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Stay at Home Spouse: Considerations for a One Income Household

stay at home spouse
There are Many Benefits to One Spouse Staying Home, but Don’t Neglect These Crucial Points

In the United States today, about 20 percent of households include one stay-at-home spouse. There are certainly many benefits to a one-income household on the childcare and housekeeping fronts, but there are important financial considerations for stay-at-home spouses that don’t often get the attention they deserve.

Here are four things to keep in mind if you have a stay-at-home spouse in your household, or you’d like to in the future.

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FSA vs HSA: How to Make the Most out of Your Employee Benefits

healthcare costs
A comparison of the two biggest tax-advantaged savings accounts offered by employers

If there was a pop quiz and you were asked to explain the difference between a flexible spending account (FSA) and a health savings account (HSA), would you pass the quiz?

Chances are, you’d probably struggle with the answer. Though they share similar names and some other key similarities, such as both being tax-advantaged options available through work benefits, there are some major differences between the two accounts.

Like any decision, it’s best to make your choice from an informed position. To do so, here are the main takeaways you should know when it comes to the differences between an HSA and an FSA account.

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The Cost of College: 5 – 10 – 15 Years from Now

college hats thrown in air
As Educational Costs Continue to Rise, Parents and Students Must Be Prepared

Saving for college can seem like an uphill battle, especially given that costs have risen an average of 5 percent annually for the last decade. Accumulated College Board data for the 2019-2020 academic year showed an average cost of $21,950 as an in-state student at a state school, and a whopping $49,870 for a private school. Doing the math easily reveals that four years at any school will cost a pretty penny, especially if your children aren’t close to college age just yet.

Assuming cost trends continue, parents and prospective students will face steep tuition bills in the future.

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How to Maximize Your Stock Options

The Key Considerations You’ll Need to Best Leverage this Employee Benefit

Stock options have become a popular way for employers to compensate employees and incentivize high-quality work. Not only are they convenient and cost-effective for the employer, but they provide employees with added value for a job well done. When employees feel valued and do good work, the company’s stock value rises, and everyone wins.

Since stock options aren’t as cut and dry as a normal paycheck, though, many employees don’t fully understand how to make the most of them. Below we’ll discuss how stock options work, when to exercise them, and how to maximize this type of compensation.

The Basics of Employee Stock Options

When an employer offers stock options as part of your benefits package, it means you’ll have the opportunity to purchase a certain amount of company stock for a set price called the “grant price”, and typically within a set time frame. Most often, employers want to incentivize you to stay with the company long-term, so you may have to wait until your stock options vest – that is, until they reach the point in time when they become available to you to exercise. This means new employees usually can’t take advantage of them right away. Once they vest, you’ll have a specific time period in which to use your stock options before they expire.

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Planning Assumptions That Should Be Avoided

Even the Most Disciplined of Planners Can Fall Victim to Faulty Planning Practices

Even if you consider yourself an accomplished and disciplined planner – and, perhaps, even more so if you fall into this category – it’s uncomfortable to face unexpected financial hurdles. Since no one can perfectly plan for the unexpected, however, it happens from time to time. It could be that your career takes a turn you didn’t foresee, or maybe your child’s college education ends up far costlier than you expected. All of a sudden, you find yourself facing a future where your savings goals may be in jeopardy.

Although no planning is foolproof, avoiding some common – and faulty – planning assumptions can help ensure your long-term goals won’t be in danger.

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Which Assets Belong in Your Living Trust – and Which Don’t?

Guidance on How to Fund Your Trust

If you’re considering setting up a living trust, know that there is more to it than simply meeting with a lawyer and signing the appropriate paperwork. Your trust won’t have any power until you fund it. To do so, you’ll need to strategize about which assets you’ll put in the trust, and then complete the necessary transfers.

For most people, there are assets that make sense to transfer to your trust, but others that you’re likely better off leaving outside the trust. Below we’ll dig into the details of both. First, though, let’s discuss the basics of a living trust.

Why Choose a Living Trust?

If you’re looking to manage your assets during your lifetime and find a way to easily pass them to your beneficiaries when you die without going through the hassles of the court system, a living trust is for you. This legal structure allows your estate to bypass probate, which is advantageous for several reasons.

Not only is probate complex, time-consuming and expensive, it also means your estate information will become public record. A trust, on the other hand, allows you to keep your finances private. Furthermore, this legal instrument gives you more control over which of your heirs get certain assets, and even when they are able to access them. For example, you could choose to pass some of your assets to your children when they turn 18, with a percentage held back until they reach age 40.

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Small Business Checklist: How to Assess Your Financial Wellness

A Five-Step Plan for Busy Business Owners

Running your business day to day takes all of your energy and focus. Your waking hours are consumed with managing and sustaining it, and you likely spend many a sleepless night on the details no one else thinks about. This is the life of a committed small business owner.

When you’re grinding day after day to keep your business well-positioned, however, it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Specifically, it becomes difficult for many small business owners to find the time to monitor the overall health of their business in a meaningful way. The five-step guide below is designed to help you focus on five key elements of your business’ financial health.

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Estate Planning: Keeping Your Legacy in the Family

Ways to Ensure the Wealth You Pass on Stays with Your Children

It’s a blessing to be able to pass on significant assets to your children – and it’s likely one of the reasons you worked so diligently and saved so strategically throughout your lifetime. It’s natural to want to keep your wealth in the family, especially as we find ourselves living through an economically uncertain time. Even though you might love your daughter-in-law or son-in-law very much, recent world events have reminded us that you can’t predict what the future may hold. This leads many people to wonder whether there’s a way to leave money to their children without passing any rights on to their children’s spouses.

Typically, once you pass assets to your children outright, their spouses will have equal rights to those assets. When you have positive relationships with the spouses, it’s natural to feel a bit guilty about trying to avoid passing on any rights to your wealth. However, if you feel strongly about preserving your financial legacy for your children, there are ways to do so.

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Tax Changes Prohibit Many from Claiming Home Office Costs

Working from Home During the Pandemic? You Probably Can’t Deduct Your Expenses

If you’ve been working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re not alone. One of the side effects of this global health crisis has been an unprecedented experiment in forced remote work for the masses. While most states are beginning to open back up, social distancing policies are still encouraged, meaning many taxpayers are still working from home in this “new normal” we’re becoming accustomed to. In fact, a recent survey shows that 43 percent of Americans hope to continue working from home at least part-time when the pandemic subsides.

If you’re one of the millions clocking in from the comfort of your own home each day, you may be wondering whether you can take advantage of the home office tax deduction. In the past, employees who worked from home could deduct home office expenses like computer equipment and office furniture as a miscellaneous itemized deduction on line 21 of Schedule A. However, that rule has changed.

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Retirement Planning Considerations for Spouses with a Significant Age Gap

In some things in life – love, in particular – age is a fairly meaningless number. When it comes to financial planning, however, age can begin to matter quite a lot. This is why it is exceedingly important for spouses with a wide age gap to have a long-term financial plan in place. As we collectively face a time of economic uncertainty, smart long-term planning can also offer you peace of mind.

Long-term financial plans include retirement planning, of course, and this is an area in which traditional advice often won’t work well for couples separated by a decade or more. If you and your spouse are in this scenario, you’ll need a retirement plan that can accommodate the needs of two different stages of life.

Let’s explore a few of the considerations that mixed-age couples need to be aware of for proper retirement planning.

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