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A College Education Minus the Debt

Fully funding a college education without debt is no simple task. It’s no secret that the cost of a four-year degree has soared. But do you realize how much it has risen?

According to Education Data Initiative, the average cost of college tuition and fees at four-year public schools has risen 179% over the last 20 years. It’s an average annual increase of 9.0%.

The average cost of tuition and fees at private four-year schools has risen 124% over the same period for an average annual increase of 6.2%.

That is an increase from an annual cost of $3,349 to $9,349 for a public university and $14,616 to $32,769 for a private school.

The statistics are sobering, and students are piling up unmanageable debts to secure a degree.

But there are ways to reduce out-of-pocket expenses, and avoid or at least minimize the need to take on debt.

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Strike While the Iron is Hot: When Roth Conversions Go on Sale in a Market Downturn

Bear markets are no fun (for anyone). They are stressful and can often cause investors to question even their best laid financial plans. But what we like to focus on in a downturn isn’t all the doom and gloom, but rather how we can take advantage of these down markets to position your portfolio for even better returns in the future. You see, market downturns create some favorable tax planning opportunities, including the ability to strike while the iron is hot on discounted Roth conversions.

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Practical Planning Helps Widows Prepare For Loss

Planning to become a widow sounds counterintuitive, not to mention incredibly difficult to imagine. But ask any widow or widower and they’ll tell you that losing a spouse is hands-down one of life’s greatest challenges. Even for those who knew they would likely outlive their spouse, the reality wasn’t anything they could have emotionally prepared for.

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The Case for Staying Invested in Volatile Markets

Global markets have taken us for a wild ride thus far in 2022. Inflation is not yet under control, and the Fed is raising interest rates to combat it. Geopolitical tensions are leading to deglobalization, and investors are naturally worried about what this means for their portfolios. Whether we like it or not, most of us have acknowledged that these unresolved dynamics may keep markets volatile for the foreseeable future.

Volatility can be hard to stomach for many people, and investor sentiment is reflecting just that. According to AAII’s Investor Sentiment Survey, 20% of participants responded that they feel “bullish” about the markets right now. As such, it’s no surprise that we are fielding more frequent questions from clients and prospects about whether it’s time to “get out” or at least hold excess cash until the markets temper.

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Seek Advice Before Settling Your Late Spouse's Debts

A strong sense of security—be it emotional, mental, physical, or financial—is fundamental to a person’s well-being. This is especially true during times of grief, such as the loss of a spouse. But there are a number of financial circumstances that can make a widow feel uneasy in the wake of loss. If a new widow counted upon her spouse’s income, this by itself can be a new source of financial anxiety. Even worse, if her spouse leaves behind unresolved debts, a new widow might find herself in an even more vulnerable position.

In the case of unresolved debts, new widows need to know that there are many cases where they are not personally responsible for their spouse’s outstanding balances. Acting hastily can result in costly mistakes that could have otherwise been avoided.

Keep in mind, though, that there are many widows who choose to pay their husbands debts right away. Their reasons could include anything from honoring their husband’s commitments, readily available resources, a strong sense of ethics, or simply ease—to eliminate the burden from her financial life.

But for widows who either (1) weren’t aware of the outstanding debts accrued or (2) whose cash flow is not immediately positioned to handle paying them off, knowing your options is a great first step to taking care of this task.

Here’s what you need to know as a new widow before you settle your late spouse’s debts:

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3 Life-Changing Financial Moves to Help Widows Reduce Risk and Heal with More Confidence

In financial planning, we talk a lot about risk—how much risk you can afford to take with your investments, what kinds of risk to look out for, how risk affects potential reward, and how to mitigate risks in your own life. These are pretty standard “risk topics” financial advisors address with their clients all the time, men and women alike. But, women in particular ought to be wary of another risk they could one day face and that’s the risk of becoming a widow.

We admit, this sounds a little strange on the surface. Most wouldn’t typically consider this a financial risk in the way we typically think about them. But, the statistics regarding widowhood are astounding and prove widowhood to be one of the greatest financial risks a woman can face.

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What You Learn About Yourself Working with a Financial Advisor

Most people know that when they start working with a financial advisor, they will learn a great deal about the financial strategies they’ll use to build wealth, save on taxes, leave a legacy for their heirs, and more. But what they often do not realize is how much they will learn about themselves in the process.

You see, advisors use their knowledge and expertise to construct personal financial plans that aim to achieve their clients’ goals. These plans include not only investments, but also savings, tax strategies, and insurance. But financial goals look different for everyone. Not just because we all come to the table with different resources, but because we have different desires in how we want to use those resources.

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What is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst?

Divorce is an extremely turbulent, stressful, and emotional process during which women are tasked with making some of the most important financial decisions of their lives. For better or worse, the reverberations from these financial decisions will impact them for years (if not decades) into the future.

So how do women approach such an emotionally charged time with a clear head and a rational decision-making process? How do they temporarily put their feelings aside and approach their divorce as a major financial event to set themselves up for a sound financial future?

Thinking financially isn’t always easy, especially when divorce is involved. But it is possible with the right help.

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What Happens to Your Home After the Loss of a Spouse?

Losing a spouse is one of life’s greatest challenges. Whether it’s expected or sudden, one of the most trying aspects is having to deal almost immediately with household expenses and personal finances. The toll grief takes on your emotions can cloud judgement and turn even minor money decisions into overly strenuous events.

One of the most difficult questions you have to answer as a surviving spouse is if you wish to stay in the family home. If you and your spouse owned a mortgaged home, it is now your full responsibility to ensure payments are made per the loan agreement.

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How Do Markets React to Geopolitical Uncertainty?

We are living in challenging times. Economically, personally, spiritually—there have been no shortage of life-changing events impacting our lives over these last few years. 

This past month is no exception with the tragic unfolding of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It goes without saying that we are deeply saddened by this conflict and hope that a diplomatic resolution will be reached sooner rather than later.

Unfortunately, no one knows what the future will hold regarding this conflict and the impact it could have on our future both as Americans and as citizens of humanity. And also, of course, as investors. 

Many investors are understandably looking for answers. Can a link be drawn between current events and market performance?

While no one can assuredly predict what will happen in the coming weeks or months, we can look at the market’s behavior over recent history to assess some potential outcomes.

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The Benefits of Working with a Team of Advisors

What’s better than working with one amazing financial advisor? Working with a team of them, of course.

Over the past couple decades, the rise of the Independent RIA has taken the financial services world by storm. When Sam Hull first founded Northstar Financial Planning back in 1994, there weren’t nearly as many options when it came to finding a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional to work with. Luckily, for consumers, this has all changed.

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