Too many people who portray themselves as financial experts aren't. The threshold to get into this business is too low to cull out the knuckleheads, but you can eliminate many candidates by rejecting any adviser who isn't a true fiduciary. Working with a fiduciary - someone who is required to put your interests first - is so important that I'd urge you to avoid any financial adviser who won't acknowledge a fiduciary duty to you in writing.
It's a harsh reality that nobody is going to lend you money once you reach the age where your daily routine no longer includes breakfast on the go, office intrigue and commuter boredom. While many wannabe retirees are clear about their eagerness to leave the workplace, the escape plans they hatch are often as clearly defined as a pile of Scrabble letters.<
Growing up in a family of seven posed all sorts of culinary challenges. It was impossible, for instance, to divide a 12-pack of Popsicles evenly, or a cherry pie, without angering somebody.
Fifty years ago, millions of Americans were petrified at the prospect of being surpassed by the Communist Darth Vader when the Soviets launched Sputnik into the abyss. In the same year, passions were inflamed when nine black teenagers started attending a formerly all-white high school in Little Rock, Ark. During this turbulent time, pension fund managers and other investment professionals on Wall Street and around the country were grappling with a far more prosaic predicament.
Why would student loan companies want to give these folks sugar highs? Think about it for a second. Student loans are an $85 billion a year business and companies want to get their names on college and university preferred-lender lists.
When teenagers start shopping for colleges, the price is often not something they dwell upon.
In writing about college strategies for many publications, I've had a chance to talk to some of the nation's college experts.
Children's ability to let you know what they covet begins at an age when uttering any word with more than one syllable is a struggle. But luckily, toddlers have discovered that one powerful word - mine! - often gets the attention of Mommy and Dadd
Some experts advise people to save 10 percent of their paychecks, while even bigger naggers insist that older procrastinators need to set aside 15 percent or 20 percent or more. Others suggest that people save at least enough to capture a match in their 401(k) retirement plans. Unfortunately, all this advice is overly generic and hardly applies to everyone.
In 1999, the Securities and Exchange Commission tossed out a proposal that anyone with just a left or right brain could have found alarming.
When we graduated from high school or college, most of us assumed that we wouldn't have to worry about a report card again. But anybody who carries a credit card is continuing to get graded. In fact, it's possible for computers to revise our grades many times a day.
Recently, I was delighted by the tremendous number of e-mails that I received from readers reacting to my column. Maybe it was my confession that I once couldn't afford a can of grape juice that struck a nerve. To provide further inspiration for those who need prodding, I'm devoting this column to comments from readers, who are faithfully following the gospel of frugality.
During much of the 1980s, I didn't have to wait until the yearly sale to buy a cute dress at Nordstrom. In my office, I was the person whom colleagues would ask for restaurant recommendations because I loved to eat out. My husband and I subscribed to Wine Spectator. Life was good.
Nobody likes to talk about their credit card debt. If you're addicted to plastic, you certainly don't want anyone to discover your secret.
Ouch. Feb. 27 was one of those days when a pinched nerve would have felt like a relief compared with the pain felt by millions of investors. In just a few hours of trading, hundreds of billions of dollars vanished.
Individual Retirement Accounts may be simple, but they continue to befuddle investors. My recent column on IRAs prompted lots of questions. In fact, I get almost as many e-mails from IRA columns as when I trash annuities.
In so many ways, the Individual Retirement Account is exquisitely simple. If you can recite your ABC's without hesitating, or even if you can unfold a napkin, you have enough intellectual firepower to open an IRA.
Do you know how to invest? Do you enjoy the kind of financial success that would make you an obvious candidate to write a book about it? Do you sometimes wonder why you're even spending five minutes reading this Sunday column when you already know what I'm going to say?
Right about the time last summer when stores were discounting their beach umbrellas to make room for back-to-school stuff, Congress heaved a fat slab of legislation at the feet of the retirement industry.
Last week, I heard from a Navy retiree who wondered what he should do with the money he built up in his Thrift Savings Plan, the federal government retirement plan that looks a lot like a 401(k).