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Monthly Archives: November 2012
  • We have 10 years left on our mortgage. Should we refinance?

    We currently have 10 years and eight months left on a 15-year mortgage at an interest rate of 5.125%, with a balance of $210,362. Is it smart to refinance now with a 10-year note at approximately 3% and cut eight months off the mortgage? —Angela P.

    In a word, yes. But remember that you'll likely have to fork over several thousand dollars in closing costs to get that new mortgage, says MORE

    Nov 30, 2012 6:30 AM ET
    Posted in: Real Estate
  • Should I invest now or wait for a market pullback?

    I see the markets have had a run. I've been on the sidelines and wonder if it's too late to start investing. Should I wait for a pullback in the market? — Joshua R.

    Your chances of timing the market successfully are somewhere between slim and none. "Even the best advisors with the best computers can't do it," says Jason Lampert of New York City-based MTP Advisors. His suggestion: Adopt an MORE

    Nov 29, 2012 6:30 AM ET
    Posted in: Investing
  • Can I lower my self-directed IRA fees?

    In 2006 I invested $100,000 in a self-directed IRA with three other people. Money was invested in land which could be developed into building sites. We anticipated appreciation but in 2008 the land value dropped and we haven't been able to find a buyer. The custodian is charging $460 a year. Is that fee reasonable? Any recourse or recommendations? – Doug H.

    According to Tom Fisher, founder of Boston-based Fisher Financial MORE

    Nov 28, 2012 6:30 AM ET
  • Should I sell stock now to avoid higher taxes in 2013?

    Both of my daughters own Home Depot stock that my father gave them. With the pending tax changes in 2013, should I sell their stock now and place the money into their 529s? One starts college in the fall of 2014, and the other in 2016. —Kathi L.

    Long-term capital gains rates are set to rise from 15% to 20% in 2013 (though President Obama and Congress may end up agreeing MORE

    Nov 27, 2012 6:30 AM ET
  • Should I tap my retirement savings?

    I have a $325,000 home, a $250,000 mortgage and a student loan. I have been taking money out of my IRA since getting laid off, and paying a 10% penalty with each withdrawal. It could be several months before I land a full-time job. Am I better off continuing to tap my IRA, or should I take out an equity loan on my house, rent out my home and move MORE

    Nov 26, 2012 6:31 AM ET
    Posted in: Family Money, Retirement
  • What are the downsides of limited partnerships?

    Are there any downsides to investing in a limited partnership, as opposed to stocks? — Mike Davis, California

    In a nutshell, yes. Though master limited partnerships — which earn income chiefly from real estate, natural resources, and commodities — often yield more than shares of their plain-vanilla corporate cousins, they have their drawbacks.

    Legal intricacies make filing your tax return confusing and time consuming. MLP income over $1,000 in a retirement account is MORE

    Nov 23, 2012 6:30 AM ET
    Posted in: Investing, Taxes
  • Are credit-card-linked discounts worth the privacy risk?

    Are discounts linked to my credit card spending worth the privacy risk? — Michael, West Bloomfield, Mich.

    Both online and off, your purchases often factor into the discounts you're offered. Buy baby food at the grocery store, for example, and you might get a coupon for diapers along with your receipt.

    Companies such as FreeMonee and MyLinkables can offer you deals based on your past credit card spending. Details vary, but each has MORE

    Nov 22, 2012 6:30 AM ET
    Posted in: Credit, Family Money
  • How do you find a lost pension?

    How do I find a pension if my old employer has merged several times and I can't locate it? — Kent David, Hot Springs Village, Ark.

    Hit the phones: Arkansas is one of 30 states in which federally funded counseling centers provide free legal help with pensions and other retirement plans, such as 401(k)s. As long as you live or work in one of those states, or your company was based in MORE

    Nov 21, 2012 6:30 AM ET
    Posted in: Retirement
  • How do I start investing?

    I am a 21-year-old college student, and I feel overwhelmed by all the financial advice out there. It seems that a lot of advice is geared toward people who already have a lot of money. But what should a young adult do to start investing? – Manuel P.

    Step one: Don't wait. There are a lot of benefits of to starting to save and invest at a young age. For starters, MORE

    Nov 20, 2012 6:30 AM ET
    Posted in: Investing
  • What will be taxed if I help my daughter build her new house?

    Our daughter is building a new home with an in-law suite for us. I am 72 and my wife is 68. We plan to sell our present home and contribute $300,000 of the proceeds to live in this in-law suite. Is there a tax liability for our daughter or us? Also, since we plan to live out our lives in this arrangement, would this contribution be an estate asset for MORE

    Nov 19, 2012 6:30 AM ET
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Help Desk Video
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    Not enough money in America's 401(k)s
    Despite the surging stock market bringing balances to record highs, the average Fidelity 401(k) account has less than $100,000 in it. That's just not enough. Play
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    Explaining Obama's myRA
    President Obama unveiled a new savings plan for retirement accounts, aimed at encouraging people to start building their nest egg. But how exactly does it work? Play
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    Tricks on how to save in your 20s
    Saving for your retirement in your 20s doesn't have to be a financial burden. Prioritizing your expenses is usually the first step in building a nest egg. Play
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    Don't get fooled by Black Friday sales
    Here are some of the tricks that retailers use to make you think you're getting a deal. Keep an eye out for them while shopping this Black Friday. Play
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