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Last updateTue, 21 Feb 2017 4pm

Food & Wine

'Galentine's Day' celebrates romance of truly great pals

'Galentine's Day' celebrates romance of truly great pals


Christine Moore/Special to the Town Crier
Champagne Moutard Rosé de Cuvaison Brut screams “Valentine’s Day,” with pink bubbles fit for an evening with chocolate and loved ones.

I didn’t plan to have the incredible female friendships I have. As ...

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Your Health

Mountain View teen won't let diabetes sink her fun

Mountain View teen won't let diabetes sink her fun


Courtesy of the Sorenson Family
Cipriana Sorenson, right, with brother Kai and parents Holt and Beth, maintains an active lifestyle despite her Type 1 diabetes diagnosis.

Studies show that approximately 1.25 million Americans are living with Typ...

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Your Home

Outdoor kitchens provide an extension of the home

Outdoor kitchens provide an extension of the home


Courtesy of Lisa Parramore
This outdoor kitchen and gathering space, left, offers a cozy spot to enjoy the smells wafting from the pizza oven.

Part of what makes living in the Bay Area such a delight is its mild, temperate climate. More and m...

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On The Road

Tips to keep dogs from getting carsick

Tips to keep dogs from getting carsick


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Having a dog face forward in a car can help with car sickness.

With winter travel in high gear, many people plan to hit the road with their pooches. However, for some four-legged family members, road trips can mean up...

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Senior Lifestyles

Mountain View nonagenarian enjoys the luck of the genes

Mountain View nonagenarian enjoys the luck of the genes


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Lloyd Lettis, 96, of Mountain View plays tennis three days a week at Los Altos High School.

Ninety-six-year-old Mountain View resident Lloyd Lettis seems to have a gene for longevity. And one for farming. And another for t...

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Wedding To Remember

Got a wedding singer? Musicians and engaged couples work in tandem to orchestrate perfect night

Got a wedding singer? Musicians and engaged couples work in tandem to orchestrate perfect night


Courtesy of Dick Bright
Dick Bright, a veteran Bay Area musician, manages local bands such as the Dick Bright Orchestra, Club 90 and Encore. His bands ramp up the energy at weddings.

A wedding soundtrack draws nearly everyone to the dance floor....

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Your Kids

Back to School

Is Early Decision the right choice for your student?

Is Early Decision the right choice for your student?


Courtesy of Hollis Bischoff
This chart compares the rate of Early Decision acceptances with the overall acceptance rate at various colleges.

As students apply to an ever-increasing list of schools, colleges are challenged to predict accuratel...

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Education IRAs aren't just for kids' college anymore

By now, you might have heard that beginning in 2002, you can contribute up to $2,000 annually to an Education IRA, compared to the current $500 yearly maximum. What many people aren't aware of is that recently passed tax-reform legislation greatly expands what you can spend this money on.

Previously your Education IRA could only be used to pay for college expenses. Beginning in 2002, you can tap these funds tax free to pay for a gamut of qualified school-related expenses not only for college but also for private and public primary and secondary educational institutions. Qualified expenses may include: computer equipment and software (no games) used by the student and other household members for educational purposes; Internet service used by the student and other household members for educational purposes (e.g. research for a term paper); tutoring; school uniforms; books and school supplies; transportation; room and board and tuition; and extended-day school programs.

By paying these and other education-related expenses with your Education IRA, you pay no taxes on your withdrawals, which gives you more buying power.

For example, if you contributed the $500 maximum to an Education IRA this year for your newborn child and then contributed the $2,000 maximum next year and every year until your child turns enters kindergarten, you could potentially accumulate $15,465 at an 8 percent annual compounded rate of return.

That money can be withdrawn tax free, which is a much better deal than if you had saved that money in an interest-bearing savings account and then had to pay taxes on the interest you earned.

Consider using a combination of an Education IRA and a 529 college savings plan if you want to save for your children's college and primary and secondary school education. The 529 plans can only be used for college expenses, but the Education IRA could be available to pay for school-related expenses until college. However, unlike other savings plans such as Education IRAs, anyone at any income level can contribute to a 529 plan.

Beginning next year, 529 plan withdrawals also will be federally tax-free. In addition, U.S. residents can participate in any state's 529 plan and set up accounts for their children, grandchildren, friends or even themselves. But keep in mind that each state's plan may invest your contributions differently and levy its own costs and fees. Be sure to shop around for the 529 plan that best fits your needs.

Education IRAs and 529 plans are a one-two punch that is hard to beat. With college expenses increasing faster than inflation, parents need all the help they can get. Your financial consultant can help you determine which savings plan, or combination, is the best strategy for you.

Steve Zeller is a financial consultant with A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc., member SIPC, 379 Lytton Ave., Palo Alto 94301. For information, call 326-5010.

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