While a college degree is well worth the money, student loans can give anyone the blues. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, student loan debt is more than $1.3 trillion and continues to rise. For many younger Americans, it has become the largest household debt.The Department of Education offers forgiveness programs to help borrowers with student loan debt. These programs include the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program. Both programs are designed to alleviate the student loan burden. [Read more…]
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Getting the most out of financial aid requires having an understanding of how financial aid works. When most people hear about financial aid, they immediately think it only pertains to student loans. But keep in mind; financial aid is more than just student loans. [Read more…]
Over the past weekend, if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you will know that I have been posting pictures from this weekend’s UNCF Mayor’s Masked Ball. I have to admit, I really did have a great time. But more importantly, I was honored to be my dad’s guest. And yes, these days we may not spend as much time as we should (I know dad, I will do better lol), but the time we do share I really do treasure.
As I reflect on our time together this weekend, there is one thing I will be forever grateful to my dad for. He was my first boss!
Many may know my father, James Roy Washington, Jr. He is a well-known architect and co-owns Hewitt Washington & Associates with Mr. Lonnie Hewitt. His designs gracefully cover the city of New Orleans. And as a teenager, when I decided I too wanted to be an architect, he quickly took me under his wings and employed me at his firm but he had another position in mind.
From architect to accountant
At that time, instead of working as an architect intern, I was given major responsibilities to carry out the accounting duties of the firm. At the age of sixteen, I was meeting with many businessmen and learning about the “ins and outs” of a business. One of my most important encounters was to meet with another CPA, Mr. Michael Bruno, Jr., who later became one of my mentors.
Your kids are watching you
While these little opportunities did not seem much to him or to myself while I was growing up, it plays a big part now for siblings and I. I know that it was my experience as his accountant that helped me to get my finances in order after college and purchase my first home at 23 and learn how to create wealth. Still to this day, my brother and I meet regularly to discuss business just as we did back when we would meet at my dad’s office!
If you have children, nieces and nephews, or a younger generation looking up to you, take time to have the “money talk” with them. Teach them about saving for their future, building wealth, student loan management and tackling day-to-day finances. And while my dad and I never had an official “money talk,” there were some things that I observed unknowingly that has continued to help me today.
Remember: your choice, your future!
Kemberley Washington is a professor at Dillard University and CPA. She is the author of The Ten Commandments to a Financial Healing.
If you were fortunate, your parents wrote a big healthy check toward your college expenses and provided you with sound advice during your time in college. However, if you were not so lucky, you may have been dropped off to college with only sound advice! And we all know, sound advice doesn’t pay for college!
But know, you can change the cycle. Whether you are a parent, expecting or just merely dreaming of your future offspring, it is no greater time than now to begin investing in your children’s future. There are many steps you can take toward saving for your children’s education. Now more than ever, it is important to take advantage of tax-advantaged accounts that may be available to you. Consider these education saving vehicles:
Section 529 Plan
A section 529 plan allows earnings to grow tax deferred and distributions for the purpose of paying education are tax-free. States and eligible institutions provide 529 plans. A 529 plan could be either a prepaid or a contribution plan.
The key advantages of the 529 plan, the earnings grow tax-free and the contributor may be eligible for a state deduction. Also, say for instance, Junior decides to follow his dreams and become an NBA player, all isn’t lost! You can request to change the beneficiary to another child. Keep in mind, as long as expenses are utilized for qualified education expenses you are not taxed, however funds utilized for other reasons may be subject to penalties.
Louisiana has a great 529 plan that not only allows for state deductions but also matches your contributions.
A Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA) provides another option to save for college. An individual is able to contribute $2,000 (2014) per individual towards college funding. Although the contributions are not tax deductible, just as 529 plans, earnings grow tax free if used toward educational purposes.
The key advantage of Coverdell ESAs are the account could be used for elementary and secondary education.
Even if you save a small amount, stash something away consistently to pay toward the cost of college for your loved ones or yourself. You will be amazed how this money can really add up!
Remember: your choice, your future!
Kemberley Washington is a certified public accountant and a business professor at Dillard University. She is the author of The Ten Commandments to a Financial Healing.
If you were fortunate, your parents wrote a big healthy check toward your college expenses and provided you with sound advice during your time in college. However, if you were anything like me, you may have been dropped off to college with only sound advice! And we all know, sound advice doesn’t pay for college! [Read more…]