To buy or to wait

Apr 26, 2012
My wife and I are having a disagreement and I hope you can help settle it. We're looking at houses below $100,000. After having looked at our options, I want to wait a year and build up our savings so we can put enough money down without completely wiping out our savings. My wife is concerned that, due to a recovering housing market, it will be more expensive in the long run if we wait, and that will be worth the short-term risk. Should we wait or go for it now? Andrew, Milwaukee, WI
Posted In: home, Investing, Savings

It's all about you -- really

Apr 25, 2012
I'm putting the max allowed in my retirement accounts, and it's invested fairly conservatively in index funds. I lost a bunch of money in the tech stock crash in the early 2000s, which makes me hesitant to dump more money in the stock market. I own an apartment and don't really want more exposure to real estate, either. I'm starting to build up enough cash that I don't want to just leave it in my savings account. The only debt I have is my mortgage, and while I have decreased the balance on it, the interest rate is so low that it seems like there must be something better I can do with the cash. Any suggestions? Kira, Washington DC
Posted In: Savings, personal finances, Investing

Teaching kids to be financially literate

Apr 20, 2012
Launched in the aftermath of the riots that tore Los Angeles apart in 1992, Operation Hope has been educating young people about money and its power to elevate us.
Posted In: financial literacy, kids, Savings, Education, Wealth and Poverty

Too much going into retirement accounts?

Apr 19, 2012
Outside of my 403(b) Base Program, which my employer matches 10% to my 5%, how much should I sock away in a 403(b) Supplemental? Currently, I contribute 5% to a 403(b) Supplemental, for a total of 20% of 110% of my paycheck. I fully fund a ROTH IRA every year, so I am wondering if I should be saving more of my paycheck to a more liquid asset. Michael, Haslett, MI
Posted In: retirement savings, Savings, taxable accounts

For penning a money-savvy rap

Apr 6, 2012
This week's Piggy Award goes to a money-smart teen who practices what she raps.
Posted In: Savings, Music

The trade-off: Savings vs. mortgage

Apr 3, 2012
When I look at the interest rates on various savings accounts, they are all way lower than the 4.6 percent I'm being charged on my mortgage. I do recognize my condo as providing me with a service, and my minimum payment now is actually less than the rent I was paying on a studio 4 years ago! But, if I think of the equity I gain as a sort of savings account for a future upgrade, I'm just not sure how to compare my options. The simplified thought process I currently go through is that any extra I pay on my mortgage saves me 4.6 percent in interest that I would have to pay, while that same money would only earn me maybe 2 percent in a savings account, so it is better to save 4.6 percent by never having to pay it. Am I totally off? Erin, Boston, MA
Posted In: Savings, mortgage, condo

A subdued reading on rates

Apr 2, 2012
The survey consensus was for no increase to slight increase in interest rates for 2012. Nothing dramatic. Very muted. There's no sense that the economy will turn gangbusters. At best, the economy will show modest gains in 2012.
Posted In: interest rates, Economy, bonds, Savings

Taxes and a home equity loan

Mar 28, 2012
Hello. I'm 50 and single. I have a 15-year mortgage at 3.5 percent. My income is more than $80,000. I have a Roth and I am maximizing my company's 403(b) account. I have no credit card debt -- no debt in general except the mortgage, so I don't have a lot of write-offs. Does it make sense to get an equity loan and finish my basement so I can get a bigger write-off on taxes while investing in my home, or should I continue to just sock money away because it is better to not have debt? Thanks. Lisa, Salt Lake City, UT
Posted In: home equity loan, debt, Savings, Taxes

Emergency savings: Expenses or aftertax salary?

Mar 26, 2012
I'm a 36-year-old single professional in the DFW metroplex that tries to think long-term in my financial planning. I put 12 percent of my around $100,000 salary into my 401(k) with company match. Currently, the retirement fund is valued at about $100,000. I owe about $12,000 on my student loans (4.25 percent fixed interest, originally $80,000) and I have about 27 percent equity in my $180,000 town home. I recently refinanced my home at 4.125 percent for 15 years. My credit card debt is maybe $1,000. After surviving a layoff well (due to a generous severance in the Great Recession), I was scared straight once I started working again. I now have about $15,000 in an emergency fund and next year's bonus will go to this, too. So I have three questions: 1) Do I need 6 months of bills or 6 months of salary after tax? 2) Should I park this in savings? Or is there a better financial instrument? 3) Is the emergency fund a higher priority than nuking the graduate school debt? I appreciate your guidance. Keith, Plano, TX
Posted In: emergency savings, Savings, student loan debt

Preserving the value of an inheritance

Mar 23, 2012
What would you do if you came into a family inheritance after years of accruing debt and working minimum-wage Jobs?
Posted In: Inheritance, financial planning, Savings