Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Kiplinger's Personal Finance July 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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United States
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12 Numéros

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3 min.
why i’m optimistic

Americans are fundamentally optimistic. No matter how bleak it seems, we believe that things will get better. That belief inspired Willard Kiplinger when he founded our company a century ago—in the wake of World War I and the Spanish flu pandemic, which claimed between 50 million and 100 million lives worldwide. Another legacy of the irrepressible Kip was the quote he chose to display for many years on the contents page of this magazine, by the quintessential American philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson: “This time, like all times, is a very good one if you but know what to do with it.” Silver linings. So in the sanguine spirit of Kiplinger (and America), I’ve been looking for silver linings behind COVID’s dark clouds and the economic turbulence. Here’s one: Consumer prices fell…

3 min.
car insurance tips

I know it says “Fundamentals” at the top of the page, so it’s going to be a beginner article, but not a word was mentioned about one of the fundamentals of an auto policy: uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (“Reshop Your Auto Insurance,” May). At least half of all traffic accidents and personal injury claims stem from hit-and-run drivers and uninsured, underinsured and excluded drivers. That should have been at the top of your list, with limits of at least $100,000/$300,000 for injuries to one person in an accident/injuries to all people in an accident. There should have been a nod to medical-payments coverage as well, especially for people with little or no health insurance. (Oh, and don’t get me started on these driving monitors—but that’s a story for another…

3 min.
a view of life after the pandemic

REMEMBER WHEN YOUR HOME was the place you went to relax after a long day at work? Now, that idea seems as quaint as June Cleaver’s habit of donning pearls and high heels to vacuum before Ward returned from the office. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has forced millions of people to hunker down, homes have become the place where we work, exercise, educate our children, enjoy (virtual) happy hour and catch a movie. And that trend is likely to linger long after the pandemic is under control, according to a forecast by Euromonitor International, a global market research firm. Euromonitor International released its forecast of the most significant trends for 2020 at the beginning of the year but felt compelled to update it after COVID-19 upended the way we live and…

2 min.
stimulus spending is needed, but long-term debt is a problem

Maya MacGuineas is president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. The federal government will borrow a record $3 trillion in the second quarter to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn. Are you concerned about these unprecedented levels of federal debt? This is a time when borrowing is what we should be doing. We need to borrow to fight the pandemic in ways that will help the economy become more resilient and recover more quickly. The concern I have is that we entered this crisis with a large debt already because we borrowed through the economic expansion. Having such high debt is going to make the recovery process more difficult. Despite high levels of debt before the pandemic, unemployment was at record lows and the…

2 min.
another epidemic to worry about: identity theft

IDENTITY THIEVES ARE INCREASINGLY using stolen information to hijack their victims’ accounts, a costly type of fraud that’s expected to increase as the COVID-19 pandemic forces more Americans to work and shop online. The number of victims of account takeovers, in which a criminal takes control of an existing online account, rose more than 20% last year, according to a report by Javelin Strategy & Research, a financial advisory firm. While the number of victims of ID theft declined in 2019, total losses rose because account-takeover fraud is more profitable for perpetrators. Javelin also predicts an increase in phishing attacks and “card not present” fraud, in which stolen credit card data is used to make purchases online, by phone or through the mail. A target-rich environment. Fears of the pandemic and confusion…

3 min.
retirees get a break on ira distributions

THE CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS PACKAGE, known as the CARES Act, allows retirees who are 72 or older to skip required minimum distributions from IRAs and other tax-deferred accounts for 2020. Here are answers to questions about the waiver. I took a required distribution from my IRA before the CARES Act was enacted. Can I put the money back into my account to avoid the tax bill? Ordinarily, you have 60 days to roll money withdrawn from an IRA back into the account. The IRS has extended the rollover deadline until July 15 for account holders who took an RMD between February 1 and May 15. The option isn’t available if you rolled over money from one IRA to another in the past 365 days, because the IRS only permits one rollover per year.…