Category : financial wellness

Springtime and Student Loans

Springtime also means graduation time for millions of high school students. This is often a time of mixed emotions for those students’ parents. On one hand, you celebrate the accomplishment of your child. On the other hand, you feel a bit nostalgic about how fast the time has gone. It feels like just yesterday that you tearfully walked your son or daughter into their first day of kindergarten.

Student Loans are the Norm

This can also be a time of great financial stress for parents. Especially for the those Americans who aren’t able financially to simply stroke a check for their child’s college education. For a few, there are academic, athletic, or need-based scholarships and grants. But overall, those are still few and far between. More and more, we see college graduates leave school with a load of student debt. According to debt.org, the average college graduate in 2017 had $38,000 of student loan debt.¹ The number of graduates (undergrad or post-grad) with over $100,000 of student loan debt continues to climb at an alarming rate.

The Changing Cost of College Over Time

In fact, over just the last decade we have seen the cost of college growing at a rate of almost 5%.² This is twice the rate of inflation in this country over the same period. Long gone are the days of paying for your entire college education through a summer job. The average cost of a 4-year in-state college education is $39,880 (4 years at Private college average will run you nearly $138,960)³. I certainly am not aware of any summer jobs that are paying this much! So it’s no surprise that student loan debts are approaching epidemic proportions (over $1.49 trillion in total outstanding student loan debt in the US as of December 20174).

The Impact of Student Loans on Jobs

For graduates leaving college with lots of debt, there will absolutely be unintended negative consequences. For example, we see a decline in the number of graduates going into badly needed social services like teaching, nursing, and social work. It is clear to me that a lot of this is due to the burden of debt. If you have $100,000 of student loan debt, the attraction of a higher paying job in finance or consulting can easily sway your decision away from what could be your passion—be it teaching or social work.

Additionally, we see a decline in entrepreneurship from our college graduates. Starting your own business is incredibly hard as it is. Tack on six figures of student loan debt, and the allure of a salary can be too tempting to pass up. I shudder to think of the entrepreneur that could have found the cure for cancer but ended up working on Wall Street so they could pay off their student loans.

Consider This When Your Child Applies for College

My advice to parents of high school students today: If you are unable to pay for a significant portion of the cost of college, help your son or daughter carefully weigh this decision. This is most important if they are considering a private or out-of-state college. I would not expect the majority of 18-year-olds to understand the financial implications of their college choice. I often hear stories where people carry student loan debt well into their 40s and even 50s. Therefore, if we burden generations of students with debt that might take decades to pay off, we also limit how much they can save for their retirement. We owe it to our kids to help them understand the expense of college before they take on an obligation that could affect them financially for the rest of their life.

 

Chris Costello
Chairman & Co-Founder


1 https://www.debt.org/students/
2 https://www.savingforcollege.com/tutorial101/the_real_cost_of_higher_education.php
3 https://www.collegedata.com/cs/content/content_payarticle_tmpl.jhtml?articleId=10064
4 https://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/g19/current/default.htm


Optimizing your retirement savings not only helps you, but indirectly also your child. Not a blooom member yet? Get started with a free analysis to see how we could optimize your savings.

Read More

Your 401k Workout Plan

Forget your pecs. This year, invest in something that could actually get better as you get older! Make sure your company-sponsored retirement account is in tip-top shape to conquer the new year and beyond with these easy exercises.

Exercise 1: Match it pound for pound.

Just contributing to your 401k is a HUGE step in the right direction. So, pat yourself on the back for taking that leap! If you really want to make strides, muscle up and meet your company match. (It’s basically free money.)

 

 

Exercise 2: Stretch out your dollars.

Retirement is a marathon, not a sprint. Make sure you’re invested in the right mix to meet your goals. Maximize the distance, while protecting yourself against big injury to your account as you get closer to retiring.

 

 

Exercise 3: Avoid heavy lifting.

If you’re not properly trained, attempting to overhaul your 401k could be dangerous! A wrong move could be a real toe crusher. Luckily the independent experts at blooom are here to spot you when you’re ready.

 

 

Exercise 4: Sweat the small stuff.

Hidden fees and management percentages may seem small now, but by the time retirement hits could mean the difference of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Make sure you are minimizing the fees in your 401k.

 

Does a 401k exercise still sound like too much effort? Outsource the workout with blooom.

Learn More

Read More

blooom’s Year-End Checklist

The end of the year is a great time to reflect on your financial situation and plan ahead for next year. Here are some tips from one of our advisors:

  1. Update wills/trusts and beneficiaries.
    Get married this year? Have kids? Get divorced? Big life events mean it’s time to make sure legal docs like your will or trust, powers of attorney, life insurance policies, and account beneficiaries are all up-to-date. Forgetting to make these updates can be disastrous for families at some of the worst possible moments in their lives. Get in the habit of reviewing these things annually so nothing is missed.
  2. Get a handle on your debt and plan ahead for next holiday shopping season.
    Lay it all out there to get ready to tackle debt in the new year. If you’re like most Americans, you probably racked up some credit card debt you aren’t proud of this holiday season. What can you learn from that going into next year? Figure out how much of a holiday spending budget you need to plan for, divide that by 10 or 11 months and automate your savings into a savings account dedicated to holiday spending.
  3. Use your raise (and possibly your bonus) to increase your 401k contributions.
    Starting this year, get into the habit of taking a portion of any raise you receive and dedicating it to your 401k. For example, if you get a 5% raise, consider bumping up your contributions by 1% or more. Your paycheck still goes up, but your 401k also gets a boost. This habit can help you work toward maximizing your contributions over time, while having no real impact on your cash flow or budget. Also, see if your employer will allow you to contribute all or part of any year-end bonus you may receive toward your 401k. This can help reduce your taxable income come tax season and it also means you avoid the extra tax withholding on bonuses for that money.
  4. Set aside time for a year-end financial review.
    Look back on the year and take note of what you were able to accomplish financially and what setbacks you may have had. Use this past year as an opportunity to continue making smart financial decisions in the new year and learn from any of the times you may have stumbled. If you have a family, talk about upcoming trips, savings goals, and any other things you need to focus on next year. Set goals and even plan to celebrate financial accomplishments as a family throughout the year. Make money fun and before you know it, you’ll feel the freedom that comes along with financial security and eventually, financial independence!
Read More

Is your 401k naughty or nice?

The year is almost over and it’s time to evaluate how you have done for yourself financially. 401k included! Much like Santa’s reindeers, your 401k can be the driving force for a jolly retirement. Here are some easy ways to find out if your account has been naughty or nice.




If your 401k looks like it could use a little more jingle, no worries! Blooom can get you back on track. Here’s to a happy holiday and a healthy new year!

Get Your 401k Analysis

Read More
Keep searching for better option than TSP?

Leaving Public Service? TSP = Red Tape You Might Not Cut

Government service is often thankless. I saw firsthand bouncing around the country from town-to-town as the son of a life-long USDA employee. But in comparing notes between my Dad’s Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) and what I know of 401ks, the TSP might be one area where the public sector got it right. How so?

If you’re a person with a 401k, we at blooom often start with a simple question. Know what you’re paying in investment fees? Generally, the answer is no. And the cost of what they’re invested in often surprises them. That’s where we come in to help 401k clients. For people in a TSP, the fee discussion is a little different – on the surface.

And that has more to do with predatory Wall Street practices than the plans themselves.

Investment selection, rebalancing and fiduciary services could help federal employees achieve a better retirement. So, let’s explore why current and former federal employees should consider those services before cutting that last bit of government red tape known as the TSP.

Thrift Savings Plans (TSP) Have Few Investment Fees

TSP participants have access to one of most inexpensive employer-sponsored retirement plans, but only 40% of military service members take advantage of this benefit.

A TSP is a lot like a 401k, but the investment expenses are generally better in the former. Say 20 times better. Compare the average expense ratio of 0.03% for a TSP to the median 401k expense ratio of 0.60% we see pre-blooom rebalance.

Millions of federal workers are in the plans. A 2014 CNN Money article surmised why many millions more are bypassing these low-fee plans (or opting out when they leave their federal job) and perhaps paying thousands more in fees in other retirement savings vehicles.

Read More
1 2 3 5