Friday, March 1, 2013

Save when you invest for college

Where do you invest for college?
About 60% of all financial advisers send clients to direct-sold plans, according to survey results released Feb. 11 by Financial Research Corp. The survey of 293 advisers is the first to quantify how advisers are contributing to an increase in assets flowing into direct-sold plans. Direct plan 529 are commission free. Some have very low investment fees too. Even paid advisors realize you get more for your money when you don’t pay them for advice you don’t need.

Education Funding: Save up to $20,000 with the right plan
++Most public college students pay less than $10,000.
++Save $20,000 on the cost of private schools.
++Use your Wealth ReserveTM for tax-FREE cash.
++Accumulate $100,000 tax-FREE in 15 years to cover most expenses. 
      Never give up your retirement savings to pay for college. There are no low-cost student loans for retirement. Let a tax-FREE account and the power of compounding help you help your kids pay for their educations. Why not let them provide as much of the cost as they can? After all, they will be the ones that double or triple their lifetime earnings because of this education. And, studies show students get more out of it when they pay for it. Dan Keppel

GE to charge women more for LTCi
Genworth Financial, the largest long-term care insurance company in the United States, will soon implementgender-specific pricing, or charging higher rates for women when applying individually for long-term care insurance coverage. GE plans to start charging women applying for coverage as much as 40% more than men. This reflects the fact that women are paid two out of every three benefit dollars. They live longer and often have no caregivers at home. A few large insurers, including Pru and MetLife have quit selling new policies; others have raised rates dramatically on existing policyholders. There are other reasons families might have to shell out more. "Insurers are eliminating certain discounts, and the underwriting is getting tougher,” one seller said. Consider alternatives before buying—there are no refunds if premiums explode:

Does a traffic ticket always raise your auto premium?
Only 31% of Americans who received a traffic ticket in the past five years are paying more for car insurance as a result, according to new research. Most carriers check young drivers' motor vehicle reports every six months, whereas many carriers do not regularly check older drivers' records. More than one-third of 18- to-29-year olds reported one or more traffic tickets in the past five years, the highest percentage of any age group surveyed. You can go to safety school, ask for legal help, and avoid tickets for 5 years to reduce your points. People who commit several smaller violations are also more likely to face higher car insurance costs. Not all insurers are the same so shop:

Mega Life policy owners to see ‘mega’ rate hike to 47%
About 7,000 Maine customers of Mega Life and Health Insurance will be affected by a rate change set to take effect March 1. While some policyholders will see their health premium costs drop by nearly 33 percent, others will be hit with rate hikes of up to 47 percent, according to Mega's filing with the Maine Bureau of Insurance. The average rate increase across all policyholders amounts to 6.5 percent. Time to shop?

Regulator’s delay costs us every month
A recently released independent study estimates that the SEC delay in promulgating a fiduciary standard is costing investors about $1 billion a month in retirement savings.  More information is available here. This paper found investors earned, on average, 1% more per year by buying mutual funds directly instead of through a broker. We don’t need Wall Street salesmen anymore:

Retirement plan costs going down but still high
The average total plan cost for a small retirement plan (50 participants) declined from 1.47% to 1.46% over the past year, while the average total plan cost for a large retirement plan (1,000 participants) declined from 1.08% to 1.03% over the past year according to the 13th  Edition of the  401k Averages Book. The study shows the small plan average investment expense went from 1.38% to 1.37%, while the large plan average investment expense declined from 1.05% to 1.00%. Since most pension funds pay less than ¼ of 1%, these 401k plans are still too high. Low-cost investments accumulate more for you than high-cost plans. You may be better off to Go TAX-FREE with your own plan free of income taxes forever:

Convert your 401k to the Tax-FREE Forever Roth 401k
Now you can make a Roth conversion as long as your employer plan has a Roth option (i.e. 401(k) to Roth 401(k)). Consider: 1) In-plan Roth conversions CANNOT be recharacterized (reversed); 2) Do you have the money to pay tax on the conversion; 3) Roth employer plans HAVE required minimum distributions (RMDs) when you retire; 4) You can utilize this provision for longer TAX-FREE growth in a Roth plan. Ask your accountant for help in this decision. Perhaps you can convert a little every year. All of your future nest egg could be FREE of taxes.

Is it time to take your benefits?
The assets in the Social Security trust funds are expected to be exhausted in 2033, according to the Social Security Board of Trustees' annual report. After that, incoming tax revenue will provide enough income to pay out about three-quarters of promised benefits. Check your annual statement:

Medicare Advantage plans expand
Nearly 14.6 million people were enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans as of February 2013, 28.5% of the 51.1 million people eligible for Medicare.

Consumer Reports top car brands
Lexus vehicles are rarely sporty, but they earned the top score of 79 points out of 100 because of plush and reliable vehicles, the magazine said Tuesday. Subaru and Mazda were tied for second place with a score of 76. Toyota and Acura, Honda's luxury brand, rounded out the top five tied at 74. Honda and Scion were next at 72, followed by Audi and Nissan's upscale Infiniti brand, both at 70. Mercedes-Benz finished 10th with a score of 69. The ratings of 26 automotive brands, closely watched by consumers, are based on the magazine's average road tests and predicted reliability scores from surveys of subscribers. Detroitautomakers didn't fare very well in the magazine's rankings. Cadillac was the best U.S.-based brand, tying for 14th place with Hyundai, scoring a 63.

OK to arrest any insurer complying with ObamaCare??????????????
Any federal official or corporation employee would be charged with a felony if found to be providing services that comply with the federal Affordable Care Act, according to a bill that won the approval of an Oklahoma legislative committee.

NH bans TALKING about ObamaCare exchanges?????????????????
New Hampshire state law bans officials from discussing, planning or enabling a state-based health insurance exchange, but a bill would end the gag order as a first step to exploring the possibly of a state-run electronic marketplace.

AK to let insurers use credit scores for renewal premiums like other states
Insurers would be able to consider someone's credit score when renewing personal insurance policies under a bill in the Alaska Senate. Forty-seven other states allows insurance companies to look at credit history when reviewing a new policy application, but Alaska is the only one that doesn't allow companies to consider that information when a policy is renewed. "In most cases, most consumers have good enough credit that they either are not going to be affected by their credit score, or they're going to pay less for insurance because they're going to represent a better risk than they would if we didn't use it," a trade group said. Gary Strannigan, Liberty Mutual, told the committee that studies show that credit score is an accurate predictor of risk.

Feds to protect seniors on ObamaCare premiums
The Feds are going ahead with new limits on what health insurers can charge older consumers under the Affordable Care Act. Age rating effectively limits how much premiums can vary based on a person’s age, meaning insurers can no longer charge older individuals proportionately higher rates than younger people. ACA caps the ratio at 3 to 1. The provision, along with the brunt of Affordable Care Act law, goes into effect in 2014. The idea is that the young and insured pay more so that older individuals pay less. Buy only what you need:

ObamaCare five key provisions are applicable to new health plans only:
•           Guaranteed Availability
Nearly all health insurance companies offering coverage to individuals and employers will be required to sell health insurance policies to all consumers. No one can be denied health insurance because they have or had an illness.
•           Fair Health Insurance Premiums
Health insurance companies offering coverage to individuals and small employers will only be allowed to vary premiums based on age, tobacco use, family size, and geography. Basing premiums on other factors will be illegal. The factors that are no longer permitted in 2014 include health status, past insurance claims, gender, occupation, how long an individual has held a policy, or size of the small employer.
•           Guaranteed Renewability
Health insurance companies will no longer refuse to renew coverage because an individual or an employee has become sick. You may renew your coverage at your option.
•           Single Risk Pool
Health insurance companies will no longer be able to charge higher premiums to higher cost enrollees by moving them into separate risk pools. Insurers are required to maintain a single state-wide risk pool for the individual market and single state-wide risk pool for the small group market.
•           Catastrophic Plans
Young adults and people for whom coverage would otherwise be unaffordable will have access to a catastrophic plan in the individual market. Catastrophic plans generally will have lower premiums, protect against high out-of-pocket costs, and cover recommended preventive services without cost sharing.
These guarantees do NOT apply to your existing plan if it was grandfathered by ACA.

SCAMS           “Deficits don’t matter” GOP grandfather, Dick Cheney, 2002

Bernie Madoff urged his firm’s bankruptcy trustee and the U.S attorney concerned with the case to go after JPMorgan Chase. Madoff says he had used the account recurrently to funnel funds between his New Yorkand London offices. Bernie Madoff has mentioned on several occasions that JPMorgan Chase knew of the ponzi scheme, but the bank has in the past denied any knowledge of Madoff’s allegations.

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