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Jewish World Review March 1, 2000 / 24 Adar I, 5760

Bruce Williams

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Is time-sharing a scam?


http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- DEAR BRUCE: Are any of the vacation time-shares worth the investment? Please explain. -- Jeff, Lowell, Mass.

DEAR JEFF: In my opinion time-shares are to be avoided at all costs. There are those few people who can take advantage of them, having the flexibility of taking a vacation at the same time every year and an interest in returning to the same place.

But the vast majority of people who buy time-shares wish they hadn't. Furthermore, if you absolutely, positively can't resist, there are ample time-shares on the resale market, such as in Florida, that you can buy for 15 to 20 cents on the dollar. In my opinion that's still too high, but if you are going to buy a time-share the secondary market is the only place to start.

DEAR BRUCE: I am 48, and my husband passed away, leaving $20,000 in insurance. I have no assets, no retirement fund and a job that pays only $8 per hour. I am wondering what the best way would be to invest this money, since I have no experience. What should I do? -- Reader

DEAR READER: You might consider investing the money in you -- something to upgrade your skills so that you can earn more money. Whether this means going back to school or learning a new skill, that's up to you.

In the absence of that, no matter how well invested this money is, you are still going to be very, very short on assets when it comes time to retire. If you are only disposed to invest it, at the risk of sounding repetitive, I would be looking for an aggressive, successful mutual fund. Whether it be a no-load (no commission) fund that you seek out yourself or a fund you find through a broker, you are looking for something that has absolutely no interest in dividends, only in growth.

DEAR BRUCE: The company I work for is in the process of merging with yet another giant in our industry. I am 56 years old and eligible to retire. With my years of service, I have what they refer to as enough "points."

I am skeptical, however, because of the IRS. How much of my pension will go to Uncle Sam? Will the state get their share as well? I have a 401(k), but will I have to wait until I am 59-1/2 to access this money? -- D.P., Charleston, W.Va.

DEAR D.P.: Your concerns are legitimate but without more specific information, I have no way of giving you an answer.

However, you can take all your income information to a competent accountant, and with that at their disposal, they should be able to address your concerns. That's the place to begin -- and probably end.



Send your questions to JWR contributor Bruce Williams by clicking here. (Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.) Interested in buying or selling a house? Let Bruce Williams' "House Smart" be your guide. (Sales of the book help fund JWR).

Up

02/29/00: Paying for nursing-home care
02/28/00: Rely on a real-estate lawyer
02/23/00: Keeping child's money safe from divorce
02/16/00: Just how important is a 401(k)?
02/14/00: Shaky partnership buying house
02/11/00: Protection by residential zoning
02/09/00: Benefiting from a reverse mortgage
02/07/00: Ensure your insurability
02/04/00: Absurd community zoning laws
02/02/00: Money or securities?
02/01/00: Can we KO a custodian?
01/31/00: Why sell a home you love?
01/26/00: Everyone needs a will
01/25/00: Will splitting stocks affect rollover?
01/24/00: Should early retirees contribute to SEP?
01/21/00: Strategies for paying off debt
01/20/00: Is 15-percent growth achievable?
01/19/00: Selling a second home
01/18/00: Running from a time-share
01/14/00: Don't be a spendthrift!
01/13/00: Who gets the house?
01/11/00: It all depends on size of estate
01/06/00: Check references before hiring an advisor
01/04/00: Savings bonds a bad investment
12/31/99: Out of state ain't that great
12/29/99: Warranty rip-offs
12/27/99: Checking up on investment handlers
12/23/99: Options good only when company's strong
12/20/99: Capital gains tax sometimes best
12/17/99: Don't give up your nest egg
12/15/99: Small-claims court no panacea
12/13/99: Termite company not liable for termites?
12/10/99: Services provided must be paid for
12/06/99: How do we minimize house-sale gain?
12/06/99: Maximize your tax shelter!
12/02/99: My neighbor won't maintain even a modicum of civility
12/01/99: Long-distance rentals a bad idea
11/29/99: Mortgage strategy A-OK
11/18/99: Students can work and learn
11/16/99: Value is what will sell
11/11/99: Y2K: No big deal for real estate
11/08/99: Real life is tough luck
11/03/99: The right time to cash a savings bond
11/01/99: Slow road for savings accounts
10/29/99: What do you want from insurance?
10/27/99: You have a right to see your tax forms!
10/25/99: Why own a house at 65?
10/22/99: Online fine, but CDs?
10/20/99: Love, honor -- and separate credit
10/18/99: Find the value of your stocks
10/15/99: Property lien prevents trade
10/13/99: Clear up debt, only then tie the knot
10/11/99: If it ain't broke...
10/04/99: Should I stick with the company IRA?
10/04/99: Get a financial education!
10/01/99: Insurance: Not much one person can do
09/30/99: Lost tickets are lost cash
09/29/99: Trusting only one financial planner
09/27/99: Adult children should help out
09/24/99: Tips for first-time home buyers
09/21/99: Use the rule of 72s!
09/17/99: Legal strategy can be a pain
09/15/99: Teen drivers drive up insurance
09/13/99: Always use an attorney!
09/10/99: Whose taxes are they, anyway?
09/08/99: How do I roll over my 401(k)?
09/03/99: How can I work out my IRS payments?
09/01/99: When your company can't pay you
08/30/99: Beware of shady viatical investments
08/26/99: Landlords vary on security deposits
08/25/99: Educational IRAs must be spent on education
08/23/99: Finding out the value of old stocks
08/20/99: How to get an FHA refund
08/19/99: 100 percent financing is a scam
08/16/99: Will I have to pay a capital gains tax?
08/16/99: Thinking about PMI
08/13/99: Short-term mutual funds a-OK
08/11/99: It's your job to shop around
08/10/99: Sometimes, roots need to be uprooted
08/09/99: 'Pre-approved' doesn't mean a thing
08/06/99: Only you can determine your investments
08/04/99: Bank IRA the lowest-risk option
08/03/99: Reverse mortgages good for the elderly
08/02/99: Get the survey BEFORE you buy the house!
07/28/99: Get a lawyer -- it's worth it!
07/27/99: If it ain't broke...

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