Five tips to maximize the return on investment in your child’s college career

submitted by Michael Garry, CFP®, JD/MBA, Yardley Wealth Management, LLC

This graduation season there are the usual stories about student debt accompanied by news of the highest-paying college majors. If you want your child to be miserable, encourage them to pick a major by its current pay.

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*Should I be investing more aggressively?

submitted by Rosemary G. Caligiuri, CASL™, President, Harvest Group Financial Services

There’s no way to know the answer to that without reviewing your individual circumstances and financial goals. However, if you are investing too conservatively, it can have a profound effect on your long-term financial security. That’s particularly true for women. Women often start saving later, save less, and invest more conservatively than men, which decrease their chances of having enough income in retirement.

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Consumer Troubleshooter

submitted by Bucks County Consumer Protection Agency

Q. I recently received a Visa debit/credit/gift card as a thank you for my volunteering at a local agency. The paper sleeve that the card came in did not indicate what dollar amount was on the card so I called the 888 number to determine the balance. I was surprised to learn that it was in the amount of $50! The following day I used the card to put $20 of gas into my car, leaving a balance of $30 on the card. Later that same day I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things; intending to use the gift card again. After completing the ringing up of my purchases, I slid the card through the machine at the self-checkout. Although my purchase total was under the amount of the balance that I had left on the card, the card was “denied.” I tried a couple of more times; even enlisting the help of the store attendant but still the card did not work. I later called the number on the back of the card to inquire what the problem was. They informed me that because of my initial purchase at the gas pump, there was a hold on the card. The balance of $30 would be available in three days. I don’t understand why using the card at the pump would affect the balance on the card. Can you explain this? F.V., Doylestown.

A. The simplest way to explain what happened is that issuing banks (the bank from where the card was purchased) do this to make certain that they will get paid. They may not find out until one or two days later what the exact amount of the gas purchase was and whether there is enough on the card to pay for it.

Banks are allowed to place a hold of up to $75 for up to three days on a gas purchase using credit at the pump. This includes “credit” purchases made by swiping your “debit” card. They do this because the exact amount of your purchase is not communicated to the bank immediately by the pump after you swipe, unlike most purchases. Also, the gas station wants to make sure that it will get paid.

A “hold” on your card can be avoided when using a debit card if you enter your PIN # at the time of the purchase. We at the Bucks County Consumer Protection Department do not recommend using this method. Using your PIN can lead to a greater chance of the theft of your debit card information which can lead to fraudulent charges against your account. For additional tips and brochures on many consumers related issues, visit

http://www.buckscounty.org/government/CommunityServices/ConsumerProtection/ConsumerTips.

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Finding the value of a business in a divorce

submitted by Martin H. Abo, CPA/ABV/CVA/CFF, Abo and Company, LLC

One aspect of finding value for a divorce settlement is that you are not seeking the investment value of the business. Because the business usually isn’t going to be sold, its value to a specific buyer isn’t particularly relevant. For this reason, the value decided on for a divorce is different. Many of the considerations are the same as for determining the sale value, but there are some substantial differences.

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Invest for the future, not the past

submitted by Michael Garry, CFP®, JD/MBA, Yardley Wealth Management, LLC

Much financial news purports to be about the future but is really just an account of the past. When stocks have fallen heavily in price, this is routinely reported as, “More bad news for investors today…” In fact, if you are a long-term investor, that could be good news unless you had to sell then. The key is how your portfolio performs from now on, not what happened yesterday. Investment is about the future, not the past. Because the future is unknown, you should strive to manage the uncertainty by diversifying across stocks, sectors, asset classes, and countries.

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Hatboro Federal Savings: Your hometown community bank

by June Portnoy

Many people envision a bank as a cold, all-business operation with marble walls and a bank president you’ll never see, let alone talk to in person. And forget about having your call answered by a live person!

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Can I change my annuity for one with a better interest rate?

submitted by Rosemary G. Caligiuri, CASL™, President, Harvest Group Financial Services

Yes. However, to receive favorable tax treatment, the exchange must satisfy the requirements of a Section 1035 exchange. According to Section 1035 of the Internal Revenue Code, you can exchange one annuity for another without the immediate recognition of any gain or loss, as long as the following requirements are met:

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Consumer Troubleshooter

submitted by Bucks County Consumer Protection Agency

Q. I recently ordered a bundled package from a provider for my telephone, cable and Internet service. When the first bill came in I noticed a charge for almost ten dollars. I had no idea what the charge was for, so I called the company. I have still not received an answer. I would appreciate any help you can provide. L. H., Levittown

A. We applaud you for taking the time and actually going through the bill. Many consumers are so rushed they just take for granted that a bill from the utility or credit card company is correct and just send the payment. The charge you found is for a credit monitoring service and apparently was not ordered by you. The company is a third party billing service provider and works for numerous companies offering an array of products and services. On the bill the name and number of the provider is clearly stated and if disputed or not paid will not terminate your phone service. 

The company apparently did respond to your call, because when our office called they stated that a credit was applied and that the service was removed permanently. They claimed it was an error and will send you a letter stating what happened and showing a zero balance. Had you not been reviewing the bill and they charged you for several months it would have made it difficult to cancel. By paying the bill you would have inadvertently approved the service. Bucks County consumer protection encourages consumers to review all their bills carefully. Any charges or statements that are questionable or not stated clearly should be addressed immediately. We would also suggest that all terms and conditions for a service be sent to you in writing before agreeing to any contract. Remember always review the fine print.

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Check your beneficiary designations

submitted by Michael Garry, CFP®, JD/MBA, Yardley Wealth Management, LLC

Chances are, when you bought life insurance, you put a lot of thought into it. How much coverage did you need? Were you covering the potential loss of income due to premature death, or were the proceeds to pay estate taxes or provide an inheritance? What kind of coverage did you want?

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I don’t know much about investing, should I let my husband make the decisions?

submitted by Rosemary G. Caligiuri, CASL™, President, Harvest Group Financial Services

Even if your husband is a financial expert, it’s a good idea to at least understand investing basics. For one thing, because women on average tend to live longer than men, the odds are extremely high that you could be responsible for making your own financial decisions at some point. If you suddenly had to make all the decisions yourself – and many women have found themselves in that position – you’d benefit from knowing enough to protect yourself from fraud and/or communicate effectively with a financial professional.

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