Paying down student loans and trying to save? Clarifi has a workshop for you

Are you trying to manage your hefty student loan payments each month and still save and invest? Or navigate the many federal loan repayment options?

Then Clarifi’s Master Class, which takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, may be for you. It costs $69 and will be at Independence Live, 1919 Market St. in Center City.

If you're trying to pay down student debt and still save for retirement, the class can help with that as well.

"Everyone’s situation is different, but Clarifi encourages clients to find a balance between repaying student loans and investing," said Shawn Needham, a spokesman for Clarifi, a nonprofit with more than 20 offices in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

“Even if you’re repaying student debt, you still want to at least be saving money for retirement,” added Joe Wehr, chartered retirement planning counselor for Clarifi.

“It’s very important not to lose sight of your long-term financial goals. You’ll definitely thank yourself later.”

To register for Clarifi’s Student Loans and Stocks Master Class, visit or call Clarifi directly (267-765-2732). The workshop includes two hours of education and a one-on-one student loan consultation.

“Our certified counselors can also help you review your student loans, answer your questions, and make sure you’re on the repayment plan that makes the most sense for you,” said Wehr.

Clarifi's goal with this workshop is strictly to provide financial education and not recommend or sell any specific investment products.

That's helpful in an era of TV and online advertisements that claim to help solve student loan problems, but are really just additional sales pitches.

We've written before about new programs such as REPAYE, which the Department of Education launched in 2015, to help borrowers negotiate reasonable payment options. But that's just one of a half-dozen or so programs out there -- under a system that's both confusing and cumbersome. 

If you can't attend the workshop, visit, or contact your loan servicer and request to be enrolled in a new repayment plan.  

Tax updates. Aahhhh, tax season! 

If you're looking for free tax-preparation locations, the Campaign for Working Families provides tax prep to families with incomes under $54,000 and individuals with incomes under $20,000.

See their website ( to find out what documents to bring, including: proof of health insurance; ID cards for you and all dependents; income documents including W-2s and 1099s; a voided check for direct deposit; child-care provider information (including your Social Security numbers or EIN); Form 1098-T (tuition payment statement); last year’s tax return; and an identity protection PIN if applicable.

Customers are seen on a first-come, first-served basis. 

While you wait, they'll offer services to complete public health benefits screenings for SNAP, LIHEAP, and CHIP; credit counseling through Clarifi; and prepaid debit cards for direct deposit of your refund and payroll check.

For more information, call 311, the City of Philadelphia hotline.

Separately, there may be delays in some tax refunds. 

The IRS said last week that the "Where's My Refund?" website was to be updated Saturday.  

In addition, the vast majority of early tax filers who claim the earned income tax credit (EITC) or the additional child tax credit (ACTC) may be affected, the agency said. By law, the IRS has to hold on to EITC and ACTC refunds until Feb. 15.

"However, taxpayers may not see those refunds until the week of Feb. 27," the IRS said in a news release.

"Due to differing time frames with financial institutions, weekends, and the Presidents' Day holiday, these refunds likely will not start arriving in bank accounts or on debit cards until the week of Feb. 27 – if there are no processing issues with the tax return and the taxpayer chose direct deposit," the statement added.

Social Security webcast. If you have questions about Social Security, there's a webcast coming soon that may be of help.

"Social Security for the Public -- Answers and Plans" by Bob Jennings, a certified public accountant, is available for $10.

Jennings discusses the 15 most important  factors that the typical person needs to know about Social Security, and will talk about mistakes to avoid, decisions to make, ways to increase your benefits, and when to take (or not take) your benefit. He is the author of the 2017 Social Security Guide.

To register, visit the TaxSpeaker website: