Chicago Sun-Times Latest news from the Chicago Sun-Times Online en-us (Editor) Newspapers Chicago Sun-Times 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ It’s best to prepare before emergency strikes ]]>

Originally published: December 18, 2006 The holiday season is certainly not the time you’re thinking about worst-case scenarios. But accidents do happen, and they don’t respect the season. When the unexpected serious event happens, even the most responsible people can panic. So here’s a checklist of potential crises -- and some Savage Solutions for you to implement. Preparation trumps panic. Consider the possibilities and ask yourself: Are you prepared? **What if your wallet were stolen? Would you know how to protect your identity, re-establish credit, and act quickly? SAVAGE SOLUTION: The first step is to remove all unnecessary items from … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:46 -0600 <![CDATA[ How to scrutinize your mutual fund managers ]]>

Originally published: December 11, 2006 Does your mutual fund manager have your best interests in mind? Are you paying too much in fund fees, even inside your 40l(k) account? Ask yourself those questions as you approach your year-end investment review. The answers could be just as important to your investment success as your asset allocation and mutual fund performance. And now, you can easily get information about those important issues. The question of alignment of fund manager interests with the interest of fund shareholders is easily resolved if you look at Morningstar’s “Stewardship Grades.” The feature on has been … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:46 -0600 <![CDATA[ Mutual fund success has taxing ramifications ]]>

Originally published: December 4, 2006 After a great year in the stock market, you might be delighted to see that your mutual fund shares are worth a lot more. But here’s something to wipe the smile off your face: A bill for taxes. Even if you don’t sell a share and reinvest all distributions, you could be paying a big tax bill -- unless your fund shares are in a tax-advantaged retirement account. Mutual fund managers have been piling up huge gains on the stocks they purchased at lower prices in recent years. When a fund manager sells a stock … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:46 -0600 <![CDATA[ Out-of-the-way products provide safe investment ]]>

Originally published: November 27, 2006 A year ago, I wrote about a “chicken money” investment -- that’s money that you can’t afford to lose, and that belongs in a safe investment such as a CD in a bank or Treasury bills) -- that is as good as gold. Now, I’m writing an update because this is your last chance to participate in the Everbank MarketSafe Gold Bullion CD. It’s an FDIC-insured, five-year certificate of deposit with an interest return that’s tied to the price of gold. If the price of gold drops over that five-year period, you’ll get your initial … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:46 -0600 <![CDATA[ Holiday gift ideas for yourself and others ]]>

Originally published: November 20, 2006 For my Thanksgiving week column this year, you get three columns in one -- a bit of advice on shopping, spending and talking. HOLIDAY GIFTS THAT SAY MONEY. You’re headed out to shop this week, so here are a few gifts that might make sense no matter what the age of the recipient. For younger children, there’s a new take on an old favorite: the piggybank. In previous years, I’ve written about the plastic, translucent piggy bank that’s divided into four chambers for saving, spending, investing and charity. It’s a great way to teach younger … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:46 -0600 <![CDATA[ How to make Part D open enrollment a breeze ]]>

Originally published: November 13, 2006 It’s baaack! Medicare Part D is about to make headlines again as the new open enrollment season starts Wednesday and runs through Dec. 31. Even the millions of seniors who already signed up for a plan should take time to compare plans and figure out whether they should switch to get a better deal. This year that task will only take a few minutes, and it will be much easier to compare plans to find the one that covers your prescriptions and costs the least. That’s because the government has completely revamped its Web … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:46 -0600 <![CDATA[ Great day to vote, purchase stocks ]]>

Originally published November 7, 2006 While pundits debate the impact of the election, the market doesn’t seem to care about who wins or loses -- at least speaking historically. If past patterns continue -- always a risky assumption -- today should be a good time to buy stocks. According to Joseph Quinlan, chief market strategist of global wealth and investment management at Bank of America, history suggests that no matter which way today’s midterm elections go, it should be bullish for the stock market. Quinlan says, “After analyzing all the data back to 1946, we found that following midterm U.S. … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:46 -0600 <![CDATA[ Don’t picture your retirement plan like this ]]>

The race for your retirement dollars is getting more competitive. Every financial services firm is advertising the fact that it can provide guidance, advice and investments to help you on the way to a secure retirement. But it’s still your money, and your retirement, so you have to consider these offerings carefully. ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:46 -0600 <![CDATA[ Don’t picture your retirement plan like this ]]>

Originally published: November 5, 2006 The race for your retirement dollars is getting more competitive. Every financial services firm is advertising the fact that it can provide guidance, advice and investments to help you on the way to a secure retirement. But it’s still your money, and your retirement, so you have to consider these offerings carefully. While the promises are similar, the pathways are not. And the costs can vary substantially. As I predicted in The Savage Number: How Much Money Do You Need to Retire?, the industry has embraced the concept of Monte Carlo modeling. I highlighted the … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:46 -0600 <![CDATA[ Getting organized has never been easier ]]>

Originally published: October 16, 2006 Every once in a while something related to technology and personal finance lands on my desk that makes me go “wow.” So now I have a collection of neat things to tell you about -- Web sites and tools that can make you more organized and efficient, if you’re willing to take the time to start using them. NEAT RECEIPTS. The first product is, in fact, so neat that it has the name Neat Receipts. It’s a little scanner bar about the size of a very thick ruler that plugs into your computer. But it … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:45 -0600 <![CDATA[ New format for SEC data to boost investor access ]]>

Originally published: October 9, 2006 The Securities and Exchange Commission is creating a new financial “language” that is designed to provide individual investors with an advantage previously available only to securities analysts and huge firms. Coming soon: All corporations will report their financial information in a format called XBRL. You don’t have to understand the technology to reap the benefits. This new reporting format will make all data interactive. That means anyone can go online and easily find and make comparisons of all the data that’s been filed -- including financial reports, footnotes and management’s discussion of the company’s prospects. … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:45 -0600 <![CDATA[ Help on the way for befuddled employees ]]>

Originally published: October 5, 2006 Employers will now be able to offer more advice to 40l(k) plan participants, based on new rules proposed by the U.S. Department of Labor. Over the past 25 years, almost every major company has switched from a defined benefit pension plan to a defined contribution 40l(k) plan. That created two huge problems. Employees needed to be taught the importance of contributions. And employees needed to be taught how to invest those contributions. Employers, fearing a liability, were unwilling to provide advice beyond basic booklets about diversification. Plan participants followed the latest investing fad -- or … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:45 -0600 <![CDATA[ New product makes long-term care easier ]]>

Originally published: October 2, 2006 We all insure our most valued assets: our homes, our cars, our lives. Then why not insure your retirement plans against the devastating costs of long-term custodial care? Long-term-care insurance is about to get dramatically easier to understand and much less expensive with a new product being introduced this week by John Hancock. The latest MetLife survey shows that the average cost of care in a private room in a nursing home is now more than $75,000 a year. This is particularly a women’s issue, as 72 percent of all nursing home residents are women, … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:45 -0600 <![CDATA[ Comparing medical costs just got easier ]]>

Originally published: September 25, 2006 Can you imagine going out to buy a new car without any idea of the price you should pay? Few, if any, buyers pay the “sticker price” on the window. But when it comes to health care and hospitalization, we just accept the bill that is presented to us -- in effect, paying the “sticker” price. If you need to go to the hospital for treatment or surgery, you probably never ask about the costs. Why should you care? Your health insurance coverage will take care of most of those huge bills, except for your … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:45 -0600 <![CDATA[ Dying to aid charities? Don’t wait that long ]]>

Originally published: September 18, 2006 When you’re devoting your attention to making money, saving money, and investing for the future, it’s hard to think seriously about giving money away. Yet individual Americans gave away nearly $188 billion in 2004, according to the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. And now, we’re officially starting the season of giving. In coming weeks, charities will send out reminders of their worthiness, along with an envelope for your contribution. According to the IRS, there are more than 1.8 million tax-exempt entities in the U.S., and this number is constantly growing. It’s up to you … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:45 -0600