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Txteresa picture

Question: What should we do with our disposable income?

Submitted by Txteresa | Dec 20,2013

My husband and I have no credit card debt but we have $130,000 in student loan debt. We have a 4.5 percent fixed interest on our mortgage and 26 more years on the loan. We have $15,000 in savings. After our bills (not food, clothes, entertainment etc) are paid we have about $3,000 a month. What is the best way to budget that money? We do not have any investments and we have an infant baby.

Jae picture

Question: I need cash. Is it better to sell a home or liquidate a 401k?

Submitted by Jae | Dec 08,2013

I have been unemployed or underemployed for several years now. I'm ineligible for unemployment and not likely to be hired anytime soon. I am 54 years old and own a home with an adjustable-rate mortgage. The monthly mortgage payment is far lower than rent would be if I were to move. I also have some money in a 401K retirement account.

The sad fact is that I need money for living expenses, and that means either sell stock from my 401k or sell my home. But I have no idea how to quantify which of these bad options is worse. Can you help?

jkhanson picture

Question: How much is too much when saving for retirement?

Submitted by jkhanson | Dec 07,2013

My husband and I are both public school teachers. We have 403b retirement accounts, state-supported teacher retirement system pensions, and other savings accounts, including a 529 plan for our 12 year old child. It seems to me that we are putting a significant amount of money into these accounts, but have little left over to spend on things we can enjoy now such as family vacations. How do we know how much to save without compromising our current quality of life? I would like to be able to enjoy life more now, not save everything for the time when we retire. I do not want an extravagant lifestyle, I'd just like to enjoy our time together as a family while we still have it.
Thank you,
Jill Hanson

Ask Carmen: Dropping dead weight

Dec 6, 2013
Financial resolutions, cutting back frivolous spending and big student loans. Must be another round of Ask Carmen!
Posted In: ask carmen, Personal Finance, student loans
elvis picture

Question: How do I know if my financial adviser is doing a good job?

Submitted by elvis | Nov 06,2013

I have about a quarter of my retirement money with a financial advisor who charges the following: The advisor gets 1 percent of assets under management; 0.2 percent goes to the third-party custodian; 0.3 percent goes to the company that decided the asset allocation that was set up, based on my age, answers to questions about risk, volatility.

Now I find out there is an expense ratio for the ETFs; as well as the costs of commissions when buying and selling the ETFs to rebalance, as well as something called the bid/ask spread. I am thinking of moving this money to Vanguard. 

augustm picture

Question: Can I afford to go back to grad school to make more money?

Submitted by augustm | Oct 23,2013

I am 35 years old and only began saving for retirement this year through a combination of a 401k and Roth IRA. I would really like to return to school in three or four years to get a double-Masters in economics and finance, taking off one year to study Chinese in China. I know that I will earn twice as much once I complete my degrees as I earn now, but I am concerned about stepping away from full-time work and benefits for five years while only taking part-time jobs or internships in my new field. While I am in school and traveling, although I will be able to support myself financially, I won't be saving for retirement. Can I really afford to go back to grad school to make more money?

August Mileaux

Ask Carmen: Family secrets

Nov 29, 2013
How should you handle keeping things secret from your family? Carmen and guest Dr. Gail Saltz talk to listeners.
Posted In: ask carmen, family advice

Featured Voicemail: Building credit

Nov 22, 2013
Nick from Chicago left a voice mail for Marketplace Money host Carmen Wong Ulrich about how to get a higher credit limit without going into debt.
Posted In: ask carmen, Personal Finance, Credit card, credit limit, buying a home

Having a baby? Here's 5 money questions to consider

Nov 22, 2013
Marketplace Money listener Andrew is expecting his first child. What should he make sure to account for when getting ready financially?
Posted In: raising a child, Personal Finance, advice, ask carmen

Ask Carmen: Home-buying checklist

Nov 15, 2013
We get a lot of questions on when to buy a home. Carmen Wong Ulrich shares some tips to make sure you're ready.
Posted In: buying a home, real estate, advice

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In a special partnership with The New York Times, Marketplace Money takes a look at how housing fits in to today's American Dream.