The federal government imposes a substantial tax on gifts of money or property above certain levels. Without such a tax someone with a sizable estate could give away a large portion of their property before death and escape death taxes altogether. For this reason, the gift tax acts more or less as a backstop to the estate tax. And yet, few people actually pay a gift tax during their lifetime. A gift program can substantially reduce overall transfer taxes; however, it requires good planning and a commitment to proceed with the gifts.
Saving for college isn't easy, but the earlier you start the better off you'll be. For example, if you save $60 a month for 17 years earning 8% per year, you will have over $25,000 by the time college begins! Taxes will reduce the amount of the portfolio.
There are several savings and investment strategies that can help you accrue money for college.
Most qualified retirement plans offer significant tax benefits for those willing to follow a few IRS specified rules. The government wants to make these plans (401(k)s, Keoghs, SEPs and traditional IRAs) available for specific needs, and has established tax law to help eliminate potential abuses of these tax advantaged investment alternatives.
Personal financial statements are the roadmap that guides us from where we are today, to where we want to be tomorrow. They also provide fixed points of reference from which we can measure our progress over time.
Personal Financial Statements
There are two basic personal financial statements that everyone should prepare, or have a financial advisor prepare, at least once each year; the cash flow statement and the balance sheet.
A will is a legal document that transfers what you own to your beneficiaries upon your death. It also names an executor to carry out the terms of your will and a guardian for your minor children, if you have any.
Your signature and those of two witnesses make your will authentic. Witnesses don't have to know what the will says, but they must watch you sign it and you must watch them witness it.
In years past, it was often realistic for retirees to base the majority of their retirement income on Social Security benefits and traditional employer sponsored pension benefits.
Unfortunately, Social Security retirement benefits have gradually been reduced in real terms, and the age one needs to attain in order to qualify for retirement benefits has been increasing steadily. iven current retirement trends, these retirement benefits will continue to be more and more difficult for the government to fund.
Many home buyers search for a home they want, then apply for a mortgage and hope for the best. A better approach is to find out how much mortgage you can qualify for, then look at homes that you know are within your price range.
You will probably save time, aggravation and money by having your lender tell you the size of mortgage you qualify for and the likelihood that you will be approved. Pre-qualification may also give you added bargaining power with the seller if he knows there will be no delays in closing the deal.
If you find yourself in trouble financially, there are usually no easy answers -- but there are many ways out for those willing to commit to changing their financial habits.
Your ability to pay your bills can be affected by situations beyond your control such as serious illness, divorce or the sudden loss of a job. Poor financial management can also threaten your economic security. You may be able to juggle your creditors for a time, but eventually you may come to realize you need help in resolving your financial problems.