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On finance and practice

Interest-only loans might spell only trouble

Companies with pension woes may make bad investments

More families join the ranks of the rich

The number of US households worth at least $1 million went up 21 percent last year to 7.5 million-and that dollar amount doesn't include their primary residence, says Spectrem Group, a wealth-research firm. The ranks of the super-rich grew even more: Those with at least $5 million in net worth, excluding their primary homes, shot up 38 percent in 2004, to a record 740,000. Wealthy households hold an average of 46 percent of their assets in investments such as stocks, bonds, managed accounts, IRAs, and mutual funds. Another 21 percent is in privately held businesses, with the remainder in real estate, pension and defined-contribution plans, insurance, and annuities.

If you want to fly the best

Skytrax ranks the world's airlines every year based on customer reviews of airport and onboard services.

Free retirement plan guidance

The IRS has released free software that explains how to set up and maintain employee retirement plans. The resource guide for small-business owners and individuals includes information about traditional and Roth IRAs, plus IRA-based plans such as simplified employee pension plans (SEPs) and payroll deduction plans. The CD pulls together advice and information from the IRS and other federal agencies. You can order it online through the Retirement Plans Community section at http://www.irs.gov (click on "Retirement Plans Community," then the link "IRA Online Resource Guide," for a free copy). Or, call the IRS at 800-829-3676, select option two, and ask for Publication 4395.

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