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No one knows when we’ll reach a bottom, but you can get a great bargain, if you shop around.
Questions: Given all the foreclosures and other problems in the housing market and the economy, do you think this is a good time for someone to buy a house? Or would I be better off waiting [...]
Question: My mother is 50 years old and has no 401(k), IRA or any type of retirement account that she can rely on when she is no longer able to work. What type of plan can I set up for her so she can start saving money? L.K., Lancaster, Pennsylvania
You salt away 10% of your pay into a retirement plan, but this "retirement" thing can feel pretty abstract. What will it be like? To judge by the pictures in personal-finance magazines (including Money), there will be a house by the water. And Adirondack chairs. And the occasional sea kayaking expedition.
Questions: I currently contribute 10% of pay to my company retirement savings plan -- my employer matches half of that amount -- and I'm heavily invested in both domestic and foreign stock index funds. I plan to retire in 16 years. Should I continue to ride out this market with risky funds or should I think about cutting back my losses? --Mike, Washington, DC
Question: In the midst of the turmoil on Wall Street, I’m thinking of investing in gold, specifically bullion or gold coins. Do you think this is a good idea? —Roderick Gaerlan, Redondo Beach, Calif.

Answer: Ever since the financial markets began going haywire this year, I’ve been getting lots of emails from people who are considering [...]
My wife and I recently swallowed hard and bought a tiny cabin on a prime lake-front lot near the Berkshire hills in western Massachusetts where we'd like to retire one day. (At a later date, we'll build a bigger house.) Were we early, buying before housing prices hit rock bottom? Almost certainly. Are we losing sleep over it? Absolutely not.
There's retirement living, and then there's living it up in retirement. The latter is part of the draw of one of the fastest-growing retirement options - the continuing-care retirement community. These CCRCs, as they're called, often look a lot more like four-star resorts than old folks' homes.
Question: Are stable-value funds a safe investment? —Rexford, Syracuse, New York
Answer: That depends on what you mean by safe.
Stable-value funds, which are available only in 401(k)s (and currently offered by more than half of such plans), invest for the most part in high-grade short- to intermediate-term bonds. The managers of these funds also buy “wrappers” [...]
Alicia Munnell is a Harvard-trained economist. She served as an assistant secretary of the Treasury and is regarded as one of America's foremost experts on 401(k)s. You'd think she'd be terrific at managing her own retirement, but even she has to fess up to some mistakes. "When my son got married, I took some money out of my plan to help," says Munnell, who heads Boston College's Center for Retirement Research (CRR). "And I ended up paying a 10% penalty and taxes."
Question: My wife and I are 27 years old and have contributed to a Roth IRA the past two years. Our money is in a 2040 target-date retirement fund that has about 90% of its assets invested in stocks and the rest in bonds and money-market funds. Should we continue to contribute the maximum to our Roth IRA if this is our only retirement vehicle? And is a portfolio mix of 90% stocks and 10% bonds and cash right for this volatile market? Joe, Lancaster, Ohio
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