Replay of Kevin Skipper's Live Blog - - Columbia, South Carolina

Got financial question? Ask us!(03/03/2009) 
Kevin Skipper:  

This is Kevin Skipper with Kevin Skipper & Associates, we look forward to talking with you this evening.

[Comment From Jenny]
Hi! Is there a minimum amount required to open a money market account? And are those 'safer' or less-risky than mutual funds?
[Comment From brenda]
hi. my husband's company recently stopped matching any 401K contributions. should he continue his contribution? or, should he maybe move his money to something else, and if so, what? thanks
Kevin Skipper:  With a money market you can do this at the bank or through a mutual fund company. These are currently FDIC insurance and would be safer than stock accounts. While these are safer many of them are paying a lower return.
[Comment From Brenda F]
If you are in the market and are down $30 plus should you stay in or take a loss?
Kevin Skipper:  Brenda:
The key to your question is the investment choices available at his company. If he had good choices, continuing to contribute to the company plan makes sense. The primary reason is the money in a 401(k) trust is protected from creditors and he would have higher limits than an IRA. This year he can put in up to $16,500 if under age 50. Up to $22,000 age 50 and above.
[Comment From Becky]
I am 62 and plan to work until 65.
[Comment From Becky]
hould I consider taking out my 401?
Kevin Skipper:  Brenda:
The financial markets are for long term investors. It will fluctuate up and down and sometimes way up and way down. If you are in it for the long-term you have to accept that this is how it works. You may want to sit down with a financial advisor to discuss if you are properly allocated in you plan.
[Comment From Guest]
My retirement account-403b- through my employee is managed by AIG. We previously were told by the employer that "we were safe". Should I believe this and is there anything different I should do?
Kevin Skipper:  Becky:
The reasons to consider a 401(K):
Tax deferral of the money and lowering you tax bill.
You could put up to $22,000 into the plan.
You can contribute to you 401(k) plan until you quite working.
If your company has matching dollars, you will want to contribute up to the match.
[Comment From Katherine]
My job position was eliminated in January so I was terminated. I have a small amount in a 401K ($980). What should I do with it? I am activly seeking a job in the $40,000 range like I had.
[Comment From Karin]
If you have the cash is this a good time to pay down your mortgage to save interest or hold on to your cash
Kevin Skipper:  AIG has had some financial struggles as we all know. However, many of the investments in the plan are in various sub-accounts and AIG is like the unbrella Action you could take would be to confirm security with you employer and keep a paper trail. See if the company would be open to change to another provider. Otherwise, your options are to continue, or put your money into an IRA.
[Comment From joan]
Why are the interest rates for certificates of deposits so low now and what determines the rate and when will the rates go up?
Kevin Skipper:  

You could leave your money at the other company until you get the new job and then roll the money over to the new company. The temptation is to take the money out and spend it. I would only do this in an extreme emergency and a plasma screen TV does not qualify.

Judi G.:  Hello everyone. Thanks for chatting on live!
Kevin Skipper:  Karin:
The general rule in a slow economy is to not through the money into paying off the mortgage. That depends on how much cash you already have on hand. If you have cash you can pay down your mortgage. If you put it into the house and loose your job then you will have a hard time paying the payment If you are paying a high interest rate, now may be a time to refinance with interest lower.
[Comment From Megan]
I recently graduated from college and have been thinking of saving for my future? Do you have any suggestions? Should I wait? Thanks
Kevin Skipper:  

The CD rates are tied to the Federal Funds rates which has dropped to almost zero. When the economy is slow the Fed drops the rate to seek to stimulate the economy. Until the economy begins to pick up the rates for CD will likely stay low. A web sites to shop CDs:

Kevin Skipper:  Megan:

The soon you start the better. The rule thumb is to move toward saving 10 to 145 of your gross income. Get a savings account at your bank and put in 3 to 6 months of expenses. Then you may begin to study mutual funds and stocks and then begin to saving in this through your 401(k) or separate account. Many places now can help you set up this accounts from your bank to you car insurance office.
[Comment From Kay]
I am 67 years old and retired about 6 months ago. My husband is 66 and still plans on working. We are concerned about our 401K's that have lost approximately 40%. Should we switch to an IRA CD until the stock market improves and could we then go back to investing without a penalty?
[Comment From Katherine]
Ha! Great reply! Can I add to this 401K at the other company and how? Thanks so much for your help.
Kevin Skipper:  Kay:
You question is a specific advice question that I could not answer in this format. You could give me a call at my office at 788-2030 and I could give you more direction as to wether me or another advisor in Columbia could be of help. Answering this question without more information would be like a Doctor writing a prescription for medication without knowing the patient. I look foward to talking with you.
[Comment From lynn]
how safe is the money market if the bank is fdic insured and its under 100k?
Kevin Skipper:  Katherine:
when you get to the new company ask if they have a waiting period for getting started. They may let you roll over the past dollars although may not be able to start for a year after beginning at the new company.
[Comment From Katherine]
And I'll be sure not to let my husband know I have it!
Kevin Skipper:  It is safe As FDIC which most would include as safe as possible. The FDIC limit has now increase to $250,000 for the rest of this year. So you are safe up to this amount.
[Comment From Katherine]
My last question, what if I take a job with a company that does not have 401K?
[Comment From Asa Pressley]
I have $15000 in a 401(k) that is losing money everyday. I've been thinking a investing in real estate, should I withdraw the money and use it toward my real estate endeavors?
[Comment From lynn]
thank you!
Kevin Skipper:  Katherine: Then you could set up and IRA and roll the money to the IRA. Still NO plasma TV....Ha!
[Comment From Maureen]
Is there a reliable company the can help lower your credit card instrest
[Comment From Katherine]
Bah-Hum-Bug!!! Thanks!
Judi G.:  We're working on a story about cutting bills and saving money ~ anyone have any good tips or questions?
Kevin Skipper:  Asa:
It is tempting to want to pull the money out to do the real estate deal. I don't know enough to give advice on this, but some things to consider. Taking this money out will cost you at 10% penalty if you are younger than 59 1/2. Then you have to pay 30% in taxes. This become pretty expensive money. There are some real estate deals out there, but unless you are really good at real estate you have a 40% cost of money. You can borrow from other places for less
Kevin Skipper:  Maureen:
Consider going to Consumer Credit Counseling: 929-6666. They are a United Way organization and can be of help.
[Comment From Asa Pressley]
[Comment From Jim]
Why do you have to get behind on your mortgage to get any help? I have been out of work for 6 months yet have maintained a current mortgage payment. I would benefit from a reduced interest rate or a 2 month deferment. Don't say refinance because nobody will refinance us with me not working. it seems to me it is absolutely ridiculous to let people get behind when it is not needed. Once a person is behind on his mortgage, his credit is shot.
[Comment From Dug Rizzo]
I am paying off more than one mortgage, and I am 50. At this point in my life isn't it better to pay off the principal on my mortgages rather than to spend the money on IRA's?
[Comment From Maureen]
Kevin Skipper:  Jim:
I understand your concerns. The current financial crisis cause things to get tighten up and some in the middle who are trying to do the right thing get squeeze. Here is a resouce for finding a job: The book What Color is Your Parachute? 2009. The web site is Since you cant fix the mortgage rules get real focused on getting the new job as soon as possible. They are out there you just will have to work harder.
Kevin Skipper:  

I don't know all you details so I can't give too many details. However, taking money out of an IRA to pay off the mortgage is usually very expensive money. Interest rates are lower and many IRAs are lower from the down stock market, that would be another reason using that money many not be the best idea. You may want to speak with a financial advisor about your details.

[Comment From Debbie]
Can you tell me about the government assistance to those not fortunate enough to be able to make a mortgage payment due to unemployment?
[Comment From Mel]
We're in the same boat as Jim, except that we have a job, but just missed our first payment due to a salary decrease. Our credit isn't bad, but not good either? Will we qualify to get the new government help that is coming out this week and be able to probably refinance, even though we don't have good credit now?
[Comment From Leslie]
We only have 8 years left on our mortgage - presently 4.87 interest rate - do you think the rates will get below this in near future - what is rule on refinancing a mortgage. We have been blessed to continue to pay these monthly payments. Will mortgage companies negotiate rates and closing points?
Kevin Skipper:  Debbie:
Sent me an email and and I will send you a summary of the economic stimulus bill. I have not learned how to do it from here.
[Comment From Gayle]
My 401K with the State keeps dropping except the Stable Value Fund. The rest of the account is invested in PIMCO TotalReturn, Vanguard Inst'l Plus, Munder Mid-Cap Growth and Fidelity Diversify Int'l. Should I transfer all the investment to Stable Value Fund?
Kevin Skipper:  Me:

I need to do some more research on that. Perhaps we can do a story on this soon. Kevin
Kevin Skipper:  Leslie:
4.87% is a good rate. hard to say if they go lower. The rule of thumb is usually if you can lower your interest 1 to 2 % and plan to stay in the house a few years to recover the cost, it could make sense. Your deal will be hard to beat.
Kevin Skipper:  Gayle:
I don't know your age and so cannot give you specific advice about your allocation. However, keeping a diversified portfolio is the best rule of thumb. We don't know when but at some point the market should tune to the upside.
[Comment From Debbie]
I will, thank you.
[Comment From Michael]
I have a TSP (401k-Fed Gov't)is getting less than 1%; currently put in 15% with Gov't only matching 5%, should I take the other 10% and put in add-on CD which is making 3.15%.
[Comment From Betty]
Our present rate is 6.124%. Can we do better?
Kevin Skipper:  


I don't know all you details. Based on what you are saying you may look at some of the other choices in the TSP plan. These are not as secure, but offer other opportunities. You could do the CD route, but you would look the ability to get the tax deduction.

Kevin Skipper:  Betty:
That is a good rate. You may want to call Kevin Holcombe at 1st Choice, you may have seen their ads of WIS TV. He can give you the current rate. Also rates today are so dependent of someones credit score these days. His number is 772-8002.
[Comment From Joe]
I am having problems paying my house payment on time. I tryed to change the date to the 15 th, they said no. Is there any way to change this, the late payments are adding up. Also I talked to bank rep. about refinancing, I was told to let my account go late and then talk to the person that calls about this. She said this would save me some money in refinanacing. Is refinacing the best way to lower my payment!
Kevin Skipper:  Joe:
Call Consumer Credit Counseling. Let them do the talking with your finance company to see if they can help you with a solution. Their number is 929-6666.
[Comment From Joe]
Thank You
[Comment From Paula]
I am single and 46. Before this crisis I had 140k in a 401K. It now stands at 59K. This will be my only income along with ss when I reach retirement age. Should I hold out and wait on this storm to fizzle out? Thanks
[Comment From j. scott]
my fin advisor tells me to stay the course. i am 67. scared i am going to lose most of my 401k. should i stay the course or take out and but in bonds or something safe?
Kevin Skipper:  Paula:
That is quite a drop in your plan. It may indicate that you do not have enough diversification in your plan. You may consider paying a fee based advisor to give you an evaluation of your allocation before you just make changes. You can search for advisors in the area at or give me a call at the office and I can direct you to some that I know. 788-2030. Often you can also get help on allocation at your company 401(k) website.
Kevin Skipper:  scott:

Staying the course can be the right advice, but more and more retirees are taking a break and moving to cash. If you move to cash you will want to have a strategy to reenter the market. I don't have enough information to give you advice with this forum. I would need to know how much you have, your goals, and income and budget needs. Let me know if we can speak in person.
[Comment From John]
i am 62 yrs. old,retired when i was 59.5.i rolled my 401k over into a ira with edward oct of 2008 i had lost about 25% of my money,which was about $40,000.00.i took my money out of the market and put it into three different money market accounts.should i now put some of that back into the market or what else can i do.
[Comment From Mike]
I bought a 2nd house to fix up to either rent or sell (my retirement plan) what can I deduct of my expenses?
[Comment From Kathy]
I have 20 years left on my mortgage and would like to refinance my loan for lower rate. Never late on my monthly payment, but did file bankruptcy. My bankrupcty will be complete november 2009. I will have problems getting loan because of bankrutpcy. My husband has great credit.
[Comment From Tom]
I'm a 55 year old who had nearly $300K in a 401K. Now, that 401K value is near $100K. I'm thinking of moving investment from stock to a fixed income plan to avoid losing even more money. What is your advice? Thanks
Kevin Skipper:  John:
Yours is a specific advice question that is hard to give answers in this forum. There are some strategies in the market place called "Trending" that allow a person to phase back into the market with strategies to exit. I would be glad to discuss if you could like to give me a call 788-2030. You may consider interview several advisors in the area and ask them the same question, and then follow their guidance.
[Comment From craines]
did you get what I sent? I do not see it
[Comment From susan]
my husband and I are both in our 60's, retired and have lost 1/3 of our 401k(fidility). we had 300k we now have a little less than 200k. should we sell and put in the fidelity money market account(cash account)? We do not depend on dividends for income yet but will in the future.
Kevin Skipper:  Mike:
When running a business, much of the expenses of doing a business are deductible. refer to Publication 946 at the web site.
Kevin Skipper:  Kathy:
I don't understand your question.
[Comment From Glinda]
I have no credit cards. However a have a new car loan approx 2months old and a student loan debt of 11,000. How can I raise my credit or fico score. My score is avg
Kevin Skipper:  Susan:
Staying the course can be the right advice, but more and more retirees are taking a break and moving to cash. If you move to cash you will want to have a strategy to reenter the market. I don't have enough information to give you advice with this forum. I would need to know how much you have, your goals, and income and budget needs. Let me know if we can speak in person.
Kevin Skipper:  Glinda:
this is a great article from on how to raise your credit score:
[Comment From craines]
I am 60 and my husband is 61. our advisor tells us to ride the market out. I want to sell it all....we will need this money in another year or two. What do you advise?
[Comment From Tammy]
I have been in my home for one year and plan on staying here for awhile to come. My interest rate is 5.62%. Should i refinance or wait?
[Comment From Phil Hill]
I've built a house to the point of 95% complete. I can't have the final inspection done until the house is right at 100%. Can I refinance without the final,I presently have an 8% loan. thanks.
Kevin Skipper:  Craines:
I have some retiree clients that are moving to cash. The bottom of this market is yet to be deterimine. I can't give you advice with a chat like this but would be glad to speak in person and help you or guide you to the right advisor. If you get of the market, in time you will want to have a strategy to get back in the market. my number is 788-2030.
Kevin Skipper:  Tammy:

That rate may be hard to find. Call Kevin Holcomb at 1st Choice 772-800 for the current rates.
Kevin Skipper:  


That would be a technical question to ask Kevin Holcomb at 1st Choice Mortgage. You can call him at 772-8002.

[Comment From Mary]
I am getting ready to retire and have been in the TERI program. I need to know what I should do with this money. It will be around $175,000 and I don't anticipate needing it for hopefully the next ten years. What are your recomendations with the economy the way it is now?
Kevin Skipper:  Mary:
Great question, I would need to get more details to give you guidance on this question. You can search for an advisor locally at If you would like call our office I can introduce you to some of our advisors. 788-2030.
[Comment From Pat]
Kevin: Comerica Bank (which received bail out money) has my SBA guaranteed business loan. I have a state of the arts losrding kennel... as a direct result of last summers outrageous gas prices my businees lost the critical summer insome (which carries boarding kennel through most of the year) ... and thus I am now in forclosureof the BSA loan. SBA did send all banks a letter requesting them to work with the SBA client throught these times. Comerica wants to forclose! Obviously, I can't sell the business with the market as it is.
[Comment From Pat]
Reservations show that I will have a great summer... but I need to stay open till summer!
[Comment From Pat]
This is all my retirement monsy and home equity... and the loan is salvagable.... did the Administration THINK about these loans... how?
Kevin Skipper:  Pat:
You may consider building a specific business plan and then begin to look for partners or other investors in your company. Peer lending is a new trend in business Check out this topic and Their is capital out their you just have to look harder for it.
Another option is a guest on my radio show.
[Comment From STEVE D]
[Comment From Varina Bradberry]
We have account w/H&R Block,exceeded $100K. When we wanted to withdraw funds, H&R provided a portion of our $$, but said they will not return more funds until they get $$ from another company. We invested with H&R and expect H&R to provide our $$. Your advice?? For verification: 787-2235 home phone.
Kevin Skipper:  Steve:
I would need to know more information like your age, amount of inheritnace, you other resources, sorry I can give specifics here. Give us a call and one our our advisors can help. Kevin
[Comment From Pat]
Actually, I have contacted Peer To Peer and they are not accepting applications right now... have also looked for investors.... and find they are hanging tight right now.... I will check in to your "guest"... Thanks. Let me know if you think of anything else.
Kevin Skipper:  Varina:
I have heard only one case like this and it involved a real estate fund that was not liquid. I can't tell whether you bought H&R block stock or another investment at H&R in a brokerage account. You could contact If I can help I would need more details. You can email at
[Comment From Nita]
Can you tell me where I can find the new information about mortgage modification and what it will take to quailfy. Our mortgage is now with Citi and my husband is on lay off from work. Thanks
Kevin Skipper:  I have had this questions from several. Since this is new legislation, I will research this and hopefully do a segment on WIS-TV soon.
[Comment From B.J. B]
Quick question... The new stimulus with the credit for first time homebuyers. If I buy a house in say May can I still take the credit off for my previous years taxes if I haven't filed previously?
Judi G.:  B. J. B ~ I just answered your question on the air. Did you see it?
[Comment From Dee]
My company just enforced a 5% pay cut and has discontinued our 6% company match on 401k. Should I stop contributing to 401k now to make up for the pay cut or should I keep contributing to lower my tax rate?
[Comment From Alice]
Where do you think mortgage rates are headed in the next few months. We have all our paperwork in place and are waiting to lock. We are current on our mortgage and are just looking for the opportunity to lower our rate. We are currently at 5.75. We hope to get at least 4.5 on a 20 year term. Do you think this is realistic?
Kevin Skipper:  Dee:
That would depend on your budget needs. Saving is always a good thing and tax deferred us usually the best.
[Comment From student (confidential)]
At present, I am a full-time Univesity student and have exhausted my student loan. For medical reasons had to take an incomplete and that course was a fundamental for 2 related and required courses to follow. I am not working and, therefore, not eligible for a personal loan. Can you advise of any alternative ways that I can look into in order to complete these courses for my degree? Appreciative.
Kevin Skipper:  Alice:
Guessing on where interests are headed is alway tricky. It could go lower, but most are not sure. Call Kevin Holcomb at 1st Choice Mortgage at 772-8002.
Kevin Skipper:  Call Mike Fox with the SC Student Loan Corporation at 612-5070
Judi G.:  If you buy a house this year between Jan 1st - Dec 1st, you are eligible for the new homeowners tax credit. If you file your taxes before you purchase the house you can file an ammended return to claim the credit. Yo'ull need to tile IRS form 5405.

Kevin Skipper:  Thank you for your participation. If you need to reach me off the air I can be reached at 788-2030 or my web site Join me on radio on Saturdays from 12 noon to 1 p.m. on News Radio 560 WVOC am 560.

Well folks, we're about ready to wrap it up here on Live. We thank Dr. Kevin Skipper for coming in and logging on tonight. As always, you can e-mail him at or just watch WIS News 10 on Tuesday nights. We thank all of you for logging on tonight!


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