The Ultimate Playbook: Hard Assets and Personal Finance

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Investors deserve an action plan to protect their wealth and move to financial safety amid uncertainty about America’s future.

Fortunately, there’s an effective a two-tiered strategy to preserve the value of your current wealth, to ensure greater peace of mind, and to position yourself for the long road ahead. Not only will this show you on which hard assets you must consider, but it will also help you shore up your short-term and long-term financial situation to prepare for what lies ahead.

The beginning of the Hard Assets Playbook emphasizes which metals, real estate, and alternative investments provide the best hedges against currency shock and provide long-term appreciation years after the next crisis has passed. We’ll focus on three specific gold and silver coins that should be a cornerstone of your holdings, where and why you should purchase farmland and income-generating real estate, and shed light on some of the best alternative investments out there for your peace of mind.

The second part of the report, The Personal Finance Playbook, centers on how you can secure your financial situation and improve your long-term financial outlook. This section will explore the steps we recommend you take now to reduce debt, increase cash flows through conservative investments, and prepare for retirement no matter what happens in the stock market or to the U.S. dollar. Finally, it provides key insight into how you can manage your retirement funds for the road ahead and ensure greater flexibility and wealth in your golden years.

Part One:
The Hard Assets Playbook

Let’s jump right into the assets that you should target ahead, regardless of the ups and downs of the markets.

Physical Gold and Silver

Hard assets are the purest hedge against growing concerns of inflation and any downward movements in the markets.

Hard assets also limit your exposure to financial banking crises, foreign economic woes, flaring geopolitical tensions, and rising government debts.

With so many reasons to own physical commodities in such uncertain times, we want to provide the best specific investments that you can make in order to protect yourself and maximize your investment potential.

Certainly, there are opportunities to own gold funds that provide exposure to the physical commodity. But there’s no better boost to personal confidence and the peace of mind that comes with knowing your investment remains in your possession, within arm’s reach, should you need it.

You do want to own the actual commodity. You want to be able to have it in your safe, safe deposit box, or even buried in your backyard. Do not store gold around the world, and do not expect that if you own a gold ETF or other paper contract on gold that the metal will be delivered.

For these reasons, we recommend three coins and one fund to consider:

  1. American Gold Eagles: Launched by Congressional authorization in 1986, these coins are the most trusted form of physical gold products on the market. They offer a convenient and cost-effective way to add physical gold to your portfolio in several denominations of your choosing. Investors have the option of purchasing 1/10th-ounce, 1/4-ounce, 1/2-ounce, and full one- ounce coins. Investors should consider purchasing these coins directly from the United States Mint.
  2. American Buffalo Coins: Since 2005, the U.S. government has allowed the production of 24-karat American Buffalo Gold Coins. These $50 coins provide a simple way for investors to own 24-karat gold as a form of legal tender. You can buy them at major coin and precious metals dealers, as well as many brokerage firms and participating banks. Investors will pay a small premium to cover coining and distribution costs associated with this newer asset class.
  3. American Silver Eagles: The government also mints hard silver as an investment asset. Gold investors should diversify some of their money allocated to silver due to the metal’s lower price and great appreciation potential. Silver is a terrific asset class because the metal has a higher use in industrial processes, making it a valuable commodity no matter what the economic situation. It provides real industrial value and is a more transactional metal in the event of an economic collapse.
  4. Merk Gold Trust ETF (NYSEArca:OUNZ): The Merk Gold Trust is one of a small handful of gold funds that allows investors the opportunity to turn in their exchange-traded fund (ETF) shares for the delivery of actual physical gold bullion, like bars and coins. Should investors want to take physical delivery of gold tied to the ETF, they can redeem it in the form of London bars. Smaller amounts can be redeemed, too: one-ounce American Gold Eagle Coins, American Gold Buffalo Coins, Australian bars (either one oz. or 10 oz.), Australian Gold Kangaroo Coins, and Canadian Gold Maple Leaf Coins.

Income-Generating Land

The last few years have been an absolute boon for farmland investors.

According to data released in August 2017 by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, average prices for farm real estate across the nation rose by nearly 143% between 2003 and 2017.

We think that’s just the beginning of this “real asset” boom.

Farmland remains one of the best hedges against inflation. In fact, we call it the ultimate crisis hedge. In addition to being a terrific hedge against crisis, it is a hard asset that is impossible to steal in a nation of laws protecting private property rights.

In addition, it is a scarce resource.

The population has doubled over the last 60 years in the United States, but the availability of arable land has declined since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

The reason is simple: Americans have flocked to more urban environments due to more and better jobs and the greater personal economic opportunity found in cities. That migration over the decades has created a crisis in American agriculture.

Today, just 1% of the U.S. population is made up of farmers, meaning that one person is responsible for the food security of every 100 people. Furthermore, the average age of the American farmer is now approaching 70. As crisis awaits this nation, individuals with the intelligence and work ethic to maintain agricultural production stand to position themselves for financial success in the future.

And so do owners of farmland. Many younger Americans who wish to work on farms lack the credit to own their own parcels of land. This has led to a surge in land rentals and partnerships. Ownership of farmland provides two important qualities we look for in an investment. First, this conservative asset provides terrific asset appreciation potential given rising demand for land and as currencies devaluate. Second, with continual production and sales to the markets, farms provide a steady stream of income.

It’s a perfect investment.

That’s why we recommend avoiding ETFs and other funds that hold farmland. Instead, purchase the real thing for yourself. Again, there is no greater global hedge against rising food prices and societal uncertainty than the physical ownership of farmland.

And the best part is that you don’t need to learn how to farm. There are income-producing strategies and agreements that you can make with eager universities and research teams that can provide a nice steady return while minimizing your risk.

Here are the most important points to consider when purchasing farmland:

  • Explore parcels in the range of 80 to 100 acres – at least 1/8th of a square mile – so that it’s large enough to run a profitable farming operation.
  • Only consider farmland in areas that have access to a reliable water supply, as well as waterways or reliable roads to bring their crops to market.
  • Region is also an important factor. According to the U.S. Census of Agriculture, farmland prices have gotten too hot in states like Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota. Roughly five years ago, acreage in Minnesota sold for $2,500 to $4,000. Today, some of these same acres are fetching prices north of $10,000. Buy in a cheap area. Areas we like are southern Virginia, northwestern Florida, eastern Maryland, and eastern Colorado. Prices are still reasonable in these regions of the country.

There are a number of ways to purchase farmland, from public auctions to foreclosure deals that aren’t always advertised. Investors may want to use auction services in order to seek deals and consistently seek large parcels on or

Investing in REITs

Income investing in the age of the Federal Reserve’s low-interest rate environment requires diligence and an understanding of how the markets function in your quest for yield.

That search for yield, in many cases, has brought investors rushing to real estate investment trusts (REITs). These are securities that sell on a stock exchange like a stock and invest in real estate either directly by owning properties or through owning mortgages. They offer high yields above 3.5% and all the way up to 15%.

The good news for those in search of income is that the universe of REITs is expanding rapidly, offering a myriad of enticing opportunities.

But you don’t want to be holding the bag when the music stops. And the Fed’s cheap money policies are going to come to a close soon.

When rates increase, that could lead to a swift exodus from high-interest REITs and property funds that have provided sweet yields for the duration of this experiment by the central bank.

However, not all REITs are alike. Yes, REITs provide higher-than-average income… which is why they traditionally fall into the fixed income category. But the income from some REITs isn’t fixed at all. It goes up every single year, in fact, and by double-digits in some cases.

There are two alternative REITs investors should consider for the road ahead, even if the threat of higher interest rates is on the horizon. Each has its own distinction of providing steady income streams from reliable sources of property investment.

  • Vornado Realty Trust (NYSE:VNOThere’s a reason people say “Cash is King.” Right now, real estate buyers can access incredibly low rates, but getting a loan and having enough for a down payment is a problem for the average American. That’s why companies with cash are dominating the real estate market, particularly in neighborhoods like Beverly Hills and Manhattan, where all-cash deals are on the rise. Vornado Realty Trust is one of the largest all-cash buyers, and it currently owns more than 28 million square feet of high-end office, retail, and residential space in its hometown.But one of the most important factors about this REIT is that Vornado Realty Trust is an equity REIT. So, unlike risky mortgage REITS, it’s largely immune to the negative pressures of a rising interest rate environment. The REIT pays a nice dividend of 3.73% right now, and has shown strong appreciation potential thanks to its increasing asset portfolio.
  • Rayonier Inc. (NYSE:RYNOne investment beats inflation every time.Timber.And you can beat inflation too, by strategically investing in a REIT that provides steady income in a commodity market that sees strengthening demand in the housing, paper, and energy markets.The best option is Rayonier Inc., an international forest products company focused on timberland management, the sale and entitlement of real estate, and the production and sale of pulp.With nearly 2.7 million acres of timberland and real estate under management, the company continues to provide a nice hedge against inflation. And the pleasant 2.8% yield is enough to combat concerns about rising rates.

Artwork and Antiques

Artwork is a hard asset like gold that adds an additional benefit, aside from the obvious potential for price appreciation. As an asset class, it is a timeless long-term store of wealth and a fine hedge against growing currency concerns and stock-market volatility, as the value of art is not correlated to anything else. It’s a good way to add depth to your portfolio.

What’s more, you can hang it on your walls or display it in your home or office, adding to the visual aesthetic of your living space.

And while art collecting is viewed by many to be an extravagant hobby for the ultra-rich, that simply is no longer true. It only costs about $2,000 to $10,000 to get started as an art investor. And in fact, lower-valued art actually outperforms the Picassos and Monets of the world, according to Beautiful Asset Advisors.

However, we advise caution if you’re diving into this specialty investment area for the first time.

The most important thing you can do if you are serious about doing art investment for yourself is to get an education in art, a process that will allow you to determine the types of work that appeal to you and to the broader market of investors over the long-term. Not only is it important to learn about the process, but you’ll also want to spend a lot of time in galleries and at museums understanding the craft and how to determine the value and quality of good versus great artwork.

Learn about the craft of art investing, too. One of the things you’ll learn is that the quality of a painting is paramount. Not all pieces by an artist are going to be worth your investment dollars. The simple fact that an artist with another popular work signed a piece you’re looking at doesn’t make it a strong investment. “Chasing a signature,” as this is called, is a common mistake of first-time art buyers.

In addition, it’s important to have a barometer on the performance of the art sector as a whole. One of the best ways to know whether the sector is going up or down is to track the value of paintings by the late Andy Warhol. Many experts look at Warhol’s values year-over-year as one of the first indexes for the broader market’s performance.

There are a number of other rules that are at play in the art world, and certainly open you up to a new hobby and source of exploration. And be sure to speak with friends and neighbors about investing in this sector. You’d be surprised just how many enthusiasts are out there today.

For those who aren’t art enthusiasts, or who don’t want to hang a painting on their walls, there are numerous vehicles outside of physical collection, like professionally managed art funds, that allow investors to capture annual revenue streams thanks to their structure. They have seen strong returns in recent years due to a surge of interest in alternative investments.

Several of the most trusted names include FineArt Wealth Management, The Art Fund Association, Anthea Art Investments, the Art Collection Fund, and The Twentieth Century Masters Collection. Each fund follows a traditional management structure, which includes a fee to join, and may require investment minimums or accreditation.

Part Two:
The Personal Finance

Fiscal freedom – having enough cash on hand, owning the right hard assets, and eliminating debt – is real freedom. And even more so in the event of crisis.

Getting your financial house in order is perhaps the most important thing you can do ahead of economic fluctuations and market downturns.

Your Personal Finance Playbook starts with the three critical steps we recommend you take immediately to make sure you’re well positioned for financial freedom. Then we’ll show you the long-term strategies that will help you prepare for retirement, boost your investor IQ, and offer you the real joy and freedom that comes from planning properly and eliminating fiscal burdens that might haunt you.

Part One: The Short-Term Playbook

Step 1: Keep Six Months’ Worth of Cash on Hand

There’s an old saying in real estate: Cash is king.

To guard against financial uncertainty, it’s important that you have approximately six months of cash on hand to buffer against potential threats. Life happens. Joblessness, illness, family situations, goals. It’s important that you recognize that things will never stay the same, and preparation is the single most important part of enjoying life and dealing with crisis.

Right now, you can start by accumulating at least six months’ worth of cash into a contingency fund. That means if you lost all sources of income tomorrow, you’d have enough money set aside to cover all your living and business expenses for six months.

Step 2: Use an Asset Allocation Model and Invest Conservatively

Investors learned the hard way, in 2000, and again in 2007, that Wall Street’s highly touted “diversification” model is little more than a sales pitch.

Diversification doesn’t work. Spreading your money around to get the lowest mean gains is not a recipe for wealth. The best professional investors of our time DO NOT blindly distribute their money across a slew of asset classes, and individual investors should not do it either.

We believe the only effective way to build lasting wealth is to “concentrate” your assets with the 50-40-10 model.

The 50-40-10 is focused on a group of core economic realities – equities, interest rate instruments, income production, commodities, and systemic credit. This focus makes the overall portfolio less susceptible to economic downturns because the risk is much more evenly distributed.

Furthermore, because this strategy requires that we constantly rebalance our risk, we can easily shift with varying market phases – growth, contraction, inflation, and even sentiment-driven events – all without placing significant portions of our portfolio at risk.

With this allocation model, 50% of your overall portfolio is committed to safety and balance, such as balanced mutual funds and bond funds and cash. 40% of your portfolio is then centered on solid global growth and income stocks and funds. These companies provide strong dividends, but also help you avoid any dark clouds forming off the shores of the United States, as these companies gain greater traction in foreign markets.

Finally, 10% of your portfolio will remain available for more speculative stocks. Now, these stocks tend to focus on next-generation technology, speculation in the performance of emerging markets (both positive and negative), and allow us to profit off “the next big thing.” But stick to 10%.

The key takeaway here – and it comes as a surprise for many investors – is that you should have half of your capital in very conservative, defensive instruments that provide the ultimate stability in rough patches for the market.

There are two specific funds that you’ll want to invest your money in to ensure safety and stability.

  • The Near-Term Tax-Free Fund (NEARX) is a fund from U.S. Global Investors that was founded in 1990. It is billed as an alternative for investors who want safety but are willing to assume a bit more risk.The fund invests in municipal bonds issued by state and local governments nationwide, including school boards and utilities. With at least 80% of its net assets invested in investment-grade munis, it’s exempt from federal income tax.
  • PIMCO Strategic Global Government Fund Inc. (NYSE:RCS) is a closed-end fund that invests in high quality, intermediate-term U.S. securities, mortgage related and asset backed securities, as well as non-U.S. government and even corporate debt. It’s managed by Allianz Global Investors Fund Management on behalf of PIMCO. And, in a zero-percent world, it’s currently offering investors a remarkable 12% yield.

Additional Conservative Investments

In addition to these conservative income plays, investors will also want to focus on three additional types of investments to obtain steady, reliable streams of income.

These investments are CDs, REITs, and Master Limited Partnerships.

Certificates of Deposit (CDs)

CDs provide a nice low-risk investment to anyone who does not need cash immediately. So, if you’ve put aside six months of emergency cash, and you don’t have any major purchases on the horizon, CDs are an ideal investment for those who are risk-averse. CDs provide a slightly better return on your money than a traditional savings account (where you’d want to house your emergency funding).

There are two things to consider before you invest in a CD. The first is your timeline for the investment and the second is the status of interest rates in the market.

As we noted, if you have a six-month supply of cash, a CD is ideal for your timeline. But you also must consider the impact of interest rate hikes in the face of action by the Federal Reserve.

Interest rates are likely to increase in the near-term, meaning that it benefits investors to lock in a shorter CD in anticipation of the increase. By investing in six-month periods, you’ll be able to lock in a higher rate for a longer period once there is stability and reduced expectations in a rate hike.

There are a number of options that investors have when identifying which CD they should choose. We recommend that users visit and answer a few questions about their financial status and their timeline for investment.

A site like Bank Rate can provide the ideal match to find the right bank for your money. Investors might also want to learn more at, which provides investors with options from three-month CDs to six years or more.


As we discussed in Part I, publicly traded REITs on major stock exchanges are an excellent source of income and capital appreciation. However, it is important to note that REITs are vulnerable to high interest rates, and to choose ones where the income is “fixed” to growth, not just steady rent collection.

We want trusts that are increasing rents, gobbling up more property (in good regions), and holding properties with consistent capital appreciation. As long as the value of these assets, including the payments, is going up faster than inflation, the investment is a good one.

Master Limited Partnerships

The “midstream” segment in oil and gas markets offers many investment opportunities.

Midstream companies connect “upstream” (field production of oil and gas) and “downstream” (refining, processing, wholesale, and retail distribution) functions. Because they provide such vital services in moving and storing oil and gas volume, they get paid (as do their shareholders) whether the oil or gas gets moved or not, and whether the price of energy goes up or down. Midstream players often pay out income in addition to appreciation potential.

One of the best midstream asset opportunities is a master limited partnership (MLP). A share of an MLP represents a fixed percentage of the partnership. That means you receive a fixed percentage of the profits, translating into a higher dividend than market averages – sometimes significantly higher.

The reason for this higher dividend is the structure of the tax code in the United States. Unlike most dividends, which are taxed both at the corporate and individual investor level, MLP dividends are taxed just one time. MLP investors should speak with a tax advisor about their investments, including the need to file a Schedule K tax form each year.

At the outset, MLPs were essentially limited to pipelines. But the application is expanding to other assets. That includes the product produced as an asset class. Such a change will take a while to work itself out, but comprises a main interest for the investor. Already, examples are emerging. Qualifying natural resources for MLP protections now include oil, gas, timber, coal, biodiesels, and even industrial-grade carbon dioxide, which is an emerging global market.

Best of all, the returns are incredible.

The Alerian MLP Index (AMZ), which tracks the performance of master limited partnerships in recent years, has outperformed eight major asset classes including small-cap stocks, high-yield equities, commodities, and bonds when analyzing Compound Annual Growth Rates (CAGR) over the last three, five, and 10-year periods.

We suggest looking into Enbridge Energy Partners LP (NYSE:EEP). EEP is an MLP that owns crude oil and natural gas pipelines – including oil pipelines that bring Canadian crude down to the United States and gas pipelines woven throughout East and North Texas – as well as natural gas storage and processing facilities.

Even with lower oil prices, Enbridge’s share price has held up. The prospects for the future are even better since the company is planning to restructure and shift some of its most lucrative pipeline assets from its Canadian management company, Enbridge Energy Management, to its U.S. MLP.

Thanks to its operations in western Canada and the North Dakota Bakken formation, the company is the largest pipeline transporter of oil production from those two regions, accounting for approximately 17 % of total U.S. oil imports. Its natural gas business is equally strong, delivering approximately 2.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas daily in the U.S. mid-continent and Gulf Coast regions. Its high yield dividends have increased every year since 2006, and the current dividend yield is a juicy 8.50%, making it a steady source of ongoing income.

Step 3: Aggressively Tackle Your Debt

Refinance your mortgages: Mortgage rates are still near record lows, but as we have recently learned from the Federal Reserve, an interest-rate hike is on the horizon. This means investors should act now to refinance. Work with your bank and find an optimal interest rate that helps you reduce your debt burden.

Keep in mind, banks want their customers to refinance too, as a means of reducing debt burdens and staving off the threat of defaults and delinquencies. The 2009 housing crisis left banks on the hook with a massive portfolio of vacant homes. Many banks, to this date, are still trying to clear these bad assets off of their books.

Pay down credit cards: Credit card debt is one of the worst forms of debt, due to the massive interest charges and astronomical fees associated with carrying a balance. While it’s impractical for cash to be the sole form of payment for your day-to-day life, it’s critical that you pay off your credit card balance each month. Though some consumers believe that carrying a balance somehow improves your credit score, paying off your debts is the surest way to prove to future lenders that you are worthy of credit.

Also consider the type of credit card that is in your wallet. Some provide nice rewards when you make purchases on everyday things, while others only reward expensive purchases in travel and entertainment. Find the one that’s right for you. And, of course, ask yourself if the annual charge you face simply to hold the card, in addition to heavy interest rates, is even worth your while.

Take the time to determine what it is you want from your credit card. Visit websites like and, where you can compare cards. Your priorities should be a low APR, no annual fees, and rewards for important charges that are part of your everyday life, including gasoline and food. Travel-rewards cards typically don’t offer the most bang for your buck unless you are a regular business traveler and don’t mind paying inflated fees for your travels.

Pay off student loans: There’s a growing student loan crisis taking hold for Millennials, the generation of Americans between the ages of 22 and 35. But many Baby Boomers and Generation Xers are still carrying an outrageous amount of student loan debt from previous decades.

While student loan debt is one of the most flexible debts these days, thanks to lower required payments and new federal programs, student loan interest is just another form of taxation that hammers any household that earns more than $75,000 a year in gross income. The reason is simple: If a single person exceeds this income level or a couple combined earns more than $145,000, they cannot write off student loan interest on their annual taxes.

Many Americans are paying up to 6.8% on federal student loans, while anyone who borrowed from a private loan company could be paying as much as 9% annually on their balance. This is why it’s important to pay off these loans and to determine ways to reduce your gross income levels in a way that allows you to save more money, reduce your tax burden, and also keep lifetime interest burdens as low as possible.

Maximizing your contributions to your IRA, 401(k), and other retirement accounts allows you to reduce your “gross income” levels on your annual tax returns. Work with a tax advisor to ensure that you are taking the maximum level of deductions and writing off career and education expenses so you can reduce your gross income on paper and deduct your interest payments at tax time.

Part Two: Your Long-Term Financial Playbook

Now that you’re investing in conservative investment vehicles, which guarantee reliable income streams and appreciation opportunities, you can turn your attention to your future retirement plans.

The long-term playbook consists of steps ensuring that you utilize a wide number of retirement vehicles that provide long-term safety and stability for your golden years.

Here are four steps to maximize your retirement holdings.

Step One: Max Out Your 401(k) and Invest for Global Opportunities

Employer-sponsored 401(k) matching plans essentially provide “free money” for American workers. This money can grow tax-free for decades, allowing investors to position themselves properly.

If your employer is willing to meet a certain percentage of your contributions, be sure that you are taking advantage of every dollar offered.

The most common 401(k) match in the U.S. is 50 cents per dollar up to 6% of one’s salary.

The majority of American workers can contribute up to $18,000 each year to a 401(k), 403(b), or the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan. To meet that level of contribution, you would need to deposit $1,500 per month or $750 per bi-weekly paycheck. And remember, if you’re over 50 years old, you are allowed to contribute an extra $6,000 per year, to bring your total contributions to $24,000 for the year.

The reason this is important is that if you contribute the maximum amount, the full amount is removed from your gross income at tax season, thus reducing your tax burden and allowing you to maximize your deductions. If you get pushed down to a lower tax bracket, you may be able to write off student loan interest and incentives tied around home and business ownership.

Once you’ve maximized your contributions to your 401(k), you’ll want to work with your broker or advisor on how best to allocate the capital in your retirement account. When investing your 401(k), it’s important to choose the right investments for the long haul and to protect yourself against economic and currency problems that could soon plague the United States.

For this reason, you probably want to avoid mutual funds with exposure to small-cap stocks and other equities with high betas. They will be hit the hardest during the next financial downturn.

Instead, focus on conservative funds that provide steady income streams and reduce exposure to one individual market. Larger funds that provide exposure to growing economies around the world offer a strong buffer against brewing problems in the United States.

Step Two: Max Out Your IRA

Again, taking advantage of tax-free money is one of the most important steps you can take today to provide for your long-term financial security.

You can choose either a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA, which is generally not taxed. However, Roth IRAs are typically not available to high-income earners, or their tax benefits begin to erode the more income you bring in.

In 2018, Americans can contribute up to $5,500 into an IRA. But for Americans over the age of 50, this figure jumps to $6,500. Maximum contributions require an input of $458 per month.

Remember, IRA contributions can be made up until the tax filing deadline of April 15. So, instead of sending that check to the government, put more of your money back into your retirement accounts and enjoy the benefits in your golden years.

Step Three: Open Voluntary Brokerage Accounts

Once you have maximized your retirement accounts, it’s time to open that brokerage account and get set up to capture gains in the markets when opportunity presents itself.

As we mentioned in a previous chapter, there is ample opportunity to structure your investments with the 50-40-10 strategy. You can ensure reliable streams of income from safe investments, all while maximizing profit potential by exposing yourself to new growth areas around the world.

Step Four: Consider Savings Plans for College

If you have grandchildren or other young relatives who will one day face the high tuition costs of post-secondary education, you can also find tax benefits if you open a 529 college savings plan.

Named after Section 529 of the IRS Code, these plans offer both state and federal tax benefits, in addition to a wide number of other benefits. Not only can you contribute more than $300,000 to a plan, but you also remain in total control of the plan as the donor, meaning you can maximize the tax benefits while setting your own parameters on the beneficiary – like ensuring he or she gets good grades while in high school.

Named after Section 529 of the IRS Code, these plans offer both state and federal tax benefits, in addition to a wide number of other benefits. Not only can you contribute more than $300,000 to a plan, but you also remain in total control of the plan as the donor, meaning you can maximize the tax benefits while setting your own parameters on the beneficiary – like ensuring he or she gets good grades while in high school.