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The innate drive I have as a parent to teach, influence, and leave a legacy for my children was unexpected. It was sparked at the hospital when they were born and hasn’t stopped since then.

While I was growing up, I wasn’t taught much about money, investing, business, and entrepreneurship. I had to learn a lot of painful lessons. I have been fortunate to establish a financial system from which my kids are already benefiting.

My system runs contrary to the traditional financial system parents and grandparents used to save for their kids’ future in many ways.

But the only way to get uncommon results is through uncommon means. This is my system for establishing for your child’s future.

The Unnecessary Burden of a 529 Plan

The 529 plan, also called a qualified tuition plan, is a tax-advantaged savings plan designed to encourage saving for future college costs. These plans are very popular and have become a sacred cow, even though they have only been around since 1996.

When my two girls were born, my dad was insistent on contributing to a 529 plan for college. At the time, I was barely into my first job out of college and hadn’t learned what I teach now, so I decided to open one up.

Today, millions of people have them, and your kids and grandkids are attached to them. In my experience, saying no to a 529 plan is like telling a mother her baby is ugly.

I don’t want to say what you’re doing is bad. You’re planning for your child or grandchild’s financial well-being, which is commendable. But if you look at the nature of a 529 plan, it’s not set up for your best interests or the best interests of the child or grandchild.

It’s pitched to you as a benefit, but it’s just another way for Wall Street to sell you mutual funds and make money off your desire to do well by your kids.

The objective of the 529 plan is to put money away and pay for future college expenses while getting a tax benefit for doing so. The catch is, if the money is not used for college or some other qualified higher education expense, you have to pay penalties for withdrawing it. What if you don’t need the account anymore—your kid decides to skip college, for instance—and you want to use that money for something else? Is the penalty you pay on the 529 plan worth it from the beginning?

Additionally, the burden on families to completely fund college has an opportunity cost that is difficult to quantify. Because of that, the financial future of the family may be put in jeopardy. I have seen it bankrupt a few.

The 529 in Practice

Here’s an example of what I mean. Assume your child is five years old and you have committed to taking care of their educational costs for a four-year degree.

Right now, the average annual cost to attend a public university is $25,000, rising by 5 percent a year. That means that by the time a five-year-old today is 18 and ready to go to college, tuition would be almost $50,000. Over four years, factoring in tuition rises, that comes to a total cost of $213,344.

For a 529 account to pay out that much when it’s needed, it has to start with $100,000 and earn a net 5 percent every year through graduation.

Or, you could just save $8,147 a year for 18 years.

To really drive this point home, the opportunity cost for the family during their later years is really where the price is paid.

If you saved $8,147 a year for 18 years and then let it grow past that point until your future retirement, your balance at the end of 35 years would be $551,602.

If you spent that down through a 20-year retirement, the cash flow would be $42,154.24 per year, for a total lost opportunity cost of: $843,084.80.

A More Certain Future

The opportunity cost that comes with following the typical college path doesn’t simply disappear if funded through a WMA—it only gives you more options.

You’re trying to prepare for something in the future that may not happen the way you think or may not happen at all. Consider the opportunity cost of that money—what that money could do between now and the time your child goes to college.

When I learned about what I do today, I cancelled the 529 plans I had and opened Wealth Maximization Accounts on each of my kids. Today, I have multiple policies for each of them.

However, the idea isn’t simply to treat these as 529 comparisons. The money inside a WMA can be used now, without any restrictions. In my experience, that has been a most powerful tool to teach kids, including my own, about money.

Instead of saying no to things they want, I can say yes. The money is borrowed against their policies, however, so it becomes their responsibility to pay it back. We call it our family bank.

For example, my daughter Meghan has used her policies to buy numerous types of electronics and a $400 gymnastics mat, amounting to thousands of dollars cumulatively. She had to create a payback plan before she was given the money. She felt she could earn enough for the payments by increasing the amount of babysitting she did in the neighborhood.

She also researched ways to earn bigger tips by giving better service, such as making little videos of the kids, making sure the house was cleaner than when the parents left, and leaving a handwritten note. This experience has given Meghan an appreciation for where money comes from, what a loan is, and what interest is—both the interest you pay and the interest you earn. I know that will benefit her in the future.

Wealth Maximization Accounts for your kids are the ideal way to teach them about money and also to prepare for their future purchases, such as a car, college, and beyond. Properly structured plans are a superior alternative to a 529 college savings plan. For more resources take a look at Paradigm Life.

Patrick Donohoe is the President and CEO of Paradigm Life, a company he founded to help clients build wealth, create income for life, and leave a legacy of service to those who will inherit their assets. Patrick is a popular speaker at wealth management seminars and hosts The Wealth Standard Radio, a popular financial podcast on the TuneIn network. Patrick grew up in West Hartford, Connecticut, and attended the University of Utah, where he received his BA degree in economics. He lives in Salt Lake City with his wife and three children.

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IG Intro

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If you’re interested in starting a small business in Florida, one of the first things you need to consider is the current climate in your chosen industry. You don’t want to launch into a field that’s oversaturated while also offering a minimal demand from the public. Differentiation is key, but you should also look for indicators that there’s a strong customer base for your goods and services in a particular area. A souvenir shop will do well in parts of Florida where tourism is high, while a business focused on home repair services is best situated among residential neighborhoods.

Florida is a welcoming state for small businesses. In fact, over 99 percent of businesses in the state are classified as small businesses. This means that you’ll be in good company here, but you’ll also have a lot of competition. At the end of 2016, 18,474 small businesses shut down. Make sure your company isn’t among those to close their doors by taking care of your due diligence before you make that first sale. Planning is critical for new business owners who want to achieve long-term financial success.

From labor costs to tax laws, there’s a lot that you need to know about the area that you choose for your new business venture. Florida offers a wealth of benefits for prospective entrepreneurs. Learn more about the small business climate in the Sunshine State with this infographic. You’ll get valuable details to help you pick the perfect spot for your next venture.

 

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How to Create a Viable Business Plan from Scratch

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An idea is a fragile thing. Millions of people think up brilliant business ideas all the time, yet, few see the light of day. In fact, many would argue that the most difficult aspect of starting a business is transitioning an initial idea into a tangible business model. Fortunately, we’ll help you do just that in this post. Here’s how to create a professional business plan from scratch:

Step #1 Write Everything Down

Even individuals with eidetic memories can forget crucial details after a few hours or days. Starting a business requires a high level of organization, and would-be entrepreneurs need to stay on top of their tasks and responsibilities. As such, make it a point to put your ideas and plans in writing. Doing so will give you a strong point of reference and prevent you from overlooking critical deadlines.

Step #2 Research the Competition

The odds of coming up with a completely unique business idea in a world of over 7 billion people is fairly low. Still, many professionals have crafted successful businesses that tackle old problems in new ways. Before you start drafting any paperwork, though, make it a point to perform market research. Determine who your potential competitors will be, and identify if a profitable opportunity exists within a specific niche. If it doesn’t, then your great idea may not prove all that lucrative in practice.

Step #3 Secure Funding

Whether your company will manufacture polypropylene tubes or develop hair-care products, every business needs funding to get off the ground. Retail space, domain names, employee salaries –– these expenses will add up if you don’t budget for them beforehand. Note that there are plenty of alternative lending options available to ambitious business owners.

Step #4 Set Goals

Business owners will have a difficult time setting up a startup for success if they can’t answer two basic questions: what do they want their business to achieve, and how do they plan on making that happen? This is the crux of any sound business model, and it can take weeks or months to address these two issues. Don’t rush the process; instead, take your time to develop reasonable goals and practical means to reach them. 

Step #5 Sweat the “Small” Stuff 

New business owners have to power through a ton of paperwork before they can open their doors for the first time. It’s easy to dismiss these requirements to focus on “more pressing” concerns, but filing the correct documents can help you avoid massive legal trouble down the line. Get your ducks in a row now or pay for your negligence later –– the choice is yours.

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The Who, What And Why Of Meeting Madness (And How To Avoid It)

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The office meeting can be the newest place to hang out, or alternatively, it can be the place where much work is accomplished. Australia’s cities definitely have enough hangout spots, so your office meeting should be the one place to take care of business. The problem relates to retaining the attention of meeting members without skimping on valuable information they might need to take care of business. Most of the problems that cause a meeting to fail relate to setting the stage so that when attendees do arrive they are primed to listen to presenters.

Common problems associated with making a meeting dreary include meetings that last too long or meetings that are very tangential. Other issues that can make a meeting an unpleasant experience relate to the meeting unravelling and facilitators having little control over the room and command over the discussion. Regardless of the size of the room, by following a few simple rules your business can avoid the common woes of the modern business meeting.

Continue reading to find out how you can make your meetings go off without a hitch and avoid major meeting mishaps.

Where

Meeting room space is prime real estate in some office buildings, and to make sure you have an appropriate place that comfortably seats attendees is another way to guarantee a successful meeting. State-of-the-art meeting rooms similar to Servcorp meeting rooms have the latest technologies that can make the meeting experience great for both presenter and attendees. Alternatively, meeting rooms that are cramped and do not have the requisite equipment can have the opposite effect.

Who

When organising a meeting, one of the best ways to guarantee the meeting goes on without any major snags is to announce the meeting well in advance to attendees. Send reminders the week before the meeting, which clearly state the location, time, presenters, and purpose. A million things happen in the course of the business day, and for those with a packed schedule, one reminder can mean the difference between someone who makes the meeting and someone who does not.

What

Many meetings that are routinely held have a number of topics to be covered with little focus. As the speaker moves through the topics, attendees might or might not listen to the topics. The worst thing that can happen is that staff members begin to feel like the meetings are a waste a time, and while attending meetings is a part of the job, the goal is to create an atmosphere where attendees pay attention to the message being conveyed.

Clearly understanding the goal of the meeting can be one way to effectively guarantee that meeting attendees not only are active listeners but participate in the discussion. This is primarily because your goal, or the task you want to accomplish, will help you build the agenda. While it might seem obvious, clearly understanding what the goal is in the meeting can prevent going into a meeting with a number of topics to cover but no focus.

And Why

The purpose of the meeting, which, if well-organised, will be addressed on the agenda. Your agenda should list all of the topics covered in the discussion, and if done well, they will be centred on one theme. Leave a few minutes at the beginning so that late arrivals won’t interrupt valuable information and at the end to address questions tabled during the meeting.

Avoiding Meeting Madness

Well-coordinated meetings always have the most positive effect on attendees, and simply because they clearly address the goal and purpose of the meeting. Furthermore, this clarity reduces that amount of time simply because conversations are structured. Finally, clear directives given in a short amount of time create opportunities for active engagement.

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