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Money Talk articles from Joel Dresang

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A testament to update before you’re late

I was digging through some old boxes in the basement when I found a blue three-ring binder labeled, “Estate Planning Documents.” It was another reminder that my wife and I should update our plans.

Where I’ve been since the financial crisis

Reflecting on where I was back when Lehman Brothers failed and how much has changed since has made me grateful and mindful.

Where to retire: A flight of fancy

We consider ourselves years from retirement, but we have begun talking about where we will live next.

Inevitable as taxes, yet rarely planned for

Two of my brothers died in the last year. Neither gave the family much direction about what to do afterward.

Trying to transition off a treadmill

Many retirees would rather be working. It seems the world of work isn’t keeping up.

Retirement confidence or ignorant bliss?

So why are workers so confident of their retirement when they’ve done so little to prepare for it?

Emergency lessons from a 40-year-old deuce

A numismatic anniversary has reminded me of a long-forgotten gift from my father. Now that I think of it, the gift is worth remembering.

Procrastinate your way to retirement ruin

Procrastination is more than just a punch line. The Center for Financial Literacy, at Boston College, calls procrastination “the number one barrier to making retirement more secure.”

Retirement plan: Working longer (or not)

Increasingly, Americans reaching retirement age aren’t retiring. I wonder if I’ll be one of them.

Rebalancing: Better safe than sorry

I get it. Rebalancing was wise. Still, the process was a bit unnerving for me. And it didn’t help that I did the math.

Watch your language: Attention to details

I grew up in a large family in a small town during the Cold War. Following the rules wasn’t how you got ahead but how you got along. Compliance was compulsory.

What’s in your wallet: Family talks

In most families, money talk is taboo. Yet, as we dream and plan and make decisions in life, it helps to have a sense of what we can afford. Part of that context involves having a handle on our family’s finances. That involves communication.

Overstuffed: You cant take it with you

Emptying our kitchen cabinets got me to thinking. What will become of all the stuff we have been accumulating when we’re done with it – which, for many of us, is when we’re done? If you ever have been involved with clearing someone’s residence because of a death or downsizing, you know you don’t want to impose that burden on anyone you love.

Don’t let ID thieves get your money too

My own experiences with identity theft can offer warnings and reassurances to consumers worried about the latest massive compromise of personal financial information.

Minimizing losses away from home

I traveled abroad with my wife and our youngest daughter. We visited South Africa, where we encountered wildlife, learned about apartheid and suffered theft and fraud initially exceeding $3,500.

Kids: Why can’t they be like we were?

Only 37% of Americans believe the next generation will be better off. That puzzles me. And it turns out that I am party to the pessimism.

Look (and scrutinize) before you leap

Scrutinizing is important, but sitting on your hands is more the point.

Gender gaps in financial literacy

Even with a greater role in family finances, women collectively have shown less confidence and lower scores in financial literacy.

Retirement: Thinking about spending

“Retirement is the most expensive purchase you’re ever going to make. It makes sense to figure out what it’s really going to cost.” …

Putting housing in its place

Housing economists at Harvard estimate that home equity makes up 42% of the median net wealth of Americans 50 and older. “Having housing equity be the primary source of net wealth poses risks for older homeowners,” they note. …

8 steps to better widowhood

“Of all the factors associated with poverty in old age, the most critical is to be a woman without a husband.” …

Securing elder finances

Various reports call elder financial abuse “an epidemic” and “the crime of the 21st century.” Like most personal financial crimes, though, these can be prevented through common sense and vigilance. …

Advancing age, declining capacity

Our accumulated knowledge and familiarity with finances can help offset some of the declines, but typically our abilities to process information and to reason start going downhill about the time we are ready to retire. That raises concerns in a retirement system increasingly relying on individuals to make their own decisions. …

When it’s time to retire

It’s not a scientific study, but my chance survey of classmates supports what I have surmised about planning for retirement: Most of us don’t. Most of us stumble along. Then at some point, we look up and realize that we are approaching some sort of finish line – or it is approaching us – and we’re not sure what to do once we’re past it. …

Not my father’s retirement

Researchers show how unprepared workers are, even for their own expectations. But some of their findings suggest how to be more successful in providing for our retirements. …

Freeze: Chilling effect on ID theft

The good news – especially if you have been the victim of ID theft or are afraid of being one – is there’s a relatively simple alternative to hiring a credit monitoring company: Freezing your credit.

For nominal one-time fees to the three credit reporting bureaus, you can make it discouragingly difficult for an ID thief to apply for credit in your name. Lenders check with the bureaus before issuing credit. So by telling the bureaus to withhold your information from any new inquiries, you can deter would-be ID crooks. …

Cleaning up after identity theft

The bill I got in the mail totaled $2,838 for three robotic vacuum cleaners. The problem was they weren’t mine.

My identity was stolen. I didn’t order those vacuum cleaners. I don’t even have an Amazon card. Someone assuming my identity opened a card in my name. Someone who now has criminally clean floors. And I’m left to clean up the mess. …

Crash test dummies

When I covered the market crash in 1987, I was reporting at an afternoon newspaper in upstate New York that published five days a week. That paper since has been swallowed into its morning rival, which now reports around the clock through updates on its own websites as well as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn and more.

The point is that the news media are exceedingly harder to avoid, and they have an undue negative influence on investors’ expectations, which could harm behavior. …


Joel Dresang is vice president-communications at Landaas & Company.
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