What Do Shoe Theives and Wall Street Execs Have In Common?

What do shoe theives and Wall Street execs have in common?  Ability to bilk the system because of lazy oversight and bad systems by regulators and law enforcement.

I was in the shoe store this weekend and a mother and daughter duo were stealing shoes.  It was blatantly obvious due to  the empty boxes they were leaving in their wrath of retail shrinkage.  I approached the counter to pay for my winter boots and asked the cashier, who clearly saw what was going on, why she didn’t call the cops or do anything? 

Cashier: “The cops will take two hours to come and I will have to detain them.  God knows what they will do in those two hours.”

Me: “Then why the hell am I paying for these boots?” 

Cashier: “Because you have a conscience.”

Me: “You really aren’t going to call the cops?”

Cashier: “No.”

Me: “AAAAAAAAHHHHH. You realize I am paying for the shoes they just stole.  Will you please just call them?”

Cashier: “No, what’s the point.”

Bottom Line: Lazy oversight by regulators and poor law enforcement screws the good guy on all levels of society.

Please contact Dollars & Sense Education to bring our seminars to your company or organization!

Dollars & Sense Education – Raising Your Financial IQ!
http://www.daseducation.com
nicole@daseducation.com
215-499-3834

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Why Having Nothing To Wear Is Making You Broke

Don’t get me wrong, I love to shop, buy a new outfit or two, but I have never been the type of woman who stands in front of my closet saying…I have nothing to wear.  Maybe it is my oversized sense of self or just my decisive nature, but it is just something I don’t do.  Many of my friends agonize over this decision daily, ultimately resulting in the purchase of more (and more and more and more) stuff.

The thing about stuff is, you will NEVER have enough, there never comes a point where you will say, yep, that’s it.  Anyone remember Amelda Marcos, the wife of a Philipino dictator in the 80s?  She had 3,500 paris of shoes.  Nuff said.

If you are trying to get ahead financially, this infinite money suck, called your closet, is not an asset to your financial health.  My suggestion is, set a monthly clothing number.  You will probably spend it the first week of the month, I always do!  And the number will vary wildly from person to person based on your income and other monthly outlays but setting up monthly limits will tame your inner Imelda and help release your inner Warren Buffett:)

Please contact Dollars & Sense Education to bring our seminars to your company or organization!

Dollars & Sense Education – Raising Your Financial IQ!
http://www.daseducation.com
nicole@daseducation.com
215-499-3834

Health Insurance When You Aren’t Covered By An Employer or Medicare

Money Magazine had an interesting article this month about a man who is financially ready to retire at 56 but is not sure how he will handle medical coverage until Medicare kicks in at 65.  This article jumped out at me because even as a very healthy, normal weight, self employed, 30 year old, I have had trouble getting coverage.

The article suggests the following:

1) Get in shape. Aim for optimal heath at least a year before you apply for insurance.  This will help you qualify for insurance and better rates. 

2) When you schedule your annual checkup, ask your doctor to review your medical history with you for accuracy.  If you have applied for individual life, health, disability or long-term-care insurance within the past seven years, the industry may already have a file on you.  You can get a copy of it from MIB.com.

3) Shop for individual health insurance months before you leave your job. ehealthinsurance.com is a good place to start as well as nahu.org.

4) Evaluate how your private health insurance option measures up against COBRA.  Through COBRA you can stay on your previous employer’s insurance plan for 18 months, but it isn’t cheap.

5) Ask for an estimate of your premiums and assume these will grow at 10% annually as they have recently.  Add up what you will pay until you turn 65.  This unfortunately may dim many people’s chances at early retirement.

5) If you cannot get individual coverage after COBRA you will be HIPAA-eligible, guaranteeing certain backup coverage.  States make available last resort insurance if you are HIPAA eligible.  Be wary, these plans are very costly.

6) Some states (NJ, NY, VT, MA, ME) mandate guranteed group plans for businesses with even one employee, which may make sense if you plan to do any type of freelance work.  Go to statehealthfacts.org.  Even if you are not in these states you may be able to get insurance through your local chamber of commerce.

Whatever approach you take, please, please, please take this seriously as it is quite difficult to get insurance once you are on your own!  Take it from someone with experience!

Please contact Dollars & Sense Education to bring our seminars to your company or organization!

Dollars & Sense Education – Raising Your Financial IQ!
http://www.daseducation.com
nicole@daseducation.com
215-499-3834

If I Get A Divorce, Does My Spouse Still Collect My Social Security Benefits?

Recently, a friend of mine who is getting a divorce asked me this very question.  I had just recently read a Wall Street Journal article by Kelly Greene entitled “Social Security Benefits Don’t End With Divorce” and I summarize the findings below.

If your ex spouse: 

1) Did not re-marry

2) Earned less income than you, if any at all

3) Was married to you for at least 10 years

Luckily a divorced spouse can collect a Social Security retirement benefit based on the work record of an ex-husband (or ex-wife), and it won’t affect the latter’s retirement benefit or that of his or her current spouse.

For the divorced spouse to collect the worker must be at least 62 years old and collecting benefits or be eligible for benefits. 

The divorced spouse is also eligible for widow’s benefits after the worker dies.  Your current spouse also can claim Social Security based on your work history, along with widows benefits.  In a situation where the divorced spouse would be collecting survivor benefits, he or she could qualify at early as age 60 – or age 50 if he or she qualifies as having a disability.

If the divorced spouse remarries, he or she typically forfeits the working spouses SS benefit based on the former spouse’s working record.  However, if the spouse remarries after 60 he or she can still collect a widow’s benefit when the former spouse dies.

Please contact Dollars & Sense Education to bring our seminars to your company or organization!

Dollars & Sense Education – Raising Your Financial IQ!
http://www.daseducation.com
nicole@daseducation.com
215-499-3834

When Converting a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA in 2010 – Beware of the Glitches

Funding a tax-deductible Traditional IRA will garner you an immediate tax break, investments grow tax deferred, but withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income.  A Roth doesn’t offer an immediate tax deduction  but investments grow tax deferred and withdrawals are tax free.  Unfortunately, if you are covered by a retirement plan at work and make more than $116,000 if you are single and $169,000 if you are married filing jointly – you can’t contribute to either.

Non deductible IRAs in the past were a very un-popular investment vehicle.  Contributions are not deductible on your tax returns, they grow tax deferred but are withdrawn at regular income tax rates.  However, in 2006 a new law was passed that said in 2010 individuals who were restricted from contributing to a Roth IRA are allowed to convert their non deductible and deductible Traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs regardless of salary. 

Converting your non deductible to a Roth in 2010 without paying additional taxes is an excellent strategy.  However, be careful not to trigger more tax liability!  Lets say you have $100,000 in a regular Traditional IRA and $25,000 in a non-deductible account.  You would owe taxes on the $21,000 because it would be assumed that the $25,000 was coming pro rata from the whole IRA rather than just the non deductible IRA.  You don’t want to pay taxes twice so what can you do? 

Solution #1: Roll the deductible portion of your Traditional IRA into a 401(k) if allowed.  Then when you go to roll over the non deductible portion into a Roth you will not be double taxed!

Solution #2: Even if you have a large IRA that you don’t want to mingle with non deductible IRA money to be converted, your spouse may not.  If not, your spouse can fund a non deductible IRA until 2010 and then convert it to a Roth.