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2014 Warren A. Morrow Scholarship  by Tara

January14

Warren AIf you are a high school senior, currently in college or continuing your education – this is your chance to snag one of six Warren A. Morrow Memorial Scholarships! These scholarships are made possible by the good people at Iowa Credit Unions through the Iowa Credit Union Foundation. Here is one important piece of info upfront: Applications are due on Friday, February 7th, 2014, so there’s little room for procrastination (What? Who does that?!?).

There are two different scholarship programs are available:

1. High School Scholarship – Scholarships for high school seniors with a projected graduation date of 2014. The high school scholarships include a first-place prize of $1,500; second place of $1,000; third place of $750 and fourth place of $500. Click here to apply for the high school senior scholarship.

2. Post-High School Scholarship – Scholarships for post-high school, continuing education students and current college students. The post-high school scholarship category includes two $1,000 scholarships. Click here to apply for the post-high school scholarship.

Make sure to read all of the scholarship guidelines and follow the application process (go here for more info). It is very important to note that you must be a credit union member in good standing to be considered. Each applicant is required to answer the following question in no more than 500 words. Essay questions are designed to encourage learning about the credit union movement and its mission.

2014 Warren A. Morrow Memorial Scholarship Essay Question:

Financial literacy is now part of Iowa’s Department of Education’s core curriculum.

What are the most important aspects of money management that should be taught when it comes to savings, checking, borrowing or investing for the long term? How can credit unions help you and others with financial education? How might someone utilize their credit union to focus on saving?

Ready to do this? Of course, you are! These scholarships are going to go to six people – one of them might as well be you! Click here for more information and to fill out the application!

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Free money for college!  by Tara

December3

If you are a high school senior, currently in college or continuing your education – this is your chance to snag one of six Warren A. Morrow Memorial Scholarships! These scholarships are made possible by the good people at Iowa Credit Unions through the Iowa Credit Union Foundation. Here is one important piece of info upfront: Applications are due on Friday, February 1st, 2013, so there’s little room for procrastination (What? Who does that?!?).

There are two different scholarship programs are available:

1. High School Scholarship – Scholarships for high school seniors planning to enter college. The high school scholarships include a first-place prize of $1,500; second place of $1,000; third place of $750 and fourth place of $500.

2. Post-High School Scholarship – Scholarships for post-high school, continuing education students and current college students. The post-high school scholarship category includes two $1,000 scholarships.

Make sure to read all of the scholarship guidelines and follow the application process (go here for more info). It is very important to note that you must be a credit union member in good standing to be considered.

Each applicant is required to answer the following question in no more than 500 words. Essay questions are designed to encourage learning about the credit union movement and its mission.

2013 Warren A. Morrow Memorial Scholarship Essay Question:

Given the fragile state of our national economy, with record unemployment and deficits, describe how having an emergency savings account is more crucial than ever.

How might someone utilize their credit union to focus on saving?

Ready to do this? Of course, you are! These scholarships are going to go to six people – one of them might as well be you! Click here for more information and to fill out the application!

Step by step: Setting up a 529!  by Tara

July27

Because the bottom line of this post is so important, I’m going to start with it: Signing up for a 529 was so EASY and took only a few minutes – why did I wait this long to do it?!?!

I’m a big believer in taking the mystery out of things that on the surface seem difficult, but truly aren’t. I’m going to share my experience so you know exactly what to expect and how quick the process was!

Let’s go back to the beginning.

When my husband and I found out that we were going to be having our first child, we started to talk about setting up a 529. What’s a 529? It’s a tax-advantaged way to pay for higher education (read more about it here). Yes, we talked about it, but never got around to actually doing it. We’re just so busy, busy, busy! Our daughter is now 9 months and, after encouragement from our tax advisor, we finally decided to bite the bullet, set aside time and get everything set up.

And, seriously, it couldn’t have been any easier.

Our tax professional suggested www.collegesavingsiowa.com, so that’s what we went with (however, there are other plans you can use – check with your financial planner or tax professional for suggestions!). We decided to tackle what we thought was going to be a tedious endeavor during our daughter’s morning nap. We crossed our fingers, hoping that her nap would last long enough for us to focus! Each individual must open up a separate account, so we tackled mine first.

We logged onto the website, clicked “Open Account,” and we were off!

NOTE: Before you begin, make sure you determine HOW MUCH you can afford to allocate to the 529. You can contribute as little as $25 a month ($15 if contributing through payroll deduction). Iowa taxpayers can deduct up to $2,975 in contributions per beneficiary account from their adjusted gross income for 2012.*

Seven Simple Screens

1. New Participant
The screen asks for everything you would expect when opening an account – your SS#, address, phone number, the usual.

2. Beneficiary
Here is where you enter in everything about the person for whom you’re setting the account up for. This is where you’ll need to enter their SS#, too.

3. Choose Investment
This was the page that took us the most time, as we hadn’t discussed this prior to beginning the process (so you might want to learn from my mistake!). This page is where you choose how College Savings Iowa will invest the money that you are saving. There are two options and then subcategories under those:

1. Age Based Savings Track: Your portfolio’s investments are decided by College Savings Iowa, but you choose one of four tracks ranging from aggressive to conservative. Your portfolio will automatically shift the asset allocation as your beneficiary nears college age. (This is the option we went with!)

2. Individual Portfolios: You make your own asset allocation decisions and your investments stay the same until you change them.

4. Pick Method of Funding
Make sure to have the credit union’s routing number, your account number (can be found on the bottom of your checks), and your financial institution’s phone number.

So how do you want to get money into your 529 account? You have four options: automatic regular contributions from your bank account, onetime allocation from your bank account, with a check (you print a form and then mail it in), or with a rollover or transfer.

For us, the auto transfer is the perfect fit. We were even able to select the date that we wanted the transfers to start. Once your bank account is connected to the 529 plan, you can transfer additional money directly to it from your credit union or bank whenever you’d like! You can also sign up for annual automatic increases, which I thought was kind of cool!

5. Select Delivery Option
There are three categories that allow you to choose the manner in which you’d like to receive notifications:
• Statements – Online, Online with Paper Copy at End of Year or All By Regular Mail
• Transactions/Profile changes – Email or Regular Mail
• Tax Forms – Regular or Email

6. Create User Name and Password
Hooray! You are basically done! Just as the page title suggest, this is the place where you create that ever-important user name and password.

7. Complete Your Account
All of the information that you have inputted up until this point shows up in a nice and neat format on this page. You just need to review for accuracy and edit any section if you have any changes! You’ll need to choose three security questions and a security picture (but beware – the pic choices are super-duper lame).

AND YOU ARE DONE! Time passed? 20 measly minutes – and that’s only because I was writing notes down so I could tell you guys all about what to expect! When we set up my husband’s account, it only took us a whopping 5 minutes since we now had all the decisions made and information at our finger tips.

My biggest regret is that we didn’t do this sooner. I honestly thought it was going to take longer and kept making up excuses. Hopefully I have taken the mystery out of the process and helped put your mind at ease.

Sound off in the comments below: What sorts of savings plan do you have set up for your children?

Free Moo-lah!  by Tara

January31

If you are a high school senior, currently in college or continuing your education – this is your chance to snag one of six 2012 Family Involvement Board scholarships!  These scholarships are made possible by the good people at Iowa Crdit Unions through the Iowa Credit Union Foundation. Here is one important piece of info upfront: Applications are due on Friday, February 3rd, so there’s little room for procrastination (What? Who does that?!?)

There are two different scholarship programs are available: 

1. High School Scholarship – Scholarships for high school seniors planning to enter college. The high school scholarships include a first-place prize of $1,500; second place of $1,000; third place of $750 and fourth place of $500. 

2. Post-High School Scholarship – Scholarships for post-high school, continuing education students and current college students. The post-high school scholarship category includes two $1,000 scholarships. 

Make sure to read all of the scholarship guidelines and follow the application process (go here for more info). It is very important to note that you must be a credit union member in good standing to be considered. 

Each application is required to answer the following question in no more than 500 words. Essay questions are designed to encourage learning about the credit union movement and its mission. 

2012 FIB Scholarship Essay Question: 

Unfortunately, many Americans try to avoid money matters altogether and deal with problems as they arise. However, even with some knowledge about managing finances, you can maintain a healthy financial life. 

How are you educating yourself on personal finance and money management issues? Please include how you can utilize your credit union’s financial education expertise.

Ready to do this? Of course, you are! These scholarships are going to go to six people – one of them might as well be you! Click here for more information and to fill out the application!

Win $529 on 5/29 with 529s  by Matt

May25

There are lots of dates that combine to make outrageous days that the “world recognizes” (thanks to the internet of course). There is Star Wars Day (May the 4th), Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19th, mateys!) and even Mole Day (October 23rd from 6:02 am to 6:02 pm; it’s a chemistry thing).  But I have one to tell you about that may seem silly, but can make you some sweet moolah back on your taxes and help you save for the education of yourself or your family. You ready for this? 

May 29th (529) is 529 Savings Plan day!  Wondering what that is?  Well, guess what!  I know.  It’s a program offered through the state of Iowa that promotes educational saving.  You can deposit money monthly, quarterly or whenever you feel like it really. You can then withdraw the money when it’s time to pay the tuition bill for yourself, your kids, your grandkids, your nieces or nephews – it’s really that flexible!  Note, this requires rearranging the account to add the person that you’re giving the money to as a beneficiary and fancy stuff like that, but it’s easy to do and you can switch it at any time! 

I’m no tax expert, but I can tell you that you’re able to deduct up to $2,865 from your adjusted gross income when filing your state tax return…so that’s going to save you money! (Be sure to check with your tax consultant for details about qualification!)

I can speak from experience, folks. I actually set one of these suckers up for myself back in February! I’m using it as a place to save to pay my tuition for my continuing education. I found that it was actually ridiculously easy to set up. Only took me about 6.25 minutes! The only thing easier than setting my 529 up is maintaining it.  I’m actually excited for tax season next year so I can earn some extra green back!

I can tell you with complete confidence that this is something you want to look into if you are in school, may go back, have a kid or grandchild you want to help with school, or just might have a kid some day!  

Aside from all this awesome stuff, until the end of the month (May 31st), the state is offering a chance to win $529 (clever right??) in a drawing done for those who register a new account.  For more information, go check out http://www.collegesavingsiowa.com/ and look for this image: