Ask Money - Most Recent
I love to listen to your podcast while I work in the lab. I'm a doctoral student at MSU and my fiancée works as a technician in another lab. I have three years of school left, and I earn a meager stipend on an assistantship as I work towards my degree which includes health insurance coverage. My fiancée has a savings of about $20,000 that we have wondered what to do with. We will probably buy a house in the coming years, but we're not sure where we'll end up, depending on the position I'm able to get after my graduate work. What's the best thing to do with this money? He has no debt whatsoever, and I have about $37,000 in government student loans that I am making payments on while they are in in-school deferment right now. Is there a better investment to do with his savings than sitting in a low-interest savings account that we could still have access to somewhere in the next 5 years? Amber. East Lansing, MI
I hear all about the recent squabble regarding increasing interest rates on student loans, and then the decision to bring the rate back down. I hear NOTHING about the students who are stuck in high interest rates from recent years past. My son, age 27, graduated with a Master's degree in 2010. His interest rate is over 8 percent on a roughly 70k loan. This was a government loan, not through a bank. He now pays just under one thousand dollars each month. You can only imagine the strangle hold it has on him. Fortunately, he found a job almost immediately and has never missed a payment. On the other hand, his car has over 200,000 miles on it and he is sharing a house with two others to make it "work". At this time when mortgages are refinancing at under 4 percent, what is HIS option? I've tried researching this with local banks and they offer nothing. Please don't tell me that the only folks left paying this ridiculous rate are our ambitious recent students who tried to "do the right thing" by getting an education! Reducing his monthly payment, only to extend his term(!) is not a solution in our opinion.
Why are we being prevented from buying over $10,000 in series-I bonds a year (online). History: I have used gov't bonds (now series-I) as my savings-account (for emergency use, etc. after keeping on deposit the required months). We used to get paper bonds (for grandchildren as well as ourselves) but now we are prevented for doing that. I think a couple years ago, the limit was $30,000 per year (which didn't make sense since the gov't seems to need the money). I tried to deposit over $10,000 this year installments and were told that if I continued, they would close my account. Why? Al, Kingston, N.Y.
Quick history: My first child was born at 20, two more in the subsequent 10 years. Both my husband and I have worked very hard at lower-wage jobs to try to keep our family afloat, but essentially we've always been broke. Our daughter was diagnosed with cerebral palsy in 2005, we were insured, but just to get the diagnosis, we racked up close to $20,000 in medical bills, which is still climbing for her treatment. Now our youngest son has a severe medical condition and we reached our insurance out-of-pocket maximum of $12,000 between January and May this year. We will continue to have enormous medical bills going forward. We also made a very bad move and purchased a new Kia (which we couldn't afford), instead of paying our loan payments in 2007. We allowed it to get repossessed. The company that holds the debt periodically gets permission to garnish our wages until we're able to prove we don't have the means to pay. My husband has worked himself through the ranks over the past 8 years, finally earning enough seniority at a major railroad to make a very good salary. He was taking home $1,500-$1,900 a month and living in another state ($500 rent for his apartment.) As of this month, he's been and should continue to be able to hold a job as an engineer grossing about $6,000- $8,000 per month. I net approximately $200 a month working part-time.
My question: My husband's family feels we should file for bankruptcy to give us a fresh start. We owe approximately $42,000 between the car and medical bills and an old overdrawn bank account. I think that since we finally, after 15 years, have the means to pay our creditors back, we should. I want a house one day. I'm torn. I worry it will take us years to pay back our creditors and we'll continue to be broke. Our oldest son starts college in four years, and we'd like to have the means to financially assist him. Do you think we should file for bankruptcy?
I am going through a drawn-out divorce and my soon-to-be-ex-spouse is residing in our house but is not making mortgage payments. I pay rent and utilities so cannot afford a second mortgage on top of this. I do not think she is in a position to refinance on her own. I also have student loans that I pay on time (now), and recently got one credit card to start re-building my credit. My credit score is currently below 600 and continues to be affected by the defaulted mortgage. Aside from pushing the divorce through, is there anything else I can do to accelerate the re-building of my credit?
Any advice on how to find out whether my interest rate is normal and what I can do to get it lowered?
I graduated from law school two years ago with more than $150k in student debt, all government loans. I work in legal aid, which I love, and plan to take advantage of loan forgiveness after ten years. I currently make loan payments based on my income of ~$40k. I'm saving to buy a house in the next few years, but I am worried that with my debt-to-income ratio, I won't be able to get a mortgage or if I do, the terms will be awful. What are my options? Will any mortgage provider take into account the loan forgiveness program I quailify for?
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?
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.
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?