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College Pricing Trends for 2013-2014

The College Board recently released new college cost figures for the 2013/2014 academic year in its annual Trends in College Pricing report. The College Board noted that even though this year's increase in tuition and fees was the smallest in many years, the growth in student grant aid from previous years has not continued. As a result, many students are facing higher costs, even in the face of smaller price increases. To read the full Trends in College Pricing 2013 report, go to trends.collegeboard.org. Here are cost highlights: Public colleges (in-state students):

Tuition and fees increased an average of 2.9% to $8,893Room and board increased an average of 3.6% to $9,498Total cost of attendance for 2013/2014 is $22,826 Public colleges (outstate students):

Tuition and fees increased an average of 3.1% to $22,203Room and board increased an average of 3.6% to $9,498Total cost of attendance for 2013/2014 is $36,136 Private colleges:

Tuition and fees increased an average of 3.8% to $30,094Ro…

Pulling it Together for Retirement & for Your Family

Time to organize and centralize your documents.
Before retirement begins, gather what you need. Put as much documentation as you can in one place, for you and those you love. It could be a password-protected online vault; it could be a fire-proof cabinet; it could be a file folder. Regardless of what it is, by centralizing the location of important papers you are saving yourself from disorganization and headaches in the future.

So what should go in the vault, cabinet or folders? You will want to include:

Those quarterly/annual statements. Recentperformance paperwork forIRAs, 401(k)s, funds, brokerage accounts and so forth. Include the statements from the latest quarter and the statements from the end of the previous calendar year (that is, the last Q4 statement you received). The custodian for your assets (think Pershing, Schwab, TD Ameritrade) generally make available up to ten years worth of statements and tax documents. Just make sure the website, username, and password is saved, mak…

Lions, Tigers, and Bears…Oh My!

(Government Shutdown, Debt Ceilings, and the End of Quantitative Easing…Oh My!)
Perhaps the most interesting thing to notice about America's 20+% stock market returns so far this year--extraordinary by any measure--is that they were accomplished at a time when investors seemed to be constantly skittish.Just a few weeks ago, everybody seemed to be worried that the Federal Reserve would end its QE3 program and let interest rates find their natural balance in the economy.One might wonder why this would be such a scary event, since it is the Fed's economists way of telling us that the U.S. economy is finally getting back on its feet.

All eyes are still on Washington, but now they've moved from the Fed to the Capitol Building.The question everybody has been asking in the final days of the quarter is: what would be the investment and economic impact of a government shutdown?This question might be one to consider going forward, since the two parties seem to have a lot of fundamenta…

Teaching Your Kids About Money - A Childhood Money Mastery Curriculum

Chances are, there was a lot you didn't know about finances when you reached adulthood.Your ignorance may have cost you money in the form of an overdrawn checking account where the bank gleefully heaped on additional fees, or credit card debt at interest rates that would have qualified as criminal usury in the Middle Ages.You may have overextended yourself when buying a car, been mystified by the APR on your home mortgage, or you may be one of those unfortunate people who ran into a financial predator who sells high-commission investments, annuities or unnecessary life insurance coverage.

You don't want your children to learn these lessons the hard way.What can you do to help them master the complexities of this mysterious thing we call "money?"
The bad news is that you'll have to home-school this curriculum, since primary and secondary schools inexplicably don't teach basic money skills, and the only way your children will be taught about money in college is i…

How Much Health Care Reform Will We See By 2014?

In 2014, we were supposed to see profound health care reform per the 2011 Affordable Care Act – but how much of that reform will roll out on time?

The federal government has already conceded that it can’t enforce the employer mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act by 2014. On July 2, the Obama administration gave businesses with 50 or more employees a 1-year reprieve from having to provide affordable health insurance to full-time employees (people working 30 or more hours weekly).1,2
What’s the progress on the state exchanges? The progress report isn’t good. As the Wall Street Journalnoted last month, even the Government Accountability Office thinks that a “timely and smooth implementation of the exchanges by October 2013 cannot yet be determined.”4
Small businesses and the self-employed are supposed to be able to find affordable coverage through these online marketplaces. The small business exchange rollout has already encountered glitches. In some states, only one insurance carrier…

Video: Caveat Investor & the Global Investment Firm

I've always been amazed how the larger investment firms get away with blatantly anti-consumer behavior. Obviously they have deep pockets to lobby Congress in addition to advertising heavily during Sunday's televised golf match. I know some very good investment brokers, but I have no idea why they choose to stay in that culture. This video has a funny spin on highlighting the differences between fiduciary advice and advice that is not necessarily in the client's best interest but deemed 'suitable.' It's worth a 5-minute break in your day.

Rising Rates and Their Impact on "Safe Assets"

Jason Zweig of the Wall Street Journal wrote an article an interesting article observing in part what happened to certain asset classes investors typically deem safe during the rising interest rates of 1994. During this year the FED raised rates 5 times. He wrote:

"The biggest fear of investors then was that the Fed would tank the markets, which still were recovering from the recession of 1990-91. That didn't quite happen; the U.S. stock market overall earned 1.3% for the full year in 1994.

But the damage was widespread, hitting supposedly safe and risky assets alike. For the full year, utility stocks lost 15.3%; municipal bonds, 5.2%; emerging markets, 8.7%; intermediate-term Treasurys, 5.7%; the U.S. bond market as a whole, 2.9%; gold, 2.2%. REITs eked out a gain of 0.8%; without their generous dividend yield of roughly 7%, they would have lost 6.4%. (The average yield on REITs today is a bit over 3%.)"

Most investors don't think that their bond funds can lose…

Behavioral & Psychological Aspects of the Retirement Decision

An important paper has recently released by the Social Security Administration calledBehavioral and Psychological Aspects of the Retirement Decision. It delves into some of the non-financial reasons why people choose to retire when they do. Following are some highlights from the paper.

Many future retirees do not understand the interplay between claiming age and Social Security benefits.Even when they understand the claiming rules, many people claim benefits when it is not economically advisable to do so, as more than half of retirees claim benefits at 62. 

Retirees tend toanchoron ages that have some retirement significance.Why do so many people claim to be "burnt out" at work when they turn 62? Why not 60 or 64 or 68? It's because 62 is the age of eligibility for Social Security benefits. But what if they were to anchor on age 70 instead? Might they push through the burnout, as they would if it occurred at 55 or 60 when retirement clearly was not feasible?

People compare …

Retirement Questions to Ask Yourself

How do you picture your future? If you are like many baby boomers, your view of retirement is likely pragmatic compared to that of your parents. That doesn’t mean you have to have a “plain vanilla” tomorrow. Even if your retirement savings are not as great as you would prefer, you still have great potential to design the life you want. With that in mind, here are some things to think about.

What do you absolutely want to accomplish? If you could only get four or five things done in retirement, what would they be? Answering this question might lead you to compile a “short list” of life goals, and while they may have nothing to do with money, the financial decisions you make may be integral to achieving them.
What would revitalize you? Some people retire with no particular goals at all, and others retire burnt out. After weeks or months of respite, ambition inevitably returns. They start to think about what pursuits or adventures they could embark on to make these years special. Others ha…

To Handle Hard Times, Plan for the Long Term

There was an interesting article in the WSJ recently about the benefits of having a financial plan and the confidence it gives investors to execute that plan and stick to an investment strategy. See below for details and for the link to the full article.