In the News: student loans, ponzi schemes & taxes

claudiaBlog, Current Events, Financial Independence Services0 Comments

There’s been so much going on the news. It’s been a bit overwhelming to keep up. This week I wanted to bring you the financial news to you may have missed between all the political melee.

6 Tips for Avoiding the Worst Student Loan Repayment Traps

These highlights are brought to you by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  1. Know your loans by asking two questions: How much do you owe, and to whom?
  2. Income Driven Payments. If you’ve got federal loans, you may be eligible for a payment plan that allows you to submit information on your income and family size and then reduce monthly payments to amounts that are affordable. Sometimes you don’t have to make any payments at all.
  3. Stay enrolled. You have to requalify each year with updated financial information to keep your income driven plan.
  4. Forbearance allows you to reduce or eliminate payments for a time period BUT know that the interest keeps adding up in the meantime.
  5. Check your credit again. Get a free copy of your credit report each year from the 3 major credit bureaus. You can request one from every four months and check for any recorded late payments.
  6. There was a 6th tip, but even I couldn’t make sense of that one. Sorry…

 

Inside Wall Street’s Secret War on American Investors

There are new fiduciary standards are going into effect. The existing rule only required financial advisors to provide recommendations that were ‘suitable’ to a client. ‘Suitable’ met they could suggest a product that fit your needs but also greatly benefits them with high commissions and fees that you, as a client, would pay for.  Under the new rule, financial advisors are required to recommend products that are in the best interest to their clients. Can you imagine… These new rules require full disclosure when advisors recommend investments for your retirement accounts. These rules apply to the following types of financial professionals: certified financial planners, CPA-PFS, NAPFA members and CFAs.

 

Hamilton tickets used as a lure in massive Ponzi scheme

Oh the ever popular Ponzi scheme. Looks like white collar criminals are at it again. You may remember how this ended for Bernie Maddoff. The key to a Ponzi scheme is offering something that’s hard to attain and persuasively proving to people that you have a secret way of making that happen. This time the scam in New York was for ‘investors’ looking to resell tickets to “Hamilton”, which can resell for thousands of dollars. These two guys were able to get $81M from 125 investors under the guise of pooling their money to buy tickets in bulk.  Oh well, since that got shutdown, it’s time to go back to investing in boring old index funds.

 

Are You Paying Too Much for Your Tax Prep?

People using brick and mortar taxpayers has seen their tax prep fees rise steadily. These days it costs about $273 to get a professional tax preparer to fill out a Form 1040 with a Schedule A. If you use online software like TurboTax, the same work can cost you between $40-72 and also about 5 hours of your own brain power. It’s your choice, but at least now you know the cost differential.  At the end of the day, how much you pay largely depends on how complicated your finances are.

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