Getting Ahead Before 2015
Don’t let any of these common financial concerns cause you stress before the New Year. Exit 2014 with a plan so that you can enjoy peace of mind during the holidays.
"I can’t afford to send my children to college."
Do your homework. Consider all resources that can help cover college expenses including grants, scholarships, work study, and loans. There’s more out there than you may realize! For example, did you know that a student can be awarded more financial aid for a college with a higher tuition? Students who have their eyes set on college with a higher tuition may qualify for more financial aid because parents with a lower income may not be expected to cover as much of the cost, according to College View1. By combining multiple sources of funds, sending your child to his/her dream college can become a reality. In fact, experts at The College Board say to look at the net price, not the published cost of attendance, where the net price is the out of pocket cost after financial aid. The College Board estimates that in 2014-2015, the average published price for in-state tuition at a 4-year college is $9,139 but the average net price a family will actually pay will be about $3,0302.
"I won’t have enough to retire comfortably."
The earlier you start, the bigger the advantage, and a nice place to start is with your employer-sponsored 401(k). If your employer matches your contributions, try to contribute at least the amount that they will match. Use a free online retirement plan calculator to get an idea of how much and how often to save given your current age, desired retirement age, income and your retirement goal. However, meet with a financial planner at least once a year to solidify your retirement plan and ensure you are on the right track. Online calculators are not completely accurate and will not have the ability to consider factors like the stock market the way a financial planner could.
"I am worried about a smaller paycheck or losing my job."
If you sense your household may soon be short an income source or if you are simply being extra cautious, set up a separate account that can serve as an emergency fund. Then arrange for an automated transfer from your paycheck into this fund so that you are never tempted to use that money somewhere else. The industry rule of thumb for this “rainy day fund” is between 3 to 6 months’ worth of expenses, including mortgage or rent, car payments, groceries, gas, and utilities3, but there are a lot of moving parts dependent on each household’s situation. Even if you f maintain your finances , this fund could still stand as an emergency fund for unexpected medical expenses, a major car repair, or if you are really comfortable, put it toward a down payment for a home.