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Jun 15,2007
Dear Mr. Berko: I've saved all of your columns for the past four years and I need your advice. I have to find a broker because I'm not having the success I want (and I don't have the time, either) managing my personal portfolio. I'm thinking of joining Merrill Lynch as a client. It's a huge firm and should have many good brokers because of its size. What do you think of Merrill Lynch? I ... [full story]
2241 times read - No comment posted

Jun 15,2007
It's a harsh reality that nobody is going to lend you money once you reach the age where your daily routine no longer includes breakfast on the go, office intrigue and commuter boredom. While many wannabe retirees are clear about their eagerness to leave the workplace, the escape plans they hatch are often as clearly defined as a pile of Scrabble letters. Wishy-washy financial projections aren't going to cut it when you're ready to cut ... [full story]
1538 times read - No comment posted

Jun 15,2007
Nothing strikes more fear in an unorganized person's heart than tax season, when you pay dearly for a year's worth of stashing bills, receipts and other papers in a shoebox. I know, because I'm a recovering file-o-phobe. I used to think it took too long to organize my paperwork as it came in, until I realized just how much time I later wasted trying to find misplaced records. Before the 2006 tax-filing season fades from ... [full story]
1335 times read - No comment posted

Jun 15,2007
Five Tips to Help You Save on Common Baby Gear New moms find out quickly that their little bundles of joy can be accompanied by a large bundle of bills.    Mike Sullivan, director of education for Take Charge America, a national non-profit credit counseling agency, says many parents underestimate the cost of raising children. “It’s impossible to plan for all of the expenses associated with raising children.  However, parents can make conscious efforts to save money ... [full story]
9461 times read - No comment posted

Jun 08,2007
Growing up in a family of seven posed all sorts of culinary challenges. It was impossible, for instance, to divide a 12-pack of Popsicles evenly, or a cherry pie, without angering somebody. Bruised feelings were also inevitable whenever my mom pulled out the cookie sheets or a Duncan Hines cake mix. After she finished making the batter, the kids fought for the beater, spatula and bowl. To end these kitchen free-for-alls, I decided to become ... [full story]
2283 times read - No comment posted

Jun 08,2007
There is plenty of blame to go around for the subprime mortgage meltdown that has reduced access to credit and sent lenders scrambling to tighten loose underwriting standards. "It was a multipart failure," said John M. Robbins, chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association. "It's not one segment of the industry." The recent spike in foreclosures and the closure of scores of subprime lending companies was caused by "everybody who participated in making those kinds of ... [full story]
1517 times read - No comment posted

Jun 08,2007
Dear Mr. Berko: I need to purchase long-term care insurance for and my wife and myself. We are considering a Conseco policy because the salesperson appears very knowledgeable and the price and coverage seems fair. We've also looked at Genworth Financial but the price is higher. We're impressed with the Conseco person who told us that he owns 250 shares of Conseco and we like the fact that this person owns stock in the company ... [full story]
2393 times read - No comment posted

Jun 08,2007
Dear Mr. Berko: We have $22,000 we want to invest in five closed-end funds with yields between 8 percent and 9.5 percent and we don't care if the funds trade at a small premium. We're seeking high income and can afford to take risks with this money but still, we'd like your recommendations to be solid issues, not the 12 percent to 15 percent yields several brokers have shown us. This $22,000 comes from the ... [full story]
2351 times read - No comment posted

Jun 08,2007
Dear Mr. Berko: Many years ago I worked for a brokerage company called Thomson McKinnon while living in Chicago. I left the firm in 1986 at age 54 and went to work for a commercial printing company in South Bend, Ind., from which I retired 11 years later. I found out about five years ago that Thomson McKinnon went bankrupt but also remembered that they had a pension plan and at age 65 I would ... [full story]
5095 times read - No comment posted

Jun 01,2007
You and your buddy are planning a ski trip to Switzerland with a side trip to Paris, where you have made reservations at The Ritz. He falls and breaks a leg carrying luggage to the car.   TRAVEL INSURANCE - If you buy travel insurance, you may well have avoided a second disaster, this one financial, when your trip plans unexpectedly fall apart. CNS Illustration by Eri Hashimoto. Your family decides to take a cruise instead of ... [full story]
1944 times read - No comment posted

Jun 01,2007
Dear Mr. Berko: Please tell me about Sasol, which is a synthetic oil and gas producer in South Africa. Do synthetic diesel, airplane fuel and gas really work? Can we use it in the U.S.? Where did they get this process and how come we don't use it reduce the cost we have to pay? Is their process too expensive? And is it true that Sasol developed this process to make fuel for the Germans ... [full story]
3035 times read - No comment posted

Jun 01,2007
Dear Mr. Berko: I have a proprietary stock market formula that uses various unit trusts to generate long-term gains and or income for my clients. I've only been in this business for five years but my record is very good. I purchase unit trusts with zero commission costs and specific stock market objectives to match the investment of my clients. Each account will own six to eight unit-trusts with maturities of at least 12 months. ... [full story]
2910 times read - No comment posted

Jun 01,2007
Dear Mr. Berko: I need more income because I'm retired. So I asked my broker for the name of a good closed-end income fund and he said that one of the best he could recommend was the ING Prime Rate Trust that yields 7.3 percent and sells for $7.40 a share. I bought 1,300 shares (about $9,600) and got my first monthly dividend of $585 and I'm pleased. Do you think it would be a ... [full story]
2361 times read - No comment posted

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