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: rent, apartments
I just landed a job in Los Angeles and will be looking to rent starting in July. How much of my income is wise to spend on rent? Am I allowed to increase that number for a place like L.A., where rent is so expensive? Also, I only plan to be there for a year or so, so is it unreasonable for me to spend an extra couple hundred a month to live on the beach and take advantage of being single with my first job out of college? Sam, Athens, GA
Posted In: debts, recession
Far too many poor people are living in the modern-day equivalent of debtors' prison without a chance of a fresh start. It's wrong -- a terrible state of affairs.
Posted In: Retirement, retirement savings, move, rent, family finances
I'll be retiring in a few months and my husband is already retired. We are thinking of selling our home in Florida and moving to California to be closer to our children and grandchildren, who live in Los Angeles. Another option might be to keep the house in Florida, buy an RV and camp out in an RV park in California until we wear out our welcome. What are some of the pitfalls that we should try to avoid? Nancy, Milton, FL
Posted In: home, home ownership, rent, Inheritance
My boyfriend and I both currently work full-time and are in school. He's working toward an associate degree and I'm working on a master's. When we both finish, in the spring of 2014, we'll be qualified for much better-paying jobs. We're also planning on getting married between now and then and starting a family once one or both of us has found new employment. We weren't planning to buy a home any time soon, but I recently inherited $40,000. My question is, how do you know that you're ready to take the plunge? Leah, Ypsilanti, MI
Posted In: peer-to-peer lending, social lending, Credit Cards, debt, consumer loans, invest, financial innovation
Peer-to-peer lending, also called social lending, is bringing together online individual lenders and individual borrowers for a fee. They cut out banks and other mainstream lenders. The innovation appears to be working.
Posted In: student loans, student loan repayment options, income-based replayment plan
I'm helping my girlfriend organize her student loans while she's wrapping up her final semester of architecture (grad) school. The Income Based Repayment plan is likely her best option for repayment. She's going to owe about $135,000 and expects to make about $65,000 in her first year out of school. Yes, it's a lot of debt! However, there is a significant amount of uncertainty around the program. There are two versions. In one, you pay 15 percent of your income over 150 percent of the poverty line for a maximum of 25 years. Anything left after the loan is forgiven. There is a newer version for borrowers' 2012 loans that is only 10 percent over 20 years. I'd like to verify that she's eligible for this newer program. Matthew, Brooklyn, NY
Posted In: student loans, student loan forgiveness, public service
Your recent show on Federal Student Loans and associated debt kept my attention. A comment was made about possible forgiveness of a loan for someone who has been good with payments for years and has worked for civil service or non-profits. I'm in the non-profit sector (have been for 15+ years) and want to know how I might go about addressing that with the remaining principal on my Sallie Mae loan balance. Thanks. Gerri, Belmont, MA
Posted In: Retirement, reverse mortgage, mortgage paydown, home equity, homeownership
It's worth learning about reverse mortgages. The homeowner gets access to their home equity without moving.
Posted In: Retirement, retirement savings, retirement work savings, IRA
My wife and I just retired last June. She just turned 60 and I will turn 59 soon. We own our home and cars, we have no credit card debt and our savings (not including retirement accounts) is almost $100,000. Our kids both finished college without accruing debt (thank you very much!). As I completed our taxes this spring, the amount owed is almost $2,400. If we open an IRA for $8,000, the amount owed drops to under $1,200. Does it make sense for us, at this point in our lives, to invest in the IRA for the tax savings? Part of me says it is a no-brainer; the other part says that investing in an IRA when you are already retired doesn't pass the common sense test. What do you think? Mike, Blue Earth, MN
Posted In: Social Security, older workers, Jobs
Social Security claims came down last year, an intriguing sign that older workers are feeling better about their job prospects.