Jewish World Review March 1, 2000 / 24 Adar I, 5760
Is time-sharing a scam?
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
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).
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01/20/00: Is 15-percent growth achievable?
01/19/00: Selling a second home
01/18/00: Running from a time-share
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09/08/99: How do I roll over my 401(k)?
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