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Jewish World Review March 22, 2000 / 15 Adar II, 5760

Bruce Williams

Bruce Williams
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Consumer Reports



Old cars as hobby, not investment -- DEAR BRUCE: I know you have an affinity for old cars, so I wanted to ask you about a 1965 Pontiac convertible that I have the opportunity to buy. I believe it was called a "muscle car" by that generation. While it is only 35 years old, it qualifies as an antique. I will have to put a good deal of money into this car to restore to its former splendor. Is this a good investment? -- R.W., Louisville, Ky.

DEAR R.W.: Probably not. Most people who restore automobiles, particularly amateurs, put far more money into a car then they could ever hope to get out of it. It's one thing if you want to do this as a hobby and have some fun, but if you are looking at this as a solid financial move, I think that you can do better elsewhere.

The reality is that if you are investing in cars in the hopes of their value appreciating, you are far better off taking them to a professional restorer to get the cars in pristine condition. The expenses involved, especially for an amateur, are excessive and an amateur restoration can diminish the value.

DEAR BRUCE: I have owned my home for over 20 years, and we have always gotten along well with our neighbors on both sides. All of these houses were built by one family on their land that was later sub-divided.

Recently, the house on one side of us was sold. The survey that the new owner has in his possession says that our driveway is encroaching on his property by a matter of 2-1/2 feet. While this doesn't present insurmountable problems, it would be expensive to extend the driveway on the site closest to our house. This driveway has been there for 20 some years and we have never had a problem. What do you suggest? -- L.C., Toledo, Ohio

DEAR L.C.: The first thing that I would do would is to get a survey of my own to determine if their survey is accurate. If it is, you have a tough choice.

One option is just to accede that portion of the property to him, and as you say, extend your driveway to the other side.

Alternatively, you might consider seeking the advice of an attorney and find out if through adverse possession, commonly known as squatters rights, you have a legal interest in the disputed property. You might also want to check with your title company to see if insurance was purchased when you originally bought your home. There may be some liability there.

DEAR BRUCE: Up until now I have tried to stay out of my parents' faces. They have raised me, I am independent, and why should I tell them what to do?

However, I couldn't help but want to interfere when I found out that my mom and dad have more than $1 million in CDs, earning just slightly over 5 percent. While this does give them $50,000 a year in income, it seems to me that they are giving up a great deal.

Am I right, or should I keep my mouth shut? -- P.T., California

DEAR P.T.: It seems to me that you ought to at least talk to your parents. If they are comfortable with a 5-percent return, why not counsel them to invest in municipal general obligation bonds that will pay about the same percentage, but the money will be totally tax free? There are opportunities to multiply this return, but it sounds like your parents are very interested in security. At the very least, a move from CDs into tax-frees would save them a great deal of federal and state income tax.

Be cautioned that in order to be tax exempt from the state there are only certain bonds by certain agencies that can be considered.

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).


03/20/00: Tax on foreign gifts?
03/16/00: How to buy government bonds
03/13/00: Buying treasury instruments
03/09/00: Subcontractors must pay S.S.
03/08/00: Real-estate lawyers are essential
03/07/00: Don't expect compensation for ideas
03/06/00: Too rich for a Roth IRA?
03/01/00: Is time-sharing a scam?
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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