What the experts say
How much to put in an annuity
There’s no “rule of thumb” for how much of your retirement savings you should invest in an annuity, said Walter Updegrave in CNN.com. “But even if there were a generally accepted guideline, that doesn’t mean that you should follow it.” Rather than investing some set figure—say 25 percent—prospective buyers should figure out how an annuity would fit into their broader retirement plans. Guaranteed income from an annuity may not be necessary if it’s possible to pay for your living expenses from your nest egg and Social Security. Investors can also buy in gradually, giving them more flexibility if their needs change, “rather than committing one sum all at once.” One important thing: If your adviser “seems more interested in selling you an annuity” than in figuring out how much income you’ll actually need in retirement, find a new adviser.
Last-minute FSA spending ideas
Don’t let your unspent flexible spending account money go to waste, said Thomas Blanton in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. Owners of FSAs face the same dilemma every year: “You must use the funds by year-end or forfeit the money.” Many employers, however, “allow a grace period up to March 15; others let youroll over up to $500 into the next plan year.” If you still have money left over in your account, consider spending it on some less obvious, but still covered expenses. With a letter from your doctor, you can often use the money for acupuncture, massage treatments, or health club dues, if it’s in the service of treating a medical condition. You might also consider buying night guards if you grind your teeth, or sunscreen. “And don’t forget that dependentcare plans can cover elder-care expenses too.”
ATMs go card-free
Starting this spring, Wells Fargo customers won’t have to pull out their debit cards at the bank’s ATMs, said Feliz Solomon in Fortune.com. The bank’s mobile app will soon allow users to take out cash from Wells Fargo’s 13,000 automated tellers using their smartphone. When the customer wants to use the ATM, the app will send an eight-digit access code that can be entered along with a regular PIN number. The new feature will make Wells Fargo “the first bank to have all of its machines go cardless,” though other banks are embracing card-free transactions a s well. “Bank of America has rolled out a similar service on a smaller scale, while J.P. Morgan Chase is said to be testing the option.”