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Apps That Fight Your Parking Tickets

           The average American spends about $232 on legal expenses each year, and many attorneys charge $175 to $550 per hour.  Among other things, that means people do not have counsel for minor offenses  - only about 5% of U.S. traffic tickets are contested in court.  People are essentially priced out of lawyers.  Since last year, more than two dozen IOS and Android apps have popped up to try to price more people back in.  Apps including Get Dismissal, LegalTap, WinIt, and Fixed – the last specifically designed to fight parking and traffic ticket promise users relatively cheap and easy legal counsel.

           LegalTap, launched in June, charges $39 for a 15 minutes chat with a lawyer. 

          WinIt, released in March, has fought more than 10,000 parking tickets in New York and says it will expand to traffic tickets and legal referrals within a year. 

          Get Dismissed, which went live in February, claims more than 1,000 clients ‘regularly” use its service. 

          Fixed, launched in 2014 says it has beaten about 10,000 of 60,000 parking and traffic tickets in Los Angeles, New York, Oakland and San Francisco.  The app refers traffic tickets to local law firms charging 35% of dismissed fines.  Bloomberg Business Week 12/7/15 p.44.

          Please let us know the results of your experience if you use any of the above.

 College Aid: Why to Apply

          Wealthy families should apply for financial aid, too.  Some well-off families do not complete the FAFSA form (Fee Application for Federal Student Aid) because they presume they will not receive any aid.  Financial aid experts say there are 5 reasons to file anyway.

           To Demonstrate Your Ability To Pay Without Any Help – colleges and universities need to build a freshman class that can pay the full cost of attendance along with those who cannot.  Filling out the FAFSA may give an admissions edge.
          To Qualify For Merit Aid – Many schools will not consider students for merit aid unless a FAFSA is filed.  To maximize merit aid, experts suggest applying to private colleges that tend to provide a lot of merit aid and where the student would fall within the top 25% of the applicant pool academically. (See to do more research)
          To Give Kids “Skin In The Game” via federal loans – Filing a FAFSA is necessary for students to obtain low-interest federal student loans.  Some parents may want to have children take out a loan so that they bear part of the financial burden.
          Because You Just Might Qualify, Particularly With Multiple Children – increasing the number of children from one to two is like dividing the parent income in half.
          Because Your Situation Might Change – A job loss or other development would upend your family finances.  Colleges have contingency funds for such situations but this money is limited and schools might give priority to students who already have their FAFSA on file.  Wall Street Journal 1/16/16 p. B7.

Now Is the Time For a Roth IRA

          With stock indexes well below their highs of 2015, Roth Individual Retirement Accounts are gaining appeal.  A down market presents tax savings opportunities for both owners of Roth IRAs and savers who would like to be.  That is because the main drawback of a Roth IRA is often the big tax hit affluent savers take when they put money into one, so depressed asset values minimize this downside.

Couples Should Discuss Visions of Retirement 

          Couples do not always have the same dreams for retirement and it usually takes some negotiating in order to come to terms with what they are going to do.  Many of the decisions are going to be based upon on your financial situation.  Some people may have enough money to do what they would like to do, while others are going to struggle in order to maintain their quality of life.

          For many, the negotiations begin with a discussion of when to retire.  One spouse may want or need to work a little longer, while the other one is ready to call it quits. It is important to talk, talk, talk.  Talk about everything, including your expectations for retirement, your want-to-do list, and your need-to-do list.  Talk about what your schedule will look like and how your identity will change.  Fortunately, marriages that have survived to the point of retirement, usually have involved the negotiations of a lifetime of differences, and spouses have often grown close in their preferences and more like each other.  USA Today 6/28/15 p. 5B.

           As always, if you have any questions about these or any other matters, do not hesitate to call us.

           Remember, We’re Here For You!