Most Adults Flunk Social Security Quiz

Most adults likely have heard of Social Security — or seen the taxes for it taken out of their paychecks. But when quizzed on some of the basics of the program, only 28 percent got a passing grade. That’s the finding of a survey by MassMutual, which polled more than 1,500 adults on Social Security rules, including the full retirement age, benefits for ex-spouses and whether benefits can be reduced for government workers. Granted, Social Security can be complicated, particularly …

3 Ways to Cut Your Investment Tax Bill

As tax season draws to a close for another year, you may be among those feeling the pinch from taxes paid on investments. I admit that paying taxes is not exactly my favorite thing, so I always look for ways to be more tax-efficient. Here are three things you can do to keep more of what you earn: First, buy tax-efficient investments. Mutual funds that turn over stocks in the portfolio pass along any taxable gains to their holders. Many active funds …

New U.K. Annuity Reforms Are a Step Too Far

After nearly a decade where the United Kingdom has been the gold standard for retirement savings policy, it is about to take a step that it may regret. The U.K. has a retirement savings system that will enable virtually all of its workers to supplement their state-paid pension with retirement savings. When it is fully phased in, they will have access to a low-cost, diversified savings platform that uses automatic enrollment to encourage participation. However, starting in April, the requirement …

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 …

Saving Our Retirement

At AARP, we know that the people we represent have worked hard to save for retirement, and we believe that they deserve to have financial advisers who work just as hard to protect and grow their savings. Right now, some people have that, and some don’t. Loopholes in the law allow many financial advisers to offer advice based on what’s best for them, not the person saving for retirement. We need to change that. In today’s world it’s hard enough …

Obama Budget Would Drastically Alter IRA Rules

President Barack Obama calls them loopholes, although investors consider them playing by the rules. Yet under the president’s newly released budget, some of the tax strategies used by high-income earners to contribute to Roth IRAs or maximize the tax benefits on inherited IRAs would go away. Right now, to make a full or partial contribution to a tax-friendly Roth IRA, income must be under $131,000 for an individual and $193,000 for a married couple. High earners have gotten around this by …