The host of “CBS Sunday Morning,” Jane Pauley, has hosted a sale of her Palisades, NY, retreat for $6.3 million.
Pauley and her husband, Garry Trudeau, the creator of the comic strip “Doonesbury,” profited from their investment. The couple purchased the picturesque property for $2.3 million in 2015, real estate records show. They successfully sold the home in July.
Known as the “House in the Woods,” the four-bedroom, 4.5-bathroom, Tudor-style stone cottage offers scenic views of the Hudson River. Completed in the 1920s, with over 3,100 square feet of interior space, the waterfront abode had been off market when it was quietly sold.
While scant details are available, we do have some information from earlier occasions when the vacation getaway popped up on the market.
The small home comes with big names attached to it. The authorÂ John Steinbeck called the place home in the 1940s, as did the filmmaker Orson WellesÂ and the English stage and screen starsÂ Sir Laurence Olivier andÂ Vivian Leigh.Â
The private enclave where the home is located, Sneden’s Landing, is less than an hour from Manhattan and has attracted notable residents for decades.
Other A-list residents in the Hudson River hamlet have included Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Al Pacino. Scarlett Johansson reportedly bought a home in the village in 2018, and Angelina Jolie spent some of her childhood years there.
The original owners were apparently inspired by homes they saw on a trip through the French countryside, according to a previous listing description.
Hand-built with stone, brick, and mortar, the house features chestnut wood plank floors made from trees on the property. Other details include three fireplaces, leaded glass windows, and a slate roof. Two large millstones have been incorporated into the stone fireplace.
Surely, this haven for Hollywood will continue to be a draw. On a bluff over the Hudson River, the country hideaway is close enough to the city for a quick escape from urban life. Potentially, the new owner might be able to add to the 2.4-acre property.
Pauley, a long-time broadcast journalist, anchors “CBS Sunday Morning.” Previously, the Emmy-Award winner held a position with NBC’s “Today” show, and she has also co-hosted “Dateline.”
Trudeau, who won a Pulitzer Prize for “Doonesbury” in 1975, also executive produces the Amazon Studios series “Alpha House.”
The post ‘CBS Sunday Morning’ Host Jane Pauley Sells Hudson River Retreat for $6.3M appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.comÂ®.
Medicare generally covers home health care services, including home health aides and certain therapies. To qualify for coverage, though, youâll have to meet certain requirements. And for some services, youâll be responsible for part of the cost. Which home health care services are covered by Medicare? Eligible services covered through Original Medicare â which comprises…
There’s no single way to get out of debt that’s best for everyone. Each individual case is as unique as you are.
It’s important to consider your situation when deciding which debt relief plan is the best option for you. To help you weigh those options, we have provided an overview of some of the major options here:
Debt avalanche and debt snowball
Debt management plan (DMP)
Debt settlement and debt negotiation
How Debt Relief Programs Affect Credit
The debt that you carry (your credit utilization rate) makes up roughly one-third of your overall credit score. When you pay off debt, your credit score typically improves. This is especially true with revolving credit linesâsuch as credit cardsâwhere your balance is approaching or hovering around the maximum limit. You want to keep your utilization rate below 30% to avoid negative effects to your credit score.
However, reducing your debt can also lower your credit scoreâeven when itâs a good thing! For example, paying off a loan and closing that account may reduce your credit age or mix of accounts, which account for about 15% and 10% of your credit score, respectively.
The type of debt relief program you use can also positively or negatively affect your credit score. Debt settlement, for example, utilizes some tactics that generally have a more negative effect than other types of debt relief programs. Keeping in mind your current credit standing, the program itself and your credit needs will help you make the best choice.
Start by signing up for the free credit report card from Credit.com. This handy tool provides a letter grade for each of the five key areas of your credit for a quick snapshot of where you stand. You can also dig deeper into each factor to monitor what’s happening with your credit and find areas for improvement.
â Sign up for the free Credit Report Card now.
The Main Approaches to Debt Relief
Once you have a clear picture of your credit history, you can choose one of the six main approaches to debt relief to help you get out of debt. These include the snowball/avalanche option, debt consolidation, credit counseling, debt management plans, debt negotiation/debt settlement and bankruptcy. Each option has its own advantages and drawbacks as well as its own impact on your credit score, both short term and long term.
Debt Relief Option
Immediate Credit Impact
Long-Term Credit Impact
Debt Snowballs and Avalanches
Small impact (positive or negative)
Debt Management Plan (DMP)
Moderate impact (positive or negative)
Debt Negotiation or Debt Settlement
Debt Snowball and Debt Avalanche
Immediate Credit Impact: None
Long-Term Credit Impact: Reliably Positive
The debt snowball and debt avalanche approaches are simply methods of repaying your debts. The choice between snowball or avalanche often comes down to a matter of personal choice.
The debt snowball is when you pay off your debts one at a time, starting with the ones that have the lowest balance. This eliminates those debts from your credit record quickly.
The debt avalanche is when you pay off your debts one at a time, but you start with those that have the highest balances instead. While it takes longer to clear debt from your credit history, the debt you clear takes a larger chunk out of your overall balance owed.
As long as you stick to the minimum payments needed on all of your other credit accounts while you work to pay down your debt, this method has little immediate impact on your credit report and a reliably positive one long term.
Immediate Credit Impact: Small (positive or negative)
Long-Term Credit Impact: Minimal
Debt consolidation loans and balance transfer credit cards can help you manage your debt by combining multiple lines of credit under one loan or credit card. While this helps by making one payment out of several, it’s not a strategy that actually gets you out of debt. It’s more like a tool to help you get out of debt faster and easier.
Consolidation loans often offer lower interest rates than the original credit lines themselves, which enables you to pay off your debt faster. In addition, having one lower monthly payment makes it easier to avoid late or missed payments.
Balance transfer credit cards let you transfer debt from other cards for a minimal fee. These cards sometimes require that you pay off the balance transfer balance within a certain timeframe to avoid being charged interest. If you choose a balance transfer card, be sure you choose one with terms favorable to your situation and needs.
This form of debt relief has its own set of pros and cons. While it can improve your credit utilization ratio by paying off balances that are close to the credit limit, simply moving balances from one creditor to another doesn’t do a lot for your immediate scores. Transferring multiple debts to one balance transfer card may make your utilization rate higher, which could drop your score as well.
At the same time, opening a new account will require a hard inquiry, which will slightly negatively impact your credit score. A debt consolidation loan adds a new account to your credit report, which most credit scoring models count as a risk factor that may drop your score in the short term as well. On the other hand, adding a loan or credit card to your credit history could improve your credit mix. Youâll need to keep all these factors in mind when determining whether a debt consolidation loan or balance transfer credit card is right for you.
Immediate Credit Impact: None expected
Long-Term Credit Impact: None expected
A credit counselor is a professional adviser that helps you manage and repay your debt. Counselors may offer free or low-cost consultations and educational materials. They often lead their clients to enroll in other debt relief programs such as a debt management plan, which generally require a fee and can affect your credit (see below for more information). Bes ure you fully understand the potential impact of any debt relief program suggested by a credit counselor before you sign up. Theyâre here to help, so donât be afraid to ask your counselor how a new plan could affect your credit.
Credit counseling can also help you avoid accumulating debt in the first place. By consulting a credit counselor about whether or not a line of credit is advisable given your current situation, for example, you can avoid taking on debt that will affect you adversely. Choosing a good credit counselor for your situation is essential for positive results.
Debt Management Plan
Immediate Credit Impact: Moderate (positive or negative)
Long-Term Credit Impact: Minimal
A Debt Management Plan is typically set up by a credit counselor or counseling agency. You make one monthly payment to that agency, and the agency disburses that payment among your creditors. This debt management program can affect your credit in several ways, mostly positive.
While individual lenders may care that a credit counseling agency is repaying your accounts, FICO does not. Since FICO is the leading data analytics company responsible for calculating consumer credit risk, that means a DMP will not adversely affect your credit score. Of course, delinquent payments and high balances will continue to bring your score down even if you’re working with an agency.
When you agree to a DMP, you are required to close your credit cards. This will likely lower your scores, but how much depends on how the rest of your credit report looks. Factors such as whether or not you have other open credit accounts that you pay on time will determine how much closing these lines of credit will hurt your score.
Regardless, the negative effect is temporary. In the end, the impact of making consistent on-time payments to your remaining credit accounts will raise your credit scores.
Debt Negotiation or Settlement
Immediate Credit Impact: Severe damage
Long-Term Credit Impact: Slow recovery
Some creditors are willing to allow you to settle your debt. Negotiating with creditors allows you to pay less than the full balance owed and close the account.
Creditors only do this for consumers with several delinquent payments on their credit report. However, creditors generally charge off debts once they hit the mark of being 180 days past due. Since charged-off debts are turned over to collection agencies, it is important to try to settle an account before it gets charged off.
Debt settlement companies negotiate with creditors on your behalf, but their tactics often require you to stop paying your bills entirely, which can have a severe negative impact on your credit score. In general, debt settlement is considered a last resort and many professionals recommend bankruptcy before debt settlement.
Immediate Credit Impact: Severe damage
Long-Term Credit Impact: Slow recovery
Filing for bankruptcy will severely damage your credit score and can stay on your credit report for as long as 10 years from the filing date. However, if you are truly in a place of debt from which all other debt relief programs cannot save you, bankruptcy may be the best option.
Moreover, by working diligently to rebuild your credit after bankruptcy you have a good shot at improving your credit scores. Depending upon which type of bankruptcy you file forâChapter 7, Chapter 11 or Chapter 13âyou will pay back different amounts of your debt and it will take varying timelines before your credit can be restored.
Learning the difference between the three main types of bankruptcy can help you choose the right one. A qualified consumer bankruptcy attorney can help you evaluate your options.
Getting Debt Free
Whichever method of debt relief you choose, the ultimate goal is always to pay off your debt. That way, you can save and invest for your future goals. For some, taking a hit to credit temporarily is worth it if it means being able to finally get their balances to zero.
By monitoring your credit with tools like our free Credit Report Card and keeping your financial situation in perspective, complete debt relief is not only possible but within reach.
The post Debt Relief & Credit: What You Need to Know appeared first on Credit.com.
An Upper East Side apartment that was once home to one of the most significant American cultural personalities of the 20th century has recently hit the market.
The Art Deco masterpiece at 895 Park Avenue was previously owned by famed composer and cultural icon Leonard Bernstein, whom music critics refer to as “one of the most prodigiously talented and successful musicians in American history”. In fact, this very property is where Bernstein — also a lifelong humanitarian, civil rights advocate, and peace activist — hosted an infamous âradical chicâ party with and in support of the Black Panther Party back in 1970.
But its famous past owner is not the building’s only historical trait; built in 1929, it is designed in the classic Art Deco style, evoking New York Cityâs golden age glamour and sophistication. That, paired with its carefully preserved original architectural details (original wood-burning fireplaces and wide-plank wood floors) and panoramic Manhattan views make this residence a true gem.
Clocking in at approximately 6,300 square feet, with an extra 700 square feet of private outdoor space, the 895 Park Avenue unit spans over two floors of the 21-story Upper East Side building. The entrance is through a private elevator landing which opens into a 34-foot grand gallery, further leading into the residence’s elegant formal living room, library, and dining room.
With 6 bedrooms and 6.5 bathrooms, the trophy apartment also comes with an enclosed solarium that’s bathed in sunlight and that, just like the rest of the rooms and outdoor spaces, opens up to picture-perfect views of the city.
A grand staircase leads to the lower level, which houses the 6 bedrooms, as well as a home office and laundry room. All but one of the bedrooms enjoys their own en-suite bathroom as well as significant storage space in the form of walk-in closets or dressing rooms.
The building itself adds an extra note of sophistication and convenience; the full-service white glove co-op has a long list of amenities, including multiple doormen, an elevator attendant, health club, squash court, basketball court, and private storage units. Though location itself may be its biggest asset: 895 Park Avenue is located right in the heart of the Upper East Side, on the southeast corner of 79th street and Park Avenue, providing direct access to world-class dining and shopping.
Priced at $29.5 million, the elegant unit is listed with Bonnie Chajet, Allison Chiaramonte, and Tania Isacoff Friedland of Warburg Realty.
More luxury apartments
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The post Trophy Apartment Once Owned by Composer Leonard Bernstein Asks $29.5 Million appeared first on Fancy Pants Homes.
Many of us experience the winter blues as the days get colder and darker, some of us may experience it more severely as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Fortunately, there are steps you can take if you’re feeling usually gloomy or lethargic, such as getting natural light whenever you can or doing moderate exercise.
How do you fight the winter blues? What works as a quick pick-me-up when you’re feeling down?
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This article is from Ashley Jacobs of Wise Bread, an award-winning personal finance and credit card comparison website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:
3 Ways to Beat Holiday Shopping Stress
Ask the Readers: If You Could Have One Wish (Chance to win $20!)
Ask the Readers: What is Your Dream Job?
3 Cheap and Easy Formulas for Homemade Windshield De-Icer (Plus Bonus Tips)
One of the most common questions I receive from readers like you—especially since Grow (Acorns + CNBC) published my story last week—asks me how I invest.
All this theoretical investing information is fine, Jesse. But can you please just tell me what you do with your money.
That’s what I’ll do today. Here’s a complete breakdown of how I invest, how the numbers line up, and why I make the choices I make.
Of course, please take my advice with a grain of salt. Why?
My strategy is based upon my financial situation. It is not intended to be prescriptive of your financial situation.
I’ve hesitated writing this before because it feels one step removed from “How I Vote” and “How I Pray.” It’s personal. I don’t want to lead you down a path that’s wrong for you. And I don’t want to “show off” my own choices.
I’m an engineer and a writer, not a Wall Street professional. And even if I was a Wall Street pro, I hope my prior articles on stock picking and luck vs. skill in the stock market have convinced you that they aren’t as skilled as you might think.
All I can promise you today is transparency. I’ll be clear with you. I’ll answer any follow-up questions you have. And then you can decide for yourself what to do with that information.
Are we clear? Let’s get to the good stuff.
How I Invest, and In What Accounts…?
In this section, I’ll detail how much I save for investing. Then the next two sections will describe why I use the investing accounts I use (e.g. 401(k), Roth IRA) and which investment choices I make (e.g. stocks, bonds).
How much I save, and in what accounts:
401(k)—The U.S. government has placed a limit of $19,500 on employee-deferred contributions in 2020 (for my age group). I aim to hit the full $19,500 limit.
401(k) matching—My employer will match 100% of my 401(k) contributions until they’ve contributed 6% of my total salary. For the sake of round numbers, that equates to about $6,000.
Roth IRA—The U.S. government has placed a limit of $6,000 on Roth IRA contributions (for my earnings range) in 2020. I am aiming to hit the full $6,000 limit.
Health Savings Account—The U.S. government gives tremendous tax benefits for saving in Health Savings Accounts. And if you don’t use that money for medical reasons, you can use it like an investment account later in life. I aim to hit the full $3,500 limit in 2020.
Taxable brokerage account—After I achieved my emergency fund goal (about 6 months’ of living expenses saved in a high-yield savings account), I started putting some extra money towards my taxable brokerage account. My goal is to set aside about $500 per month in that brokerage account.
That’s $41,000 of investing per year. But a lot of that money is actually “free.” I’ll explain that below.
Why Those Accounts?
The 401(k) Account
First, let’s talk about why and how I invest using a 401(k) account. There are three huge reasons.
First, I pay less tax—and so can you. Based on federal tax brackets and state tax brackets, my marginal tax rate is about 30%. For each additional dollar I earn, about 30 cents go directly to various government bodies. But by contributing to my 401(k), I get to save those dollars before taxes are removed. So I save about 30% of $19,500 = $5,850 off my tax bill.
Editor’s Note: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that 401(k) contributions are taken out prior to OASDI (a.k.a. social security) taxes. That claim was incorrect. 401(k) contributions occur only after OASDI taxes are assessed.
Many thanks to regular reader Nick for catching that error.
Second, the 401(k) contributions are removed before I ever see them. I’m never tempted to spend that money because I never see it in my bank account. This simple psychological trick makes saving easy to adhere to.
Third, I get 401(k) matching. This is free money from my employer. As I mentioned above, this equates to about $6,000 of free money for me.
Roth Individual Retirement Account (IRA)
Why do I also use a Roth IRA?
Unlike a 401(k), a Roth IRA is funded using post-tax dollars. I’ve already paid my 30% plus OASDI taxes, and then I put money into my Roth. But the Roth money grows tax-free.
Let’s fast-forward 30 years to when I want to access those Roth IRA savings and profits. I won’t pay any income tax (~30%) on any dividends. I won’t pay capital gains tax (~15%) if I sell the investments at a profit.
I’m hoping my 30-year investment might grow by 8x (that’s based on historical market returns). That would grow this year’s $6000 contribution up to $48000—or about $42000 in profit. And what’s ~15% of $42000? About $6,300 in future tax savings.
Health Savings Account (H.S.A.)
The H.S.A. account has tax-breaks on the front (36.7%, for me) and on the back (15%, for me). I’m netting about $1300 up-front via an H.S.A, and $4,200 in the future (similar logic to the Roth IRA).
Taxable Brokerage Account
And finally, there’s the brokerage account, or taxable account. This is a “normal” investing account (mine is with Fidelity). There are no tax incentives, no matching funds from my employer. I pay normal taxes up front, and I’ll pay taxes on all the profits way out in the future. But I’d rather have money grow and be taxed than not grow at all.
Summary of How I Invest—Money Invested = Money Saved
In summary, I use 401(k) plus employer matching, Roth IRA, and H.S.A. accounts to save:
About $7,100 in tax dollars today
About $6,000 of free money today
And about $10,500 in future tax dollars, using reasonable investment growth assumptions
Don’t forget, I still get to access the investing principal of $41,000 and whatever returns those investments produce! That’s on top of the roughly $25,000 of savings mentioned above.
I choose to invest a lot today because I know it saves me money both today and tomorrow. That’s a high-level thought-process behind how I invest.
How I Invest: Which Investment Choices Do I Make?
We’ve now discussed 401(k) accounts, Roth IRAs, H.S.A. accounts, and taxable brokerage accounts. These accounts differ in their tax rules and withdrawal rules.
But within any of these accounts, one usually has different choices of investment assets. Typical assets include:
Stocks, like shares of Apple or General Electric.
Bonds, which are where someone else borrows your money and you earn interest on their debt. Common bonds give you access to Federal debt, state or municipality debt, or corporate debt.
Real estate, typically via real estate investment trusts (REITs)
Commodities, like gold, beef, oil or orange juice
Here are the asset choices that I have access to in my various accounts:
401(k)—my employer works with Fidelity to provide me with about 20 different mutual funds and index funds to invest in.
Roth IRA—this account is something that I set up. I can invest in just about anything I want to. Individual stocks, index funds, pork belly futures etc.
H.S.A.—this is through my employer, too. As such, I have limited options. But thankfully I have low-cost index fund options.
Taxable brokerage account—I set this account up. As such, I can invest in just about any asset I want to.
How I invest and my personal choices involve two layers of diversification. A diverse investing portfolio aims to decrease risk while maintaining long-term investing profits.
The first level of diversification is that I utilize index funds. Regular readers will be intimately familiar with my feelings for index funds (here 28 unique articles where I’ve mentioned them).
By nature, an index fund reduces the investor’s exposure to “too many eggs in one basket.” For example, my S&P 500 index fund invests in all S&P 500 companies, whether they have been performing well or not. One stellar or terrible company won’t have a drastic impact on my portfolio.
But, investing only in an S&P 500 index fund still carries risk. Namely, it’s the risk that that S&P 500 is full of “large” companies’ stocks—and history has proven that “large” companies tend to rise and fall together. They’re correlated to one another. That’s not diverse!
To battle this anti-diversity, how I invest is to choose a few different index funds. Specifically, my investments are split between:
Large U.S. stock index fund—about 40% of my portfolio
Mid and small U.S. stock index fund—about 20% of my portfolio
Bond index fund—about 20%
International stocks fund—about 20%
This is my “lazy portfolio.” I spread my money around four different asset class index funds, and let the economy take care of the rest.
Each year will likely see some asset classes doing great. Others doing poorly. Overall, the goal is to create a steady net increase.
Twice a year, I “re-balance” my portfolio. I adjust my assets’ percentages back to 40/20/20/20. This negates the potential for one “egg” in my basket growing too large. Re-balancing also acts as a natural mechanism to “sell high” and “buy low,” since I sell some of my “hottest” asset classes in order to purchase some of the “coldest” asset classes.
Any Other Investments?
In June 2019, I wrote a quick piece with some thoughts on cryptocurrency. As I stated then, I hold about $1000 worth of cryptocurrency, as a holdover from some—ahem—experimentation in 2016. I don’t include this in my long-term investing plans.
I am paying off a mortgage on my house. But I don’t consider my house to be an investment. I didn’t buy it to make money and won’t sell it in order to retire.
On the side, I own about $2000 worth of collectible cards. I am not planning my retirement around this. I do not include it in my portfolio. In my opinion, it’s like owning a classic car, old coins, or stamps. It’s fun. I like it. And if I can sell them in the future for profit, that’s just gravy on top.
Summary of How I Invest
Let’s summarize some of the numbers from above.
Each year, I aim to save and invest about $41,000. But of that $41K, about $15K is completely free—that’s due to tax benefits and employer matching. And using reasonable investment growth, I think these investments can save me $15,000 per year in future tax dollars.
Plus, I eventually get access to the $41K itself and any investment profits that accrue.
I take that money and invest in index funds, via the following allocations:
40% into a large-cap U.S. stock index fund
20% into a medium- and small-cap U.S. stock index fund
20% into an international stock index fund
And 20% into a bond index fund
The goal is to achieve long-term growth while spreading my eggs across a few different baskets.
And that’s it! That’s how I invest. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or drop me an email.
If you enjoyed this article and want to read more, Iâd suggest checking out my Archive or Subscribing to get future articles emailed to your inbox.
This articleâjust like every otherâis supported by readers like you.
As Americans grapple with how to stay physically and financially healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s critical to make sure you and your family have the right emergency documents. It’s much easier to prepare for a potential disaster than to recover from one that blind-sides you. After a tragedy occurs, it may be too late to make critical decisions.
Let's talk about the different emergency documents and why you may need to create or update existing paperwork. If you get COVID-19 or have another unexpected illness or accident, these documents will help you manage your finances and make essential decisions with more clarity and less stress.
5 emergency and legal documents to have during a pandemic
Instead of being caught off guard during a difficult time, consider if you should have these five legal documents.
1. Last will and testament
The purpose of a will is to communicate your final wishes after you die. Too many people don’t have one of these incredibly important documents because they mistakenly believe it’s something just for old rich people.
The fact is, every adult should have a will. If you die without one, the courts decide what happens to your possessions, not your family.
The fact is, every adult should have a will. If you die without one, the courts decide what happens to your possessions, not your family.
And once you have a will, don’t forget to update it periodically to make sure it addresses all your wishes, assets, and beneficiaries. Critical life events—such as getting married, divorced, having a child, or losing a spouse or partner—should trigger you to update your will.
If you’re starting from scratch, make an inventory of your assets—like bank accounts, investments, real estate, vehicles, expensive belongings, and sentimental possessions—and decide what you want to happen to them. You can list beneficiaries for specific items, like who gets a piece of heirloom jewelry or an artwork collection. You can also create distribution percentages, such as 50 percent of the value of your assets go to your partner and 50 percent to your only child.
In addition to dealing with your possessions, a will allows you to name a guardian for your minor children.
In addition to dealing with your possessions, a will allows you to name a guardian for your minor children. And don’t forget to leave instructions for what you want to happen to your pets, digital assets, intellectual property, and business assets. You can create a plan for your funeral, such as where you want to be buried and whether you want your organs donated.
Someone must carry out your final wishes and legal details. You can name a designated family member, friend, or attorney to be your “executor” and handle all the arrangements. Depending on the size of your estate, this can be a challenging and time-consuming task. So, make sure they’re capable and willing to do the job.
The bottom line is that having a will makes death easier for the loved ones of the deceased. It can help keep peace in your family by settling disagreements, minimizing bureaucracy, and even saving your heirs from unnecessary expenses. You don’t need a lawyer to create a will, but if you have a high net worth or many different types of assets, it’s a good idea to hire one.
2. Living will
In addition to a last will, you also need a living will. This document specifies what you’d want to happen regarding your end-of-life care. It would help if you were unresponsive for an extended period or in the final stages of a terminal condition.
Having a living will makes your wishes clear when you’re facing death. It’s an essential guide for family and doctors who might need to know if you’d want to extend your life by artificial means or to die without any interventions.
3. Health care proxy
When it comes to your health care, another critical document is a health care proxy. You might also hear this called a health care power of attorney or a health care surrogate. In it, you designate someone to make medical decisions for you when you can’t.
Imagine that you’re in an accident or come down with a severe illness and become mentally incapacitated. Having a health care proxy allows the person(s) you choose as your representative to make medical decisions for you or admit you into a health care facility.
Having a health care proxy allows the person(s) you choose as your representative to make medical decisions for you or admit you into a health care facility.
You might want to name two proxies in case one isn’t available when you need them. Consider who you’d trust with your care and discuss the responsibilities and your wishes with them.
Some hospitals won’t allow medical professionals to disclose any information about you—even to your health care proxy—unless you have a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability) medical privacy release. Your family needs to speak to your doctor about your medical situation without creating a legal problem for the doctor, so consider having this legal document as well.
4. Power of attorney
Even if you don’t need a designated proxy to make medical decisions for you, you likely need someone you trust to help with other types of decisions, such as managing your finances or legal affairs. Creating a power of attorney (POA) allows another person to stand in for you as an agent if you’re incapable of making routine transactions, such as paying bills or signing contracts.
You can use it power of attorney any time you’re not capable of doing something like selling real estate, making insurance claims, filing taxes, or making financial decisions.
There are different kinds of POAs, but the most common is a durable power of attorney. You can use it any time you’re not capable of doing something like selling real estate, making insurance claims, filing taxes, or making financial decisions. You can also create one or more limited powers of attorney, which name people to act on your behalf for specific transactions during a limited period.
Having a POA is how the financial end of your life can run smoothly if you become incapacitated. It’s also a tool for giving someone the authority to manage nearly any aspect of your life if you’re unavailable or don’t have time to handle it yourself.
5. Childcare authorization
If you’re the parent of a young child, you should have a childcare authorization. This document can address a variety of situations, such as whether your child’s school or daycare can release them to another individual.
You can use this authorization to allow someone else, such as a partner or nanny, to temporarily make decisions for your child in your unexpected absence.
Do you need emergency documents if you’re married?
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you don’t need emergency or legal documents because you’re married. While a spouse may be able to make some crucial decisions for you, you could both die or become incapacitated at the same time.
Let’s say your spouse is in a coma in the hospital due to a disease or accident. If you had a financial hardship and needed to sell assets, such as jointly owned investments or real estate, it could be difficult. Each of you would have to authorize the transaction.
Married couples and domestic partners should give each other power of attorney to avoid having financial restrictions during a crisis. And each of you should have wills and healthcare proxies.
Therefore, married couples and domestic partners should give each other power of attorney to avoid having financial restrictions during a crisis. And each of you should have wills and healthcare proxies.
Also, consider what would happen to your minor children if you and your spouse were in an accident together. It’s critical to name a guardian in your will, so the court doesn’t appoint one for you that you may not like.
Where should you keep emergency documents?
Keep your original signed legal documents safe, such as at your attorney’s office, in a fireproof safe, or a bank safe deposit box. Also, maintain copies of everything at home in case you need them at night or on the weekend. You should scan and upload them to a cloud-based storage service, such as Dropbox or Evernote.
Do yourself and your family a favor by getting all your emergency documents created as soon as possible. If you already have them, put an annual reminder on your calendar to make any necessary updates. You’ll feel at ease knowing you’re as prepared as possible for the unexpected. Your emergency documents make sure that you and your children’s future is protected no matter what happens.
Iâm 51 years old and donât have a large nest egg. Iâm a single parent with three kids. Iâm a second career middle school teacher, so there is not a lot of money left over each month.Â
How much money should I be saving to be able to retire in my 70s? Where should I invest that money?
You still have 20 years to build your nest egg if all goes as planned. Sure, youâve missed out on the extra years of compounding youâd have gotten had you accumulated substantial savings in your 20s and 30s. But thatâs not uncommon. Iâve gotten plenty of letters from people in their 50s or 60s with nothing saved who are asking how they can retire next year.
I like that youâre already planning to work longer to make up for a late start. But hereâs my nagging concern: What if you canât work into your 70s?
The unfortunate reality is that a lot of workers are forced to retire early for a host of reasons. They lose their jobs, or they have to stop for health reasons or to care for a family member. So itâs essential to have a Plan B should you need to leave the workforce earlier than youâd hoped.
Retirement planning naturally comes with a ton of uncertainty. But since I donât know what you earn, whether you have debt or how much you have saved, Iâm going to have to respond to your question about how much to save with the vague and unsatisfying answer of: âAs much as you can.â
Perhaps I can be more helpful if we work backward here. Instead of talking about how much you need to save, letâs talk about how much you need to retire. You can set savings goals from there.
The standard advice is that you need to replace about 70% to 80% of your pre-retirement income. Of course, if you can retire without a mortgage or any other debt, you could err on the lower side â perhaps even less.
For the average worker, Social Security benefits will replace about 40% of income. If youâre able to work for another two decades and get your maximum benefit at age 70, you can probably count on your benefit replacing substantially more. Your benefit will be up to 76% higher if you can delay until youâre 70 instead of claiming as early as possible at 62. That can make an enormous difference when youâre lacking in savings.
But since a Plan B is essential here, letâs only assume that your Social Security benefits will provide 40%. So you need at least enough savings to cover 30%.
If you have a retirement plan through your job with an employer match, getting that full contribution is your No. 1 goal. Once youâve done that, try to max out your Roth IRA contribution. Since youâre over 50, you can contribute $7,000 in 2021, but for people younger than 50, the limit is $6,000.
If you maxed out your contributions under the current limits by investing $583 a month and earn 7% returns, youâd have $185,000 after 15 years. Do that for 20 years and youâd have a little more than $300,000. The benefit to saving in a Roth IRA is that the money will be tax-free when you retire.
The traditional rule of thumb is that you want to limit your retirement withdrawals to 4% each year to avoid outliving your savings. But that rule assumes youâll be retired for 30 years. Of course, the longer you work and avoid tapping into your savings, the more you can withdraw later on.
Choosing what to invest in doesnât need to be complicated. If you open an IRA through a major brokerage, they can use algorithms to automatically invest your money based on your age and when you want to retire.
By now youâre probably asking: How am I supposed to do all that as a single mom with a teacherâs salary? It pains me to say this, but yours may be a situation where even the most extreme budgeting isnât enough to make your paycheck stretch as far as it needs to go. You may need to look at ways to earn additional income. Could you use the summertime or at least one weekend day each week to make extra money? Some teachers earn extra money by doing online tutoring or teaching English as a second language virtually, for example.
I hate even suggesting that. Anyone who teaches middle school truly deserves their time off. But unfortunately, I canât change the fact that we underpay teachers. I want a solution for you that doesnât involve working forever. That may mean you have to work more now.
Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to AskPenny@thepennyhoarder.com.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
The Federal Reserve recently lowered interest rates in an effort to stimulate the economy during the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, more and more people are becoming interested in refinancing their mortgage. Depending on the situation, refinancing your mortgage can prove to be a savvy financial decision that can save you massive amounts of money in the long-term. But is it right for you?Â
If youâre curious about refinancing your mortgage, this article should answer many of your questions, including:Â
How Does Refinancing Work?
When Should I Refinance My Mortgage?Â
What is the Downside of Refinancing My Home?Â
How Do I Calculate if I Should Refinance My Mortgage?Â
What are My Refinancing Options?Â
How Does Refinancing Work?Â
âRefinancing your mortgage allows you to pay off your existing mortgage and take out a new mortgage on new terms,â according to usa.gov. So when you refinance your mortgage, youâre essentially trading in your old mortgage for a new one. The new loan that you take out pays off the remainder of the original mortgage and takes its place. That means the terms of the old mortgage no longer apply, and youâre instead bound by the terms of the new one.Â
There are many reasons why homeowners choose to refinance their mortgage. They may want to secure a loan with a lower interest rate, switch from an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) to a fixed-rate, shorten or lengthen their repayment term, change mortgage companies, or come up with some cash in order to pay off debts or deal with miscellaneous expenses. As you can see, there are a vast number of reasons why someone might be interested in refinancing.Â
There are also a couple of different ways to go about refinancing. A standard rate-and-term refinance is the most common way to do it. With this method, you simply adjust the interest rate youâre paying and the terms of your mortgage so that they become more beneficial to you.Â
However, you could also do a cash out refinance, where you pull equity out of your home and receive it in the form of a cash payment, or take out a new loan thatâs greater than the remaining debt on the original mortgage. Even though youâll get an influx of cash in the short-term, a cash out refinance can be a risky option because it increases your debt and itâll likely cost you in interest payments in the long-term.
When Should I Refinance My Mortgage?
Maybe youâve been wondering, âShould I refinance my mortgage?â If you can save money, pay off your mortgage faster, and build equity in your home by doing so, then the answer is yes. Whether you can achieve this is dependent on a variety of things. Take a look at these refinance tips in order to get a better idea of when you should refinance your mortgage.Â
Capitalize on Low Interest RatesÂ
When mortgage rates go down, a lot of people consider refinancing their mortgage in order to take advantage of that new lower rate. And this makes perfect senseâby paying a lower interest rate on your mortgage, you could end up saving thousands of dollars over time. But when it comes to refinancing your mortgage, there are a number of other factors you should consider as well.Â
Regarding interest rates, you should take a look at how steeply they drop before making any refinancing decisions. It might be a good idea to refinance your mortgage if you can lower your interest rate by at least 2 percent.Â It ultimately depends on the amount of your mortgage, but anything less than that amount likely wonât be worth it in the long run.Â
Switch to Fixed-Rate Mortgage
Itâs also very common for people to refinance in order to get out of an adjustable rate mortgage and instead convert to a fixed-rate. An adjustable rate mortgage usually starts off with a lower interest rate than a fixed-rate, but that rate eventually changes and it can end up costing you. Thatâs because the interest rate on an adjustable rate mortgage changes over time based on an index of interest rates. It can alter based on the mortgage market, the LIBOR market index, and the federal funds rate.Â
By converting to a fixed-rate mortgageâwhere the interest rate is set when you initially take out the loanâbefore the low rates on your adjustable rate mortgage increase, you can minimize the amount you have to pay in interest. If youâre able to lock in a low fixed interest rate, youâll be less susceptible to market volatility and more capable of devising a long-term payment strategy.Â Â Â
When debating the question of âShould I refinance my mortgage or not?â, you should also keep in mind what lenders will look at when determining the terms of your loan. In order to come up with an interest rate and approve you for a refinancing loan, lenders will take the following factors into consideration:Â
Payment history on your original mortgage: Before issuing a refinancing loan, lenders will review the payment history on your initial mortgage to make sure that you made payments on time.Â
Credit score: With good credit, youâll have more flexibility and options when refinancing. A high credit score will allow you to take out loans with more favorable terms at a lower interest rate.Â
Income: Lenders will want to see that you generate a steady, reliable income that can comfortably cover the monthly mortgage payments.Â Â
Equity: Home equity is the loan-to-value ratio of a borrower. You can calculate it by dividing the amount owed on the current mortgage loan by the homeâs current value. Before you consider refinancing, you should ideally have at least 20% equity in your home. If your equity is under 20% but your credit is good, you still may be able to secure a loan, but youâll likely be charged a higher interest rate or have to pay for mortgage insurance, which is not ideal.
What is the Downside of Refinancing My Home?Â
Refinancing a mortgage isnât for everyone. If you donât take the time to do your research, calculate savings, and weigh the benefits versus the potential risks, you could end up spending more money on refinancing than you would have had you stuck with the original loan.Â
When refinancing, you run the risk of placing yourself in a precarious financial position. This is especially true when it comes to a cash out refinance, as this can put you on the hook for even more money and bury you in interest payments.Â
Donât refinance your home and pull out equity just to get quick cash, make luxury purchases, and buy things you donât needâdoing this is an easy way to dig yourself into a deep financial hole. In reality, you should only refinance your mortgage if you know that you can save money doing it.Â
How Do I Calculate if I Should Refinance My Mortgage?Â
Before you refinance your mortgage, itâs crucial to crunch the numbers and determine whether itâs worth it in the long-run. To do this, youâll first have to consider how much refinancing actually costs.Â
Consider Closing Costs
So how much does it cost to refinance? One of the most significant expenses to take into account when refinancing is the closing costs. All refinancing loans come with closing costs, which depend on the lender and the amount of your loan, but average around three to six percent of the principal amount of the loan. So, for example, if you took out a loan of $200,000, you would end up paying another $8,000 if closing costs were set at 4%.Â
These closing costs are most often paid upfront, but in some cases lenders will permit you to make the closing costs part of the principal amount, thus incorporating them into the new loan. While closing costs generally donât cover property taxes, homeownerâs insurance, and mortgage insurance, they do tend to include the following:Â
Refinance application fee
Home appraisal and inspection feesÂ
Escrow and title feesÂ
Determine Your Break-Even Point
To make an informed decision as to whether refinancing your mortgage is a sound financial decision, you should calculate how long it will take for the refinancing to pay for itself. In other words, youâll want to determine your break-even point. To calculate your break-even point, divide the total closing costs by the amount youâll save on a monthly basis as a result of your refinance loan.Â
The basic equation for figuring out your break-even point is as follows:Â [Closing Costs] / [Monthly Savings] = [# of Months to Break Even]Â
Taking this into consideration, you can see how the length of time you plan on staying in a home can make a big difference as to whether or not refinancing your mortgage is the right option for you. If youâre thinking of moving away and selling your house in a few years, then refinancing your mortgage is probably not the right move. You likely wonât save enough in those few years to cover the additional costs of refinancing.Â
However, if you plan on remaining at the house youâre in for a long stretch of time, then refinancing could potentially save you a lot of money. To make an informed decision, you have to do the math yourselfâor, to make the calculations even simpler, use Mintâs online loan repayment calculator.Â
What are My Refinancing Options?Â
As stated above, you have options when it comes to refinancing loans. You could refinance your mortgage in order to secure a lower interest fee and a change in the terms of your loan; or you might opt for a cash out refinance that lets you turn your homeâs equity into extra income that you can use to pay for home improvement, tuition costs, high-interest debt payments, and more.Â
In order to actually start refinancing your home, youâll have to find a lender and fill out a loan application. Shop around at large and small banks alike to see who will offer you the lowest interest rates and the best terms. How long does a refinance take? The timeline depends on a few things, including the lender you borrow from and your own financial situation. But, in general, it takes an average of 45 days to refinance a mortgage.Â
You might also consider forgoing the traditional banks and dealing with an online non-banking company instead. Alternative lenders often offer greater flexibility in terms of who qualifies for a loan and they can, in some cases, expedite the refinancing process. For example, Freddie Mac is a government-sponsored mortgage loan company that, in addition to offering no cash out and cash out refinancing, has a third option available for borrowers whose loan-to-value ratio is too high to qualify for the traditional refinancing routes. Learn more by visiting freddiemac.com.Â
When tackling any big financial decision, itâs important that youâre informed and organized. Learn the facts, do the calculations, and research your options before beginning the refinancing process to make sure itâs the right choice for you.Â
The post Should I Refinance My Mortgage? When to Refinance appeared first on MintLife Blog.
When creating an estate plan, one of the most basic documents you may wish to include is a will. If you have a more complicated estate, you might also need to have a trust in place. Both a will and a trust can specify how you want assets distributed among your beneficiaries. When making those decisions, itâs important to distinguish between per stirpes and per capita distributions. These are two terms youâre likely to come across when shaping your estate plan. Hereâs a closer look at what per stirpes vs. per capita means.
Per Stirpes, Explained
If youâve never heard the term per stirpes before, itâs a Latin phrase that translates to âby branchâ or âby class.â When this term is applied to estate planning, it refers to the equal distribution of assets among the different branches of a family and their surviving descendants.
A per stirpes designation allows the descendants of a beneficiary to keep inherited assets within that branch of their family, even if the original beneficiary passes away. Those assets would be equally divided between the survivors.
Hereâs an example of how per stirpes distributions work for estate planning. Say that you draft a will in which you designate your adult son and daughter as beneficiaries. You opt to leave your estate to them, per stirpes.
If you pass away before both of your children, then they could each claim a half share of your estate under the terms of your will. Now, assume that each of your children has two children of their own and your son passes away before you do. In that scenario, your daughter would still inherit a half share of the estate. But your sonâs children would split his half of your estate, inheriting a quarter share each.
Per stirpes distributions essentially create a trickle-down effect, in which assets can be passed on to future generations if a primary beneficiary passes away. A general rule of thumb is that the flow of assets down occurs through direct descendants, rather than spouses. So, if your son were married, his children would be eligible to inherit his share of your estate, not his wife.
Per Capita, Explained
Per capita is also a Latin term which means âby head.â When you use a per capita distribution method for estate planning, any assets you have would pass equally to the beneficiaries are still living at the time you pass away. If youâre writing a will or trust as part of your estate plan, that could include the specific beneficiaries you name as well as their descendants.
So again, say that you have a son and a daughter who each have two children. These are the only beneficiaries you plan to include in your will. Under a per capita distribution, instead of your son and daughter receiving a half share of your estate, they and your four grandchildren would each receive a one-sixth share of your assets. Those share portions would adjust accordingly if one of your children or grandchildren were to pass away before you.
Per Stirpes vs. Per Capita: Which Is Better?
Whether it makes sense to use a per stirpes or per capita distribution in your estate plan can depend largely on how you want your assets to be distributed after youâre gone. It helps to consider the pros and cons of each option.
Per Stirpes Pros:
Allows you to keep asset distributions within the same branch of the family
Eliminates the need to amend or update wills and trusts when a child is born to one of your beneficiaries or a beneficiary passes away
Can help to minimize the potential for infighting among beneficiaries since asset distribution takes a linear approach
Per Stirpes Cons:
Itâs possible an unwanted person could take control of your assets (i.e., the spouse of one of your children if he or she is managing assets on behalf of a minor child)
Per Capita Pros:
You can specify exactly who you want to name as beneficiaries and receive part of your estate
Assets are distributed equally among beneficiaries, based on the value of your estate at the time you pass away
You can use this designation to pass on assets outside of a will, such as a 401(k) or IRA
Per Capita Cons:
Per capita distributions could trigger generation-skipping tax for grandchildren or other descendants who inherit part of your estate
Deciding whether it makes more sense to go with per stirpes vs. per capita distributions can ultimately depend on your personal preferences. Per stirpes distribution is typically used in family settings when you want to ensure that individual branches of the family will benefit from your estate. On the other hand, per capita distribution gives you control over which individuals or group of individuals are included as beneficiaries.
Review Beneficiary Designations Periodically
If you have a will and/or a trust, you may have named your beneficiaries. But itâs possible that you may want to change those designations at some point. If you named your son and his wife in your will, for example, but theyâve since gotten divorced you may want to update the will with a codicil to exclude his ex-wife. Itâs also helpful to check the beneficiary designations on retirement accounts, investment accounts and life insurance policies after a major life change.
For example, if you get divorced then you may not want your spouse to be the beneficiary of your retirement accounts. Or if they pass away before you, you may want to update your beneficiary designations to your children or grandchildren.
The Bottom Line
Per stirpes and per capita distribution rules can help you decide what happens to your assets after you pass away. But they both work very differently. Understanding the implications of each one for your beneficiaries, including how they may be affected from a tax perspective, can help you decide which course to take.
Tips for Estate Planning
Consider talking to a financial advisor about how to get started with estate planning and what per stirpes vs. per capita distributions might mean for your heirs. If you donât have a financial advisor yet, finding one doesnât have to be complicated. SmartAssetâs financial advisor matching tool can help you connect, within minutes, with a professional advisor in your local area. If youâre ready, get started now.
While itâs always a good idea to consult with a financial advisor about estate planning, you can take a do-it-yourself approach to writing a will by doing it online. Hereâs what you need to know about digital DIY will writing.