Weekend reading: Purging paperwork, unpayable taxes and saving for college

taxesOne of the great things about being a columnist is getting access to experts who can help you with problems in your own life–under the guise of helping your readers, of course. Recently I was lucky enough to interview three smart CPAs who had great advice about purging paperwork from our lives, and have already implemented their suggestions. Paperlessness, here I come!

Another column that got a good amount of attention was one on two-year degrees that pay well. Not everyone wants or needs to go to a four-year school, and some are better off. Here are those stories plus the other columns I did for Reuters last month.

Financial records: What to keep, what to toss

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I resolve every tax season to get a better handle on my paperwork — with mixed results. This year, I turned to three certified public accountants to find out what apps, software and strategies they use to keep track of everything.
Two-year degrees can really pay off
Steven Polasck of Corpus Christi, Texas, liked math and science in high school. He considered attending a four-year college but ultimately decided to use his strengths to get a two-year degree in instrumentation from Texas State Technical College. He has not looked back. “I went to work on the Monday after graduation,” said Polasck, 27, who monitors and fixes systems at a Valero Energy Corp refinery. “The first year I made almost $80,000.”

College savings take a dive – study
Average amounts saved for college have fallen 25 percent since last year and fewer middle-income families are saving for higher education, even as parents overwhelmingly endorse its value as an investment, according to “How America Saves for College 2015,” the latest survey by education lender Sallie Mae.
What to do when you can’t pay your tax bill
Affluent clients facing a big tax bill often have one of two reactions, according to CPA and financial planner Jerry Love: They either try to avoid filing or they want to negotiate a deal. Neither is a good strategy, he said.
College watch list a ‘caution light’
Regulators recently made public a once secret watch list of 556 colleges under scrutiny for financial irregularities. But inclusion on the list doesn’t automatically mean the schools are about to fail, according to Department of Education regulators, college officials and even the reporter who triggered the release of the list with his Freedom of Information Act requests.

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