• College,  Kids and Money,  Planning,  Savings

    Don’t make this tax mistake: 529 account edition

    A lot of people don't realize this but (real) financial planners review client tax returns as part of the financial planning process. This helps us point out ways to help clients save money on taxes, correct errors, or identify an investment manager that may be churning (trading frequently) or simply generating a lot of taxable gains and dividends.  One frequent Virginia state income tax deduction that many VA 529 account owners forget involves VA 529 plan contributions. Don't make this same mistake!  Check out this video (please ignore the ridiculous thumbnail image...) and find out how you might save more money on your VA state income taxes! **This is not…

  • Cash flow,  Employee Benefits,  Savings

    Is an HSA Right for Me?

    Many people sign up for a high deductible healthcare plan (HDHP) either at work on the exchange but don’t realize that these healthcare plans work best when paired with a healthcare savings account (HSA). An HSA is triple tax-preferred. What the heck does that mean? You can take a deduction against your income on your taxes or make pre-tax contributions through your payroll provider. Money contributed to an HSA grows tax-free while inside the HSA. Money withdrawn for qualified medical expenses (as defined by the IRS) is tax-free. Want to know more about the mechanics of an HSA? I wrote an article for Richmond Family Magazine that explains HSAs. Important side…

  • College,  Kids and Money,  Savings

    Maximize Your Virginia 529 Plan

    How can I maximize my tax-savings using a Virginia 529 account? What happens if my kid gets a scholarship? These are the kinds of questions I frequently hear from parents as they start saving for college.The Virginia 529 College Savings plan is pretty straightforward (especially after you read my post about the VA 529 plan that breaks it all down for you here!). However, there are a couple nuances that parents and other family members should be aware of to maximize their 529 account.Let's review four things about the Virginia 529 Plan that you will definitely want to know!VA 529: What Changed Under The 2017 Tax Law?Prior to the passage…

  • Planning

    Tax-Savvy Charitable Giving with Appreciated Stock

    Lots of people like to make charitable donations in December. Typically people make their charitable donations by writing a few checks and dropping them in the mail. Which works.  But did you know there is a tax-savvier way to make your charitable donations? If you have a taxable investment account with stocks, ETFs or mutual funds that have increased in value (appreciated securities) you can actually donate those directly to your favorite charity. So instead of selling those appreciated securities and paying a capital gains tax you could simply gift away the capital gain. If you have held those appreciated securities for at least one year you can gift away…

  • Planning

    5 Ways to Maximize Your Charitable Giving

    ‘Tis the season for giving, and we have 5 ideas to help you maximize your charitable donations! These tips are quick and easy to implement, but can have a tremendous impact on your community. Also, if you itemize on your taxes be sure to track your charitable giving as those gifts may be tax deductible. 1. Sign Up For Ongoing Gifts By signing up for an ongoing giving program you help provide some predictability for your favorite charities. When charities and organizations are able to have a better sense of what their cash flow will look like over the year, they can make better plans. They might be able to…

  • College,  Kids and Money,  Savings

    Which Virginia 529 Plan Is Best?

    You’re ready to start saving for college. You go to sign up for a Virginia 529 College Savings Plan, but are immediately faced with a decision about which plan is the right one for you. Or maybe you have been pitched some expensive-looking mutual funds or a life insurance policy from a broker but you just aren’t sure that’s the right path for you. No worries. Today we’re going to dive into the three Virginia 529 College Savings Plans so you can make an informed decision about what’s best for you and your family. In no particular order, let’s get started. Virginia 529 Option #1: Invest529 The Invest529 is the…

  • Cash flow,  College,  Planning

    Do I Qualify for Public Student Loan Forgiveness?

    Student loans are the bane of many young professionals’ existence. I have worked with several physicians with $200,000-300,000 in student loan debt. Fortunately one of these physicians met the 4 requirements for Public Student Loan Forgiveness. Which means that if he continues working for a qualified employer and makes 120 on-time qualified payments on his Federal Direct student loans, a good portion of that debt will be erased. Tax-free. There are 4 important requirements you must meet to qualify for Public Student Loan Forgiveness and to stay qualified until your remaining loan balances are actually forgiven. Today we’ll go over four things you need to make sure you’re doing so…

  • Planning

    4 Ways To Protect Yourself Following The Equifax Security Breach

    The personal information of 143 million people was compromised by hackers at Equifax (the credit rating agency). Unfortunately, consumers are only just now finding out that their data may be for sale somewhere on the Dark Web. Take action now to protect yourself! In this video I will go over 4 steps you can take today to help protect your credit.  Since there are a lot of links to remember here is the summary: Go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com click on enroll and then begin enrollment to see if you are affected. If you're married don't forget to check your maiden name as well. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com - this is the only…

  • Lauren Zangardi Haynes
    Budgeting,  Cash flow

    Maximize Your Salary: How to handle the question every job seeker hates!

    There's one question all job seekers hate- "what is your current salary?" If you are interviewing for a new job I have some good news - in some areas of the U.S. this question is illegal. Unfortunately, a lot of job seekers are still going to have to deal with this tricky question.  This question really bothers me and as a Certified Financial Planner Professional I want to help my clients not only grow the money they have already saved but maximize what may be their largest asset - their earning power!  With that in mind, I spoke with two of my friends who are truly HR rockstars having built…

  • Cash flow,  Employee Benefits,  Investing

    Hidden 401(k) Loan Risks to Your Career and Finances

    Getting hit with a cash crunch is stressful. What should you do if you need quick access to cash? For many of us who have been working and saving in our 401(k)s, that pot of money can be very tempting. Let’s be honest - 401(k) loans can be relatively cheap and easy to get. They’re kind of like the fast food version of loans. And just like fast food, 401(k) loans can seem like a good idea at first, but they can quickly lead to heartburn.   What you really need to know: there are some serious risks involved with tapping a 401(k).   There are two major risks you…