Terry Savage is a nationally known expert on personal finance, the markets, and the economy. She writes a syndicated financial column for the Chicago Sun-Times, …Read More
TERRY SAVAGE: Even though the price of gold is currently trading around $1,600 per ounce, there are several ways you can buy gold in smaller dollar amounts. A one-ounce gold bullion coin (one that has no intrinsic collector’s value) typically sells for the current price of gold, as traded on world markets, plus about a 3 to 5 percent markup for the dealer.
TERRY SAVAGE: Baby boomers are facing a decision that could add — or subtract — a small fortune from their retirement income over their lifetimes. It’s the decision about when and how to take their Social Security benefits. And depending on your circumstances, the wrong decision could cost a married couple more than half a million dollars in future benefits.
TERRY SAVAGE: This is the time of year you’ll hear a lot about IRAs — because an IRA contribution is the last deduction you can still create for your 2012 tax return. You have until the date the return is due to make an IRA contribution, or add more money to the contribution you made during the past year, up to the 2012 limit of $5,000 (or $6,000 if age 50 or older).
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TERRY SAVAGE: A reader asked, “I will be 65 in a couple of months. Can I keep my employee health care plan? Can my boss force me to take Medicare instead?
TERRY SAVAGE: What will your beneficiaries do with the life insurance you leave to them? You probably intended to create long-term financial security, but your spouse may have no experience at managing money and might fall into the hands of an unscrupulous financial adviser. Or your adult children might decide it’s time for that new sports car or an exotic vacation. That’s why a new concept has recently been developed by the life insurance industry: installment payout life insurance. Instead of receiving a million dollars in one lump sum, you can plan for the money to be paid out over
TERRY SAVAGE: The economy is limping along. Unemployment is way too high. And Washington politics is totally dysfunctional. The media is full of warnings about the sequester and impending budget impasse. And the stock market just made a new all-time high. What does that tell you?
TERRY SAVAGE: Remember the story of the little boy who cried wolf? After all his made-up stories and loud cries about a wolf chasing the sheep, the villagers stopped believing him. Then one day the wolf appeared — really. And no one came running to help him save his flock. The past few weeks in Washington have been a classic case of crying wolf. Surely, the government could absorb a 2.3 percent cut in its ability to spend, without impending disaster. This time around, even the media weren’t so quick to bite at the horror stories.
TERRY SAVAGE: Don’t let the hassle of making a doctor’s appointment keep you or your loved ones from getting a physical. There is an easy solution, and it is important to your financial health, too.
TERRY SAVAGE: The month ahead will take the term “March Madness” out of the basketball arena, and into the political arena. America faces a series of continuing financial challenges. And although the NCAA tournament hasn’t begun yet, here’s what the financial “brackets” look like.
TERRY SAVAGE: Some banks are offering eye-popping CD rates that are far above the average rate to attract new deposits. When you do the math, it becomes apparent that these deals are a relatively inexpensive way for banks to do that.
TERRY SAVAGE: The search for secure lifetime retirement income, along with promises of higher interest rates than CDs, has created increased interest in annuities. But, while many annuities are sold with attractive promises, these products have major differences, some of which can be costly or actually detrimental to your investment and retirement goals.
TERRY SAVAGE: Some practical advice for engaged couples: Reach an understanding of how you will save or spend your money.
TERRY SAVAGE: The Federal Reserve is trying to save the economy — but it is killing retirees’ financial plans. This prolonged period of low interest rates has been devastating to those who planned to live on their interest income. And for those approaching retirement, it means you may need much more money to afford retirement.
Terry Savage: BenefitsCheckup.org can help the elderly who are struggling to pay for food and prescriptions.
How much is it worth to you to pay for your purchases using a credit card? That’s a question that shoppers for everything from groceries to clothing to airline tickets may soon have to start asking themselves. As part of the settlement in an epic battle between retailers and card issuers, merchants are now allowed to charge additional fees to consumers who choose to pay with a credit card.
TERRY SAVAGE: Gender discrimination is coming — and it’s perfectly legal. The Long Term Care insurance industry has finally recognized the obvious: Women live longer than men. And because women live longer, they use more benefits from their long-term care insurance policies.
TERRY SAVAGE: As your holiday credit-card bills start arriving, this is a good time to take a close look at what you are paying for finance charges — and consider whether another card with lower rates, lower annual fees, and a low introductory rate for balance transfers might make a dent in your debt repayment.
The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is off to a good start. Its first major act is a set of new rules to be followed by banks when making mortgage loans. The rules not only protect the borrowers, but give the banks some “safe harbors” that will, hopefully, allow them to make more mortgages with less red tape.
TERRY SAVAGE: What were you thinking this time last year, when you evaluated and planned the investments in your 40l(k) plan or your other stock investment accounts for the year ahead? Did you anticipate the stock market, as measured by the Dow Jones industrial average, would have a 10.24 percent total return in 2012, including an average dividend yield of 2.74 percent ? Or that the S&P 500 stock index would post a 13 percent return in 2012?
It was conduct unbecoming to America, unbecoming to Congress — and unbecoming to the office of the presidency — as the nation lurched toward a tax and spending deal on Monday. In the end, it was left mostly undone as America officially went “over the …