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Jewish World Review Dec. 27, 1999 /18 Teves, 5760

Bruce Williams

Bruce Williams
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Checking up on investment handlers -- DEAR BRUCE: I am looking for a reliable establishment to do an evaluation of the company that is handling my investments, to see how well they are doing with my monies. -- S.B., Mich.

DEAR S.B.: You might consider talking to another broker or two, showing them your portfolio content from two years ago and asking them how they would have invested your monies. You should then ask them how they would handle your portfolio for the next couple of years. Unfortunately, more often than not somebody has an axe to grind, and the only person without the axe would probably charge you a fee for the service, and such a fee could be substantial.

DEAR READERS: I have in front of me a two-page, single-spaced letter received from L.C., via e-mail. It is far too long to reproduce here, but I will summarize it for you: A young couple started a business, which they thought was doing well. After the first year, they had a $40,000 tax liability and $60,000 owed to unsecured vendors. The writer went on to say that they do not buy new clothes, travel or eat out; they have no health insurance, both of their cars are now uninsured, one of their children needs medical help that they can't afford, and of course there is nothing tucked away in the bank. She goes on to say that her husband is depressed. They don't have the money to file for bankruptcy, which she doesn't want to do anyway. Can I suggest anything that will help? The fact is that there are times when you have to know when to "fold" as well as when to "hold." If you get in that deep of a hole with a small business, it's time to bail out.

Bankruptcy is not going to have any affect on your taxes, but it would get the other monies owed off of your back. Both of you could then go out and work for others, work off your tax liability and then have a decent lifestyle. I know that sounds a bit Polyanna-ish, but I know of no other way to get out of a spot like this. You gave your business your best shot. When it's clear that it's not going to make it, it's time to fold it up and salvage what you can.

DEAR BRUCE: My husband and I paint trailers. We used to make a decent profit at this, but now the guy we work with has independent contractors who want us to bill them for $10 an hour, as opposed to our usual per-job charge. Is it worth it? -- M.C., Pa.

DEAR M.C.: The whole question revolves around whether or not you can make any money at $10 an hour. My thoughts are that you probably can't. What you haven't told me is how much you made before, divided into an hourly basis. When you start to deduct such costs as Social Security, Medicare, possible state taxes for unemployment, general business and overhead from the payroll, it seems your employer is taking advantage of you -- and if I were you, I would not let that happen.

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).


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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