Thinking ahead about how investing can support financial goals is the purpose of planning. Naturally, there’s lots of talk about common planning targets: retirement and college. But there’s also consideration of how to achieve multiple goals at various stages of life — whether covering basic needs or leaving a legacy — and how taxes and tax planning could impact results. Articles in the planning category allow you to clarify how today’s decisions can impact efforts to grow, manage, and maintain wealth.

Capital Gains Taxes: 5 Basic Things to Know

Selling a stock at a gain may be cause for celebration. But depending on my income level in a certain year and the type of account in which I held the investment, I may owe as little as 0% or as much as 20% of my profit in federal income taxes.

In general, I should focus on finding the best stocks for my portfolio and ignore the tax consequences of buying, selling, and holding investments until its time to file my taxes.

But taxes, like investment fees, can erode my investment growth and detract from my net worth. So I should consider what sorts of taxes apply to my investments (if any) so I can devise and implement a tax-efficient investment strategy.

4 Inexpensive Ways to Get College Credit

Paying for a university education is expensive, ranging from about $20,000 per year at a state university to more than $40,000 for out-of-state or private school tuition, room and board, fees, etc. From work-study programs to scholarships, there are many ways to lower overall costs.

One strategy is to earn college credit for studies outside of the university’s traditional classrooms. For example, many high school students take AP classes, which not only positions them well for admissions but also (potentially) earns college credits.

A student can reduce overall expenses by earning credit hours through AP courses and similar methods. But be sure to confirm with university admissions officers, advisors, etc. that these efforts (and associated expenses) will actually move your student closer to graduation with a bachelor’s degree.

Financial Goals: How to Reach Them (Basic Formulas)

After you have defined your financial goals, you may want to figure out how to reach your goals. There are many variables and detours on the way to achieving your goals. But you may find basic financial calculations helpful in charting your course.

Start by identifying a dollar value for each goal; then determine how much you should set aside to reach this goal within a certain time frame. You can use Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets to perform these calculations. I’ll show you the basics.

Vanguard Review: Low-Cost Index Investing and More

Vanguard is an investment management firm that serves personal investors with a broad range of offerings, including low-cost, market-index mutual funds and ETFs, discount brokerage services, and advisory services. The company is owned by its clients (who own Vanguard funds) so investment costs are relatively low.

The company’s founder, John (Jack) Bogle, launched market-index mutual funds for individual investors through Vanguard. The company remains a leader in index investing through its mutual funds and ETFs but also offers actively managed funds and facilitates investing in individual stocks and non-Vanguard funds through its brokerage service. Learn about the mutual fund company and brokerage firm in this review.