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Jewish World Review June 21, 2000 /18 Sivan, 5760

Bruce Williams

Bruce Williams
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Consumer Reports

Insuring an older car -- DEAR BRUCE: I know you have talked about this before, but to be perfectly honest I didn't pay a whole lot of attention. My wife says you say that if a car is on the older side, you are wasting money buying insurance on it. Can you explain yourself? -- C.T., via e-mail

DEAR C.T.: First of all, let's be very clear. I have never said, nor would I say, that it is not necessary to carry liability insurance on an older car.

What I have said is that collision and comprehensive insurance on older automobiles is a very poor buy. Let's assume that your car is worth $21,000 brand-new, but now that it has aged it's only worth $3,000. You can bet your bottom dollar that you are paying a lot more in insurance over time than one-seventh as much as you would pay for a new car, and yet you have only one-seventh of the possible loss covered. Given that set of circumstances, I would drop collision and comprehensive on any motor vehicle worth $3,000 or less.

I should say that in some states it is so cheap you might want to continue, but it is a very poor return on your dollar.

DEAR BRUCE: We are first-time home buyers. We found a home that we liked and negotiated what we think was a very fair price. As a matter of fact it's a good price.

We were qualified for the loan, but you can imagine our shock when our attorney advised us that the title company would not write title insurance because there was a question about a signature on a sale some years ago. We have already given notice on our apartment and are ready to close. The bank will not release the money until this title policy is in place. What can we do? -- C.P., San Francisco, Calif.

DEAR C.P.: You should be very happy that the title search found this problem. Otherwise it could have become your problem. The title company is saying that the present owners have a responsibility to clean up the problem with the title before they will guarantee it.

The likelihood is that the previous owners also had title insurance. It would behoove them to contact the title company and put the problem in their lap. This is why we do title searches -- to be certain that the owner has a right to convey a completely free and unencumbered title to you.

DEAR BRUCE: Our family of seven had long planned a vacation. The day of our trip, somehow either my wife or I carelessly lost the packet containing our airplane tickets.

The airline was very sympathetic but said they could not let us on the plane without the tickets and would not issue new ones even though it was clear that no one was going to show up and claim our seats. There would also be a fee for each ticket, and we would have to wait several months for a refund. The only option we were given was to purchase new tickets, which were 4-1/2 times as expensive because it was now a last-minute purchase.

We had to change our plans and travel by car. We think the airlines could have treated us more fairly. What do you think? -- D.P., Toledo, Ohio

DEAR D.P.: Unfortunately losing airplane tickets is almost like losing cash.

Given the new rules about providing identification at the gate, the chances are your tickets will not be used. But it will be expensive for the airline to track down or validate the fact that they were not used, and they do charge a fee for this. Next time you might consider getting an E-ticket. At least there is nothing to lose except your boarding pass, which I am confident could be duplicated. Can MCTs help athletes DEAR DR. BLONZ: What are medium chain fats? Is there anything unique about them? I have seen a number of products that feature them, and at my gym there a number of lifters that swear by them. -- G.M., Seattle, Wash.

Dear G.M.: The correct terminology is medium chain triglycerides, or MCTs. A triglyceride is the transport and storage form for fats, and to understand what a medium chain triglyceride is, it will help to understand how it is built. That will entail a little bit of biochemistry.

Each triglyceride contains three distinct saturated or unsaturated fatty acids attached to another compound named glycerol. You can visualize a triglyceride as resembling the letter "E" written, where the backbone is the glycerol and the three lines represent the individual fatty acids.

What's unique about the MCTs is the way the cell handles them. Fatty acids are a source of energy, and to release this energy they have to make their way into the energy-producing areas of the cell. This is similar to gasoline, in that gas isn't able to power your car until it makes its way into the engine.

Most fatty acids need an escort into that energy-producing area, and this is usually done with a nonessential substance called carnitine. (Carnitine, by the way, was once thought to be a vitamin before people realized that the body is capable of manufacturing it on its own.)

An MCT is unique in that its fatty acids do not require carnitine to pass into the energy-producing area. This means they can be metabolized for energy at a faster rate then other fats. This was thought to be a big plus for athletes who require concentrated sources of quick energy. MCTs also tend to be burned for energy rather than stored as body fat.

Another property of MCTs is that they are more efficiently absorbed from the digestive track. Once absorbed, they bypass a number of processing steps before they make it into the blood stream. This quality is the reason that MCTs are often used with burn victims or other people that have problems with fat digestion and absorption.

Athletes have shown interest in MCTs. Weight lifters and those involved in body building may take MCT supplements in the hopes that they will provide a quick source of noncarbohydrate energy that will prevent the body from breaking down muscle tissue following a workout.

Endurance athletes may use MCTs, wanting a source of quick energy that can stave off exhaustion, otherwise known as "hitting the wall."

Research evidence investigating the use of MCTs with athletes has been equivocal. There do not seem to be any significant advantages, at least none that can be reliably reproduced in a clinical setting. This being said, though, there are those, as you point out, who swear by these products. I am reluctant to give you a recommendation one way or the other on this one. Now that you have some idea as to what these products are supposed to be doing, you can decide whether it is appropriate to give them a try and see if they are of assistance. Be aware that MCTs can cause stomach upset, and they are not recommended for anyone with liver problems.

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).


06/19/00: Take the money and run!
06/16/00: Utility company incursion
06/15/00: Insurance settlement is no bargain
06/13/00: A straightforward form of bankruptcy
06/08/00: In the computer's clutches
06/07/00: The trouble with tenants
06/05/00: Do I really need title insurance?
06/01/00: The truth about nursing home insurance
05/30/00: Keep mother-daughter loan simple
05/25/00: CDs for security, not investment
05/24/00: Battling with collection agency
05/22/00: Are callable CDs a waste of time?
05/18/00: Building a college fund
05/16/00: Even death brings no relief
05/15/00: House is 'worth' what's offered
05/12/00: Borrow from Mom and Dad?
05/11/00: Your heirs, your choice
05/09/00: Mutual-fund investigations
05/05/00: Credit cards vs. debit cards
05/04/00: Lawyer are good for something
05/03/00: The binding nature of contracts
05/02/00: You know you are in trouble when ...
05/01/00: Can primary residence be rented out?
04/28/00: A full refund after five years?
04/25/00: Get a homeowner's title policy!
04/24/00: Beware of errors in your favor
04/18/00: $10,000 limit on gifts
04/17/00: Invest or repay student loans?
04/13/00: Beware of Internet auctions
04/11/00: Six percent is a pittance
04/10/00: Married couples should share windfall
04/07/00: How not to blow an inheritance
04/06/00: Get genetic screening for Tay-Sachs
04/05/00: Beating the look-back period
04/04/00: Providing for retirement
04/03/00: Readers disagree on time shares
03/30/00: The road back to good credit
03/29/00: Pre-tax dollars in IRA taxed later
03/27/00: Gambling on business ventures
03/22/00: Old cars as hobby, not investment
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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