A 60-second read by Anthony Benante: The Florida Prepaid College Board offers several options for college savings. The two principal programs are the Prepaid College Plan and the 529 Savings Plan. Below is a brief outline of some of the key differences between these plans, as highlighted by the Florida Prepaid College Board. For more information, click here to read more.
Florida Prepaid College Plan
Overview: You “pre-pay” for future college tuition costs and other fees. There are several plans to choose from (1-year/ 4-year Florida University Plan, 2-year/4-year Florida College Plan, etc.). The cost you pay will be based on what the cost of tuition is projected to be the year your child would enroll in college.
Enrollment: You can submit your application to enroll your child at any time from birth until junior year of high school. A parent needs to be a resident of Florida for at least 1 year before enrolling. The actual enrollment period runs from October 15th – February 28th each year.
Payment Options: You can pay monthly, over five years, or a lump sum.
What the plan covers: Tuition and other fees at a Florida College or State University (The plan can also be applied to other schools nationwide, but you should investigate actual benefits for schools outside the plan).
A 90-second read by Anthony Benante: When investing in a Certificate of Deposit (CD), you may have more options than you think. You can purchase a CD at a local bank or you can purchase CDs in your investment accounts (such as a taxable account, IRA or Roth IRA, etc.). These are typically known as Brokered CDs. Even though the CDs you get from the bank and the CDs in your investment accounts are called Certificates of Deposit, you should know that there are differences. In either case, we would recommend that the CDs you invest in are fully covered by FDIC insurance. If you would like to learn more about FDIC insurance coverage, feel free to ask us or you can go online to www.fdic.gov.
Purchasing CDs from your local bank: If you were to purchase a CD from a local bank that is FDIC insured, you would receive interest and would get your principal investment at maturity. If you receive regular statements, the value of your CD would most likely never change because it is not tradeable. If for some reason you wanted access to your funds prior to maturity, you would most likely be subject to a penalty, such as 90 days’ worth of interest (but this should be verified individually). Other factors to consider are that local banks can offer “teaser rates” (rates higher than the market) for CDs to attract deposits, but those rates may not be available after your CD matures. Unless you want to consistently move your money from institution to institution, using time and effort, you will be subject to the rates being offered only by your bank.
A 90-second read by Anthony Benante: What 5 things should you be thinking about at the end of the year when it comes to your finances?
1. Review your personal budget and commit to a savings plan for 2017
a. On January 1, write down the balance in your checking account. Do this on the first of the month for the next three months. After you incorporate your income for the period, as well as take note of any cash withdrawals from other accounts, you can get a general sense of what your monthly spending is.
b. We work directly with our clients at Baron to help understand how their budget and all of their financial assets work together. If you would like a budget sheet (either electronic or hard-copy), let us know.
2. Review your long-term investment strategy
a. Is the long-term strategy in place for you still right for your specific circumstance? Are you going to be making any large purchases coming up in the New Year? Are you thinking about revisiting your risk tolerance – becoming more aggressive or conservative?
b. At Baron, we use a customized approach to design client portfolios. We not only consider potential return, but also risk, as well as how the investments complement each other. Having a long-term investment strategy is critical for investing success and provides a guide for when markets act unexpectedly or make a major directional move.
A 60-second read by Anthony Benante: You want to put your emergency funds in an account where the funds are easily accessible and not exposed to risk. Examples include traditional bank accounts that carry FDIC insurance (savings, checking, etc.). The current FDIC insurance limit is $250,000 (as of October 2016), so you should structure your accounts appropriately to ensure your emergency funds are protected. You don’t want your emergency funds exposed to volatility, because it is possible you may need access to the funds when markets are experiencing volatility. If you put emergency funds in a risk asset (an investment that can change in value, such as a stock), it could wind-up causing you two financial problems, as opposed to having one financial solution.
How much you put in your emergency fund really depends on your specific situation, the stability of your job, your monthly budget and the consideration of all financial resources available. Typically, you want to put 6 to12 months of your salary away. If you are in a risky job or the majority of your income is from commissions or bonuses, the emergency fund may need to be more. Please contact us at Baron if you would like help in determining an appropriate amount for an emergency fund that would be best for your specific circumstance.
A 60-second read by Anthony Benante: Baron Financial Group is an institutional investor. As an independent RIA (Registered Investment Advisor) with no allegiance to any investment company, we seek the most attractively-priced investments for our clients. We look at every situation, and when we have the opportunity to invest in institutionally-priced mutual funds that make sense for our clients, we take advantage of the opportunity. The result of this is a direct benefit to the clients’ bottom line. And here’s why:
In the world of mutual funds (which are pools of assets such as stocks and/or bonds), there can be different pricing for the same underlying investments. For simplification, you could think about these different pricing levels as institutional and retail. Whether you buy institutional class shares or retail-priced shares from a mutual fund, the investment itself will be exactly the same. The major difference between the two is their fees and this can directly impact investor performance. For example, retail-priced shares can have higher expense ratios, while institutional class shares have ongoing lower expense ratios (an expense ratio is a measurement of what an investment company charges to run a mutual fund). Retail customers may experience the effects of higher expense ratios because they typically have lower purchasing power. Retail investors may also be subjected to upfront fees (fees when you purchase shares) as well as back-end fees (fees when you decide to sell your shares). There can also be yearly marketing fees called “12b-1” fees that you might have to pay. Finally, there may be a minimum to what you have to buy.
Institutional class shares, on the other hand, tend to offer 25 to 50 basis points (a basis point is 1/100th of 1%) of pricing advantage because of their lower fees. There are no initial upfront percentage fees (note that there can be a small nominal transactional fee to purchase these funds) and no maximum sales fees are allowed. With lower expense ratios, more of your money is actually being invested. The result of this can be better performance and better returns for longer periods. Ask an advisor at Baron Financial Group to find out if institutional class mutual funds are right for you.
Liz Skinner of InvestmentNews interviews Laura Mattia of Baron Financial Group, in the July 26, 2013 article “Women-friendly, with the seal to prove it”. Laura discusses why Baron was chosen to receive the Women’s Choice Award for Financial Advisors, and how the firm helps educate women. The award is based on rigorous research and evaluation applying 17 objective criteria, and at the time of publication, only seven firms and advisers (only 11% of those evaluated) had qualified to receive this premier recognition.
” ‘The stamp says these people do the right thing for women,’ said Laura Mattia, a principal with Baron Financial Group LLC, which has been given the award. “It helps them know we’ll answer every little question they ask.”
Ms. Mattia said her firm didn’t plan to make women the focus of their practice, but it found that women responded well to its focus on educating clients and hand-holding through the financial planning process. Today, Baron Financial helps many single women, divorcees and widows – many of whom have never handled their own finances. It also produces a monthly podcast, “Financially Empowering Women,” which attracts between 800 and 1,000 listeners.”
Baron Financial Group hosted their 6th annual Town Hall Meeting at the Fair Lawn Community Center in Fair Lawn. Attendees listened to the Baron Principals speak about the efficiency of markets and the updates to taxes in 2013. Ed Coyne, of Royce Funds, spoke about small-cap equities and how they can provide both diversification and return for clients’ portfolios. Baron’s clients, friends, and guests enjoyed the event, as well as the famous Baron desserts. Baron Financial Group, in honor of its clients and friends, donated to the Fair Lawn Food Pantry.