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.

Rule of 55 for 401(k) Withdrawal

I had never heard of the Rule of 55 until a couple of months ago when a Certified Financial Planner (Jim Blankenship, CFP) mentioned the possibility in a discussion forum I frequent. I’m not an expert on this rule (or any IRS rule) but here’s what I’ve learned about this penalty-free method of taking a 401(k) withdrawal.

Paying for College Using Current Income

Positioning finances to ensure that paying for college doesn’t wreck other plans was a challenge for my family. When my children were babies, I started strong, setting aside money in minor accounts even before the advent of 529 plans. But the day-to-day activities of raising children often distracted me from longer range planning. As a result, there’s a shortfall between our savings designated for college and our college bills.

Fortunately, though, my husband and I are able to cover more expenses from our current income than anticipated. After my youngest left for college, I noticed that my husband and I were suddenly saving more on at-home expenses in these areas:

How Short Term Goals Help Me Reach Long Term Goals

When I happened upon an article entitled “Maybe You Should Stop Setting Retirement Goals” by Certified Financial Planner Roger Whitney (aka The Retirement Answer Man), I felt validated. I have lots of short term goals but no set-in-stone retirement plans.

For most of my younger life, I failed at envisioning and expressing my long term goals, particularly when speaking with a financial planner. When I was in my twenties and thirties, I feared expressing unconventional goals and hesitated to mention my dreams as they rarely seemed to align with what traditional planners deemed normal.