Money Smart Week Wisconsin 2014

Money Smart Week Wisconsin is coming up April 5-12. Sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, its purpose is to help participants better understand and manage their personal finances. To celebrate this special week, hundreds of educational financial events for people of all ages are planned throughout Wisconsin. Two specific Money Smart Week initiatives Edvest is happy to be sponsoring and participating in include:

 

The Big Read

The Big Read is a community-wide reading program aimed at helping young children understand the benefits of saving and starting them down the path of financial literacy. Participating schools and libraries will be reading “Curious George Saves His Pennies” by Monica Perez and “Bunny Money” by Rosemary Wells, as well as talking about the importance of saving for a rainy day. To find the closest Big Read event near you, use the Money Smart Week Event tool Money Smart Week Events or contact your local library or school to find out if they are participating. The Big Read books is coordinated by the Department of Financial Institutions and co-sponsored by the Edvest College Savings Plan and the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance.

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Money Smart Week Kick-off in Fond du Lac

Edvest is pleased to be a presenter at the Fond du Lac Women’s Conference on Saturday, April 5, from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at Moraine Park Technical College. The conference offers women smart tips, facts and inspiring personal narratives on saving and managing money and features keynote speaker Alice Wood, author of “Wealth Watchers.” Learn more at: Fond du Lac Money Smart Week Women’s Conference

 

To learn more about Money Smart Week, please visit the program Web site at: MoneySmartWeek.org

Give Your Newborn a Head Start on College

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If you’re a new parent or grandparent, it’s hard to image anything more important than caring for the day-to-day (and often minute-by-minute) needs of your new bundle of joy. But, to give your child the best start in life, it’s important to think a bit further down the road – their college education. So, between the feedings and diaper changes, we encourage you to take one sleep-deprived minute and read these three, great reasons to start saving for college early. With the rising cost of college and the importance of a degree, it could be one of the most important things you do for your baby.

Here are three great reasons to start saving early:

The cost of a college education in 18 years is projected to be much higher than today. According to the College Board’s Trends in College Pricing 2013, the average cost of a 4-year degree at a public college today is approximately $18,000 per year. For private colleges today, the cost is more than $40,000 per year. Eighteen years from now, the same education could cost nearly $250,000. To learn how much you need to save, explore Edvest’s college savings planner by plugging in colleges from across the country and estimating your monthly savings rate.

The earlier you start, the more your money has the opportunity to grow. Setting aside $50 a month in an Edvest college savings plan when your child is a newborn, for example, can accumulate to more than $25,000 by the time they head off to college. However, waiting until your child is 12 years old and set aside the same monthly amount, it will accumulate to just under $8,000. As this chart illustrates, the sooner you start, the sooner you can take advantage of the compounding effect of time on your investment. Set your goals and start saving today.

The longer your time horizon, the more opportunities and life events you can take advantage of. Between monthly savings, tax refunds, bonuses and inheritances, you can give yourself more opportunities to fund your account if you start an Edvest account early. Plus, the more time you have, the more you can take advantage of gifts to your child for birthdays, holidays, graduations, and more.

There are a few simple steps parents and grandparents can take to chip away at the cost:

Contribute on a regular schedule. Once you open an Edvest account, you can easily set up an automatic contribution plan or inquire with your employer about an available payroll deduction plan.

Develop a discipline of savings versus spending. There are lots of great resources for choosing a savings goal, developing a plan, creating a budget, and finding creative ways to save money. The website, www.americasaves.org is a great resource for getting started.

Friends and family can help, too. With Edvest’s e-Gifting feature, you can enlist the help of others to contribute to your child’s college education. With a few clicks, you can invite friends and family to securely contribute to an Edvest account online.  There’s even a selection of gift certificates that can be downloaded and presented to the child. Plus, any Wisconsin resident who contributes to a relative’s account can take advantage of a Wisconsin state income tax reduction of up to $3,000 per child per year.

Remember, it’s never too early to start saving for college. With so many benefits to starting an Edvest college savings plan early, you shouldn’t wait a minute longer. Build a bright future for your baby and open an Edvest account today.

Five reasons why Edvest is a great value

529 plans offer many benefits to families saving for college. But, for Wisconsin residents in particular, the Edvest College Savings Plan offers compelling value. From low fees to management ease, here are five reasons why Edvest is a great deal for account holders.

 

 1.      Edvest is local and in your community.  As the state’s official 529 college savings plan, Edvest is overseen by the State of Wisconsin. You’ll find Edvest participating in Money Smart Week, College Goal Wisconsin, Summer Reading Programs with Wisconsin Libraries and the Green Bay Packers, and appearing at numerous festivals to answer questions.

2.      22 investment choices. Edvest offers 22 professionally-managed investment portfolios ranging in strategy and risk from principal protection and conservative choices to growth choices, including two age-based options that automatically adjust as the child grows older.

 3.      Some of the lowest fees in the country. Edvest is one of the lowest cost plans in the country. Investment research firm, Morningstar named Edvest one of the top 5 cheapest plans in the nation based on overall expense ratios. Lower cost means more of the gains go back into your account.

4.      Wisconsin residents get a tax break. Edvest offers a great way for Wisconsin residents to save on their taxes while saving for college. Contributions to an Edvest account reduce your Wisconsin taxable income, dollar-for-dollar – up to $3,000 per beneficiary per year.

 5.      We’re accessible 24/7. Edvest offers multiple ways to connect. Consultants are available by phone or email Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central (1-888-338-3789 or info@edvest.com). You can also interact with Edvest through social media on both Facebook and Twitter. Plus, you can even manage your account on Edvest.com – where you can track your investments, make contributions securely and quickly online, and more.

 

Like what you’ve heard? Tell family and friends about the benefits of using Edvest to prepare for college costs. It’s easy to get started and takes just $25 to open an Edvest account.

Take advantage of the tax benefits of Edvest

Tax season is a great time to take stock of all the tax benefits of a 529 college savings plan. Here are three great ways that Edvest can help you reduce your taxes while saving for college:

1. Tax-Free Growth. When Edvest funds are used for qualified higher education expenses, such as tuition, room and board, books, and more, account holders may potentially enjoy tax-free growth. This means that the earnings portion of any distributions used to pay for such expenses will be free from federal and Wisconsin income tax. The savings may be substantial over time, as demonstrated in this example:

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 2. State Tax Benefit. If you are a Wisconsin taxpayer, your contributions to Edvest may reduce your Wisconsin taxable income up to a maximum of $3,000 per beneficiary per year. If you’ve made contributions to Edvest in 2013, you may wish to include them as you file your 2013 Wisconsin state income taxes. To learn how to claim this benefit, review the instructions for “Contributions to a Wisconsin State-Sponsored College Savings Program” in your Wisconsin Income Tax 2013 Booklet, or visit the Wisconsin Department of Revenue Website. Consider making consistent contributions throughout 2014 to maximize your potential state tax opportunity.

3. Gift and Estate Tax Benefits. Did you know that value of your Edvest account is not considered part of your estate? And money may be gifted – up to $14,000 per year ($28,000 per married couple) – to avoid gift tax or generation-skipping tax (GST). To learn more about estate planning and gift tax exemptions, visit the 529 Q&A page on the Internal Revenue Service’s website.

 

“Tax benefits can be powerful advantages to investing in a 529 plan when saving for college,” says James DiUlio, Director of Wisconsin’s 529 College Savings Program. “Now that you are aware of all the tax benefits of an Edvest College Savings Plan, you can begin to take advantage of them.”

For more tips on how parents can maximize the tax benefits of 529 plans, check out this article from U.S. News & World Report.

 

The tax information contained herein is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties. Taxpayers should seek advice based on their own particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor. Non-qualified withdrawals may be subject to federal and state taxes and the additional federal 10% tax.

 

 

Three reasons to make saving for college your New Year’s resolution

Image of January calendar

If you’ve been putting off saving for your child’s college education, the New Year is a great time to resolve to get started. Saving for college with Edvest is a resolution that can really pay in the years ahead. Here are three great reasons to make saving for college with Edvest your New Year’s resolution:

1.       The cost to attend college has only been increasing. Tuition for all universities, public and private, increased from 1978 to 2011 at an annual rate of 7.45%, as reported in a recent article in The Wall Street Journal. During the same timeframe, the cost to attend college has significantly outpaced increases in housing, health care costs, and family incomes. Statistics such as these can make saving for college seem daunting without a solid plan in place.

2.       A college degree is more valuable than ever. According to the College Board’s annual report on trends in higher education, college graduates can expect to earn 65% more over their lifetime than those with only a high school diploma. In addition to increased lifetime earnings, the report states that the unemployment rate for individuals with at least a Bachelor’s degree is about half the rate for high school graduates. Higher education also leads to more opportunity for health insurance and pension benefits.

3.       Edvest offers great value to Wisconsin families. Money invested in an Edvest college savings account grows tax-free, which means the earnings portion of any distributions used to pay for qualified higher education expenses will be free from federal and Wisconsin income tax. Moreover, State residents may reduce their Wisconsin taxable income when contributing to an account. Edvest was named one of the top 5 cheapest 529 plans in the nation by investment research firm, Morningstar based on Edvest’s overall expense ratios. With a variety of 22 investment portfolios, including two age-based options that automatically shift to a more conservative risk level as the beneficiary gets older, it’s also one of the easiest to do on your own.

Resolve to take action today by opening an Edvest account. The earlier you start, the greater your opportunity to build your college savings and take advantage of market performance. Once you get going, you can stay on track with college savings goals by contributing regularly through an automatic deposit plan. Build your account with the help of grandparents, relatives and friends by encouraging them to gift into the account for birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions.

Most importantly, don’t put it off any longer. Make 2014 your year to get started.

To learn more about saving for higher education with Edvest, Wisconsin’s official college savings plan, please visit us at www.Edvest.com.

More People Investing in Edvest

Wisconsin Public Radio recently interviewed Stephanie Marquis of the state Department of Administration, which oversees Edvest. She reported that contributions to Edvest grew by 14 percent in the last year. Some of the appeal of Edvest, she says, includes a new, lower threshold to start – just $25 – and a tax advantage for Wisconsin residents. Parents have until the year-end tax deadline of December 31 to contribute to their children’s accounts to take advantage of reducing their 2013 Wisconsin state taxable income. Listen to the full interview here: http://news.wpr.org/post/edvest-assets-increased-14-percent-2013

Saving early for college helps fight student debt

Edvest sat down with Mr. and Mrs. Keith Cooper of Racine, WI on December 3, 2013 to discuss their experiences with planning for the cost of college.

 

Reducing the amount of loans their children would need to take on was the motivation behind Mr. and Mrs. Keith Cooper’s decision to open Edvest college savings accounts for their children.

“Given the cost of college today, the debt levels they could come out with are staggering,” Keith says.

At the time, their children were 7, 12 and 14. He and his wife chose Edvest over other savings and investment options because it offered tax benefits for Wisconsin residents. A family inheritance helped get the funds started and, from there, they set up monthly automatic withdrawals of a modest amount.

“Once we got started, it was easier to ramp up the monthly amount within a year or so,” Keith says.

The Coopers found ways to add additional payments throughout the year, including tax refunds and gifts from family members for birthdays and holidays. Along with the ability to transfer funds between beneficiaries, the Coopers found the Edvest plan to be very flexible.

Today, the benefit of saving over the long haul with Edvest has paid off for the Coopers. They were able to put their oldest son through UW-Madison for industrial engineering. They also have a younger son who is a junior at UW-Parkside pursuing a degree in biology and a daughter who is a high school sophomore currently researching colleges.

For families who are thinking about starting to save for college, Keith feels that they shouldn’t wait.

“Starting early is critically important.”

 

To learn more about the Edvest college savings plan or to research college costs visit us at Edvest.com.

 

 

This material is for informational purposes only and should not be regarded as a recommendation or any offer to buy or sell any product or service to which this information may relate. The experiences related therein reflect a specific experience and vary based on timeframes, contribution amounts and frequency, amount of education expenses, and additional factors.

The best gift is now the easiest to give

Edvest offers several ways to give the gift of higher education this holiday

This holiday season, encourage friends and family to give the gift of higher education. Along with a new e-Gifting option, Edvest offers several ways that parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and other family members can give the most memorable of gifts for any special occasion throughout the year.

“Clothing and toys are nice, but those looking to give a gift with long-term value should really consider an Edvest college savings plan,” says James DiUlio Director, Wisconsin 529 College Savings Program. “It’s now easier than ever to contribute on behalf of a friend or loved one.”

Here are three ways to get started with gifting into an Edvest college savings plan.

Invite friends and family to contribute to a child’s existing Edvest account. You can easily invite friends and family to contribute electronically through Edvest’s new e-Gifting feature.  This simple, secure feature allows you to set up a ‘celebration’ or customized occasion that friends and family are invited to contribute to. By entering the email addresses of individuals you’d like to send an invitation to, a customized message and link to make a contribution will be delivered via email. The recipients can follow the link, enter in the amount of their gift, and submit their bank account information. As the account owner, you will receive a confirmation that a deposit was received.

Mail a gift for an existing Edvest account. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and other family members can all help a child or loved one achieve their dream of a higher education with Edvest. By visiting Edvest.com, a gifter can download and complete a gift deposit form. Simply include the account number on the form, and then mail it to Edvest along with a check. Alternatively, a check can be presented directly to a loved one. Then, the account owner can deposit the check into the account on the gift giver’s behalf.

Open an Edvest account today, then ask friends and family to help you save. If the child does not already have an Edvest account, there are three, easy ways to enroll. The first is online. You can submit an initial contribution electronically from your bank account or by sending a check deposit slip along with your payment. The next is by downloading enrollment materials and printing everything you need to open an account. And, finally, you can do so by requesting an enrollment kit be mailed to you. Please allow five to seven days for delivery. Note: you will need to know the Social Security Number (SSN) or federal Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) of the child or loved one you will be designating as the beneficiary before you can finalize the enrollment process.

You can symbolize your gift by printing and presenting an Edvest gift certificate. There is an assortment of gift certificates available for occasions throughout the year, such as Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, birthdays, and more. They can be framed, placed in a card, or wrapped with a bow. As with regular contributions, the minimum amount friends and family may contribute or gift to your existing account is $25.

Edvest offers several ways to give the gift of higher education this holiday
Edvest offers several ways to give the gift of higher education this holiday

 

Wisconsin families can save on taxes while saving for college

As the year-end tax deadline approaches, Wisconsin families can save on taxes while saving for college — if they act now

Each year, Wisconsin’s College Saving Plan, Edvest, offers a state tax deduction to Wisconsin account holders of up to $3,000 per beneficiary. If you want to claim yours, there’s only one catch – you must contribute before December 31 to take advantage to reduce your 2013 Wisconsin state taxable income.

“Investing in education is a smart move,” says James DiUlio, Director, Wisconsin 529 College Savings Program. “But as the calendar days tick down to the end of 2013, we want to remind Wisconsin families that the tax benefits built into Edvest make it an even smarter move.”

Edvest account holders can reduce their Wisconsin taxable income up to $3,000 per beneficiary per year if the beneficiary is your child, grandchild, great-grandchild, niece, nephew or yourself. The cut-off to take advantage for 2013 is the year-end tax deadline of December 31.

In addition to the annual Wisconsin state tax deduction, an Edvest College Saving Plan has several other tax advantages. Did you know that an account holder’s money can grow tax free? What that means is earnings used to pay for qualified higher education expenses will be free from federal and Wisconsin state income tax upon withdrawal for higher education expenses such as tuition, books, and room and board. But to claim the state income tax benefit for 2013, you have to act now.

“Do it today,” says DiUlio. “It’s one of the most important things you can check off your list before the end of the year.”

To take advantage, Wisconsin residents with an Edvest account can access their account online at https://www.edvest.com/e-access/index.shtml or make a contribution by mail. If you don’t already have an Edvest account, you can open one for just $25 either online at https://www.edvest.com/open/index.shtml or by mail.

 

The tax information contained herein is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties. Taxpayers should seek advice based on their own particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor. Non-qualified withdrawals may be subject to federal and state taxes and the additional federal 10% tax.