Guard Your Home Equity With Your Life

Home ownership is the foundation of middle-class wealth. The home equity asset is created when mortgages are paid down. It represents the difference between what your house is worth and what you owe on your mortgage. African Americans are less likely to own homes than others — fewer than half of all African Americans own their homes, compared with 66 percent for others. With fewer assets, however, we often have more pressure to tap into home equity than others. >> …

Time to Have That Talk With Your Children About Money

Whether your children are 14 or 40, if you are at or near retirement age you must have a conversation about money. The conversation should be age-appropriate, and designed not to frighten, but to inform. Still, 13-year-olds need to know how much college you can afford for them, and 30-year-olds should have a sense of how much money you will have to support yourself when you will retire and what kind of help you may need from them. Lots of …

Lending to Relatives? What You Need to Consider

Sonny has bad credit and needs a small business loan. Of course you want to help, but can you make the payments or afford losing collateral if he defaults? Your daughter is going through a divorce and she needs the security deposit for her new apartment. If you give it to her, can you count on her to pay it back? Auntie wants to go to Las Vegas and has asked her children, nieces and nephews to pitch in so …

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 …

FTC: $1.7 Billion Lost to Fraudsters in 2014 — ID Theft Top Complaint … Again

Consumers reported losing $1.7 billion to scams and frauds in 2014, according to an annual review released by the Federal Trade Commission. That figure is likely a fraction of actual losses, since many people never report their victimization. For the 15th consecutive year, identity theft was the top complaint in the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, accounting for 13 percent of the total 2.5 million filed complaints. That’s the same percentage as in 2013, but with more people reporting …

President Proposes Rule to Protect Worker Savings

President Barack Obama called on the Department of Labor today to draw up a rule to protect people who save in IRAs, 401(k)s and other workplace retirement plans from hidden fees and expenses that may drain billions from their accounts. The president wants brokers and other professionals to be required to act in an investor’s best interest — instead of their own — when dispensing advice on retirement accounts. “Right now there are no uniform rules of the road that require retirement advisers to …