Wed10222014

News

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council continues to explore options to address parking constraints in the downtown triangle.

The Los Altos City Council last week held the first of two study sessions to discuss the potential construct...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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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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