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Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Kiplinger's Personal Finance December 2019

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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
12 Issues

in this issue

3 min.
come together

In many ways, 2019 was the year of … 1969. We observed a number of significant semicentennials—the Apollo 11 moon landing, Woodstock and, near and dear to my heart, the release of Abbey Road, the Beatles’ last recording. (I’ve been listening to the recently released demo tracks that come with the super-deluxe boxed set.) The year 1969 also ushered in a brief recession. Spending on the Johnson administration’s Great Society, plus financing the war in Vietnam, had pushed the deficit higher. The Federal Reserve was increasing the money supply, and inflation was accelerating. Efforts to close the government’s budget deficits by, among other things, raising interest rates created an economic contraction. A couple of years later, President Nixon imposed the popular but now widely decried wage and price controls—some say to…

3 min.
battling the bureaus

I tried signing up at http://my.Equifax.com to enable setting and lifting credit freezes for both my wife and myself (“Battle the Credit Bureaus and Win,” Oct.). Getting my account set up was easy, and it works fine. But when setting up my wife’s account, I apparently answered one of the annoying verification questions incorrectly. Now I get an error when trying to use it. I have contacted Equifax via phone multiple times over the past three months, but to no avail. The reps say they cannot correct the problem. Now if I want to place or lift a freeze for her, I must telephone Equifax and have her answer various questions for verification. After reading about all the problems encountered by other readers, I don’t feel so aggrieved. JOE MITCHELL CORRALES, N.M. These…

3 min.
should shareholders share the wealth?

AS THE 2020 CAMPAIGN HEATS up, you can expect to hear a lot of talk about the role of corporations in American society. Among the Democratic presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders has proposed requiring publicly traded companies—and large private companies—to give their employees at least 45% of the seats on their boards. Democratic candidates also want to raise the tax rates corporations pay and require them to play a greater role in addressing climate change. But as the rhetoric intensifies, it’s worth noting that one of the salvos in this debate came from a surprising source: big businesses themselves. In August, the Business Roundtable, an organization made up of the chief executives of the largest U.S. companies, said that the purpose of a corporation is no longer limited to advancing the best…

1 min.
license to fly

If you’ve been to the airport recently, you may have noticed signs asking, “Does your ID have a star?” If it doesn’t, you may want to schedule a visit to your local Department of Motor Vehicles. Beginning in October 2020, many travelers will need what’s known as a Real ID–compliant license to fly domestically. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Congress passed legislation designed to create universal standards for driver’s licenses and other sources of identification. But with the deadline less than a year away, the U.S. Travel Association estimates that 99 million Americans lack a Real ID–compliant driver’s license or other acceptable identification. State legislatures have passed laws to bring their DMVs up to speed on the new standards, but the process hasn’t always gone smoothly. Millions of Californians who…

3 min.
the new uber law’s ripple effect

California recently passed Assembly Bill 5, which reclassifies a swath of independent contractors, including gig economy workers, as employees. The landmark legislation could change the employment status of more than 1 million Californians. Opponents say the law could negatively affect a wide range of employers, from small churches to wineries. We asked Lindsey Cameron, an assistant professor of management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, to discuss what this law could mean for employees, employers and consumers. Why is California’s Assembly Bill 5 so controversial? The status quo is working for a lot of companies. They save money by keeping workers as contractors, and they have the flexibility to hire people when they need them and let them go with no fuss or severance package. Most people rely on…

2 min.
a present for procrastinators

THANKSGIVING IS LATE THIS year, which means shoppers will have less time to cruise the malls. But if you’re getting a late start, you have reason to rejoice: More retailers than ever are offering fast and speedy shipping. The Kiplinger Letter forecasts that online purchases will surge 24% during this year’s holiday season from a year earlier. But there’s a catch: You’ll have to pay an annual fee at many retailers to take advantage of the fastest delivery. Amazon recently announced that Prime members, who pay $119 a year, will be able to receive their orders in one day instead of two. (Keep in mind that you can still snag free shipping from Amazon on many purchases of $25 or more without a Prime membership. Delivery on those orders usually takes…