What the experts say
Breaking up with your bank; A flooded used-car market?; Saving for a single retirement
Breaking up with your bankIf it feels like your bank is treating you badly, remember “there are a lot of suitors out there,” says Ismat Sarah Mangla in Money. To figure out if your banking relationship has gone sour, take a close look at your fees and rewards. If you are paying a maintenance fee, “that’s a red flag.” Threaten to leave unless it is waived, or request a better deal. If it’s time to move on, “figure out your banking personality.” If you travel frequently, look for a bank with a nationwide system of ATMs. If you want personal service, check out a local credit union or community bank, many of which offer free checking. Once you’ve narrowed your options, ask whether your new bank offers a “switch kit” to make moving accounts as hassle-free as possible. You’ll have a better partner in no time.
A flooded used-car market?Used-car buyers should beware in the wake of Hurricane Irene, said Micheline Maynard in NYTimes.com. “Damaged cars and trucks from cities and towns affected by the storm are likely to make their way to auto auctions across the country,” and used-car lots might not disclose that vehicles were exposed to the storm, just as many failed to do after Hurricane Katrina. Even if you live thousands of miles from Irene’s path, as a prospective buyer you should check whether your state requires salvaged vehicles to be identified, or pay for a service like Carfax to check a car’s history. Cars that were flooded may still be drivable if properly cleaned, but it’s critical to “check every nook and cranny” before you commit to buying one.
Saving for a single retirementMore baby boomers are heading into their golden years on their own, and they should apply more caution when planning for retirement, said Anne Tergesen in The Wall Street Journal. Last year, 35 percent of 50- to 54-year-olds were single, compared with 29 percent in 2000. In retirement, a single person’s living costs will be “40 to 50 percent higher” than those of someone living as part of a couple. “Most couples have two incomes and shared economies of expenses,” whereas singles shoulder the burden alone, said financial adviser Brian Pon. It’s recommended that older singles set aside at least 15 percent of their pay for a nest egg, and prepare for the possibility of unemployment or disability by keeping debt low and supplementing traditional disability insurance