Who can you trust when buying an annuity?
And more of the week's best financial advice
Here are three of the week's top pieces of financial advice, gathered from around the web:
Honest advice on annuitiesIt's hard to find unconflicted advice when buying complicated insurance products, said Beth Pinsker at Reuters. Long-term care insurance, annuities, and life insurance with investment options are usually sold on commission, so salespeople don't necessarily recommend options "that are in your best interest." To secure solid annuity advice, seek out a fee-only certified financial planner, also known as a fiduciary because he or she is required to make decisions based on your best interests. A CFP can suggest what policy to purchase "and recommend a trusted salesperson — who will likely earn some kind of commission on the sale." Another option is to hire a fee-only insurance consultant, who can independently evaluate the policy you are considering. Fees "can run about $300 an hour."
Money moves for job switchersIf you're changing jobs, now's the time to get your financial house in order, said Janet Alvarez at US News. Does the new job come with a big pay raise? Then "take a moment to devise a good use for that extra money," like paying off credit card debt or establishing an emergency savings fund. Rolling over your 401(k) retirement fund gives you a chance to rethink your investment options. "Can you increase your contributions? Select lower-cost funds or investment options? Diversify your portfolio?" If you're still negotiating your new salary, remember that a higher paycheck may not be worth it if the benefits aren't as good as your current offerings. "Instead, focus on negotiating a total compensation package that exceeds your current package — not merely your current earnings."
Income rich, asset poor"Do you earn a decent salary, but live paycheck to paycheck?" asked Allison Schrager at Quartz. If so, you're not alone. A growing number of upper-middle-class households "have almost no emergency cushion and are woefully unprepared for retirement." The average 40- to 55-year-old with a household income of $75,000 to $100,000 typically has about $70,000 in financial assets that aren't a house, car, or business. About 25 percent have less than $17,500. Usually, the bulk of that money is tied up in retirement plans, like 401(k) accounts, which can't be tapped without penalties. Excluding those plans, the average upper-middle-class household has just $12,200, and about 25 percent had only $3,200 saved.