Smart Money: Pros, cons of working at home


DEAR BRUCE >> What do you think are the benefits of working from home?

— Reader

DEAR READER >> Very good and lousy, depending on your work habits and who is setting up the rules. For example, if your boss says you can work three days a week at home and you can be trusted to work from 9 to 5, that works out fine. If, on the other hand, distractions at home are more than you can overcome, then don't even consider it.

Frankly, I worked from home for years and the main reason it was so attractive to me is that I saved a hundred miles of commuting every day, which is no small thing. But some folks like the idea of staying in their pajamas until noon. It's very tempting, particularly if the house is empty during the day.

In other words, one man's benefit is another man's liability. You have to look at it from the perspective of what you enjoy and go from there.

DEAR BRUCE >> I want to purchase a home in the next two years. I am trying to get myself prepared for the purchase by learning as much as I can. I keep hearing about programs for first-time homebuyers. How do I find out if the state I live in offers such a program?

— R.T.

DEAR R.T. >> You're very smart to be making your inquiries now as to what benefits are available to you. Write to the state you live in — perhaps through your state representative — and ask if the state offers any such programs. You may need to jump around from one department to another until you get the proper answers, but it's worth pursuing. Congratulations.

DEAR BRUCE >> My father is getting a settlement from an insurance company in the next couple of days. The amount of the check is $125,000. My father is 69 years old. Does he have to pay taxes?

— Jeff

DEAR JEFF >> When you say your father is getting a settlement, I assume that means he suffered a loss in some way, and he is being paid $125,000 as a result of the coverage, either by the person who did something that didn't work out too well for him, or from insurance he was carrying. Under those circumstances, there are no taxes to be paid. The insurance is getting him back to where he was.

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