Education IRAs and Other IRA Accounts

Most high school graduates are pretty much on their own when it comes to furthering their education, since parents are not able to help due to the increased cost of living throughout the United States. This was usually the case until just recently, when many different programs were developed for aspiring college students to make their dreams come true. Because not all students qualify for financial aid and other programs, they are left to cover the entire cost of their education, including books, lab fees, and living costs.

One program that was recently developed is the Education IRA, which works just like a retirement IRA. IRAs are meant to help people save up for a certain event in their life, like retirement or college education. The Education IRA is meant to help students save up for their college education, unlike other programs, which only offer tax incentives for high education expenses.

An Education IRA is a tax-advantaged saving account program that was created in 1997 by the Taxpayer Relief Act. Anyone is able to contribute to an Education IRA, whether related to the account beneficiary or not. There is a $2,000 maximum limit to an Education IRA, as long as the parent’s earned income is under $190,000. Families with smaller incomes are able to make smaller contributions to the account, and individual filers are also granted the same option for contribution.

An Education IRA is very similar to a Roth IRA, since after-tax money is sheltered in an account to save up for a certain event. The money in the account will remain tax-free as long as all the money will go to education costs only. By setting a savings account up for education costs, a great amount of money can be made by the time a child is ready to continue their education. Education IRAs are best when they are started when the child is young, so they will have many years of built up interest to use for the child’s education.

An Education IRA is a very effective method when trying to get money to put a child through college, since it is earned money rather than a loan. Because all of the money earned on an Education IRA is actually earned and not loaned, there will be no payments to pay back any costs of education. Education loans carry high interest rates and can take years to pay off, but Education IRAs can cover all of the costs without having to pay anything back.

Setting up an education IRA for children is very important, because it gives them a chance to go to college and pursue any dream they wish. With the costs of college education rising, it is important to have a plan to put a child through school while they are still young, until waiting until the last minute and having to take out loans or refinancing homes.

It is not necessary to contribute the entire $2,000 each year for each student, and you actually can choose not to make any contributions in a given year. You can contribute to the account each year until the child reaches eighteen years of age, with the exception of special needs children who can receive contributions after their eighteenth birthday. If funds remain in the Education IRA account after the school is paid for, it is subject to taxes and penalties that are determined by the bank. Unlike most other IRA accounts, Education IRA accounts allow you to withdraw money at any time. It is up to the account holder to make sure the funds are going toward education only, since this is what is outlined in an Education IRA.

You can contact your local bank or financial institution for more information on Education IRA or any other type of IRA accounts.

Lesson Planning – The Art of Organization

Lesson planning can be an art form, if done properly. For too many teachers, lesson planning can be the black hole of a week – taking several hours out of planning time. Or leaving no planning time, so the lessons, teacher editions, materials, etc. are toted home to be done in front of Thursday night primetime television. For seasoned teachers, the lessons may not take as long, but they are stale. These lessons need some serious updating. For all teachers, new and veteran, I encourage a plan of action to envision interesting lessons that benefit the students, but are not time consumers to create.

Make sure to start each plan with the same lesson plan template. Many free templates can be found online. Purchasing a lesson plan book is also an option. Or creating your own template in a word processing program could also be done. Whichever way you decide, make sure to stick to that template each and every time to create a few shortcuts each week. After deciding upon the template, make sure you have all the necessary teacher editions, materials, and resources in one spot to create the plans. If you are constantly moving from location to location to pick up and return materials and books, you are wasting valuable work time.

When you are ready to begin planning, use a master calendar to input any major events or changes to the schedule for that week, such as student birthday celebrations or assemblies. Next, add in the specials schedule. After that, place all weekly recurring events into your plans. This could be lunch (everyday), silent reading time, weekly assessments, daily read alouds, morning work, etcetera. Now, when you look at your plans, you should have only chunks to fill in. Immediately, you have created only pieces in which to fill in, and you have only been working for ten minutes!

Finally, the last step in your planning is to quickly review materials, websites, resources, and old lessons from each chapter or section of the subject area you will be covering that week. From there, you should have a pretty good idea of how to cover the material. You may need to review your basal and look for new ideas that have not been tried yet. Or, you may look for a new interactive whiteboard lesson that is already created for the concept you will be teaching. Attempt to position in at least one new idea from previous years’ lessons for a little variety for yourself and for the students. Each subject area should only take 10 minutes or so to create if you are quickly staying on task, and not getting bogged down in scouring every website on the internet. In total, your plans should take no longer than 30-45 minutes to complete. If you are spending more time than that, you are not using time effectively, or are not keeping good files of materials previously used. If the lessons are taking considerably less time, maybe they need to be a little more creative or interactive. You want to be excited to teach them!

Lesson planning should not be a chore that is dreaded each week, but rather an exciting opportunity to create lessons that involve students. It should instill a love for learning and teaching for all involved. Have fun and get planning!

Write A Book – Be An Expert

“Write a book and get recognized as an expert.” How many times have you heard that? Hundreds? Thousands? It is a fact that people acknowledge you as the expert when you have put your knowledge in print. It could be a book, a column, a booklet or a white paper that has been published. If people find what you wrote helpful to them, you become an expert!

The good news is you can write about anything and become an expert. It doesn’t necessarily need to be something you know right now. Yet, I do encourage my writers to write about what they know as it is the easiest way to write your first book. It is important to write about what you know if you are promoting your business and want your clients to recognize you as an expert in your business.

Yet, I have learned from my clients that you can write about what you don’t know and be highly successful at it. Here are some tips to get any writer started writing about what he or she doesn’t know.

1. Have a passionate idea. Some of my clients wanted to do something different: Write a Zen book, a comic book, and produce a positive, motivational rap music CD. These passionate ideas had a thread of relationship to their business, yet they were obsessed with creating these projects. And that is the key: You have to want it so bad that it becomes an obsession. You think about it day and night and you know you will not rest until you do it.

2. Research your idea. Get some basic ideas and resource information by doing research. For many writers this is not fun: Then get a college student to do it for you. Tell the student what information you need to get started. For example, the comic book author would want to see if anything like an educational comic book for adults has been done before in the same topic she has chosen. She will want to check out comic book publishers and their criteria. Also, find some articles on comic book publications and “how to” articles. You can use the Internet, the library, and even the bookstore to get the information you need.

3. Find and ask the experts to help you. “Flattery will get you anywhere,” the saying goes. Experts love to hear that their ideas are helpful. They are willing to help you if you ask. For example, the author who wanted to create a comic book knew nothing about how to do that. She met someone who was a graphic designer. She told him about her dream to create her comic book. The designer was excited about it and showed her his drawings. Collaboration was born to create a comic book. Just keep on asking people who you know that can help you with your idea. The Law of Attraction will take over and in no time you will have the right person to help you write your book. Other ways are to visit networking groups or visit organizations that are related to your topic.

4. Go to seminars or take classes. There are many great writing seminars and classes available to learn more about your subject. We even have Internet online classes and teleseminars we can take without even leaving our house. Learning in an environment with other students is a valuable opportunity to make new like-minded friends. So don’t be a wallflower and keep to yourself. Share your ideas and be actively involved in the class so people will get to know you. Class participants could give you some great ideas for your book, especially if you are writing on a new topic and gathering information for your book.

5. Be an eagle-eye observer. Pay attention to what is going on around you. Read everything with an eagle eye. What are the latest, hottest topics? Do they fit your criteria? Is it something you might want to write about? Start watching TV differently–instead of just for entertainment watch special shows that give you information and news that might perk your interest in writing a book. My rap music CD client wanted to produce a positive rap CD to reach young adults. She began observing Gospel rap musicians and listening to music that had a positive influence. Observe other people’s point of view. Keep your eyes open and watch people in their daily lives.

So by following these five simple steps–passionate idea, research, ask the experts, take classes, and be an eagle eye observer–you can write about what you don’t know. Remember you must be passionate about what you want to write, set up a writing plan, follow the plan, take action and write every day. In no time you will have written your book that makes you the expert.

Copyright 2007, Joan Clout-Kruse. All rights reserved.