Budros, Ruhlin & Roe, Inc. Named to 2019 Financial Times 300 Top Registered Investment Advisors for the Sixth Consecutive Year

Columbus, Ohio-based Budros, Ruhlin & Roe, Inc, one of the nation’s leading independent wealth management firms with over $2.6 billion in assets under management and advisement, has been named one of the Financial Times 300 Top Registered Investment Advisors as of June 27, 2019. The list recognizes top independent RIA firms from across the U.S. This is the sixth consecutive year that Budros, Ruhlin & Roe has been named to the list.

“We are very honored,” said Scott Rister, President of Budros, Ruhlin & Roe, Inc. “This is the sixth consecutive year we’ve been named to the Financial Times List.  This speaks volumes about the expertise of our wealth managers, the strength of our firm and our commitment to provide clients with an exceptional experience and personalized approach to managing their wealth and investments.”

The list is produced independently by the Financial Times (FT) in collaboration with Ignites Research, a subsidy of the FT that provides business intelligence on the investment management industry. They invited 1,500 pre-screened RIA firms to apply for consideration. Applicants that applied were graded on six criteria which included: assets under management (AUM); AUM growth rate; years in existence; advance industry credentials of the advisors; online accessibility; and compliance records. These qualifiers signal experience managing money, technical expertise and client trust.

The “average” FT 300 firm has been in existence for 22 years and manages $4.6 billion in assets. The 300 top RIAs hail from 37 states and Washington D.C. The list also caps the number of firms in each state that make the list. Budros, Ruhlin & Roe is one of 17 firms from the state of Ohio.

“For 40 years, our team has worked to form strong bonds with our clients and to provide clarity and peace of mind for the families and institution we serve,” added Rister.

FT 300 Disclosure

The Financial Times 300 Top Registered Investment Advisers is an independent listing produced annually by the Financial Times (June 2019). The FT 300 is based on data gathered from RIA firms, regulatory disclosures, and the FT’s research. The listing reflected each practice’s performance in six primary areas: assets under management, asset growth, compliance record, years in existence, credentials and online accessibility. This award does not evaluate the quality of services provided to clients and is not indicative of the practice’s future performance. Neither the RIA firms nor their employees pay a fee to The Financial Times in exchange for inclusion in the FT 300. For more information on the Financial Times 300 List: Top US Registered Investment Advisors in 2019, please visit: https://www.ft.com/content/44d2b2b2-6cef-11e9-9ff9-8c855179f1c4

Please Note: Limitations: Neither rankings and/or recognition by unaffiliated rating services, publications, media, or other organizations, nor the achievement of any designation or certification, should be construed by a client or prospective client as a guarantee that he/she will experience a certain level of results if Budros, Ruhlin & Roe, Inc. is engaged, or continues to be engaged, to provide investment advisory services. Rankings published by magazines, and others, generally base their selections exclusively on information prepared and/or submitted by the recognized adviser. Rankings are generally limited to participating advisers. Unless expressly indicated to the contrary, Budros, Ruhlin & Roe, Inc. did not pay a fee to be included on any such ranking or to receive any such recognition. No ranking or recognition should be construed as a current or past endorsement of Budros, Ruhlin & Roe, Inc. by any of its clients. ANY QUESTIONS: Budros, Ruhlin & Roe, Inc.’s Chief Compliance Officer remains available to address any questions regarding rankings and/or recognitions, including providing the criteria used for any reflected ranking.

Samantha Anderson, Wealth Manager at Budros Ruhlin & Roe, featured in the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) Radio Media Tour

Budros Ruhlin & Roe, Inc. (BRR) is thrilled to announce that Samantha Anderson, CFP®, Wealth Manager, has been selected as a spokesperson for the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) 2019 Radio Media Tour. The tour kicked-off on International Women’s Day, March 8th, and focused on actions to help women achieve financial stability. More than 540,600 listeners tuned in as the interview aired over 100 times on 97 stations across the United States.

Listen to the interview here.

“Participating in the radio tour was a great opportunity to shed light on the challenges women face in achieving financial stability, as well as provide helpful strategies that can be utilized to increase financial confidence and work towards financial independence.” said Samantha.

Anderson is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM and joined Budros, Ruhlin & Roe in 2011. Samantha launched the firm’s Women in Wealth Management Scholarship in 2016, which encourages college women to pursue a career in wealth management by providing a paid internship at the firm in addition to a financial scholarship.  The scholarship program has proven to be a successful method of attracting female advisors to BRR, as two of the three scholarship recipients have been hired into full-time positions. Samantha also leads the women’s initiative for the firm, which includes conducting internal leadership discussions and spreading awareness in the community.

Diversity has been a focus of BRR for years with nearly 50% of the firm’s employees being female.  However, women make up only 23% of CFP® professionals nationally, which is why BRR is making it a priority to raise awareness of the profession among women, and other underrepresented groups, to continue to increase diversity on their team of advisors, and across the industry.  This will ultimately allow the profession to better serve the community.

Outside of the firm, Samantha is Co-Chair of the Women’s Initiative Committee for NAPFA, whose mission is to attract, support, educate, and develop women as leaders within the financial advisory profession, and to raise awareness of the need for more female advisors. She also is a member of the Finance and Investment committee for The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, and volunteers with Cause for Canines dog rescue.

“The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors does a great job of promoting diversity within our industry, as evidenced by this recent Radio Media tour,” said Scott Rister, President of Budros, Ruhlin & Roe. “We are very proud to have Samantha featured as a spokesperson.”

In addition to radio spots, the interview was posted in several national newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle, LA Times and Chicago Tribune.

Top 5 financial tips for women

(BPT) – Do women worry more about saving for retirement? There are many reasons women may be concerned about saving enough — they have a longer life expectancy, they often earn less than their male counterparts and they may have fewer full-time working years due to time spent caring for children or aging parents. This results in lost wages as well as fewer Social Security benefits and retirement plan savings.

However, women also have an important advantage — they are more goal oriented, says Samantha Anderson, CFP and co-chair of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors’ (NAPFA) Women’s Initiative. Anderson adds that “the knack women have for concentrating on the future serves them well when it comes to financial planning and saving for retirement.”

What can you do to plan and save for your future? Anderson offers five important tips:

Develop concrete goals. Anderson explains that setting achievable goals and accomplishing them can help women boost their confidence when it comes to finances. Whether it’s establishing an emergency fund, paying off credit card debt or taking over all bill payments, achieving a financial goal sets you on the right track toward your overall financial well-being and helps prepare you for life events at any age, she says.

Use opportunities to save and invest now. Start saving as soon as possible, no matter how small the amount, says Anderson. In particular, she recommends setting aside an emergency cash fund equal to 6-9 months’ worth of expenses to protect against a life-changing event and investing the remainder. Many employers offer matching funds toward a retirement plan, such as a 401(k), and you should be taking full advantage to boost your retirement savings. Neglecting to save in this way is leaving money and potential investment return on the table, explains Anderson. If you’re not sure what to invest in, Anderson suggests starting with a target-date fund, which provides a diversified allocation that becomes more conservative as retirement (the target date) approaches.

Find a fee-only financial advisor. A holistic financial advisor can help you meet your financial goals during any stage of your life. Anderson explains further, “Fee-only advisors are compensated solely through fees paid by the client, rather than commissions from the sale of a financial product. This means they will provide independent and unbiased advice. Advisors also offer different compensation and service models — such as hourly, flat-fee, ongoing planning or financial check-in projects — making hiring an advisor more accessible.” NAPFA is the country’s leading professional association of fee-only financial advisors, with over 3,600 members. Its members also adhere to a strict Fiduciary Standard of Care, which requires them to place your interests above their own.

Plan for the worst. Many of Anderson’s clients worry about becoming a financial burden to their families. She recommends developing an estate plan and making sure you have all of the necessary estate documents in place, such as a will to ensure your minor children and belongings are taken care of. You can also execute a Health Care Power of Attorney, Durable Power of Attorney and Living Will to designate who should make decisions on your behalf in the case of incompetency.

Educate yourself and ask questions. Anderson advises clients to utilize financial education resources at least once per week. Spending even 5-10 minutes a week learning about a different financial planning topic is a quick and easy way to boost your financial confidence. For tips, visit https://www.napfa.org/financial-planning/consumer-resources or savvyladies.org. Then ask your advisor questions about your investments. “Would you have a medical procedure done if you didn’t understand what it was for? No, so don’t invest in something without asking all the right questions, either,” Anderson adds.

Anderson concludes, “My female clients are great listeners and communicators and have an incredible ability to manage multiple tasks at once, allowing them to think through all different aspects of financial planning, whether that be tax planning, retirement, estate planning, investing or other topics.” She encourages her female clients to be confident and self-assured in investing and financial planning, adding that there are many steps women can take to optimize their future and have a stable, fulfilling retirement.

To find a fee-only financial advisor, see https://www.napfa.org/find-an-advisor.

Daniel Roe, Co-CEO and Chief Investment Officer of Budros Ruhlin & Roe, named to Forbes Best-in-State Wealth Advisor List and Barron’s Top 1,200 Financial Advisor List

Budros Ruhlin & Roe, Inc. is excited to announce that Daniel Roe, CFP®, Chief Investment Officer and Co-Chief Executive Officer has been recognized by two prestigious publications, Forbes and Barron’s, for his exemplary financial planning and investment management skills.

Forbes ranked Roe as number 8 in the state of Ohio on their Best-in-State Wealth Advisor list. Dan is the sole fee-only, independent advisor from the Columbus area to be named to the top 10. This is the second consecutive year that Forbes has ranked Roe on the list.

Barron’s also ranked Dan on their Top 1,200 Financial Advisor list. The list ranks 1,200 financial advisors across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Roe ranked number 12 out of 30 advisors listed for the state of Ohio and is the top advisor from an independently-owned firm named to the list.

Roe is a Certified financial Planner® and has been advising clients for more than 30 years.  He joined Budros, Ruhlin & Roe in 1996. In recent years, Dan has been profiled in Barron’s, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and Morning Star Advisor magazine. As Chief Investment Officer and Co-CEO, Dan chairs BRR’s Investment Committee and crafts investment communications for the firm’s clients, which includes his popular “5 Minutes on the Market” multimedia presentations.

“I am thrilled and humbled to be ranked among the leading advisors in the state of Ohio, and nationally” said Roe. “The recognition is a testament to our team’s dedication to providing clients with a personalized approach to meeting their goals.”

Founded in 1979, Budros, Ruhlin & Roe sets itself apart from other wealth management firms through its independent, fee-only structure and it’s disciplined financial planning and investment strategies.

You may access the Forbes Best-In-State list here and the Barron’s Top 1,200 Advisor list here.

Disclosure

Forbes “Best-in-State Wealth Advisors” list, February 2019. The ranking for this list by SHOOK Research is based on due diligence meetings to evaluate each advisor qualitatively, a major component of a ranking algorithm that includes: client retention, industry experience, review of compliance records, firm nominations; and quantitative criteria, including: assets under management and revenue generated for their firms. Forbes is a trademark of Forbes Media LLC. All rights reserved. Rankings and recognition from Forbes/SHOOK Research are no guarantee of future investment success and do not ensure that a current or prospective client will experience a higher level of performance results and such rankings should not be construed as an endorsement of the advisor. For more information about the selection criteria, click here. ​

Barron’s “Top 1,200 Financial Advisors” list, March 11, 2019. The ranking considered advisors with a minimum of seven years financial services experience and have been employed at their current firm for at least one year. This is a list of the top advisors in each state, with the number of ranking spots determined by each state’s population and wealth. Other quantitative and qualitative measures include assets under management, revenues generated by advisors for their firms, and the quality of the advisors’ practices, regulatory records, internal company documents, and 100-plus points of data provided by the advisors themselves. Barron’s is a trademark of Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. Rankings and recognition from Barron’s are no guarantee of future investment success and do not ensure that a current or prospective client will experience a higher level of performance results and such rankings should not be construed as an endorsement of the advisor. For more information, click here.

Please Note: Limitations: Neither rankings and/or recognition by unaffiliated rating services, publications, media, or other organizations, nor the achievement of any designation or certification, should be construed by a client or prospective client as a guarantee that he/she will experience a certain level of results if Budros, Ruhlin & Roe, Inc. is engaged, or continues to be engaged, to provide investment advisory services. Rankings published by magazines, and others, generally base their selections exclusively on information prepared and/or submitted by the recognized adviser. Rankings are generally limited to participating advisers. Unless expressly indicated to the contrary, Budros, Ruhlin & Roe, Inc. did not pay a fee to be included on any such ranking or to receive any such recognition. No ranking or recognition should be construed as a current or past endorsement of Budros, Ruhlin & Roe, Inc. by any of its clients. ANY QUESTIONS: Budros, Ruhlin & Roe, Inc.’s Chief Compliance Officer remains available to address any questions regarding rankings and/or recognitions, including providing the criteria used for any reflected ranking.

Scott Rister appointed President of Budros, Ruhlin & Roe; Industry leader Peggy Ruhlin set to become Chair of company she helped build

Columbus-based wealth management firm Budros, Ruhlin & Roe has announced key changes to its executive leadership team. Scott Rister, a former executive with Charles Schwab & Co., has been appointed as President of the company.  After nearly 18 years as Chief Executive Officer, Peggy Ruhlin will ascend to Chair of the Board of Directors, while firm leaders Dan Roe and John Schuman will become Co-Chief Executive Officers.

Roe and Schuman, as Co-Chief Executive Officers, will be charged with developing the firm’s strategic vision and long-term planning, along with Rister, who will also be tasked with implementing the firm’s strategic plan and managing the firm on a day-to-day basis.  Ruhlin’s role as Chair of the Board will allow her to continue to play an integral part in shaping the future of the wealth management firm she joined in 1987.

“With nearly 20 years of experience in finance and investments at Schwab, Scott Rister has a demonstrated record as a leader, a sharp financial mind, and an outstanding ability to mentor and develop talent,” said Roe. “We have no doubt that he will continue to innovate the organization and build on our reputation as a leader in the wealth management industry. With Scott working alongside John and me, we believe we have a world-class leadership team in place to effectively shape the future of Budros, Ruhlin & Roe.”

Rister and his wife, Melissa, are Ohio natives and are excited about moving “back home” after many years in Detroit and Chicago. Rister is a graduate of the University of Akron College of Business and began his career as a CPA with Ernst & Young, LLP in Akron, Ohio. He also held finance and accounting positions with Rubbermaid and Range Resources prior to joining Charles Schwab in 1999.

“Having had the opportunity to work with RIAs for most of my nearly 20 years with Schwab, Budros, Ruhlin & Roe is an organization that always stood out because of how well it is organized and managed, but even more so due to the leaders’ passion for their clients and their people.  I am honored and excited to join Dan, John and the rest of the BRR team as we leverage what Jim Budros and Peggy Ruhlin built to have an even greater impact on our current and future clients moving forward.”

Ruhlin’s leadership and expertise have shaped not only Budros, Ruhlin & Roe, but the entire financial planning industry. She served as chair and president of the International Association for Financial Planning (IAFP), and was instrumental in its merger with the Institute of Certified Financial Planners to form the Financial Planning Association (FPA) in 2000.

“It has been the privilege of my life to lead and grow this organization, and I’m looking forward to my new role and being a part of what lies ahead,” said Ruhlin. “I am proud of what we have accomplished over the years, and of the positive impact we have made on the lives of our clients and employees.”

 

About Budros, Ruhlin & Roe Inc.
Budros, Ruhlin & Roe, Inc. (BRR) is a fee-only SEC Registered Investment Advisor, located in Columbus, Ohio. BRR is an independent wealth management firm, serving clients in a fiduciary capacity. The company culture emphasizes excellence in all areas of financial planning and portfolio management. To learn more visit www.b-r-r.com.

You hire a personal trainer to meet your fitness goals, why not hire a financial planner to help you meet your financial goals?

How do you know when you should hire a financial planner? Is there a magic salary you should obtain or an amount in your retirement account? What should you look for in an advisor? Everyone from the Wall Street Journal to Business Insider has written articles about when and how to choose an advisor but, let’s start with the basics.

What can a financial planner do for you? A financial planner provides you with advice on how to save, invest, and grow your wealth while tackling specific goals such as buying a house, saving for retirement, or paying for your kids’ college education. The planner will work with you to create financial plan, which should be looked at regularly to make sure you are on track to meeting your goals.

Who should you hire? There are a couple of different ways to look at this question. First, let’s look at the type of individual that you should hire. You want the “gold standard” when it comes to financial planning so, you should look for a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM (CFP®).  Individuals who hold a CFP® designation are experts in the field of financial planning. They have passed a rigorous test and have met the experience and ethics requirements set forth by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. Additionally, CFP® practitioners are required to continue their education on financial matters and ethics in order to maintain their designation.

The next way to evaluate a financial planner, is to look at how the planner gives you advice and how they bill you. The planner should be a fiduciary, which means that they are legally obligated to put your best interest ahead of their own. The financial planner should also work for a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA).  Most fiduciary advisors use the term “fee-only” to describe their billing. This means, that the advisor is only compensated by fees collected from their clients. They don’t receive commissions for selling investments or financial products. This eliminates any obvious sources of conflict or bias.

Now that you know what type of planner to look for, where can you find a CFP® that is a fiduciary? There are two reputable websites that come to mind. The first is the CFP Board’s website. The website has a feature where you can search for a CFP® professional in your area or one that meets your needs. The second one is the  National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA)’s website. Their site allows you to search for a fee-only financial advisor. On top of doing your online research, you should ask friends and family who they are working with.

Once you’ve identified a planner or two that you think could help you meet your goals, schedule a meeting either in-person or over the phone. Don’t forget to ask about the credentials that their employees hold, how they collect their fees, and if they are fiduciary. These three items are a great foundation to finding the right planner. The right financial planner will quickly become a valuable asset to helping you meet your financial goals.

CFP Board announces Public Awareness Campaign

To help build awareness around the impact a CFP® professional can have on your life, the CFP Board debuted TV ads that feature individuals at different stages in their lives. Each ad shows how a CFP® professional can design a personalized plan for you reach your goals.

The CFP Board is the non-profit organization acting in the public interest by fostering professional standards in personal financial planning through its setting and enforcement of the education, examination, experience, ethics and other requirements for the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM (CFP®) certification. CFP® designation is considered the “gold standard” when it comes to working with a financial planning professional.

To learn more about Budros Ruhlin & Roe’s 19 CFP® professionals, please visit the our team page.

Health Savings Accounts – Could the best deal offered by the federal government be about to get even better?

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are often referred to as the holy grail of tax advantaged accounts; contributions are tax deductible, the account grows tax deferred and money withdrawn for qualified medical expenses comes out free of income tax. That’s a triple tax advantage and there really aren’t any better deals out there, especially coming from the federal government. So, what are these accounts and how are they potentially going to get better?

HSAs were created by The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003. This Act allowed individuals with so called high deductible health insurance plans to establish and fund a Health Savings Account which would allow them to save funds for future qualified healthcare expenses (to help cover the “high deductible”). For 2018, the limits on how much can be contributed to an HSA (either employer or employee contributions) is $3,450 for someone with individual coverage, or $6,900 for someone with family coverage. Added to that is the ability of individuals over the age of 55 (who are not enrolled in Medicare) to contribute a “catch-up” contribution of $1,000 per year. Research has shown that despite these not insignificant contribution limits, individuals are not fully taking advantage.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute has found that in 2016, only 13 percent of account owners maxed out their contributions. There is some discrepancy based on how long the owner had maintained an HSA account, as those that established accounts in 2006 were maxing out their contributions at a rate of 30%, while those who just opened accounts in 2016 were only doing so at a rate of 6 percent. Workers already struggling to save for retirement might not see fully funding their HSA as a high priority, but it’s important to consider what the potential costs of healthcare are in retirement.

Many individuals think that once they reach Medicare age (65), their healthcare costs should be mostly accounted for, but the reality is that with co-pays, co-insurance and other non-covered medical expenses, healthcare can still be a significant expense in retirement. A report created by the National Bureau of Economic Research entitled The Lifetime Medical Spending of Retirees determined that, on average, individuals incur $122,000 of medical costs between the time they turn age 70 and when they die, most of which is out-of-pocket. However, if you’re in the unlucky highest 5%, out-of-pocket medical bills could be more than $300,00. A great way to plan for those potential future costs is to save for them in an HSA, much the same way that individuals save for retirement living expenses in their 401(k) or 403(b). Having a bucket of money designated for medical expenses, that can be drawn from without incurring additional income taxes in retirement, would be a huge benefit to most retirees.

Legislation currently making its way through Congress, the Increasing Access to Lower Premium Plans and Expanding Health Savings Accounts Act of 2018, would allow individuals to increase their contributions to HSAs to the out-of-pocket limits for their particular coverage. In other words, those with individual coverage could increase their contributions from $3,450 to $6,550 and those with family coverage could increase their contributions from $6,900 to $13,300. Even though only 13 percent of individuals maxed out their contributions at today’s lower limits, it would give those with the ability to do so a great way to build up that tax-free bucket of assets for future health care needs.

Given where our national deficits and debt stand today, it’s unlikely that Medicare benefits will remain status quo, let alone improve. Already, those with higher Modified Adjusted Gross Incomes are subject to additional Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D premiums through income-related adjustments. Giving those individuals the ability to set aside more money now to account for those future expenses presents a good planning opportunity. If the HSA ends up being overfunded, the owner always has the option after age 65 to take a withdrawal for non-medical reasons that would then be subject to ordinary income taxes, just like an IRA.

Based on the research done about the low number of people who are fully funding their HSAs, it’s obvious that additional education and emphasis is needed on just how beneficial saving into the account can be, not only for current healthcare needs, but also healthcare needs in retirement, or even potentially for normal retirement spending needs. Congress acting to increase the contribution limits just creates additional opportunities for current tax deferral and the ability to save for what will no doubt be rising costs of medical care in retirement. A Certified Financial Planner™ professional can help you take all of these things into consideration and help you make the best decision for you.

 

For additional information on Health Savings Accounts, contact Budros, Ruhlin & Roe.

 

Follow Scott Kidwell on twitter at @BRR_ScottK

Scott R. Kidwell, CFP®, RICP®

Budros, Ruhlin & Roe selected as Columbus CEO’s Best of Business in the category of Private Wealth Management Company

Budros, Ruhlin & Roe has been selected by the readers of Columbus CEO magazine as the Best of Business Winner in the category of Private Wealth Management Company for 2018. This is the eleventh year that Columbus CEO magazine has published the Best of Business list.

“We are thrilled to be selected as the 2018 winner in the category of Private Wealth Management Company,” said Peggy Ruhlin, Chief Executive Officer. “This reflects our dedication to providing our clients with best-in-class service.”

Budros, Ruhlin & Roe was initially selected to participate by the editorial team of Columbus CEO magazine, which produces a list of nominated companies then asks its readers to vote online for their favorite.

“The list highlights the great organizations that make up the Columbus business community,” added Ruhlin.

The list of winning companies was published in the November issue of Columbus CEO magazine. Winners will be recognized at an award ceremony and reception on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 at St. Charles Preparatory School.

You can view the list of winning companies at http://www.columbusceo.com/business/20181029/columbus-ceos-best-of-business-2018-readers-poll

Please Note: Limitations: Neither rankings and/or recognition by unaffiliated rating services, publications, media, or other organizations, nor the achievement of any designation or certification, should be construed by a client or prospective client as a guarantee that he/she will experience a certain level of results if Budros, Ruhlin & Roe, Inc. is engaged, or continues to be engaged, to provide investment advisory services. Rankings published by magazines, and others, generally base their selections exclusively on information prepared and/or submitted by the recognized adviser. Rankings are generally limited to participating advisers. Unless expressly indicated to the contrary, Budros, Ruhlin & Roe, Inc. did not pay a fee to be included on any such ranking or to receive any such recognition. No ranking or recognition should be construed as a current or past endorsement of Budros, Ruhlin & Roe, Inc. by any of its clients. ANY QUESTIONS: Budros, Ruhlin & Roe, Inc.’s Chief Compliance Officer remains available to address any questions regarding rankings and/or recognitions, including providing the criteria used for any reflected ranking.

A Dad’s survival guide to sending your child off to college–Part 3

T’was the night before college and all through the house, no one was sleeping especially not my spouse.  Momma in her PJs and I with our cat, just couldn’t believe this is where we were at.

As I wrote last November, I have been a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner for almost 20 years now, and have helped a multitude of clients with the daunting task of getting their children through college.  Now, I’ve taken that same journey and just sent my oldest son, Jack, off to college yesterday.  As my dear dad used to say, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”  Well, over the past year, we took many small bites of that big ole elephant with the final bite being consumed as we departed campus and left our son in his college dorm room.

Once Jack had committed to the college of his choice, it was time to schedule an “orientation trip” where he would take placement tests and meet with an advisor to schedule classes and lock down housing and meal plans.  Jack was able to take the placement test online prior to even stepping foot on campus and his advisor did a great job of enrolling him in his required classes.  As I mentioned, Jack waited until the May 1st deadline to accept his enrollment and found himself without housing for the upcoming school year.  Like our cat, Jack landed on his feet and a room in the newest dorm became available while he was at orientation, so he found a home.  Now that classes and housing had been selected, the college could prepare Jack’s first tuition/room/board invoice.  Things were humming along.

Now it was time to “pay the piper’ as they say.  Do you remember when your sweet baby was born and you decided to put some money away on a monthly basis for college someday way off in the future?  Well for me, that future day was yesterday.  As I mentioned, I have helped many clients set up, fund, and then access their 529 education plans to pay for tuition, computers, etc. (Google “qualified 529 expenses” to see a full list of allowable expenses as it has been expanded).  Now it is my turn to withdraw funds from Jack’s 529 Plan, so I log into the CollegeAdvantage website and look for the distribution instructions.  There are a couple ways to pay your child’s tuition; payment directly to the college from CollegeAdvantage or the indirect payment option. I opted for the indirect option which means the 529 funds are deposited into my personal checking account and from there I pay the school.  I prefer this method as I feel more in control of when the money is distributed, and I would receive an email receipt from the college indicating that the tuition payment was accepted.  It worked perfectly, and the 529 funds hit my checking account three days later.  I then opted for the college’s electronic check payment method and avoided the expensive 3% debit/credit card fee.

I neglected to mention, besides using our 529 Plan, my son assumed an “unsubsidized federal student loan”.  For freshman year, the maximum loan amount is $5,500 which is divided into two distributions of $2,750 spread over the two semesters.  The federal government uses your FAFSA results to determine if you are eligible for a “Subsidized” or “Unsubsidized” loan.  If you receive a Subsidized loan, the government pays the interest charges on your loan while the student is in college; if you have an Unsubsidized loan the student is responsible for the interest that accrues.  It has been recommended that if you have an Unsubsidized student loan, you should make monthly payments of the accrued interest which will reduce the amount of your final loan amount upon graduation.  If you don’t pay the interest while in school, the accrued interest will be added to the principal balance and then you will be paying interest on the interest you accrued which is less than ideal.  By the way, Jack accepted the student loan in early August and we wondered when the funds would be released to the school. I emailed the college bursar and they indicated that the student loan funds would hit Jack’s account 10 days prior to the start of the semester, and like clockwork the funds posted to Jack’s account on the morning of the 10th day before school.  Now Jack has some “skin” in the college game.

The BIG day arrived, time to move Jack to college.  We loaded up the family SUV with all the supplies a college student would need.  Upon arrival at Jack’s dorm, a flurry of volunteer students descended upon us and in less than 10 minutes all of Jack’s possessions were safely in his new dorm room, including the dresser I used when I was in college during the 80’s.  Now our son is truly on his own!

As my wife and I were walking out of Jack’s dorm, I could see her breathe a sigh of relief knowing that our family, like many others, overcame high hurdles to get to this point.  Hard to believe we “ate the whole elephant”.  Did I mention we have three more elephants to eat?  I mean children to send off to college!

P.S. – Jack will miss our beloved cat while away at school so my wife made this pillow of our “legless” cat for him.