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LETTERS

Take Financial Control

In his comments on the book Pound Foolish, Knight Kiplinger calls Helaine Olen’s pessimism outdated (“My Point of View,” April). The fact is that pensions are extinct, health care costs and insurance premiums are rising at an alarming rate, and the unemployment rate is still breaching 9% in many areas. Yet financial professionals still try to convince us to hang our hopes on the stock market!

DANIEL BANKS

BETHLEHEM, PA.

I don’t believe that most people are “powerless victims,” but they are often ill-prepared to make critical financial decisions related to their IRA and 401(k) investments. Gerontologists call this the “great risk shift” — that is, risk has shifted from a broader societal and institutional responsibility for late-life security to the individual.

GREGORY HINRICHSEN

NEW YORK

Those who suggest that financial independence is a pipe dream feed an insidiously disempowering philosophy. My father gave me a subscription to Changing Times [now Kiplinger’s Personal Finance] around the time I graduated from college in 1975, and I’ve been a reader ever since. I am financially independent. I do not trade commodities futures or credit derivatives. I did not inherit a windfall or win the lottery. Rather, I chose a good profession, worked diligently, learned the fundamentals of personal financial planning, invested in America, valued achievement over consumption and gave generously to selected charitable organizations. I fully expect my children to do the same. I owe a great deal to Kiplinger, and I hope you’ll be there when I give my children their subscriptions. Thank you, Knight. Thank you (in memory), Dad.

S.H.

APOLLO, PA.

KNIGHT KIPLINGER REPLIES:

Defined-benefit pension plans are fading in America and not coming back. The Great Risk Shift, the title of Jacob Hacker’s book on the subject, is real. We do need some creative thinking on replacements for the certainty of those old pensions, but we also need a heightened sense of personal education, initiative and responsibility — a point that Ms. Olen seems to dismiss. (For more on what I recommend, see “My Point of View,” on page 18.)

CLARIFICATION

Workers 50 and older may contribute an extra $1,000 a year to their IRAs (up to $6,000 in 2012 and 2013). But no contributions to a traditional IRA are permitted starting the year you turn age 70½ (“Last Gasp Tax Savings,” April).

Q | READER POLL

Where do you plan to live when you retire?

Stay in my own home

65%

Downsize to a smaller home

30%

Move to a retirement community

5%

To learn about an innovative housing option for retirees, turn to page 54.

SOURCE: POLL SURVEYED 211 KIPLINGER’S READERS

ONLINE CHATTER

SUSANNAH SNIDER’S WAYS to supplement paying for college drew heated discussion (“Game Plan,” April):

“How about encouraging your child to fill out scholarship applications? As a high school senior, I made filling out scholarships my job and paid for the first two years of school.”

“College students can work before and/or after class, on weekends and vacations. I did, and earned two college degrees in the process. It’s called learning to manage time, something you will have to do in the real world.”

“Don’t jeopardize your home, your retirement and your future to pay for an overpriced college. It’s because people are so willing to borrow against their future that colleges are so absurdly priced.”

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Letters to the editor may be edited for clarity and space, and initials will be used on request only if you include your name. Mail to Letters Editor, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, 1100 13 St., N.W., Washington, DC 20005, fax to 202-331-7255 or e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Please include your name, address and daytime telephone number.

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