On Boundless Dreams with New York’s 529 College Savings Program

College savings with kids and a piggy bank and money

Thank you NY 529 for sponsoring this post. It’s never too early to get growing! Learn more about opening an NY 529 Plan for your child today.

Thirteen whole years. My oldest kiddo (my baby!) recently became a teen and so here I am, once again, feeling like these are the sort of milestones that scream time is indeed a thief. I’m certain that it was just yesterday that my daughter was born. Then I blinked, and also just yesterday, I was buying supplies to bake a birthday cake for a milestone celebration.

That said, time is also on our side. A little bit can go a long way when it comes to things like saving for higher education. Even amidst uncertain times, long-term goals are still very much alive. As a parent, and a keeper of my children’s boundless dreams and goals, I know that turbulent times (hello 2020!) are just a moment in time – and we can’t, in any way, forget the future ahead. Times like this also remind me that solid savings vehicles are incredibly important. For college savings, both of my kids have New York’s 529 College Savings Program Direct Plan, accounts which I believe are the right fit for my family. I’ve broken down the important stuff below: 

What is a New York 529 Plan? 

The NY 529 college savings plan is a state-sponsored investment account for higher education savings. It can be used to pay for four- or two-year colleges, postsecondary vocational and trade schools, and postgraduate programs. This also includes many things that are considered a higher educational expense – including tuition, books, supplies, software, room and board, equipment (like computers, etc.), and more.

Why NY 529 vs. Traditional Savings? 

Hello, tax savings! An NY 529 plan allows earnings to grow tax-deferred, and qualified withdrawals are tax-free*. Also, most institutions only count around 6 percent of the total 529 funds as usable when determining financial aid eligibility. In comparison, approximately 20 percent or more of traditional savings custodial accounts are factored into the eligibility of financial assistance. This is just the cliff notes, learn more about the calculation at https://studentaid.gov/complete-aid-process/how-calculated.

reflection photo in a puddle

What if I lose my job or face financial hardship? How can my family possibly do this while saving for retirement, a home, etc.? 

One of the things that I appreciate most about our 529 accounts is the flexibility and investment options. There are times when I’ve had the accounts set to recurring contributions (also known as an automatic investment plan, or AIP), and there are times when contributing individually was a better fit. Even small, regular contributions today can make a difference over time. I know that staying the course and making adjustments when necessary is a crucial part of keeping our family dreams in motion.

The NY 529 plan also allows for us to make investment choices that fit our comfort for risk.  Everyone is different and there are choices of investment options to accommodate different levels of risk taking.

What if the grandparents will handle college?

Fantastic! But it’s also smart to have a set plan in place. Many people can open a 529 account with as little as $1. This includes not only parents but other relatives and friends. The account owner selects the beneficiary, investments, and how the funds will be allocated. If you’re a New York State taxpayer, you can also benefit from the state tax deduction*. If one of the kiddos scores a full ride or doesn’t choose the higher education path, the beneficiary can be transferred to another sibling, cousin, grandkid, or even yourself. There are no time limits to use a 529 account.

painting rainbows with watercolors.

Any other benefits?

Including our kids in discussions about their 529 accounts has been a vital piece of teaching financial literacy. When the kids help with my freelance work, I pay them. I give them a token amount to spend and always make a contribution to their 529 accounts in front of them. Being lucky enough to have their Abuela gift contributions for birthdays and holidays further reinforces the importance of higher education and long-term savings goals. My mom’s gifts also simultaneously cut down on all of those meaningless presents that are soon forgotten about, collect clutter, and carry zero value over time. Having extended family on board is one of the best possible gifts. Especially in a world where you blink and your firstborn (who was just a tiny preschooler) is suddenly only four-and-a-half years away from college. 

Big reminder that I am NOT a financial advisor, so please read the disclaimer below:

* Contributions of up to $10,000 are deductible annually from New York State taxable income for married couples filing jointly; single taxpayers can deduct up to $5,000 annually. New York State tax deductions may be subject to recapture in certain circumstances such as rollovers to another state’s 529 plan, federal nonqualified withdrawals, or withdrawals used to pay elementary or secondary school tuition, registered apprenticeship program expenses, or qualified education loan repayments as described in the Disclosure Booklet and Tuition Savings Agreement. State tax benefits for non-resident New York taxpayers may vary. Please consult your tax advisor about your particular situation. Earnings on federal nonqualified withdrawals may be subject to federal income tax and a

10% federal penalty tax, as well as state and local income taxes.  Tax and other benefits are contingent on meeting other requirements.  Please consult your tax advisor about your particular situation.

Investment returns are not guaranteed, and you could lose money by investing in the Direct Plan.

For more information about New York’s 529 College Savings Program Direct Plan, download a Disclosure Booklet and Tuition Savings Agreement or request one by calling 877-NYSAVES (877-697-2837). This document includes investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other information. You should read and consider them carefully before investing.

Before you invest, consider whether your or the beneficiary’s home state offers any state tax or other benefits that are only available for investments in that state’s 529 plan. Other state benefits may include financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors.

The Comptroller of the State of New York and the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation are the Program Administrators and are responsible for implementing and administering the Direct Plan.

Ascensus Broker Dealer Services, LLC, serves as Program Manager and, in connection with its affiliates, provides recordkeeping and administrative support services and is responsible for day-to-day operations of the Direct Plan. The Vanguard Group, Inc., serves as the Investment Manager. Vanguard Marketing Corporation provides marketing and distribution services to the Direct Plan.

No guarantee: None of the State of New York, its agencies, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), The Vanguard Group, Inc., Ascensus Broker Dealer Services, LLC, nor any of their applicable affiliates insures accounts or guarantees the principal deposited therein or any investment returns on any account or investment portfolio.

New York’s 529 College Savings Program currently includes two separate 529 plans. The Direct Plan is sold directly by the Program. You may also participate in the Advisor-Guided Plan, which is sold exclusively through financial advisors and has different investment options and higher fees and expenses as well as financial advisor compensation.

©2020 New York’s 529 College Savings Program

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Panera Introduces Family Feast

Panera-Family-Feast

After several weeks of meals cooked only in our home – a break from cooking is certainly welcomed! Panera Bread recently introduced their Family Feast value meals with popular menu favorites for the entire fam. The Family Feast meals range from $29 to $33 and are available in the following bundles: 

  • FAMILY FEAST WITH MAC ~ $29
  • FAMILY FEAST WITH MAC & COOKIES ~ $33
  • FAMILY FEAST WITH SOUP ~ $29
  • FAMILY FEAST WITH SOUP & COOKIES ~ $33

Smaller Feast meals are also available (from $23 to $27):   

  • SOUP FEAST ~ $23
  • SOUP FEAST WITH COOKIES ~ $27
  • SALAD & SOUP FEAST ~ $23
  • SALAD & SOUP FEAST WITH COOKIES ~ $27
  • SANDWICH & SOUP FEAST ~ $23
  • SANDWICH & SOUP FEAST WITH COOKIES ~ $27

Order online or via the Panera Bread app for curbside pickup, contactless delivery, or drive-through (where available). Also check out Panera Grocery to purchase high-demand pantry items like milk, bread, and fresh produce alongside Panera orders.

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I Tried P.volve. It Made Me Reconsidering The Way I Workout

P.volve_NYC

Thank you to P.volve for sponsoring this post.

A great workout has been one of the tools in my self-help arsenal since my teen years. I feel my best with consistent visits to the gym. Functional fitness methods have been buzzing around the city for years. I’ve been curious about P.volve since seeing their adds on the subway and recently took a class at the new P.volve Soho flagship NYC studio.

P.vovle is a low-impact, functional movement fitness method that merges functional science, physical therapy, and small hip-opening movements to sculpt hard-to-reach body areas while eliminating bulk. It’s in no way a grueling workout that makes it impossible to walk down subway steps the next day. Through a series of smooth and effective small micro-movements, along with P.vovle’s proprietary fitness products (including the p.ball),hard-to-reach muscles are activated. Unlike traditional weights, the p.ball (which straps onto the top of your legs) targets the upper and inner thighs and the inner-glutes to create long, lean muscles.

P.volve’s new Soho flagship studio is bright, beautiful and thoughtfully designed to motivate. Aside from all the perks that come from working out with friends or strangers riding on collective energy, proper instruction is helpful when trying anything new. During class, I moved into a booty squat (I suppose out of habit), when P.volve’s movement was more like a subtle knee bend. No worries, because a P.vovle instructor hightailed it to my improper form, directing me into the micro-movement with her quick corrections. Inside the studio, I found myself present in closely watching the instructor’s technique since many of the movements were unlike any class I’ve taken prior. For example, rotating the hip slightly inward (in a pidgeon-toed position) is definitely not in my usual workout repertoire. The studio experience and expert instruction made me all the more comfortable with the small, smooth, controlled movements before beginning the journey of streaming workouts at home.

A P.vovle class left me energized and determined to add P.vovle to my workout rotation. It’s been a while since something made me reconsider the efficiency of time devoted to lifting (somewhat heavy), pounding the treadmill, and plowing through a spinning class. P.volve’s approach certainly changes things up.

Ready to try P.Volve? Take advantage of these great offers:

  • Register for a 15-day free trial HERE with code PVOLVEMOM (expires: 11/8) 
  • Get 15% off of 1st product purchase HERE with code PVOLVEMOM  (Code auto-populates discount in cart. Discount code expires on 11/8 ).

All images via Lauren Kara Photography. Big thank you to Brianne at Stroller In the City for event hosting.

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Volunteer Opportunities for Kids, Teens, and Families with The Central Park Conservancy

I’m always on the lookout for avenues to give back and for solid volunteer opportunities for kids, tweens, teens, and families within our community.

The Central Park Conservancy, here in New York City, is hosting Youth and Family Volunteer Day programs this fall – with a range of opportunities for kids of all ages and their families to volunteer and help keep Central Park beautiful. 

Image via Central Park Conservancy.

Their Family Volunteer Day program provides a wonderful way for families to spend meaningful time while making a difference by helping to keep Central Park green. 

Volunteer Projects are on Saturdays, 10:00 am – 11:30 am on the following dates:

  • Oct 5, 19, 26
  • Nov 2, 16, 23
  • Dec 7, 14, 21

A Teen-specific program (for ages 13-18) allows teens to collectively contribute to their community and promote good stewardship by helping out with seasonal projects in Central Park during Teen Volunteer Day

Teen Projects are on Saturdays, 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm, on the following dates:

  • Oct 5, 19, 26
  • Nov 2, 16, 23
  • Dec 7, 14, 21

Hope to see you there!

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Add a Touch of Loveliness to Your Home This Summer

Big thank you to our sponsor, Air Wick©.

Summer brings a significant exhale. And I suppose I work hard to preserve the peace that comes with the early morning light, salty water, and hanging with kids who are built for the fleeting warmer months.

underwater-surf-photography

We’re already deep in a new travel-baseball season and will soon add surf camp, trips and a few other things to our days. It’s all good and fun – but hopefully, the wetsuits and towels make their way from multiple bags to the wash – along with all those uniforms and gear. It’s tricky to balance the conflicting layers of loving life outdoors and not frazzling when rushing home to host friends and family.

I didn’t think I was the home-fragrance type until being introduced to the new Air Wick© Freshmatic© Pure© Automatic Spray. With three different settings built into a sleek, minimalist device, the lowest setting feels subtle enough to add a light touch of loveliness to our space – while making me feel like the home is covered 24/7 with continuous odor neutralization in every corner (for up to 60 days).

home-fragrance-air-wick

It’s the little things that give me peace-of-mind when rushing from beach to baseball to back home again. I’m currently crushing on the Air Wick© Ocean Breeze scent (one of more than 15 Air Wick© scents available) – along with Gabby Bernstein, who I had the chance to meet and learn from at the recent Air Wick© mobile meditation event.

Gabby_Bernstein

She taught me a simple (and beautiful) mantra to do with my children. Begin by touching your thumb to pointer finger – working your way down to thumb to pinky finger, while repeating:

Peace. Begins. With. Me.
Peace. Begins. With. Me.
Peace. Begins. With. Me.

Wishing you all peace and joy in the summer days ahead!

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JoJo Siwa’s D.R.E.A.M. The Tour Comes to Forest Hills + Ticket Giveaway!

Hello, tweens! JoJo Siwa’s first live-concert tour, D.R.E.A.M. The Tour, produced by Nickelodeon and AEG presents, kicks off this week – and one of the 25 scheduled U.S. stops is right here in Queens, NY. We’re excited to partner with D.R.E.A.M. The Tour, to giveaway a family four pack of tickets to our local show at the Forest Hills, Stadium on July 21, 2019!

Station Square Queens NY 2019

I’ve been to several concerts at the Forest Hills Stadium (with and without kiddos!), and it’s a really special venue to experience with pint-sized fans. With tons of different food and beverage vendors – and a sprawling green area to hang with friends – make sure to come early to take in all that the Stadium has to offer. We usually grab dinner, treats, and drinks inside the venue. That said, Station Square in the heart of Forest Hills, NY has just been beautifully restored and there are lots of local spots to explore and dine-in as well!

Station_Square_Restored_Forest_Hills_NY

Get all the scoop on JoJo Siwa’s D.R.E.A.M. The Tour tickets here. And head on over to our Facebook page to enter our ticket giveaway.

Forest Hills Queens NY

I may not have been able to make my big kid’s Nickelodeon SlimeFest dreams come true – but I will be at the Forest Hills Stadium with her and a gaggle of tweens! Hope to see you there!

  • JoJo Siwa
  • D.R.E.A.M. The Tour
  • Forest Hills Stadium
  • July 21, 2019

Tickets at foresthillsstadium.com

JoJo Siwa D.R.E.A.M. The tour
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