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401(k) Lost & Found

During our working life, most of us change jobs. Many times. If you had a retirement account at a former employer that you lost track of, we may have good news.

Senators Elizabeth Warren and Steve Daines have sponsored a bi-partisan bill to create a searchable online “lost and found” for abandoned retirement accounts.

In the meantime, the Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation operates a searchable database of pension accounts and expects to have 401(k) accounts added to it by 2018. The catch with the PBGC is the information is incomplete. It relies on companies voluntarily forwarding retirement account information to it. The Senate bill will create a comprehensive database.

When's the Best Time to Take Social Security?

Money experts agree, the longer you can wait before starting to takew Social Security beneits the better off you'll be.

If you can afford, wait until the maximum age of 70 (when you must start receiving your benefits). Your payout will be 76% higher than if you had started drawing them at the minimum age of 62.

Managing Your Money Manager

A few years back, the Department of Labor issued new rules to help protect consumers from money managers who were acting in their own best interest first and your interests second.

Now those rules may be repealed. Here are the steps you should take with anyone to whom you’ve entrusted your money:

  1. Ask that person to state in writing that they will act as a fiduciary at all times. The term “fiduciary” is a legal one. It means, under penalty of law, the fiduciary must always put your interests before any other in their financial dealings.

Just because someone calls themselves a “financial advisor” or “wealth manager,” it doesn’t mean they are legally a fiduciary. Often, the people will place your money into funds that pay them a higher commission or a bonus. It’s good for the advisor’s bank account, but my not be good for yours.

  1. Always ask your advisor to provide you with all of the costs and fees associated with any given investment. And again, make them do this in writing. What you want is a good faith estimate of what you’ll wind up paying in direct fees or sales commission.
  2. If you can find one, choosing an advisor who simply charges a flat fee may be preferable. Of course, always consult with your lawyer or other financial professional before taking any steps. And be advised that advisors who charge a flat fee or set percentage of the assets they will be managing can be more expansive that paying those direct fees and/or sales commissions. But the idea here is that a flat fee advisor has no financial interest in recommending one investment over another, besides helping you to get the best return so they will remain your advisor.

Car Repair Cons

Repair shops have a bad reputation. One reason why is most of us don’t really know much about our vehicles. When a repair person tells us our framastat and carburatic overgloid needs replacement, we just nod and sign the repair order.

One of the most common cons is the Oil Change Add-Ons: Many repair shops advertise a very low price on oil changes. Once they get your car in their service bay, they’ll tell you about all the other things you need – like a new air filter or a coolant flush. Unless you know and trust your repair shop, treat these tactics with skepticism, especially if your car has been running just fine.

BTW – Many of the coolants used in today’s vehicles are good for 100,000 miles.

The Top Phone Cheats of the Year

It would be a rare person who has not had at least one attempted scam via phone (cell or land line) this past year.

Law enforcement says these are the top scams of the year gone by:

  • Phone numbers on your caller ID that are very close to your own number. Scam artists know you're more likely to answer an unknown number that's close to your number. If you don't recognize the number, let it go to voice mail.
  • “The IRS” claiming they’re about to take you to court or have you arrested unless you make immediate payment via wire transfer or debit card. Tip: The IRS NEVER makes phone calls. Official business is always conducted by mail.
  • “Tech support worker” claiming they need access to your computer remotely to remove viruses. What they’re really going to remove is your personal information.
  • “Utility bill collectors” looking for immediate payment or else your utilities will be shut off. Again, real utilities do not operate this way.

When in doubt, get off the phone and make contact yourself with the agency the original caller claimed to be from.

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