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Things to Consider for Your “To Do by December 31st” List

By Carolyn T. Walder

Financial Aid—What Is It?

By Tonya Mason Branch

This fall, I sent my daughter off to her first year in college. I thought I knew all I needed to know about applying for, paying for, and receiving financial aid for tuition expenses. Was I wrong! I have learned that all types of college funding falls under the umbrella of FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

Lifestyle Creep—Is There a Creep in Your Life?

By Diana J. Batchelor

Lifestyle Creep? Is that when something creepy keeps popping up in your life? No! Is it when you think your life has turned into a horror story? No!

Lifestyle Creep is when you are receiving pay increases, promotions, and/or bonuses that provide you and your family with more household income, and instead of saving those additional dollars, you spend it on “stuff” to upgrade your lifestyle. The “creep” is that this condition comes on slowly, often unintentionally, and sometimes you don’t even realize it.

Back in the Classroom

By Liz G. Gillette

Last month, I had the opportunity to be a guest lecturer for a Penn State “Math and Money” class.  It was an incredible experience.  As I come closer to obtaining the coveted Certified Professional Planner (CFP®) designation (I sit for the exam in November), I appreciated this unique opportunity to share some of what I have learned with these students.  I created a 45-minute presentation that listed my top 10 financial planning tips for young adults. Why teaching? I’ve always enjoyed new challenges, whether it is hitting the final ball in a college volleyball match, competing in 12-mile mud runs, or walking the runway during DC’s Fashion Week.

2016 Tax Breaks – Part 3

By Diana J. Batchelor

This third and final blog in the 2016 Tax Breaks series discusses qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) from individual retirement accounts, in which was made permanent in year-end legislation, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015. Because the QCD is now permanent, it is important to review the rules.

2016 Tax Breaks – Part 2

By Diana J. Batchelor

To follow our previous blog, 2016 Tax Breaks, about the tax breaks made permanent, this blog discusses the tax breaks that have a time horizon of 2016 or 2017. All of the tax breaks referenced were passed by Congress in late December with the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015.

2016 Tax Breaks

By Diana J. Batchelor

Now that we are past the 2015 tax season, let’s look at the permanent tax breaks in the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 that Congress passed in late December and will be in effect beginning with the 2016 tax year.

Social Security Strategies ... One More Thing to Consider

By Carolyn Walder

Many of you already know that several popular Social Security filing strategies for married couples are going away soon, but what you may not know is there are some nuances that may protect this option for a few more folks.  To review, the option of filing for Social Security benefits and then suspending those benefits so that a spouse can later claim a spousal benefit will go away on May 1, 2016. You would want to consider this if (1) you plan to continue to work and not collect social security until later (ideally age 70) and (2) you have a spouse who can collect on your record while allowing

An End to “File and Suspend” on Social Security

By Carolyn Walder

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 that was signed into law last month includes significant changes to Social Security benefits that could impact your retirement planning. One of the changes is an end to the “file and suspend” strategy for claiming Social Security benefits. 

Whether to Consolidate an IRA and 403(b)

By Diana Batchelor

Several years ago, it made sense to keep a 403(b) in addition to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) because the participant was not required to take his or her Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) until age 75. Congress and the IRS agreed to change this effective January 1, 2008, to make the rules more consistent for IRAs, SEP IRAs, Simple IRAs, 401(k)s, and 403(b)s.

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