Feature

What the experts say

Writing off a job hunt; Family market values; Nest egg guidelines

Writing off a job huntDeducting job search expenses requires clearing a set of hurdles, said Bill Bischoff in SmartMoney.com. First, you can only write off expenses when looking for a job that’s in the same occupation as your previous work. For example, a lawyer moving from a firm to a corporate legal department qualifies, but not if he moves into a firm’s marketing department. Expenses that can be written off include headhunter fees, employment counseling, and postage. Unfortunately, you can “forget about claiming the cost of haircuts, makeovers, gym memberships, and new clothes.” Ditto for cellphone and Internet expenses. A final catch: Your expenses have to be treated as a miscellaneous itemized-deduction item, which must exceed 2 percent of your adjusted gross income when combined with other miscellaneous deductions.

Family market valuesSmart investors would do well to keep their money “in the family—or family businesses at least,” said Mike Dolan in Reuters.com. Though companies with substantial family ownership may conjure images of cronyism and flawed succession plans, they include successful corporate behemoths like BMW, Samsung, and L’Oréal. A third of companies in the S&P 500 index and 40 percent of the 250 largest companies in France and Germany are considered family-influenced businesses. And over the past five tumultuous market years, such firms have outperformed benchmark global indices. A Credit Suisse index of 225 family-dominated firms, for instance, has outpaced the broad MSCI World index by 8 percent since August 2007. The secret? Family ownership encourages “longevity and long-term thinking.” 

Nest egg guidelinesFidelity, the country’s largest 401(k) administrator, says workers should have at least eight times their final salary saved for retirement, said Dave Carpenter in the Associated Press. In a new set of “age-based targets,” the firm suggests having savings equal to your annual salary by age 35. To stay on pace for a comfortable retirement, “individuals should then plan to have saved twice their salary by 40, four times salary by 50, five times by 55, and six times by 60.” According to the plan, which Fidelity says should give most retirees about 85 percent of their pre-retirement income by age 67, a 50-year-old making $60,000 needs $240,000 in savings to be on track. 

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