Mon09152014

News

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council last week approved the installation of two new directional signs on Foothill Expressway pointing motorists to the Woodland Plaza Shopping District.

The Los Altos City Council voted unanimou...

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Schools

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Edsel Clark, new Los Altos School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, above, facilitates a junior high mathematics curriculum meeting last week.

Edsel Clark, Ed.D., new assistant superintend...

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Community

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China


From IncredibleTravelPhotos.com
Jacque Kae’s “Mischievous” is one of the many photographs on display at Foothill College this month.

Photographs of the land and culture of Huangshan and Zhangjiajie, China, are on exhibit through Sept. 26 at t...

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Sports

Spartans shine in opener

Spartans shine in opener


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High’s Frank Kapp snares a touchdown pass from quarterback Owen Mountford in Friday’s win.

Leading by a point at halftime, the Mountain View High football team outscored visiting Del Mar 20-0 the rest of...

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Comment

A look ahead to the Nov. 4 election: Editorial

Election season is upon us. In Los Altos, we have three major local races ahead – two seats on the Los Altos City Council, and three seats each on the Los Altos School District and Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District boards of tr...

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Special Sections

Renovation complete,  Villa Siena looks to future

Renovation complete, Villa Siena looks to future


Above and Below Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier; Left Photo Courtesy of Villa Siena
Villa Siena in Mountain View recently underwent a $35 million face-lift. The five-year project expanded their senior living community’s space and ability to serv...

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Business

Transitioning from postage to pets

Transitioning from postage to pets


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A new Pet Food Express store is scheduled to open at the Blossom Valley Shopping Center this month.

A site that previously existed to meet postal service needs will soon have an entirely different purpose – serving pe...

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Books

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights


A good story about aliens is always great fun to read – after all, it’s only by attempting to understand the human race from another perspective that we can see ourselves more objectively.

But readers who might be tempted to dismiss ye...

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People

JEANNE PACKARD

After suffering a stroke in May, Jeanne Packard died August 10, 2014 at age 83. She was born in 1931 in Berlin, Germany, the only child of Emily Channel and Frank Howe Packard of Chicago, IL. Jeanne is survived by 5 great grandchildren. She was a lon...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos


Courtesy of Los
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” includes, from left, Mylissa Malley as Lin, Vanessa Alvarez as Betty, and Christina Bolognini as Pickles. Altos Stage Company

Los Altos Stage Company...

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Spiritual Life

9/11 survivor Michael Hingson finds purpose

Imagine walking down 78 flights of stairs – 1,463 individual steps. You are in imminent danger as you walk, unsure whether you can make it out of the building before it collapses or explodes. Struggling for each breath, you smell the heavy sten...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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The ramifications of burgeoning student debt

New college graduates these days face the same financial challenges that young workers have faced for the last several generations.

As they enter the workforce, there’s the cost of an apartment, perhaps a used car if public transportation is lacking and, of course, their personal preferences for entertainment. At some point during their evolution, they may begin to think about marriage, starting a family and possibly buying a home. And perhaps most important, at some point, they begin saving for retirement.

Unfortunately, a number of recent economic trends – slow wage growth and higher required down payments from homebuyers – are likely to delay some of the above milestones. But the biggest culprit that impacts young Americans’ ability to achieve these financial goals now is the growth in student loans.

According to The Institute for College Access & Success (ticas.org), a nonprofit policy research group in Oakland, two-thirds of the 2011 graduating class – the latest year for which data are available – carried student loan debts. For those with loans, the average amount of debt was $26,600. And that reflects only student debt at public and private nonprofit four-year colleges. Forbes Magazine reports that more than 90 percent of students earning two-year degrees at for-profit schools carry debt. The average debt at a public two-year institution, now the second-highest form of consumer debt behind mortgages, is $7,000.

Delaying retirement saving

I can see two possible long-term trends resulting from this situation. One is a decline in the number of Americans owning their own homes. Indeed, rental markets in those cities that have had the greatest job growth in the last several years are exploding. And while housing markets in those very same locations are also doing well, foreign and institutional investors are driving much of the latter growth, as are low interest rates.

Probably the most concerning trend is the potential for young workers to postpone saving for retirement. The $300 per month that they could be stashing away into an IRA must instead go to paying off college loans. And the consequences of delaying retirement savings can be dramatic.

If you begin saving $300 per month starting at age 35, earn 7 percent per year on your savings and retire at age 65, you will have amassed a total of $366,000. Contrast that with someone starting at age 25, who will net more than twice as much ($788,000). Imagine how much more comfortable the latter nest egg could make you.

What can a college student do? First, consider the return on investment (ROI) of the chosen university. PayScale.com, a website that reports pay scales for various types of jobs, reports on the ROI from more than 500 schools. They calculate the ROI by surveying alumni to estimate lifetime earnings, measuring the costs of getting a degree and comparing that to the earnings of noncollege graduates. Although the data are limited and fraught with assumptions, it’s the most rigorous approach I’ve seen for analyzing the college investment decision. For more information, visit payscale.com/college-education-value-2013.

Next, students should try to use federal loans before considering the riskier (and more expensive) private loans. There are a number of features of federal loans that make them beneficial, such as income-based payback caps and the opportunity to have the loan forgiven in 25 years (or 10 if you work in a public or nonprofit company). But they also have drawbacks: Federal loans cannot be dismissed through bankruptcy.

Keep in mind that retirement planning, just like debt management, is a necessary part of sound financial planning. Even if it’s difficult, every month you put it off will cost you.

Artie Green, a Los Altos resident, is a Certified Financial Planner and professional investment adviser. For more information, call (408) 747-1222.

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