News, Information and Guidance

$8 million in assets – and can’t get a mortgage

CNN – January 20, 2010 The wealthy have money problems, too — yeah they do. Even refinancing a mortgage for their fancy digs or getting a new loan can be near impossible these days thanks to skittish lenders. And the higher the loan value, the more they worry. Still, that people with high six-figure incomes,…

A pension scandal – CalPERS

SF Gate  – January 17, 2010 The public is getting a disheartening look at a once-mighty Sacramento success story. California’s public-employee pension fund – the nation’s biggest and most progressive – has lost billions in investment money, fired a raft of consultants and told local governments to expect higher bills for retirement coverage. As if…

Allstate CEO sees flat economy, challenges ahead

KansasCity.com – January 17, 2010 When Thomas Wilson, chairman and CEO of Allstate Insurance Co., scans the economic horizon, he sees a landscape that requires adaptation: Real estate remains in the dumps, car sales are sluggish, the unemployment rate is stubbornly high and the economy remains questionable. “We don’t think there is any exact parallel…

Couple’s big age difference affects retirement planning

Los Angeles Times – January 17, 2010 Dear Liz: My husband is quite a bit older than I (about 18 years). When we married, we agreed that we should put all our savings into joint funds and into his retirement accounts. Our thought was that since I’m younger, we’d have much earlier access to retirement…

DALBAR Announces Its 2009 Service Award Winners in Financial Services

Yahoo Finance – January 12, 2010 Today DALBAR released the 2009 winners of its annual Service Awards. For twenty years, DALBAR has conducted rigorous testing of service delivery and, each year, identified those mutual fund, broker/dealer, annuity, life insurance and retirement plan providers that are able to deliver industry-leading service to their customers. The winners…

New Kid In Town: Axa’s Hybrid Variable Annuity

Financial Planning – January 11, 2010 At a time when many variable annuity providers have been simplifying and streamlining their products, Axa Equitable Life Insurance Co., in New York, is heading in the other direction. The company’s new Retirement Cornerstone variable annuity is essentially two annuities in one package. “We’ve seen over the last year…

From the right source, reverse mortgages can save seniors’ finances

Belleville News Democrat – January 11, 2010 It’s foolish at a certain age to make New Year’s resolutions. We’ve been there and done that, which is how we got to be our age. Besides, you don’t need a resolution to be good to yourself in this new year, this new decade. It’s bound to be…

8 Tips for Choosing Retirement Gifts

US News & World Report – January 11, 2010 As the oldest baby boomers enter their mid-60s this year, there will be plenty of retirement celebrations. Although you may not have much extra pocket change, it’s still important to let coworkers know how much you enjoyed working with them. “Doing nothing to note a person’s…

Coming down with gold fever – 5 myths about buying gold

CNN – January 7, 2010 At Harrod’s department store in London, you can pick up a South African Krugerrand or a 27-pound gold bar along with a sweater and bed linens. Gold is sold like candy out of train station vending machines in Germany. Indian households are borrowing against jewelry the way Americans did not…

Retirement planning for the laid off

CNN – January 8, 2010 Question: I’m 57 and I think there’s a good chance I’ll be laid off this year. If that happens, I’ll have to move my 401(k) balance to an IRA. On the recommendation of a finance professional, many of my former co-workers have transferred their 401(k) savings into annuities. Do you…

Strange But True: Claim Social Security Now, Claim More Later

Center for Retirement Research at Boston College – April 27, 2009 Introduction Under Social Security, married individuals are entitled to a retired worker benefit based on their own earnings and/or to a spousal benefit equal to one half of their spouse’s benefit claimed at the Full Retirement Age (currently 66). If a married individual claims…

What Are Friends For? A Longer Life

The New York Times – April 20, 2009 In the quest for better health, many people turn to doctors, self-help books or herbal supplements. But they overlook a powerful weapon that could help them fight illness and depression, speed recovery, slow aging and prolong life: their friends.Researchers are only now starting to pay attention to…

Protecting Retirement Accounts From Creditors

The New York Times – April 1, 2009 RETIREMENT accounts remain among many people’s most valuable assets, even at today’s depressed values. That means you need to protect them from creditors, a category that can include former spouses or people who have won lawsuits against you. The asset protection strategies available to you depend on…

Doctors Are Opting Out of Medicare

The New York Times – April 1, 2009 EARLY this year, Barbara Plumb, a freelance editor and writer in New York who is on Medicare, received a disturbing letter. Her gynecologist informed her that she was opting out of Medicare. When Ms. Plumb asked her primary-care doctor to recommend another gynecologist who took Medicare, the…

Skills to Learn, to Restart Earnings

The New York Times – April 1, 2009 Justin Williams worked as an engineer at Honeywell International for 31 years, and when he retired last April, he knew he could not afford to stop working. His home in suburban Maryland, on which he had spent his 401(k) savings, was losing value, and his pension did not…

Walgreens giving free care to jobless and uninsured

Yahoo News – March 31, 2009 Drugstore operator Walgreens will offer free clinic visits to the unemployed and uninsured for the rest of the year, providing tests and routine treatment for minor ailments through its walk-in clinics — though patients will still pay for prescriptions. Walgreens said patients who lose their job and health insurance…

Retirement Mutual Funds: An Endangered Species?

US News & World Report – March 27, 2009 The retirement-fund business is reeling from huge mutual-fund losses and investor withdrawals. Fund executives point to overall market declines to defend their performance. They have logical explanations for the big losses suffered by one of their “safest” product classes–target-date mutual funds, which are designed as age-appropriate…

Reverse mortgages a lifesaver for some, but beware of shady lenders

The Orlando Sentinel – March 27, 2009 Once shunned by many as too risky, reverse mortgages have made a comeback as some cash-strapped seniors tap their home equity to replace savings battered by Wall Street’s meltdown.Sales of reverse mortgages have increased at a double-digit rate recently and are on pace to set a record this…

Top 3 Emerging Mortgage Scams To Watch Out For

The Consumerist – March 19, 2009 In its recent annual report to the Mortgage Banker’s Association, the Mortgage Asset Research Institute described three emerging mortgage fraud schemes that are either new or increasing in popularity. Foreclosure Prevention Schemes – These generally involve fraudsters posing as professional, knowledgeable foreclosure specialists. Homeowners facing the threat of foreclosure…

Reverse mortgage: Windfall or problem?

The News Press – March 15, 2009 Richard Wylie had a reversal of fortune two years ago – but don’t worry, he’s doing better than before. Wylie, 75, a retired Cape Coral police officer, got a reverse mortgage on his house under a program regulated by the Federal Housing Administration, which insures the loans. The…

Strange But True: Free Loan From Social Security

Center for Retirement Research at Boston College – March 17, 2009 When to claim Social Security is one of the most important decisions Americans make when approaching retirement. Currently, retirees can choose between claiming at the Full Retirement Age1 and receiving full benefits, claiming as early as age 62 but receiving reduced benefits, or delaying…

Baby Boomers ‘Under Water’

The New York Times – March 13, 2009 A recent report suggests that the housing-market slump is hitting baby boomers particularly hard: many middle-aged homeowners had been so seduced by the rising prices of years past that they failed to save for retirement and may now owe more than their homes are worth. The Center…

Moving to Depreciated Area Could Restore Nest Egg

Dallas News – March 8, 2009 If you are in your 50s or early 60s, you’re in the Peril Period. And the Worst-of-All-Possible-Worlds appears to be happening. Everything – home value, 401(k) and job – is going down the drain just as you’re getting really serious about retirement. How would you like to restore your…

Hidden Pension Fiasco May Foment Another $1 Trillion Bailout

Bloomberg – March 3, 2009 The Chicago Transit Authority retirement plan had a $1.5 billion hole in its stash of assets in 2007. At the height of a four-year bull market, it didn’t have enough cash on hand to pay its retirees through 2013, meaning it was underfunded to the tune of 62 percent. The…

Allstate pulls plug on ClearTarget Retirement Funds after 10 months

Chicago Tribune – February 27, 2009 Less than a year after getting into the branded mutual fund business, Allstate Corp. has pulled the plug on its Allstate ClearTarget funds. The Northbrook-based seller of home and auto insurance and financial products announced internally Friday that effective immediately sales of Allstate ClearTarget Retirement Funds are suspended. Allstate…