Category: Consumer and money matters

When insurance will pay, why not?

Last week I wrote about a misunderstanding with an audiologist at the office that sold me hearing aids three years ago. When the hearing aids came back from a factory check, she asked me to get a referral from my primary care physician. I thought that was because the devices needed reprogramming; she thought I... Read more »

Don't tidy your place for me

For the last few of my building’s monthly game nights, only two of us showed up. Before he moved out of town in mid-December, my game-playing partner invited me to his apartment for a meal and a last game of Scrabble. The invitation for that evening was issued spontaneously during his workday, so he had... Read more »

Sizing up Social Security’s lump-sum offer

I’ve waited to apply for Social Security benefits to get the maximum monthly payout. Benefits increase 8 percent a year between one’s full retirement age (66 for me) and age 70. With my 70th birthday on the horizon (a subject for another post), it was time to apply. A staffer at the downtown Chicago Social... Read more »
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Are you advising relatives about college applications?

College application season is under way. Though the topic seems ill suited for a blog titled Retired in Chicago, you may have children or grandchildren you’re advising about college.  Having worked at universities for 30 years, and having recently observed my two nieces’ experiences, I have opinions about applying to colleges. (Apologies to my nieces... Read more »

The frustration of proving I’m me to Equifax

You may have heard that as of September 21, the three major credit reporting bureaus are offering free credit freezes. Unless you’re planning to apply for credit in the near future, a freeze is advisable. It makes it harder for identity thieves to open accounts in your name. At the end of September, I started with... Read more »

Hoping for better luck next year with DIY tax preparation

It was going on late afternoon, and I was still in my pajamas. Not that I’d been lazy — on the contrary, I’d been very occupied. I was filling out the 1040 using software from the IRS website. And everything had gone badly. “Let Free File do the hard work for you” the IRS site says. Indeed,... Read more »
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Trust your gut when choosing a financial adviser

The first time I met with Whitlee, a certified financial planner at Fidelity Investments, she said that her predecessor had left this note in my file: She doesn’t want to be contacted or see us often. It’s now a couple of years later, and when I saw Whitlee last week for our annual visit, I... Read more »

Credit monitoring: tedious, time-consuming, and necessary

As I write, there is a pile of clippings next to the keyboard that I look at as if they were radioactive. They’re filled with recommendations for protecting ourselves following the Equifax breach. The earliest clipping is from shortly after the breach became public September 7. Then I got as far as step 1 of... Read more »

You can use your phone and still conserve data

After spending several hours the last week exploring how to stay within the data cap on my smartphone plan, I’ve been wondering what people do when they’re tech amateurs. Not that I’m so savvy, but I will try to tackle problems. Do other people just buy a more generous data plan? Do they have a... Read more »
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Beware of buying clubs

When I was visiting my parents a couple of months ago, my 89-year-old mother pointed to a pile of magazines she didn’t remember subscribing to: Wired (she has neither computer nor smartphone); Vogue, Allure, Elle, and Women’s Health (not exactly targeted to her age group); Bon Appétit (she hardly cooks anymore); and others. She wanted... Read more »