Personal Finance 
6
comments

Don’t Carry Your Social Security Card

Every month, go through you wallet or purse and ensure that everything in it has a reason for being there.

The other day, while standing in line at the DMV to take a photo for my driver’s license renewal, I saw a man pull his Social Security Card out of his wallet. As we all know, the Social Security card is no more than a regular piece of paper that, given years in a wallet, is bound to disintegrate. This guy’s Social Security card was in such sorry shape that it looked like it was torn from the Constitution. Years of sitting in his back pocket, for no good reason, had his card about a year away from being dust and there was little reason for him to carry it every day (in fact, new Social Security cards instruct you not to carry it on you).

Besides deterioration, another good reason not to carry the card, or anything you don’t use on a daily basis, is that you could lose your wallet or purse. If that unfortunate event happens, you have the burden of replacing or canceling cards that had no reason being in your wallet or purse in the first place. Added headache without any reason whatsoever.

So once a month, clean out your wallet or purse so Constanza doesn’t mistake it for his.


 Personal Finance 
33
comments

Changing Your Maiden Name After Marriage

One of the tricky things about being “recently married” is that the missus was in name limbo. “Technically,” she’s my wife with my last name (that’s right!). “Legally,” she still retains her maiden name until she goes to the Social Security Administration to change her SS card name and the DMV or MVA to change her license name. So what happens when we get a check written out to her new name? Trickiness! Headaches! But not to fret, I’ll try to capture everything we’ve done so that it can be as painless as possible for all you newlyweds out there.

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 Personal Finance 
7
comments

Seven Wonders of the Personal Finance World

When I was younger, I used to play Sid Meier’s Civilization all the time. One of the best parts of the game was trying to build one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World because it gave your civilization a distinct advantage in the world. My personal favorites were the Lighthouse (it gave your ships a farther range and they wouldn’t get lost) and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (I believe each one of your cities now had a Granary), but fun part was being exposed to these wonder in the first place.

Since then, there have been more “Wonders of the World” like the Natural Wonders of the World, 7 Wonders of the Modern World, so why not create a Seven Wonders of the Personal Finance World? Hokey, I know, but it’s my opinion that, if you can, you should “visit” every single one of these wonders.

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 Personal Finance 
46
comments

Replacing A Lost Social Security Card

Luckily I’ve never lost my social security card (which is good because I have a lot of money saved up in it!) but the key to being prepared is to be educated before a crisis strikes, so today I’m just going to review what you should do if you lose your social security card and how to get a replacement.

Unfortunately, when you lose your card there is no one you can report it to in order to prevent any sort of identity theft or other shenanigans. If you were to tell the Social Security Administration, they unfortunately will do nothing because there isn’t anything they can do. Most of the time you only need the card itself when you apply for something like a job, driver’s license, etc. and need proof of identification; but when you’re applying for something like a credit card, you only need the number (the card is meaningless). So, the first thing you should do if you lose a card is to put steps into place to prevent identity theft like freezing credit reports.

How do you replace the card? You’re allowed three per year and ten lifetime, excluding name changes and a few other exceptions. If you haven’t met your maximum limit, first you want to fill out this application, and then prepare all your identification documents. You will need:

  1. U.S. driver’s license;
  2. State-issued nondriver identity card; or
  3. U.S. passport.

If you don’t have those, there are some other replacements you can use instead.

You can either mail the documents in (I doubt this is a good idea) or go to a social security card center and submit the application.

Hopefully you’ll never need this information (don’t carry your card around in your purse or wallet, you’ll never need it!) but in case you do, I hope it has helped.


 Taxes 
2
comments

Another Case for Tax Profile Diversification

I wrote about how we’ve been lucky to experience a period of exceptionally low tax rates, likely helping the prosperity we’ve experience because people have more money to spend, in the past when I took a look at the historical top marginal tax rate a few weeks ago. Well, yesterday Pat Regnier did the same in a piece called the Great Tax Hike in which he argues that we’re likely going to see an increase in our taxes as we try to figure out how we’re going to deal with the Social Security shortfall, increased spending on Medicare, servicing the national debt, and a host of other issues. Now, the big twist, which I mentioned in my Devil’s Advocate post against Roth IRAs, is that some of these tax hikes could come by way of a consumption tax, an added tax on the things you buy, and so the Roth IRA wouldn’t protect you against that.

So, what does this mean? Since none of us can see the future, we should all diversify your retirement asset tax profile to make sure we aren’t caught going one way or the other.


 Government, Personal Finance, Retirement 
1
comments

Is Social Security Really Broken?

The big story in the news these days is President Bush’s attempt to reform our nation’s Social Security program. But is it really broken? You hear the horror stories about how it’ll be bankrupt in 20xx (insert years here) but will it really be?

According to government’s Social Security website quick calculator, for an individual born in 1980 who makes $40,000 this year who plans to retire in 2065, you will receive $1,239.00 in 2005 dollars each month starting in 2047 (67 years old). The $1,239.00 is projected to actually be $5,254.00 in 2042 dollars given inflation (CPI, etc). That assumes an orderly 3.75% raise each year until 2045. This is all just for retirement and not for disability or survivor benefits.

That sounds great right? Let’s get a second opinion…

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