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Jewish World Review Sept. 21, 1999 /21 Tishrei, 5760

Bruce Williams

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Use the rule of 72s! -- DEAR BRUCE: I am 44 years old and have a little over $400,000 in a tax shelter (401)k. I would like to retire in my 50s and, aside from Social Security income, I would like to have at least one million dollars in principal, which should generate a comfortable $100,000 a year without invading the principal. How can I figure out how long it's going to take me to get to the point where I can retire? -- C.W., Terre Haute, Ind.

DEAR C.W.: If you use the rule of 72s -- which means dividing an interest rate into 72 -- it will tell how many years it will take for your principal to double. Assuming a rate of 12 percent in growth over the six-year period, your $400,000 will become $800,000. If you were to take another six years, your $800,000 would become $1.6 million. If you put a pencil to it, you can find out the precise point at which you'll reach a million dollars even. It would seem to me that for a person as young as yourself, doing the 12 years and having it double twice makes a great deal of sense. I always have to ask, if you do retire, what in the world are you going to do with your time? There are only so many cruises, games of golf and other diversions in most of us... and then what? If you are going to go into volunteering or a different occupation, great. But someone with a great mind who just turns it off when they hit 50 is close to a criminal.

DEAR BRUCE: I am a football fan, and I've never missed a game that I chose to attend because there is always somebody at the stadium hawking tickets at premium prices. I feel that it is a worthwhile expense since I enjoy the game. I was in Tampa, Fla., a week ago and decided to spend an evening at a Buccaneers game. I proceeded to the stadium and sure enough there were people selling tickets. I purchased two tickets at seriously inflated prices (the game was sold out). When I reached my seat I was surprised to find someone already occupying it. When we called an usher to intervene, he told me very quickly that I had been victimized, that these were counterfeit tickets. Not only was I not going to get those seats but I would be obliged to leave the stadium. I was outraged. Isn't there some way that we can be protected from this? -- T.M., Sioux Falls, S.D.

DEAR T.M.: The best protection is to not buy from scalpers, or else know who you are buying from. Admittedly, the ticket vendors could produce something that is a little more difficult to reproduce. The best defense is to stay away from the scalpers. You can't hold the stadium responsible. The crime is as much against them as it is against you.

DEAR BRUCE: My ex-girlfriend and I had been together for almost three years. We are both 23. We had been sharing household expenses equally, which never presented a problem. But now that she is gone, she refuses to pay her half of a telephone bill, a utility and some other incidental expenses incurred while she lived with me. This is putting a huge strain on me. When we signed the lease, it was predicated on the idea that there were two incomes.

On top of having to carry the rent all by myself, I am obliged to pay her bills, which are in my name. I don't think that this is fair. What can I do to recover this money? -- H.R. Bangor, Maine

DEAR H.R.: The problem here is the proper division of responsibility. If, for example, the telephone bill is in your name, the telephone company has only one person to go after, and that's you. Usually when these things come to an end, somebody winds up on the short end -- in this case, it's you. I don't know if it would be worth your while to go to small-claims court, but perhaps a judge would agree with you. Then you face the problems of trying to collect. I would pay the bills and write this off as an unhappy experience.

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).


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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