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I have a 5-year-old daughter, and I want to start a 529 for her. However, I’m concerned that the government might seize the 529 assets in order to pay off debt and give people treasury bonds instead. Do you think this might happen?
I think there’s less than a 1 percent chance they’d seize the actual assets. Really, I don’t believe they’re any more likely to come take investments away than they are to come take your home. I mean, we’re really talking about private property here. If you have $100,000 in a retirement fund, and they say they’re going to take that away from you, it’s like taking a person’s home. I just don’t see that happening.
The big question, I think, is this: Are they likely to take away some of the tax benefits — like the 529 plan’s ability to grow tax-free? As in, they just come in and say they’re making it all taxable to pay the bills they’ve accumulated up in Washington, D.C., from all their stupid behavior. That kind of thing actually could happen.
I’m retired, and my husband plans to work for several more years. We have $130,000 in savings accounts, plus a rental property. The rental property has a $150,000 mortgage, but we have no other debt. Should we sell the rental and reinvest in the stock market?
If I were in your shoes, I’d be investing in mutual funds and paying off the rental property as fast as possible. That would be my game plan.
When it comes to mutual funds, you shouldn’t be jumping in and out. The key is to find good ones with long track records of success and stability. Then, leave the money alone for several years and let it do its thing.
Is it possible to settle the debt on a student loan?
Sallie Mae student loans, or federally insured student loans, are insured by the government. Translation: The bank is going to still get paid 100 percent by the taxpayers because the government is guaranteeing the loan. They have no reason to settle with you.
They’re not going to settle with you on the principal amount or the interest, James. You might be able to talk them down on the collection fees. They jack those way up. But the original amount you borrow, plus the actual interest that hasn’t been paid, is guaranteed by the government. They’ll get it from one of you.
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