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Jewish World Review Jan. 14, 2000 /7 Shevat, 5760

Bruce Williams

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Don't be a spendthrift! -- DEAR BRUCE: When it rains, it pours. I was "keeping the rabbit out in front of the dog" every month, making at least the minimum payments on my credit cards as well as meeting my other expenses. I have a brand-new sports car and I manage to take at least a couple of vacations a year. True, I was living from paycheck to paycheck, but things were going OK. You may not approve of my lifestyle, but I was fine until my one surviving parent took very ill. There was no choice but to take an unpaid leave of absence and tend to her needs. She has now passed on and I am back on the job. Since I missed those paychecks, everything has become delinquent. What can you suggest? -- C.D., Oklahoma City

DEAR C.D.: You described yourself as having a lot of "stuff," and you were right on top of it. Yet just a slight disruption threw you into a tailspin. Your idea of what you can afford and what you can't afford are two entirely different numbers. If the sports car is in decent condition, you should sell it. You haven't indicated how much you earn a year, but given your situation there are only two things that you can do: cut down your expenses or increase your income. The first requires budgeting and the second means a second job. You were walking a very fine line before your mother passed away. Get yourself back on a more reasonable track.

DEAR BRUCE: Can you tell me what the difference is between holding securities in my own name or the street name? -- T.M. Hartford, Conn.

DEAR T.M.: When you hold the certificates in your own name, you have to submit them when you make a sale. If you have a significant number and you pass away, it will be a nightmare for your executor. It is far better to have the certificates in the name of a brokerage house, so they can be moved without any more authorization than a telephone call. This way you can buy and sell with a minimum of difficulty. Take this from someone who handled an estate where the decedent wanted to have all of the certificates in her possession. It is an expensive nightmare to get all of the securities into the estate.

DEAR BRUCE: I have been watching an infomercial for several years but have never acted on it due to little knowledge of real estate. Is this course for real? I have always had a huge desire to be in control of my own destiny, so I am also looking at owning a franchise. -- D.B, via e-mail

DEAR D.B.: There is not a question in my mind that most of the fellows who run these courses have done what they say they can do. Having said that, it is very unlikely that they can show you how to do it. Many of the waters are already "fished out." In other words, what money was there to be made has been made by others. As for franchises, one has to be selective. The likelihood of failure of a properly-established franchise is seriously diminished. If you are in a franchise, remember that you will have a lifetime partner. You will not be able to make independent decisions without consulting with the franchise operator. This is not all bad. When you are at a Howard Johnson and you order crab rolls, whether it's in the east, north, south or west, they will all taste exactly the same way. That's the consistency that franchises strive to achieve. If you are a free spirit, however, you might find this very constricting.

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).


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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