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News

Loyola Corners economics, traffic rise to top of planning concerns

Loyola Corners economics, traffic rise to top of planning concerns

Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Loyola Bridge construction parallel to the Fremont Avenue frontage may lead officials to alter circulation plans for the area.

Loyola Corners stakeholders last week mulled the issues that will likely shape the area&rsquo...

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Schools

LAHS Green Team commemorates Earth Week

LAHS Green Team commemorates Earth Week


Traci Newell/Town Crier
Los Altos High School Green Team members, above, quiz their classmates about water conservation. The club distributed plants as prizes during the club’s Earth Week activities.

Members of the Los Altos High School Green...

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Community

Local pianist, 11, slated to perform Saturday at statewide competition

Local pianist, 11, slated to perform Saturday at statewide competition


Courtesy of the Cha family
Spencer Cha plays piano at a Santa Clara University recital. The sixth-grader also enjoys soccer, tennis, golf and skiing.

Spencer Cha has come a long way since he first sat down at the piano at age 2.

“I remem...

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Sports

Spartans net second place, eye top prize next season

Spartans net second place, eye top prize next season


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Jeremy Hsu, Mountain View High’s top singles player, competes against Pinewood Thursday. The Spartans won the match 7-0.

With freshmen playing the top three spots in singles, the future of the Mountain View High boy...

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Comment

Los Altos at a leadership crossroads: Editorial

Don’t look now, but there could be some major changes ahead regarding how the Los Altos city government is run.

The current city council has the opportunity to hire a new city manager in the wake of Marcia Somers’ recent resignation. Fur...

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Special Sections

How to personalize the wedding bar

How to personalize the wedding bar


Christine Moore/Special to the Town Crier
A seasonal signature cocktail adds interest beyond the standard wedding bar’s spirits and mixers. Focus on one set of fresh ingredients, such as blueberries, blackberries and mint for a dose of budget...

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Business

Farmers prepare to market season's bounty

Farmers prepare to market season's bounty


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Journeyman farmer Jen Friedlander waters Hidden Villa’s greenhouse plants, which will grow stronger in the controlled indoor environment before being transferred to the field outdoors.

Around Hidden Villa, the gree...

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People

BUOL JOANNE DOUGHERTY

BUOL JOANNE DOUGHERTY

1930-2016

Heaven gained a beautiful angel today. Our beloved mother’s blessed life ended in her Los Altos home surrounded by her loving family on April 18, 2016.

Buol Joanne Dougherty was born Sept. 28, 1930 in Chicago. At the age of two, M...

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Stepping Out

'Catch' comes to conclusion LA Stage Co. comedy  ends run this weekend

'Catch' comes to conclusion LA Stage Co. comedy ends run this weekend


Richard Mayer/Special to the Town Crier
Bryan Moriarty, left, stars as Yossarian and John Stephen King plays the Psychiatrist in Los Altos Stage Company’s “Catch-22.”

Los Altos Stage Company’s presentation of “Catch...

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Spiritual Life

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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