Articles, Media & Thought Leadership
What are the advantages of a 529 college savings plan?
Tax-deferral can have a dramatic affect on the growth of an investment. With a state-sponsored 529 College Savings Plan your contributions can grow tax-deferred (some states allow contributions to be partially or completely deductible) and distributed income tax-free as long as distributions are used for qualified education expenses such as tuition, fees, room and board at higher education institutions. There is no limit on contributions but some states tend to limit contributions once the plan assets have reached a defined maximum (typically $200,000 - $250,000). Under a special election, you may make contributions of up to $70,000 per beneficiary in a single year without triggering a federal gift tax by accelerating five years worth of contributions (gifts) as of 2013. Married couples may contribute $140,000 per beneficiary in a single year.* Assets are professionally managed by fund managers selected by the state. Participants can choose from two to almost 30 mutual fund-type investments. Control of the account remains with the contributor regardless of the age of the beneficiary. * A $70,000 gift is viewed as an accelerated gift over five years. Any other gifts to the same beneficiary by the contributor within five years may result in a federal gift-tax liability. If the contributor dies within the five-year period, a prorated portion of the contribution may be included in his or her taxable estate for federal estate tax purposes.
What are the advantages of a Coverdell ESA?
Tax-deferral can have a dramatic affect on the growth of an investment. With the new Coverdell ESA (formerly known as the Education IRA) your contributions can grow tax-deferred and distributed income tax-free as long as distributions are used for qualified education expenses. These costs can include school uniforms, computers, and transportation for elementary or secondary school, public, private or religious. An annual limit of $2,000 per year for any individual under age 18 applies. Once the beneficiary reaches age 18 they can take control of the account but funds must be used by the time the beneficiary turns 30 years of age or transferred to a younger sibling. The ability to contribute to a Coverdell ESA is phased out for single filers with Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) between $95,000 and $110,000 and for joint filers with MAGI between $190,000 and $220,000. The annual contribution deadline is April 15 of the following year.
What are the payments on a parental (PLUS) loan?
PLUS loans are low-interest federally insured loans for parents of undergraduate students to help pay a dependent student's college cost. PLUS loans are also available to graduate and professional students. The rate is fixed 7.9% for loans made on or after July 1, 2006.
Home and Mortgage
The loan amount, the interest rate, and the term of the mortgage can have a dramatic effect on the total amount you will eventually pay for the property. Further, mortgage payments typically will include monthly allocations of property taxes, hazard insurance, and (if applicable) private mortgage insurance (PMI). Use our mortgage calculator to see the impact of these variables along with an amortization schedule.
Should I convert to a bi-weekly payment schedule?
It may surprise you that most banks and mortgage companies collect two to three dollars for every dollar that you borrow! However, there is a way to accelerate mortgage payoff using a method called Bi-Weekly Mortgage Payments. This program is implemented by dividing your monthly mortgage payment in half and paying it every other week - resulting in a net effect of paying an extra payment toward principal each year.
Should I pay discount points for a lower interest rate?
In some cases, it may benefit you to 'buy down the interest rate' by paying extra money up front in the form of discount points. Use this calculator to help determine if this makes sense for you.
How much will I earn in my lifetime?
Most people earn a small fortune during their lifetime. Yet many of them are unaware of how their annual income adds up over the years. This calculator, designed to help you estimate how much you'll earn before you retire, may surprise you with your own earning capacity.
How much disability income insurance do I need?
Your chances of becoming disabled are far greater than your chances of dying. It may surprise you that in December of 2010, there were over 2.5 million disabled workers in their 20s, 30s, and 40s receiving Social Security insurance benefits due to a disability.* * Source: Social Security Administration, Disabled Worker Beneficiary Statistics, ssa.gov
How should I allocate my assets?
Over 90 percent of investment returns are determined by how investors allocate their assets versus security selection, market timing and other factors.* Use this calculator to help determine your portfolio allocation based on your propensity for risk. * Source: Brinson, Singer, and Beebower, 'Determinants of Portfolio Performance II: An Update,' Financial Analysts Journal, May-June 1991
What is the dividend yield on a stock?
Dividends paid by a corporation can make up a significant portion of the cash flow generated by a stock purchase. Use this calculator to help determine your pre-tax and after-tax yield on a particular stock.
What is my risk tolerance?
On your way home from work, do you drive in the slow lane or the fast lane? Each person has a different propensity for risk. When investing, this risk propensity can be used to determine the percentage of your portfolio that is exposed to equities. Complete the following questionnaire to help determine your risk profile.
Social security retirement income estimator
Depending upon your current earnings, Social Security can be a significant part of your retirement income. However, many factors will impact the benefit you may receive. Use this calculator to approximate your Social Security benefit. For a more accurate estimate, taking into account your earnings history, contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 or visit www.ssa.gov.
Should I convert discretionary expenses to savings?
It may surprise you how much you can accumulate for retirement simply by foregoing a few luxuries such as a one-time purchase of a boat or cabin, or trimming back recurring monthly expenses such as eating out, movies, magazine subscriptions, cable tv programming, video rentals, vending machines, etc. Use this calculator to determine how much you could accumulate for retirement by saving instead of spending.
I'm retired, how long will my savings last?
Due to increasing life expectancies, many are running into the problem of outlasting their savings. Use this calculator to help determine when your retirement savings account may be depleted given a specified monthly income target. You may currently be in receipt of a company pension or other fixed income such as Social Security to help supplement your retirement savings account.
Calculate rate of return
The rate of return (ROR), sometimes called return on investment (ROI), is the ratio of the yearly income from an investment to the orignial investment. The initial amount received (or payment), the amount of subsequent receipts (or payments), and any final receipt (or payment), all play a factor in determining the return. Use this rate of return calculator to calculate these returns.
Becoming a millionaire
It may surprise you how quickly you can accumulate a million dollars. Use this calculator to determine the annual amount you would have to set aside each year to reach a million dollars and reach your goal to be a millionaire.
How much should I save to reach my goal?
What are you saving for: a computer, car, boat, summer home, down payment? Use this calculator to determine what you need to save on a regular basis to have the funds ready when needed.
Will my investment interest be deductible?
Interest paid on debts incurred in order to invest (such as 'margin accounts') is generally deductible to the extent that it offsets investment income (such as interest, dividends and short term capital gains). Interest payments in excess of investment income can be carried forward in hopes of offsetting future investment income. This calculator can help you better manage the use of debt as an investment tool, and more accurately time your income and interest payments to take best advantage of current deductibility laws and limitations.
What is my tax-equivalent yield?
Tax-free investments such as municipal bonds have lower yields due to their tax-exempt status. Use this calculator to determine an equivalent yield on a taxable investment. The higher your marginal tax bracket (state and federal), the higher the tax-equivalent yield.
What is my potential estate tax liability?
In 2013 the top federal estate tax rate of 40% will return. Estates worth up to $5.25 million will be excluded from paying federal estate tax. This means that the federal government could 'inherit' a significant portion of your estate unless you take measures to preserve your wealth. Use this federal estate tax calculator to estimate your tax liability.