DEAR BRUCE: Which is a better way to start investing for my children, opening a Roth IRA or purchasing stock? My husband and I would like to provide for their future and not have them struggle like we did. I have heard so many good things about a Roth IRA that I think that would get a better return. — P.R., Iowa
DEAR P.R.: One thing you should understand is that you can open a Roth IRA only with money earned by the individual whose account it is in that tax year. If the children you are thinking about investing for are working, you might be able to work that out. There are many other good ways to invest. In my opinion, one would be in the market, in a conservative dividend stock that was purchased on a regular basis, perhaps every quarter. If you feel that you can’t make these selections yourself — and that’s no crime — enlist the services of a broker and explain what you are trying to do. You will be establishing a long-term account, and you should be prepared to take a modest amount of risk. Without taking some risk, you are confining yourself to almost no return.
DEAR BRUCE: Back in 2006, I had a slip-and-fall accident at work. I went to a clinic to have it checked out the next day and after the diagnosis of a sprained ankle, I was given pain meds and a set of crutches and sent on my way. I returned to work the next day and gave the secretary the bills from the clinic. She told me that everything would be covered by the company, as it was work-related.
In ignorant bliss, I simply assumed that all would be taken care of, as the secretary indicated. Every time I received a new request for payment from the clinic, I simply forwarded it to my workplace. Recently, I procured a credit report and I saw that there was a judgment against me for the total of $2,000, granted to the clinic a few months after my visit. I contacted the clinic, asked if there was anything I could do and was told the debt was owned by a collections company and gave me the information.
I have been told by more than one person that to contact the collection agency this long after the fact would actually harm my credit as there would be an updated “event” regarding this situation. If I leave it alone, after so many years go by, the issue will drop from my credit history. Bruce, could you please give me the real scoop? I do not know what to believe. — S.S., via email
DEAR S.S.: Ignoring it will not make it go away. The clinic has sold the bill to another agency, and it is now the company you have to deal with. Tell the agency that the money should have been paid by workers’ comp as this is a comp-covered action, and that you notified your company in a timely fashion, so you expect them to make a claim against workers’ comp. If that doesn’t get you anywhere, you might wish to go to the workers’ comp company and explain the problem. Make it clear that under no circumstances are you going to pay for this because this was a work-related injury that should have been paid for by workers’ compensation.
Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided. The Bruce Williams Radio Show can now be heard 24/7 via iTunes and at www.taeradio.com. It is also available at www.brucewilliams.com.