Ask Money - Most Commented


Super Planner picture

Question: How do I protect my kid's credit?

Submitted by Super Planner | Jul 11,2013

My husband and I are both very cautious when it comes to finances. We've both frozen our credit files in order to prevent someone from opening up a credit card or taking out a loan in our names if our information was ever stolen. Now we have a 2 year old, and ever since she was issued her social security number (practically the day after she was born), I've been wondering how we can protect her from becoming a victim of identify theft. I tried freezing her credit files as well, but the companies said she had to be 18. One company said they don't knowingly maintain credit files on people under the age of 13, but that if we suspect someone is using her identity we can request a credit report. But how would I know to be suspicious? What suggestions do you have to help protect her? Or am I being too paranoid?

elchrist picture

Question: Setting aside $15k this year: 403b or pay down mortgage?

Submitted by elchrist | Jul 08,2013

I'm planning to use $15,000 this year for either retirement savings or to pay down my mortgage and am unsure of which option to pick. My employer offers a 403b with no matching for the first two years of employement (which I am in) and fund management fees ranging from .7% to 1.7%. I also have 13 years and about $140k left on a 15 year mortgage with a 3.85% interest rate. What would be the better use of the $15,oo0, or are there third or fourth options I should consider? My only current savings is $5,000 in a IRA, and my debts are just the mortgage and student loans that will be forgiven in 5 years. I'm 33 years old and just landed a job that pays $97k.

kmbowen picture

Question: How to invest small inheritance?

Submitted by kmbowen | Jun 25,2013

My husband and I are receiving $10,000 each from his mother as a gift after she inherited her father's trust. We both have IRAs, he has a 401k, I have a 403b and make required contributions to the MA Teachers Retirement. We have a rainy day savings. We have low interest rates (1.8%) on our 2 cars. He has no student loan debt. I have $16,000 at 2.8% and $27,000 at 6.8%. How should we invest our $20,000 with the idea that we want to use it as a down payment on a house. A house which we are not planning to even look into buying for at least 3 years, maybe as long as 5 years. We've considered just stashing it in our IRAs and then removing the principal amount later when we need it. Or a short term CD which would get us only slightly better return that stuffing it in the mattress. I suggested that we use half of it to pay down my student loans that are at 6.8%. Reducing the principal and thus the interest we pay on it. Thoughts or ideas on what we should do?

Ferninster picture

Question: Should I structure my payments under the income-based program or not?

Submitted by Ferninster | Jul 01,2013

Four years ago I lost my job, and decided to go back to school. I recently graduated with a BS in Geography, and ~$36,000 in student loan debt, between 3.4 and 8% interest. I have also recently been hired in a limited duration, 1-2 years, public sector job with strong potential to secure a permanent position, but no guarantees. There are many options for structuring my repayments. My intention is to work in the public sector, but given the recent budget history that may not end up being my final track. My question is, should I structure my payments under the income based programs, assuming I'll be able to write off the balance of my loans in 10 years as a public servant, or should I pay them off as soon as I can to avoid all the extra interest if that plan doesn't work out?

sscerberus picture

Question: How can I deal with negative credit reports and rebuild my credit?

Submitted by sscerberus | Jun 24,2013

Hello, My question is this: I recently had my credit report pulled as I was looking to refinance my auto loan, which is currently around 17% interest. My score is around 575. Looking at my report with a consultant, I noticed some double reporting, which was affecting my credit. I contacted the companies and they stated they do not have the accounts. I finally found where the account was and paid it off and filed a dispute for the other companies that were reporting it even though they don't have the account. So that was my first step towards fixing my credit. There were also 3 negative reports from my student loan as it fell into collection for awhile, but the companies that are reporting them closed the account in 2009 and have no further record of it. I contacted TransUnion and they stated even though those accounts are closed, they will continue to be reported negatively for 7 years, so I have another 3 years of it bringing down my score. Is that true?

I am currently paying my student loan now with the U.S. Dept. of Education, but it appears it was shuffled around with them for a bit in the past. That is why they are reporting it 3 times as a negative account. Since I am paying it now (and have been for the past year) I don't get why those other 3 reports must stay there for 7 years.

Also, my credit union says there is nothing I can really do to help build credit except wait 3 years for those negative accounts to fall off. I am currently in good standing with my car loan and my student loan, so those are the only positive credit I am building. What else can I do? I can't get a credit card (I currently have none) as my score is too low and get denied. I tried for what is called a Visa Pledge card, which is a credit card that I put the money down on, but again I got denied for that. I really don't want to just sit and wait 3 more years until I can do anything. Please advise, what can I do now to help build my score back up so when those negative reports fall off in 3 years I can be in a better position to purchase a new car or refinance.

khearn59 picture

Question: Any personal finance book recommendations for a 20-something student?

Submitted by khearn59 | Jun 25,2013

My 23-year-old son is planning to begin graduate school. He will have been done with his undergrad degree for two years. I would like to buy a book to give him that addresses finances and would like suggestions as to what to purchase. Any tips? Thanks.

rmcdona picture

Question: Least damaging long-term: Unemployment gap or underemployment?

Submitted by rmcdona | Jun 23,2013

I recently found out that the company I work for is going out of business and my job will be ending in a little over a month. I work as a IT Analyst and have have been looking for a job that is a step up a little while but have not had any success yet. I can afford to go with out a job for a short while, and have some connections that may be able to get me a job at a much lower level then I am at currently. What would the least damaging in the long term -- an unemployment gap in my resume or being underemployed for a period of time, and is it unrealistic to look for a job that is a step up after losing a job?

helo picture

Question: Am I a good fit for an HSA?

Submitted by helo | Jun 21,2013

My employee sponsored health care plan is about to kick in but that means I have some decisions to make... I work for a small company that will cover the first $200/month of the plan of my choosing. My husband does not currently have health care through his work (our short-term insurance will expire right around the time my employer starts paying for part of our new plan). I know it's unlikely that $200 will cover all of even a high-deductible plan, but we'd like to get dang close. We're considering a high deductible plan coupled with an HSA, but are nervous that this will create incentives for us not to schedule preventative doctor appointments.

Another kicker is that our money is spread so thin right now (10% to IRAs, 4% to a 401k, 10% to down payment fund -- it starts to add up!) that I'm worried we won't have much left over to put into an HSA. Even though we don't make a ton to begin with, we are very healthy, young people with fairly active lifestyles which I know helps our situation.

Do we sound like an HSA is a good fit for us or is there something else we should be considering?

pete2009 picture

Question: What should I do with baby birthday money?

Submitted by pete2009 | Jun 16,2013

I have two-year-old twins who have gotten some birthday money and I'm wondering what to do with it. For their first few monetary gifts we just tucked it in an envelope, but now it's accumulating and I'm wondering what to do with it. When is it a good time to get them a savings account (we are saving separately for a college fund)?

himelic84 picture

Question: Tapping into 401(k) funds to purchase first home?

Submitted by himelic84 | Jun 14,2013

Good evening...

Online, I see a lot of different viewpoints on the soundness of dipping into my 401k to purchase my first home. I would like to hear what the Marketplace Money opinions are on this action given my specific economic situation.

I am a 29 year old male 1 year out of business school. I have a solid job as a trading analyst on an electric trading floor for the major utility here in CO. I make a base salary of ~80k a year with an option to land another 7-10k in bonus season if its a good year for the company. Last year, I was especially lucky and was given an additional bonus that allowed me pay off all my student debt, which was roughly $15k. So with no outstanding long-term debt, I am debating on purchasing a house for the first time. I have $5k tucked away in a money market fund that is earning zilch but I am using that as my emergency fund so dont want to touch it. Other than that I have roughly $3k in savings rights now and accumulate about $1500 in savings each month after accounting for my rent and living expenses. the denver real estate market is a little bonkers right now but i think it will cool down in 6 to 12 months and want to be ready to strike when opportunities presents itself. To throw another wrench in the equation my sister wants to go in on this as well with me. She has roughly $20k tucked away and is already a home owner. To make things more complicated, I am in the middle of the CFA program and would be looking at the high possibility of relocating in 2-3 years if I were to land a job promotion at another firm. So I dont know if it would be best to sell the property, hold on to it and rent it out while living out of state, or just not buying in the first place. Not sure on what all the tax implications are w/ and w/out the 401k loan thrown into the mix. Any thoughts?




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