“I created Gen X Wealth Partners in 2020 during the middle of the pandemic because Gen X, those who were born from 1964-1980, face enormous pressure,” said Michael Labos, CFP®, CCFS®. “People in this age group are often juggling children, their career, and taking care of parents, and I find that many people sacrifice saving for retirement for their children’s education, which is not wise as well as not necessary.”
With assistance from Gen X Wealth Partners, you can prepare for your retirement and your children’s education. “The first step is to establish a foundational plan. We set a budget, examine cash flow and make sure that clients have the necessary insurance. A budget is key. Either you control your budget, or your budget will control you. Many times, when we examine cash flow, we identify waste and that can be repurposed for savings for education.”
Obviously, the sooner parents begin to save for a child’s education the better. “You can even set up a 529 education plan account before a child is born and designate you as a beneficiary and then change that to the child after it is born,” said Labos, who is one of only a few Certified College Funding Specialists in the state. In Pennsylvania 529 contributions are tax deductible and withdrawals are tax free when used for qualified educational expenses. “You can even switch funds between children, and if you don’t use the 529 account, it is treated similar to an IRA,” said Labos.
The second part of college planning is meeting with Labos once your child is a sophomore. “We develop a college budget, determining how much a family can afford for education without taking on a debt,” said Labos, who stresses that although high school counselors are adept at advising students and parents about academics—what classes to take, what college majors are appropriate—they don’t talk to parents about their finances.
“I help parents and students to structure their assets to get the most financial aid and to look good on FAFSAs,” said Labos. “And I have many tools at my disposal. I can help identify ‘diamonds in the rough’—those schools that are a great value. Many of what I call ‘name brand schools,’ those colleges and universities with high name recognition, are not generous with their aid. Generally, private schools are more generous as they have endowments and offers grants, money that doesn’t need to be repaid.”
Often, parents feel guilty if their child doesn’t go to a big-name school and that can result in the parents sacrificing savings for retirement and their child being strapped with education debt. “I help with a cost-benefit analysis. We examine expected salaries from various majors, identify value schools, and research merit aid, and maximize scholarships. In effect, I get the parents and student on the same page.”
What is even more important is Labos can help parents and students acquire more aid. “Many parents don’t realize that you can negotiate for more aid. If you apply to several schools, even ones you have no intention of attending, but receive more aid from them, you can leverage that offer to negotiate for more aid.” Labos can also advise you on when to apply and when to accept admissions.
“College planning is a process, and like anything, if it’s garbage in, it’s garbage out. I love getting parents and students the best education deal possible,” said Labos, whose practice is virtual. “I work out of my home by design, and it allows me to meet you in the comfort of your home and accommodate your busy schedule.”
For more information, visit the website at: www.genxwealthpartners.com, or contact Labos at Michael@genxwealthpartners.com or by calling (724) 237-4584.
Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC, (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advisory Services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC, (Kestra AS) an affiliate of Kestra IS. Gen X Wealth Partners is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Investor Disclosures: https://www.kestrafinancial.com/disclosures
By Janice Lane Palko