Category Archives: Finance

FREE Financial Planning Seminar for Parents

Join us for this FREE and exclusive Financial Planning Seminar for Kidz Central Station families!

Financial Tips

Led by our friends and experienced financial advisors, Greg Breitman and Evan Pollack, this is intended for expectant parents and parents of young children to answer all of your questions about organizing your finances.  Topics covered include financial planning, life insurance, wills and trusts, and many more important money lessons.

Nov 7th 2019, Thu 6:30pm-7:30p. @Empire Wealth Strategies


Greg Breitman and Evan Pollack are experts in  helping families that have or are expecting children. Their belief and approach to helping young families is to help them in  1) getting organized 2) getting protected and 3) building a foundation of a plan that’s proven to work.

Specifically, they help parents address 6 main areas:

  • Wills/Trusts
  • Lawsuit Protection
  • Life Insurance
  • Income Protection
  • Savings Strategies
  • College Planning

Investing for Moms & Dads

Daniel MazzolaWe know that our parents are interested in growing their money, especially to help take care of their children’s education and needs.  The recent stock market ups and downs likely have a lot of us worried about our investments.  We asked Daniel G. Mazzola, CFA, CPA, to write a guest post to share his insight into recent events and the basics of investing and the stock market for our parents.

Panic vs. Patience

Recently I met a fellow investment advisor who described October’s stock market decline as a “buying opportunity”, adding “I love when this happens”.

I doubt whether the typical investor shares his enthusiasm. A few bad weeks erased nearly a year’s worth of portfolio gains. I myself will discard October’s monthly statement in the trash without so much as a brief glance at the bottom line valuation.

The stock market is driven primarily by three factors: corporate earnings, interest rates and investor psychology. An appreciation of these factors may help us cope with inevitable downturns in the future.

A better-than-expected GDP report and roundup of corporate earnings reports for the 3rd quarter 2018 confirmed the continued strength of the U.S. economy. Earnings are running ahead of analyst estimates and are on pace to be 22.5% higher than 2017’s 3rd quarter profits. The U.S. economy is healthy, unemployment is at its lowest levels in decades and a rising stock market is a product of our prosperity.

What is not favorable for the stock market is rising interest rates. Interest rates are the cost one party pays for the use of another’s money. Increasing interest rates make it more expensive to borrow money, so individuals reduce spending on discretionary items while businesses curtail plans for hiring, building inventory and expanding operations. Additionally, higher interest rates make less risky investments more attractive. Why invest in stocks when one can earn attractive returns on CDs and money market funds?

The psychology of the stock market and its investors has been described as “irrational and excessive in its swings”. What is positive one day is negative the next. The 24 hour-a-day news cycle and internet access to brokerage accounts influence investors to buy when things are going well and to sell when things are going poorly, the opposite of what they should be doing.

After reaching an intra-day high of 26,951 on October 3rd, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell to 24,122 on October 29th, a drop of 2829 points which qualifies as a “correction”, a loss of 10% or more in Wall St. jargon. What happened to change investor sentiment so dramatically? The threat of higher tariffs and a trade war with China are certainly reasons to be worried. The upcoming mid-term elections, with possible changes in tax and public policy, is another cause for concern. Investor perspective is always in flux, and was negative for a good part of October.

It is important to realize that stock market corrections typically occur once every other year. The infrequency of corrections is a small comfort to those with short term time horizons or who do not have cash to deploy when opportunities arise. Nevertheless, horrifying short term downturns are the price to pay for average long term annual returns in the stock market of roughly 8%. While it would be less stressful if the market realized gains in an orderly and consistent manner, more often than not it is either boom or bust.

3 Best Financial Tips for Parents of Young Children

Financial TipsAfter a quick survey of our smart and educated parent friends, we found that financial planning often falls by the wayside as we become parents and get bogged down in the day-to-day of childcare, school, and activities.  Taking care of finances can be confusing and overwhelming, and we all want to avoid thinking about wills and future planning. However, if you are an expectant parent or parent of young children, it’s necessary to identify your financial goals.

The first step is to find advisors we can speak to comfortably and build a genuine relationship with and that led us to Greg Breitman ( and Evan Pollack (evan_pollack@strategiesforwealth.comat Strategies For Wealth in downtown NYC. 

They kindly shared their top 3 Financial Tips for our Kidz Central Station parents.

Finance Advice

1) Get Organized by meeting with a Financial Planner

No matter your financial situation, organization is paramount! Time is understandably limited with a young family or baby on the way so meeting with a trusted financial planner to get organized is an efficient way to check this off the to-do-list. Additionally, use your adviser as an accountability partner because putting off this crucial step until things calm down is a common and costly mistake. Getting organized with your adviser leads to the creation of a successful plan that starts with protecting the family with wills, trusts and life insurance.

2) Get a Will and other Legal Documents

This is the the most common essential protection piece people put off. Getting a will is not as time consuming as one would think. To get a jump start, determine who you would want to take care of your child if you were not around. Everything else is secondary. Will’s should be updated/reviewed roughly every 5 years or when there is a new life event. Having a properly constructed will saves surviving friends and family from additional stress. Additional documents needed include a living will, power of attorney and health care proxy. Trusts are an essential planning tool as well if needed.

3) Get Life Insurance

Life insurance implementation is one of the most important decisions a family can make. It is uncomfortable to talk about however is too essential to overlook or push off. Too often do families make mistakes with the appropriate amounts and types due to hasty decisions, misinformation and a lack of proper education leading to unimaginable financial consequences. Consulting your trusted adviser with this decision will help you figure out what is best for your family to cushion the blow of an unexpected loss of income. Life insurance premiums are based on your age and your health. It is one of those items where when you actually want it, is typically the toughest to get.

 Meet our Financial Advisors

Finance Advice

Greg Breitman, Evan Pollack and Dan Paikin have a combined 22 years of financial planning experience. Their expertise is around helping families that have or are expecting children. Their belief and approach to helping young families is to address items in order of priority, 1) getting organized 2) getting protected and 3) building a foundation of a plan that’s proven to work. 

Specifically, they help parents address 6 main areas:

  • Wills/Trusts
  • Lawsuit Protection
  • Life Insurance
  • Income Protection
  • Savings & Investment Strategies
  • College Planning

For more information and to learn more about organizing your own finances, PLEASE CONTACT:

Greg (212) 701-2529 or Evan (212) 701-2571

529’s and the Power of Compound Interest


Costs of a College Education
It has been said that the only thing more expensive than going to college is not going to college.  Some may view this with skepticism, when the annual cost of an out-of-state public university tops $40,000, and elite private institutions run significantly higher.  Yet the majority of those without a college degree lag behind in terms of wages and opportunities, and this disparity is expected to widen.  According to the Financial Times, the U.S. will probably create 15 million jobs in the decade leading up to 2020, and 65% of these positions will require post-secondary education and training beyond high school.

Assistance Available
The need for an advanced education to be successful in the workforce contrasts alarmingly with a steady fall in college enrollment since 2013, as reported by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.  This decline is due in part to the skyrocketing costs of college.  Financial assistance, however, is plentiful, and too many families fail to pursue or are not cognizant of the $257 billion in grants, scholarships and loans available.  Barry Fox, a Long Island –based Financial Aid consultant, wrote that in 2015 the Federal Government estimated that $18 billion was not distributed because either financial aid forms were filed incorrectly or no one asked for it.

What is a 529 Account?
In additional to being unaware of readily accessible aid, many do not fully perceive the tremendous advantages of a college savings vehicle called the 529 Plan.  A study sponsored by Fidelity Investments determined that only 32% of people could correctly identify a 529 Plan as an option for saving for college expenses.  A 529 Plan provides tax deferred growth and tax free withdrawals for qualified expenses such as tuition, room and board and supplies.  Moreover, 33 states, including New York, give residents a tax break if they invest in that state’s sponsored 529 Plan.  529 Plans are also assessed at a favorable rate when calculating financial aid.  Finally, 529 Plans are portable in the sense that while established with a designated beneficiary, the account owner can replace him with another beneficiary when circumstances dictate.    These features combine to make the 529 the best way to save for college.

Advantages: Ability to Change Beneficiaries
One of the concerns of building a savings account for a specific person to go to college is the risk that said person will not go.   While a 529 Plan will only benefit from favorable tax treatment if used for the beneficiary’s education, that beneficiary no has control of the account.  The account owner is the only party authorized to make withdrawals, and the account owner has the right to change to a new beneficiary with no tax ramifications or penalties if the current receives a scholarship or decides not to attend college.    The new beneficiary must be chosen from the immediate family, which includes siblings, nieces, nephews, even the parent himself.   Since 529 accounts have no age restrictions or time limits, a parent can name himself as a beneficiary until another suitable beneficiary becomes available.  Thus a parent expecting a child can establish a 529 with himself as beneficiary and then change when the child is born.   Although income taxes will not be due if a 529 is transferred to another qualified beneficiary, there may be estate tax consequences if the new beneficiary belongs to a younger generation.  The original is considered to me a making a gift to the new beneficiary, and if the gift exceeds $15,000, it has to be factored into the donor’s exemption of $5.6 million on federal estate tax.

Advantages: Lower Assessment for Financial Aid Purposes
Determining eligibility for financial aid begins when a family completes a FAFSA for the student applying for assistance.  The federal government and colleges examine a family’s income and assets detailed in the FAFSA to discern how much that family can afford to contribute towards the cost before receiving aid.  Some family assets are excluded altogether in the calculation, such as the family’s primary residence and life insurance.  Other assets are assessed at either a rate of 5.64% or 20%.  A higher assessment on an asset results in less aid.   Let’s say a child has $10,000 in a bank account.  That $10,000 asset will reduce financial aid by $2000.  That same $10,000 held in a bank account registered to the parent lowers aid by $564.  As far as the Federal government is concerned, the primary function of a child’s assets or income is to pay for college, while the parent’s assets/income satisfy a variety of family needs.    529 Plans owned by students or their parents are assessed at the lower rate of 5.64%.    529 Plans owned by non-custodial parties (such as grandparents) are excluded when tabulating family assets.  However, withdrawals from such an account will count as income of the student and be assessed at a much higher rate of 50%.  A 529 account owned by a grandparent is, therefore, best used for the beneficiary’s last year of college after the final FAFSA has been submitted.

Advantages: The Power of Compound Interest
Time is the most important variable an investor controls, and the power of compound interest is what allows a person of average means to save a healthy sum for college.  The following example will demonstrate this phenomenon.  Michael sets up a 529 Plan when his son is born and puts away $2000 on his birthday for the next 5 years, for a total of $10,000.  He then stops saving, but leaves the money in an account where it continues to accrue interest at 7% per year.  On the son’s 18th birthday, the account is worth $29,656.   Jennifer held off contributing to a 529 until her son’s 10th birthday, but likewise deposited $2000 per year into an account earning 7% per year and stopped after 5 years.  On her son’s 18th birthday, the 529 was worth $15,071.      Why the substantial difference in value when the principal ($10,000) was the same for both parties?  Most of the power of compound interest comes at the very end, so the additional 10 years Michael invested, the extra decade of interest on interest, gives him a huge boost.   The key to building wealth is to make regular deposits into an investment whose objective is growth while tolerating inevitable fluctuations and maintaining a long term outlook.

529 Plans are in no way the perfect funding vehicle.  They are included as an asset for financial aid purposes.  For withdrawals to be tax free, the money must be used for specific purposes.  Investment options are limited to what the state sponsor makes available, and principal could be lost if the investments perform poorly. Simply saving, however, is not enough.  To keep pace with escalating college expenses, money must be invested so it will grow, unencumbered by taxation.  Driven by the power of tax deferred compound interest, 529 Plans remain the best way to save for college.