Consider Michael Kitces as the Thinking Mans Financial Planner. Hes smart. Hes prolific. And he spends his best hours where the rubber meets the road, in the analysis of the actual financial products most of us encounter in real life. The results can be surprising.

Heres an example: Suppose you are one of the millions of people who took advantage of an offer for a free dinner — and ended up buying Living Benefits.

Youre probably thinking you got a really good deal. Your insurance contract defers any taxable income for 10 years. It also guarantees to nearly double what you may withdraw annually over what you could take today after those 10 years. Better still, no matter...

The University of Louisville starts the 2014 college football season with high hopes for a fifth consecutive bowl appearance.

In a sport where reaching a bowl is the mark of a successful season, U of L is among the highest achievers in recent years.

The Cardinals football program has reached 13 bowls in the past 16 seasons, which is more than Notre Dame and even with Alabama.

Reaching bowls, though, comes at a cost, expense documents obtained by The Courier-Journal through a public records request show.

U of L spent nearly $2 million on its trip to the 2013 Russell Athletic Bowl, U of Ls bowl expense report says. The school ate $149,184, mostly from unsold tickets,...

By Amanda MacMillan

If you were offered a well-deserved raise at work or a no-strings-attached wad of money, would you take it? You’ve surely heard that money cant buy happiness, but it can certainly get you closer to an enjoyable life, right?

Yes and no, says Elizabeth Dunn, PhD, associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and author of Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending. It turns out, what you do with your money seems to matter just as much to your happiness as how much you make, she says; good news for those of us without a sudden windfall or promotion in our near futures.

Here are six facts that may surprise you —...

Dear Dr. Don,

I have a Coverdell Education Savings Account for my son. Hell be graduating college soon but will not have exhausted the Coverdell account. Although he attended a private high school, we didnt tap the funds at the time. Can the remainder of his funds be used for reimbursement of his high school tuition and therefore be qualified expenses and tax-free?

Thanks,

- Shannon Scenario

Dear Shannon,

Sorry. Thats not how the IRS rolls when it comes to using these tax-advantaged accounts for qualified education expenses. If graduate school is a possibility, then he has until age 30 until the funds must be distributed out of the account.

Another...

This is a situation that is harshly dealt with because the real factors of why the business individual or entrepreneur could not meet their payments, is never acknowledged by creditors, rather largely viewed as self-inflicted and unacceptable, which many times is not the true situation.

Firstly if any business individual or entrepreneur has secured credit facilities specifically with banking institutions then it indicates that at some stage the individual was absolutely credit-worthy because credit has largely only been afforded to salaried employees.

This means that the business individuals had to have a good financial statement with their existing bank, including financial...

SYRACUSE, NY — Millions of New Yorkers will be
getting two rounds of rebate checks from the state this fall. But that easy
money that shows up in their mailboxes isnt exactly free.

The postage for those roughly 4
million checks will cost the state $1.6 million. Thats because the state
Legislature created two programs that give people back their money using paper
checks and snail mail.

Geoff Gloak, a spokesman for the
state office of Taxation and Finance, said his department is paying 40.6 cents
to mail each check. He couldnt provide data on how much it would cost to cut
the more than 4 million checks. Gloak said his department isnt getting...

Ride in Kane program taken for a ride: You recently did a story about the Elgin Ride in Kane program for disabled and elderly folks. You left out information about the Elgin official who stole over $1 million from that fund. I would like to know if that official ever paid any restitution. You said they have to come up with $190,000 for Elgin’s share of the fund. Why doesn’t Elgin look to this man for the restitution he was supposed to pay? What is his story at this point? How much did he stunt the fund? I can’t remember his name, but I’m sure you can look it up. I’m glad the program exists.

Comparing alcohol to marijuana: I see a lot of people still making...

This years winners included: Kimberly Rogers of Ocean Township, Georgian Court University; Demonica Britt of Freehold, Seton Hall University; Michael Perry of Freehold, Boston College; and Carly Burrus of Neptune, Coastal Carolina University.

This year, there was one scholarship topic for student applicants to respond to: In todays world, identity theft, building credit and maintaining good credit are essential elements in our financial lives. How will you address these essential financial elements during your college years, and how will you guide your friends and family to address the above elements? Your response should include details about how to protect yourself and what others...

Dear Senior Living Adviser,

My wife and I are both currently collecting Social Security retirement benefits. I am 75 and she is 65, and we have been together for 14 years. Right now I receive $1,400 a month and she gets $690 a month. We are thinking of getting a divorce. My question is this: What happens to Social Security benefits after a divorce? How is the money calculated? In other words, do we still get the same amount, or is the total combined and we each get half? I would appreciate it if you could answer this question for me. Thank you.

- Nate Nix

Dear Nate,

Theres no divvying up of the combined benefits by the Social Security Administration. Ask your divorce...