Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Is a 529 Plan right for me?

Now that we have covered what a 529 Plan is let's address the natural concerns with a 529 looking out ~17 years from today:
1. Undergraduate college is free, my child got a full scholarship or my child has ZERO interest in going to college:
  • I can use the money for myself, my spouse, move it to another child, move it to a family member (very loose rules here...basically I can move it from my child to HIS/HER: sibling, mother, father, aunt, uncle, child or first cousin). I can even do one of those semester-at-sea deals or study-abroad deals for myself and spouse.
  • In the extreme worst case I pay the 10% penalty and pay federal/state taxes on the EARNINGS. And if you did your state's 529 plan and got the state income tax deduction on your contributions going in they may want that deduction back.

2. Now, is a 529 the right choice for ME? In other words, is this the best place to put my money?
  • You know what they say on airlines right? Put the mask over your face before putting it over your child's face.
  • Student loans are CHEAP. Personal loans are expensive. Better your child take out student loans than you eating welfare turkey out the can ~17 years from now.
  • If you are like most folks today who waited to have children then the age 59.5 is much closer than you would want it to be. At that age, access to your 401K, IRA, and Roth IRA comes into play. Sooo, with that said...

3. Accounts to fill BEFORE you do a 529, IN descending ORDER:
  • 401K up to employer match - FREE EFFING MONEY! Always take this first. If your employer matches your contributions up to X always contribute up to X. DUH!!!!! Pre-tax going in, tax-free growth, taxed (without penalty) coming out after you are 59.5 years old.
  • HSA - I personally think this is the best account ever made. Pre-tax (even pre-payroll taxes) going in, tax-free growth while in, tax-free coming out for medical expenses. If you have a child then medical expenses come with the territory.
  • Roth IRA - After-tax money going in, tax-free growth, and tax-free coming out after age 59.5.

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