Monthly Investment Message: February 2018

Barbara O’Neill, Extension Specialist in Financial Resource Management

Rutgers Cooperative Extension

February 2018

A Hierarchy of Financial Decisions

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are an account that people can set up to pay for unreimbursed medical expenses such as deductibles, co-payments, and services not covered by insurance. Eligible individuals can establish and fund these accounts only when they have a qualifying high-deductible health plan (HDHP). HSA money gets deposited tax-free, grows tax-free, and comes out tax-free, if used according to …

What Are the Income Restrictions to Qualify for a Deductible Traditional IRA?

People with earned income who are not in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, regardless of income level, may qualify for a tax deductible traditional IRA. Another group of taxpayers who can deduct a traditional IRA contribution in full are those with an employer-sponsored plan who have incomes in 2017 under $62,000 (single) and $99,000 (married couples filing jointly). The phase-out ranges (where contributions are limited in gradual steps as income increases) for singles and couples are $62,000 to $72,000 and $99,000 …

Monthly Investment Message: March 2018

Barbara O’Neill, Extension Specialist in Financial Resource Management

Rutgers Cooperative Extension

March 2018

Factors That Promote Financial Success

During the last year, I had the opportunity to hear several well-known personal finance speakers talk about the characteristics and practices of financially successful people. Audiences are usually very interested in this topic because it provides a motivational roadmap and specific tips to follow.


At the 2017 Financial Planning Association (FPA) conference, the final general session speaker was financial author and …

Monthly Investment Message: February 2017

Barbara O’Neill, Extension Specialist in Financial Resource Management

Rutgers Cooperative Extension

February 2017

Factors That Affect Investment Risk Tolerance

To help investors objectively assess their investment risk tolerance, Rutgers Cooperative Extension has an online Investment Risk Tolerance Quiz at 

Developed by Dr. Ruth Lytton at Virginia Tech and Dr. John Grable at the University of Georgia, the quiz has 13 multiple choice questions and provides users with instant feedback about their capacity to handle investment risk. 


The questions …

What are Student Loan Borrowers Thinking? Insights from Focus Groups on College Selection and Student Loan Decision Making

Johnson, C. L., O’Neill, B., Worthy, S., Lown, J. M., Bowen, C. F. (2016). What are student loan borrowers thinking? Insights from focus groups on college selection and student loan decision making. Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning, 27(2), 184-198.

Brief Description: This study used data from online focus groups to understand college students’ decision-making process when borrowing money to finance their education. Respondents were asked eight questions regarding their college selection and student loan decision-making. Results suggest that (a) …

Monthly Investment Message: May 2017

Barbara O’Neill, Extension Specialist in Financial Resource Management

Rutgers Cooperative Extension

May 2017

The Benefits of Being a Future-Minded Planner

Want to be a successful investor? Develop your future-mindedness. That is the conclusion of a recent study that found a connection between positive financial behaviors, such as saving and investing, and impulsiveness and materialism.

When people focus on their future they tend to be less impulsive spenders, regardless of their level of financial literacy. In fact, the strongest predictor …

Monthly Investment Message: June 2017

Barbara O’Neill, Extension Specialist in Financial Resource Management

Rutgers Cooperative Extension

June 2017

Income Taxes on Investment Profits

A high priority financial goal for many people is to have a comfortable lifestyle in later life. Investing can help. Most people do not become wealthy from their earnings alone but, rather, by investing a portion of their income and letting it grow for several decades. Through a combination of regular investment deposits and compound interest, it is possible to build …

How Do I End Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) Payments on a Mortgage?


Legislation went into effect July 1, 1999, requiring automatic termination of PMI when a homeowner has paid at least 20 percent of the home’s value for loans made after July 29, 1999. High-risk borrowers (such as those with poor credit histories and reduced documentation loans) may have to make PMI payments until they reach 50 percent equity. If you believe that you have reached the 20% home equity mark and your PMI payments have not been discontinued, speak to your …

What is the Capital Gains Exclusion for the Sale of a House?

Single taxpayers can exclude up to $250,000 of capital gains on the sale of a home, and married taxpayers filing jointly can exclude $500,000.

Taxpayers are eligible for the exclusion if they have owned and used a home as their main home for a period aggregating at least two years out of the five years prior to its date of sale. The exclusion is allowed each time that you sell a primary residence but no more than once every two …

What is a Coverdell Education Savings Account?



Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) were originally established in 1997 and called “Education IRAs.” They are investment trust accounts created to pay qualified education expenses, including primary, secondary, and postsecondary education, for a designated beneficiary. The beneficiary of the account must be under the age of 18 at the time of the contribution and the contributor’s income must meet specific annual income guidelines. Total ESA contributions per child under age 18 may not exceed $2,000 per year.

Income phaseouts apply …