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2014 Resolutions: Nina

Happy New Year! In 2014, Marketplace Money will follow a few listeners from around the country who’ve resolved to make over their personal finance lives. We’ll be checking up on their financial New Year’s resolutions periodically throughout the year and see if they're achieving their goals!

Name: Nina, 49
Family: Daughter, 18, in college
Location: Oakland, Calif.
Resolutions: “First and foremost, is to be financially set for retirement which isn’t too far off, so I have to figure out what to do to build my nest-egg a little stronger. At a minimum, I would need a million dollars. I’m no where near a million dollars” Nina says she has about $350,000 saved, is planning to retire around age 65, and she’s interested in retiring abroad where living costs could be cheaper.

She has about $50,000 left on her mortgage to pay off, which she’s been trying to pay down aggressively … perhaps too aggressively. Nina has been dipping into her emergency savings to get it paid off.

“My second resolution is, finding out how to find greater tax-shelters, to make sure that I’m not giving Uncle Sam too much of my hard-earned money.”

Carmen Says: “Number two may not be possible, because you can only max out your tax-shelter so much. But number one, we can absolutely get you there. Really focus on saving up money for your retirement. Please protect that emergency fund, at least have a years worth in there. And then any additional funds … you can split between bulking up your retirement and traveling, so you can see where you want to go.”

Carmen also suggested to not completely pay off her mortgage in lieu of properly saving up for retirement and emergencies. “You can’t take the house to the grocery store, the house won’t pay your bills.”

And one last tip, “Learn some spanish, so you can do your travel and enjoy retirement in the sun!”

About the author

Carmen Wong Ulrich is the former host of Marketplace Money, APM’s weekend personal finance program.
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I think Carmen (and all the other financial people out there) are wrong about not paying the mortgage for some people. As I get older I just love the security of knowing I have a paid for house. I live in a low property tax area, so I feel reasonably sure I will never be homeless. Yes, I may eat ramen or not buy any new clothes or Xmas presents, but I think for some of us, especially those of us who may have been through hard times, the feeling of not worrying about a house payment is great! I am a single mom of two and I am managing to live nicely on an income of $1000 a month, and saving for retirement, because I have no mortgage (or debt, or car payment).

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