Allan Roth is the founder of Wealth Logic, an hourly-based financial planning firm in Colorado Springs, Colo. He has taught investing and finance at universities and written for Money Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and others. His contributions aren't meant to convey specific investment advice.

Getting Real About Fund Fees

So it’s time to get real about mutual fund fees. Sure, they’re lower than ever for many funds, especially those that track an index. In fact, the average fund fee is now 1.25 percent, according to Chicago-based Morningstar. Still, even this amount is too high and needlessly gives away most of your expected future gains. To understand this, consider the following: You have to frame your gains in real, after-inflation returns. In other words, your portfolio must match inflation just to keep your spending power intact. You …

Are Longevity Annuities in Your Future?

I’ve been pretty critical of many annuities in the past, but there is one out there that might be worth a serious look. It’s called a Qualified Longevity Annuity Contract (QLAC) — yes, that’s a mouthful. Recent technical changes to this annuity OK’d by the U.S. Treasury offer a partial solution to the not-outliving-your-money challenge. Unlike many other annuities, this one is fairly straightforward and easy to understand. It also has some tax advantages. In fact, in five years, says Stan Haithcock, aka …

Should I Buy Long-Term Care Insurance?

One of the most frequent questions I get from clients is whether to buy long-term care insurance. With the average cost of a private room in care facilities topping $94,000 a year, according to a 2013 study by insurer John Hancock, it’s a reasonable concern. Many of us will need some form of long-term care (LTC), so the question of whether to buy insurance to help with the associated costs is a real one. I think the decision is a very close call. At …

Shake Shack – Burger or Shares?

New York-based hamburger chain Shake Shack plans to go public soon by issuing stock in an initial public offering (IPO). Yahoo Finance says it’s a hot offering, and the company has raised the price target to between $17 and $19 a share. Should you bite? It’s very tempting, especially when looking at other restaurant chains like Chipotle (CMG), which went public in 2006 at $22 a share and, as of Jan. 28, trades at about $712 a share. Shake Shack will trade on the New …

Swiss Bank to Traders: Here’s Some Hot Cocoa in Your Face

The Swiss central bank sucker punched the financial community by unlinking the Swiss franc from the euro. As a result, those who trade in currency markets saw huge gains or losses. And while some blamed the bank’s move for the ensuing market volatility, both U.S. and international stocks gained that day. But there are some very important lessons to take from last week’s events, and those lessons are best learned before fortunes are lost. Foreign currency futures are contracts that allow you to buy …

Non-Traded REITs – Warning, Danger Ahead

Are you looking for income? One solution often pitched is private and non-traded REITs (real estate investment trusts). REITs raise money to buy income-producing real estate. In this low-yield environment, they are touted as having high yields and no market risk, and as alternatives to bonds. These days, REITs are selling like hotcakes. According to Investment News, sales doubled to $20 billion in 2013 from a year earlier. Sales were likely to be robust for 2014 as well, though the Wall …