Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Kiplinger's Personal Finance May 2020

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Written to help you do a better job of managing your personal and family financial affairs and to help you get more for your money. You get ideas on saving, investing, cutting taxes, making major purchases, advancing your career, buying a home, paying for education, health care and travel, plus much, much more. Special issues cover the latest information about car buying (December) and Mutual Funds (March and September).

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12 Numéros

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3 min.
do you have a tax refund habit?

Turns out, many Americans like giving Uncle Sam an interest-free loan — as long as it means getting a refund later, according to a nationwide poll conducted by Kiplinger’s and Barclays US Consumer Bank. In fact, nearly two-thirds of survey respondents said that in general, they would rather get a refund than collect a bigger paycheck. Additionally, most taxpayers (74%) reported receiving a refund last year. So, how did they put that money to use? SAVING MORE About six out of 10 filers getting refunds saved some or all of it. While that’s a good financial move, taxpayers can do one better by shopping for institutions offering better-than-average interest rates on savings. Barclays, for instance, offers FDICinsured online savings accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs) at rates that are consistently more than 15 times higher…

2 min.
get more advice

ALL-NEW KIPLINGER PODCASTS New weekly episodes bring you timely, practical advice and guidance to help you: • Invest for growth and income, • slash taxes, • save for retirement, • make the most of your money, • maintain good credit, • and more. SUBSCRIBE Apple, Google Play, Spotify, Overcast, RSS HOW TO REACH US: Subscriptions. For inquiries about ordering, billing or renewing a subscription, or to report address changes, please have your mailing label handy to reference your account number and visit us online at or call 800-544-0155, Monday through Friday between 7 A.M. and midnight, Saturday between 8:30 A.M. and 7 P.M., and Sunday between 10:30 A.M. and 7 P.M. You can also write to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, P.O. Box 420308, Palm Coast, FL 32142-0308, or e-mail us ( Reprints. PARS International Corp. (212-221-9595, ext. 237; e-mail,…

4 min.
social insecurities

I also went through hours of unsuccessful phone calls and callbacks about Social Security issues that could not be resolved on the phone (“From the Editor,” March). I apparently did not exist. I am a plastic surgeon and came to this wonderful country in 1977 from my birth country, South Africa, via Edinburgh, Scotland. I became a U.S. citizen in 1984. I waited until age 70 to claim Social Security. I finally scheduled a day off work and headed downtown to the Social Security office. When I eventually got to someone at a window who started to question me, I found out I had been born in Afghanistan and not Bloemfontein, South Africa! In all fairness, the next person I was sent to was absolutely fantastic. He knew his way around the bureaucracy…

3 min.
a brush with buffett

I don’t know how it is where you live, but around these parts, in Washington, D.C., anxiety over coronavirus is off the charts. The panic buying started with hand sanitizer and toilet paper, then spread to bread and frozen veggies—and, of course, alcoholic beverages. We are rapidly adjusting to the concept of “social distancing,” with closures of schools and workplaces and places of worship, not to mention cancellation of sports and cultural events. The list of shuttered stores is steadily growing. Panic has touched the financial markets, too, except instead of panic buying there’s panic selling. U.S. stocks finally succumbed to the bear 11 years and two days after the bull started its charge. Volatility in stocks is making my head spin like Linda Blair’s in The Exorcist. With events canceled,…

4 min.
how to survive the fallout from covid-19

CALL IT THE COVID COLLAPSE. The U.S. stock market spiraled into bear-market territory in record time thanks to the virulent, crossborder spread of the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 infection. As the number of U.S. cases surged in March and President Trump declared a national state of emergency, the specter of a recession quickly morphed from economists’ worst-case scenario to their base-case assumption. Americans already worried about their health are now frightened about their finances. We’re here to help in the pages that follow, with advice about your investments and savings, and tips to make the most of unexpected bargains (such as refinancing your mortgage) and avoid pandemic-generated scams. For stock investors, the bear’s attack seemed to come out of nowhere. Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index plunged to 2305 on March…

3 min.
borrowers catch a break

AS THE CORONAVIRUS SCARE pushed the 10-year Treasury note to an all-time low and the Fed slashed the federal funds rate, interest rates for consumer loans also fell, creating money-saving opportunities for smart borrowers. In early March, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage stood at 3.36%, and the 15-year fixed mortgage averaged 2.8%. Those are the lowest rates ever recorded in Freddie Mac’s survey, which dates back to 1971. But rates ticked up as mortgage brokers struggled to keep up with demand for refinancing, and many lenders chose to keep rates higher than they would ordinarily be based on the level of the 10-year Treasury. If your mortgage rate is more than one percentage point above current rates, it’s usually a sign that it makes sense to refinance. But you may benefit from a…