DEAR BRUCE >> I am trying to teach my 15-year-old daughter how important it is to start putting away money for her future. Do you have any ideas on how to start?

— Jill

DEAR JILL >> You ask a very good question. There is no way to overemphasize how important it is to put money away for the future.

First, it depends on the source of your daughter's money. Is it a straight allowance, an earned allowance or a part-time job? Let's assume it's a part-time job. I would suggest that she begins by putting away 20 percent of her net check (however small). If she has other income outside of her job, the same percentage should apply.

I cannot say how important the value of establishing this habit is. Your daughter is fortunate to have a parent who cares.

DEAR BRUCE >> What can be done to protect my untaxed 401(k) and IRA stock and bond funds from the projected near or total collapse of the economy? I am 75 years old and required to take minimum amounts annually. I really need those amounts as my pension source. If I take larger amounts, the tax bite is larger. Even if I could get around the taxes, what would I do with the money? Buy gold?

— M.D.


DEAR M.D. >> I am wondering why you think there is going to be a near or total collapse of our economy. Frankly, although your age is somewhat working against you, I would still suggest that over a period of time the markets are going to recover, and two or three years from now you're going to sit back and say, "Wow, I am glad I got back in."

As to the taxes, unhappily, there is not much I can do about that. But I do believe your pessimism should be re-examined.

DEAR BRUCE >> My wife and I paid off $25,000 in credit card debt and closed the accounts. My income is $2,400 a month and my credit score was close to 780. Why has it dropped down to the 750s?

— Reader

DEAR READER >> I suspect that your credit score has dropped because you paid off a $25,000 credit card debt, which is good, but then you closed the account. That means you have less money available to you, and when you reduce the amount of money available, your credit score is going to go down a bit.

A 30-point drop on your credit score is not going to mean very much if you have to apply for another mortgage or some other accommodation, given that you have a good record.

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