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Christmas in July

by Tonya Mason Branch

How to "Read" Your Quarterly Reporting

by Liz G. Gillette

What does it mean when your portfolio is up 10%?

TSPs: The Good, the Bad, and the Confusing

by Carolyn T. Walder

This blog is the first of two that addresses aspects of the Federal Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) for federal employees. Although it is a wonderful retirement plan that allows millions of Federal employees to save for retirement, the TSP has rules and limitations that are important to be aware of when deciding how to tap into this retirement plan when a participant desires (or is required) to withdraw the funds.

There are few retirement plans available that can match the Federal Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) for its extremely low fees and decent lineup of globally diversified index funds. If you are a Federal employee or a member of the military, you have the ability to take advantage of this great retirement plan. During your working career, saving into the TSP and receiving the government match (for Federal Employees Retirement System [FERS] employees) is a “no-brainer,” as you are building retirement savings in a tax-efficient, very low-cost manner. You have the option of saving into the traditional TSP, where you get the upfront reduction in income allowing you to save on your Federal and State income taxes. You also now have the option of saving into a “Roth TSP.” The Roth TSP does not give you a current tax deduction, but it does allow all contributions to grow tax-free, such that your earnings (and contributions) can be withdrawn in the future with no tax consequences.

Smart Money, Smart Kids Is More Than Just a Financial Read

Valuable parenting techniques and plenty of laughs in this #1 New York Times Bestseller!

by Liz G. Gillette

Smart Money, Smart Kids is a renowned how-to financial book that goes far beyond simple strategies to help parents teach their children to win with money. Sure, it discusses the importance of budgeting, creating three spend/save/give envelopes, and teaching kids to work on commission versus receive an allowance. I wouldn’t expect anything less from the no-nonsense co-author, Dave Ramsey. He and his daughter, Rachel Cruze, provide helpful money management techniques broken down by children’s age groups and encourage parents that it’s never too late to grow money-smart kids.  And in typical Ramsey fashion, it’s an easy conversational read with relatable stories.

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.

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