Evaluating the Cost of Education

Among the most consequential decisions that parents make is choosing the primary and secondary education venue for their children.  For parents with resources, the decision often begins with the dilemma of private vs. public school.  Parents are also often confronted with the financial costs of college education and helping a child choose between institutions with [...]

11 Retirement Plan and IRA Beneficiary Designation Mistakes

A married couple pays a local attorney to draw up estate documents.  The attorney drafts wills and lays out the well-conceived plan for testamentary trusts to be created upon death, distributing assets just as the husband and wife desire.  The couple signs the documents with appropriate witnesses and goes home to the relief that their estate [...]

Tax Saving Tips for Graduate School and Other Low Income Years

Over the course of a career, many individuals will experience a year or more with limited income prior to retirement.  It could be the result of a multi-month break from employment or simply the decision to temporarily leave the workforce for graduate school.  These situations present powerful opportunities that are generally only available for a limited [...]

Pros and Cons of Toddler Golf and Target Date Funds

There is a refreshing simplicity to the golf game of a toddler.  I appreciate this because my youngest son’s passion for golf is only superseded right now by that of chocolate chip cookies and his blanket.  He spends long stretches every day hitting a foam golf ball around the yard and occasionally we visit the [...]

Long-Term Disability Insurance – Group vs. Individual Coverage

From an economic perspective, insurance is useful to protect against low frequency, high severity events.  Quite simply, we are well served to insure infrequent events that would be financially devastating like the loss of a home to fire or an untimely death.  This ultimately begs the question of why people purchase insurance to protect against [...]

Children as Dependents and College Tax Planning Strategies

Most questions in life that begin “Can I…” ideally ought to be prefaced with the question of “Should I…”  The distinction is important.  “Can I” implies that the item in question is a good idea in the first place.  Often, it is not. When it comes to taxes, many people want to know if they [...]

Should I Pay off My Mortgage or Invest?

One of the most common questions facing families and individuals is whether to accelerate mortgage payments and forego the potential mortgage interest deduction or borrow as much as possible, make minimum debt payments, and save for retirement.  Simply, is it better to save or pay off debt?  The question comes in a variety of flavors: [...]

Opportunity for High Income Earners – the Backdoor Roth Conversion

This week, five years ago, was a period that financial journalists dream about.  We were ushering in the new year of 2010 and significant impending tax law changes provided a bevy of important topics that consumers needed help navigating.  There was the elimination of federal estate and gift tax, the return of IRA required minimum distributions [...]

The Best Retirement Plan for Self Employed Individuals

In financial planning, the right answer to most seemingly simple questions is nearly always “it depends”.  How much life insurance do I need?  Should I contribute to a traditional 401k or a Roth 401k?  Should I use a will or revocable trust for my estate?  How much can I plan to safely distribute from my [...]

The Middle Seat of Retirement Planning – Why Retirement Plan Limits Should Not Limit Your Savings Plan

First time flyers on Southwest Airlines are easy to spot at the boarding gate.  They’re notably confused, trying to figure out the purpose of the stainless steel posts with numbers on them and what they should do with the unusual B22 zone assignment on their boarding pass.  Someone eventually helps them find their spot in line and [...]