MONTH-2-MONTH is intended to provide you with updates on AFP and timely financial planning and investment information on a variety of topics. 

If you find our content useful, please forward this e-mail to a friend.
Reap what you sow
Life continues and business is starting to get back to normal, although it is the "new" normal. There is no timeline as to how long we will be under the threat of Covid-19. Our own behaviors will determine this. Aside from our front-line workers, many of us may be suffering from some form of cabin fever. We also may be feeling a responsibility to help with the economic recovery by supporting business establishments. Please do, but with caution.

Garden centers and greenhouses are especially busy this time of year. There are many amateur gardeners looking to discover if they have a green thumb. Gardening is a therapeutic activity providing numerous benefits to our health and well-being.

Sowing healthy habits of physical exercise is also a great mental booster. This is a great time for biking, swimming (if you know someone with a pool), hiking, canoeing or just a nice walk. Hope to see you out there!

AFP recognizes long-time client and friend, Bill Lantz for his dedication to the preservation of historic landmarks. Over the years I had known of Bill’s passion for preserving historic buildings, but I had no idea of the number of structures he has impacted in Columbus. I came across this posting honoring him for his work and I just felt it was important to share this with all of you (after I checked with Ruth to make sure it was ok). Thank you so much Bill for all your dedicated work in this area.

The Columbus Landmarks Foundation recently established the Columbus Landmarks Legacy Circle to honor individuals who wholeheartedly support Columbus Landmarks’ mission. The Legacy Circle was established with a generous $10,000 donation from SMBH, Inc. in honor of Bill Lantz’s career and his dedication to this mission.

  • We continue working remotely and social distancing although Tracey and Bob will begin making more frequent trips to the office. We are still here for you. Please don't put off a call to the office if you need our help.

  • For your safety, we are not scheduling in office meetings. We can host Virtual Meetings using Zoom. For our Wealth Management clients, the Wealth Management Navigator also offers a virtual meeting solution. For those concerned about Zoom, we use a subscription version which includes increased security features.

  • For those that must visit our office, please check in with us prior to visiting. There may be periodic road closures due to construction projects currently underway in the immediate vicinity of the office.

  • Charitable contributions have been made on behalf of the Clients of AFP to the following organizations: The Greater Columbus Arts Council, Columbus Foundation for aid to Healthcare Workers, Homeless funding program, and pet rescue group, Stop the Suffering.

ORION Portal & Best Practices

  • Please login to your Orion portal at least once every quarter. Your Orion Portal will become inactive after 90 days without being accessed. Once inactive, a password reset will not work. An inactive Portal will need to be re-activated and a password reset will need to be initiated by Tracey in order for you to re-gain access. Orion portals not accessed within any 180 day period will be inactive after 90 days and deleted after 180 days.

  • The Orion portal does require a password reset every 90 days. A password reset link is good for only 24 hours.

  • The password reset for the Orion Portal is best completed on a computer and does not work properly on some devices.

  • If you initiate a password reset within the 90 day time frame and don't receive the reset email, check your spam/junk email folder.

  • The Orion portal has a very nice co-browse feature. If you are experiencing navigation issues, please contact Tracey to schedule a co-browse. Tracey can help you to better understand navigating the Orion Portal.
+ Teri's World
Every month this year seems to have a significant event. The Covid virus has now become more personal with the death of Gene’s older brother, John Oliver, on May 12 th . As so many have experienced, the journey through this was very up and down until the end. Gene has learned so many wonderful things about his brother, an avid golfer, since his passing and this has been very comforting. At the age of 10 John would walk 9 miles each way with his 12 year old brother from Jerome to Brookside Country Club to work as a caddy. He did this throughout his teenage years as they had no car. He then served in the Air Force and the passion for golf carried him through his life teaching others as well. He will be greatly missed by family and friends. 

Outside of the office, the focus has been on being outside as much as possible. With May feeling more like March, it has made this a bit more challenging for everyone. I have very much appreciated clients and friends sending pictures of flowers, trees in bloom and wildlife! Thank you for sharing. I’ve spent a little more time talking with family and friends via social distancing too. Grandview Hts. did turn the water on at the public gardens earlier this month and I have been able to get most of my vegetable garden planted. Unfortunately, I started the month by slipping on the back tailgate of my 22 year old truck and fractured a few ribs. Things like this have a way of keeping one humble! I’m on the mend though and feeling better every day. Great to see the sun shining and people out and about!
+ What about Bob
We have had a good May. Both are still working from home with an occasional visit to the office. One of the unexpected delights of this has been being able to enjoy the birds that have been visiting our birdfeeders. We get the usual Cardinals, Blue Jays, and large variety of Finches but we have had some unusual and interesting ones. Some of the most notable that visit during their migration have been, a flock of Cedar Waxwings, several Rose-breasted grosbeaks and 2 Orioles. Neither Bob nor Christine have ever seen these before.

Although the weather has been very sketchy and felt more like March than May, we purchased kayaks one weekend and were able to get out on Dillon Lake for some fishing (Bob) and relaxation (Christine). We were also able to get out on Buckeye Lake with our daughter Ashley and Grandniece Layla on Saturday of the long Memorial Day weekend. 
Cedar Waxwing
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
+ Tracey's Time
We quietly celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary!

The school year wrapped up with a recognition parade. Teachers and staff waved to the 8th grade grads from a safe distance. Cayleigh invited a special guest to accompany her. Congratulations go out to Cayleigh for finishing strong, having been an Honor Roll student throughout her middle school academic career. Great Job!

We haven't made a decision on our summer trip yet. Campgrounds are opening across the country and we are still in a wait and see mode. To be determined soon...
Cayleigh & Coco
So long, HMS
Current Economic and Investment Information
WE’LL NEED TO BORROW A LOT OF MONEY - After 7 months of fiscal year 2020, i.e., the 7 months through 4/30/20, the government’s budget deficit to date is $1.481 trillion, more than the nation’s all-time record deficit for a single fiscal year of $1.413 trillion from fiscal year 2009(source: Treasury Department). 

BIGGEST YET - The House released the $3 trillion, 1,815 page HEROES Act (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act) on 5/12/20. Congress has previously passed 4 bills between 3/06/20 and 4/24/20 to counter the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic (source: House of Representatives). 
STUDENT LOANS - On page 1,400 of the 1,815-page HEROES Act is a provision that would forgive up to $10,000 of every federal student loan(source: HEROES Act).  
NEVER GOING BACK - Before President Trump declared a national emergency to combat the COVID-19 virus on Friday 3/13/20, just 3.6% of American wage and salaried employees worked from home 5 days a week (source: Department of Labor). 

TOOK FOUR YEARS -“Risk corridors” that were part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) provided that health insurance companies were to receive reimbursement for a portion of their losses suffered on individual plans. The Supreme Court voted 8-1 on 4/27/20 that the government still owes health insurance companies $12 billion from the program. Health insurance companies initially filed suit to recover the funds on 6/02/16(source: ACA). 

SOCIAL DISTANCING ALREADY - 35 million Americans live alone, i.e., 28% of the households in the United States have just a single person living in the house/apartment (source: Census Bureau).  

WE NEED A WINNER NOW - 88% of the drugs that enter clinical trials do not receive FDA approval and never come to market for sale to the general public(source: Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development). 

THIS IS WHERE WE ARE - The S&P 500 is down 7.8% YTD(total return) as of the close of trading last Friday 5/22/20. Just 92 stocks in the index are up YTD. In calendar year 2019, only 62 stocks in the S&P 500 were down for the entire year. The S&P 500 consists of 500 stocks chosen for market size, liquidity and industry group representation. It is a market value weighted index with each stock's weight in the index proportionate to its market value (source: BTN Research).

THE WORST - Since peaking on 2/19/20, the S&P 500 lost 33.8%(total return) over the next 23 trading days through Monday 3/23/20. That’s the worst 23-day trading period in the last 30 years(source: BTN Research).

NEARLY THE BEST - Since bottoming on 3/23/20, the S&P 500 has gained +32.6%(total return) over the next 43 trading days through last Friday 5/22/20. That’s the 2nd best 43-day trading period in the last 30 years, bested only by a +37.8% gain(total return) achieved between 3/09/09 and 5/08/09, the first 43 trading days of the 11-year bull market that ended on 2/19/20(source: BTN Research).

NEW NOTE - The US government auctioned off $20 billion of new 20-year Treasury notes last week on 5/20/20, its first sale of 20-year paper since 1986. Subsequent auctions of 20-year Treasury notes are scheduled each month going forward. In 1986, the auction of 20-year notes occurred quarterly(source: Treasury Department).

RECORD SIZE, RECORD YIELD - The US government auctioned off $32 billion of new 10-year Treasury notes on 5/12/20, the largest sale of 10-year notes in our history. The notes were sold at a yield of 0.70%, a record low yield at auction. The government has issued 10-year notes since 1790(source: Treasury Department).

A DISINCENTIVE TO GO BACK TO WORK - An estimated 65%-75% of out-of-work Americans who are receiving unemployment benefits are being paid more money per week than they were receiving pre-pandemic from their employment (source: J.P. Morgan “Eye on the Market”).

HALF A YEAR - The shortest US recession in the last 100 years was the 6-month economic downturn that ran from January 1980 to July 1980 (source: National Bureau of Economic Research).

ALL FOR EXACTLY THE SAME SERVICES - Private US health insurance pays on average $241 for health care services for every $100 that Medicare pays and for every $72 that Medicaid pays (source: RAND, Health Affairs).

PANDEMIC PAIN - 46 of the 50 states have fiscal years (FY) that run from July 1st to June 30th, with 4 states(New York, Texas, Alabama and Michigan) having other FY end-dates. The collective projected spending of all 50 states for FY 2020 was $900 billion, to be offset by collective projected tax revenue of $900 billion. The COVID-19 pandemic has upset the financial forecasts of all 50 US states, now anticipating a collective loss of $105 billion for FY 2020 and $290 billion for FY 2021 (source: The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities).
Congratulations on Your Scholarship.
Now Pay Uncle Sam.

What some college students may not realize is that they have to pay taxes on their financial aid if the money covered housing, travel or food

By Francesca Fontana
The Wall Street Journal

It is the end of the school year. For college students who received financial aid, that means it is time to calculate what they could owe Uncle Sam.

The problem? Some students have no idea their scholarships or grants may be taxable in the first place, resulting in an unexpected financial burden for those who have school loans or hail from low-income households.

One group representing colleges and universities is asking Congress for help with these costs while a deadly virus rages across the country. The American Council on Education sent lawmakers a proposal last month asking that students receive a temporary reprieve from scholarship taxes for as long as the coronavirus pandemic lasts. Taxes this year are due July 15 instead of April 15 due to the spread of the new coronavirus.

The new campaign to suspend college aid taxation is part of a larger effort to reduce the cost of higher education for those who need assistance to pay for it. The U.S. government has already suspended payments and interest on federal student loans for nearly six months to provide relief during a time of economic uncertainty.

Hundreds of thousands pay levies on their scholarships each year due to a 34-year-old federal ruling that any aid used for living, travel and other expenses should be treated as taxable income. Maya Mauroof, a sophomore international student from the Maldives, says she ended up owing $785 in income taxes from her first semester at Mount Holyoke College due to the grants she received for health insurance, room and board and student activities. She was working part time at the dining hall making minimum wage and used her paychecks to pay for her textbooks and personal expenses. She couldn’t afford to pay.

“I remember I cried because I didn’t see this coming,” Ms. Mauroof says. A suspension of that tax, she added, would save her $1,600 owed for her fall and spring semesters. “Keeping that money would help me afford to stay in the U.S. since I absolutely can’t go home right now. It would help me make it through the summer.”

Scholarships haven’t always been subject to taxation in the U.S. The Internal Revenue Code didn’t even reference financial aid until 1954, when Congress introduced a section declaring that scholarships, grants and fellowships for degree candidates were tax-free.

That stance changed in the 1980s. Lawmakers decided the tax benefit should be tied more directly to education rather than rent or food, according to Erica York, an economist at the Tax Foundation, a think tank that collects data on U.S. tax policies. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 pushed by President Ronald Reagan officially defined aid used for living and travel as taxable, part of a sweeping overhaul that closed some tax loopholes and streamlined the tax code to broaden the tax base and lower rates. Textbooks, supplies and required equipment for a class would be free from taxation but if a student used a portion of those funds to pay for housing, travel or food, that amount would become taxable as income.

This rule appears to be a source of increasing revenue for the U.S. Roughly 703,000 taxpayers reported scholarships on their returns in 2017, bringing in $2.8 billion in tax revenue, according to the most recent IRS Statistics of Income Report. That is up from roughly 44,000 taxpayers who paid $325 million in 2015. However, the IRS says that the amount of scholarship income may not have actually changed much, as the agency improved its accuracy in identifying scholarship income in electronic returns starting in 2017.

Some who oppose the tax say it is unfairly applied. “Those who can afford to give charitably receive a tax deduction while students who rely on the aid, who need every dollar, have a tax liability,” says Kalwis Lo, director of policy at Scholarship America, a nonprofit that distributes millions of dollars to students each year. “Something doesn’t make sense there.”

The tax also makes the cost of college more unaffordable for low-income students, says Mark Kantrowitz, the publisher of Mr. Kantrowitz says he has heard from students who have had to borrow more in student loans to pay their tax liability, adding to the burgeoning amount of outstanding student debt.

“Every dollar more in scholarships reduces that debt,” Mr. Kantrowitz says. “So why are we not allowing people to make full use of their scholarships to reduce that debt?”

Some organizations, including Scholarship America and the National Scholarship Providers Association, have been working for years to restore financial aid’s full tax-free status. Since 2017, Mr. Lo says Scholarship America has been meeting with members of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, both of which have jurisdiction on tax-related matters.

The American Council on Education says it sent a proposal in April to the two committees asking to temporarily stop collecting taxes on scholarship and grant aid during the coronavirus pandemic. A spokesman for the Senate Finance Committee says it received the proposal and is considering it along with other ideas presented to the committee for possible economic relief and recovery efforts in the future. Representatives of the House Ways and Means Committee declined to comment.

One low-income student who had not accounted for the scholarship tax hit was Sol Adams. He started his freshman year at Colorado Mesa University with enough financial aid, including scholarships and a Pell grant, to pay for his tuition, room and board, and other expenses without taking out any student loans.

It wasn’t until he and his mom were doing his taxes in 2019 that he found out he owed about $600 in taxes that year, thanks to his full-ride. Mr. Adams paid his tax debt to the IRS using money from his savings account.

Now when tax season rolls around, he knows what to expect—he just wishes he’d known it sooner. “I was totally blindsided,” Mr. Adams says. “Fortunately, I had enough saved up.”

Confusion about how to calculate the tax on scholarships is a problem for some students. The only tax form involving scholarships that arrives from universities is a 1098-T tuition statement, which shows how much the student paid the school in tuition and fees and how much the student received in total financial aid. What the statement doesn’t say is how much of a student’s financial aid will be taxable because there is no way for the colleges to know for sure.

The IRS discusses the tax status of scholarships in its annual tax guide and its guide to tax benefits for education. The latter includes a worksheet on how to determine the amount of taxable aid. The Wall Street Journal, using that IRS worksheet, has compiled a tax calculator to help students figure it out on their own.

Being familiar with the higher education system doesn’t necessarily make this understanding any easier, according to Debbie Gale Mitchell, an assistant teaching professor at the University of Denver.

She had no idea she would have to pay taxes on a portion of the $125,000 National Science Foundation graduate research fellowship she received while in grad school at the university in 2010. It wasn’t until after she had graduated from her Ph.D. program that she heard from the IRS.

“I got a notification saying that I owed more than $5,000 in back taxes,” she says. At the time, her husband was in his medical residency, she was an adjunct professor, and they had two children. They didn’t have the money, so she paid with a credit card.

“In retrospect it seems so obvious,” she says.
Tidy Up Your Money

These days we're all hyper focused on our personal hygiene. We wash our hands too many times to count. And we can't seem to pass by a bottle of hand sanitizer without taking a squirt.

But have you thought about how neat, clean, and orderly your finances are lately? This pandemic has highlighted the need for us all to have a solid financial plan. If you do have your own plans in place, have you passed this knowledge and your experiences on to your children?

All too often we don't talk about money and the skills needed to practice good financial hygiene. We treat money like an unmentionable or something dirty. But it shouldn't be. We need to be more open and honest with ourselves and our kids. Now's a great time to start talking to your kids about money and giving them the proper foundation and guidance to be financially successful in their future. 

Technology to make a home aging friendly

The majority of individuals would like to grow old in a traditional home setting. With proper preparation, aging in place is a realistic alternative to assisted living facilities. Along with traditional modifications to make a home aging friendly, technology has greatly improved the lives of seniors and their ability to age in place.

The key with any technology is that the senior must be willing to use it in the first place. Many avoid the use of technology because it is too complicated or difficult to learn. Fortunately, many technology companies are creating tools specifically for a senior audience. Tools are available to improve home safety, provide medical services, transportation, and interaction.

Home safety tools

If a senior has difficulty with ambulation, consider the use of automatic door openers, stair lifts, or home elevators. Although stair lifts and home elevators can be costly, the cost may easily outweigh the ongoing cost of an assisted living facility.

A senior may have a number of caregivers. Instead of providing keys to each individual, consider the use of a smart lock that is controlled through a smart phone. The door can be unlocked remotely, and access can be denied once a person no longer needs access to the home.

Medical services

Falls and acute medical events are a significant concern. There are now “smart watches” available that can be activated to call for help when needed or will recognize when a senior has fallen and can call help automatically.

Sensors can be placed on the refrigerator to make certain it is being opened, pill bottles to monitor medication use, and toilets to check for daily use.

Remote cameras can be placed throughout to monitor movement. If modesty is an issue, the cameras can be placed at foot level.

Good broadband service will allow for the use of telemedicine and improved interaction with the outside world.


With the advent of transportation services such as Uber, the inability to drive becomes less of an issue. However, it is important to become comfortable using these services long before there is a required need.


Interaction with others is important for good physical and mental health. Seniors should continue to pursue activity outside the home augmented with interaction provided through technology. Tablets specifically modified for use by seniors are available to provide voice recorded emails, video calls, social media access, and interactive games.

By using technology, seniors can more safely age in place, which will improve satisfaction, a sense of well-being, and potentially reduce costs.

"It is health that is real wealth and
not pieces of gold and silver. "

- Mahatma Gandhi

Alexander Financial Planning
1621 W. First Avenue
Grandview Heights, OH 43212

Registered Investment Advisor
This material is distributed by Alexander Financial Planning, Inc., (AFPI) and is for information purposes only. Although information has been obtained from sources to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy. It is provided with the understanding that no fiduciary relationship exists because of this report. Opinions expressed in this report are not necessarily the opinions of AFPI and are subject to change without notice. AFPI assumes no liability for the interpretation or use of this report. Financial planning, investment conclusions and strategies suggested in this report may not be suitable for all investors and consultation with a qualified advisor is recommended prior to executing any investment strategy. All rights reserved.