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Jewish World Review Sept. 27, 1999 /17 Tishrei, 5760

Bruce Williams

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Adult children should help out -- DEAR BRUCE: We are working-class people. We have put our three children through high school and helped the two of the three that chose to go to college to the best of our ability.

This we expected to do. We are now in our early 50s and would like to be putting money aside for us -- possibly taking a vacation or two we could never have taken when raising the kids. Two of our children have moved back into our home. They say the bedrooms are there, so why shouldn't they? You should know that there are other expenses besides just providing the bedroom. They contribute nothing for the meals, and unless I put my foot down they would be very happy for me to become their maid. While we love our children, we think that they should make a financial contribution. They couldn't live elsewhere for nothing. -- M.B., via e-mail

DEAR M.B.: I am on your team. A homing pigeon is not something that most of us would like to raise. I can appreciate that a youngster may come back because he or she has had a run of bad luck. These are temporary setbacks and should be viewed from that perspective. As to the freeloading, that's out of the question. You can arrive at a number that is hopefully mutually acceptable, but let's face it -- you are the "landlord" and you call the tune. I see no reason in the world why 20 percent of their gross income should not be given to you. They could not get that kind of deal anywhere else.

DEAR BRUCE: I have a feeling that we have missed the trolley car. I have an 8.5-percent mortgage with 25 of 30 years remaining. Most of our friends have refinanced homes purchased at about the same time that I bought mine -- in a couple of cases, with a mortgage rate less than 7 percent. I suppose that I should have looked into this earlier, but I have been very busy. We have approximately $150,000 remaining on our mortgage. Would it pay us to refinance at this time? -- B.L., via e-mail

DEAR B.L.: Indeed, you have missed the boat. If your credit is decent and the equity in your home is sufficient, you could have easily qualified for a 7-percent or less mortgage. In today's world, mortgage rates are hovering around 8.5 percent, and very possibly will go higher. Had you taken the time and effort to refinance, you would probably have saved somewhere close to $1,500 a year, which is not chump change. There is no point in crying over spilled milk, but learn from the experience. If something should be done at a certain time, then get it done.

DEAR BRUCE: My husband and I are planning an extended vacation in Florida. We currently live in a suburb of Washington, D.C. He wants to take the car and drive down, and I truly don't care for long auto trips. I would much prefer to fly and then rent a car. He says that the cost would be prohibitive to rent a car for two to three months. If you had to make that decision, which way would you go? -- Y.B., via e-mail

DEAR Y.B.: I think there is another way that you should consider. You can take the auto train, which is run by Amtrak from Virginia to Sanford, Florida. This way, you won't have to put up with the long auto trip and your husband could have the car with him. You will have to do some cost comparisons to see how this would square with the flying and renting. If it is within your pocketbook, I would consider going first class. This way, you will have your own bedroom and, more importantly, your own private bathroom, albeit a small one. The dining facilities are also superior. Having traveled via auto train on two occasions, I can tell you that it is not an unpleasant 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).


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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)?
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08/30/99: Beware of shady viatical investments
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08/20/99: How to get an FHA refund
08/19/99: 100 percent financing is a scam
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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
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