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Strategic Money Moves for Young Adults

(NewsUSA) -  For young adults starting out, money management can be a challenge. You may be navigating rent, car payments, monthly bills, food and also student loans. Many young adults are looking to refinance student loans to combine multiple debts, maximize interest rates, bring down monthly payments, or pay off faster. There are many benefits to refinancing and many options for lenders that offer refinancing.     

Refinancing your student loans lets you take advantage of the best prices as rates change. Lantern, a loan comparison platform operated by digital personal finance company SoFi, lets you compare rates and find a plan that works for you. When looking to refinance student loans, borrowers should compare lenders and rates to find the best option for their situation. A few tips for anyone looking to refinance this year:     

- Use filters when comparing online. Make a smart decision on refinancing your student loans by comparing multiple options side- by-side using filter on financing options based on lowest or highest payment, lowest or highest APR, and lowest or highest term. The right refinancing strategy can help young adults save thousands of dollars over time.     

- Find advice, useful tips and information through curated financial articles and calculators, comparisons of lenders and products by expert journalists and reviews from others who have used these services to refinance student loans. You’ll also find financial recommendations based on your financial interests and current financial situation.     

Financially savvy young adults also are leading the way in adopting cryptocurrency as a way to generate income streams and invest in the future. The NFT marketplace is a growing opportunity, and those who are early adopters are exploring, collecting, and minting NFTs for profit. NFTs are bought in sold in trading platforms much like you would buy and trade crypto or stocks.     

Some bonus features of the NFT marketplace that appeal to young adults include the convenience of not have to connect to, or withdraw from, a bank account. The NFT marketplace allows users to pay for products via cryptocurrency without additional fees. The FTX exchange is connected to multiple cryptocurrency markets including Bitcoin, Ethereum and Solana.     

Keep these smart strategies in mind to make the most of your money now and to enjoy greater savings and profits in the future.

4 Ways Financial Planners Can Help Small Business Owners Succeed

(NewsUSA) - Small business owners have special financial needs and opportunities. You must navigate unique tax benefits and responsibilities, cash flow analyses, business credit and debt management, succession planning and insurance needs, among other issues.     

It can be difficult to find the time -- and energy -- to research and make decisions about these financial issues on your own when you are already busy managing your business’s day-to-day operations. Working with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional can allow you to focus on your small business needs, while your trusted professional works for you to help you reach your financial goals. CFP® professionals are trained on many key financial topics that impact your personal success, business success and overall financial success.     

Here are four examples of how your small business can benefit from working with a financial planner.     

1. Protect yourself and your business. Financial risks multiply when you become a business owner. Operations could be interrupted because of a disaster, a key person on your team dies or becomes disabled, or property is lost. You could also face costly legal liabilities due to negligence or defective products. CFP® professionals can provide guidance on how to structure your business to mitigate some of these risks, as well as advice on specialized insurance coverage that provides extra protection.     

2. Create a tax plan that maximizes cash flow and minimizes your tax bill. CFP® professionals are trained and experienced in the nuances of tax law. They can help you take advantage of business structure, expense categories and tax credits to reduce your overall income tax.     

3. Establish a succession plan to guide the future sale or transfer of your business to the next generation of management. A CFP® professional can help you develop a strategic plan that covers the mechanics of an ownership change -- such as company valuation, tax implications and insurance issues -- and supports the transition’s long-term success.     

4. Achieve your retirement goals. A CFP® professional can help you determine which qualified or nonqualified retirement planning strategy best fits your needs and long-term goals. They can also help you confirm that your revenues and expenses are correctly recorded and benchmarked in accordance with the retirement plan you choose.     

Find a CFP® professional near you at LetsMakeAPlan.org. You can use the Small Business Planning and Business Succession Planning filters to locate professionals who offer planning services in these areas.     

A sound financial plan, developed with professional expertise, will help you lay the path to a successful future for you and your small business.

Smart Post-Graduation Financial Plans Will Pay Off

(NewsUSA) - College graduates have a lot to think about -- finding a job, finding a place to live and finding a way to manage their finances. Whether you have graduated with or without student loans or other debts, making a financial plan after graduation will pay off later.     Build good financial habits now to make “adulting” more fun. Start with these time-tested tips:     

• Set aside savings. Once you start earning, it’s time to start saving. Many financial planners recommend you save 20% of your income as a savings goal, but even 1% is a great place to start. Don’t let your inability to save 20% scare you off from getting in the savings groove. If you set up automatic savings systems, you can save without even thinking about it. Set up direct deposit so that part of your paycheck goes into a separate savings account, or send part of it directly to an employer 401(k).     

• Spend smart. Think about a budget now so you can reap the benefits later. “Divide your take-home pay into three buckets: 65% to 70% for lifestyle spending and debt service; 10% to 15% for fun, vacation and gifting; and 20% for savings,” advises CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professional Tom Morris. To help with budgeting, Morris recommends budget apps, such as Mint and You Need A Budget (YNAB).     

• Boost your benefits. Your salary is only part of the financial picture when considering job offers. Be sure to review the employee benefits and take those into consideration. Top benefits include paid time off, health/life/dental/vision insurance and healthcare spending accounts, such as Health Savings Accounts, Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Reimbursement Arrangements. Other benefits that can save you money include relocation reimbursement, long-term or short-term disability insurance, tuition reimbursement, childcare benefits, gym memberships or discounts and wellness programs.     

• Protect yourself. Many young adults think they are invincible, but in today’s uncertain world, it is essential to protect your ability to earn an income. Check out disability insurance, which can help keep you afloat if you have a major health crisis and can’t work. Some employers offer disability insurance, but you might consider getting more. Policies can be complicated, so do your homework or consult a CFP® professional to find the coverage that works for you.     

• Decrease your debts. Most college graduates have some debt that requires consistent payment, whether it is a car loan, student loan or credit card bill. Monthly automatic payments are a great way to make sure you hit your scheduled payments on time to avoid late fees or other penalties.     

Visit LetsMakeAPlan.org for more information about setting strong financial goals after graduation.

Why 529 Savings Plans Could Be an Opportunity You Don’t Want to Miss

(NewsUSA) - The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t change it.  

Neither has the inflation we’re currently experiencing. In fact, if anything, Americans’ belief in the importance of saving for higher education has increased slightly over last year – up from 51 percent to 55 percent – according to the latest Morning Consult survey done with financial services firm Edward Jones.  But here’s the crazy thing:  Even as college costs continue to rise, only 13 percent of respondents said they were taking advantage of 529 Education Savings Plans.

Here's why.

529 Plans are a tax-advantaged way to help save and potentially grow your money.

1. 529 Plans are a tax-advantaged way to help save and potentially grow your money.

Most people use personal savings accounts to try to cover the cost of college, and then hope they’ll be lucky enough to qualify for financial aid or some scholarship.  But the interest earned on such accounts is subject to federal and state taxes – unlike the special treatment afforded these state-sponsored 529 plans, which are exempt from the former and, in many instances, also the latter as long as the money is used for qualified education expenses.

“People are leaving money on the table by not using this attractive and practical way to save,” said Steve Rueschhoff, a principal at Edward Jones.

And that’s not something most people can afford to do.

The average annual cost of attending a private four-year college this year was $51,690, including room and board, according to the College Board. Which almost made the tabs for in-state and out-out-state four-year public colleges seem like a steal at $22,690 and $39,510, respectively.

Tuition and expenses at colleges and universities aren't all they cover

2.Tuition and expenses at colleges and universities aren't all they cover.

Have a kindergartener?    

Eureka!

For those eager to get their kids into private schools, some states’ plans also allow for up to $10,000 per year, per beneficiary, to be applied towards K-12 tuition.

Also covered: everything from computers to registered apprenticeships to student debt repayments.

The burden of funding the account doesn’t have to be yours alone

3.The burden of funding the account doesn’t have to be yours alone.  

Here’s a chance to see just how much little Janie’s or Jimmy’s grandparents really love them.

Not a lot of people realize it, but anyone who wants to save for your child’s education – be it a relative or a friend – can either open a new 529 plan account or gift money to an existing one.

“The federal gift tax exclusion allows a contributor to give up to $16,000 per year, per beneficiary, or $32,000 if they’re giving as a married couple,” explained Rueschhoff.  

And, sure, they could just hand you the cash, but this way they’ll be certain it’s going for its intended purpose.  (See “qualified education expenses” above.)

4. Inflation isn’t making it any easier for people to save

4. Inflation isn’t making it any easier for people to save

Every state’s 529 plan allows for maximum contributions of at least $235,000 per beneficiary, with places like New York and California setting a cap of well more than double that.  (Your accountant can discuss the tax implications with you.)  But even though 45 percent of the 2,220 adults, age 18 to 65, surveyed said they didn’t feel like they were saving enough, only 11 percent planned to increase the amount they sock away for higher education.  Which jibes with reports that Americans have begun cancelling vacations and summer camp for their kids out of concern about the economy.

Still, as Rueschhoff stressed, you shouldn’t be overwhelmed by the potential cost of college.  A financial advisor, like a trusted local one at Edward Jones, can look at your entire financial picture, including what other goals you might be saving for, to be sure your college savings strategy makes sense for your family.  And the firm’s online tools can help provide a broad idea of how much you’ll need by the time your child is ready to enroll.

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