Medigap coverage if you have Part A & B? This third-party health insurance may save you money over time by picking up co-payments and deductibles not covered by Part A & B, but a Part C plan provides more comprehensive coverage than Medigap does. Today’s Medigap policies don’t include prescription drug coverage, and they won’t pay for long-term care, dental or vision care, or hearing aids or glasses. If you want or need Medigap coverage, you can evaluate policies using Medicare’s Personal Plan Finder at Medicare.gov.4

Is it true that Part B premiums will be costlier in 2016? Yes, for about 30% of Medicare recipients. Monthly Part B premiums could jump as much as 52% for those who have signed up for Medicare without claiming Social Security benefits, new Medicare enrollees and Medicare recipients with modified adjusted gross incomes greater than $85,000 ($170,000 for joint filers). Monthly Part B premiums will remain at $104.90 next year for everyone else.5

What should you look for in a Part C plan? Scrutinize the out-of-pocket spending limit, the copays and the co-insurance. Attractively low premiums might not tell you the whole story about the value of a Part C plan. Also, how inclusive is the plan network? Does it include hospitals you would choose and the physicians that now treat you?

The Medicare Plan Finder can help you determine an appropriate Part D plan. After you enter your medications, it will go to work. Each Part D plan has its own formulary (list of approved drugs), categorized into higher and lower “tiers” by cost. Formularies do change; if a drug you take drops off of one, that Part D plan has to give you 60 days of notice (or alternately, written notice of the change when you get a refill with a 60-day supply of the medication).6

Beginning in early 2016, most doctors, dentists and other medical professionals writing prescriptions for Part D drugs must be enrolled in Medicare or have an “opt-out” request on file with Medicare for your prescriptions to be covered by your Part D plan. If not, you can still get a 3-month provisional fill of your prescription as you search for an enrolled prescriber or until your prescriber enrolls. Your plan and/or your prescribers will have more details on this.6

It is vital to check up on your Part D plan each fall, as your plan could change the way it pays for your specific drugs in the next year – for example, the drug you need could wind up in a more expensive tier. The co-insurance and co-payments could even be altered. Most plans send out notices of formulary changes with plenty of lead time, but sometimes they go unread.

The bad news for 2016: fewer Part D options, higher Part D costs. Avalere Health, a Washington, D.C.-based research firm studying health care issues, just released an analysis of 2016 adjustments to Part D premiums. Next year, 886 prescription drug plans will be available for Medicare recipients – 11.5% fewer plans than in 2015. About 80% of Part D plan participants are enrolled in the top 10 ranked Part D plans – and on average, the premiums on those plans will rise 8% next year. In 2016, the average Part D premium will surpass $40 (a new high).7

If you rely on federal health care subsidies, you may be feeling this pinch most – since 2013, there has been a 32% decrease in the amount of $0 Part D plans available. In related news, just 55% of Part C plans will have a $0 deductible next year, compared to 63% in 2015 – and just 51% of Part C plans will offer coverage to get people past the donut hole.7

There is some good news about Part D. In 2016, Part D plan participants will pay 7% less for generics within this coverage gap, which lies between a plan’s annual deductible and its catastrophic coverage phase (plan participants will pay 45% of costs for brand-name drugs and 58% of costs for generic drugs next year). Additionally, Part D plan participants will find themselves in the donut hole once they and the plan have spent $3,310 for covered drugs in 2016 (up from $2,960 in 2015).7,8

Medicare plans mail Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) letters to their members. Use this notice to determine if your current plan is still right for you and your medical care needs. If you didn’t receive such a letter in September, contact your plan.9

Michael Fassi, CLU, CHFC  is a Representative with Centaurus Financial Inc. and may be reached at Fassi Financial, 970-416-0088 or mike@fassifinancialnetwork.com.

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

    

Citations.

1 – medicare.gov/sign-up-change-plans/when-can-i-join-a-health-or-drug-plan/when-can-i-join-a-health-or-drug-plan.html#collapse-3192 [10/14/15]

2 – medicare.gov/sign-up-change-plans/when-can-i-join-a-health-or-drug-plan/five-star-enrollment/5-star-enrollment-period.html [10/14/15]

3 – healthcare.gov/if-i-have-medicare-do-i-need-to-do-anything/ [10/14/15]

4 – webmd.com/health-insurance/insurance-basics/medigap [11/21/14]

5 – forbes.com/sites/janetnovack/2015/10/15/no-social-security-benefits-or-tax-hike-for-2016-but-medicare-premiums-could-soar-for-some/ [10/15/15]

6 – medicare.gov/part-d/coverage/part-d-coverage.html [10/14/15]

7 – bankrate.com/financing/retirement/recalculate-your-medicare-part-d-deal/ [10/13/15]

8 – medicare.com/medicare-part-d/what-is-the-doughnut-hole/

9 – medicare.gov/forms-help-and-resources/mail-about-medicare/plan-annual-notice-of-change.html [10/14/15]

 

Posted in financial, insurance

Should You Put Your Home Into a Trust

Should You Put Your Home Into a Trust?

The arguments for & against this estate planning decision.

 

Provided by Michael Fassi CLU, ChFC

                                                                                               

Uncommon, or uncommonly wise? Occasionally, a couple or a family will elect to put their home into a revocable living trust, a charitable remainder trust (CRT) or a qualified personal residence trust (QPRT). There are advantages and disadvantages to doing this.

People make this move for a variety of reasons. They may want to save money on probate and reduce estate taxes. They may want a little more protection against “creditors and predators”. They may be looking for a way to gift real property to their adult children. They may want an orderly transfer of such property to a particular heir, free of interfamilial squabbles. By putting a house into a trust, they may accomplish some or all of these objectives.1,2

If much of your net worth is linked to the value of your home, you may be considering this. As the federal estate tax exemption is higher than it once was, placing your house into a trust may have slightly less merit today than it once did. There are significant potential benefits, however.

Putting your home into a revocable living trust. In this arrangement, the title to your house is transferred to the living trust during your lifetime. Besides being the grantor of the revocable living trust, you may also name yourself trustee and beneficiary. This gives you the power to a) add other real estate to the trust, b) gift or sell the real estate held within it while you are alive, c) unwind the trust and put the real property back in your estate within your lifetime.1,3

At your death, the trust becomes irrevocable. Control of the real property is then transferred to a named successor trustee, presumably one of your adult children.1

A revocable living trust may spare your home from probate and facilitate the transfer of title to your heirs. There may be some estate tax savings, and if you become incapacitated, another trustee can be chosen to manage the trust.1

Putting your home into an irrevocable living trust. The irrevocable variation offers you similar benefits, but the difference here is that you are giving up control – once you transfer real property into an irrevocable trust, it is out of your taxable estate and no longer yours. An independent third party trustee manages the trust on behalf of its beneficiaries. In this case, the transfer of real property is subject to gift tax because it is defined as a gift to the trust beneficiaries. Crummey withdrawal right letters may help in this regard – if they are sent to the beneficiaries, some of the amount of the gift may be shielded from such tax.4

Putting your home into a CRT. A charitable remainder trust is an irrevocable trust that helps an owner of a highly appreciated asset defer capital gains and income taxes and help a qualified charity. You make a gift of the real property to the CRT, which then sells it and arranges recurring income payments to you out of the managed sale proceeds. These payments last either for life or for a 20-year period. After you or your surviving spouse die, the charity receives the remainder of those sale proceeds.4,5

By donating real estate to a charity via a CRT, you accomplish four things: you take the real property out of your taxable estate, you get an income stream, you avoid recognition of capital gains on what is presumably a highly appreciated asset, and you can take an immediate income tax charitable deduction based on a portion of the property’s value.5

At first glance, it may seem like the charity is the “winner” here – not your heirs. To counter that, life insurance policies are frequently used. Trust assets may be used to purchase “cash value” life insurance, so that your heirs may one day receive tax-free insurance proceeds of equivalent or greater value than the donated asset.4,5

Putting your home into a QPRT. Qualified personal residence trusts allow you to gift your home to your children while you retain control of it for the term of the trust (typically 10 years). If your home seems poised to rise in value, the QPRT may lead to major estate and gift tax savings – it helps you transfer the home out of your taxable estate, thereby reducing its size. The value of the gift is the fair market value of the home minus “retained interest” (i.e., your right to keep living in it for X number of years, the value of which is derived from IRS calculations).2,6,7

You have to outlive the term of the QPRT and then either a) move out of your house or b) pay your heirs fair market rent to keep living in it. If that doesn’t happen, the trust will be rendered invalid and when you die, the full market value of your home will be counted in your taxable estate. QPRTs were introduced in 1990, when the federal estate tax exemption was only $600,000. As it is currently above $5 million, some estate planners feel these trusts are less necessary today.2,6,8

A last word. Even simple trusts invite complexity into your financial life. You must weigh whether the cost of trust creation and administration will be worth it. After you pass, the trust has to file tax returns and value assets, and the resulting expenses may compare to the money saved by keeping the home out of probate. A transfer-on-death deed (permitted in some states) or other estate planning tools may help you realize your goals more cheaply.

 

Michael Fassi, CLU, CHFC  is a Representative with Centaurus Financial Inc. and may be reached at Fassi Financial, 970-416-0088 or mike@fassifinancialnetwork.com.

 

This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

 

Citations.

1 – homeguides.sfgate.com/advantages-disadvantages-putting-house-trust-42083.html [8/6/13]

2 – money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/money101/lesson21/index6.htm [8/6/13]

3 – nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/free-books/avoid-probate-book/chapter7-7.html [8/6/13]

4 – homeguides.sfgate.com/tax-advantages-creating-trust-real-estate-82243.html [8/6/13]

5 – bnaibrith.org/charitable-remainder-trust-crt.html [8/6/13]

6 – tinyurl.com/ktl8zlj [7/10/13]

7 – foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2013/07/26/shielding-your-assets-from-estate-taxes/ [7/26/13]

8 – irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/89-90estxs.pdf [1990]

 

Posted in estate, financial

An Introduction to The Stock Market

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE STOCK MARKET

What it is, how it works, and how to get started.

 

Provided by Michael Fassi CLU, ChFC

 

Confused or unsure? You’re not alone. It’s amazing to me how many adults, many of them college grads, know practically nothing about the stock market. Many schools simply don’t offer or don’t require the classes that cover it. If you’ve been holding off on investing because you simply didn’t know enough about it … that’s probably wise. But rather than delay any longer, here’s some information to get you started:

The nuts and bolts. Basically, if you own a stock, you own a part of a company. You’ve invested in that company. If the company does well, the value of your stock rises. If the company does poorly, the value of your stock falls. That is the stock market in the simplest terms.

The market. Think of it like a flea market. Rather than travel all over town, a flea market offers you a central location where buyers and sellers can meet up. The stock market isn’t all that different. Stock markets are simply gathering places for stock owners to buy and sell stock securities.

Exchanging? Trading? These are terms you hear frequently in regard to stocks, but they can be misleading … and perhaps this is one reason there is so much confusion. You’re not actually exchanging stocks, and you’re not really trading stocks. You are buying them or selling them.

How much does it cost to buy or sell a stock? Actually, there are two costs to consider … 1) The cost of the stock, and 2) the cost of the “trade”. The price of the stock varies hugely from company to company and can change from moment to moment, so that’s a question I can’t answer for you. But there’s also a fee to buy or sell a stock (or “share”). The amount of the fee depends on which stock brokerage you use. Generally these fees can range from under $10 to $20 or even up to $100 per “trade”. Keep in mind you will pay a fee when you buy your stock, and again when you sell it.

What is a brokerage? A broker is a conduit for the buying and selling of stocks. For example, let’s say you want to buy a stock that’s listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Well, that stock is bought and sold on the floor of the NYSE. So, unless you are authorized to trade at the exchange and want to travel to New York, you instead enlist the services of a broker to take care of your buying and selling for you. Brokerages pay fees to become members of a stock exchange and access the “floor” of an exchange for trading. They then buy and sell stocks on behalf of their clients.

So, how do you get started? There are all kinds of ways to get started and a myriad of brokerage choices, including discretionary dealing (where the brokerage chooses stocks on your behalf), advisory dealing (where the brokerage gives you advice, but leaves the decisions up to you), and execution-only brokerages (where you will be entirely self-directed). Most brokerages have a minimum deposit you must make to get started, so you’ll want to look into that as well. If you’re serious about investing and want to do it frequently and avidly, read up on the markets and consider taking a class to educate yourself.

Before you make any big decisions, though, think about enlisting the assistance of a qualified financial professional who can give you insight and perspective on the financial markets.

 

Michael Fassi, CLU, CHFC  is a Representative with Centaurus Financial Inc. and may be reached at Fassi Financial, 970-416-0088 or mike@fassifinancialnetwork.com.

 

These are the views of Peter Montoya, Inc., not the named Representative or Broker/Dealer, and should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representative or Broker/Dealer give tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information.

 

Posted in financial, michael fassi

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HonorFlight

 

Friends:

Please join me in wishing Mike safe travels as he departs September 13, 2015 on his 3rd Honor Flight trip to the memorials in Washington DC. Mike will accompany longtime friend, client and, Vietnam War veteran Floyd Taladay on the trip. Honor Flight Northern Colorado takes World War II, Korean, and Vietnam veterans back to Washington to visit the Memorials. This will be their 15th trip, having escorted 1800 Veterans back to DC.

If you would like to help offset the costs of these trips, (Veterans pay nothing), please make a tax deductable donation to the Weld County Community Foundation/Honor Flight and send it to our office:

125 South Howes Street Suite 910
Fort Collins, CO 80521

Thanks to all who have participated in the past. We appreciate your support of Americas finest.

Sincerely,

Terri Fassoi

Posted in Flight Network

Is It Time for Life Insurance?

Is It Time for Life Insurance?

Important life events may call for it.

 

Provided by Michael Fassi CLU, ChFC 

 

Many younger Americans lack life insurance. A 2014 report from insurance industry analyst LIMRA found that only a third of Gen Y Americans have any life insurance coverage. In the same survey of 6,000 respondents, six in 10 Gen X and Gen Y Americans said their households would be hard pressed to make ends meet if their primary breadwinner passed away.1

Why don’t more young adults buy life insurance? Shopping for coverage may seem confusing, boring, or unnecessary. Yet when you have kids, get married, buy a house or live a lifestyle funded by significant salaries, the need arises. Insurers are trying to make it easier these days, not only by making more choices accessible online but by shortening the window of time it takes to approve a policy.1

Finding the right policy may be simpler than you think. There are two basic types of life insurance: term and cash value. Cash value (or “permanent”) life insurance policies offer death benefits and some of the characteristics of an investment – a percentage of the money you spend to fund the policy goes into a savings program. Cash value policies have correspondingly higher premiums than term policies, which offer only death benefits during the policy term. Term is a great choice for many young adults because it is relatively inexpensive.2

There is an economic downside to term life coverage: if you outlive the term of the policy, you and/or your loved ones get nothing back. Term life policies can be renewed (though many are not) and some can be converted to permanent coverage.2

The key question is: how long do you plan to keep the policy? If you would rather not pay premiums on an insurance policy for decades, then term life stands out as the most attractive option – especially if you are just looking for a short-term hedge against calamity. If you are looking further ahead or starting to think about estate planning, then permanent life insurance may prove a better choice.

The coverage may be cheaper than you think. Young adults sometimes assume they cannot afford life insurance, but policies have become progressively cheaper. If you are 35 and healthy, it will probably cost you less than $20 a month to maintain a 20-year level term policy with a $250,000 payout. The premiums may not even be that much.1

Confer, compare & contrast. Talk with a financial or insurance professional you trust before plunking down money for a policy. That professional can perform a term-versus-permanent analysis for you and help you weigh per-policy variables.

Michael Fassi, CLU, CHFC  is a Representative with Centaurus Financial Inc. and may be reached at Fassi Financial, 970-416-0088 or mike@fassifinancialnetwork.com.

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

 

Citations.

1 – money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2014/07/16/do-you-have-enough-life-insurance [7/16/14]

2 – nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/life-insurance-options-29789.html [4/22/15]

 

Posted in insurance

Bonds and Interest Rates

Bonds and Interest Rates

A look at how one can greatly affect the other.

 

Provided by Michael Fassi CLU, ChFC 

 

Is the bond bull history? Bond titan Bill Gross called an end to the 30-year bull market in fixed income back in 2010, and he has repeated his opinion since. Legendary investor Jim Rogers predicted an end to the bond bull in 2009, and he still sees it happening. This belief is starting to become popular – the Federal Reserve keeps easing and more and more investors are leaving Treasuries for equities.1,2,3

If the long bull market in bonds has ended, the final phase was certainly impressive. During the four-year stretch after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, $900 billion flowed into bond funds and $410 billion left equities.2

In 2013, you have bulls running, an assumption that Fed money printing will start to subside and the real yield on the 10-year TIPS in negative territory. Assuming the economy continues to improve and appetite for risk stays strong, what will happen to bond investors when inflation and interest rates inevitably rise and bond market values fall?

Conditions hint at an oncoming bear market. When interest rates rise again, how many bond owners are going to hang on to their 10-year or 30-year Treasuries until maturity? Who will want a 1.5% or 2.5% return for a decade? Looking at composite bond rates over at Yahoo’s Bonds Center, even longer-term corporate bonds offered but a 3.5%-4.3% return in late March.4

What do you end up with when you sell a bond before its maturity? The market value. If the federal funds rate rises 3%, a longer-term Treasury might lose as much as a third of its market value as a consequence. It wasn’t that long ago – June 12, 2007, to be exact – when the yield on the 10-year note settled up at 5.26%.5

This risk aside, what if you want or need to stay in bonds? Some bond market analysts believe now might be a time to exploit short-term bonds with laddered maturity dates. What’s the trade-off in that move? Well, you are accepting lower interest rates in exchange for a potentially smaller drop in the market value of these securities if rates rise. If you are after higher rates of return from short-duration bonds, you may have to look to bonds that are investment-grade but without AAA or AA ratings.

If you see interest rates rising sooner rather than later, exploiting short maturities could position you to get your principal back in the short term. That could give you cash which you could reinvest in response to climbing interest rates. If you think bond owners are in for some pain in the coming years, you could limit yourself to small positions in bonds.

The Treasury needs revenue and senses the plight of certain bond owners, and in response, it has plans to roll out floating-rate notes by 2014. A floater backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government would have real appeal – its yield could be adjusted per movements in a base interest rate (yet to be selected by the Treasury), and you could hold onto it for a while instead of getting in and out of various short-term debt instruments and incurring the related transaction costs.6

Appetite for risk may displace anxiety faster than we think. In this bull market, why would people put their money into an investment offering a 1.5% return for 10 years? Portfolio diversification aside, a major reason is fear – the fear of volatility and a global downturn. That fear prompts many investors to play “not to lose” – but should interest rates rise significantly in the next few years, owners of long-term bonds might find themselves losing out in terms of their portfolio’s potential.

Michael Fassi, CLU, CHFC  is a Representative with Centaurus Financial Inc. and may be reached at Fassi Financial, 970-416-0088 or  mike@fassifinancialnetwork.com.

This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

 

Citations.

1 – www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-27/fed-easing-likely-to-mark-end-of-30-year-bull-market-for-bonds-gross-says.html [10/27/10]

2 – online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443884104577645470279806022.html [9/15/12]

3 – www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-07/u-s-30-year-bond-losses-pass-5-as-fed-price-gauge-rises.html [2/7/13]

4 – finance.yahoo.com/bonds/composite_bond_rates [3/27/13]

5 – www.treasury.gov/resource-center/data-chart-center/interest-rates/Pages/TextView.aspx?data=yieldYear&year=2007 [2/6/13]

6 – online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324590904578287802587652738.html [2/6/13]

 

Posted in financial

Cash Flow Management

Cash Flow Management

An underappreciated fundamental in financial planning.

 

Provided by Michael Fassi CLU, ChFC

 

You’ve probably heard the saying that “cash is king,” and whether you own a business or not, it is a truth that applies. Most discussions of business and personal “financial planning” involve tomorrow’s goals, but those goals may not be realized without attention to cash flow today.

Management of available cash flow is a key in any kind of financial planning. Ignore it, and you may inadvertently sabotage your efforts to grow your company or build personal wealth.

Cash flow statements are important for any small business. They can reveal so much to the owner(s) and/or CFO, because as they track inflows and outflows, they bring non-cash items and expenditures to light. They denote your sources and uses of cash, per month and per year. Income statements and P&L statements may provide inadequate clues about that, even though they help you forecast cash flow trends.

Cash flow statements can tell you what P&L statements won’t. Are you profitable, but cash-poor? If your company is growing by leaps and bounds, that can happen. Are you personally taking too much cash out of the business and unintentionally letting your growth company morph into a lifestyle company? Are your receivables getting out of hand? Is inventory growth a concern? If you’ve arranged a loan, how much is your principal payment each month and to what degree is that eating up cash in your business? How much money are you spending on capital equipment?

A good CFS tracks your operating, investing and financing activities. Hopefully, the sum of these activities results in a positive number at the bottom of the CFS. If not, the business may need to change to survive.

In what ways can a small business improve cash flow management? There are some fairly simple ways to do it, and your CFS can typically identify the factors that may be sapping your cash flow. You may find that your suppliers or vendors are too costly; maybe you can negotiate (or even barter) with them. Like many companies, you may find your cash flow surges during some quarters or seasons of the year and wanes during others. What steps could you take to improve it outside of the peak season or quarter?

What kind of recurring, predictable sales can your business generate? You might want to work on the art of continuity sales – turning your customers into something like subscribers to your services. Perhaps price points need adjusting. As for lingering receivables, swiftly preparing and delivering invoices tends to speed up cash collection. Another way to get clients to pay faster: offer a slight discount if they pay up, say, within a week (and/or a slight penalty to those that don’t). Think about asking for some cash up front, before you go to work for a client or customer (if you don’t do this already).

While the Small Business Association states that only about 10% of entrepreneurs draw entirely on their credit cards for startup capital, there is still a temptation for an owner of a new venture to go out and get a high-limit business credit card. It might be better to shop for one with cash back possibilities or business rewards in mind. If your business isn’t set up to receive credit card payments, consider it – the potential for added cash flow could render the processing fees utterly trivial.1

How can a household better its cash flow? One quick way to do it is to lessen or reduce your fixed expenses, specifically loan and rent payments. Another step is to impose a ceiling on your variable expenses (ranging from food to entertainment), and you may also save some money in separating some or all those expenses from credit card use. Refinancing – if you can do it – and downsizing can certainly help. There are many, many free cash flow statement tools online where you can track family inflows and outflows. (Your outflows may include bugaboos like long-term service contracts and installment payment plans.) Selling things you don’t want can make you money in the short term; converting a hobby into an income source or business venture could help in the long term.

Better cash flow boosts your potential to reach your financial goals. A positive cash flow can contribute to investment, compounding, savings – all the good things that tend to happen when you pay yourself first.

Michael Fassi, CLU, CHFC  is a Representative with Centaurus Financial Inc. and may be reached at Fassi Financial, 970-416-0088 or  mike@fassifinancialnetwork.com.

 

This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

 

Citations.

1 – smallbusinesscomputing.com/tipsforsmallbusiness/5-tips-for-a-smoother-small-business-cash-flow.html [11/19/12]

 

 

Posted in financial Tagged with:

The Dangerous Lack of Small Business Succession Planning

CNBC looks at the dangerous lack of small business succession planning + the problems that can cause: http://tinyurl.com/n5a7ryd

 

Posted in michael fassi Tagged with: , ,