Jill on Money: Mega Millions, Bonds, LTC

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After daydreaming about how you would spend the Mega Millions jackpot, odds are, you didn't win. If one of the lucky winners listens to us on WBAL in Baltimore, feel free to give us a call or just read this post: "Mega Millions $640M: What to do if you win".

With lottery fever taking control of the nation, it was great to get down to the business of answering your financial questions. Jill On Money listeners must be contrarians, because after the best first quarter of stocks since 1998 and a not-so-great three months for bonds (the worst quarter since for government bonds since Q4 2010), we fielded a number of questions about how to rotate into the bond market.

Ricardo from Buffalo, Terry from VA and Laura from CA all recognize the need for bonds in their portfolios, but they needed a strategy to make it happen. When in doubt, there's no easier way to reach a target allocation then to rely on the tried and true strategy of dollar cost averaging. Simply choose a target allocation, i.e. 50% stocks and 50% bonds, and then select a percentage each month, like 5% per month and then stick to it!

After reading my recent "Retire Smart" column "Coping in a low interest world", Jerry wanted to remind even retired people to consider dividend producing stocks. I couldn't agree more! Using finds like Vanguard Dividend Appreciation Index Fund (VDAIX) or T. Rowe Price Dividend Growth Fund (PRDGX), even just a 10-20 percent allocation, can help boost income for retirees.

How do you determine how the stock portion of your portfolio is doing? While the Dow is the oldest and most popular index, it includes only 30 stocks. You're better off using a broad index, like the Wilshire 5000 full-cap and make sure you look at total return, meaning you assume that dividends are reinvested.

Because of the crazy employment landscape of the past four years, many find themselves with old retirement plans. 35 year-old Julie wants to tap her funds to pay down debt, a very bad idea, while Mary from Connecticut wanted to know the rules for using retirement for college costs, which is not a terrible idea, but I generally prefer to keep retirement plan money intact for as long as possible.

Pat from Houston is interested in retiring at age 55 and heard about a way to access his retirement plan without paying the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty that is normally applied to pre-59 1/2 distributions from qualified retirement plans. The Internal Revenue Code 72(t) provides several exceptions to the penalty, and one of  the most popular is taking substantially equal periodic payments from your retirement plan for your life.

Bob in Connecticut and Mary from Buffalo asked about long term care coverage. While Bob could not qualify, Mary purchased it. Unfortunately, Bob really needs the coverage, but Mary does not.

Here are web sites and resources mentioned in this week's show:

-- Jill's Blog

-- NAPFA: National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (fee-only advisors)

-- CFP Board

-- E, EE and I Savings Bonds

--Long-term Care - US government web site

-- Long term care conundrum

-- Re-Fi Calculator

-- Another Re-Fi Calculator

-- Financial documents: What to shred, what to keep

-- Estate Planning: the Documents You Need

Thanks to everyone who participated and to Mark, the BEST producer in the world and our new intern, Sehar. If you have a financial question, there are lots of ways to contact us:

Call 855-411-JILL and we'll schedule time to get you on the show LIVE

Send an email: askjill@moneywatch.com

Tweet me: @jillonmoney

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    Jill Schlesinger, CFP®, is the Emmy-nominated, Business Analyst for CBS News. She covers the economy, markets, investing and anything else with a dollar sign on TV, radio (including her nationally syndicated radio show), the web and her blog, "Jill on Money." Prior to her second career at CBS, Jill spent 14 years as the co-owner and Chief Investment Officer for an independent investment advisory firm. She began her career as a self-employed options trader on the Commodities Exchange of New York, following her graduation from Brown University.