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SPOTLIGHT
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Old adage applies - buyer beware

Published on -5/12/2013, 6:50 AM

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Johnny: "Sally, I read that everything on the Internet is true."

Sally: "Really, where did you read that, Johnny?"

Johnny: "On the Internet."

The Internet, by some, has been labeled the absolute best and worst thing that's ever happened. It's the best, because of the multitude of information at your fingertips. Worst, because, unfortunately, all that information is not accurate.

Combine this with the fact that many of us are now using the Internet as a source to buy items that we think might bring us a cheaper price. Unfortunately, unknowing consumers can be swindled. Sometimes just your simple reply on Internet can tip a con-artist off to your ignorance as to how the system works.

Because of Internet, we don't know if a business is being run by grade school students in their basements (dogs barking in the background are dead giveaways) or are legitimately licensed corporations.

And a big concern is service after the sale. If your item is not working properly, and you call the toll free number to get help, only to find it's been disconnected, then what? This may be a good reason to deal with someone in a local or regional area that has been in business for awhile, and established a reputation of good service and support after the sale. If you want to continue doing business on Internet, do your due diligence and check out who you're dealing with.

If you don't know how to do that, check with your kids or grandkids. They'll show you how.

* * *

On another note: It appears in the KPERS presentations this year, the representatives from Topeka would have you believe that if you take a lump sum, which you have the opportunity to take up to 50 percent, that KPERS will withhold 20 percent for taxes. This is partly accurate, if you take the money in cash.

The rest of the story is that you can implement a traditional IRA through a direct rollover with no tax consequence. As KPERS goes further and further in the hole, obviously, they do not want to encourage anyone to take the lump-sum option. Your decision will depend on if you believe the system will remain solvent for your lifetime or not. Fifty percent of something is always better than 100 percent of nothing. However, this is an individual decision that depends on your particular circumstances.

Should you decide to implement this direct rollover, make sure you inform your accountant of this rollover, as the traditional IRA will maintain its state tax-free status.

* * *

If you are receiving a tax refund from the government this year, that means you lent the U.S. government your money interest free for up to a year. This is sometimes the only way some can have a disciplined savings plan. Unfortunately, if you don't pay your taxes on time, the IRS does not return the favor.

This is a very inefficient way of saving. Please talk to your adviser about more efficient ways of implementing a disciplined savings plan.

* * *

In this sue-happy society, it might be wise to implement a personal umbrella policy if you have assets that need to be protected from lawsuits. It could be that a change in your home and auto deductibles may spring enough dollars to add this very important coverage without any additional out-of-pocket costs.

* * *

Long-term care insurance is often a viable part of a comprehensive financial plan. However, not everyone is a candidate for long-term care insurance. If you don't have ample assets to protect, or have no interest in leaving anything behind to another generation, you could very well not be a candidate for this kind of protection.

It would be wise to visit with your adviser to assess your individual circumstances.

* Next month: Living for today, living for tomorrow. Pay yourself first.

Tim Schumacher represents Strategic Financial Partners in Hays. tschumacher@htk.com

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