Ask Carmen - Most Commented
I've been getting a lot of these solicitations from my bank about free Group Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance. I can get $3,000 in free coverage. Getting "free" money or protection always seems like a good idea but, I wonder what the bank is getting out of it. Is the bank taking life insurance out on me too or is there anything else I should worry about before I take this freebie?
Hi, I love your show and never miss an episode! It's a great way to learn something new while I'm working out.
I have a question. I'm a 25-year old medical student in my final year of school. I have $100k in school debt, and I have five credit cards with a TransUnion credit score of 771. I've always heard that I shouldn't sign up for too many credit cards because it will ding my credit. Despite those vague warnings, I probably sign up for two per year and cancel them as I go. The terms are just too tempting. I get something like $700 per year in introductory bonuses, 2 to 5 percent cashback on all daily purchases, and other great perks.
One of the best perks has been to put daily purchases on credit cards with very long zero percent APR introductory rates, saving me a significant amount of loan interest accrual. I think my credit has not suffered too much, but at the same time I realize that the biggest factor dragging my score down is a short history.
I will graduate from school in six months and would like to buy a house/condo perhaps in 18 - 24 months. I have never paid a dime of interest in my life, nor have I ever had a late fee. Is there a major downside to taking advantage of these credit card offers?
Additionally, is there a period before buying a home that I should stop obtaining new cards in order to optimize my credit?
I am a retired doctor, married, with net worth over $1.75 million and an annual income of about $150,000. To support women's equality over the years, my wife and I put many of our credit cards, utilities, and accounts in my wife's name. Almost all our credit cards have her as the primary account holder and me as an "add-on," all with very high limits that we built up over the years. Her credit report looks excellent.
I ended up with just one small credit card ($4,000 limit) in my own name. I find it annoying to have to use my wife's credit cards for larger purchases. Before applying for cards with higher limits, I requested a free annual credit report. Unlike my wife, I was asked for data about monthly payment amounts and loan holders for a mortgage and vehicle loan paid off nine years ago. I was asked to apply by mail, sending copies of my driver's license, utility bills, etc. It's as if I have no credit record. This is insulting and could be problematic should my wife be incapacitated. What should we do to merge the credit rating data? How else can I build an equally strong rating as my wife without starting over?
You answered a question on the air from a young soon to be married person regarding life insurance. You advised that the standard 1x salary being offered by his employer is probably "enough", but you never asked if he had any outstanding debts. What for example, happens to student loan debt if a person dies? I'm aware that student loan debt can't be discharged in bankruptcy, but can it be discharged in death? Would a surviving spouse then be responsible for the student loan debt? Other debt, I am certain would become the responsibility of the surviving spouse, such as a car loan or credit card debt, but I have no idea what happens with student loan debt...Shouldn't debt also be considered when considering life insurance? We always hear about how do want to "take care of" after death, such as funeral expenses, and supporting our survivors' life style for a period of time or if there's children helping them to pay for their education, but I've never hear anyone speaking of discharging the debt as something that also needs to be "taken care of".
I am retiring on January 1. I have to select how I want my defined pension amount monthly. One option is to have the same amount paid no matter if my wife or I die first. The amount will always stay the same until we both die. The second option is to receive higher amount until one of us die. After that, the amount goes down by one third. The second option would give me about $6,000 more annually, but about $22,000 less when one of us dies. I am thinking about doing the first option to keep pension constant for both of us. Any suggestions?
I'm deathly afraid of over-funding my children's 529's for college. Right now we're aggressively funding their 529's to help cover most of their undergraduate educations. However, if either of them don't spend much for college (maybe they go to trade school, earn tons of scholarships, etc.), then we will have this money locked into these 529's and penalties to pay on the way out! Our financial adviser says that the money can always be used for a relative, but I'm not sure I want to give $20,000 to a niece or nephew (who are already well-funded). Should we be saving a portion of college-earmarked funds elsewhere?
We currently have over $140,000 sitting in our (very low) interest-bearing checking account: .85% if we keep it over $100k, .80% for 50-99K. I know I should do something with at least $40K of this money. Plus we may sell property we own soon and will then have an additional $130,000 to invest. I know this is a good situation to be in, but I'm paralyzed by not knowing what to do with it. We just paid off our mortgage and we do have healthy 401K & 403B accounts and we're in our early 50's. I believe we're maxed out (or close to it) on our 403b contributions. My only investment experience to date is within our retirement accounts and bank savings/checking accounts. Our income is close to $200K so I know I need to consider tax consequences of any investments. I've considered CDs, but the rates aren't much higher than my checking account. What to do?
My wife and I are in the planning stages of a garage project that will net us an apartment to reduce our living expenses when we move in and rent out our home. Not accounting for returns, we can save the funds needed in about two and half years. We're currently trying to figure out where to put this money (the account and fund type). We want something low risk, but with higher returns than a savings account, and tax implications are important. We're considering using three Roth IRAs for this and withdrawing the base to complete the project, leaving the gains in the accounts when we do so. What would you recommend we do with the money?