As expected, the U.S. Labor Department under President Donald Trump this week moved to delay an important investor protection regulation called the “fiduciary rule.” Scheduled to go into effect April 10, the rule would have required financial advisors to act solely in their clients’ best interest when giving advice or recommending investments for your retirement accounts. In promoting the rule, the Obama administration had cited studies showing that retirees have lost billions of dollars in savings because of costly or inappropriate investment advice, which is why Money has advocated for a strong fiduciary rule. Unfortunately, Wall Street lobbying groups have been pushing for a delay or reversal, and it looks as though they’ve won the day, at least for now. That means it’s up to you to make sure that your financial advisor is looking out for you. So before you sign up with one, do a background check. And ask the advisor to sign an agreement to act as a fiduciary. It’s no guarantee of good behavior, but it’s a simple way to sort out salesmen who are simply calling themselves advisors.
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THIS WEEK’S RETIREMENT NEWS, INSIGHTS AND ADVICE
The Secret to Beating the Stock Market, According to Vanguard Experts
Vanguard, the champion of indexing, may not be your first stop for advice on beating the market. But for those who seek to top the market averages, the company that Jack Bogle founded actually has some sensible, and sobering, insights on just what it takes to outperform. As Walter Updegrave explains, it’s a daunting goal, even for pros, but patience helps. Money
Do You Need to Own TIPS If You Hold a Stock-Heavy Portfolio?
The purpose of Treasury inflation-protected securities, aka TIPS, is to help you keep up with rising prices, which is one of the biggest threats to your retirement security. But overall, stocks tend to provide an even better after-inflation return than TIPS do, points out CPA and blogger Mike Piper. But the bonds do provide ballast. Here’s how to figure out whether TIPS are right for your portfolio. OBLIVIOUS INVESTOR
23 Years of Personal Finance Advice Distilled Into One Final Column
St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Jim Gallagher began his personal finance column back in 1994. In this last column, he rounds off his career by offering essential tips that have stood the test of time. It’s good stuff, so take a look. Preview: Don’t be too trusting. ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Your Portfolio Is a Mess. Here’s How to Tidy It Up
Tax time finds many of us sorting through our brokerage statements—and growing increasingly frustrated by all the paperwork. So why not use this opportunity to simplify things? Contributor John Waggoner offers strategies for spring-cleaning your portfolio that can make your investing life easier and keep you on track toward your goals. Money
College Loans Are Making It Harder for Parents to Retire
Everyone knows that student loan debt is big burden for millennials, who are trying to manage those payments on modest incomes. But college debt is a growing issue for their parents too, given the surge in Parent Plus loans. If you’re paying for your kids’ college educations, or you’re planning to soon, consider the risks. MARKETWATCH
3 Tips for Seniors Looking to Make Extra Income
Many seniors are looking to keep working on a part-time basis, both to earn extra money and stay socially engaged. Enter the sharing economy—outfits like Airbnb, Uber and TaskRabbit—which let you earn some money, often on a flexible schedule. To make the most of the opportunity, you need to treat your gig as a business, says contributor Ingrid Case. These pointers can help you get started. Money
Retirees Should Look Carefully Before Leaping Into a Relocation
The notion of moving to a dream retirement locale tempts many older Americans. But there can be unexpected financial costs to a relocation—from taxes to real estate expenses to medical care. Writer Deborah Nason offers tips on key factors to weigh before calling the movers. CNBC
Rethinking Retirement for Longer Lives With Fewer Safety Nets
What does it take to be ready for retirement these days? For one 56-year-old Ohioan, daily PB&J lunches, modest living and steady saving—starting when she was 26—may enable her to retire by 62. If you haven’t been that disciplined, you may need to upgrade your planning now, says writer Kerry Hannon. Yes, working longer may be in the cards. THE NEW YORK TIMES
YOUR RETIREMENT QUESTIONS ANSWERED
This Roth IRA Move Can Create a Massive Tax Headache
Q: I’ve read a couple of your articles on converting a traditional individual retirement account to a Roth IRA. Would such a conversion add to the income included in calculating the tax I owe on my Social Security benefits?—Howard Groopman, Portland, Ore.
A: In most cases, money taken out of a traditional IRA is considered ordinary income. That means funds withdrawn as part of a Roth conversion will be included in your adjusted gross income and will be counted when calculating any tax owed on your Social Security benefits. The exception is if you made any nondeductible contributions, in which case a portion of your withdrawals wouldn’t be subject to tax. READ MORE
WORDS OF WISDOM
“The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.”
–Philosopher William James