Tag Archives: parents and their children

Lost

My Comments: I’ve been a licensed insurance agent since sometime in 1976, or was it 1975? I have helped place hundreds, if not thousands, of insurance contracts over these many years, some of which I know are still in force.

This article is directed toward those who are dealing with elderly parents, some of whom are not as mentally alert or as strong as they once were. Time has a way of getting away from us and for those of you in middle age, this part of your future has a lot of challenges.

So I encourage you to approach your time with your parents, aunts and uncles, with the following circumstances in mind. You’ll be doing yourself a favor, not to mention minimizing stress for those afflicted.

By Kevin Sypniewski | March 20, 2013

When we hear something once, we might pay attention but when we hear the same thing from totally unrelated people, we begin to suspect there is a trend.

Some of the most enlightening and interesting professional conversations I’ve had recently have been with long-term care (LTC) claim departments. Okay, perhaps I should get out more!

Two different claim departments from two different leading LTC carriers tell me that they regularly get LTC claims submitted 12 or even 24 months after the claim event.

Why on earth would someone wait that long to receive the money for which they are entitled? Because the family just found the LTC policy!

The insured was ADL dependent but not communicative, and the family just “happened” to find the policy in a shoebox or file cabinet in the basement.

Have you ever been into the basement of the house that someone has lived in for 30 years and tried to find a specific file? It is wonderful that this policy got found and even more wonderful that the carriers are paying “late” claims, some of which they are no longer contractually obligated to pay.

What about the other LTC policies on other insureds that never get found?

If some get found, others surely do not get found!

We’ve had employees in our caregiving education and LTC sessions tell us about finding policies and others tell us about “knowing” mom bought one, but they never could find it once mom needed it.

We were hoping these were somewhat isolated incidences; however, after talking with leading LTC carriers, we know these are not isolated. If someone lapses their policy and takes the carrier “off the hook,” I’m okay with that.

That is their decision and certainly the carriers don’t mind. But knowing that families are paying premiums for the duration and the carrier gets a bye on the payment…That just stinks!

You as an insurance professional did your job selling the policy. The claimant did a smart thing buying the policy, but in the end the family loses a lifetime of assets and now the family home has a lien and the insured is on Medicaid in a Medicaid facility.

That is just not right! Sure, the policies that get found eventually get paid, but by then the assets might be gone, mom is in a Medicaid facility, and now the family gets the $200,000 check.

Better than nothing, but not for Mom.

I can hear the family discussion now. “I sure wish Mom had bought long-term care insurance because she really wants to remain at home in her house of 30 years.” She did buy the policy but just never told anyone, which is exactly like not buying a policy… just more expensive.

The carriers and regulators require we designate a third-party in case we don’t pay our premium. What about a third party to make sure we file our claim?

I think we have an obligation to communicate this story to each and every person we help with LTC insurance.

Perhaps we create our own third party notification memo that at the time of purchase the new policyholder is able to designate several people who get notified about the policy purchase.
Sure, those people may or may not be around 25 years later at claim time, but I certainly like the odds of that effort versus the strategy of hope.

Source: http://www.lifehealthpro.com/2013/03/20/lost?eNL=514a2b29150ba0161b0002ff&utm_source=LifeHealthProDaily&utm_medium=eNL&utm_campaign=LifeHealthPro_eNLs&_LID=1044219161

To College or Not to College

I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few years trying to help parents and their college bound students realize there is a source of money to help pay for college that does not have to be paid back. Every college and university has funds they can use to support and encourage the students they want in their student body to enroll and eventually graduate. But it’s not like there is someone on the street corner with a sign saying “come on in, we have free money for you.”

What follows is an infographic that talks about how so many students graduating from high school are not prepared for college. I guess it doesn’t matter about the cost and where the money is coming from if, as this article says, “…a recent study found that one in four freshman in the U.S. do not complete their first year of school, despite giving college a try.”

The group behind this infographic is promoting the idea that you can live at home and work toward a college degree. I’m not endorsing this idea; just that having a college degree is an economically viable outcome for almost everyone. How you get it is up to you. Follow this image below to see all the statistics a college bound student is facing. It was created by: CollegeAtHome.com “>

Top 15 Best Paying College Degrees

college money 2My Comments: Over the last few years, I’ve been trying to develop the idea that there is money to be had to pay for a college education if you only know where to find it. All colleges and universities have endowment money to spend and award to those students they want enrolled. The trick is to get several schools to want you and then get them bidding, using their endowment money to pay your way.

While all this is happening you are working the system. Meanwhile, there is the expectation that a college degree will give your high school age student a significant leg up as she or he enters the world as a functioning adult. At least that’s the plan. Here’s an article that talks about which fields of interest result in the best financial outcomes.

By Dan Berman, AdvisorOne

The skyrocketing price of going to college is enough to make one wonder if it’s worth the cost. The National Bureau of Economic Research has attempted to answer that question by looking at factors that affect the pay that graduates in different disciplines can expect to earn. They used information from the Census Bureau to illustrate average wages.

First to those rising costs. According to the College Board, the average in-state tuition at a public university was $8,244 (more than double that if you include room and board and other fees) for the 2011-’12 academic year. For those who come from out of state, the figure rises to $20,770 ($29,657 total). For private, not-for-profit colleges the average was $28,500 ($38,589 total).

With those costs in mind, the Economic Research Bureau’s study, authored by Joseph G. Altonji, Erica Blom and Costas Meghir, could be seen as a guide for college students when choosing a career. Of course, there are more prosaic reasons for choosing a line of work, such as finding something you love to do. With the report, at the least, students will know what to expect once they hit the job market.

One interesting highlight of the report is the monetary benefit gained by earning an advanced degree. In some fields the benefit of extra course work is huge.

Biological science majors, for instance, earn 51% more than those with a four-year degree. On the other end of the spectrum, communications majors earn just a 4% premium for a higher degree. AdvisorOne also looked at the study for earnings of those in the top 10% in that degree’s field, which is not necessarily related to holding an advanced degree.

With that perspective, take a look at the Top 15 Best Paying College Degrees from lowest to highest.
Continue Reading HERE...

Turning Point on US Obesity Epidemic?

My Thoughts on This: I’m unsure if commenting on this is relevant at all for someone who is supposed to be focused on investments and retirement planning and financial matters. But with grandson now in the picture, his health now and in the future is important to me personally. I suspect if you have grandchildren, their health is equally important.

This comes from someone whose ideas I respect and when he reacts to things he finds interesting, I tend to find them interesting and want to share them with you.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 New York Times

After decades of rising childhood obesity rates, several American cities are reporting their first declines.

The trend has emerged in big cities like New York and Los Angeles, as well as smaller places like Anchorage, Alaska, and Kearney, Neb. The state of Mississippi has also registered a drop, but only among white students.

“It’s been nothing but bad news for 30 years, so the fact that we have any good news is a big story,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, the health commissioner in New York City, which reported a 5.5 percent decline in the number of obese schoolchildren from 2007 to 2011.

The drops are small, just 5 percent here in Philadelphia and 3 percent in Los Angeles. But experts say they are significant because they offer the first indication that the obesity epidemic, one of the nation’s most intractable health problems, may actually be reversing course.

Crucial to get kids less fat, because fat kids are almost totally doomed to be fat adults, burdened by all manner of lifetime medical ailments. Our obesity epidemic began with kids and it will end with kids.

Especially tough since so many kids eat majority of their weekday food at school (breakfasts + lunch + snacks). Health advocates have to fight food and beverages industry on this. Good example: big push to get sodas out of schools and Coca-Cola and others fire back with “energy drinks” that are just as sugary. Sugary drinks are believed to account for half of the obesity epidemic.

Then there are those cheap-skate Republicans in Congress who insist on labeling pizza a “vegetable,” while insisting on more tests and thus less phys ed. I can tell you that Indiana is nuts on that score (testing): my kids are forced to prep and take these mindless (and useless) tests ALL YEAR LONG. What a way to prep kids for the 21st century!

But I digress …

Researchers are trying to figure out what’s working. All they know is this: “declines occurred in cities that have had obesity reduction policies in place for a number of years.”

Looking ahead:
Though obesity is now part of the national conversation, with aggressive advertising campaigns in major cities and a push by Michelle Obama, many scientists doubt that anti-obesity programs actually work.

Exercising is required, but it never does it alone (and never will). Key is reducing all those empty calories and portion sizes (“Want some fries with your pizza and Gatorade?”).
What we eat in America is what is most profitable for US food companies and ag corps to sell – plain and simple. We subsidize grains big time and do virtually nothing for fruits and vegetables.

We’ve got a nanny state alright, and she’s telling us that fat is good.

I admire Michelle Obama for working this issue. Exactly the right focus for her right now. Because when we solve the tripling of obesity that’s unfolded over the past three decades (stunning, really), we solve a good deal of our healthcare crisis.

Referenced from: http://thomaspmbarnett.com/#ixzz2EwYkxQ1C

The Impact of College Debt

My Comments: You’ve read my posts before where I push to help parents and their students find the money to pay for college. Far and away the best source is money that belongs to someone else. No, you don’t steal it, but you do set yourself up in such a way that colleges and universities give it to you so you’ll attend their school.

This article came to me the other day from a group that works to help students and their parents get out from under debilitating debt. This is when the family either never knew about the free money or couldn’t be bothered to find out. And ended up with college loans that are incredibly difficult to get out from under unless you have the money to simply pay them off.

I’ll say it again: the best way to pay for college is with someone else’s money. You just have to know how to ask for it. Let me show you how. In the meantime, if you’re up to your eyeballs in debt, read what these people have to say:

Whether they graduate or not, after leaving college most people end up facing a large student loan debt. Although this is an unpleasant fact of life, it`s virtually inevitable if you pursue higher education. With the stress of repayment added to the stress of starting a career, did you ever stop to consider that your college debt might be detrimental to your health?

Even before graduating or leaving college, students are impacted negatively by the student loan facing them. In a number of recent studies, students describe their student loan as a dark cloud hanging over them or a recurring nightmare that frightens them and even keeps them awake and prevents them from studying. After leaving school, many of these former students say that the stress from their college debt adversely affects their job performance or ability to get a good job and even affects their dating and relationships.

With today`s rising costs, the average student loan for a bachelor`s degree in the U.S. totals just under $25,000. For those who are in specialized careers such as law or medicine and for those who pursue master`s degrees and doctorates, this loan amount can total more than $100,000. Whether the loan is for $25,000 or $150,000, it`s a heavy debt for anyone who is just starting out in life.

It`s no wonder that a growing number of young, college-age people are under a physician`s treatment for stress. Moreover, it`s highly probable that most physicians are well aware of the cause of this stress. Physicians are no strangers to college debt. In fact, it`s a safe bet that the vast majority of practicing physicians have had to pay off, or are still paying, a large student loan debt.

Physicians are particularly vulnerable to the stress of college debt, because after graduation many of them go into stressful residency positions in hospitals and emergency rooms. These residencies and internships are difficult, often nerve-wracking and usually don`t pay well. After coming home from a 12-hour shift in the emergency room, no one wants to face a mountain of debt or have to worry about affording the rent after making the monthly loan payment.

If your student loan debt is affecting your health and making your life spiral out of control, here are some ways you can take charge of it and get your life back:

Apply for Debt Forbearance

You may not realize it, but student loans are structured to make allowances for health and personal problems. If you have a health condition or any other extenuating circumstances, you can apply for debt forbearance.

With debt forbearance, you can postpone your payment plan for an indefinite time period. Although forbearance is typically given for as much as a year at a time, you can apply for a longer postponement if your circumstances demand it.

The downside of this is that you`ll still be charged interest and this interest will continue to accrue during the postponement of the loan payment, so the sooner you can get back to making your regular monthly payments the better off you`ll be.

Consider a Direct Consolidation Loan

A Direct Consolidation Loan will allow you to consolidate all of your college debts into a loan package that you can pay off in one single payment each month. Direct Consolidation Loans not only offer convenience by consolidating your debts, but they also provide you with a lower interest rate and an extended period in which to pay. Direct Consolidation Loans have a fixed interest lasting for the entire life of the loan. This fixed interest varies depending on when you sign your agreement, but the rate will never be higher than 8.25 percent.

Best of all, a Direct Consolidation Loan will protect you from garnishments and threats if you`re currently receiving them from creditors. It gives you the breathing room to pay off your loan at a monthly payment that you can comfortably afford.

Apply for a Deferment

If you`re in graduate school or the military, or if you`re undergoing economic hardship and unemployment, you can apply for a deferment on your subsidized loan. A deferment differs from debt forbearance in that it prohibits interest from accruing during the length of the deferment.

Whether you research National Debt Relief or talk to a student loan representative, you can get the help you need to manage your student loan debt. By finding out your options, you`ll not only protect your finances, but you`ll also protect your health.

Don’t Pay for Your Kids’ College, Wealth Manager Urges Boomers

My Comments: By now you know that I spend time every week talking about the cost of a college education for your student and for any student in high school who has expectations of getting a college education. I’ve asked help from you in the past as to how to get this message across to members of your family, your neighbor, anyone facing the prospect of paying for a child’s college education. I still need your help.

For what I have in mind, simply run your cursor over the attache image and click. You’ll find yourself at the start of a short web video which I hope you will review and give me your comments and criticisms. Thanks.

By Danielle Andrus, AdvisorOne August 30, 2012

While boomers may feel a sense of desire or obligation to pay for their children’s higher education, they do so at their own risk, says Cathy Pareto, founder of Cathy Pareto and Associates in Miami.

“A lot of parents feel like they owe some level of education to their children,” Pareto told AdvisorOne on Wednesday. Unfortunately, she says, several factors have arisen that force boomers to choose between their children’s education and their own retirements.

“Education has gotten so expensive in the last decade or so,” Pareto said, that paying college expenses puts a “direct negative damper on retirement.” Furthermore, the market climate has impacted portfolios in a negative way, and boomers can’t look forward to the kinds of returns they may have become accustomed to in the past.

“Those factors make it difficult to sustain the mindset or commitment to supporting their children’s education,” Pareto said.

An Ameriprise Financial report in April said more than 70% of boomers help their kids pay for college, while 93% said they’ve provided some kind of financial support to their adult children. Boomers who insist on helping their children have to accept the consequences, Pareto said, whether that means they have to continue working or change their lifestyle in retirement.

Pareto (left) noted, though, that just because they shouldn’t pay for college, doesn’t mean boomers can’t help their kids in an emergency.
“A medical emergency is a different situation,” Pareto said. “They don’t have a lot of choice.” When their kids are hit with unemployment, however, boomers should be selective in how they support them.

“They need to lay down rules and create expectations,” Pareto said. Boomers should talk to their kids about a time line for when they should be back on their feet. Parents should also discuss opportunities that they can help their children take through their own professional connections. “Parents need to be allies for their kids,” Pareto said.

“The bottom line is one of the greatest gifts we can give our kids is a sense of self-reliance. We have to teach them the skill sets to survive in the future.”

While some boomers may find themselves in the comfortable position of being able to afford college and retirement, Pareto said it doesn’t happen often. “Some boomers who are more than adequately funded for retirement and have a minimal possibility of failure can afford to help their children. I would argue many more are not in that category,” she said.

“2008 and 2009 were quite sobering for advisors and their clients,” Pareto said. Now, boomers’ feelings that they should help their children finish school with no debt are unrealistic. “They’re far behind in their own plans, and have to figure out how to make the puzzle work with everyone.”

That includes sitting down and having an honest discussion with their children about money and what is expected of them, Pareto said. In some cases, that means children will have to support themselves, either by beginning their education at a community college, working a part-time job or taking on some student loans, she suggested.

“I hate to see people sabotage their own security because of this obligation,” she said.

In her own practice, Pareto has seen boomers thinking about these issues. “I started getting random calls from prospective clients,” she said. Her own clients started asking about supporting their children in other ventures like starting a business.

“It’s hard for parents, especially boomers, to say no to their kids,” she said. “The next generation, many of them have a sense of entitlement, and it’s the parents’ fault.”

For advisors who are working with clients intent on providing for their adult children’s education, “It boils down to crunching the numbers and showing the impact on their retirement,” Pareto suggested. “If they’re willing to accept it, so be it.”

An important fact that is often overlooked is that “there are options for students,” Pareto said. There aren’t always options for retirees.”
And even if boomers’ kids do have to put themselves through school, Pareto wonders if that’s a bad thing. “I see a lot of value in struggle,” she said

We Need Your Help!

My Comments: If you follow my writings, you know that I spend time and energy on an idea to help parents of high school age children find free money for their college education. Free money in this sense is money that schools are willing to spend to encourage an applicant they want, to enroll in their school. But they almost never offer any money unless they know the student is being recruited by other schools.

I need your help because I can’t seem to get anyone to pay attention to this. A year ago, the foundation behind the effort I’m promoting arranged for awards that exceeded $12 million. Local parents, instead, prefer to use their own money first and then when that runs out, cause their students to get loans.

The following article came to me from someone who has extensive knowledge about student loans. Loans in my judgement are a last resort for a student. So I need your help to figure out why parents in Gainesville believe loans are better than free money.

What Every Student Must Know About Student Loans

By the early 2010s, about 12 million students were borrowing money to attend American higher education every year, with around 37 million active borrowers in the system.

Estimates for student loan debt went as high as $1 trillion by 2011. By the beginning of 2012, the average student loan balance had risen to $24,301. For the most expensive types of education and training, loan balances rose to above $100,000.

There is no doubt costs are rising – and that graduate wages are not. Thanks to a mixture of education, oversaturation, and recession conditions, about 15 percent of students have late payments and loans in default. More than half of recent graduates in 2012 were underemployed or unemployed entirely, leaving them struggling to make payments. Since the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention Act, both federal and private student loans have been immune from outright forgiveness, which means that bankruptcy cannot remove the debt burden (although legislation may change this in the future).

In the modern business world a degree is vital for opening doors, and with the broad variety of bachelors and masters programs and the unparalleled access to online degree programs, American students have excellent educational opportunities. However, most students forget to consider their loans until they have already graduated and reached the “trouble” stage of payment. The government provides options for managing debt at this point, but dealing with student debt begins when students choose the right loans at the right terms. Instead of jumping at the first offered loan, students should examine the different options available and choose the right packages for them.

Subsidized Loans
If you have done any research on student loans, you have probably come across options for both subsidized and unsubsidized loans. Although it can look confusing on the outset, the differences are simple. Take Stafford loans as a typical example. When you qualify for a subsidized Stafford loan, the federal government will cover interest costs while you are in school and for several months after you finish school. In 2012, interest rates for these loans were set at 3.4 percent thanks to an extension of low rate regulations, but are expected to eventually double to 6.8 percent in coming years.
Continue Reading HERE...

Financial Aid Letter Would Provide College Cost Comparison

My Comments: I continue to be puzzled why parents are not interested in the free money available from college admissions offices as they prepare their children for high school graduation and preparations for college. There are billions of dollars out there that don’t have to be paid back. The only catch is knowing how to ask for it. Click on this image to watch a short overview of how to get your hands on some of these dollars.

By Liz Skinner July 29, 2012 6:01 am ET InvestmentNews.com

President Barack Obama’s administration has asked colleges to begin using a new standard financial aid offer letter in the 2013-14 academic year to help families compare how much each institution costs.

The voluntary Financial Aid Shopping Sheet will outline the total estimate of tuition, fees and other costs, the institution’s rates of completion and default, and a student’s potential monthly loan payment after graduation.

About 10 universities have agreed to provide this information to incoming students, according to Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

“Families choosing a college should have clear and comparable information in a common format to guide their choice,” he wrote in a letter to college presidents last Tuesday.

The finalized proposal, released by the White House last Tuesday after a draft was posted in April, is an attempt to help educate students and their parents about the differences between grants and loans. It is also intended to provide specific information about the overall debt burden that a graduate would face — and how the tab would differ among schools.

$1T IN STUDENT DEBT
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates outstanding student loan debt for U.S. households at about $1 trillion, more than what is owed on credit cards or cars. In a report last week based on data from lenders and other sources, the agency estimated that students owe $864 billion in federal loans and about $150 billion to private lenders.

Financial advisers typically recommend that clients consider federal loans before private student loans. Federal loans are advantageous because the government pays the interest while the student is still in school, borrowers can receive income-based repayment options, and loans are canceled in the case of death.

Default rates of private student loans spiked following the 2008 financial crisis, and students are in default on more than $8.1 billion, representing 850,000 distinct loans, according to the report.

A Senate Banking subcommittee held a hearing last Tuesday at which the report’s assertion that private student loans often lack repayment flexibility was discussed. The administration argues that debt from private student loans should be easier to dispel in bankruptcy.

Many borrowers who are making monthly payments can’t get their private lenders to agree to better repayment terms, even though interest rates are historically low, Rohit Chopra, student loan ombudsman for the CFPB, said in written testimony.

“Policymakers have paid significant attention to the refinancing and modification conditions in the mortgage market,” he said. “But given the potential impact of student debt on the broader economy, the situation is rapidly demonstrating the need for attention to determine whether action is needed.”

Parents Struggling To Cover College Costs, Survey Says

My Comments: I have a solution to this problem. But try as I will, very few parents of high school age children have expressed a willingness to talk with me about it.

As a financial planner, I’ve very aware of the financial pressure that comes from wanting your children to go to college and earn a degree. It’s one of the last steps we take as parents to move our children into an adult world.

Colleges and universities are also aware of the problem, and each admissions office is interested in attracting the best high school students they can for their next freshman class. And each of them has money at their disposal to help attract the students they want.

But you have to know how to ask for it. You can’t just show up, raise your hand, and expect them to give you thousands of dollars of discounted tuition. You have to come prepared. Click on the image that is part of this post and watch a short video. Then tell your friends and neighbors to call me.

by Jim McConville

More and more American households are struggling to help pay for their children’s college education costs, according to a recently released study.

Parents surveyed say they plan to pay for only about half of their children’s college costs and currently are on track to meet less than one-third of their goal, according to Fidelity Investments 6th Annual College Savings Indicator study, which was released today.

Parents on average this year plan to pay for only 57 percent of their children’s college costs, according to the survey. The typical family is currently on track to cover just 30 percent. To make up the difference, families will look to additional funding options such as loans, grants and scholarships, either through financial aid programs or other sources.

Although more than 75 percent of parents don’t want to burden their children with student loans, in many cases it may be unavoidable; recent reports find graduates leave school with an average of $25,250 in student loan debt, according to the survey.

Among families addressing college costs, about two thirds are making changes to better manage potential post-graduation debt. Thirty-eight percent of families, for example, are opting for less expensive colleges. Twenty-eight percent are planning to rely more heavily on financial aid and 16 percent are asking their children to change majors to secure better salaries after graduation.

While many families are still behind in reaching their college savings goals, the percentage of families saving for college—66 percent, according to the survey—has held steady over the past three years.

Fifty-four percent of the households surveyed said they’re familiar with 529 college savings plans, compared to 51 percent in 2011 and 40 percent in 2009. Roughly 34 percent of families that use these accounts have increased their monthly contributions, up from 25 percent last year.

Thirty-three percent of parents said they work with financial advisors to help guide their college savings strategies and are increasingly asking for advice related to school selection, financial aid, the grant process, and how college costs should be divided between parents and children. Sixty-eight percent who work with advisors feel they are closer to achieving their college savings goals than they would be if working on their own.

The online survey was conducted by Research Data Technology, which received responses from more than 2,300 parents nationwide with children aged 18 and younger who are expected to attend college. Respondents had household incomes of $30,000 a year or more and were the financial decision makers in their household.

Top 10 Biggest College Savings Plans

The 10 biggest 529 plans for the fourth quarter of 2011 are ranked by asset size

My Comments: A 529 Plan is an IRS approved idea that allows you to set aside after-tax money in a special account where it will hopefully grow. Then, when you withdraw the money to pay for college education approved expenses, you don’t have to pay income tax on the earnings.

In my judgement, this is really another scam promoted by Wall Street to get their hands on your money. College expenses are generally not tax deductible, so putting after-tax money into a special account by itself is no big deal. Then you take all the risk that the money will grow and not shrink in value, and if there is growth, then you don’t have to treat that gain as taxable income. Always providing you spend it on qualified expenses.

If, for any reason, the person named as beneficiary of the plan, presumably your child, does not go to college, then you can transfer it to another person in the family going to college. Otherwise, the gain becomes taxable, along with a 10% penalty.

How do you like the rules so far?

I’ve created a link to the article that caused me to write this post in the first place. But when you’ve read it, if you haven’t become discouraged, I urge you to click in the image that accompanies this post and watch the short video I created. There’s no reason for you to consider any other way of paying for a childs college education until you have exhausted the option from the Circle of Neighbors Foundation.