My 11-year-old earns money umpiring baseball games. Can he open an IRA? Will it affect his college aid? — Rick Gross, Avon, Conn.
Assuming Junior is willing, a Roth IRA (which grows and can be tapped tax-free) is a home run. In 2013 he can put in the lesser of $5,500 or his earned income. Does he earn just a few hundred dollars? You'll need a firm with a low minimum, such as Charles Schwab.
Don't worry about college. IRAs aren't used to set federal aid. Though about 260 schools doling out aid ask about IRAs, retirement money is counted only sometimes, such as when a wealthy family has split up assets, says FinAid.org publisher Mark Kantrowitz.
Your son may make too little to file taxes, says H&R Block's Gil Charney, but it's not a bad idea to save W-2s or 1099s proving earned income.
— Stephanie AuWerter
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What are the advantages and disadvantages of real estate investments overseas? —DANIEL L., New York City
Direct investment in foreign property, be it a mall or a second home, is a risky proposition. Sure, you could nab greater gains than in the U.S., should you be smart, knowledgeable, and lucky. But noncitizens can face extra expenses and red tape, and back in the U.S., you're subject to complex investment rules, warns Rapid MOREMay 11, 2013 6:30 AM ET
Do you pay a tax on silver or gold coins when purchased or sold? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of gold and silver coins as an investment? —Vernon
When you buy coins, you may owe sales tax, depending on which state you buy in. But selling triggers a very different tax, says Rob Chapman, founder of Rochester, N.Y.-based advisory firm Compass Wealth. Because the IRS considers precious metals MOREDec 24, 2012 6:30 AM ET
My U.S. stock mutual fund has risen in value by 20% this year. I want to be sure to capture that 20% gain. Will the mutual fund's year-end capital gains distribution capture that 20% gain, or do I have to sell the mutual fund shares to do so? — Paul K.
You have to sell your fund shares to capture that gain. Your fund realizes its own capital gains and losses MOREDec 17, 2012 6:31 AM ET
I am a 56-year-old retired widower. I live off my monthly pension with built-in COLAs, but I also work full-time. My net worth is substantial, and the wealth managers I've interviewed have all provided different advice with big fees attached. I just want our investment to grow with as little risk as possible, without paying large fees. Can you give me advice or direction? – Name withheld
Given how careful you've MOREDec 13, 2012 6:30 AM ET
Should I purchase additional service credit to increase the final compensation for my pension plan? I'm currently 42 and plan to retire at 62. At that age, I will receive 81.5% of my $10,000-a-month income. I was told I could increase my final compensation by about 10% at the cost of $82,000 (which I plan to transfer from my 457 plan). Is this a good idea? – Name withheld
Given your MOREDec 12, 2012 6:30 AM ET
Can I invest both pre- and post-tax dollars in the same 401(k)? If so, how do I know what taxes I owe at withdrawal? — Kathy B.
Whether or not you can invest both pre-tax and after-tax dollars in the same 401(k) depends on the plan itself. It's a safe bet that your employer's 401(k) plan permits pre-tax contributions, according to Kaye Thomas, who spent two decades as a tax lawyer MOREDec 11, 2012 6:32 AM ET
After reading about Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA) accounts, I regret opening one for my 13-year-old daughter. As I understand it, her mutual fund UTMA will reduce her financial aid by a greater amount than if the money was in my name or in a 529 plan. My daughter has about $3,000 in the account. How can I transfer it into a 529 plan without being penalized on taxes? MOREDec 10, 2012 6:30 AM ET
How would I purchase an ETF? What is the cheapest way to buy an ETF? – Name withheld
Exchange traded funds (ETFs) are widely available from a variety of brokerage firms, says Roger Woodman, founder of Roger F. Woodman Jr. & Co., a financial advisory firm in Portland, Maine. Just open an account at a major online broker such as Fidelity, Vanguard, Charles Schwab, E*Trade, or TD Ameritrade, and you can MOREDec 7, 2012 6:30 AM ET
When you buy silver coins and have them delivered, how is that shipment protected and insured? Can you have the coins delivered directly to a bank to be put directly into safe deposit boxes?—Name withheld
When buying coins in precious metals, the seller will typically ship to any legitimate address, whether residential or commercial, and will fully insure the coins and replace the product should something happen in transit.
Once the silver MOREDec 3, 2012 6:29 AM ET
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