Terry’s Columns

Nationally syndicated by Chicago Tribune Content Agency

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  • Next Step in Tax Advice

    January 10, 2018

    Many of you are going to need help with your taxes. . . . And TurboTax is coming to the rescue with an entirely new product — TurboTax Live — that allows you to connect live via one-way video to a CPA or enrolled agent.

  • A Holiday (True) Fable

    December 29, 2017

    Tis the season to receive long, chatty messages tucked into holiday cards, describing the year’s significant events for family members including the dog. But this year, I received one such missive with a financial lesson for all of us!

  • New Year, Clean Slate

    December 26, 2017

    No use looking back at mistakes made. You can’t undo them and must live with the consequences. But the New Year presents us with a clean slate, a chance to start over with better money habits and smarter decisions.

  • CollegeIllinois Closed To Investors

    December 6, 2017

    CollegeIllinois!, the state’s prepaid tuition plan, has closed and is no longer selling contracts. Worst of all, the state does NOT guarantee the plan payouts; it only has a “moral obligation” to make good.

  • Talk Money with Family Over the Holidays

    December 5, 2017

    The holiday season is time for families to get together and celebrate. But it’s worth stepping back from the festivities to consider whether all generations are prepared for both the inevitable and the unexpected.

  • Holiday Gifts that Teach Kids about Money

    November 28, 2017

    Every year at this time, I write a column about gifts that teach children about money. While the latest toys, dolls and electronics may capture their brief attention spans, the gifts described below will provide far more meaning in the long run.

  • Scholarship Search Time

    November 21, 2017

    Set aside some time in the holiday season to search online for scholarships that can make all the difference in college affordability. High school sophomores and juniors should search, too.

  • Can't Afford Obamacare Plans?

    November 17, 2017

    Obamacare survived the political process. The big question is whether middle income Americans can afford to buy a policy. And millions are saying they can’t. Here are some suggestions.

  • Small Biz Health Insurance Special

    November 8, 2017

    Small businesses – employing from 1 to no more than 50 people — now have a one-month opportunity to buy the very best group insurance available – at no cost to the business — and without participation requirements!

  • Medicare Open Enrollment -- Know This!

    October 31, 2017

    This is an an especially challenging time for seniors, who quickly learn that, while Medicare is a wonderful program, there are costly and significant decisions that must be made each year. For starters, you MUST review your Part D Prescription Drug Plan!

  • Beware of Bonds!

    October 24, 2017

    f you’re worried about protecting your stock market profits, where can you hide? Unfortunately, too many people have told me they are “hiding” from the stock market by buying bonds. So let me make one point very clear: You can lose as much money in bonds as you can in stocks.

  • The Next Bear Market

    October 18, 2017

    There will be another bear market. You can count on it. You just can’t know when it will start, or from what level. The other thing you can count on is that it will have a huge impact on your investments — and on your retirement plans.

  • Estate Planning for Pets

    October 15, 2017

    Have you made plans for your pets in case you die before they do? Sadly, there are too many dogs and cats in shelters because their owners died and made no provisions for their care. This is not just a topic for the elderly to think about. Young singles with pets could face the same predicament.

  • FAFSA Time, Again

    September 26, 2017

    October 1st is the first day you can file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid for the school year 2018-2019 – to access more than $120 billion of Federal student aid, including work/study programs, grants, and scholarships. Don't procrastinate!

  • Check Your Life Insurance -- Before it Runs Out!

    September 26, 2017

    If you have a life policy that is intended to build cash value over time, and you haven’t had an insurance checkup in the past few years, it’s time to find out whether your policy will last as long as your life.

  • Equifax Data Breach -- What to Do!

    September 9, 2017

    Equifax knows you – even if you don’t know them. They are one of the three large credit bureaus that collect information on all your financial transactions. And now they've suffered a data breach that could affect nearly every adult American. What should you know; what should you do?

  • Harvey Will Hurt

    September 2, 2017

    There’s no way to measure the pain and anguish Hurricane Harvey inflicted on Houston area residents, many of whom were uninsured, and many of whom lost a lifetime of memories that can’t be replaced by the insurance they have. But Harvey will also make a big dent in economic growth for the entire country and could spark a round of inflation. The picture isn’t pretty.

  • Retirement and the Single Woman

    August 23, 2017

    More women spend more time living alone. And that’s having a big impact on retirement planning.

  • Hidden Risk in Target Date Funds

    August 15, 2017

    Target date funds slowly reduce equity (stock) exposure as a worker reaches retirement age. It’s called a “glide path.” Still, most target date funds leave people highly invested in stocks — and exposed to stock market risk — in the years approaching retirement. But now some experts argue that stock exposure should be reduced far more sharply in the years before and after entering retirement -- especially in light of the recent bull market in stocks.

  • New Apps Make Money Easier

    August 8, 2017

    The world of financial apps and platforms has grown more creative and clever as a generation that lives without paper gravitates toward digital financial control. Here are three worth reviewing.

  • Mind Over Money -- Don't Let Emotions Rule

    August 1, 2017

    All the rational financial discussions in the world won’t get you to your goals if you don’t understand the role your emotions play when it comes to money.

  • When Will the Market "Correct"?

    The current correction-less period of 17.2 months is by far the longest in this market cycle, which has actually seen 14 declines of greater than 5 percent since this bull market started in 2009

  • Avoid Student Loan Debt Repayment Scams

    July 17, 2017

    Americans owe more than $1.34 trillion on student loans — more than credit card debt or car loan debt. Yet it seems that many student loan borrowers are woefully uneducated about how to repay that debt. In fact, far too many fall victim to student loan debt repayment scams.

  • Lazy Money Days of Summer

    July 11, 2017

    The lazy days of summer are not conducive to taking on money projects. But here are five things you could do this summer to improve your financial future.

  • What's Up (or Down) With Gold?

    July 4, 2017

    Gold once made headlines as a safe haven in uncertain times. Now it is considered mostly a trading commodity, a portfolio diversification or a refuge for doomsayers. In fact, gold is so out of fashion that it might be time to take another look at the gold market.

  • "Private" 529 Prepaid Tuition Plan

    June 28, 2017

    What if you could eliminate the middleman — the state promise — and go directly to the best institutions to get a guaranteed prepayment of tuition at any of them, knowing that no matter how high tuition costs rise, you have purchased future tuition at today’s prices? That’s the premise of the Private College 529 prepaid tuition plan. Nearly 300 colleges have joined together to participate in this program.

  • How Long to Keep Financial Records

    June 20, 2017

    How long should you keep financial papers and records? If you’re overwhelmed with stuff, it’s important to be organized and thoughtful, so you don’t throw out important papers that might one day help you prove you don’t owe taxes.

  • Fiduciary Fees - Part 2: Getting Good Advice

    June 13, 2017

    Many investors want to have a personal relationship with a financial adviser, a personal touch. But what IS good advice -- and how much should you pay for it?

  • Fiduciary Fee Fight (Part 1)

    June 6, 2017

    The Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule is going into effect despite the efforts of financial firms to block it. In fact, Wall Street has found a way to profit from the new rules big time at the expense of vulnerable American investors.

  • Reverse Mortgages: A Personal Story

    May 30, 2017

    I have long been a fan of reverse mortgages — if they are done in the right circumstances and for the right reasons. Regular readers of this column know I always put my money where my mouth is. And in the case of reverse mortgages, I want to give you a very personal example.

  • Time to Rebalance Stock Exposure

    May 17, 2017

    As the market reaches all-time highs again and again, the value of your stocks might have started to overwhelm your appropriate asset allocation — especially if you’re nearing retirement and soon will need to start making required annual withdrawals.

  • 5 Essential Steps to Estate Planning

    May 16, 2017

    Planning your estate does not require you to have a lot of assets. But protecting your family’s future — your home equity and your family’s ability to maintain their lifestyle in your absence — requires you to take some simple steps now to avoid the long and costly court procedure called probate.

  • When to Start Taking Social Security

    May 9, 2017

    The decision you make about when to take Social Security benefits can have a huge impact on your retirement plans and your lifetime income.

  • Talk With Mom, Dad About "What if . . ."

    May 2, 2017

    Will we leave a giant puzzle for our loved ones and heirs to figure out? Will they be able, and legally empowered, to handle the assets we leave behind? How can we smooth the way to making this transition a bit less painful? If you’re willing to have that conversation now, you’ll make things much easier at a tough time in the future.

  • Don't Count on that Government Pension

    April 23, 2017

    Millions of Americans are expecting to receive a pension from the city or state that employs them. Many will be in for a terrible surprise, according to the nonprofit organization Truth in Accounting.

  • Exchange Traded Funds

    April 17, 2017

    Exchange-traded funds are far outpacing traditional mutual funds in gathering assets. Last year, more than $280 billion of new investor money flowed into ETFs, a record.

  • Healthcare Expenses and Taxes

    April 11, 2017

    In the past few years, the costs and regulations around health insurance have become inextricably entwined with federal income taxes. Leaving all the political debate aside, the Affordable Care Act impacts the tax returns of millions of Americans.

  • Avoid Medicare Signup Mistakes

    March 29, 2017

    If you aren’t careful about the timing of your Medicare enrollment, you could make a very costly mistake – one that will cost you for the rest of your life.

  • Compare College Financial Aid Offers

    March 22, 2017

    College acceptance letters are arriving now – and with them the financial aid offers that can make or break a college dream.

  • America's Debt Reckoning is Coming Soon

    March 16, 2017

    In the past few decades America has come to realize that we can’t pay for everything — even by going into debt. And it has taken us $20 trillion-plus in debt to reach that conclusion.

  • Investment Fee Price War is Your Opportunity

    March 13, 2017

    The investment industry is in the midst of a price war that will cut costs for everyone from individual investors to sophisticated hedge fund participants. That’s great news for investors.

  • Buried in Debt . . . Again?

    March 6, 2017

    You would think Americans had learned their lesson about borrowing, but debt levels are creeping up again. If — and when — the next recession occurs, the consequences could be even more devastating than the last go-round.

  • How to Refinance Student Loan Debt

    March 1, 2017

    Americans now owe more on student loan debt than on credit card debt. And they’re getting smarter about dealing with that debt to save a fortune in interest over the life of the loan.

  • Fiduciary Rule Dies; Your Retirement in Danger

    February 22, 2017

    The Fiduciary Rule won't go into effect in April as scheduled. That opens the door for high-pressure salespeople to peddle inappropriate and cost-heavy products that could devastate your retirement account as you roll that hard-earned money from a company plan into an IRA.

  • Identity Theft Takes a New Turn

    February 15, 2017

    If you think your finances are safer now that you use a chip card, think again. The latest Javelin Identity Fraud Study reports the number of identity fraud victims increased by 16 percent in 2016 to more than 15 million consumers.

  • Pet Health Insurance

    February 11, 2017

    If you consider your dog or cat to be a member of the family, you are not a pet owner. You are a “pet parent.” And that can expose you to some very expensive medical bills.

  • The Super Bowl of Taxes

    January 30, 2017

    Football is a big-money game, and its highest-stakes event, the Super Bowl, is about to take center stage. The winning athletes will earn an extra fortune --but the "jock tax" means that NFL players typically must file returns in 10 to 12 taxing jurisdictions, including local cities. There are some tax lessons here for all of us.

  • Boomers Need Smartphones

    January 24, 2017

    If the very word “FinTech” makes you flinch, you may be a baby boomer who has sworn off most “modern” money technologies. You’re not alone.

  • Naming a Beneficiary

    January 17, 2017

    Someone is going to get your money when you die. Do you know who that will be? What a shame if the money you worked so hard to accumulate over a lifetime were to go to the tax collector, or your ex-spouse, or a relative you haven’t spoken to in years.

  • Patience is an Investing Virtue

    January 10, 2017

    While economists and stock gurus spend this month making forecasts, ordinary investors are faced with the challenge of figuring out how to allocate their 40l(k), IRA, and other retirement accounts. To do that well, you don’t need a crystal ball to forecast either economic growth or market results. What you do need is . . .

  • Coming Pension Defaults

    For millions of union workers, part of the attraction of paying union dues over a lifetime of work was the promise of a lifetime a pension. Now, as a result of years of mismanagement, bad investments, or bad assumptions on returns, some funds are running out of money to keep their pension promises to union workers.

  • Don't Make a Resolution -- Make a PLAN!

    December 27, 2016

    Resolutions made at this time of year tend to have lofty goals: lose weight, stop smoking, get out of debt. And while these goals are certainly worthy, it’s an old Savage Truth that a goal without a plan is just a dream!

  • Now's The Time to Create Your Budget

    December 19, 2016

    Making a budget is likely at the bottom of your “to do” list at this time of year, but when is a better time to do it? Now you can look back at all of your spending — and overspending. And it’s the perfect time to plan for the year ahead. Here are three easy ways to make that happen.

  • Start Repaying Student Loans Now

    December 8, 2016

    An entire generation has graduated into debt that may not be easy to repay. And if you graduated last Spring, now is the time you must start the repayment process.

  • Special Report: Free Mortgage Down Payment Money!

    A bank is granting free money to help you with a down payment on a house! It sounds too good to be true, but it actually is true. Here are the details.

  • Small Biz Health Ins Deal Beats Obamacare Exchanges

    There’s a little-known “quirk” in the Affordable Care Act that allows small businesses a chance to offer employees – even if as few as one employee enrolls – a job –based plan that is equivalent to the best deals offered by major insurers.

  • Best Gift -- 529 College Savings Plan

    The best gift of all is a good education. So consider opening a 529 College Savings plan account for your children or grandchildren.

  • 2016 Holiday Money Gifts for Children

    Every year at this time I give some suggestions for holiday presents that have real financial meaning for your children and grandchildren.

  • Obamacare Signup Tips

    November 1, 2016

    It's time to make choices about plans offered under the Affordable Care Act, known as ACA or Obamacare.

  • The Election and the Market

    As the election draws near, many people are wondering about the impact on their investment portfolios.

  • Medicare Part D -- Drug Test!

    It’s time for your annual drug test. And ignoring it could be very costly.

  • Cheated -- or Escheated?

    October 3, 2016

    What would you do if you looked at your quarterly statement and the stocks in your account were gone — simply gone?

  • It's Still the Economy, Stupid

    October 10, 2016

    The silence about the economy in this political season is deafening.

  • Debt Relief for Seniors, Disabled

    September 20, 2016

    Imagine being a senior citizen, living on Social Security and perhaps a small fixed pension, and trying to deal with the rising costs of living. Or imagine being a disabled person with no hope of earning additional money to make ends meet.

  • Start FAFSA Now!

    September 14, 2016

    There’s a big change coming in FAFSA – the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. And if you miss out on the new, earlier deadline, you just might miss out on a lot of money!

  • Social Security and Generation Warfare

    August 23, 2016

    Will you receive your Social Security check? It’s a question that’s about to divide generations and confront politicians.

  • How Fed Hike Would Hit You

    September 12, 2016

    The Federal Reserve Board has been threatening to raise interest rates for almost two years. And now it really seems poised to take the second rate hike step of the past 10 years.

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