Liz Weston

Columnist Money Talk

Recent Articles

  • The old magazine scam is alive and well. Here's how to fight back

    The old magazine scam is alive and well. Here's how to fight back

    Dear Liz: I got scammed by a magazine company a year ago. I thought the call was about two magazines I wanted to stop as I was moving. The woman talked fast and took me through the steps with my bank card (which was stupid of me, I now know) as if she was helping and at the end she said, “Oh, those...

  • Deploying a windfall wisely

    Deploying a windfall wisely

    Dear Liz: I recently received a $38,000 windfall. I have a student loan balance of $37,000. I want to buy a home, but I can’t decide if I should have a large down payment and continue paying down student loans slowly, or make a balloon payment on my student loans and put down a smaller amount on...

  • The give and take of federal gift tax rules

    The give and take of federal gift tax rules

    Dear Liz: We are planning to build an addition to our home so that my mom can move in with us and will take out a loan to pay for it. Let’s say that we put down $50,000 and take out a loan for the remaining cost of $150,000. After the addition is built, my mom will sell her house and with the proceeds...

  • Fees can do serious damage to your retirement

    Fees can do serious damage to your retirement

    Dear Liz: When I changed jobs, I rolled my 401(k) account into an IRA and took it to a financial planner. He invested it initially and now has a management company watching it. So now I am paying quarterly fees to him, the management company and the IRA custodian. The fees average about $2,000...

  • The new reverse mortgage is safer but still expensive

    The new reverse mortgage is safer but still expensive

    Dear Liz: If you have never written about the new reverse mortgages, please consider it. I’m nearly 90 and this Home Equity Conversion Mortgage sounds too good to be true. Is it? I’ve talked to a broker and a direct lender and attended a two-hour seminar on the subject. Answer: Reverse mortgages...

  • How to make sure your financial planner is looking out for you

    How to make sure your financial planner is looking out for you

    Dear Liz: As a recent retiree, I opened an IRA with a well-reputed, independent financial planner. I was assured of our fiduciary relationship and told “besides, it will soon be law” that advisors will have to put their clients’ interests first when offering advice about retirement funds. I guess...

  • How to track down an old retirement account

    How to track down an old retirement account

    Dear Liz: I worked for a company during the late 1990s.  When I left, I had a 401(k) worth approximately $10,000. I recently found an old 401(k) statement and called the plan administrator. I was told my company’s accounts had been transferred to another plan administrator in 2008. I called the...

  • Will closing high-interest cards hurt your credit score?

    Will closing high-interest cards hurt your credit score?

    Dear Liz: I have a few credit cards with very high interest rates — in the mid-teens. My FICO has improved (805 to 830) and I carry little or no balance on the credit cards. I have contacted the issuers asking for lower interest rates but they won't budge. I have other credit cards with single-digit...

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