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Archive for the ‘Finances’ Category

Win $10,000 or $5,529 toward your child’s college savings in Georgia’s Path2College giveaways; Aug. 15 is deadline to enter

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

College Savings Savannah Georgia’s Path2College 529 Plan is giving away over $50,000 for college savings, schools, libraries,

In an effort to put more Georgia families on the path to college, help children across the state strengthen their educational foundation and ensure families are thinking about the financial foundation that is needed for continued education, the Path2College 529 Plan® is currently running two sweepstakes with prize money exceeding $50,000.

The deadline for both sweepstakes is August 15, 2013.

Path2College has set a goal of adding at least 10,000 new accounts this year in hopes of giving 10,000 more children a head start toward achieving their dream when they graduate from high school.

10,000 Reasons to Save Sweepstakes:

The 10,000 Reasons to Save sweepstakes will award one family who is already saving with Path2College and one non-account holder with $10,529 each for his or her college savings. Additionally, the two winners’ schools will each receive $10,529.

Summer Reading Program Sweepstakes:

For the fourth consecutive year, the Georgia Public Library Service and the state’s Path2College 529 Plan are once again partnering on the Summer Reading Program and its Summer Reading Program Sweepstakes, which will award a child with a $5,529 college savings contribution.

The Summer Reading Program sweepstakes, Reading Makes Cent$, is available to children across the state who were born in 1997 or after and who participate in the Summer Reading Program at their local library.

In addition to the $5,529 that will be awarded to the winning participant, the library of the sweepstakes winner will receive $1,529. Also, the library with the greatest number of sweepstakes entries and the library system with the greatest percentage of registered users entering will each win $1,529.

How to Enter:

To read the official rules and to enter the 10,000 Reasons to Save sweepstakes or the Summer Reading Program sweepstakes, visit www.Path2College529.com . Entries must be received online by August 15, 2013. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited.

Reboot your life & unlock your potential; 40% off a Peace by Piece Life Strategies Coaching session in Savannah

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Life Coaches in SavannahGive your ho-hum life the heave-ho.

Find your way back to a stress-free existence and turn your struggles into triumphs with tips and guidance from Peace By Piece Life Strategies Coaching in Savannah.

Mother’s Day May Discount
Give yourself the gifts of purpose and passion! Peace By Piece Life Strategies Coaching in Savannah offers transformational coaching. Mention you read about Peace by Piece Life Strategies Coaching on SouthernMamas.com to receive a 40% discount during the entire month of May.

You can meet certified Life Strategies Coach Shelly Harlander in her Savannah office in the Zeno Moore Building at 409 E. Montgomery Crossroads or schedule a phone session. Call 912-341-3684.

Life Strategies Coaching is for healthy individuals who wish to increase balance, efficiency, productivity and satisfation in targeted areas of their life, as well as achieve higher levels of self-realization and personal well-being.

Peace by Piece Life Strategies Coaching, tel: 912-341-3684, www.peacebypiecenow.com/ Peace by Piece Life Strategies Coaching is a SouthernMamas.com advertiser.

Reboot your life & unlock your potential; 40% off a Peace by Piece Life Strategies Coaching session in Savannah

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Life Coaches in SavannahGive your ho-hum life the heave-ho.

Find your way back to a stress-free existence and turn your struggles into triumphs with tips and guidance from Peace By Piece Life Strategies Coaching in Savannah.

Mother’s Day May Discount
Give yourself the gifts of purpose and passion! Peace By Piece Life Strategies Coaching in Savannah offers transformational coaching. Mention you read about Peace by Piece Life Strategies Coaching on SouthernMamas.com to receive a 40% discount during the entire month of May.

You can meet certified Life Strategies Coach Shelly Harlander in her Savannah office in the Zeno Moore Building at 409 E. Montgomery Crossroads or schedule a phone session. Call 912-341-3684.

Life Strategies Coaching is for healthy individuals who wish to increase balance, efficiency, productivity and satisfation in targeted areas of their life, as well as achieve higher levels of self-realization and personal well-being.

Peace by Piece Life Strategies Coaching, tel: 912-341-3684, www.peacebypiecenow.com/  Peace by Piece Life Strategies Coaching is a SouthernMamas.com advertiser.

Kids can keep track of summer reading online & win prizes

Monday, June 11th, 2012

We are loving the online reading logs that are new to Live Oak Public Libraries Summer Reading Program.
Kids create a quick online profile – which can include their photo – and keep track of the book titles they’ve read this summer – which they will need to get their free book from Barnes & Noble. Just go to the Dream Big Zone here.

If you haven’t signed up your kids for the library’s Dream Big: Read! Summer Reading Program, be sure to do so. This year’s grand prize is a trip to Disney World for a family of four, including Amtrak gift card and hotel! Stop by any library to sign up and start reading!

If Disney isn’t incentive enough to sign up, how about the chance to win college savings?

The Path2College 529 Plan will award one Georgia student, 16 years and under, who participates in the Summer Reading Program with $5,529 toward a Path2College 529 Plan account.
Entries must be submitted online by July 31, 2012. Details about the sweepstakes, including the official rules and the online entry form can be found at http://www.path2college529.com/news/reading.shtml .

College savings for your kids: Win $5,529 toward a Path2College 529 Plan by partaking in Summer Reading Program

Saturday, June 9th, 2012

This summer, don’t forget the importance of saving for their child’s continued education,

Georgia’s Path2College 529 Plan has two great opportunities to do just that: the Summer Reading Program & 2012 Newborn sweepstakes.

Statewide Summer reading program: Think BIG! Save for College! Sweepstakes:
The Path2College 529 Plan & Georgia Public Library Service offer the Summer Reading Program and the Summer Reading Program Sweepstakes to encourage Georgia’s children to read during the summer months.
The Path2College 529 Plan will award one Georgia student, 16 years and under, who participates in the Summer Reading Program with $5,529 toward a Path2College 529 Plan account.
Entries must be submitted online by July 31, 2012. Details about the sweepstakes, including the official rules and the online entry form can be found at http://www.path2college529.com/news/reading.shtml .

2012 Newborn Sweepstakes:
The Path2College 529 Plan will award one child born in Georgia during 2012 with $5,529 toward his or her college savings. Parents, grandparents or guardians may go to www.Path2College529.com  until April 14, 2013 to enter for a chance to win a prize that will put their loved one on the path toward a college education & a brighter future.

Visit www.Path2College529.com  for official rules & details. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited.

To learn more about Path2College 529 Plan or to open a Path2College 529 college savings account, visit www.path2college529.com  or call 877-424-4377.

About the Path2College 529 Plan
The Path2College 529 Plan helps families prepare for the future costs of college tuition and other qualified expenses, such as fees, books, and certain room and board costs for colleges in Georgia and nationwide. The plan is easy to use and understand, with no sign-up, maintenance or third-party sales fees – just a low annul asset-based management fee, and an account can be opened online with as little as $25.

Any earnings in the Path2College 529 Plan are federal and Georgia income tax-deferred and withdrawals for qualified higher education are federal and Georgia income tax free. In addition, the State of Georgia offers a state income tax deduction on contributions of up to $2,000 per year, per beneficiary. (Transfers from another 529 plan are not eligible for the deduction. Recapture provisions apply.) Your account assets can be used at virtually any college or university in the country. The plan offers seven investment options and participants can arrange for automatic contributions to their accounts to be drawn directly from a bank account or made through payroll deduction with participating employers.

Having a baby in 2012? Enter to win Path2College’s 2012 Newborn Sweepstakes

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

It’s official—a lucky Georgia baby has won $5,529 toward her college savings plan as part of the 2011 Newborn Sweepstakes. Path2College 529 Plan will announce her name and present her with a check soon!

In an effort to continue to raise awareness about the importance for saving for college, the Path2College 529 Plan is excited to once again offer a Newborn Sweepstakes for 2012, and one Georgia child born this year will win $5,529 for his or her college savings.

Path2College’s 2012 Newborn Sweepstakes

The Path2College 529 Plan will award one child born in Georgia during 2012 with $5,529 toward his or her college savings. Parents, grandparents or guardians may go to www.Path2College529.com until April 14, 2013 to enter for a chance to win a prize that will put their loved one on the path toward a college education and a brighter future.

Visit www.Path2College529.com  for official rules and details. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited.

Did you have a baby in 2011? Enter to win Path2College’s 2011 Georgia Newborn Sweepstakes

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Even though your baby is just a newborn, chances are you’re already trying to figure out how to save for his or her college tuition. Then check out Path2College’s 2011 Newborn Sweepstakes.

The Path2College 529 Plan will award one child born in Georgia during 2011 with $5,529 toward his or her college savings. Parents, grandparents or guardians may go to www.Path2College529.com  until April 14, 2012 to enter for a chance to win a prize that will put them on the path toward a college education and a brighter future.

Visit www.Path2College529.com  for official rules and details. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited.

You’re invited: free discussion on charitable giving

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

financial-independence-meeting

Educational savings: 529 account or custodial accounts for my child?

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

marsha-woelber-headshot1Below is a guest post by Marsha Woelber, a Partner at Independent Investment Services, LLC/Securities Offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC

Should I have a custodial or 529 account for my child? It depends. What is the money for? Custodial accounts are often used to allow minors to have assets titled in their names but managed by an adult.  You may have seen the terms UTMA or UGMA – this stands for Uniform Transfer to Minors Act and Uniform Gift to Minors Act. Assets placed into these accounts remain under the control of the parents until the child reaches the age of majority (18 in most states)

Use of funds:
A parent may use the funds in a custodial account for expenses benefitting the child. This does not include everyday expenses like food, but does include a computer, car, etc. A child has full access to the funds when he or she reaches legal age and may use the money for anything. Contrast this to a 529 Savings Plan, where the money may only be used (without penalty) for qualified higher education expenses.  Please see my previous on college savings for more information on 529 accounts by clicking here.

Note the Financial Aid Consideration: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form used by the U.S. Department of Education to determine eligibility for federal, state, and college-sponsored financial aid.The Department of Education conducts an analysis based on financial information, such as income, assets and other household information.  Funds in a custodial account are considered assets of the child and have a high impact on financial aid.   529 accounts owned by a parent have a low impact on financial aid eligibility.

Marsha Woelber is a Partner at Independent Investment Services, LLC/Securities Offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. She can be reached @ marsha@iissav.com or 912-650-2852. The opinions in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Please talk to your tax advisor before executing any strategy

Marsha does occasional posts on SouthernMamas about  becoming financially savvy.  To read her previous posts, click here.

Education Savings: 2011 Changes to your Coverdell ESA – Lower contribution limits and K-12 excluded

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

marsha-woelber-headshotBelow is a guest post by Marsha Woelber, a Partner at Independent Investment Services, LLC/Securities Offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC.

Marsha does occasional posts on SouthernMamas about  becoming financially savvy.  To read her previous posts, click here.

What is a Coverdell ESA?

Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESA) came about in 2001 to give parents more options for their children’s education. Similar to an IRA, a Coverdell ESA allows individuals to set aside up to $2,000 per year (2010) tax-deferred in an account earmarked for education. As long as you are using the money for qualified expenses, withdrawals are tax-free.

The big benefit of using a Coverdell ESA is that you can use the money in the account for elementary and secondary education expenses (including private school tuition). This is unlike a 529 plan, where the funds must be for higher education.

Many Savannah parents utilize both types of plans to enjoy the tax treatment for K-12 expenses (Coverdell), and the higher contribution limits of a 529 plan.

What is changing in 2011? Unless Congress extends current limits, maximum annual contributions into a Coverdell will fall to only $500 (from $2000) after 2010. More bad news: K-12 expenses will no longer qualify. Any amounts accumulated at the higher contribution limit can remain in the accounts, but you will have to pay tax on the investment gains in any amounts you withdraw for K – 12 expenses after Dec. 31, 2010.

What should I do with my Coverdell ESA(s)? If you can’t spend the money in your Coverdell prior to Jan. 1, 2011, it is probably best to roll it into a 529 plan. Technically, you must take the money out of the Coverdell and put an equal or larger amount into a 529 plan in the same year.

A 529 does not provide any tax advantages for K-12 expenses, but it does allow tax-deferred savings for college. For more information on 529 plans, please see my previous SouthernMamas article by clicking here. Be sure to contact a tax or financial advisor to help you move your funds from a Coverdell to a 529 plan to potentially avoid any negative tax consequences.

Marsha Woelber is a Partner at Independent Investment Services, LLC/Securities Offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. She can be reached @ marsha@iissav.com or 912-650-2852. The opinions in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Please talk to your tax advisor before executing any strategy.

New parents & life insurance: Make sure you buy only what you need

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

marsha-woelber-headshotBelow is a guest post by Marsha Woelber, a Partner at Independent Investment Services, LLC/Securities Offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC.

Marsha does occasional posts on SouthernMamas about  becoming financially savvy.  To read her previous posts, click here.

Parents-to-be have many exciting decisions to make in preparation for their baby: nursery decor, furniture, registry, baby names and ….life insurance. Insurance confuses most new parents; the terminology, numbers, and flurry of adjectives leave them baffled, even after they purchase a life policy. Below I’ve attempted to give you a basic understanding of why you need insurance, what kinds you can buy, and what to watch out for.

Q: Why do I need life insurance?
A: Life insurance protects the family in the event of death of a key money-earner. Generally, you need one policy for each parent, regardless of whether both parents are working. The premature death of a stay at home Mom can be just as financially devastating as the death of a working father: if the Mom dies, the costs of full-time child care factors into the equation. Life insurance gets more expensive as we age – the idea is to buy your policy when you are young, and “lock-in” cheaper premiums.

Q: How much life insurance coverage do I need?
A: Start here: 5-10x salary + mortgage + other major debts + college tuition for kids. Each situation is unique; make sure you and your financial advisor are thoughtful about this number.

Q: How do I decide what type of insurance to get?
A: This is where it gets tricky. Generally, there are two types of insurance: Term and Whole.
Term insurance works like auto or homeowners coverage: If you die while the policy is active (the ‘term’), the beneficiary gets the amount for which you’re insured. Common policies provide coverage for 10-30 years. Term is useful where the need for life insurance is temporary – like until your mortgage is paid off or your children finish college. This makes sense for most young families because it covers a set period, with affordable premiums. Your term policy can carry the option to convert to a whole life policy, a wise idea for those who want lifelong coverage.
Whole insurance provides a guaranteed death benefit for a guaranteed period of time. The policy’s life is intended to be longer than the lifetime of the insured. Premiums for this type of insurance are higher.

Q: I have a life policy through work, do I need more?

To read the answer to that question and the rest of this guest post in its entirety, click here.
 
Please email/call with questions: Marsha Woelber; marsha@iissav.com, 912-650-2852.

Marsha Woelber is a Partner at Independent Investment Services, LLC/Securities Offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. She can be reached @ marsha@iissav.com or 912-650-2852.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Savannah financial advisor answers your college savings accounts questions

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010
Savannah financial advisor Marsha Woelber

Savannah financial advisor Marsha Woelber

Savannah financial advisor Marsha Woelber knows money. Which is why we love her frequent guest posts on SouthernMamas about  becoming financially savvy. To read her previous posts, click here.

Marsha Woelber will respond to your financial questions. Email/call with your questions: Marsha Woelber; marsha@iissav.com, 912-650-2852. Here’s a recent question she received from a SouthernMamas reader: How do college savings accounts impact financial aid eligibility?

Below Marsha Woelber’s response:

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form used by the U.S. Department of Education to determine eligibility for federal, state, and college-sponsored financial aid, including grants, work-study, and loans. The Department of Education conducts an analysis based on financial information, such as income, assets and other household information.

It is important to know the implications of your children’s savings accounts on any financial aid they may need in the future.

Need-based financial aid depends on whether an asset is owned by the student or the parent. College savings plans such as a 529 plan are reported on the FAFSA as an asset of the account owner (usually the child is the beneficiary, not the owner). When the parent is the account owner, these plans have a low impact on financial aid eligibility. If the 529 is owned by a third party (ex: a grandparent), it is not reported on the FAFSA at all.

If you’ve saved money for your child using a traditional custodial UGMA or UTMA, you may want to consider rolling the money over into the custodial version of a 529 college savings plan. For financial aid purposes, custodial accounts (UGMA/UTMA) are considered assets of the student. This means that custodial bank and brokerage accounts have a high impact on financial aid eligibility.

*This answer addresses federal, state and college-sponsored financial aid only; private loans or scholarships will have different guidelines.

Marsha Woelber is a Partner at Independent Investment Services, LLC/Securities Offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. She can be reached @ marsha@iissav.com or 912-650-2852.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Advice from a Savannah financial advisor: Understand your finances

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010
Marsha Woelber, Savannah financial advisor

Marsha Woelber, Savannah financial advisor

Below is a guest post by Marsha Woelber, a Partner at Independent Investment Services, LLC/Securities Offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC.

Marsha does occasional posts on SouthernMamas about  becoming financially savvy.  To read her previous posts, click here.

The following is Part 2 of a two-part post. Read the first part here.

Southern Mamas 2010 Resolution: Understand your Finances
Step Two: Organizing important documents

Most of us get so much mail from our bank, brokerage, insurance companies and other providers that it’s difficult to navigate through it all. Below, I’ve listed some guidelines around how long you should keep vital paperwork. This list should help you streamline your files; generally speaking, e-copies of your documents are sufficient. Feel free to scan them and save on your computer, just make sure to back it up and protect it! Note, this list is for personal finances; it may be different if you are a business owner.

First on the list: Things to Keep Forever
Birth and death certificates, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, adoption papers, military records, living wills, IRA contribution records.

Automobile records: Keep the paperwork as long as you own your vehicle. This includes registrations, service records, and warranties. If you sell your car, hang on to the title transfer for a few years. If you lease the car, keep all documentation until you turn the car in.

Bank Accounts: Keep bank statements for seven years. Dispose of ATM receipts/deposit slips after you check that deposits/withdrawals appear on your monthly statement.

Bills: Keep bills that relate to the purchase of a valuable asset, which can be helpful in the vent of loss or theft. You can shred most other bills after a few months.

Credit Card Statements: Read the rest of this post by clicking here.

Please email/call with questions: Marsha Woelber; marsha@iissav.com, 912-650-2852.

Marsha Woelber is a Partner at Independent Investment Services, LLC/Securities Offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. She can be reached @ marsha@iissav.com or 912-650-2852.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

New Year’s Resolution: Get your finances organized

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

fsa-piggy-bank1-217x300Below is a guest post by Marsha Woelber is a Partner at Independent Investment Services, LLC/Securities Offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC.

A New Year’s Resolution for mamas everywhere: “I will not rely solely on my husband/father to handle my family’s finances”.

Does this sound like you? Many women tell me that either their husband (if married) or father (single gals) takes care of their finances. While typically there is no problem with this, I have to think that ladies everywhere are just not taking the time to sit down and understand some basics. Surely we are just as smart as our male counterparts?

My personal goal for the year is to focus on educating women about their finances. A little knowledge will give you some piece of mind should you ever need to make a financial decision on your own.

First Step: Get organized. Gather contact and account information using the list below. Please email me at marsha@iissav.com for e-version of this spreadsheet.

Gather some contact information. Finding who to call is often the most frustrating part of dealing with a crisis.
Key Contacts
Accountant
Financial Advisor
Insurance Representative: Life, Homeowner, Health, Auto
Lawyer

Next, organize your accounts/paperwork. To read the rest of this article, click here.

Family Budgeting: Save on medical and child care expenses with Flexible Spending Accounts

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

fsa-piggy-bankCreating a sensible budget is one of the hardest parts of family financial planning. Trying to spend less is difficult for those already on a tight budget; learning to spend smarter takes some time and focus, but can save you money.

Financial advisor Marsha Woelber, a Partner at Independent Investment Services, LLC/Securities Offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC, shares an easy trick of smart spending: the use of Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). Check out her guest article below. She can be reached @ marsha@iissav.com or 912-650-2852.

One easy trick of smart spending is the use of Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). Check with your (or your spouse’s) employer to see if this benefit is available to you.

An FSA allows an employee to set aside a portion of earnings before taxes to pay for certain medical or child care expenses. Money in a FSA avoids income tax and the 7.65% Social Security tax. If you are in the 15% tax bracket, you could avoid paying over 22% in taxes on that money, easily adding extra cash to your budget (Not sure of your tax bracket? Google “tax bracket” and see where you fit). There are two types of FSAs: Medical Expense and Dependent Care.

Medical expense FSAs cover health expenses not paid for by insurance. Each program varies, but allowable expenses include medical copayments and items such as contact lenses, birth control pills, many OTC drugs, and even band aids. Your employer sets the maximum amount of money you may set aside. You choose to have this money taken out of your paycheck (tax-free) and then use it to pay your bills.

To read the rest of this article, click here.

College Planning for Kids: Advice from a Savannah financial advisor

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

Trying to figure out the best college savings plan for our children is overwelming. Financial advisor Marsha Woelber, a Partner at Independent Investment Services, LLC/Securities Offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC, offered to provide helpful information on college saving basics. Check out her guest article below. She can be reached @ marsha@iissav.com or 912-650-2852.

You want to provide your child with every opportunity in the world. Paying for a college education seems so far away, but you can make simple investment decisions today to ease the blow of increasing tuition costs.

There are many options to facilitate college savings; I’ve focused on 529 savings plans, popular due to their tax advantages and flexibility. As you can see below, paying for just one year at even a Public College can be overwhelming. You may not be able to save enough for all four years of tuition, room and board, and other expenses – but you could save enough to give your child the right start.

Common Questions about 529 Savings Plans

Q – What is a 529 Plan?
A – A 529 plan is an investment plan designed to encourage saving for a child’s college expenses. The plans are named after Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions are made in cash and invested; the money can be used to pay for “qualified” college education expenses without incurring any income tax liability on the earnings and/or appreciated value of the assets.

Q – Who can open a 529 account?
A – Anyone. Parents, grandparents, other relatives or family friends can all be account owners with the child as beneficiary. Also note that anyone can contribute to an existing 529 account, no matter who owns it.

Q – How much do I need to invest in a 529 account?
A – Many plans have low initial minimums of $500-$1,000 and can usually be arranged for automatic investments of as little as $50 or $100 a month. Many states do have an upper limit on contributions, typically $200,000 – $250,000.

Q – Who controls the investments in the account?
A – The account owner selects from investment portfolios created by a professional money manager. The most common investment option is an age-based allocation strategy in which the age of the child (# of years until college) determines the specific mix of investments.

Q – Are there tax advantages to enrolling in a 529 Plan?
A – Contributions are not federal tax deductible on your tax return, however, your investments grow tax-deferred, and distributions for “qualified expenses” are federally tax-free. Your own state may offer tax benefits such as deductions; this should be considered prior to enrolling in a 529 plan.

Read the rest of the article by clicking here.