When in doubt, it's a good idea to shred the paperwork

DEAR BRUCE: We were always told to shred our credit-card receipts because our card number appeared on them.

Now that most places only print the last four digits of the card on the receipt, should we still shred them? — K.H. in Georgia

DEAR K.H.: Shredding any document — credit-card receipts, tax returns, solicitations, etc. — is always a good idea.

While there may not be any useful information on these receipts, what possible harm can come from shredding? It's a relatively quick and painless procedure, and you'll be assured that dumpster divers won't gain any of your information.

DEAR BRUCE: I am 74 years young, and in pretty good health. I have some extra cash and was thinking about purchasing an annuity. Are annuities insured? Do they have a hedge against inflation? — C.E., via e-mail

DEAR C.E.: While there are times when a single-premium annuity might be in a person's best interest, generally the benefits of an annuity are relatively modest and incur many penalties for someone your age. The insurance comes down to the integrity of the insurance company issuing the annuity.

There are many ways to invest your money, and an annuity is not one that in all likelihood would be appropriate for you.

Send your questions to: Smart Money, P.O. Box 2095, Elfers, FL 34680. E-mail to: bruce@brucewilliams.com. Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns.

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