FINANCIAL FOCUS – During Holidays, Be Extra Vigilant About Protecting Financial Data

To help achieve your long-term goals, such as a comfortable retirement, you should save and invest regularly. But that’s only part of the picture. You also need to protect your financial assets in various ways. One such method is guarding your personal information – especially any information that could be linked to your financial accounts. It’s obviously important to be vigilant at any time, but you need to be even more on your toes during the holiday season, when fraudsters are particularly active.

So, to help keep your important data under wraps during the holidays, consider these suggestions:

  • Extend your protection to all mobile devices. Identity thieves can now compromise your mobile devices by installing spyware that steals usernames, passwords and credit card information. Fortunately, you can fight back. By doing a little research online, you can find the best mobile security software for your needs.
  • Use multiple passwords. Online security specialists recommend that you use different passwords for each new online shopping site you visit during the holiday season. Although this might seem like a hassle, it can be helpful, because even if identity thieves were to grab one of your new passwords, they still couldn’t use it for other sites you may visit. And you can even find a free online program that can help you keep track of all your passwords.
  • Be suspicious of “huge savings.” It happens every holiday season – identity thieves develop fake sites with attractive graphics and stunningly low prices on a variety of items, especially digital devices. If you fall for these pitches, you won’t get any merchandise, but you might get a handful of headaches once the bad guys have your credit card number and other personal information. To prevent this, be wary of any deal that sounds too good to be true, and do some digging on the websites that offer these mega-savings.
  • Watch for fake shipping notices. During the holidays, when you may do a lot of online shopping, you will probably receive some legitimate shipping notices. But the bad guys have gotten pretty good at generating fake notices designed to resemble those from UPS, FedEx and even the U.S. Postal Service. If you were to click on the link provided by one of these bogus notices, you could either take on some malware or get taken to a “phishing” website created by the shipping notice forgers. Your best defense: Only shop with legitimate merchants and only use the tracking numbers given to you in the email you received immediately after making your purchases.
  • Keep your Social Security number to yourself. As a general rule, don’t give out your Social Security number online — to anyone. No legitimate retailer needs this number.

Finally, be aware that not all attempts at stealing your personal information will come online. When you’re out shopping at old-fashioned, brick-and-mortar stores, consider bringing just one credit card with you — and protect that card from prying eyes.

By following these precautions, you should be able to greatly reduce the risk of being victimized by identity thieves and other miscreants. And the more comfortable you are in doing your holiday shopping, the more you can enjoy the season.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – How Can You Share Your Financial “Abundance” With Your Family?

Thanksgiving is almost here. Ideally, this day should be about more than football and the imminent arrival of Black Friday mega-sales. After all, the spirit of the holiday invites us to be grateful for what we have and for the presence of our loved ones.

But it’s important to look beyond just one day in November if you want your family to take part in your “abundance.” If you want to ensure your financial resources eventually are shared in the way you envision, you will need to follow a detailed action plan, including these steps:

  • Identify your assets. If you haven’t done so already, it’s a good idea to take an inventory of all your financial assets – your retirement accounts (401(k) and IRA), other investments, life insurance, real estate, collectibles and other items. Once you know exactly what you have, you can determine how you would like these assets distributed among your loved ones.
  • Get professional help. To ensure your assets go to the right people, you will need to create some legal documents, such as a will and a living trust. The depth and complexity of these instruments will depend a great deal on your individual circumstances, but in any case, you certainly will need to consult with a legal professional because estate planning is not a “do-it-yourself” endeavor. You may also need to work with a tax professional and your financial advisor, as taxes and investments are key components of the legacy you hope to leave.
  • Protect your financial independence. If your own financial resources were to become endangered, you clearly would have less to share with your loved ones, and if your financial independence were jeopardized, the result might be even worse – your adult children might be forced to use their own resources to help support you. Consequently, you will need to protect yourself, and your financial assets, in several ways. For one thing, you may want to work with your legal professional to create a power of attorney, which would enable someone – possibly a grown child – to make financial decisions for you, should you become incapacitated. Also, you may want to guard yourself against the devastating costs of long-term care, such as an extended nursing home stay. Medicare typically pays very little of these expenses, but a financial advisor may be able to suggest techniques or products that can help.
  • Communicate your wishes. Once you have all your plans in place, you’ll want to communicate them to your loved ones. By doing so, you’ll be sparing your loved ones from unpleasant surprises when it’s time to settle your estate. And, second, by making your plans and wishes known to your family well in advance of when any action needs to be taken, you’ll prepare your loved ones for the roles you wish them to assume, such as taking on power of attorney, serving as executor of your estate, and so on. And you’ll also want to make sure your family is acquainted with the legal, tax and financial professionals you’ve chosen to help you with your estate plans.

Thanksgiving comes just once a year. Taking the steps described here can help ensure your family will share in your financial abundance as you intended.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Stampeding Bull Market May Slow Down … So Be Prepared

As you know, we’ve been enjoying a long period of steadily rising stock prices. Of course, this bull market won’t last forever – and when it does start losing steam, you, as an investor, need to be prepared.

Before we look at how you can ready yourself for a new phase in the investment environment, let’s consider some facts about the current situation:

  • Length – This bull market, which began in 2009, is the second-oldest in the past 100 years – and it’s about twice as long as the average bull market.
  • Strength – Since the start of this long rally, the stock market has produced an average annualized gain of 15.5% per year.

While these figures are impressive, they aren’t necessarily predictive – so how much longer can this bull market continue to “stampede”? No one can say for sure, but there’s no mandatory expiration date for bull markets – in fact, they don’t generally die of old age, but typically expire either because of a recession or the bursting of a bubble, such as the “dot.com” bubble of 2000 or the housing bubble of 2007. And right now, most market experts don’t see either event on the near-term horizon.

Still, this doesn’t mean you should necessarily expect an uninterrupted streak of big gains. Some signs point to greater market volatility and lower returns. To navigate this changing landscape, think about these suggestions:

  • Consider rebalancing your portfolio. If appropriate, you may want to rebalance your investment mix to ensure you have a reasonable percentage of stocks – to help provide the growth you need to achieve your goals – and enough fixed-income vehicles, such as bonds, to help reduce your portfolio’s vulnerability to market volatility and potential short-term downturns.
  • Look beyond U.S. borders. At any given time, U.S. stocks may be doing well, while international stocks are slumping – and vice versa. So, when volatility hits the U.S. markets – as it surely will, at some time – you can help reduce the impact on your portfolio if you also own some international equities. Keep in mind, though, that international investments bring some specific risks, such as currency fluctuations and foreign political and economic events.
  • Develop a strategy. You may want to work with a financial professional to identify a strategy to cope with a more turbulent investment atmosphere. Such a strategy can keep you from overreacting to market downturns and possibly even help you capitalize on short-term pullbacks. You could invest systematically by putting the same amount of money in the same investments each month. When prices go up, your investment dollars will buy fewer shares, and when prices drop, you’ll buy more shares. And the more shares you own, the greater your potential for accumulation. However, this strategy, sometimes known as dollar cost averaging, won’t guarantee a profit or protect against all losses, and you need to be willing to keep investing when share prices are declining.

During a raging bull market, it’s not all that hard for anyone to invest successfully. But it becomes more challenging when the inevitable volatility and market downturns appear. Making the moves described above can help you keep moving toward your goals – even when the “bull” has taken a breather.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Checklist for Helping You Choose a Financial Professional

For reasons likely to remain obscure, October 30 is Checklist Day. But while the origins of this observance may be a mystery, the value of checklists is clear: They help us organize our time and break large jobs into manageable steps. You can use a checklist for just about any significant endeavor – including the task of choosing a financial professional to help you achieve your important goals.

Here’s what such a checklist might look like:

__Find someone with the proper credentials. Make sure a prospective financial professional has the appropriate securities registrations.

__Find someone who has worked with people like you. You’ll want to seek out a financial professional who has experience working with people in circumstances similar to yours – that is, people of your financial status and with essentially the same goals and attitudes toward investing.

­__Find someone who will communicate with you regularly. During the course of your relationship with a financial professional, you will have many questions: Are my investments performing as they should? Should I change my investment mix? Am I still on track to meet my long-term goals? Plus, you will have changes in your life – new children, new jobs, new activities – that will affect your financial picture and that need to be communicated to your financial professional. Consequently, you need to be sure that whomever you work with is easy to reach and will be in regular contact with you. Many financial professionals meet with their clients at least once a year to discuss the clients’ portfolios and recommend changes, as needed, and also make themselves available, through phone calls and email, for any questions or concerns their clients may have.

__Find someone who will honor your preferences. Some financial professionals follow certain philosophies. For example, you might find one advisor who tends to favor aggressive investing, while another one might be more conservative. There’s nothing wrong with either approach, but you’ll want to be sure that your preferences take precedence in all recommendations and guidance you receive from a financial professional. And many professionals won’t express any of their own preferences at all, but will instead follow a course of action based on your goals, risk tolerance and time horizon.

__Find someone connected to other professionals. Your investment plans don’t exist in a vacuum. Over time, you will likely need to integrate elements of your investment strategy with your tax and estate planning strategies. When this happens, you may find it advantageous to have a financial professional who can work with tax and legal professionals to help you meet all your needs in these areas.

__Find someone whose compensation structure is acceptable to you. Financial professionals get paid in different ways – through fees, commissions or a combination of both. Which method is best for you, as an investor? There’s no one “right” answer – but you will certainly want to understand exactly how your financial professional will get paid and how this pay structure will affect your interactions with him or her.

You may find this checklist to be useful when you interview financial professionals. Take your time and make sure you’re confident about your ultimate choice. After all, you’re hiring someone to help you reach your key goals, such as a comfortable retirement, so you’ll want to get the right person on your side.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Put Lessons From “Retirement Week” to Work

To raise public awareness about the importance of saving for retirement, Congress has designated the third week of October as National Save for Retirement Week. What lessons can you learn from this event?

First of all, save early – and save often. Too many people put off saving for retirement until they are in their late 40s – and even their 50s. If you wait until you are in this age group, you can still do quite a bit to help build the resources you will need for retirement – but it will be more challenging than if you had begun saving and investing while you were in your 20s or early 30s. For one thing, if you delay saving for retirement, you may have to put away large sums of money each year to accumulate enough to support a comfortable retirement lifestyle. Plus, to achieve the growth you need, you might have to invest more aggressively than you’d like, which means taking on more risk. And even then, there are no guarantees of getting the returns you require.

On the other hand, if you start saving and investing when you are still in the early stages of your career, you can make smaller monthly contributions to your retirement accounts. And by putting time on your side, you’ll be able to take advantage of compounding – the ability to earn money on your principal and your earnings.

Here’s another lesson to be taken from National Save for Retirement Week: Maximize your opportunities to invest in the tax-advantaged retirement accounts available to you, such as an IRA and a 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan. If you have a 401(k)-type plan at work, contribute as much as you can afford every year, and increase your contributions whenever your salary goes up. At a minimum, put in enough to earn your employer’s matching contribution, if one is offered.

Apart from saving and investing early and contributing to your tax-advantaged retirement accounts, how else can you honor the spirit of National Save for Retirement Week? A key step you can take is to reduce the barriers to building your retirement savings. One such obstacle is debt. The larger your monthly debt payments, the less you will be able to invest each month. It’s not easy, of course, to keep your debt under control, but do the best you can.

One other barrier to accumulating retirement resources is the occasional large expense resulting from a major car repair, sizable medical bills or other things of that nature. If you constantly have to dip into your long-term investments to meet these costs, you’ll slow your progress toward your retirement goals. To help prevent this from happening, try to build an emergency fund big enough to cover three to six months’ worth of living expenses. Since you’ll need instant access to this money, you’ll want to keep it in a liquid, low-risk account.

So, there you have them: some suggestions on taking the lessons of National Save for Retirement Week to heart. By following these steps, you can go a long way toward turning your retirement dreams into reality.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – International Investing: Still a Journey to Consider

Columbus Day is observed on October 9. And while it may be true that Leif Erikson and the Vikings beat Columbus to the New World, Columbus Day nonetheless remains important in the public eye, signifying themes such as exploration and discovery. As an investor, you don’t have to “cross the ocean blue,” as Columbus did, to find opportunities – but it may be a good idea to put some of your money to work outside the United States.

So, why should you consider investing internationally? The chief reason is diversification. If you only invest in U.S. companies, you might do well when the U.S. markets are soaring, as has happened in recent years. But when the inevitable downturn happens, and you’re totally concentrated in U.S. stocks, your portfolio will probably take a hit. At the same time, however, other regions of the world might be doing considerably better than the U.S. markets – and if you had put some of your investment holdings in these regions, you might at least blunt some of the effects of the down market here.

Of course, it’s also a good idea to diversify among different asset classes, so, in addition to investing in U.S. and international stocks, you’ll want to own bonds, government securities and other investment vehicles. (Keep in mind, though, that while diversification can help reduce the effects of volatility, it can’t guarantee a profit or protect against loss.)

International investments, like all investments, will fluctuate in value. But they also have other characteristics and risks to consider, such as these:

  • Currency fluctuations – The U.S. dollar rises and falls in relation to the currencies of other countries. Sometimes, these movements can work in your favor, but sometimes not. A strengthening dollar typically lowers returns from international investments because companies based overseas do business in a foreign currency, and the higher value of the U.S. dollar reduces the prices, measured in dollars, of individual shares of these companies’ stocks. The opposite has happened in 2017, when the weaker dollar has helped increase returns from international investments.
  • Political risks – When you invest internationally, you’re not just investing in foreign companies – you’re also essentially investing in the legal and economic systems of countries in which those companies do business. Political instability or changes in laws and regulations can create additional risks – but may also provide potentially positive returns for investors.
  • Social and economic risks – It is not always easy for investors to understand all the economic and social factors that influence markets in the U.S. – and it’s even more challenging with foreign markets.

U.S. markets are now worth less than half of the total world markets, and growth in the rest of the world is likely to keep expanding the number of global opportunities. You can take advantage of that global growth by putting part of your portfolio into international investments, including developed and emerging markets.

In any case, given the more complex nature of international investing, you’ll want to consult with a financial professional before taking action. If it turns out that international investments are appropriate for your needs, you should certainly consider going global.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Consider Multiple Factors When Creating Retirement Plans

When you create your financial and investment strategies for retirement, what will you need to know? In other words, what factors should you consider, and how will these factors affect your investment-related decisions, before and during your retirement?

Consider the following:

  • Age at retirement – Not surprisingly, your retirement date likely will be heavily influenced by your financial situation – so, if you have to keep working, that’s what you’ll do. But if you have a choice in the matter, your decision could have a big impact on your investment strategy. For example, if you want to retire early, you may need to save and invest more aggressively than you would if you plan to work well past typical retirement age. Also, your retirement date may well affect when you start accepting Social Security payments; if you retire early, you might have to start taking your benefits at age 62, even though your monthly checks will be considerably smaller than if you waited until your “full” retirement age, which is likely to be 66 or 67.
  • Retirement lifestyle – Some people want to spend their retirement years traveling from Athens to Zanzibar, while others simply want to stay close to home and family, pursuing quiet, inexpensive hobbies. Clearly, the lifestyle you choose will affect how much you need to accumulate before you retire and how much you will need to withdraw from your various investment accounts once you do.
  • Second career – Some people retire from one career only to begin another. If you think you’d like to have a “second act” in your working life, you might need some additional training, or you might just put your existing expertise to work as a consultant. If you do launch a new career, it could clearly affect your financial picture. For one thing, if you add a new source of earned income, you might be able to withdraw less from your retirement accounts each year. (Keep in mind, though, that once you reach 70 ½, you will have to take at least some withdrawals from your traditional IRA and your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan.) On the other hand, if you keep earning income, you can continue putting money into a traditional IRA (until you’re

70 ½) or a Roth IRA (indefinitely) and possibly contribute to a retirement plan for the self-employed, such as a SEP-IRA or an “owner-only” 401(k).

  • Philanthropy – During your working years, you may have consistently donated money to charitable organizations. And once you retire, you may want to do even more. For one thing, of course, you can volunteer more of your time. But you also might want to set up some more permanent method of financial support. Consequently, you might want to work with your legal advisor and financial professional to incorporate elements of your investment portfolio into your estate plans to provide more support for charitable groups.

As you can see, your retirement goals can affect your investment strategy – and vice versa. So, think carefully about what you want to accomplish, plan ahead and get the help you need. It takes time and effort to achieve a successful retirement, but it’s worth it.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Five Tips for Women Business Owners

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Women are an integral part of the workforce, but they have had to overcome many obstacles along the way. Of course, challenges still remain, but women’s success in the working world is worth commemorating – which will happen on American Business Women’s Day Sept. 22. Are you a woman considering “setting up shop” on your own?  If so, here are five tips to consider:

  • Balance your goals. It’s possible – perhaps even likely – that your business goals will conflict with your personal financial goals. After all, if you’re purchasing new equipment or services for your business, you’ve got less money – at least for the time being – to put away for your own retirement or your children’s education. Hopefully, your investment in your business will pay off in greater income, but, in any case, you will need to balance your personal and professional goals.
  • Create a retirement plan. As mentioned above, your ability to contribute to a retirement plan may be affected by the amount you put into your business – but that certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a retirement plan. In fact, for your future financial security, it’s essential that you launch such a plan. Fortunately, small-business owners have a choice of plans, including an “owner-only” 401(k), SEP-IRA and SIMPLE IRA. Although the various plans have different requirements and contribution limits, they all offer tax-deferred earnings, which means your money has the opportunity to grow faster than if it were placed in a vehicle on which you paid taxes every year. (Taxes are due upon withdrawal, and withdrawals prior to age 59 ½ may be subject to a 10% IRS penalty.) Plus, your contributions to a retirement plan may be tax deductible.
  • Arrange for “backup.” Virtually all working women are familiar with the conflict between their careers and their roles as caregivers. Women are still more likely than men to drop out of the workforce for an extended period of time to care for young children or elderly parents. And your caregiving responsibilities won’t end just because you are now a business owner. Consequently, you need to have someone you trust available to step in for you when your family obligations call you away from work.
  • Design a succession plan. When you want to retire, would you like to keep the business in your family? If so, you’ll need to create a succession plan that works for you and whomever you’d like to take control. Such a plan can be complex, so you will need to work with your legal and tax advisors – and you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to work out the details.
  • Build an emergency fund. Maintaining an adequate cash flow will always be a key task – one that involves your sales, billing cycles, inventory and other elements of your business. One way you can help yourself avoid troubles is to maintain an emergency fund consisting of a few months’ worth of your business expenses. You’ll want to keep this fund in a liquid, low-risk account.

Running your own business can be extremely rewarding, but it’s never going to be an easy road. However, with perseverance and careful planning, you can smooth out some of the bumps along the way — and give yourself reason to celebrate American Business Women’s Day.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

5 Tips to Recapture Your Wealth

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Did you know that many American’s transfer away between $2,000,000 and $5,000,000 of their wealth over a lifetime.  Yes, millions according to U.S. News and World Report.

Could you be one of them?

The truth is we will all transfer away wealth but we all have the opportunity to recapture a good chunk of that if we know the rules of the game.

After 20 years of working in almost every capacity in the financial industry, I have learned one important thing:  the rules of the game are not taught to us.

Why?  I will let you draw your own conclusions, but hope these points will help you make better financial decisions and allow you to recapture some of your hard-earned money.

First, what are the major wealth transfers in someone’s financial life:  taxes, fees paid to financial firms and the cost educating college students.

Here are few tips that could help you recapture that money:

  1. If you are invested in mutual funds, STOP until you know the costs. According to this benchmark Forbes article: The Real Costs of Owning a Mutual Fund, an average fund can have up to 2.5% – 3.25% of internal costs. Compounded over time can equal a lot of money. That is why, according to a Dalbar study, the average equity mutual fund investor underperformed the S&P 500 by a margin of 3.66% in 2015.  If you factor in buying and selling at the wrong times it should be no surprise the average retail investor underperforms the market by over 6%.
  2. Your typical stockbroker is not your friend but your fiduciary always works in your best interest. Most people do not know there are two different standards with which advisors do business.  This funny video will explain the difference in less than 30 seconds.  Afterwards, ask your advisor.
  3. Colleges act like businesses and there is a practice in the industry known as enrollment management that should change the way you think about planning your student’s education. With the average cost ranging from $24,385 for public school to $73,286 for elite colleges annually, a student taking longer than four years to graduate (and the average student loan debt per student of $37,0000) must focus more on SAVING ON THE COST of college than saving for college.  The college planning process has changed, and families need a new approach to recapture and lower their costs.  If you have two kids you very well could pay $150,000 to $250,000 for their education hoping they graduate in four years.  See if this new approach to college planning makes sense to you:  Know before you go, a new approach to college planning.
  4. Is your CPA a tax preparer or a tax planner? Think about it, most good CPAs are focused on saving you money today so they look good and will get your repeat business next year. How to tell if your CPA is a good one from this Forbes article: Red flags, how to know your CPA is working for you or not.
  5. Paying an advisor 1% or more to manage your money is a loser’s game. Most families don’t know all of the services an advisor should be providing and what is the true value.  According to this Vanguard study, a great advisor will help you potentially net about 3% in additional returns.  Now that is a deal, but so often most firms do not provide the additional services a family deserves.

Hopefully, you have found something in this post that will change your financial life so you can spend and enjoy more of your money!

If you want to learn more, please feel free to schedule a complimentary 30-minute call to discuss your situation.  Schedule Your Call.

Article written by STUART CANZERI
You can reach Stuart at (404) 477-1770 or canzeri@peachtreefg.com

STUART CANZERI

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Brighten Your Grandchildren’s Financial Future

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Mother’s Day and Father’s Day may get more attention, but National Grandparents Day, observed on Sept. 10, has gained in popularity. If you’re a grandparent, you might expect to receive some nice cards, but if you want to make the day especially meaningful, you may want to consider giving some long-lasting financial gifts to your grandchildren.

What might come to mind first, of course, is helping your grandchildren pay for college. You can choose from several college savings vehicles, but you may be especially interested in a 529 savings plan. With a 529 plan, your earnings accumulate tax free, provided they are used for qualified higher education expenses, such as tuition, books, and room and board. (Keep in mind that 529 plan distributions not used for qualified expenses may be subject to federal and state income taxes and a 10% IRS penalty on the earnings.) You may be eligible for a state income tax incentive for contributing to a 529 plan. Check with your tax advisor regarding these incentives, as well as all tax-related issues pertaining to 529 plans.

One benefit of using a 529 plan is contribution limits are quite generous. Plus, a 529 plan is flexible: If your grandchild decides against college, you can transfer the plan to another beneficiary.

Generally, a 529 plan owned by a grandparent won’t be reported as an asset on the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), but withdrawals from the plan are treated as untaxed income to the beneficiary (i.e., your grandchild) — and that has a big impact on financial aid, a much bigger impact than if the plan was listed as a parental asset. Beginning with the 2017-2018 academic year, however, FAFSA now requires families to report income from two years before the school year starts, rather than income from the prior calendar year. Consequently, it might be beneficial, from a financial aid standpoint, for you, as a grandparent, to start paying for college expenses from a 529 plan in the year in which your grandchild becomes a junior. Contact a financial aid professional about the potential financial aid impact of any gifts you’re considering.

A 529 plan isn’t the only financial gift you could give to your grandchildren. You might also consider giving them shares of stock, possibly held in a custodial account, usually known as an UTMA or UGMA account. One possible drawback: You only control a custodial account until your grandchildren reach the age of majority, at which time they can use the money for whatever they want, whereas distributions from a 529 savings plan must be used for qualified higher education expenses.

Still, your grandchildren might be particularly interested in owning the stocks contained in the custodial account – most young people enjoy owning shares of companies that make familiar products. And to further interest your grandchildren in a lifetime of investing, you may want to show them how a particular stock you’ve owned for decades has grown over time. Naturally, you’ll also want to let them know that stocks can move up and down in the short term, and there are no guarantees of profits – but the long-term growth potential of stocks is still a compelling story.

You’d probably do whatever you could for your grandchildren – and with a smart financial gift, you can make a big difference in their lives.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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