AdviceIQ Articles

  • The Value of Your Benefits

    When you select an employer, understand the real value of benefits offered beyond salary. Here’s how to figure out your total potential compensation.

    Let’s say you’re a 60-year-old married employee with two kids ages, 18 and 15, and earn $51,017, the median household income in 2012. What do you bring home when you account for benefits?

  • The Downside of Cruises

    Ocean cruises often are a real bargain, but sometimes you get what you pay for, as we found out in the scary waters off Somalia. When does frugality intersect with insanity? Maybe about the time the pirates show up.

    My wife and I are frugal. We are also fans of cruise vacations and just completed our 28th. With a little homework, thrifty vacationers discover that cruises represent a great value. Most cruise lines include food, lodging and transportation between ports, while you pay for items like liquor, specialty dining and shore excursions.

  • Variable Annuity: Protection?

    Annuities appear to guarantee retirement income, an appealing prospect when you live through a few market downturns. This type of insurance comes with caveats, though, and here are a couple to think about.

    Variable annuities with guaranteed living benefit riders help protect retirement income against the risk of a market catastrophe. For a moderate cost, you transfer the risk of a market decline to the insurance company while still staying invested in the market.

  • Calculating Social Security

    It pays to know all formulas you use to calculate your ever-changed Social Security benefits. Here’s a look at one of them, which affects how much you get, a seemingly abstruse yet crucial concept called bend points.

    The Social Security Administration’s cost of living adjustment (COLA) for 2014 also allows for calculation of the bend points for the new year.

  • Why You Need Long-Term Care

    Long-term care insurance is something everyone needs, and the earlier they buy it, the more affordable it is. Not that it is cheap. But coverage generally gets costlier, year by year, and more so for those in their 50s and 60s.

    Most younger people probably do not think of LTC, as it’s called. It’s no surprise older people, who are retired or close to it, think about it: They want to prepare for what could be a huge financial burden. They fear the potentially corrosive power of LTC costs on their retirement savings.

  • Pension Woes & Muni Bonds

    Public pension underfunding at the state and local level is a big concern for municipal bondholders.

    Most public pension funds are significantly underfunded when their liabilities are valued using economically reasonable assumptions. In fact, the Pew Trust estimated that total underfunding was roughly $1.4 trillion as of 2010. That means the total value of pension fund assets is roughly $1.4 trillion less than the amount these funds owe to current and future retirees.

  • Profits? Yes. Successful? No

    Every business owner dreams of success, but too few know the difference between the two key ingredients involved, cash and profits – a fatal flaw you can correct. Here’s how.

    In 1979, my vending machine company completed its best year ever. We made a ton of money – then I looked at the checkbook.

    Instead of seeing the big fat balance that our profits showed, I saw a six-figure negative balance. At first I thought it was a mistake. How did it happen? I made that ton of cash and still had no money.

  • Hidden Costs of Air Security

    During this holiday season, millions of passengers endure airport security. In addition to the hassle, there is a little-noticed economic cost to this, which is a factor in steadily rising airfares.

  • Navigating Mutual Funds

    Mutual funds carry unique risks and benefits just like other investments, despite marketing that tells you otherwise. As ubiquitous as they are, a lot of people aren’t clear how they operate and what the differences are among them.

    Here’s what to look for.

  • Pros and Cons of Annuities

    You need a steady income flow in your retirement years and can build one with the right type of investment tool, such as annuities. Question is, what kind? One type has a fluctuating value that depends on market forces. Another type offers a steady payment. Here’s a guide to figuring this out.


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