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Jewish World Review Dec. 17, 1999 /8 Teves, 5760

Bruce Williams

Bruce Williams
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Don't give up your nest egg


http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- DEAR BRUCE: I owe $12,000 in consumer debt and would like to pay it off. I have a 401(k) account from a previous employer at $14,000 and $15,000 worth of equity in my home. Which would be a better place for me to get money to pay off this debt? -- B.C., Hutchinson, Kan.

DEAR B.C.: I could not endorse either. You have made some mistakes, but to give up what you have earned and take the easy way out would be a big one. Have you considered working two jobs or taking a part-time job? In my view, the easy way is the least desirable, and I would be uncomfortable with either of the choices you outlined. The tough way to go is to earn the extra money, which is what a well-adjusted adult would choose.

DEAR BRUCE: We have been approached by some folks who are willing to set up a home business for us. They claim there are legal tax deductions associated with home offices that will reduce our income tax. They ask for a monthly fee to handle all the necessary paperwork, representation in case of an audit, etc. What do you think? -- J.G., Topeka, Kan.

DEAR J.G.: I am weary with the various schemes people come up with to increase deductions to save a small amount of money. If you want a home business, why not establish one that is profitable? Even then, you will pay taxes, but you will have a lot more at the end of the year for yourself. Why mess around with these charades?

DEAR BRUCE: In one of your columns, you said that if a gift certificate expires, the issuer must remit the amount to the state. I cannot find any information about this on the Internet. I would like to persuade my golf course to honor some certificates I won, which expired several weeks ago. Can you help? -- J.R., via e-mail

DEAR J.B.: Call the escheat division of your state (every state has one). This is the branch of the government that takes custody of unclaimed bank accounts, insurance policies, etc. It is the obligation of the issuer of the certificate, if it is not redeemed, to turn this money over to the state, as this money does not belong to them. If you probe your state stature and show it to the manager of the golf course, letting him know what he has to do, I suspect he would rather let you spend your money at his establishment than give the money to the government as he's required to do. If he has already turned the money over to the state, you may make a claim to have it returned. You will receive no interest, but if you can prove that the money was from a gift certificate that was given to you, the division will give you a refund.



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

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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