Financial Planning and Advice Blog for Syracuse

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Volunteer Vacations

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By Sarah Flick July 10, 2019

volunteering in nature They could be among the most memorable journeys you take.Travel with a difference: the essence of the volunteer vacation. You take the trip, you help make the difference for others, and perhaps you see the world differently as a byproduct. If you are thinking about combining travel with some service, there are things you should know.Know the various options. If you’re traveling solo, you’ll commonly work alongside locals on a community-organized project, and live in dorm-style lodging with other participants. If you have a young family, a homestay may be arranged with a host couple or family, or personal accommodations could be scheduled for you; the service aspect can often be tailored to the interests and abilities of the kids. Animal lovers often work in shelters or in conservation management programs.How can you book a service vacation? Travel agents and tour companies guide the way. You can even book one through groups such as REI, Discover Corps, Global Volunteers, and the Sierra Club. Some hotels and resorts will give you a huge discount if you are part of a volunteer effort. Be sure to ask what percentage of your fees will go to the local community (and not to organizational overhead).Some trips emphasize tourism with a bit of volunteering. Often people can only volunteer for a day or two, not a week or month. A new class of vacations responds to that reality. Agencies such as Namu Travel, specializing in trips to the Caribbean and Latin America, structure trips this way; Carnival is even doing this on its cruises to the Dominican Republic.1Sources/Disclaimers: The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. This information is not intended to be a substitute for individualized legal advice. Please consult your legal advisor regarding your specific situation.1 - ABCNews.com, “Giving Back While Getting Away: 3 Volunteer Vacation Trends”, September 28, 2016...

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Marriage and Money: Finding a Happy Balance

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By Sarah Flick June 27, 2019

Marriage affects your finances in many ways, including your ability to build wealth, plan for retirement, plan your estate, and capitalize on tax and insurance-related benefits. Here are some considerations to keep in mind if you are thinking of getting married or have just tied the knot.

  • Building wealth -- If both you and your spouse are employed, two salaries can be a considerable benefit in building long-term wealth. For example, if both of you have access to employer-sponsored retirement plans, your joint contributions are double the individual maximums allowed by each plan (up to $18,500 for 2018, plus an additional $6,000 if you are 50 or older). Similarly, a working couple may be able to pay a mortgage more easily than a single person can, which may make it possible for a couple to apply a portion of their combined paychecks for family savings or investments.
  • Retirement benefits -- Some (but not all) pensions provide benefits to widows or widowers following a pensioner's death. When participating in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, married workers are required to name their spouse as beneficiary unless the spouse waives this right in writing. Qualifying widows or widowers may collect Social Security benefits up to a maximum of 50% of the benefit earned by a deceased spouse.
  • Estate planning -- Married couples may transfer real estate and personal property to a surviving spouse with no federal gift or estate tax consequences until the survivor dies. But surviving spouses do not automatically inherit all assets. Couples who desire to structure their estates in such a way that each spouse is the sole beneficiary of the other need to create wills or other estate planning documents to ensure that their wishes are realized. In the absence of a will, state laws governing disposition of an estate take effect. Also, certain types of trusts, such as qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) trusts and marital deduction trusts, are restricted to married couples.
  • Tax planning -- When filing federal income taxes, filing jointly typically results in lower tax payments when compared with filing separately.
  • Debt management -- In certain circumstances, creditors may be able to attach marital or community property to satisfy the debts of one spouse. Couples wishing to guard against this practice may do so with a prenuptial agreement.
The opportunity to go through life with a loving partner may be the greatest benefit of a successful marriage. That said, there are financial and legal benefits that you may want to explore with your beloved.Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by DST Systems, Inc. or its sources, neither DST Systems, Inc. nor its sources guarantees the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. In no event shall DST Systems, Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others' use of the content. © 2018 DST Systems, Inc. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited, except by permission. All rights reserved. Not responsible for any errors or omissions. ...

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