Senior Personal Finance Correspondent
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May 30, 2012

Stern Advice-Tax apocalypse in your retirement account

WASHINGTON, May 30 (Reuters) – Amid all the gloom and doom
about forced retirement, skyrocketing healthcare costs and nest
egg-cracking financial markets, there’s another threat facing
baby boomers: future tax liabilities.

The generation that has depended solely on 401(k)s and
tax-deferred individual retirement accounts may not realize how
much of a tax hit it will take when it starts withdrawing the
money and living on it.

May 23, 2012

Stern Advice-Investors pressed to go alternative

WASHINGTON, May 23 (Reuters) – If you work with an
investment adviser, there’s a decent chance that sometime during
the last year, you’ve had a conversation about alternative
investments.

There’s also a decent chance you emerged from that
conversation without understanding exactly what your adviser was
talking about. Don’t feel bad – there’s a lot of jargon
surrounding what Robert Maloney, a Holderness, New Hampshire,
financial adviser, calls “the flavor of the day.”

May 16, 2012

Stern Advice: How to vet that investment adviser

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Securities and Exchange Commission is taking its own sweet time coming up with a rule that would make all investment advisers put their clients’ interest first.

Almost a year and a half after saying it was going to pursue this so-called “fiduciary standard,” the agency seems stuck. That’s because it is trying to contort the standard in such a way that brokers who are paid commissions to sell products could fit under that definition.

May 9, 2012

Stern Advice-Good student debt, bad student debt

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – It wasn’t that long ago that high school seniors and their parents met astronomical college loans with a shrug and a signature: Whatever it took to send junior to his “first choice” school was a small price to pay.

Now, opinion seems to have moved 180 degrees in the opposite direction. With total student loan indebtedness topping $1 trillion and outpacing total credit card or auto loan debt, many are talking about the “bubble” in college financing. Any loan is a bad loan and students who take them out will soon be trapped in interest-impoverished lifestyles, goes the new argument.

May 9, 2012

Stern Advice-Good student debt, bad student debt

WASHINGTON, May 9 (Reuters) – It wasn’t that long ago that
high school seniors and their parents met astronomical college
loans with a shrug and a signature: Whatever it took to send
junior to his “first choice” school was a small price to pay.

Now, opinion seems to have moved 180 degrees in the opposite
direction. With total student loan indebtedness topping $1
trillion and outpacing total credit card or auto loan debt, many
are talking about the “bubble” in college financing. Any loan is
a bad loan and students who take them out will soon be trapped
in interest-impoverished lifestyles, goes the new argument.

May 2, 2012

Stern Advice: Should you retire with a mortgage?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Pay off the house before you retire. That’s the conventional wisdom, and there’s some evidence that people are following it.

Older families aggressively rid themselves of mortgages between 2007 and 2009, according to Federal Reserve data. Some 45.5 percent of households headed by people between 65 and 74 had mortgages in 2007; by 2009, only 41.6 of the same households held home loans. Only 15.1 percent of households headed by people over 75 (in 2007) still had mortgages in 2009.

Apr 25, 2012

Stern Advice: Earnings season shortcuts

WASHINGTON, April 25 (Reuters) – Every day for the next
several weeks, dozens of publicly held companies will release
their quarterly reports. Welcome to earnings season.

Sigh. So many companies, so little desire to slog through
all those financial statements.

Apr 18, 2012

Stern Advice: Countdown to retirement

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Usually, when people talk about someone “going through a stage” they are talking about a 2-year-old or a teen. But there’s another age at which people go through a key transitional period, also marked by angst and rebellion: Call it pre-retirement.

It sets in by the time workers hit their late 50s, even though they are told they should work for another decade or so to maximize their retirement security. But it hits for real about five years before an expected retirement date. It’s the period that Prudential Financial Inc calls “the red zone” and another insurance company, Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, calls “the transitional phase.”

Apr 11, 2012

Stern Advice: Apple is bigger than my brain

WASHINGTON, April 11 (Reuters) – By various accounts, Apple
Inc. is now bigger than Spain, Portugal and Greece
(combined), or the entire retail sector of the U.S. economy, or
13 Warren Buffetts. What are we to think about that?

First, a disclosure. In my two-person household are three
Apple laptops, two Apple desktops, two iPhones, one iPod, two
healthy iTunes accounts, a fair amount of iPad lust, and 200
shares of Apple stock, purchased by my husband roughly two
decades ago, and making up a large share of his retirement
account.

Apr 4, 2012

Stern Advice: Don’t worry, Grandma will cover it

WASHINGTON, April 4 (Reuters) – The generation that invented
“helicopter parenting” is moving into its grandparenting years
with a wad of cash and strong ideas about how their precious
posterity should live, so get ready for Granny and Grandpa Baby
Boomer to shake things up.

Already, today’s first-time grandparents are the youngest
ever, with an average age of 47, according to an AARP survey.
Boomers have the highest median household income of any age
group, according to the U.S. Census; by some accounts they
control as much as 70 percent of American net worth and stand to
inherit another $8 trillion or more.

    • About Linda

      "Linda Stern is an award-winning personal finance journalist who loves to write about how the big picture affects your pocketbook. A former contributing editor at Newsweek magazine and a long-time Reuters columnist, Stern covers everything from credit cards to retirement planning to investing. As a Washington-based correspondent, she sneaks in as much tax and economic policy as her editors will allow. She tweets at www.twitter.com/LindaStern. And when she expresses opinions, they are her own and not those of her employer."
      Joined Reuters:
      October 2010
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