Buy Real Estate?

realestateicon Whether or not now is a good time to buy [tag]real estate[/tag] depends, as most things do in finance, on time and amount. For example, if you have been renting for the last year or two and have saved up 20% for a down payment and you just found the house of your dreams, then yes, now is a great time to buy real estate. But what about people looking for a good investment? Is now the right time?

Read More

Bear Stearns Goes Belly Up

finance-building The official headline is [tag]J.P. Morgan[/tag] buys[tag] Bear Stearns[/tag] for $2 a share. The real headline is that for the first time since the savings and loan crisis in the 1980s, a major US bank has gone belly up.

The entire deal from offer to acceptance to regulator approval happened in just two days, OVER THE WEEKEND! The reason is so that the stock market did not open while the panic inducing event of a major financial failure hung in the air. The Federal Reserve is guaranteeing the giant sub-prime mortgage liability that took down Bear Stearns which in essence is like buying the company for J.P. Morgan who now gets all of the good parts of Bear Stearns with someone else footing the bill for the really big bad part.

Read More

Privacy Policies — Did You Notice Them? Good, They Didn’t Want You To

If, like me you file away all of your various tax statements and reports as they come in, you might just now be opening them. What you might not have noticed in your quest to pull out your 1099-DIV or what have you is that the company’s legally required once per year Privacy Policy was tucked in there as well. It probably wasn’t an accident.

Read More

Now, you can panic

whitehousegraphic Politicians hate to admit that anything is ever wrong with the economy. Even as they pass “critical” packages using the economy as an excuse, they continue to maintain that everything is just fine. Please go on with your life and please, please, please, keep spending your money. Every financial advisor who has been in the game long enough to know anything has watched as the Bloomberg reporter asks a political appointee how they feel about the terrible numbers that have just come out that are far below every expectation on the street only to hear the shill (sorry) political appointee go about explaining why the numbers aren’t bad at all, in fact, they are just fine, and everyone just has it wrong. You can always spot the newer journalists by the way they try and help the politician understand that the numbers are in fact terrible.

Read More

Death and Taxes, but not Tax Breaks

Death and Taxes, but not Tax Breaks 1 The phone is ringing off the hook now.  Mid-March is the sweet spot for Americans to do their income taxes.  It’s that time when everyone thinks they are “early” and yet, they are right in the middle of the pack, right with most other people plodding along with TurboTax or schlepping down to a CPA or even popping into see the guy in the kiosk inside the local Wal-Mart.  The truth is, the people who wait until April 15 are actually the minority, among my clients at least.  The reason is simple.  Anyone who CAN’T do their taxes until April files for an extension (you get one automatically without even having to give a reason.)  Anyone who can do their taxes, doesn’t wait until April 15 is breathing down their neck.  After all, there is procrastinating, and then there is procrastinating.  It takes a top-level procrastinator to wait until they are writing dates that start with “4”.

The number one question?  The same thing it is every year.  “What can I do about my taxes?”

Read More

Avoiding Bad Financial Products

As a professional financial planner, I often come across finanical products that are such bad ideas that I don’t even know how (or why?) someone got them to market. Usually the answer is flat out greed. A company willing to make a buck at the expense of its customers is always out there.

A posting over at Wise Bread talks about some of these bad ideas. The one at the top of the list is the new 401(k) credit card / debit card. No doubt, this idea orgininated with the goal of allowing retirees to access their 401(k)s in an easier manner so that they could consider leaving the balance in the 401(k) plan instead of rolling it out into an IRA. (Rolling it out is almost always better – keep an eye out for the coming article on Finance Gourmet.) Now, however, some companies are offering these cards to everyone!

Read More

Credit Card Rewards Catalog Update

Instead of sending me your rewards catalog, I’m just going to collect a table of information. The reason is that from the catalogs I’ve seen, comparing the items you can get is kind of a worthless process. Most catalogs don’t show a specific model number or other details that would be necessary to actually do any kind of comparison. Besides 99% of the time, getting merchandise is not a good deal through your rewards program so most of us should focus on travel, cash, and gift cards which can truly be used for value, and are comparable across programs. So, instead of sending me your credit card catalog, send me the following information:

Read More