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Jewish World Review Nov. 3, 1999 /22 Mar-Cheshvan, 5760

Bruce Williams

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The right time to cash a savings bond -- DEAR BRUCE: I keep reading that U.S. Savings Bonds are a poor investment and that I should cash them in at the "right time." When is the right time? -- J.S.B., Hamilton, Ohio

DEAR J.S.B.: The right time is right after the interest has been posted. If you have a bank that you are familiar with and have a contact there, take the bonds down to the bank and ask them to cash them in as soon as the last interest has been posted. Savings Bonds purchased after 1995 will have interest posted to them after the first six months following the purchase, with interest posted every month after. If the bonds were purchased prior to 1995, the interest is posted semi-annually.

DEAR BRUCE: I moved into a new community five months ago and have had nothing but problems with my yard, drainage and landscaping. My neighbors are experiencing the same issues. We have six inches of standing water on both sides, huge pits in our yard, large areas of dead grass with root rot, and, because of the standing water, we have a very bad mosquito infestation. The builders refuse to help. They treat the single mother next door like she is an idiot, and I believe they take advantage of my other neighbor, who does not speak English well. Do I have any legal recourse, or should I contact someone in the county? -- M.M., Orlando, Fla.

DEAR M.M.: If the problems are experienced by a great many people, you would be wise to consider forming an informal homeowners association, with each of you contributing a few hundred dollars toward an offense fund and hiring an attorney to look into these matters. It sounds to me like you bought into a place with a very irresponsible builder. You need to get moving quickly, because often when a builder leaves a project the company is either dissolved or bankrupt, and then you will have no recourse.

DEAR BRUCE: I am working on paying off my mortgage early, and my goal is to have it paid for within five years. I understand that you recommend investing as opposed to paying off the mortgage early. My reasoning is so I can move into a larger home, yet keep my mortgage payments low. Is this sound? -- N.L., St. Louis, Mo.

DEAR N.L.: Not in my judgment. The logic for paying off your mortgage is OK, but you should understand compensating balances. The likelihood is that the interest rate on your mortgage is low. Why would you want to pay that off early when you could take those dollars and invest them in the marketplace? Ordinarily, it will outperform that low interest rate rather dramatically. When it comes time to buy a new house, if you want to liquidate your holdings to buy the new house, that is OK, too. There will probably be taxes on your profits, but when you think of it, does anyone get angry about making money? I don't think so.

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).


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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