Jill on Money: Medicaid, tax deadline, stocks vs. funds

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Larry from California bolted from an insurance agent, only to find a commission-based broker that intends to charge him a stiff 3.5 percent to manage two IRA accounts, valued at $90,000 each. What are his alternatives? Plenty! I often talk about an excellent organization called the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA.org), which is a good resource to find qualified advice-givers.

Tess may also want to check out NAPFA, since she asked about buying stocks to boost her retirement nest egg. I think she meant individual stocks, which I am dead-set against. The problem is individual stocks is that most people don't know what the heck they are doing! And if actively managed mutual funds, which are filled with lots of well-paid analysts, can't beat the indexes, why should we expect that mere mortals like us could?

According to research, over the 23 years ending in 2009, actively managed funds trailed their benchmarks by an average of one percentage point a year AND another report from S&P found that most actively managed funds waged a losing battle over the five years through Dec. 31, 2010.

Richard from Washington sold his home and has been renting for four years. Should he continue to rent or is it time to buy? Meanwhile, Cathy and her husband are considering spending a chunk of their ample retirement funds to build a new home - can they afford to do so?

When I receive an angry listener e-mail that takes issue with something that I said on a previous show, I invite the e-mailer to come on the program to argue his or her point. I find it especially upsetting when someone uses inflammatory language, but then doesn't have the guts to back it up with a conversation. That was the situation with Tom from Seattle, who was upset about my conversation with Lenore, CA about how her 86-year old mother might (or might not) qualify for Medicaid. I thought I provided a measured response, but Tom really went after me, which is why I devoted the 4th segment of hour 1 to Tom--I hope he was listening!

Throughout the show, I sprinkled in some last minute tax tips. If you need to get going, check out this quick TV segment:

Here are some tax resources:

-- Tax tips for late filers

-- Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request

-- Form 1040-V, Payment Voucher

-- Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return

-- Official Payments Corporation

-- Link2Gov

-- PayUSATax

Maggie and her husband are just starting out, but they're well on their way to completing one of their big goals: paying down student debt. With loans at 7.9 and 6.8 percent, its hard to argue for doing anything but locking in those kind of after-tax returns!

Peter brought up a topic "pension maximization," which is a strategy for choosing a pension payout option alongside the purchase of a life insurance policy. While it can be beneficial to many, Peter would be wise to get a second opinion before making this decision.

Finally, both Stefanie and Linda have run into some financial problems. Sometimes, the financial and the legal intersect, so I recommended that each of them talk to a lawyer for help.

Here are web sites and resources mentioned in this week's show:

-- Jill's Blog

-- NAPFA: National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (fee-only advisors)

--Long-term Care - US government web site

-- Long term care conundrum

-- NYT Rent vs. Buy Calculator

-- National Foundation for Credit Counseling

-- Financial documents: What to shred, what to keep

-- Estate Planning: the Documents You Need

Thanks to everyone who participated and to Mark, the BEST producer in the world and our new intern, Sehar. If you have a financial question, there are lots of ways to contact us:

Call 855-411-JILL and we'll schedule time to get you on the show LIVE

Send an email: askjill@moneywatch.com

Tweet me: @jillonmoney

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  • Jill Schlesinger On Twitter»

    View all articles by Jill Schlesinger on CBS MoneyWatch »
    Jill Schlesinger, CFP®, is the Emmy-nominated, Business Analyst for CBS News. She covers the economy, markets, investing and anything else with a dollar sign on TV, radio (including her nationally syndicated radio show), the web and her blog, "Jill on Money." Prior to her second career at CBS, Jill spent 14 years as the co-owner and Chief Investment Officer for an independent investment advisory firm. She began her career as a self-employed options trader on the Commodities Exchange of New York, following her graduation from Brown University.

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