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Friday Financial Five –December 21st, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

 

Rhode Island’s population decline

It’s disappointing, but not surprising, that Rhode Island lost .03 percent of its population from July 2011 to July 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Over five thousand people left for other states, undoubtedly some of them job seekers or retirees looking for a more tax favorable climate. As one of two states to see the population reduced over that time period, it reinforces the point that Rhode Island needs change to attract workers and keep the population growing.

No deal yet on the fiscal cliff

It appears that both sides are close and with roughly a week left in 2012 to negotiate, a deal should get done. John Boehner and Grover Norquist have blessed plans that would raise income tax rates. Now it’s a matter of finding a plan that both sides hate equally, meaning there have been sufficient tax increases and spending cuts. The only certainty to come from this mess so far is the need for Congressional term limits.

Housing up again nationally

A continued encouraging trend is the increase in national home sales. The median price of single family homes was up over 10 percent in November from a year ago, a huge jump. There are fewer homes on the market creating bidding wars, and the increased prices have resulted in a jump in consumer confidence. It’s vital that fiscal cliff discussions are resolved in a way that doesn’t impede the extremely important housing recovery.

A holiday gift that will not be returned

Estate planning attorneys have never been so popular. Right now, high net worth individuals have to plan for the estate tax exemption decreasing from the current level to $1 million in 2013. While the estate planning picture remains in flux, one reliable strategy to reduce the size of an estate is utilizing a $13,000 gift, which negates the need for a gift tax return. Next year, this number increases to $14,000.

Texas messes with high college costs

Rising education costs have inspired some Texas universities to offer mainly online curriculum with yearly tuition around $2,500. Instead of paying $200,000 to get a degree in engineering, math, or science, you can graduate for the bargain price of $10,000. There is a breaking point where people simply can’t or won’t pay outrageous sums for goods and services. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of strategies employed to drive down the average cost of college.

Dan Forbes is a regular contributor on financial issues. He is a CFP Board Ambassador. He leads the firm Forbes Financial Planning, Inc in Providence, RI and can be reached at dforbes@forbesplanning.com.
 

 

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