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Ignore the cliche`s; focus on the stocks (access required)

I had $66,000 to speculate with. Last year, my neighbor introduced me to his son in another city who specializes in trading stocks. Now I have $47,000 left to speculate with. I know you seldom recommend trading stocks, but could you recommend about six speculative stocks that also have dividends? I'd like to buy a few hundred shares of each and also get income. I won't hold you to your recommendations. – KH, Wilmington, N.C.

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Is there a really good mechanic in the galaxy? (access required)

Four years ago, I lost my job, and because I used your "100-Plus Ben Franklin Savings Ideas," we were able to keep our household spending in order. That was a lifesaver. Thanks to you, it was simple. Why can't the government discipline its spending as we did and get its house back in order?

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Not greener over the septic tank (access required)

When we sold our home in Wisconsin the septic system inspector noted the "septic drain field mottling" was too close to the top of the ground. In his report, he noted the septic system was operating properly but probably would not pass inspection. The buyer wanted us to replace the field with an engineered system.

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Stuck in a reverse-mortgage mess (access required)

My husband took out a reverse mortgage in 2005. I was 58 and he was 62 at the time. I had to give him a quitclaim deed, and later I was put back on the deed. We have contacted our lender and asked if I could be put on the reverse mortgage or refinance it. They said no to both. We have tried to refinance with other companies, but were told we would have to come up with at least $30,000 to do this!

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Seek annuity assurances, or sock cash into stocks (access required)

I'm a 74-year-old widow with an $87,000 certificate of deposit coming due next week. I visited two brokers. Each wants me to buy a variable annuity, and both sounded very good. I've enclosed my notes and the pamphlets and prospectuses in this envelope. What do you think? If you don't care for them, please recommend five or six stocks paying at least 5 percent that a gal like me could comfortably live with. I can afford moderate risks.

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