A Personal Note

Since the beginning of 2010 we have been talking about facing a bumpy stock market this year.  Year to date, the S&P 500 is down 7.6%.  In the second quarter alone, we hit a pretty hard bump with the S&P 500 down 11.9%. 

     The combination of health care reform, the debt crisis in Greece and the other PIIGS countries, as well as financial services reform have sent people running from the stock market to the safety of treasuries.  So much so that the 10-year bond is now yielding 2.95% and the 2-year note is at .62%.  Compare this to a 2.8% dividend yield on the Dow. 

     We also had some hiccups in the weekly unemployment claims.  It has always been our belief that the economic recovery would be driven by capital spending with a concurrent sluggish consumer.  We still believe that to be true.  Our philosophy of buying high quality large cap dividend paying stocks is even more appropriate in this environment.  As long-term investors we recognize that these stocks offer great value when compared to bonds and cash.  The next few years we expect a slow growing economy and these stocks have the financial strength and flexibility to thrive in that environment.

     On another note, here is the link to my interview with Becky Surran about Baby Boomers and Investing, on Channel 12’s News Show, 12 On The Money:


Warm regards,

Catherine Maniscalco Avery                               

CAIM specializes in creating and managing
customized and fully diversified investment
portfolios for private investors.
203.966.2712  p
203.966.5697  f
Financial Aid:  How to Get More

Across the nation colleges are feeling the financial crunch. As a result most are drastically raising tuition, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article entitled: ‘Financial Aid 101: How to Get More.’  This year, for example, Harvard University announced its tuition, fees and board would increase by 3.8% for the 2010-2011 year, exceeding $50,000 for the first time.  Even many state schools, traditionally far cheaper than private schools, are imposing significantly steeper hikes in percentage terms.

     All of which makes a tough situation tougher for families who are too affluent to quality for financial aid but not wealthy enough to pay out of pocket.

     Fortunately, according to this same article, there are a number of short and long-term strategies that parents can use to qualify for more aid.  Here, in a nutshell, are some of the do’s and don’ts:


1.   Save in investment accounts listed in a parent’s name, such as 529 college savings plans, since up to 5.65% of such assets are assessed under federal aid formulas

2.   Minimize capital gains and accelerate necessary expenses such as a car or tax bill in the calendar year before your child starts college and, if possible, during the college years.

3.   Notify financial aid officers about changes in your financial circumstances, such as a recent job loss or home devaluation.

4.   Reduce available cash in your bank accounts to pay down consumer loans like credit card balance since these kinds of debts aren’t included in aid formulas.

5.   Contribute to retirement accounts as much as possible before your child’s college years since the money isn’t included in aid formulas.


1.   Save in your child’s name as student assets such as those in custodial accounts, can be assessed up to 20% under federal aid formulas.

2.   Inflate your income with bonuses and retirement distributions during those years.

3.   Go into the aid office without the proper documentation to back up your claims.

4.   Pay for college with unsecured debt, such as personal loans, since such loans are not subtracted from your assets under aid formulas

5.   Withdraw money from your retirement fund to pay for college since distributions will raise your income, potentially reducing aid eligibility.

Copyright 2010, CAIM LLC

For those of you with questions, feel free to call me at 203.966.2712 or visit www.catherineaveryinvest.com
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