Chris Farrell is economics editor of Marketplace Money, a nationally syndicated one-hour weekly personal finance show produced by American Public Media. Chris is also economics correspondent for Marketplace, the largest business program in broadcasting and chief economics correspondent for American RadioWorks, the largest producer of long-form documentaries in public radio. He is also contributing economics editor at Business Week magazine. He was host and executive editor of public television’s Right on the Money. He is the author of two books: Right on the Money: Taking Control of Your Personal Finances, and Deflation: What Happens When Prices Fall. Chris is a graduate of Stanford and the London School of Economics.
Posted In: Investing, Savings, asset allocation, stocks, Treasury bill, index funds
We now want to invest some of our emergency fund that we believe is a little inflated, due to fears of the economy. I've looked around at fee-only advisers, but they all state that you should have at least $100,000 to start investing; otherwise, they don't feel like you are qualified to work with. What should we do with our money? We have about $15,000-20,000 that we want to invest, but we want to do the right thing. Could your staff help with some options? Thank you, Joshua, Riverside, CA
Posted In: rollover IRA, 401(k) personal finance books
I am a recently divorced, single mom who is currently not employed. Right now, most of my assets (apart from my home) are in two 401(k)s -- one from my previous employer and one I received as part of the divorce settlement QDRO. From what I have read, it sounds like I should roll these over and consolidate them into an IRA? I am having trouble figuring out how and where to do this. What am I losing by leaving the money in these two 401(k)s? Ginger, Park Ridge, IL
Posted In: mortage, home equity loan
We have 7 years left to go to finish paying off our mortgage and we have a manageable amount of home equity borrowing. How wise or risky would it be to consolidate that, borrowing at a lower rate, if the new loan would be a home-equity loan? That's the advice we're hearing from our bank and the stated rate should be lower than the rates we have on our existing mortgage and home-equity borrowing. Is there a reason to think twice about this? Thanks! John, St. Paul, MN
Posted In: Roth-IRA, Roth-401(k), 401(k), retirement savings, Taxes
My company just added a Roth 401(k) investment option to our retirement plan. I am currently saving 6 percent of my salary in my 401(k), with a 3 percent match from my company. (This is the maximum match.) Now that there is an option to invest in the Roth, with the same match available, I am not sure how to adjust my investments. I don't have any other retirement savings besides my 401(k). I have talked this over with a few of my friends and none of them seems to know the answer, either. Thanks for your help! Priscilla, Greenville, N.C.
Posted In: Savings, student loans, job market, Inheritance
I will receive $25,000 in the next couple weeks from the sale of my mom's house. She died suddenly of a brain aneurysm last spring, at age 58. I am asking for advice on how to invest this small windfall. (I also received another $10,000 from her life insurance last year and used that to pay down a personal bank loan of $6k and credit card debt.) Here are my stats: I'm 36 and went back to college in 2010 to finish my first degree (I had worked in insurance and kept hitting income/advancement ceilings due to not having a degree.) As of May, I will graduate with $45,000 of loans. I have $7,000 in credit card debt and own a house with a $130,000 left on the mortgage. I do have $10,000 in a 401k at a previous employer and I also inherited her 2009 car, so I have no car payment. I realize paying down debt is the fastest return on the money, but I feel like I don't want to just sink this money entirely into student loans, which have a low interest rate. My plan is to pay off the credit card debt and create a small emergency fund. This will leave around $15,000. Would it work to place some of it in longer term investments or just completely add the money to my debt? To add complication to the situation. I am studying graphic design and the firms I am in touch with all say they have increased hiring and the future looks good for this career. However, there is the option that I may want to free-lance or split off on my own in two to four years and could use a cushion to help as a startup. Thank you for any advice or information. Jamie, Eden Prairie, MN
Posted In: Investing, Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett, Housing, gold
Investors eagerly wait to read the annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders by its CEO and stockpicker-in-chief, Warren Buffett. As always, it’s an illuminating, insightful read into business, the economy and investing.
Posted In: Savings, student loans, career, job
I have been out of college for just over a year now and am waiting to be hired by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as an air traffic controller (a 2 to 3 year process, on average). I was lucky with scholarships and waivers and have about $20,000 in student loans (all federally subsidized) and am currently on a standard payment plan for a 10-year repayment period. I have enough saved up in CDs, money market accounts, savings and mutual funds that could pay off all of the loans but only leave me with about $5,000 left over to deal with any "unplanned" expenses (I have no credit card debt and a full-time job with a major airline). Is it smart to get rid of all of my debt immediately but be left with little to fall back on? Should I pay off half of the loan and repay the rest over time? Michael, Minneapolis, MN