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Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Kiplinger's Personal Finance August 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 Issues

in this issue

1 min.

A NEW KIPLINGER.COM Faster load times. Easier navigation. All the trusted personal-finance content and resources you’ve come to rely on. Check it out. kiplinger.com TAX BREAKS FOR COLLEGE Our list includes write-offs for people saving for college, as well as deductions and credits for tuition and books while you’re a student. kiplinger.com/kpf/collegebreaks RECESSION STOCKS It’s official—we’re in a recession. Consider these defensive stocks that provide products and services people simply can’t live without. kiplinger.com/kpf/recessionstocks Kiplinger Today Profit from the best of Kiplinger delivered to your e-mail inbox every weekday. Sign up for our Kiplinger Today e-newsletter at kiplinger.com/links/ktoday. FACEBOOK: KiplingerPersonalFinance TWITTER: @Kiplinger…

3 min.
test-driving retirement

We debated whether we should go ahead with our cover story this month—our annual list of great places to retire—in light of the pandemic. Are new retirees rethinking the list of places they might go? Are retirees even contemplating moving right now? Particularly with a reluctance to fly, at least in the near future, proximity to family and grandkids might be a higher priority. In the end, we decided to go ahead with the article (see page 44), but with a slightly modified list of criteria. We looked for smaller cities with less density but not isolated—excellent broadband coverage was a must. Good health care was high on the list, as were recreational and fitness opportunities. And as always, we chose places with a moderate cost of living that are…

3 min.
best rewards cards

I think you’ve made a serious omission: the no-annual-fee Citi Costco Anywhere Visa card (“The Best Rewards Cards for You,” June). If you’re a Costco member (who isn’t?), you get 4% back on Costco gas and at most other gas stations (superstore and supermarket stations are exceptions), 3% back on dining and travel, 2% back on all other Costco purchases, and 1% back on everything else. It’s my second-most-used card. The only reason I pay for Costco in-store purchases with my Fidelity card is that I can collect my Costco cash reward only once a year on my anniversary date, but that’s a minor drawback. JOHN McCASLIN KIRKLAND, WASH. I’ve used the Citi Double Cash Mastercard for many years, and you routinely recommend it. But here’s a little nuance with it: You…

3 min.
how the fed’s moves affect you

NOT ALL THAT LONG AGO, THE only major decision the Federal Reserve Board had to make was where to set short-term interest rates. But in the past decade, the Fed has become increasingly aggressive in its efforts to pump up the economy—and there’s no sign it will slow down anytime soon. Whether you’re a borrower, saver or investor, this matters to you. Some history: As the economy cratered in 2008, the Fed made the unprecedented move of purchasing large sums of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities, which pumped an extra $1 trillion into the economy. Over the course of the next 10 years, it purchased an additional $2.5 trillion. Then, when the coronavirus crisis hit, the Fed purchased another $3 trillion in bonds and securities, bringing its liabilities so far to…

1 min.
the fed’s money machine

Unlike the rest of us, the Fed doesn’t have a budget constraint. It can buy assets by writing checks on itself. Because the Fed doesn’t ever have to pay off its liabilities, it can never go bankrupt. So what’s to prevent the Fed from creating as much money as it wants? Again, nothing. The only problem with creating money is that it might cause inflation, as more paper and electronic dollars chase a slowly growing supply of goods and services. This is what has caused hyper-inflations in smaller countries in the past. But so far, that hasn’t been a problem. In the past decade, no matter how many securities the Fed has purchased, inflation has remained stubbornly low, breaching 2% only when oil price run-ups occurred. The mechanisms that drove inflation in…

3 min.
if you’re using cash less often, you’re part of a trend

Dayna Ford is senior director-analyst for Gartner, a market research firm. She focuses on digital wallets and other forms of electronic payment. Electronic payments have soared since the pandemic began. Do you expect that trend to continue after the crisis is over? I do, though the trend toward digital payments due to the pandemic has taken different forms: shopping online, paying digitally while doing a physical pickup or using contactless methods of payment, such as digital wallets. All were existing trends that had been steadily climbing over the past couple of years but have accelerated since the pandemic began. After the crisis is over, the rate of digital payments will drop, but not to what it was before. Apple, Google and other providers offer apps designed to eliminate the physical wallet in favor…