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: estate plan, advance medical directive, will, lawyers
Hello, I have and older aunt who is beginning to think about end-of-life issues and is planning to move into an assisted living community. She has no family nearby and is trying to do everything on her own, which is daunting. I want to guide her as she thinks about how to downsize her life and deal with her affairs in a way that makes sense for her. She doesn't have much in assets -- just a house that she financed with a HUD loan that she will have to sell before she can move. She is planning to hire a lawyer to get a will together, but I don't know if it will be worthwhile for her to spend the money to do that, given how little she has. Suzanne, Billings, MT
Posted In: Financial planner, certified financial planner, finance books
My wife and I are approaching our mid 30s. Up to this point, our lives have been a blur of trying to build a future with two incredible children. Now that we have a house, two rental properties and situated ourselves in our careers, we really need to start planning further ahead for retirement and our children's future. We are really not sure what to do next and feel that we should turn to a financial advisor. At this point, I am completely overwhelmed as I don't even know how to go about finding one. I have started to do some research online but am still struggling with this next step. Any suggestions that could help point us in the right direction would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Jeff, Ballston Lake, NY
Posted In: Savings, retirement savings, taxable accounts
I'm in my early 30s and work in the government sector. I contribute to a 401(a) and a 457 through my employer, and after discussing things with my wife, I have begun to think I may actually contribute TOO MUCH on a monthly basis. I contribute about 31 percent of my pre-tax income, including those two plus another ~5 percent after taxes to the 401(a). We have a mutual fund that had an acceptable return in 2011. Would I be better off lowering what I contribute to my 457 and 401(a) and increasing deposits into the mutual fund instead? I recently got a promotion with a substantial raise, so I thought now would be the time to reconsider where I am parking my money. Dan, Bloomfield Hills, MI
Posted In: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, debt collection, credit reporting
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is proposing that it examine the business of large debt collectors and to closely watch the major credit reporting bureaus. The focus would be on the larger firms. It's a good move.
Posted In: family finances, 529 college savings plan, Savings, student loans
My husband and I recently had our first child. We are considering opening a 529 plan for him, but between the two of us, we still have about $15,000 in college loan debt. Our student loans are locked in at a low interest rate (around 3 percent). On the one hand, we know that money invested in a 529 plan now will earn more over time than money invested later. On the other hand, it seems kind of odd to start saving for his college when we haven't finished paying for our own. Does it make more sense financially to open a 529 plan for him now, or to put the money we would have put into it toward paying off our own student loans first? Carol, Athens, GA
Posted In: Savings, college
I'm thirty-seven. My home is paid off but needs repairs. My cars are old but paid for. I recently changed jobs and will be making about $25,000 a year (nearly $8,000 more a year than my old job). My sons (single parent) are sixteen and seventeen. Making more money, should I focus on saving or fixing my house and a new car in preparation for a time when health and limited income will make it hard to do? Paying for college is off the table; they know that. I have about a thousand dollars in credit card debt that I plan to pay off. I plan to have nearly eighty dollars a week or three hundred dollars a month toward these goals. I live off so little, I want this extra to really count. First Name: Charlie, Columbus, GA
Posted In: home, mortgage, Savings, retirement savings, Roth-IRA
My husband and I are both church pastors. We have been married for a year and half and we both work full time. Our gross income is about $84,000 and we tithe 10 percent to our churches and charities, which we will continue to do. We are trying to decide whether or not to purchase a home, and whether we are saving money in the proper places.... Is this a good time to buy a home? What if we needed to sell it in four years? Should we be putting less money into savings and more into the Roth IRA's? Thank you for your help! Emma, Beverly Hills, MI
Posted In: health insurance, health savings accounts, 401(k)s
There is a lot of theory motivating consumer-driven health plans like the HSA, much of it reminiscent of ideas promoted with the rise of the 401(k) retirement savings plan. Well, three decades later the 401(k) has turned out to be a deeply flawed pension. The same is likely to be true with consumer-driven healthcare plans.