Sun, 28 May 2006 00:00:00 EDTAs I step off into retirement at the end of this week -- this is the last of these columns -- I thought it might be useful for readers, especially younger ones, if I took note of some of the strategies my wife and I have used, and lessons we have learned, over the years building our financial security.
Sun, 21 May 2006 00:00:00 EDTThis column marks the beginning of the end.
Sun, 14 May 2006 00:00:00 EDTThe headlines last week were large on the subject of the tax-cut bill Republican leaders hustled through Congress and over to the president.
Sun, 07 May 2006 00:00:00 EDTDid the Bureau of Public Debt whip both inflation and high interest rates while we weren't looking?
Sun, 30 Apr 2006 00:00:00 EDTThe current Next Big Thing in controlling health-care costs is "consumer-driven" medical insurance.
Sun, 23 Apr 2006 00:00:00 EDTThe week after Tax Filing Day is frequently a time when taxpayers are inspired to "do something" about the amount of tax they have to pay.
Sun, 16 Apr 2006 00:00:00 EDTToday is April 16 -- and there's still time, brother.
Sun, 09 Apr 2006 00:00:00 EDTTo a degree unseen since early in the last century, young people at the beginning of their working lives today are on their own.
Sun, 02 Apr 2006 00:00:00 ESTA recent survey by a brokerage firm found that 58 percent of Americans contemplating retirement don't know how big a nest egg they need to assure themselves of a comfortable life in old age.
Sun, 26 Mar 2006 00:00:00 ESTEver wonder how your auto insurer decides what to charge you for coverage, or even whether to offer you a policy at all?
Sun, 19 Mar 2006 00:00:00 ESTHere's a tax question: When is your child not your child?
Sun, 12 Mar 2006 00:00:00 ESTAs company after company across the country freezes or terminates traditional pensions, typically at the same time shifting to new or sweetened 401(k) plans, workers face a new and very important question:
Sun, 05 Mar 2006 00:00:00 ESTAs property owners here and around the country gaze in shock and awe at their new tax assessments, there is growing evidence that the price run-up behind those assessments is coming to an end.
Sun, 19 Feb 2006 00:00:00 ESTFor the past year or two, the turmoil in the U.S. private pension system has captured headlines and sent shivers through many households.
Sun, 12 Feb 2006 00:00:00 ESTWhat's the best 529 plan? It's a question that has plagued investors in these tax-free college savings/investment accounts for years. They are run by the individual states, typically via contracts with mutual fund operators and other money managers, and sorting out the best investment options, fees and other considerations hasn't been easy. In fact, it has allowed some states to offer embarrassingly bad programs.
Sun, 05 Feb 2006 00:00:00 ESTDespite a good deal of pre-State of the Union huffing and puffing, the Bush administration apparently plans to seek fairly modest changes in the law covering health savings accounts (HSAs) and other "consumer-driven" types of medical insurance.
Sun, 29 Jan 2006 00:00:00 ESTThe long-predicted ice age is settling in on America's private pension system, as companies large and small, profitable and unprofitable, announce the freezing of their traditional plans, the kind that once promised a lifetime income for retirees.
Sun, 22 Jan 2006 00:00:00 ESTThinking of quitting your job and going back to school?
Sun, 15 Jan 2006 00:00:00 ESTWhen it comes to income taxes, a "dependent child" is a dependent child, yes? Well, yes, since 2004, when Congress more or less unified the five different definitions of the term.
Sun, 08 Jan 2006 00:00:00 ESTThe Internal Revenue Service had good news and bad news, and more bad news, for taxpayers recently.
Sun, 01 Jan 2006 00:00:00 ESTThe dawning of each new year brings with it a fresh round of opportunities and perils. Increasingly for families, the new opportunities and perils are economic, to which the best response often isn't obvious. Nonetheless, meeting these challenges is the key to security in a society in which people are far more dependent on their own resources than they have been in decades.
Sun, 25 Dec 2005 00:00:00 ESTFor the past decade or so, health care experts of a conservative political stripe have been touting "consumer-driven" insurance plans, which, they say, would both cut costs to consumers and help drive down inflation in the cost of medical expenses.
Sun, 18 Dec 2005 00:00:00 ESTThere was a lot of cheering around Washington last week as the House pushed through its version of a bill to toughen up funding requirements on companies that operate traditional pension plans. But to workers, especially younger ones, the noise should sound less like an ovation than an alarm clock.
Sun, 11 Dec 2005 00:00:00 ESTBeyond the complexity of the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, health care experts have now identified another potential booby trap.
Sun, 04 Dec 2005 00:00:00 ESTHow much federal tax will you be paying over the next year or two . . . or five? It's really hard to tell these days, but what happens on Capitol Hill in the next two weeks will supply key pieces of the picture.
Sun, 27 Nov 2005 00:00:00 ESTAttention, lottery players: If you win a nice big prize, opt to take it as a stream of payments and then change your mind and wish you had taken it as a lump sum, don't expect any special tax benefits if you sell your annuity for immediate cash.
Sun, 20 Nov 2005 00:00:00 ESTEarly this year then-newly elected Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), mother of three small children, decided it would be a good idea to boost her life-insurance coverage. So she applied to the American General Life unit of American International Group (AIG) to buy more.
Sun, 13 Nov 2005 00:00:00 ESTOne of the hottest -- and hardest to understand -- policy battles going on in Washington right now concerns the kinds of pensions that employers should be allowed to offer. The fight features arcane formulas and obscure abbreviations that quickly cause the eyes of most normal people to glaze over.
Sun, 06 Nov 2005 00:00:00 ESTIf you're considering making a big cash contribution to a charity and deducting it this year, Congress may have given you an unusual opportunity.
Sun, 30 Oct 2005 00:00:00 EDTThe House Committee on Education and the Workforce, working to meet deficit-reduction goals set by the Republican leadership, has approved a bill that could take a significant bite out of government-subsidized student loans.
Sun, 16 Oct 2005 00:00:00 EDTWith gasoline around $3 a gallon, there is a lot of talk about how families can cut down on driving. Advice includes switching to public transportation, leaving the SUV at home.
Sun, 25 Sep 2005 00:00:00 EDTIs this the year you finally got that beach house or mountain cabin you've always wanted?
Sun, 18 Sep 2005 00:00:00 EDTThe reports last week from two respected surveys that health insurance costs are continuing to run well ahead of both wages and general inflation should be a signal to workers to get ready for higher premiums in the coming year and more "cost-sharing" when they see the doctor.
Sun, 11 Sep 2005 00:00:00 EDTFor decades insurance companies have been searching for some device, some magic lens that would somehow tell them exactly how much risk each policyholder represents. If they knew that, insurers could price their coverage more accurately and, they say, more fairly.
Sun, 04 Sep 2005 00:00:00 EDTFor nearly 40 years the federal government has made flood insurance available to property owners, filling a gap left by private carriers, which generally decline to write the coverage.
Sun, 28 Aug 2005 00:00:00 EDTAs gambling in general and poker in particular spread across the land, here's some advice for neophyte players: Not only do you gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, you gotta know how to put it all on your tax return.
Sun, 21 Aug 2005 00:00:00 EDT"I have seen the future," the late Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Dan Quisenberry once said, "and it's much like the present, only longer."
Sun, 14 Aug 2005 00:00:00 EDTThese are the weeks when tens of thousands of young people begin the annual trek to college campuses, cars bulging with clothes and furniture, minds with hopes and fears.
Sun, 07 Aug 2005 00:00:00 EDTThinking of sprucing up the old homestead to make it a little more energy-efficient and maybe save yourself some money on utility bills?
Sun, 31 Jul 2005 00:00:00 EDTIn the next several decades, this country is expected to experience one of the greatest transfers of wealth from one generation to the next that has ever taken place anywhere.
Sun, 03 Jul 2005 00:00:00 EDTHere's some news: A couple of economists from top colleges have found that rich old people tend to move out of states with high estate taxes and into states with low or no estate taxes.
Sun, 26 Jun 2005 00:00:00 EDTAs the summer travel season gets into full swing, many Americans are about to head off to foreign lands -- and they are planning to put most of their overseas spending on plastic, remembering that U.S. credit cards have long offered the lowest-cost way of buying things in foreign currencies.
Sun, 19 Jun 2005 00:00:00 EDTJuly 1 is an unusually interesting date this year, and not just because it's the beginning of a long weekend.
Sun, 12 Jun 2005 00:00:00 EDTOkay, so what's wrong with interest-only mortgages?
Sun, 05 Jun 2005 00:00:00 EDTThe accountants, lawyers and other experts who have long advised taxpayers on exactly what is, isn't and might be okay under the law have finally run up against an Internal Revenue Service regulation they say they can't figure out.
Sun, 29 May 2005 00:00:00 EDTDid you pay it last month? I mean the alternative minimum tax.
Sun, 22 May 2005 00:00:00 EDTWho loves taxes?
Sun, 15 May 2005 00:00:00 EDTIn theory, 401(k) plans and other tax-preferred savings programs can provide a good retirement fund -- if the worker joins up, contributes a substantial chunk of his or her pay, makes the right investment choices and doesn't drop out or tap the account for non-retirement expenses.
Sun, 08 May 2005 00:00:00 EDTJan. 1 may seem a long way off, but employers and employees looking for ways to get the most out of their retirement benefits should start thinking about it.
Sun, 01 May 2005 00:00:00 EDTThe Federal Reserve Board has been ratcheting up short-term interest rates lately, but thanks to the federal regulations, government-guaranteed student loans remain in a low-rate time warp.