Parents: Get the 4-1-1 on the 529 College Savings Plan

Have a child who’s headed off to college in the future? It’s never too early to start planning how you’re going to cover the rising costs of higher education. A 529 savings plan can help you save for your child’s (or other dependent’s) college tuition. The rules differ by state (you can look up your state here), but the basics are the same: you make regular contributions to an investment and then withdraw from that pool of money to pay for college-related expenses.

The good news: your withdrawals are tax-free, meaning you won’t be subject to any taxes each time you take out money to pay for a qualified expense.

The bad news: not all college-related costs are considered qualified expenses.

So before your child heads off to earn his first degree, you’ll want to do some homework yourself. Using 529 money to pay for the wrong kinds of expenses … Read More

The Secrets of a High Credit Score

Having a good credit score can unlock doors for you—from getting for a car loan to qualifying for the mortgage you’ve always wanted. Some lenders, including credit card companies, offer bonus incentives to people with good credit scores, including lower interest rates, mileage programs, and higher spending limits. Here are some tips to help you set healthy financial habits and watch your credit score skyrocket:

 1. Check your credit score and report.

It sounds like a no-brainer, but the first step in improving your credit is knowing how potential lenders see you. The most widely used and reputable scoring system is the FICO score, which assesses your credit  on a scale between 350 and 800. Obviously, the higher your score, the more appealing you will be to lenders, so knowing where you’re at now and where you’d like to be can give you some motivation to re-think your spending and saving … Read More

Three Financial Rules for College Graduates

The hardest part about graduating from college isn’t the final exams or saying goodbye to friends from your dorm—it’s the more subtle process of transitioning from a student role into that of an independent adult. Life after college is full of questions—where will I live? What will I do for a job? How will I make ends meet?

Decisions you make now, including financial habits, will set the course for your post-college life. Here are three financial rules for college graduates.  These tips will help establishing good financial habits that your future self will thank you for:

  1. Make paying off student loans a priority.

    Don’t get too comfortable during the grace period after graduation—those six months will fly by, and monthly bills for your federal loans will kick in before you know it. Instead, spend that post-college grace period finding a job that will allow you to pay more than your

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