DEAR BRUCE: A U.S. Post Office clerk recently told me postal employees can no longer take addressed letters without a return address. People can deposit addressed letters without a return address into standing unattended mailboxes, but postal employees are now forbidden from accepting them at postal counters.

It seems like the days of sending anonymous letters are about over. Do you think this infringes on freedom of the press and freedom of speech? -- R.G.

DEAR R.G.: It seems to me that maybe there's some narrow protection in not allowing you to send a letter without a return address. But since you've pointed out that you can walk outside and drop it in a letterbox and it will get mailed, it seems like an exercise in futility. If, for whatever reason, you don't want to put a return address on your mail, just send it off in a letterbox and go.

DEAR BRUCE: My wife and I are 57 years old and want to retire by 62. I will likely continue working as a consultant or teaching long past that, but not full time.

Our combined income is $170,000. Total debt is $175,000 (mortgage) and a $30,000 car loan. We have $700,000 in my 401(k) and $200,000 in the market with an adviser. We are saving 12 percent toward the 401(k) and adding $2,000 per month to the market. I will have $1,400 a month in retirement income as well.

When we retire, we will be moving south and will build a home. We already own the lot. Given the low mortgage rates, should we stop our market investing and build what would be a second home there now? Homes there are $350,000 to $450,000, so $2,000 a month is a likely mortgage.

The community is rapidly expanding, and four- to six-month rentals for people building their own homes have some demand, so we might explore that, though I wouldn't count on even 50 percent occupancy. I have owned rentals, so am well aware of and have no concern with the challenges. Tax and insurance will add another $500 a month. -- S.U.

DEAR S.U.: It would certainly appear that you've done well with your savings and have an ample amount of money to retire on when the time comes. The main question is, should you move ahead even though you don't need the property just yet?

I suggest that you make a strong effort to get the mortgage in place and then rent the property out. It's highly unlikely that you're going to see mortgage rates remain as low as they are. If I were you, I would be out looking in the mortgage market and get one nailed down, because when they start going up, I doubt seriously you'll see them return to these lows.

Send questions to Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided. Bruce Williams’ column is distributed by the Newspaper Enterprise Association.


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