Category archive for ‘Frugal Forum’ rss

  • How much money do you need when you retire?

    Have you seen the TV commercial for Prudential where Professor Daniel Gilbert asks the question: “How much money do you think you’ll need when you retire?” There is a second commercial where Professor Gilbert uses ribbons to see how long your retirement funds can last. Of course, neither of these commercials provides an answer to the question.

  • Inheritance options for surviving spouses

    With the wide variety of insurance and retirement savings plans available to retirees today, there has been an increase in the types of assets that are being passed on to surviving spouses of deceased retirees. The tax implications of some of those inherited assets can be quite significant.

  • Cash in on your Web-based journeys

    We have come a long way since the days of S & H green stamps. That is the earliest reward system I can remember as a child. My Mom would save books of S & H green stamps. I can remember going with her to the S & H Green Stamp redemption center to turn in her books of stamps for all sorts of gifts.

  • Coupons: Have you noticed the changes?

    A recent report from NCH, the global leader in business solutions for the redemption, settlement, and analysis of promotional offers, indicated that 80.9% of consumers use coupons. So, the coupon trend caught on, and it seems they are still quite popular.

  • Planning to get away after a tough winter?

    I am curious to see how much this tough winter will influence our mid-west neighbors to want to get in a late spring vacation. Many of our neighbors took their vacations last fall and have been cooped up for a while, itching for some nice weather.

  • Healthcare dilemma more than rising costs

    Did you catch the “On the Road with the Health Wagon” segment that aired in early April on CBS 60 Minutes? It was a timely reminder that there are still numbers of Americans that are still not covered by health care insurance.

  • How much worse can the state of our state get?

    Did you see the editorial in the Chicago Tribune on March 30, 2014 comparing Illinois’ “State of the State” between 2010 and 2014? The editorial used 22 different indicators to measure Illinois against the other 49 states.

  • Why healthcare costs are higher in the U.S. than other countries

    The healthcare industry is go­ing through tremendous change with the implementation of medical informatics (the use of technology to automate both clinical and financial medical systems). Such changes have added to the already spiraling costs of health care.

  • Buying by the bundle

    We recently received a call from my sister and brother-in-law from New York. They were excited about Time Warner Cable being acquired by Comcast, thinking that their monthly rates from Time Warner would drop. I almost fell off the chair laughing. I informed them that if they should expect anything, get ready for a rate increase.

  • Tech support scams that span the hemispheres

    Have you received any phone calls lately from computer technical experts informing you that your computer, smartphone, or tablet has a virus and they can fix it for you? We’ve had three of these calls within the last couple of weeks.

  • Self-reinvention in retirement

    I attended our Sun City Hunt­ley Annual Meeting the other night and found the results of the survey very interesting. What I found most interesting is that approximately 80 percent of those who responded to the sur­vey are fully retired.

  • Snowbirds, what is your state of residency?

    I recently attended a conference sponsored by the Illinois Society of Certified Public Accountants that provided an update on State and Local taxes. One of the topics I found very interesting was a change in one of the Illinois tax administrative codes that defines “residency” for tax purposes.

  • How to comply with 2014 hands-free cell phone law

    A new state law took effect Jan. 1, 2014 that bans the use of hand-held devices while driving in Illinois. Mo­torists still can chat and drive but only if they use hands-free technology, such as a Blue­tooth device, earpiece, head­set, or speakerphone.

  • Year-end tax planning for 2013

    There is still time for taking action prior to year end to save yourself some income tax dollars, especially if you will have income above $200,000 for the year.

  • Why keep kicking the can down the road?

    When municipal officials want to build for the future, they have a powerful financial tool at their disposal: general obligation bonds that yield millions of borrowed dollars. The money is meant to let municipalities move forward on costly projects that will serve the community for decades.

  • Don’t get caught short without long-term care insurance

    Recently, Sue and I had two of our close friends in need of nursing facility services be¬cause their loved ones were not capable of caring for them at home. The decisions to arrange for nursing home care were stressful enough to begin with, but in both cases there were added financial concerns.

  • Another perspective on property taxes

    I continue to receive correspondence from our Sun City neighbors concerning the school/property tax issue. There is a wide variety of perspectives on the issue.

  • Have we realized any savings on our electric bills?

    I received an email from one of our Sun City friends the other day with an interesting question. The message read: “Ever since we Huntley-ites signed for the favorable electric rate with ComEd coupled with the village of Huntley, I sit here and wonder, How much am I saving?

  • The Costco experience

    For the longest time now, our neighbors have encouraged us to become members of Costco. I had resisted becoming a member because I didn’t want to pay the annual membership fees to shop at a place where you buy everything in bulk.

  • And now we know the rest of the story

    In my column from August 29, I shared the story of how Sue and I visited Sun City West, Arizona to obtain additional information on how that community was able to reduce their property taxes by being removed from the surrounding school district. I concluded that article with the following statement:
    “From our discussions with the [Sun City West, AZ] staff and the research librarian, they attributed the exemption to the “unincorporated” status of the community.”

  • The terrible toll taken by tolls

    I mentioned in my last col­umn that Sue and I had just returned from a trip that took us through 20 states west of the Mississippi. Sue was our navigator, and she kept care­ful notes of our journey, log­ging all the wonderful sights and keeping stats on dates, locations, mileage, etc. One statistic on her list was high­way tolls. Take a guess on how much we paid in tolls outside Illinois as we completed our 7,350 mile trip.

  • An update on the school tax issue – straight from Sun City, AZ

    The Frugal Forum column on June 20, 2013, discussed the possibility of establishing our own school district in Sun City, Huntley as a means of receiving some relief from our ever increasing property taxes.

  • The benefits of a revocable living trust versus a will

    A revocable living trust is a popular estate planning tool that you can use to determine who will get your property when you die. Most living trusts are “revocable” because you can change them as your circumstances or wishes change.

  • Preventing credit card fraud, minimize loss with diligent monitoring

    We were at home watching T.V. and the phone rang. At the same time, I received a text message on my cell phone from our credit card company. The phone call was also from the credit card company. They were inquiring about a recent transaction on my credit card: a purchase in New Mexico of $500.

  • How schools are funded

    Since my column in May, 2013, on “Another Property Tax Increase,” I have received numerous emails and correspondence from our Sun City neighbors who have weighed in on their own concerns over the increase.

  • Establishing a Sun City school district starts from within

    “If they [the taxing authorities] cannot reduce our tax burden (the most significant portion of which is school tax), then we should set up our own school district within Sun City to fund our education.”

  • An alternative to cable

    Earlier this year, I wrote a col­umn on “negotiating rates for products and service.” At a subsequent Sun City Town Hall Meeting, the idea of negotiating with Comcast was posed by a community member. Our board President indicated that a mem­ber of the Board was approach­ing Comcast to determine what, if anything, could be done to obtain more reasonable rates for members or our community.

  • Another property tax increase

    In the September 20, 2012 issue of the Sun Day, I wrote a column entitled “Taxation without representation.” In that article I expressed particular concern over the exorbitant amount of property taxes we pay in support of School District 158.

  • The secondhand market saves you money

    As the world goes more and more digital, we are experiencing growth in some new businesses that can save us money.

  • Is a Roth IRA right for you?

    I often get questions from my students at the University about retirement savings. Most of my students are under the age of 50, so the answers to their questions are a bit different for some retirement plans.