Category: Consumer and money matters

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 »

The more or less of real estate comparisons

When did you last have a conversation with someone who is buying, selling, or remodeling a house or a condo, or thinking of buying or selling? Bet not too long ago. As various commentators have noted, we Americans have real estate on our minds a lot. Now, I’m as prone to oohing and aahing over... Read more »

The IRS help need help

A check from the IRS for thousands of dollars arrived in the mail last week, and I wasn’t happy. I sighed and shook my head, knowing that I would not cash the check and would be on the phone with the IRS for too long. The check was for $4,524.71. Aside from an enclosure promoting the... Read more »

Helping a student find college scholarships

A post about college applications in a blog with “retired” in the title? According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, grandparents and parents make up the fastest-growing segment of student loan borrowers. Three-quarters of these borrowers are helping out children and grandchildren, and the other quarter are borrowing for their own or spouses’ studies. If... Read more »

Living trust or TODI?

Revocable living trusts are all the rage in estate planning these days. A lawyer who spoke at a retirement seminar I attended said a trust is a must have for avoiding probate. The same advice can be found in numerous online articles. While investments are passed straight to beneficiaries, the disposition of property in Illinois worth more... Read more »

With shopping easily finished, Christmas focus changes

Since giving a gift is supposed to show you care, it seems contradictory to want Christmas shopping to require as little time and inconvenience as possible — yet I’m glad that every year it gets easier. Until a few years ago, everyone in my family gave to everyone else. I used to shop for my... Read more »

If someone were to ask my advice about an “impractical” major . . .

An acquaintance we’ll call Frank was getting all riled up about the foolishness of someone he knew. The young man had majored in history and was graduating from college $60,000 in debt. Frank went on to ridicule art majors. His son, he said, was practical — he’s going to a trade school instead of college.... Read more »

Insuring a rental when you don’t own a car

For us city dwellers who gave up our cars, insuring rental cars can be confusing and maybe unnecessarily costly. It pays to know before you’re standing at the counter whether a non–car owner can get by without the insurance the rental car companies push on you. Before renting a car for a recent one-week trip... Read more »