Awards Night at the Museum

Our awards night will be making a repeat appearance at the American Visionary Arts Museum on the evening of May 9th! Get your tickets here for a fancy evening of art, Italian market style hors d’oeuvres, and of course an open beer and wine bar! Early bird tickets are $8.50 until May 3rd (11:59pm), so get them while you can!
Ticket sales close at 5pm on May 9th (unless the tickets sell out sooner).

more “Awards Night at the Museum”

Online ticket sales for this event are closed.

GSA Pirate Cruise

Ahoy mateys, time to set sail with the GSA for our annual pirate cruise in the Baltimore Harbor! Please arrive at the docks at 8:30pm on Friday May 11th, or we will be casting off without you. Special early bird pricing of $10 will be active until May 3rd (11:59pm), so buy your tickets below before the other pirates claim all the booty!

Costumes are encouraged
Drinks are provided
Fun will be had

Online ticket sales for this event are closed.

Budgeting and Investment Seminar

This past Tuesday, the GSA hosted Tom Hartman, MBA, CMA, for a seminar titled “Budgeting Your Money to Live Now and Retire Comfortably”. Attendees were engaged and asked questions throughout the whole of this comprehensive talk. The first section on budgeting covered tracking spending, creating a budget, and using credit. The second section on investing detailed what is investing, why do I need to invest, and what are the best investments and plans for grad students. The GSA would like to thank Tom Hartman for taking the time to come give this presentation and for providing us with the following talk materials for our use:
Sample Budget
Blank Budget
The Magic of Compounding Interest
Presentation Slides
Recording

After viewing the presentation material and watching the video, it would be appreciated if you could fill out the feedback survey.

The recording was setup by the SON and ended right at 6:00pm on slide 37. A summary of the key points from the remaining slides is included below:

Slide 37
Once you pick the ETFs you want to invest in, research if any brokerages (the middle person between you and the stock market) allow you to purchase those ETFs commission free.

Slides 38-40
Once you pick a brokerage, you need to open an account with them. Here are the account types:
Roth IRA – Individual retirement account that you put post-tax money in. Withdrawals after retirement are tax free but are never required. $5,500 annual contribution limit.
Traditional IRA – Individual retirement account that you put pre-tax money in, which reduces your taxable income. Withdrawals are required after age 70 1/2 and are taxed as regular income. $5,500 annual contribution limit.
Taxable brokerage account – A regular account that you put post-tax money in. Both capital gains and dividends are taxed, but there is no annual contribution limit.
Roth 401K – Retirement account offered by some companies, similar to Roth IRA in that it is post-tax money, but the contribution limit is $18,000 for 2017 ($18,500 for 2018, plus an additional $6,000 for employees age 50 or over). The company will often match a percentage of your contributions.
401K – Retirement account offered by some companies, similar to traditional IRA in that it is pre-tax money, but the contribution limit is $18,000 for 2017 ($18,500 for 2018, plus an additional $6,000 for employees age 50 or over). The company will often match a percentage of your contributions.

(403b is the nonprofit offering equivalent of a 401k)

Of note, the contribution limit is a total contribution limit for all of that type of account (IRAs or 401Ks) in one calendar year. For example with IRAs, you could put $5,500 in a Roth IRA or $5,500 in a traditional IRA or split it like $3,000 in a Roth IRA and $2,500 in a traditional IRA. You CANNOT put $5,500 in a ROTH IRA and then also put $5,500 in a traditional IRA in the same calendar year.

It is suggested that individuals in lower tax brackets contribute to the Roth varieties of IRAs or 401Ks so that you pay taxes now while in a lower tax bracket rather than paying taxes when in a higher tax bracket during retirement.

Once you have an account at a brokerage, you may purchase stocks, bonds, ETFs, and mutual funds within that account with the money you contributed to that account. See evaluation rules for purchasing ETFs earlier in the talk.

Slides 41-52
The screenshots for setting up an account are pretty easy to follow. Once you connect a bank account to your new Roth IRA account, there will be a couple deposits to the bank account to make sure it is connected properly. The brokerage will then probably ask you what amount the deposits were to confirm it is your account. Feel free to contact the brokerage if you are having difficulty since they are more than willing to help you put your money in one of their accounts.

Slide 53
It is suggested we use market orders and not try to time the market since we are long term investors. However, it was noted that the stock market is pretty high right now, so if you are worried about a crash, some bond ETFs may be a good idea. Since we are long term investors, it is most important to START ASAP since nobody can actually time the market. You at least want to contribute to an IRA even if you don’t buy any ETFs at this time because once the deadline (approximately April 15 of the following year – tax filing deadline) for each calendar year passes, you can never contribute $5,500 for that year again.

Slide 54
For some of the submitted questions:

You should contact your old companies’ HR department to track down old 401Ks. Then make sure you have online login access to those accounts. You can switch those accounts to the broker you chose earlier to keep all your accounts together and easier to track if you need to. 401Ks cannot be rolled over into a Roth IRA, so you will need to create (with your broker) a Traditional IRA to roll them into.

Non US citizens need to check with the Office of International Services, ask brokerages, possibly a tax attorney, and/or the IRS. The situation can be complicated due to tax treaties, whether you are paying US taxes, whether you are staying in the US after school, what your visa is, and whether your country recognizes IRA tax advantages.

Traditional IRAs from previous years can be converted to Roth IRAs. You can also make your yearly $5,500 contribution to the Roth IRA in the same year as the conversion. This conversion should be done broker to broker or within your one broker. If you take longer than 60 days to make the transfer of funds, you may be assessed a 10% early withdrawal penalty. Also, you will have to pay taxes on the conversion amount when you do the conversion, so you need to be ready for that tax increase, which may push you into a higher tax bracket.

There is no agreed-upon “average length of time people own a stock”. It is recommended we buy broadly diversified ETFs and hold them. You don’t really need to sell until you get to about 12 years from retirement when you MUST start thinking about reducing the risk in your portfolio by diversifying into bonds and possibly other types of investments. If the market is up at that time, begin the diversification. If the market is down, you have time to wait for it to come back up.

A money market account is similar to a savings account, typically with a slightly higher interest. It may or may not keep up with inflation. The minimum opening deposit for a money market account may be as high as $2,500. If your balance drops below that amount — say, from withdrawals — a monthly maintenance fee may be assessed.

For the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, you don’t need to do anything specific to take advantage of it. However for 2018, our tax bracket will be lower and the standard deduction will be higher, so we should end up paying less in federal tax. Such a “windfall” should be invested, not spent.

Slides 55-56
If you have the option of contributing to a 401K or a Roth 401K, you want to contribute at least enough to get 100% of your company matching since that is free money. If a 401K, stop after attaining matching and fully fund your Roth IRA (not to be confused with the Roth 401K). After fully funding the Roth IRA, circle back to the 401K with any remaining investable funds.

Mt. Vernon Ghostwalk Tour

Come join the GSA for the Mt. Vernon Ghostwalk!  We will see if we can catch any ghosts still lingering in the world of the living after Halloween.  We will meet on Friday November 3rd in front of the Belvedere at 1 Chase St in Mt. Vernon at 7:15pm.  For now, only SOM grad students can purchase tickets, but we can open it up on Thursday evening.

Online ticket sales for this event are closed.

Apple Picking at Rock Hill Orchard and Woodbourne Creamery

The GSA went apple picking September 30th at Rock Hill Orchard in Mount Airy, MD and tried out (probably a little too much of) ice cream from the onsite Woodbourne Creamery! After an initial ice cream sampling, the corn maze was the first thing conquered by our grad students. We then browsed through both the upper and lower orchards to find varieties such as Golden Delicious, Royal Empire, Jonagold de Coster, Jonathan, Red Delicious, Stayman, and Melrose. At the end of the day, we treated ourselves to, you guessed it, more ice cream! Woodbourne Creamery raises their own Guernsey cows developed by french monks on the island of Guernsey. These cows are known for superior milk, and we definitely agree the ice cream should be tried by all.

Fall 2017 Apple Picking

Hi Everyone,

We are planning an apple picking trip to Rock Hill Orchard & Woodbourne Creamery (http://www.rockhillorchard.com), which has pick your own apples, fresh from the farm ice cream, and corn mazes! This will be on Saturday September 30th, and we will be carpooling there.  The plan is for carpools to leave Baltimore around noon in order to arrive at the orchard by 1pm.  Then we will stay for about 3 hours until 4pm and arrive back in Baltimore around 5pm.

Once you have RSVP’d via one of the options below, follow the URL in the confirmation email if you would like to signup for the carpool.  It is important to RSVP regardless of whether you are carpooling or not in order to receive day of weather postponing information or possible but unlikely orchard changes due to apple availability.

As for pricing, Rock Hill Orchard charges by bag not by weight as well as an entry fee to the orchard (multiple entry fees are included depending on the size of the bag purchased as seen below).  We should have enough people that nobody will pay an entry fee even if they aren’t picking apples:

  • Small Bag – $12 , includes up to 2 guests. This bag holds 5 to 6 pounds of apples
  • Medium Bag – $21 , includes up to 4 guests. This bag holds 11 to 12 pounds of apples
  • Large Bag -$34 , includes up to 6 guests. This bag holds 22 to 24 pounds of apples
  • Additional guests – $3 each

Their Fall Combo is $11/person for a small bag and entry to both cornmazes.  For groups 10 people or larger, the Fall Combo price is reduced to $10/person if everything is purchased in one transaction (another important reason to RSVP so we know who is coming)!

Hope to see you there!

Eric

Online registration for this event is closed

GSA Hike with Hopkins Hikers

The GSA hit the trails this August 5th for a hike in the Catoctin Mountain park​. After a week of thunderstorms, the weather cleared up so we could enjoy the beautiful rolling hills in western Maryland. The hike was lead by Kyla Britson, Kathleen Cunningham, and Michael Ketcha who have started a new student group: Hopkins Hikers. If you were disappointed to miss this hike, never fear! Hopkins Hikers will be leading hikes every month so keep your eyes on the GSA digest to catch future events.

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Monthly Movie Night: Power Rangers

With a blast from the past, this re-envisioning of the Power Rangers’ origins was enjoyed along with pizza and drinks last night in the GSA lounge!

Monthly Movie Night: Space Jam

With a blast from the past, Space Jam arrived in the GSA lounge for students to watch while enjoying pizza this past Tuesday!

Alyssa at the Keystone Symposia Conference on Cancer Immunotherapy

The GSA Travel Award allowed me to travel to Whistler, BC and present my thesis work at an international Keystone Symposia conference on Cancer Immunotherapy. Presenting to a crowd of ~650 researchers was my largest oral presentation of my PhD and was a fantastic learning experience that would not have been possible without the help of GSA. Presenting at the conference resulted in a new collaboration with an industry partner and networking opportunities for possible job offers.
– Alyssa Kosmides